Lydia’s Birth Story

9 AM MONDAY

Monday, May 14 started out just like any other day. I had a cup of coffee and sat down for my morning quiet time with the Lord. Yet instead of sitting down on our porch or in my usual spot in the living room, I told my husband Kevin I was going to go spend time in our nursery praying for Lydia. At 39 weeks pregnant, I picked up a journal that was gifted to us to record prayers and thoughts for Lydia throughout her life. This is what I wrote:

Lydia – I am 39 weeks pregnant today. I am sitting and praying for you in our finished nursery. There is a verse above your crib that reads “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” These are words that your Daddy and I believe have been spoken by God over your life. You belong to the Lord…

Jesus – I pray for our baby girl, that labor and delivery would not be delayed but come soon! We are ready to meet our little one! I am ready to bring her home and show her the place that we’ve prepared for her! Father God – bring her safely into this world and into my arms. Thank you God for the beautiful life that she is!

When we sit and pray and spend time with God, He conforms our heart according to His will. My heart was led to pray for the first time that morning that God would no longer delay her arrival. And that, indeed, was His will.

12 PM MONDAY

After some reading, cleaning, and a workout, my husband and I were off to our 39 week doctor’s appointment chatting briefly about the week’s activities and making plans for the rest of our afternoon. Everything about our appointment was normal. We got the news that I was dilated at over 4 cm, 90% effaced, and we laughed with our doctor about wanting her to come soon!

The final thing to do was to listen to Lydia’s heart rate. We waited for the familiar sound of her heart beating through the Doppler monitor, and while we heart her heart beat, my doctor’s face changed from a smile to a look of concern. Lydia’s heart rate was low. She instructed us that she wanted us to stay for further monitoring. After about 45 minutes of monitoring Lydia’s heart rate, we found the pattern. Each time she would move, her heart rate would go up as normal but then dip down suddenly below baseline. After getting a sonogram to check a few other things, our doctor sent us over to the labor and delivery unit for further monitoring to make sure that this drop wasn’t spontaneous activity.

2 PM MONDAY

We walked into a delivery room and my stomach was strapped with two monitors – one for Lydia’s heart rate, and one to measure contractions. The nurse left us alone and Kevin and I started to pray. Kevin’s prayer, similar to my own that morning, changed suddenly according to God’s will.

Lord, let us meet our daughter today.

An hour or so later, our doctor came back in. The pattern in Lydia’s heart rate had persisted, and she didn’t feel right sending us home. She informed me that she was admitting me into the hospital for an induction. We talked through our options and our attitude changed to excitement. This is the day we had been waiting for. We were finally going to meet our daughter!

4 PM MONDAY

They immediately started me with an IV of penicillin because of my group B strep while Kevin went home to grab our pre-packed hospital bags and a few last-minute items. As soon as Kevin came back, my doctor broke my water, and labor began.

5:30 PM MONDAY

We spent the next two hours being monitored, getting and IV, texting friends and family, walking the hallways, and processing what was happening. We prayed for Lydia’s heart rate and her health. We praised God for this day. With each increasing contraction, so was the reality of labor. My sister Rosie arrived for extra support and stayed in the room throughout labor, leaving just before delivery. We came up with a code word for every time I would start to feel a contraction. After laughing at all the possible words, we established a simple one. Now. Every time Kevin would hear the word now he would put out his hand, I would grab his hand, and we would together endure the pain.

7:30 PM MONDAY

After only progressing to a 4.5 cm, we made the decision with our doctor to start Pitocin (given through an IV) to induce labor. Within 30 minutes, my contractions increased to every 2-3 minutes. Lydia’s head was lowering, my dilation started increasing, and so did the pain.

For the past 8 months, Kevin and I have had a lot of conversations about our birth plan. I am so thankful that we stayed open-minded and that we could confidently accept the induction without being disappointed. The goal was healthy Lydia, whatever it takes. Yet one important preference was to not have pain medication or an epidural. We read a book together, took a class together, and spent time preparing for what the pain of childbirth would be and how we would approach the reality of that pain. For both medical and personal reasons, we stood firm in this decision. Throughout the next five hours, the pain increased with every contraction to undoubtedly the worst continuous physical pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. Yet we never lost control and God never left our side. There were four stages of the pain from my experience, which I will process below as I continue documenting the timeline of Lydia’s birth story.

8:30 PM MONDAY

After learning I was 5 cm dilated, I decided to do a labor position on the ball. Lydia was so low that the nurse couldn’t keep the heart rate monitor on outside of my stomach. One nurse had to actually hold it on to my stomach while I was laboring. I even tried the wireless monitor so I could get in the tub, but we quickly learned that made it even more difficult for the monitor to stay on. I got the chills and was shivering head to toe and started feeling nauseous. Whatever liquids I drank since being admitted I instantly threw up. The doctor decided to insert a heart monitor from the inside that would stick on the top of Lydia’s head. This allowed the nurses to completely leave the room and monitor from outside the room. Finally we were left alone – myself, Kevin and Rosie. We turned on worship music and the rest became a dream. I wish I could remember every detail but it was so surreal. This is around the time I hit stage one:

D I S T R A C T I N G . T H E . P A I N .

Back to laboring on the ball, what I remember from this stage was that Kevin would tell me to “dream Lydia dreams.” I thought about meeting my daughter. I thought about taking her on walks or taking her to the pool this summer. We tried to distract my mind from the pain. This didn’t last too long, and I quickly transitioned to stage two:

F I G H T I N G . O F F. T H E . P A I N .

We learned in this stage that I needed to actively fight the pain mentally so that I could relax and breathe through the pain. I found myself repeating phrases that Kevin would say throughout the climax of the contraction.

The pain is temporary.
It will pass.

10:15 PM MONDAY

After being checked again, I learned that I was dilated at 6.5 cm and 100% effaced. However, Lydia had turned slightly and she needed to be face down, so my doctor suggested that I change positions. With the front of the hospital bed raised, I was on my knees, arms over the top of the bed, rhythmically swaying my hips and breathing through each contraction. After a few moments of weakness, doubting to myself and Kevin, wondering if I could do this, wondering if it was too late for the epidural, I realized that I needed to change my mindset. This brings on stage 3:

A T T A C K I N G . T H E . P A I N .

Perhaps it was the former athlete, competitive side of me taking over, but all of a sudden I realized that I didn’t want the pain to win. I knew that I could be in control mentally over the pain with a mind-over-body approach. I simply needed to get my mind in a place to attack the pain. I needed to not think about the many hours and contractions to come, but take it one contraction, once at a time. Our repeating phrases changed:

It’s worth it.
Joy on the other side.

Over and over, we repeated these phrases, breathing through each contraction. Kevin was my rock and didn’t leave my side from this point forward. I would say now, reach for his hand, and he would coach me through the pain, reminding me of our phrases, reminding me that it’s worth it and that there’s joy on the other side. We found our rhythm and Kevin constantly reminded me that every contraction with an increase in pain meant I was one minute closer to meeting our daughter.

11:20 PM MONDAY

All of a sudden, I started feeling the urge to push. I asked Rosie to call in the nurse, I needed to be checked. I had figured out how to attack the pain, but resisting the urge to push was an entirely new experience. After being checked again, I learned that in just the last hour, I was dilated to a 9.5 cm. (I only needed to be at a 10 cm before I could push!) I needed to endure the pain just a little bit longer while Lydia got a little bit lower. Yet at this point not only was the pain a 10/10 on the pain scale, but I was also having to resist my entire body convulsing to want to push her out of me. It’s at this point that I transitioned to stage four:

E M B R A C I N G . T H E . P A I N .

As we got back into our labor position, Rosie came over to read scripture. This is what she read:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:20-22)

I was reminded in that moment about the Cross. I was reminded about the pain that Jesus suffered on the Cross because He loved me. I wondered in that moment how Jesus was able to find joy in His pain, because He knew that there would be joy – salvation for His beloved – on the other side of the Cross. I thought about how He was empowered by love to endure the pain and suffering on our behalf – because He loves us.

Kevin had been reminding me of the gospel and the presence of God was obvious throughout labor, but in this moment I looked at Kevin. I felt completely empowered by my love for him and my love for Lydia. We had one of the most intimate moments of our marriage. I told him that I was enduring this all with joy because of my love for him and my love for Lydia. He thanked me, spoke sweetly to me, and we held each other’s gaze for several moments before the next contraction came.

These overwhelming feelings of love allowed me to embrace the pain. My final phrase became:

Joy in the pain.

12 AM TUESDAY

The doctor came in for a check, and I was 10 cm dilated. Finally, it was time to push! Kevin remembers this scene much more than I do, as I was now on my back, continually enduring contractions and resisting the urge to push until my doctor and the delivery team was suited up and ready to go. The doctor gave me the instructions on how to position my body and how to orchestrate my breathing.

Each time I would feel a contraction coming on, now, I would take a deep breath in and out. Then one deep breath in, hold, and push as hard as I possibly could for 10 seconds. Pause, repeat three times until the contraction ended.

This stage was easier because I could finally use the pain towards something, but the amount of pressure that I felt as Lydia’s head started to come out was a whole new kind of painful sensation. Not very long after, Kevin and I could both look down and see the top of our sweet Lydia’s head coming out and we could see her dark brown hair.

While worship music had been playing throughout all of labor as background music, a song came on our bluetooth speaker about halfway through pushing. Hillsong United’s Lead Me to the Cross… The song that I walked down the aisle to on our wedding day. This was the sweetest gift from the Lord and a reminder to us in that moment of His presence. 

The Lord was near. I prayed more actively in this stage during breaks between contractions. I needed God’s help to show me how to relax the right muscles, hold my breath, and push the right way so I could meet my daughter sooner. Finally my doctor informed me that she could make a 1 cm incision and then I’d meet my baby. Without a doubt, I said yes.

12:39 AM TUESDAY

I don’t remember even feeling the incision because of all the pressure. All I knew was that I was determined to meet my daughter. On the very next push, my doctor had to yell at me to stop pushing because my daughter was arriving! The next thing I knew I heard Lydia’s cry and she was immediately placed on my chest. I started repeating a different phrase in that moment, over and over:

My baby, my baby, my baby…

Kevin started crying as he came close. Whatever else followed – delivering the placenta, getting stitched from the incision, the emptying of fluids – nothing else mattered because I was holding my daughter. She stopped crying when she felt the warmth of my chest. I saw her eyes and I studied her from head to toe.

2 AM TUESDAY

After our family bonding time, they weighed her, measured her, and my sister and parents came into the room to meet Lydia. Then I was able to get up, use the bathroom on my own, and walk myself to the room down the hall next to my husband who was pushing our daughter in her hospital bassinet. I enjoyed the benefits of the quick recovery of natural childbirth, and we received compliments from doctors and nurses commenting on Lydia’s liveliness, their shock that I never once screamed or lost control, and commenting on Kevin’s steady and attentive presence.

.

Yes, the pain was worth it.
Immediately the pain of childbirth was forgotten.
Love, joy and relief washed over me.
Our daughter was here.

Lydia Evelyn Tietz
Born 12:39 AM on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
8 lbs 7 oz, 21 inches

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)

May is here.

May is here.

The month we’ve waiting for. The month of the due date for our first child.

At 37 weeks on Monday, medically I am considered full-term. Baby Lydia is fully developed at this point. She’s dropped into the head down position and I’m dilated 2 centimeters and 80 percent effaced. Now it’s just a waiting game.

Apparently I look 8 ½ months pregnant because how big I am tends to dominate my every conversation with friends, coworkers and strangers. One of the common questions I recieve on a daily basis is, Are you ready? That’s a tough question to answer.

Sometimes I answer with an quick yes.
Kevin and I are so excited to be parents!
We can’t wait to meet Lydia!
We have all the items we need, the hospital bag packed, and our to-do lists completed.
We are ready for her, any day now!

And then occasionally someone will ask me on a day when I’m feeling a bit more realistic. I might answer with an as ready as I can be, honestly doubting that achieving the state of “readiness” is even possible.

The conversation typically continues with people offering their best advice or words of wisdom.

You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
Your life is about to change forever.
You’ll regret not having an epidural, you’re submitting yourself to torture.
Natural birth is the best choice I ever made, it’s wonderful.
Being a parent is amazing.
Your life is over.
You’ll love being a mom!
Are you sure you’re ready to be a mom?

 

C H A N G E .

I’ve been through various changes and transitions in my life, but never one so physically obvious to others. Strangers take one look at me and know that I’m getting ready to embark on one of the biggest “changes” that anyone can go through.

Here’s the deal. While I’m still on the waiting side of motherhood, if there is anything that I’ve learned in my short 27 years of life it’s this: There are only two constants in life, God and change.

“For I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

God is who He says He is. He is unchanging, unwavering, eternal. Thank the Lord there is One who is consistent and One who never changes!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

The only other thing that is certain is that change will happen. It is an inevitable part of human life. Most of us naturally avoid change and anticipate change as a bad thing. Yet often, it’s unavoidable and out of our control. However, change is the only way that we grow and are challenged to become more of the humans that we were ultimately created to be.

 

T R A N S F O R M .

The other known thing about change is that usually we will first try to manage it on our own without God. Here I am, weeks or possibly days away from the biggest change of my life, and I am finding much of my confidence in the to-do lists, the preparations, and my own physical body.

At our doctor’s appointment last week, I found out that Lydia has dropped into the perfect head down position. I got the numbers on the dilation and effacement, and I left my appointment elated by my own self-righteousness, thinking I’m good to go. My body is built for childbirth. (I am honestly embarrassed to type out those thoughts but truly that’s what was going through my mind!) Then the next day I got a phone call from my doctor’s office that I tested positive for group B Strep, which means that I’ll need an antibiotic as soon as I go into labor so it’s not passed on to Lydia when she’s born. I got off the phone and immediately realized that this diagnosis actually was a blessing. I needed a direct reminder from God that no, it’s not up to my physical body how my child birth will go. It’s not up to the preparations I’ve made for labor. Her healthy delivery is completely and wholly in God’s control.

The next day I was reading Philippians 3 and found affirmation in God’s voice from the following scripture:

“We… worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)

My confidence is not in my physical body or the current state of baby Lydia. My confidence is in the Lord, His goodness and His promises.

Though my flesh is weak, His Spirit is strong in me (Matthew 26:40).
He will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21).
He will transform our hearts and minds to be like that of Christ (Romans 12:2).
In the hard and the dark moments of childbirth and parenting, I don’t have to fear or have anxiety, because I rely on the Holy Spirit.
He will intervene in those difficult moments giving me discernment and strength.
I don’t have to fear change because of God’s promise to never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:15, Hebrews 13:5).
He will be with me always (Matthew 28:20).

“God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)

This is why I think of this upcoming season less as merely change and more as an opportunity for God to transform me into the woman that He has ultimately created me to be.

 

P R E S S . O N .

In confidence, because I know that God is with me and in me, as May is here, I have the great privilege of living out this commision:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss of the sake of Christ…. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7-14)

I’ll end with this. Perhaps one of the most cliché Bible verses about having a child says that every good and perfect gift comes from above. This is true! Lydia is a gift from God above! Yet read the second half of the verse and take comfort. In this life we will change, but God, thank God, You never will.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

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.