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.

dear husband.

Dear Husband,

You are 30 years old today.

I remember when you were 20 years old. That’s when I met you. Back then you were really just a kid. I was too. I was only 18. You caught my eye then, but I never imagined who you would become.

I never imagined the way you would pursue me.
The way you would chase after God’s will for your life with a relentless drive.
I never imagined you would save every penny from your first real job to buy me a ring.
That you would buy that dang ring as soon as you could and propose almost two years before you knew we’d be married.
I never imagined you’d get down on one knee, in front of the entire ministry that we held so dear to our hearts and ask me to marry you.
I said yes.

I never knew that we would travel Europe, backpack through national parks, road trip across the country, and spend summers at Young Life camp.
I never knew that we would build a life in Lawrence.
That we would a buy a home and start to make it our own.
That we would adopt the world’s weirdest and most timid dog.
I never knew how many softball games you’d sit through.
That you would make me coffee every morning and hold me every night.
That we would say yes to a life of ministry, challenging each other daily to give our lives away.
You never lose sight of Jesus.
Thank you.

I never knew how many tears you’d see my cry,
but also, how many times you’d make me laugh.
I never knew the way you would fight for me to pursue my dreams.
You are my constant encourager and my biggest fan.
I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today without you.

I never knew the way you would be at my side, calming me through childbirth.
I didn’t let you leave my side the whole time—not that you wanted to.
That experience taught me that your voice is the loudest in my life.
Your voice is louder than the pain I feel on the hard days.
What you say, I believe.
I trust you.

I never knew the way you would weep when you saw our daughter, Lydia, for the first time.
The way you would dance with her
and play with her
and care for her.
I never knew the way our daughter would look at you.
You are such a good Daddy.
She thinks the world of you.
So do I.

But all those things have come to be, and
here
we
are.

You are 30 years old today, and I am so proud of who you are.

You are a man of integrity.
You are a man who fights your sin.
You are a man who sees the brokenness in the world and fights for justice.
You are wise, you seek knowledge, you seek truth.
You’ve gained the respect of many around you,
but no one respects you more than I do.

I see what no one else sees.
I see the way you hide away early in the morning and late at night to spend time with Jesus.
I admire that and often wish I had a faith like yours.
I see the way you prioritize Lydia and I, even when outside voices are the loudest.
You choose to drown them out to be still with us.
Thank you.

So here’s to the next 10, the next 30, or Lord willing the next 60 years.
Let’s lock arms and grow old together.
There’s no other man I’d choose to spend the rest of my life with.
Thanks for being my partner, my lover, and my best friend.

Let’s continue on this crazy ride as parents.
Let’s take on more house projects we regret.
Let’s keep chasing the next generation of college students, sharing Jesus with them, and caring for them regardless of their response.
Let’s keep serving in our church every Sunday we can.
Let’s keep fighting for our marriage to be first.
Let’s keep chasing Jesus and selling out for His kingdom.
Let’s keep giving away all that we receive,
and never forget that the best is yet to come.

Happy birthday, Kevin. I love you.

Your Wife

just wait.

I can’t tell you how many times in my motherhood journey I’ve heard the phrase “just wait.”

In pregnancy… just wait until you are further along! Just wait until childbirth. Just wait until the arrival. And then your life will change.

And as my husband and I would celebrate Lydia’s milestones as she got closer to mobility, such as rolling over or pulling her knees up, again we’d hear from so many parents who have gone before us, just wait until she’s mobile. And then your life will change. 

To be completely honest, I’ve gotten so tired of hearing the phrase just wait from both friends and strangers, that I’m now trying to take that phrase out of my vocabulary as I talk with other friends who are pregnant or new mommas.

Is there not always something next? Having two kids together? The terrible toddler years? The teenager years? Just wait.

I truly doubt
the phrase just wait
will ever end
and
I’ll get to the day
where I wonder what
I’ve been waiting for.

 

L E N S . M A T T E R S .

Social media gets a lot of criticism. People claim that it’s a pit for comparison where people only share the “highlights” of their life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t scrolled through Instagram stuck in that very same comparison pit. But one thing I’ve wondered: is putting your highlights on social media all that bad? What I’m getting at here is, in an effort to share the joys of my life in a creative expression on social media, I am making a conscious effort to focus on the positives in my life. Yes, it may have been a stressful day, but my baby’s smile made me laugh, and that’s what I would like to choose to celebrate and choose to focus on.

Lens matters. What lens do we view our life? Do we focus on the positives, or the negatives?

It seems that when it comes to having a mobile baby, most people focus on the negatives.

It’s impossible to get anything done.
You’ll have no time to yourself.
You can’t take your eye off her.

What about all the positives?

My daughter is exploring the world!
She’s laughing and learning!
She’s growing and getting stronger!
It’s fun!

My charge is this: As we go through life transitions, and listen to other people’s reactions to them, let’s put their perspectives into perspective.

See, it’s not just having a mobile baby. Countless told me that marriage would be hard. After all, its famous nickname is the ball and chain! Well, I’m almost six years in and I’m still trying to figure out when I’m going to discover the “hard” that everyone talked about.

Don’t get me wrong, marriage can be messy, and our relationship takes work. Just like in parenthood, there are times when Lydia’s mobility has been inconvenient. I have to be more flexible in my days and willing to ask others for help to make sure the work gets done. But the joy of marriage and the joy of motherhood far outweighs any of the bad. In fact, I can’t even compare the two.

“Rejoice in the Lord always… do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)

The joy, hope, and peace that comes from a life in Christ Jesus, because of His life, death, and resurrection, transcends all understanding. That’s what I choose to focus on.

 

F I L T E R . O U T .

As Philippians 4:8 tells us, let us think about the things excellent and praiseworthy. Just as we change the filter on our photos to bring in better lighting, let us filter out the negative thoughts and voices that fill our mind, and choose to focus on the positives.

The more we focus on the positives,
the more,
over time,
we will experience
the peace
of God
and
more importantly
the God
of peace.

I’m not saying to be ingenuine or display an unrealistic life. We must own every emotion that we feel, positive or negative, and work through and process those. But I am saying that it’s OK to celebrate the highlights and to place your focus on the positives. You may just find yourself loving your life more, finding peace, and experiencing the very One who enables it all.

Ask yourself, what lens do I view this transition or circumstance in my life? A life-altering challenge for the worse, or an exciting adventure?

Don’t just wait for the circumstances to change, better or worse. Embrace the today you are living, and understand that the present is a gift, even in the mess.

.

As soon as Lydia learned to crawl, she started pulling up. Her upward mobility reminds me to see mobility, as well as many other changes in life, with the positive lens.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)