any day now.

This is the first time since entering my third trimester that I’ve had the chance to sit down and write. Yet here I am, 37 weeks, 4 days. Dilated at a “5cm+.” Increased Braxton Hicks and practice labor three of the last four days. Hospital bags packed. I’m sitting in Eliza’s almost-finished nursery while Lydia sleeps. I’m sitting in here trying to process the reality that we’ve finally hit the any day now stage of pregnancy. Kevin, Lydia and my world is about to change… any day now.

It’s been a challenging last few months. This pregnancy, by far, has been worse on my body than my first. Braxton Hicks and piercing abdomen cramps wake me up at night. One night, I felt paralyzed laying on my back and couldn’t move for several minutes, panicking to tears and waking up my husband who proceeded to lift me to an upright position through piercing pain and coach me through breathing until the cramping went away. Daily I’ve been pushing through hemorrhoids, heartburn, pelvic pressure, fatigue, and not to mention seasonal colds and a teething toddler.

I’m ashamed to admit that there’ve been moments where I’ve longed for the days of not being pregnant more than the day that I will meet this precious little girl growing inside of me. It’s hard to bring attention to a child inside of me that I can’t see, and much easier to bring my attention to the discomfort I’m feeling. I remember confessing this to God one day as I clung to the words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

There have been days where I physically feel like my body is wasting away and breaking down. On the harder days, I praise God for practical truth that reminds me to

bring my attention
not to the physical
to what is seen
what is temporary,
but to the spiritual
what is unseen
what is eternal.

He promises us that our light and momentary afflictions are actually preparing us for eternal glory beyond all comparison. We may feel, emotionally or physically, the brokenness of sin in our world, but He has promised to renew our Spirit within us, every day, as we cling to Him.

And He is a God who is faithful to fulfill His good promises.

 

J O Y F U L . P R O M I S E .

Does this sub-title look familiar? If you read my post Naming Eliza Rose, you’ll recall that Eliza’s name means “joyful promise.” This has been a season of choosing joy as I cling to His promises.

About a month ago, we had the privilege of taking a family vacation to the beach for a long weekend of rest, to slow down, and treasure our last few weeks as a family of three before Eliza makes her arrival. With family help and an automatic-reply email set up for work, I fully unplugged and spent much needed quality time with the Lord through the weekend. One day while overlooking the ocean waves, I found myself in 1 Kings 8 when King Solomon dedicates the temple after the process of building it was finally complete. In a lengthy sermon, Solomon again and again echoes praises to God for fulfilling His promises. God had promised to David that his son, Solomon, would be king, and that Solomon would see the temple completed during his reign. Solomon is full of joy as he meditates on how God fulfilled this promise!

I paused from my reading and thought of my Eliza, being reminded in this story of the meaning behind her name. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for her, that she would have the gift of wisdom like Solomon and have eyes to see the way that God fulfills His promises. I prayed that she would know and trust fully in the joy of His promises.

I’m not one to ask for a sign much, but I felt the urge to open-handedly pray, “God, if this is from you, would Eliza move right now?”

Immediately after praying that prayer, I felt her move in my womb.

Overcome with peace and comfort, I continued to pray for her and also praise God that He felt so real in that moment. As I sat to finish 1 Kings 8, I came to verse 56:

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise…”

As if to just lavish me with His love, unbeknownst to me, I stumbled upon a mirror image verse of Joshua 23:14…

The verse I read the morning after we found out we were having a girl.
The verse I read while contemplating the name Eliza Rose, which means joyful promise.
The verse I wrote about in my post 3 months before this moment.
The verse that sealed her name.

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”

I sat in awe.

In an incredibly busy third trimester that included three weeks of travel, work events and deadlines, and a sprint to the end—a third trimester that has taken a beating on my body—it’s been these quiet moments of overwhelming peace, hope, and joy that have gotten me through.

 

S H E . W H O . B E L I E V E S .

As Kevin and I place the finishing touches on Eliza’s nursery, we picked out the verse that will hang above her crib. We hope that Eliza will keep this piece of art with her when she moves out of our house one day—yet even more—we hope and pray that this verse will be on her heart for all of eternity. It’s the second verse I mentioned in my previous post as we were in the process of naming Eliza. It echoes the words of Elizabeth as she greets her sister Mary, pregnant with Jesus, our Savior and Messiah, in Luke 1:45:

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

The word believed will be emphasized as an encouragement that we must choose to believe, to trust, to have faith, even when the promise is yet unseen. We must choose hope and choose truth in any season of waiting. And blessed will we be on the day when we get to look back and say not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord my God promised! All have come to pass, not one of them has failed.

So here I sit.
Waiting.
Praising.
Hopeful.
Joyful.
The wait is almost over, any day now.

I am choosing to trust God’s timing, not my own, not my doctor’s, not what other people say based on my dilation or contractions or due date. God alone is the author of her birth story. In His perfect time, in His perfect will, Eliza Rose, we are ready to meet you.

it is well.

Motherhood is sanctifying.

In the midnight hour on July 31, I had the privilege of being in the delivery room with one of my best friends, Keely. Over the last three years, I’ve walked with her through three miscarriages. Countless prayers had gotten us to that moment.

Lord, please, let her hold her baby.

Finally
her water broke
her labor began
and
there we were
at last
this momma would hold her baby.

While up until that moment in time she had yet to meet one of her babies, Keely had already experienced sanctification through motherhood. Your lack of control hits you within moments after learning about a pregnancy, and for many of us, it brings us to a place of utter dependence on the Lord. Through Keely’s pregnancy loss, God had changed her. In a time when she easily could have run away from God, she ran to Him. She chose faith and trust. Her journey brought us to this sweet moment during her labor that I will never forget.

I had stepped in at Keely’s side to give her husband Kyle a break as they prepared for a long night ahead of labor. While we laughed and danced in the waiting at first, contractions had started picking up. The mood in the room had changed but we were still at the point in labor where we could talk for the few minutes between contractions. I pulled up her premade labor playlist and the first worship song came on: It is well.

Keely shared how this song had carried her through her miscarriages. We took a moment, even in the midst of her labor and excitement, to grieve the loss of the three babies that she would never hold in this lifetime. As painful as labor is, she grieved that she wasn’t able to experience the pain of childbearing with her first three. We imagined what it would be like to hold her babies in heaven. We imagined how proud they were of their momma in this moment, having chosen to place her faith in the Lord and trust Him in the unknown.

Through tears, we listened to the words of the song as her next contraction came on. “Even through it all,” Keely whispered. “It is well.”

 

P E A C E . I N . P R O C E S S .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

Here’s what I mean. Sanctification is this process that the Bible refers to as the time between salvation (justification) and the moment when we are restored to new life in Christ for eternity (glorification). Sanctification is the in-between, it’s the process of being made holy. While we are a new creation in Christ at salvation because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17), the Lord still has a lot of work to do on our sinful hearts and flesh. And this doesn’t happen overnight. For most of us it’s a painful, long process of being made holy.

The hope of sanctification is that the longer we walk with Christ, the more we should look like Him. I have learned that God is much more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. Along the way we think we want happiness but really, our deepest desire is peace. Sanctification is the smoothing off of our rough edges and letting the desires of our heart become God’s will for our lives. It’s the pruning of dead branches, so that we can bear more fruit, and fruit that will last. It’s finding peace in our circumstances of this life, knowing that our hope rests in a Good Father who will come and redeem all the brokenness, guilt, and shame we feel and restore all of creation to perfection. Sanctification is the painful process of letting go—and letting God.

I wish I could say that things have been all rainbows and butterflies since the moment when Keely finally held her daughter, Emmaline Grace. But the next trial we will face in this life is always right around the corner. In baby Emmaline’s first month of life, Keely’s had to deal with the challenges of having a newborn and learning to nurse in the midst of Emmaline having a benign tumor on her gum and undergoing surgery at 4 weeks old. God is not done with Keely’s story yet, and neither is He done with ours.

 

I T . I S . W E L L .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

A few weeks ago, I had my own sanctifying motherhood moment. Caught between the demands of work, ministry, and our busy lives, I realized that I was not giving my daughter Lydia the attention that she deserves. In the middle of transitioning her from a morning nap ready to rush her to my parent’s house so I could get more work done, the voice of mom-guilt came in my head, accusing me of being a bad mom.

I stopped. I looked at Lydia and asked her, “Do you think I’m a bad mom?” Knowing that Lydia couldn’t answer that question, I broke down into tears. My 15-month-old daughter ran into my arms and hugged me. I picked her up and my little girl didn’t stop hugging me back for several minutes as we walked up and down the hallway. She continued hugging me until my tears finally quieted. She didn’t need to have words in that moment, she communicated everything that I needed. The Lord reminded me through my daughter that I was doing my best, and that Lydia loved me not based on “how I did as a mom that day.” She loved me because I am her momma. The same is true with God. He doesn’t love me based on “how I did as a Christian that day.” He loves me because I am His daughter.

The Lord used Lydia to encourage me to find peace in the process.

This life that my toddler and I live together isn’t going to be easy. I hear from other mommas that it only gets harder. I’m going to be an imperfect mom, and Lydia is an imperfect child. We are going to hurt each other. We are going to let each other down. We are going to have moments where we say, “I’m sorry” and ask each other for forgiveness. Yet through every trial, every mistake, every burst of anger, every moment we can’t control, and even the most joyful moments that we can’t slow down—through it all—we are being sanctified.

When I say that motherhood is sanctifying, what I mean is that motherhood brings out all the ways we fall short on our own efforts. Motherhood brings out our flaws and imperfections whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Yet God uses motherhood to refine us, to make us more dependent on Christ, and to therefore become more like Him as we choose to place our trust in Him.

It is sanctification that brings us to a place where we can say, no matter my circumstances, I have peace. God is good. He will redeem.

Through it all — it is well.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

naming eliza rose.

“It’s a little girl!” the sonogram tech announced. 

Hi, Eliza.

That was the first thought that came to my husband’s mind upon hearing the amazing news that we’re having another girl.

Kevin squeezed my hand but neither of us could take our eyes off the screen, staring at our beautiful daughter. As I watched my little girl move around on the sonogram screen, joy and relief filled me. Joy in her heartbeat and her health, and relief in feeling a deep bond with her—God is growing my ability to love a second child.

As the supernatural peace about having two girls set in, I started dreaming of her name and who she would become. I thought a lot about my one-year-old daughter Lydia, too. How will they be similar, and how will they be different? As I prayed through names we had considered, asking the Lord to reveal her name, there was one phrase I couldn’t get out of my own mind: Lydi and Liza, my daughters.

I left that open handed and started imagining decorating her nursery. I thought of the rose flower wreaths I made for a party that I’d been holding onto as décor just in case we had another girl. All of a sudden, the idea of roses seemed to fit her.

Tears came suddenly.

Rose.

 

E L I Z A .

Kevin and I have certain criteria that we love for names: familial, biblical, and meaningful. Preferably a name carries all three, which narrows our list quite significantly! We came up with the name Eliza more recently than some of the other names on our list. As we were thinking of family names one day, we got stuck on my mother’s middle name: Elizabeth. We considered that but also loved the name Eliza, not just as a nickname, but standing alone. I thought instantly of how much this season of motherhood has brought me closer to my own mom, and how special it would be to honor her name in a similar way that Lydia Evelyn’s middle name honors my mother-in-law’s middle name, Lynn.

>For more on Lydia, read Naming Lydia Evelyn, written in April 2018.

Next, we thought of Elizabeth in the Bible, a beautiful woman of God! While pregnant with her son, who we know as “John the Baptist,” she was visited by her cousin Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus. Elizabeth is one of the first people to recognize Jesus as Lord. She was filled with the Holy Spirit immediately upon Mary’s arrival and declared Mary as the mother of “my Lord.”

Elizabeth says this in Luke 1:44, “For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Finally, Eliza means “my God is an oath.” For us, the meaning of God as an oath is two-fold because it represents both our promise to God to follow Him with our lives and His abounding and unfailing promises to us as His children. We have a God who has been and always will be faithful to fulfill His promises to never leave us, to always love us, to work all things for our good, and to restore us. God had promised that He would send a Son, a Redeemer, into the world to deliver His people. Jesus came to be that fulfillment through His life, death, and resurrection. Now, through faith in Christ, we can trust that He will continue to fulfill these promises as we wait in hope for eternal life. As Elizabeth said, blessed are those who believe that there will be a fulfillment of God’s promises!

Eliza may also be used as a variant of the Hebrew name Aliza, עַלִיזָה which means “joyful.” Seeing the Hebrew word for joyful is what gave us that final affirmation that Eliza is her name. It fit perfectly next to our intention for her middle name, Rose.

 

R O S E .

The formal meaning behind Rose is to indicate rose, the flower. But to Kevin and me, the meaning of Rose has carried much more significance because of the person we ascribe that name to.

My identical twin sister, “Rosie” as we call her, is by far the most joyful person I have ever met in my life, and I have the privilege of calling her sister and best friend. She has been a constant source of light and joy in my life and continues to be. Joy is her spiritual gift, it’s the Holy Spirit’s manifestation in her, it’s who she is. To me, “Rose” represents joy. With this in mind, it’s no coincidence that Eliza also meant “joyful.”

As Kevin and I were talking and praying over the name Eliza Rose after our appointment, that’s when it all came together…

Eliza Rose means joyful promise.

 

J O Y F U L . P R O M I S E .

The next morning after our appointment, Lydia woke up around 5 o’clock with teething pain. After giving her some medicine and putting her back down for her final hour or so of sleep, I was the typical pregnant-hungry-anxious as the clock hit 5:30 a.m. I decided instead of going back to sleep to take advantage of a quiet morning and sit with the Lord, thinking and praying about Eliza Rose, and continuing to process if He had really, truly given us her name.

Coincidentally (or not), I happened to be finishing up the book of Joshua, and there it was, God speaking to me through His Word. At the end of Joshua’s life as he was charging Israel’s leaders onward, he says this:

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14).

Joyful promise.

This verse served as a reminder that He has promised good things for us. And though I may be in a season of abundance and blessings now as I bear children, I know that hard seasons will come back around.

The true test is believing in God’s good promises no matter the season.
I want to choose to trust and have faith in my God even when it isn’t obvious or easy.
I want to put my hope not in this fleeting world, but in the promise of eternity with my Father.
I want my source of joy to come from my confidence in His promises.
And
more than almost anything,
I want this daughter of mine to do the same.

I know in my heart and soul that if I continue to love God and put my faith in Jesus, God will fulfill all of the good things that He promised concerning me, even when I don’t understand.

He will never leave me (Duet. 31:8).
He will always love me (Isaiah 54:10).
He will work all things out for my good (Romans 8:28).
He will come again to restore this broken world and make all things new (Rev. 21:5).

In these promises, we find our joy.

 

.

Eliza Rose.
May her name be a reminder of God’s joyful promises to our family.
May she grow to love and trust in His joyful promises to her.

Eliza Rose, we can’t wait to meet you.
We will love you until the end of our days.
We promise.

baby two.

As I write, I’m sitting and looking out a window of our guest house on Table Rock Lake. To the west, I see a beautiful sunset, colors of pink, orange, yellow and blue painted across the sky, shadowing the Ozark Mountains. One glance to the east, and I see rain pouring onto the lake from a distance.

Such is life.

With one look you see the beautiful blessings that God provides, and in the next glance you see the brokenness of the world we live in.

I feel this tension every day, and especially in this moment as I sit down to write and process the fact that I am 14 weeks pregnant with my second child. I see the sunset. 14 weeks. Out of the first trimester. Out of the higher risk for miscarriage. Into the second trimester, just six weeks away from finding out the gender of our baby, and just 26 weeks away from meeting him or her face to face.

The next glance.

Since arriving at Young Life Camp three weeks ago for our summer assignment, two friends from my church community back home have lost babies through miscarriage. I see the rain. I feel the brokenness. I wish I could stop their storms. I wish I could trade places with them some days just to take away their hurt, their grief, their fear.

but
here
I
am

experiencing the beautiful sunset and merely glancing at the storm from a distance.

To be honest, I didn’t want to write this. I fought guilt in posting a photo of pregnancy. These two friends with recent losses aren’t the only ones I’m walking life with experiencing pregnancy loss or infertility. There are many more. The last thing I want is to be a trigger for others pain and grief. It makes me want to run and hide and pretend that I’m not experiencing the incredible blessing of having a second child that will be only 19 months apart from our first.

It’s hard to admit that I inflict shame on myself for experiencing this blessing when I have absolutely no control over my circumstances or those of others when it comes to fertility. But what I do know is this: In the midst of the broken world we live in, I have a God who redeems.

I have a God who sees the beginning and the end.
I have a God who is writing my story and their stories perfectly for His good and His glory.
While it may not seem good right now, I have a God that will see it through in His perfect timing.
He will calm their storms and bring them to the shelter of His presence and His peace.
He will redeem the hurt, the pain, the fear, and the grief, and they will rise redeemed.

With eyes wide open to the blessings of my circumstances, here’s my story.

 

F I N D I N G . O U T .

Kevin and I have always dreamed of having kids close in age. I grew up with three siblings within four years of each other, including having a twin. I have wonderful memories of childhood and still love how close the four of us are to this day. Around the time that Lydia was 9 months old, I remember feeling disappointed that I wasn’t pregnant yet, but also wanting to trust my body and trust God’s timing. I remember taking a pregnancy test, that was negative, right before I got the stomach flu. It was the first time I experienced disappointment from a pregnancy test, and I realized that it was time to start praying intentionally for God to provide another child. However, I lowered my expectations and set my mind on the present season.

A few weeks later, around the time that Lydia was 10 months old and shortly after my best friend Keely’s gender reveal party, I had a dream. In the dream, I was having a conversation with Keely and said, “You’re pregnant with a girl… I’m also pregnant with a girl!” I told Keely about it the next morning at church but shook it off as just a dream, again masking my hopes that it was reality.

About five days later and a few days after my missed period, I had another dream that I was pregnant. The next morning, I asked Kevin to pick up a pregnancy test at the store simply for “peace of mind.” When he got excited, I quickly quieted his emotions because I told him that I didn’t want him to feel let down if we weren’t pregnant, insisting that I didn’t “feel” pregnant.

The busy day began and turned out to be quite chaotic. Lydia was biting me while nursing throughout the day and having quite a few toddler moments. Even during happy hour with a few friends, I made a joke about it being my last drink but continuing to doubt that I was actually pregnant. “My cycle has been off since breastfeeding….” I claimed, among other excuses. That night I had yet another rough feeding attempt before putting Lydia to sleep and actually had to pump after. (PS, I found out later that hormones could change the taste of breastmilk for her? I’m going with that, or else, a strange coincidence that it was all on this day.) Finally, after a long day, I sat down to pump. As I was pumping, I felt a wave of nausea and extreme thirst. And that’s when it hit me. Oh my God, I feel pregnant.

Taking the pregnancy test was no longer casual after that because I knew in that moment that I was pregnant. After cleaning up my pumping supplies and confirming that Lydia was sound asleep, I grabbed the pregnancy test and started shaking as I took it, my mind racing as the pieces of how I felt the last few days were coming together. I left the test in the bathroom and after a minute or two, insisted that Kevin go in to grab the test and confirm. Around 9pm that Friday evening, I saw the look on Kevin’s face as he read it out loud and smiled. “You’re pregnant.”

Immediately we embraced in joy and excitement and—me being me—I quickly downloaded my old pregnancy app and pulled up my calendar to calculate our due date and plan out the next 9 months of our life.

 

F I R S T . T R I M E S T E R .

About one week into finding out I was pregnant, I got the stomach flu, really bad. I look back now and laugh that I thought it was pregnancy symptoms at first, so I tried to push through my work day. I remember the relief I felt when I realized I was sick and that this pregnancy shouldn’t feel that miserable all the time! Those few days forced me to slow down and just remember my dependence on the Lord throughout this chaotic season. I wrote more about what those two months looked like in my recent two entries, “finished.” and “work ahead.”

About a month later, I had my first doctor’s appointment. After my sonogram, they pushed my due date one week later to December 13. My cycle was indeed off since I was still breastfeeding. It was a small reminder that regardless of Kevin and my attempts at “trying” to get pregnant, I ovulated a week later than normal, and we happened to get lucky. The timing made it feel even less of something we could have controlled and made me even more grateful for the way God orchestrated it all. Truly it was He that created this little life and spoke his or her name into existence.

It didn’t take long for me to start showing way earlier this time around. My stretched out skin and belly button quickly popped back out, and around 7 weeks, I realized that I needed to start telling friends before they could look at me and see for themselves! Nausea and aversions were in full swing, so I slowly starting weaning Lydia in hopes that would help. Lydia was fully weaned around the time I was 10 weeks pregnant, and nausea ceased shortly after that. I was also wrapping up my Master’s degree at that time, leaving behind a lot of stress that I’m sure wasn’t helping. It was a tough few months not feeling well and working really hard with a lot of late nights. I had little time to process the fact that I was pregnant and merely just trying to survive!

 

R E A D Y . F O R . T W O .

We publicly announced our pregnancy right before leaving for our month-long summer camp assignment for Young Life. Being at camp has allowed me time to rest and time to spend one-on-one time with Lydia in this sweet season before Baby #2 comes. It has allowed me time to process the previous two months as well as physically, emotionally, and spiritually recover.

As I hit the 14-week milestone and am headed into our final week away from home, I feel peace and a readiness to look forward to December and begin making preparations. I’ve started to process the fact that I am going to love another tiny human as much as I love Lydia. That he or she will be like Lydia… but different. Their own person.

Sometimes I get scared. Will I really love baby two as much as I love my first? It seems hard to fathom. I also have feared: will God provide the finances for us to support a family of four on a ministry salary? Will we be able to afford sending them both to college? In all these fears, He has comforted us and provided people to speak truth and encouragement to us.

Still, I am scared. Aren’t we all scared for the unknown? Will I be able to do it all? Will I be able to be a working momma of two? Will I be able to care for a newborn while having a toddler? Will God really provide the finances? Will our marriage continue to strengthen as life only seems to get more messy?

In the midst of the unknowns and the fears, I am thankful for a God who sustains me through it all and gives me peace, assurance, and confidence. He hasn’t failed me yet, and I choose to trust in His promise, that He never, ever will.

Baby two, we’re ready for you.

work ahead.

“You’re only as loved as your last success.”

My husband Kevin read those words aloud and they brought instant emotion and conviction. He was reading the description of an Enneagram Style-3 from the book The Road Back to You, a required reading for our upcoming Young Life staff conference.

There is no denying the truth: I am prone to live by this lie every single day.

The trouble is that this lie is a never-ending cycle. It doesn’t matter if one day I’m a professional athlete, or getting married, or having a baby, or starting a new job. Days or sometimes hours after achieving the goal, the same lie creeps in: that was yesterday’s success… but what are you doing now? Who do people see you as today? Are your accomplishments today worth others loving you?

As a 3, my heart question is Who am I to this group? I am constantly aware of my public image, and when my accomplishments don’t match the public image that I seek to have, I feel deep shame. In believing this lie, I am fooled into thinking that my public image is all that I am. I can let my drive to succeed overpower everything else in my life. As a 3-wing-2, I am especially sensitive to whether others notice or approve of my successes or accomplishments.

Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the road for me. What I enjoy about the Enneagram test is it exposes your internal motivations but also says this: don’t stay there. Through self-awareness, confession, repentance, prayer, and accountability, I have the opportunity to choose God’s truth and seek healthy change.

 

T R U T H .

I am more than my success. I am more than the image others see. I am a child of God, loved not for what I do but for who I am (1 John 3:1).

Failure simply reminds me that I have a God who never fails. It reminds me of my utter dependence not on my own power, but on the transforming power of God (1 Corinthians 1:9, Romans 12:2).

I don’t need approval from other people, only from the Lord. Because of Jesus’ death on the Cross, God’s wrath was already poured out for my sin. There is no condemnation. The debt has been paid. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment on the Cross, God approves of me. His love for me is not contingent on my worldly or holy accomplishments (Galatians 1:10, Romans 8:1).

I don’t have to cut corners for the sake of getting things done. I can seek the Lord and seek patience, trusting that His timing is perfect. I can be present with my family and friends and trust that the work will get done (2 Peter 3:8-9).

 

T I M I N G .

The timing of this staff conference and the processing that followed came in the midst of a season of accomplishments: finishing a master’s degree and moving forward with a dream job opportunity doing marketing and communications for Young Life College.

As many of you know, I left a career in college athletics days before my daughter Lydia was born because my heart was in ministry. Without having a set job, I knew that God was calling me to wait and focus on learning to be a mom and finishing my master’s before asking the question: What’s next? I wondered what life would be like as a stay-at-home mom. Will I enjoy it? Will I go crazy?

About three weeks postpartum, I found myself creating work. In the midst of a financial deficit for our local Young Life area, I started putting together a team of people to support Kevin and our other local staff and came alongside my husband in support raising. Four weeks postpartum, I was ready to start back up my master’s program after a brief leave of absence. I looked forward to school work and any Young Life project I could get my hands on. I was quickly affirmed: I genuinely enjoy work.

All of this said, I had plans to finish my master’s degree around the same time as Lydia’s first birthday. The vision of walking down the University of Kansas campanile hill on graduation day with my one-year-old daughter cheering me on became my motivation. I surrendered to the Lord: I won’t try to discern what’s next for work. I will wait, pursue patience, and focus on family and ministry. When grad school is done, I will discern God’s will for what’s next.

 

T O M O R R O W .

Ironically, this Young Life conference for staff and their spouses came the same week as my finals. I almost didn’t go, but I’m so glad that I did. I had the opportunity to get away for a few days and seek the Lord on what was next.

Through learning about myself over this last year, balancing part-time work and grad school, I found that this was actually really enjoyable and healthy for me as a “Style-3.” If you know the Enneagram, this statement comes at no surprise to you as a 3. On the positive side, I desire productivity and efficiency, bringing projects to completion, and accomplishing goals. I am driven, motivated, energetic, and enjoy being busy. I am a multi-tasker who is able to think about and balance several things at once.

Pursuing advancement and more hours in my ministry career doesn’t just have to happen because my family could use the finances, but because I actually, really and truly, enjoy work.

I prayed to God for an opportunity in ministry that would provide finances yet also have the flexibility needed as a pastor’s wife and a mom to littles.

I prayed that my heart would be genuine in wanting this not out of my default, self-promoting motivations but because it’s God’s will.

I prayed that my natural motivation to accomplish goals would be used not just for my own benefit, but to serve the Kingdom of God. I want to compete for His glory, not my own.

God has and is continuing to answer those prayers in the work ahead.

With my Master’s in Business Administration out of the way, it feels so good to move forward in freedom with being a working mom, even with Baby #2 on the way. I love my job doing communications, marketing, and event planning for Young Life College and I can’t wait to see where the Lord takes my career in the future!

 

.

One of the best ways that I can love my daughter is by modeling for her a woman who chases the dreams that God places in her heart.

How can I possibly teach her to chase her dreams if I’m not chasing my own?

Thank you, Lord
for
dreams
and
dreams
come true.

finished.

After breastfeeding for about a month after finding out I was pregnant with our second baby, first trimester nausea was in full-swing. In the week before Lydia’s first birthday, not only was I ready to be done, but I could tell Lydia was ready too. So on May 6, I was prepared to nurse Lydia for the last time. The next day I was leaving town for a Young Life Staff Conference for three days, so the timing was perfect to wean her completely off our last remaining feeding, the nighttime feeding.

Our family was out late that evening with our church City Group. When we got home, I started Lydia’s normal bedtime routine, mentally and emotionally preparing for my last time breastfeeding Lydia. Despite feeling ready to be done, this was still a significant and emotional moment. Whether Lydia was teething, tired, coming off a cold, or a combination, she refused to nurse and on the contrary, wouldn’t stop screaming. My husband suggested that we just put her straight into her crib for bed, and I glared back and him and sternly responded “no.” And I tried again. And again. And again. Lydia’s screaming only got louder.

As my daughter cried in my arms
unwilling to nurse
I gave up
what was supposed to be my last time nursing her
never happened
it was gone
there would be no last time.
I held her
and cried just as loud
I let go
this season,
it is finished.

 

L O O K I N G . B A C K .

We read a bedtime story through tears and my daughter went straight to sleep immediately after laying her in her crib. As I exited the nursery, my husband was concerned about my strong emotions yet confused. I explained to him the thoughts racing through my mind:

Memories.
The very first time Lydi nursed, what seemed like minutes after she was born.
The emotional roller coaster of trying to get her to latch after my milk came in, feeling helpless for days.
The six months of her not eating any solid foods, only nursing for nutrition and survival.
The late, dark nights and early, dark mornings.
The countless hours and hours of feeding her.
The special bond that only mama had with her.
Done.
Gone.
Finished.

But more than just this simple act of nursing her, it was more.
Weaning represented the physical symbol of the present reality.
The first year of my first baby’s life is over, and I will never get it back.

Being pregnant through all this surely wasn’t helping the hormones and the emotions. But as I explained to Kevin the bigger picture and processing her first year being done, he understood. In fact, he joined in the reminiscing and sat and cried with me. We talked memories of her first year, from the moment we met her to taking her home from the hospital, to all her firsts. We celebrated the walking, talking, full-of-joy toddler that she is now. We grieved the time that we’ll never get back but laughed at the memories that we’ll hold forever. We continue to stand utterly in awe of how it’s possible to love a child so incredibly deeply.

I wish time could rewind, stand still, and move forward all at the same time. And yet, it moves forward. And in healthy emotional and spiritual processing, so will I.

 

T H R E E . D A Y S .

After three days away, I came home ready to embrace our new routine and celebrate my little girl’s first birthday. As I write this, I notice the way that God’s presence was with me throughout the week. If it wasn’t for the series of events that night, I may not have taken the time to feel, grieve, and process the emotions that came along with the change. God used selfishly unfavorable events to bring about greater good. Though it was hard to see in the moment, after three days away, I came home excited to continue to love Lydia and meet her needs in the countless other ways that only mamas can do.

The phrase, “It is finished,” reminds me of another scene in John 19. On Calvary’s Hill, the Son of God, who lived a perfect, sinless life, experienced the undeserving weight of sin and death on the Cross. After three days, Jesus rose from the dead. God used selfishly unfavorable events to bring about greater good. Though it was hard to see in the moment, after three days away, He resurrected to give us hope, joy, adoption, peace, and a promise of eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Really, “It is finished” was only the beginning.

.

In the case of my very normal, mundane life, the same hymn rings true.
As we celebrated her first birthday with family and friends
It marked the end of year zero
And the beginning of year one.

Lydia Evelyn, we are excited to continue to watch you grow and see who you become.
Really, sweet girl, it’s only the beginning.

 

march on.

March.
What a month this has been.

March 1 marked the day after my nephew’s due date and the start of a crazy fundraising campaign for Douglas County Young Life. So much has happened since that day.

 

T H E . H O S P I T A L .

Around 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5, I received the text from my sister Rosie that she was in labor. Immediately I called her, made arrangements for Lydia, picked up Rosie’s dog from their house, ran by home, pumped, and was at the hospital by 10:30 p.m. My nephew, Joel Michael, was born on Wednesday, March 6 in the early afternoon. I had the honor of being in the labor and delivery room, at Rosie’s side, through it all.

I saw my sister endure 14 hours of natural labor, displaying an inner strength and self-control I always knew she had. I saw the way Luke deeply loves Rosie. If I could count the number of times that he told her that she was beautiful and how proud he was of her, I’d be in the hundreds. I saw baby Joel’s sweet face as he was being born, witnessing his father shout the long-awaited gender reveal that it’s a boy, and his mother embrace him repeating “my boy, my boy…”

Luke and Rosie wept at the sight of him.
I did too.
Immediate joy filled the room.
Our lives will never be the same.

I walked out of the room to the waiting room. At this point I hadn’t slept in 30-some hours, or eaten much, or pumped. I didn’t realize how badly my head was throbbing. Would I do it again? Yes. One million times over, yes.

 

B A C K . H O M E .

Later that evening, after a much-needed afternoon nap, I was feeding Lydia her dinner. Kevin was out of town until the next day and it’s fair to say I was completely exhausted. Instead of eagerly eating each bite until she became disinterested, Lydi started grabbing the spoon, yanking it with her way-too-strong grip, tossing food everywhere, crying, and throwing a fit. Sleep deprived and low on patience, I raised my voice at her, attempting to pull the spoon back from her strong grip. She took one look at me in confusion and sadness before erupting into a full-on meltdown.

Ironically,
on the day that I held my newborn nephew,
my daughter displayed her first signs of toddler.

It wasn’t until the next day, after a full night of sleep, after Kevin got home from traveling, that I was able to put words to my emotions in that moment. As I processed the birth of my nephew, I realized that my baby is no longer a baby.

Well, she is, technically. At 10-months old, she was still two months away from being considered a “toddler” by definition and, trust me, I’m savoring this time. But nevertheless, it hit me, this past month, that indeed my season of life with my first baby as a baby is coming to an end.

I prayed for a lot of grace, patience, and the ability to love Lydia for who she is in the stage she’s in, never wishing she was in a stage that passed or a stage to come. But loving who she is now.

I love that she voices opinions and preferences.
I love that she’s so close to walking.
I love that she’s so curious, constantly on the move and getting into anything and everything.
I love that she’s so aware of people around her, looking to share and play whenever she can.
I love 10-month-old Lydia.

The grace to acknowledge that my season of her as a baby is coming to an end helps me to love her better where she’s at now. Acceptance gives me patience with her every time she throws a fit during mealtime or diaper changes. The peace amist time moving forward has allowed me to not be so insecure, wondering if her behavior is a reflection of me, but instead laughing off what’s outside of my control and commit to truly parenting her.

In this renewed mentality, I have the freedom to love her for who she is and not who I wish her to be.

 

M A R C H . O N .

I started a playlist that I’ve been listening to on repeat that I titled March On. It served as the subtle reminder to keep going with the fundraising campaign. To keep going during the hours of schoolwork late at night as I hope to finish my Master’s degree this May. To keep going as I try to squeeze in my two workouts per week, attempting to stay healthy. To keep going while I work from home, maximizing every millisecond of Lydi’s naptime.

This month seemed like a grind, but now that it’s over and I look back, I am in shock and awe at God’s provision.

I witnessed our Lord provide an additional $22,000 in funding support for Douglas County Young Life from over 65 different people.

I celebrated a beautiful gender reveal party for one of my best friends, Keely, whose journey has included three consecutive miscarriages.

I’ve seen my sister thrive as a new momma, overcoming the adversity of being a new parent, and experience the joy of motherhood.

I’ve celebrated birthdays, engagements, milestones, pregnancy announcements of dear friends, and more. Time is moving forward, and, in joy, so will I.

This thing we call life.
It is beautiful.
It is worth it.
It is worth marching on.