Her eyes are a royal blue, her hair is dark brown
She smiles, coos and makes sweet sounds
Only two months old
Yet so much love pours from her soul
Teaching me how I am a mess
and about life, and faith, and selflessness
She is my daughter
On Tuesday morning, I crawled out of bed exhausted from a restless night of sleep and being up at 4Am with Rebekah. I sat on our living room chair trying to gain composure as I fed her once again. Then out of nowhere, my toddler John runs right up to us and pinches her face (a common thing these days). She starts crying and I yell out “No!” and for him to “Stop it right now!”
But what you might not see in writing is that my tone of voice was angry, impatient, and piercing. John started to cry because of the way I handled it and my heart ached because I had crushed his spirit.
One of my favorite writers, Ann Voskamp, wrote a blog post called, Why Your Words Matter Most, and in it she says: “All the words I had ever spoken, they are making my children who they are. What we speak into others, this is what they become.”
Growing up, my Dad and Mom told my sister and I that we could do anything we wanted in life. They spoke those words to us over and over again and I started believing them. Now being in my late twenties, I believe their words have really shaped how I view life. I also know of stories of friends whose parents spoke the opposite, and well you know the rest.
I think all of us, though, hold onto lies we’ve been told or lies we tell ourselves. We believe them so much that they leave us paralyzed from taking action and trusting in God. We might even need to let go of certain words (or the way words were said) in the past that remain etched on our hearts today.
This year, I want to make an intentional, disciplined effort to use my words to bring life to others– not death. And I want to lean more on the truth of God’s Word.
Well, after John’s pinching episode, I confessed my impatience to God and thought long about what I wanted to do differently next time. Even though he shouldn’t pinch his baby sister, my reaction should have been more patient and loving. I kissed his cheek several times and told him that Mommy was sorry and loved him very much.
I’m still on vacation at my parents place, and this morning I went on a run for the second time this week. It had been over a year since I ran last. In the first 15 minutes of my run, I felt stronger and my pace was faster than it was on Monday. I barely had to stop and walk. I didn’t look at the time to see if I was almost done. I just savored the feeling of sweat again, my surroundings and my worship music on Pandora.
Then I thought about the fears I had: Can I really run again and run well? Can I really drop the 10 lbs. of baby weight that’s lingering? I wasn’t sure if I had it in me.
On my way back home, the wind blew harder against my face and my feet ached. I had to walk again. I looked over at the golf course to my right and the landscape was brown- not a pretty bright green as I thought it should be. I thought about how I didn’t want my life to be dormant and drab like that green. I wanted my life to be alive and vibrant. A life that bears much fruit.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
Then I thought about my fears again. Fear and the worries of this world tend to choke the life out of me. And the Enemy wants exactly that. But Jesus came so I would live life to its fullest.
In 2011, I want to take the first steps required for me to live more fully in my relationship with Christ. It might mean getting up early before the babies are awake to be in the Word. Or praying more through out the day. Or having self-control and resisting the urge to get angry at my toddler or impatient with my husband. Or embracing where I am right now and complaining less. Or going out of my way to love and invest radically in someone who is different than me. It might mean dreaming God-sized dreams.
I’m not sure, but I know I need to live more. I know that I haven’t fully embraced the abundant life that God has for me.
Well, after walking those few minutes in my run, I picked up my pace again. My parents’ house was in the distance and I started sprinting towards it, knowing there was no other choice but to run again.
Today marks five years that Jeremiah and I have been married! It seems like yesterday we were back at Liberty, where we met in seminary. I always knew there was something different about him after he had asked me to go to lunch one day after class. And for so long, I’d been praying for God to bring me a man who loved Jesus and loved people (and was good looking too!)
After that lunch date, we started to hang out a lot and I knew I really liked him. Our relationship moved quickly and it scared us. It was nothing that a good “DTR” couldn’t fix. On November 12, 2004- the day before I ran my first marathon, he asked my dad for his blessing to date me, and then asked me to be his girlfriend.
We dated for seven incredible months and on June 4th, 2005 while on a class trip to Israel, he asked me to be his wife at the Jordan River. I said “yes” and we made that promise to each other trusting that was God’s will.
On December 17, 2005, Dr. Jerry Falwell married us among all our friends and family in Lynchburg, VA. It was the best day of my life.
Marriage as a Sharpening Tool
Three months into marriage, Jeremiah lost his job for sharing his faith so that put us on uneven ground for a while. We couldn’t believe something like that could happen fresh into our marriage. We struggled a lot through the hurt. We stayed with my parents in TX for a few months while he looked for jobs in Virginia.
From the trials in those first few years, our arguments exposed the “ugliness” of my sin at times. I was extremely selfish and didn’t fully know how to respect my husband. It was so frustrating, and I even questioned, “Did I make the wrong decision?” I thought that marriage would be so easy like it was when we were dating.
The Turning Point
Eventually, Jeremiah got a job at the University of Virginia Medical Center and we moved to Charlottesville, VA. We lived there for a year and then felt led to pursue more education for ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. We packed our life and headed to Dallas.
Within a few months we started attending Watermark Community Church where we were plugged into a community group of 5 other young married couples. We were paired with a mentor couple who invested in us for 18 months.
We were real about our struggles with each other and were able to discuss openly about sex, communication, finances, past baggage and more. It was amazing to see we were not alone in our journey. Other couples were experiencing the same tensions we had and we were able to work through so much together and actually learn how to communicate effectively.
Learning to Be on Mission
Our first year in Dallas we served together with an organization called Apartment Life planning activities and building relationships with residents in our apartment community. We had countless opportunities to share the gospel and bring residents to church. That experience birthed in our hearts a desire for church planting and to always be involved in the lives of those far from Christ.
Serving gave us a greater purpose beyond just “us.” It grew us closer together. Right around that time, I accepted a job offer to work for Bluefish TV/RightNow.org as a writer and editor and learned even more what it meant to be on mission in every part of my life.
Growing Our Family
Before I knew it, in 2008, we had our first son John and in 2010, our first daughter Rebekah. Through our children, I’ve felt a love like no other. Having children has taught me even more about my imperfections and how I have to daily depend on Christ for his strength and grace. I’m learning that the best gift we can give our kids is to put our marriage first and love each other well.
As of today, Jeremiah isn’t too far away from finishing his theology degree and we want to be wherever God would have us when we’re finished. While we’re still far from perfect as a married couple, we’re striving to allow God to be the center of our relationship and to heal us of our hurts, habits, and hangups. The greatest freedom I’ve found in the battle against my own sin is to confess those struggles to God, to Jeremiah, and to other people.
A Deeper Love
The journey of these five years has allowed me to appreciate the gift of marriage even more. I love and respect Jeremiah more than on the day we said “I do” and I can’t imagine living my life apart from him. He’s my best friend and my lover.
I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be
But you stay here right beside me
Watch as the storm blows through
And I need you
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you
Jeremiah has loved me in my “mess” and through all our ups and downs and to me, that is the greatest love.
Happy Five Year Anniversary, Jeremiah!
And thank you for editing this post last night 🙂
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to look like in 2011. Since I started blogging three years ago, I’ve written whatever is on my heart regarding faith, marriage, motherhood, authenticity, missional living, writing, and more. I’ve posted about once a week and sometimes twice a week.
But I’m ready to have more clarity on what this blog is truly about. I’d like it so that when you come here, you’ll know that each post will reveal that focus (in some way, shape, or form!). Maybe it already does, but I’m just not sure.
I have some ideas on the focus I’d like to take, but I would love your thoughts in this process- whether you’ve been reading for several years, a few months, or maybe weeks. Please keep these questions in mind, but don’t worry about answering them word for word:
What makes you want to stop by and read?
How would you describe this blog?
What have been some of your favorite posts?
What topics do you like to read about?
Are there any topics you’d like to see more of?
What kind of stories do you like to read about?
In what ways have you been challenged and encouraged?
Do you see this blog as a place for online community?
If you’d rather send an email, you can write me at: samantha [AT] samanthakrieger [dot] [com]
Thank you in advance for helping me find some clarity!
While I feel far from this at times, this is what I’m striving for and where I want to see my life change:
Karen had her first son Ryan and daughter Amanda at the same age I had John and Rebekah and they are also 2 years apart (now teenagers).
Sitting in comfy chairs around their outdoor fireplace, Karen and I talked about life and raising children. She said a lot of great things I will always take to heart and one truth really stuck out to me. She said that in all the busyness of life in this stage, to make sure I’m treating myself to one thing each day.
My eyes lit up when I heard her words. One thing… I can handle that, I thought.
It was great to hear that it was perfectly fine to do that. And it wasn’t selfish, but would help keep me sane!
Whether it’s getting coffee at Starbucks, shopping for an hour, writing, painting my nails, or even the smallest thing that I enjoy… taking the time to treat myself will really help in navigating the crazy waters of balancing two kids and meeting their daily needs.
I stared at the crackling fire, thinking hard on the wisdom there. Fresh into having two kids, I already feel the weight pressing in at times and the stress. Some days you just want to scream because you need time for yourself.
I haven’t figured out what all I can treat myself to each day but so far in the last week I took 30 minutes to buy a pair of jeans at our new Old Navy, got my hair cut and styled, shaved my legs, and took the babies along with me to get a peppermint mocha.
Obviously, finances don’t always allow for me to do those things every week, so I’ll have to get creative, but taking the time to do them refreshed my spirit and helped get me through the day. And I think they helped me be a better wife and mom.
I’m really thankful for women like Karen who encourage younger moms who haven’t quite been there and done that yet. It definitely helps to know you’re not alone.
How do you make sure you’re treating yourself and what does it do for you?
This week- just a day before Thanksgiving- I’ve been reminded of how ungrateful I am over so many things. It’s such a crazy thing because I’d normally consider myself a thankful person but I’ve been taking a good look into my heart and I’ve found some ugly parts that aren’t so beautiful.
Like being ungrateful that:
Instead of being grateful that:
It’s hard to be thankful when things aren’t always the way I hope they’d be. But supernaturally, God is able to help me choose gratitude and give me real joy– every day- not just when I’m gathered around the table for turkey once a year.
And that is what’s beautiful!
Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thes. 5:16-18
As I type this post (Tuesday evening), my sweet little Rebekah is sleeping on my chest- head tucked under my chin. She loves to cuddle with her Mommy in the evenings before she goes down.
Life has changed quite a bit in our household since her birth. John has had some really rough days acting out, whining, hitting, having fits and more whining. He just doesn’t know what to think of his sister. Poor little guy. We’re trying our best to love on him well since his world has changed so much too. His behavior is improving though with each day.
I’ve gone through a range of emotions. I’ve been happy, sad, and struggled with anger in dealing with John’s behavior while I’m overtired. I’m still trying to get used to balancing two babies. We are well supported by friends and family. Many people have brought meals, watched John, and been there for anything we’ve needed. When she’s in town, my mom has been amazing helping with laundry, meals, grocery shopping and anything I could ever need.
Jeremiah is working hard to provide for our family and is finishing his seminary classes for this semester. He helps me clean when he comes home and helps reinforce discipline with John. I feel like our marriage is growing stronger in all the change.
And Rebekah… she’s been a breeze so far. She eats and sleeps and is really laid back. She’s our little dolly.
In the midst of the transition, I am grateful. In the chaos at times, I wouldn’t want anything else in life. My perspective is beginning to shift regarding motherhood too. It is a whole lot harder than I ever thought! It’s such a sacrifice and isn’t for the weak at heart.
Life with two… I don’t have it all figured out. I’m far from being the perfect Mom. But I do know that somehow, it’s still the most rewarding job in the world. Even on the really hard days.
Well Rebekah has managed to move her little body all the way off my chest and into my arms. She’s all stretched out. Her eyes are still closed, her mouth is open and she’s breathing hard.
I pray these moments won’t slip away too fast.