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.

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.

Mother’s Day.

Today is my first Mother’s Day, and as Kevin reminded me last night, the first of the rest of my life.

When I saw this date, May 13, 2018, just eight days away from my due date, I wondered if I would be spending Mother’s Day pregnant, in the hospital, or on the other side of Lydia’s birth. In this moment, early in the morning after yet another night of restless sleep, I sit in our nursery, wondering about meeting my daughter.

Baby Lydia’s room is on the east corner of our house, with two large windows facing the east. The morning sunrise shines brightly through the windows, light filling the space. Everything in her room is in order. Her clothes are washed, folded, and put away with a few dresses hanging in the closet. Her diaper changing pad sits on an old, hand-me-down dresser, big enough to store all of her diaper and sanitary needs. Her various blankets are folded and hung from a wooden ladder. Her books and a few toys are organized neatly in a crate on the floor. A white wall clock ticks as time passes, every second marking one second closer to her birthday. Decorations are set, custom designed with her name on them and Bible verses that already ring true in her life. I sit in our new rocking chair, swollen feet propped up on the ottoman, computer on my lap with my hands laid gently to the side of my 38 centimeter belly, watching my daughter’s movements as I type.

As my motherly instincts set in, I find an inner desire to bring her home to a clean, organized and prepared space. Like a mother bird building her nest, our little nest for Lydia is finally complete. As we put together the finishing touches for her nursery this weekend, I was reminded of Jesus’ words that He shared with His disciples during the Last Supper.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

 

L E T . N O T .

In this simple passage, Jesus acknowledges our anxiety about that which is uncertain. In the context, Jesus had just finished prophesying Peter’s denial, and He was letting His close friends know that He was leaving them. Why? Because He had to die on a Cross in order to fulfill God’s great plan for the redemption of humanity. Yet we can hear these words, let not your hearts be troubled, and we can apply them to that which is uncertain in our own lives.

What day will I go into labor?
Will I be ready?
Will she be healthy?
What will life be like on the other side of her birth?

 

B E L I E V E .

Jesus’ response to why we should not be troubled? Because we have the incredible opportunity to believe in the promises of God fulfilled in the person of Jesus. These promises proclaim that He is sovereign over our circumstances, doubts, and fears because He goes before all things (Colossians 1:17). To my uncertainties, I need only to choose belief, and He grants me peace in the midst of the unknown.

He knows the day.
He has prepared me.
Her life is in His hands.
God will be with me on the other side of her birth.

 

A . P L A C E . F O R . Y O U .

Jesus says that He goes ahead of us to prepare a place for each of us. He says there are many rooms in His Father’s house, and one of those rooms seems to be set aside for each of His children. In this promise, I now think of Lydia Evelyn’s room.

As we prepare a place for her in our house
before her arrival,
Jesus has given me the perfect picture of the way
He is preparing a place for us in Heaven
before our arrival.

I imagine the joy that we will have when we bring Lydia home for the first time. One of the first things I’ll do is bring her into her room to show her all the preparations we’ve made for her. I’ll show her the closet and all her adorable clothes that her friends and family have purchased for her. I’ll show her the dresser, reassuring her that her needs will be cared for. I might let her feel her soft blankets, and tell her of the ones made by and in honor of her great grandmothers. I’ll show her some of her books and her toys. I’ll glance at the clock, which will remind me that the waiting is over, and I’ll tell her how happy I am to have her home. I’ll read her aloud the Scripture that hangs over her crib and tell her about Jesus. And then, soon enough, I’ll sit with her in my rocking chair, feet propped up on the ottoman, to spend intimate time feeding her and holding her.

Is this the way that God, our Father, waits to be fully united with us in heaven?
Is this the kind of joy that He experiences after our long awaited arrival?
Will we get to heaven, greeted by our Father, and He’ll immediately show us with eager excitement this place that He has prepared for us?

 

W H E R E . I . A M .

Jesus reassures His disciples that He will be coming back, even after death. He will rise from the dead.
Why?
To take us to Himself, so that where He is, we may be also (John 14:3).
He knows that in the deepest longing of our hearts, we need nothing more than to be with Him.

Why does God love us so much? Why does He want us to be with Him intimately? Are we not imperfect people that constantly fall short of His holiness?

With renewed perspective on my first Mother’s Day, I think about all we’ve done to prepare for Lydia. What has she done for me? Absolutely nothing. (In fact, made my life a little less convenient these last nine months!) However, I don’t love her because of what she’s done. She’s done nothing to earn our countless hours spent preparing a place for her. I love her because of who she is.

Because she is my daughter,
I long to meet her
to spend time with her in our home.
Because she is my daughter,
I prepare a place for her.

.

God loves you, did you know that? And it’s not because of what you’ve done or what you haven’t done or what you deserve. He loves you because you are His son or His daughter. He is preparing a place for me and for you. What other response do we have, but to believe?

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:18-18)