One month left

Her due date is May 21, 2018. One month to go.

One more month of preparations.
One more month of pregnancy.
One more month of anticipation.
One more month until we meet baby Lydia Evelyn.

Thank you God.

I do enough thinking about the things I have left to do in the next month, what labor and delivery will be like, or what life will be like when we come home from the hospital. So with this entry I want to prioritize looking in my rearview mirror at what has passed behind me, to share and to celebrate all that God has done in the past eight months.

 

D E S P E R A T E . D E P E N D E N C E .

The Lord has taught me much about myself and my desperate dependence on Him.

After finding out we were pregnant, there was much joy but also much fear. Recently walking through multiple miscarriages with my best friend, I knew that our baby’s health was nothing but guaranteed. Every day was a gift. Some days I would feel cramps or pain, unsure if that was normal or the first sign of loss. Then there was the day I saw spotting of blood while at work. I returned to my office from the bathroom, closed my door, and just cried. After calling my doctor and urgently leaving the office for blood work at the hospital, I began to realize that this was only just the beginning of motherhood. I desperately wanted to take control of keeping this little life safe yet felt utterly helpless in my quest.

Sure, I can avoid certain foods and drinks, take my prenatals and stay active. But ultimately her entire health, her entire life, is in God’s hands. I am desperately dependent, every single day.

For the first trimester, I saw hardly any changes to my body and just felt sick all the time. A few months later I started feeling better, yet still little changes as I passed my 16-week milestone. The fact that I was pregnant became surreal because the initial excitement and announcing the news ended and life was continuing on as normal. The rush of the holidays took over as another semester ended, I turned another year older, and my husband and I started to pack our bags for the drive from Lawrence to spend Christmas in Dallas with family.

While packing for the trip, I was texting a friend who is also pregnant. She had just returned from the hospital after an emergency sonogram revealed a infection in her uterus. I pressed “send” on a text that looked something like:

In the midst of your scare, it’s just a reminder that God is in control.
He has our babies’ days numbered.
They are His.

In that same moment, I felt Lydia kick for the first time! I collapsed on my bed, not out of pain, but out of complete shock. It was as if she was responding by the very same breath:

Mommy.
I am here.
Trust Jesus with my life.

 

J O Y . A N D . R E L I E F .

The next day, Kevin and I loaded our Christmas gifts, our suitcases, and our dog Titan for the trek down to Dallas. To pass the time, I was reading aloud from my Advent Bible Study by She Reads Truth. The devotional was on none other than than the passage from Luke 1:39-45 that surrounds pregnant Mary visiting her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 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.” (Luke 1:39-45)

For clear reasons, this passage hit me in a whole new way. I thought about pregnant Mary, with the Son of God in her womb, yet the same anticipation, fear, and hope that she was experiencing. As I processed this to Kevin, I felt the fluttering kicks in my own womb for the second time! Lydia again was reminding me that God was in control of her life. Since this time, I experience joy and relief every time I feel her move. I can feel her grow with the passing weeks. Her every move is a gift.

Around 20 weeks, which is exactly halfway through my pregnancy, I had my first sonogram and actually was able to see my baby move. I got to count her fingers and her toes and see the shape of her little tiny body. When the sonogram tech showed the profile of her face, I simply cried. Yet these tears were much different than the fear driven tears I had experienced that day in my office. These were tears of relief. God was finally changing my heart from fear of losing her to hope of her arrival.

 

F E A R . T O . H O P E .

The days that followed included our gender reveal and naming her, which you can read about in my last post: Naming Lydia Evelyn. This was a turning point in pregnancy and God has made His sovereign grace more clear to me with every passing day.

As if there could be any more meaning behind her name, here’s one more: Her name, Lydia Evelyn Tietz, will give her the initials L.E.T.

May her life be a constant reminder to me to
L E T . G O .
of my fears, my inadequacies, and my helpless attempts to take control
and
L E T . G O D .
restore my hope, be my strength, and allow Him to take control.

Since letting go and letting God, trusting Him wholly without fear, He has provided in an abundance of ways. In spite of the busiest time of year for my job, I’ve had family, friends and coworkers absolutely spoil us with baby showers and almost everything we need for Lydia’s arrival! He has provided Kevin and I time to make preparations, take classes at the hospital, and time to enjoy these last few months just the two of us. He continues to provide every day as I watch Lydia grow with each passing week.

With one month left, He has transformed my heart from fear to hope, and showed me more than ever that He, our Creator, is in ultimate control.

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

By Name Part II: Naming Lydia Evelyn

If you read Part I, you read my story of how, in the very process of pursuing to learn about this calling to motherhood, I did a lot of reflecting on the idea of “names.” The Lord gifted me with revealing the meaning behind my very own name.

Everyone is different in how they approach the naming of their child. Throughout the Scripture, we see God naming His children something specific and profound that represents their calling, or His promise to them, or a reminder to glorify Himself. Several times in the Bible from Genesis to the Gospels, we actually see God’s people that are renamed after a transformation. (Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul.) The pattern of the Lord’s voice tends to be “Your name shall be _____, which means ____.”

“…your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:5)

“‘You shall be called Cephas’ which means Peter (or rock).” (John 1:42)

So after New Years Eve in a great midnight reveal when we discovered that we are having a baby girl, we took one final day to pray in confirmation of her name. The Lord gave me the sweetest vision that next morning.

Her name is Lydia Evelyn, which means beautiful life. I have known her name since the beginning of creation, before I formed the world. I have called her by name. She is mine.

In a whirlwind of emotions that included humility, joy, unworthiness, excitement, and tears of worship and praise, the Lord gave us the clearest vision on behalf of our daughter. She is not our own, she belongs to the Lord. We have the privilege of carrying and raising her, but the Lord is the one that has named her, created her, and called her into life. Seeing her grow and feeling her move every day is nothing short of a miracle to witness as He creates this life inside of me. Our God already knows her by name.

In an attempt to document all the miraculous ways that God has revealed Himself simply through the naming of our daughter, I’ll start from the moment that Kevin and I decided to start praying for a child. I meet with a friend regularly for prayer and accountability, and I asked her if she would pray that the Lord would provide a child for us. A few days later, she sent me a text message that she felt the Lord calling her to — for some reason — pray for a baby girl. I pondered this in my heart but remained open-handed.

L Y D I A .

A short time later, Kevin and I found out that I was pregnant. After the initial shock and excitement we began to process the reality that our lives would never be the same. I’ve always loved the name Lydia, not only because it’s a family name, but because of the strong female character she is in the Bible. Coincidentally, that very next Sunday at church, our pastor preached a sermon about Lydia in his introduction to a series on Philippians. Lydia’s story is documented in Acts 16 as the first Christian convert in all of Europe. Her hospitality and openness to God allows Paul to share the gospel in Philippi and plant a church there, opening the door to sharing the gospel across Europe. 

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us.” (Acts 16:14-15)

While we didn’t know the gender yet, in retrospect, this message was another gift from the Lord that confirmed her name. When we looked up the meaning of Lydia, we found that is can also mean “beautiful one.”

E V E L Y N .

Evelyn comes from two different parts. We love that it is a combination of Eve, which is my middle name, and Lynn, which is my mother-in-law’s middle name. Yet it’s the meaning behind the name that the Lord used to truly confirm this. The Hebrew root for eve means “life.” After reading my last entry, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise as Eve is destined to be the mother of the living.

L Y D I A . E V E L Y N .

So as we put this together, we found that her name would mean “beautiful life.”

Her name is Lydia Evelyn, which means beautiful life. I have known her name since the beginning of creation, before I formed the world. I have called her by name. She is mine.

A beautiful life, already, not yet even born, is who she is. We pray and we ask God that this would be His promise to her, that she would be destined for a beautiful life that reflects His glory.

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

By Name Part 1: Fulfilling Eve

I’ve been thinking a lot about names lately.

Have you ever googled the meaning of your name? Surely most of us have. Margaret, my real name, means “pearl.” Eve, my middle name, means “mother of the living.” I never really thought much about the meaning behind my name. Pearl is kind of cool, a precious gem, but not sure about the whole mother-of-the-living thing. In fact, I found that latter one to be a little strange and simply ignored it–until recently.

From the months of September to December, specifically between finding out that I am pregnant with our first child, to discovering her gender on New Years Eve, my husband and I spent quite a bit of time talking about names. We found ourselves feeling certain convictions about the name of our child.

We want there to be significance and meaning.
We want to call him or her by name as soon as we can, before birth.
We want to start praying for him or her by name.

[For the rest of the story on us naming our daughter Lydia Evelyn, read Part II of this entry.]

D I S C O V E R I N G .

In the meantime, I picked out a book off the shelf of my favorite bookstore called Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. My hope was that through reading this book, I could begin to prepare for the calling of motherhood spiritually, while simultaneously making preparations physically and practically.

In the early chapters of the book, Furman states that motherhood isn’t just a calling for some, for those who are married or those who are biologically able to bear children. In fact, she argues that all women are created to live in missional motherhood through making disciples. Making disciples, after all, is a calling of all believers (Matthew 28:18-20). As women, we make disciples by nurturing those around us, serving our communities, and showing compassion for our neighbors.

With this new perspective I realized that it’s not just now that I’m expecting a baby that I’m called into motherhood. This calling doesn’t just begin in May, when our daughter Lydia Evelyn will be born.

For as long as I’ve been a believer, the Lord burdened my heart for lost college students. I was only a sophomore in college when I responded to a calling to become a Young Life College leader and lead my first Bible study for freshmen women. This calling has never left, and the Lord has called me into a strategic “mothering” role of college students, which through the years has now transformed into a “mothering” of pretty much anyone He’s placed in my life, whether at church, work, in my ministry or in my neighborhood.

As I kept reading, the author continued to explain motherhood throughout the Bible. To start, she zoomed in on the creation story, examining a snapshot of the world’s first mom.

“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)

God revealed something new to me in that moment. The meaning behind my name was not weird or random. My name was in fact a calling.

In this life, I am fulfilling a calling by God to mother the living. I am fulfilling Eve.

L I V I N G .

In the present, I want to serve people in my home and disciple young women. I want to nurture those in my community. Many of the character traits that we typically think of moms having, I have the opportunity to do every waking minute. Even in my full-time job in college athletics, I am serving young student-athletes constantly in that mothering role. I have no excuse for a lack of application to follow this call!

And at the same time, I am learning that the Lord has called me into motherhood in the traditional sense as I watch my womb grow. I will raise our daughter in a lifelong pursuit to disciple her to know Jesus, to love God, and to serve others.

I have been called into missional motherhood. The Lord gave me a special gift by softly nudging me that, indeed, that’s what He named me to do. Yet this isn’t just my calling because of my name. He created women with unique traits that make us exceptional at nurturing and serving others. We all, as women, are called to use our God-given intelligence, compassion, and empathy for His glory in our homes, in our workplaces, and in our communities.

Thank you Lord for this reminder that my calling to motherhood is not dependent on waiting for a healthy baby to be born in May. I have the privilege of living out this calling today, in this hour. Where would you like me to begin?

“But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1)

rise redeemed.

R I S E .

This word and I go way back to my days as a college softball player at the University of Kansas. In the midst unceasing pressure to perform at an elite level, day in and day out, I had two options. I could let the pressure debilitate me, or I could rise in the midst of it.

The word has gathered momentum since then, featured in popular songs, or perhaps I’ve just noticed it more. Yet words that the Lord gives are never unique to us, they typically belong to Him. The idea of rise, rising, risen, or arise, is mentioned in the Bible at least 30 times.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)

The good news of Jesus is that we, who were dead in our sin, through the life of Christ, have the opportunity to arise from our darkness, guilt, and shame, because the glory of the Lord has risen upon us.

“He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.” (Matthew 28:6)

Because Jesus, who was crucified on a Cross, rose from the dead, we also are promised that we will rise with Him.

R E D E E M E D .

A few summers ago while serving at Young Life’s Clearwater Cove camp, we did this powerful exercise with our group of college women. Each person had a slice of wood and we each had the opportunity to engrave a word on that piece of wood. Yet the catch was this: it couldn’t be just any word, the word was specific. The word was to answer the question: how does God define you?

How you answer this question dictates what you believe about yourself at the core of your identity. This belief affects how you treat yourself, how you let others treat you, and who you surround yourself with. It reveals the level of shame that you live in. It reveals if you believe lies about yourself, or the truth. As I prayed for women around me, into the name they had chosen, among the words were worthy, known, loved.

You can probably guess at this point what my word was: redeemed.

Look y’all, I am a mess. Time and time again I strive for perfection, I strive to find my own way and do it on my own. I have made a lot of mistakes, as we all have. I spent years wallowing in guilt and shame, seeking out truth yet refusing to accept God’s grace in my heart. Yet through the years, I have come to let this word define me. I am not used or dirty or a mistake or worthless. By the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed.

Of course any word that the Lord gives to us is not unique to us. The word redeem is used in the Bible almost 70 times. It was clear from the beginning of God’s people that they fell short and were prone to turn away from God, in desperate need of a redeemer. While Old Testament laws and rituals provided temporary redemption of sins through sacrifice and sin offerings, the prophets foretold of one Redeemer, a Messiah, that was to come. He would take away sin once and for all (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 3:18).

The good news of Jesus is that we, who were slaves to our sin, through the life of Christ, have the opportunity to become adopted sons and daughters of the Most High King!

“But when the fullness of time has come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)

R I S E . R E D E E M E D .

So this is my calling. At a young age of 27 years old, married, living in a college town in Kansas, and with a baby girl on the way, I have been renamed redeemed. Even in the midst of my shortcomings, I am called to rise up out of darkness and into the light and security rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.

I write as the Spirit leads, both for Christ to reveal Himself to me, and also that He might reveal Himself to you through stories, photos, vulnerability, and Scripture.

May God bless you, and may you believe in your heart that you are redeemed, and have the strength to rise and walk in the midst of your circumstances.