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)

make me new.

There is something in us all that loves the idea of a New Year. Perhaps it’s because God is in the business of making things new. The New Year is an opportunity for us to turn the page, set goals, and dream dreams of what could be.

This New Year’s Eve was very nostalgic for me for several reasons. Mostly because I thought a lot about where I was exactly a year ago and how different life is now. I was halfway through my pregnancy and, by way of a New Year’s Eve, all-out gender reveal, we found out that we were having a girl and named her Lydia Evelyn.

This year, I spent New Year’s Eve at Young Life Camp with my 7-month-old, beautiful, healthy, mobile and joyful baby, Lydia Evelyn.

Not only was 2018 about realizing and living into a call of motherhood, but for those who have followed my journey, you know that it was also a year of me taking a leap of faith and pursing a call into full-time ministry. After a long ten months of trusting God in 2018 with no idea where obedience would lead, being unsure if this path would equate to an actual job, the Lord provided a position within Young Life working part-time from home as the Young Life College Midwest Divisional Admin. It seemed only fitting, then, that I spent New Year’s Eve literally living out this calling, working as a Camp Director for a student weekend at Young Life’s Clearwater Cove while having a baby in arms through it all!

 

L I S T E N .

I struggle to sit still. As an achiever, I thrive on busyness and completing tasks. Even “rest” for me involves listening to a podcast while folding laundry. And, might I add, having a mobile baby and a new job doesn’t make finding time to rest any easier! So, I’ve been finding ways to trick myself into sitting still. (Whatever works, right?) My latest trick has been painting my nails. After you paint your nails, what do you do? You have to sit still to let your nails dry. If you try to do anything too quickly after, they chip. So, I packed my nail polish to camp. And, during one of Lydia’s naps, I painted my nails to keep me from doing anything else, from touching my phone, or computer, or even my pen. I pulled up a chair by the window, overlooking the lake, letting my nails dry, and just sat still.

I thought a lot about the New Year. I thought a lot about 2018 and wondered where I would be a year from now. What excites me about 2019 actually isn’t change. (Without a doubt, 2018 was about change!) But 2019 will get to be a year where I grow and settle into my new job while also watching my beautiful daughter grow. Yes, I hope to reach some milestones, specifically in finishing my master’s degree in May. But, Lord willing, I like to think that I have an idea of what 2019 holds. (Maybe I’ll look back at this statement a year from now and laugh, but here’s where I’m at now!)

So, as I sat down and asked the Lord for a word or phrase or vision for 2019, the word that came out of nowhere that He placed on my heart was the word: support.

 

L I V E .

As I prayed into this word “support” more, sitting still and overlooking the lake, I felt the peace of God. In 2018, I relied on others for an immense amount of support. Multiple baby showers and help through the last half of pregnancy, preparing for a baby, and not to mention child birth and recovery! I let others serve me and accepted numerous meals and gifts. My husband Kevin was my chief encourager, reminding me to trust God in pursuing full-time ministry, even when I doubted. Regularly, he encouraged me to finish my master’s degree, reminding me that it will be worth it, and meanwhile serving me relentlessly so that I could do so. Kevin has truly laid down his life for me this past year, as God calls all husbands to do in Ephesians 5:25, supporting me through pregnancy, postpartum, and job transitions.

And now, feeling like I have settled into a routine, a new lifestyle, and a new calling, with joy I get to recognize that it’s my time to give back and to support those around me.

Supporting Lydia will take much more of my attention now that she’s mobile. Productive hours have dwindled down to when she’s asleep or with a babysitter, and you know what, that’s OK. I have the privilege of letting go of expectations and enjoying her for the few hours of awake time I get with her each day, knowing that the work will always get done.

Another dream for 2019 is being able to support my husband more this year. He also has dreams of graduate school through seminary, and I want to be able to offer him the same support that he has offered me through these last few years. I want to help him to have the space that he needs to work, read, study, and do the things that give him life. Such is marriage, I know that there will be seasons where one of us has greater needs. I am determined in, as much as I can control, to make this year the one where I get to serve and support him.

And last but not least, I want to support my ministry, my friends, and extended family. I want to love people well. But like, really well. I want to celebrate people’s birthdays and accomplishments and milestones with a party. I want to be generous in hospitality. I want to serve without reservations. I want to attack the bitterness in my mind and be the first to see that it’s a “me-issue” and love even those that are hard to love.

In writing and reflecting, I am brought back to one of my favorite passages in Scripture:

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

May I let the love of Christ control me as I strive to pursue what it means to support others in my life. Just as He, who lived a perfect and holy life, died for me, may I no longer live for myself, but live for Him who created me, saved me, and sustains me.

And again,
in 2019
Lord God,
I need your help.
Make me new.

 

“And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelations 21:5)

six months.

As Lydia turns six months old, I have been reflecting on a few things I’ve learned over this past half-year about myself in light of who God is. Here are six things in honor of celebrating six months of Lydia’s life.

O N E .

He still wants all of my heart.

It’s truly hard to put into words how I feel about my daughter. The best way I can think to explain it must start with the reminder that she was once a literal part of me. I was pregnant with Lydia for nine months. I felt her grow inside of me. The same way that I feel a oneness with the Spirit of God who lives inside of me, I felt one with Lydia. I felt her move and felt connected emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to her. As we spent that time bonding while she was in my womb, she truly felt like a part of me, and that feeling didn’t go away when she was born. She was set on my chest after birth and it still felt like she was a part of me. Even now, when I nurse her or she lays on my skin, I sense that same connection. So naturally, it’s not easy to be away from her. When I’m away from her, it feels like a part of me is missing.

And now I see why some mommas wait years before having their first night away from their babies. It doesn’t feel natural to do so. With all that being said, this past month I had a few overnight opportunities away from the home that brought upon a decision. Do I limit my capacity in these once-in-a-lifetime activities, or spend nights away from Lydia? (One was the wedding of a close friend that included a few overnights with the bridal party, and the other was a conference in Seattle.) As I prayed about a decision to bring Lydia with me or to let a trusted family member care for her, the Lord reminded me that He wants all of my heart. Choosing to leave Lydia in someone else’s care isn’t not loving her. It’s actually letting go of control and trusting that her life is safe in God’s hand. It also for me was a simple act to remind myself that while I love Lydia very deeply, my heart belongs to God.

T W O .

He’s still calling me outside the home.

Picking right back up with where I left off from point one, I’ve learned that He’s still calling me outside of the home and into the lives of others. While I spend most days at home with Lydia and her daily care is my greatest priority, the Lord hasn’t stopped my calling to love my neighbors, to love those in my community, and to reach out to the broken hearted. While my primary ministry is within my home to my husband and to my daughter, in this season, He has only increased my fire and calling to reach the lost with the good news of Jesus. I’ve loved filling my weeks meeting with students, having friends over for dinner, and creating a rhythm of life around our Young Life College ministry. For more on this, read my past post Family on Mission. At the end of the day, I’m learning to walk in obedience to where God is calling me both inside and outside of the home.

T H R E E .

He will follow through with His promises.

A year ago, I was three months pregnant and I was beginning to plan for life after Lydia’s birth. In praying, the Lord gave me peace about a few things. He gave me peace to pray boldly for a paid job in ministry. But He also gave me peace in this sense to stop trying to figure it out now, because there was something that He wanted to show me first on the other side of Lydia being born. So, for the next 9 months, I didn’t try to figure it out. I just waited. I tried to be present and faithful where He was calling me. I finished what was my current full-time job. I was present with Lydia during maternity time. I served my husband in his job. I served my local Young Life area as a volunteer, pursuing a calling over a job title. If you’ve been following my blog, I wrote about this in my entry, Promotions.

Yet over the past few months I started to doubt His promise. I questioned if He was going to follow through with the promise He’d given me – that He would provide a job – that He would show me what’s next. I constantly asked: How am I going to help provide financially for my family while maintaining my ministry here in Lawrence? We had a few months of high financial output and low input as a family. I knew that this wasn’t sustainable long-term and that ultimately, I would need to find work that paid. But I also knew that God wasn’t calling me away from the mission of Young Life College and helping reach lost students with the Gospel of Jesus. I doubted wondering, how is this all going to work together?

Out of a few weeks of doubt, I decided to pick up some softball lessons on the side to make some money but to keep walking forward in faith. Within a few weeks, Bill Reazer, our Young Life College Midwest Divisional Coordinator, reached out to me with a job opportunity. Part-time, paid work that I could do from home. I would serve YL College throughout the Midwest in a communications and administrative role, which fully aligns with my giftings. I can balance it alongside the ministry I’m doing with students at KU and being home with Lydia. As I write this, I’ve fully stepped into this role, and it still feels surreal. One year later, I am in awe of God’s faithfulness. I am actually in shock that He’s answered such a specific prayer.

It’s safe to say that I doubted His voice. I thought to myself – maybe I made that up, maybe that wasn’t really God speaking. Yet I was able to confess and crush those doubts and continue walking in faith with the help of my husband and my community. And now I get the great privilege of saying: Look what God did! He followed through with His promise to me!

F O U R .

He is in control.

And thank God He is! When I take a step back and look at my life, it’s nothing the way I thought it would be five years ago, but at the same time, better than I could have ever imagined it. I never thought that I would settle down in Lawrence and work part-time from home so I could live a life of full-time ministry. I also don’t think I could have ever imagined a more perfect, beautiful, and happy little baby that I get to call my daughter. One thing that I’ve been wrestling with, in the midst of my blessings, is why in this season I am so blessed while I see many of my friends suffering. I see friends processing through child loss or infertility. I see friends who have lost a loved one. I see friends struggle with depression, anxiety, and abuse. Yet I know that suffering is not unique to them. We will all go through suffering—the question is when.

And that is why our ultimate hope must stand on the One who never changes. The One who gives us a reason for our suffering. The One who says – you think I don’t use suffering for good? Just look at what I did on the Cross. Trusting that the ultimate goal in this life isn’t to avoid suffering, it’s to glorify Jesus. And honestly, we have more opportunities to fulfil our greatest calling to glorify God and grow in our relationship with Him when we are suffering. So, when I hit that season, because it will come, may I remember in the valley what the Lord has been teaching me on the mountain.

For more on this, see my previous post Life & Death.

F I V E .

He is a perfect Father.

As a parent, I will fail. I won’t be perfect. I will sin against Lydia. I will take her for granted. I will not love her and give her my full attention in some of the moments that she needs it. I will try, but I will fail. In my imperfections, may the perfection of my heavenly Father be that much louder.

And thank you God that you are a perfect and Holy Father not just to me, but to my daughter as well. I remind myself constantly that she needs You more than she needs me. And You are perfect for her. Thank you.

S I X .

He’s doing more than I can see.

I can’t see what life will be like a few weeks from now, let alone a few years from now. What He’s calling me to now is daily faithfulness.

Spend time in His Word.
Be present with my family.
Manage the home.
Finish my master’s degree.
Serve the mission of Young Life.
Love those around me.
Keep showing up in peoples’ lives.

What I don’t see is how He will use all of this daily faithfulness in the future. But after ten years of my best attempt at day-to-day faith, I get to look back and see that He has truly done immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine, according to His work within me, and for His glory. He has been faithful to fulfil His promises, even if they didn’t turn out how I imagined or in the time I wanted them too. And even now, He’s doing more than I can see. He’s taking daily faithfulness and multiplying my efforts for His Kingdom Come. And it truly is joy, peace, and life.