it is well.

Motherhood is sanctifying.

In the midnight hour on July 31, I had the privilege of being in the delivery room with one of my best friends, Keely. Over the last three years, I’ve walked with her through three miscarriages. Countless prayers had gotten us to that moment.

Lord, please, let her hold her baby.

Finally
her water broke
her labor began
and
there we were
at last
this momma would hold her baby.

While up until that moment in time she had yet to meet one of her babies, Keely had already experienced sanctification through motherhood. Your lack of control hits you within moments after learning about a pregnancy, and for many of us, it brings us to a place of utter dependence on the Lord. Through Keely’s pregnancy loss, God had changed her. In a time when she easily could have run away from God, she ran to Him. She chose faith and trust. Her journey brought us to this sweet moment during her labor that I will never forget.

I had stepped in at Keely’s side to give her husband Kyle a break as they prepared for a long night ahead of labor. While we laughed and danced in the waiting at first, contractions had started picking up. The mood in the room had changed but we were still at the point in labor where we could talk for the few minutes between contractions. I pulled up her premade labor playlist and the first worship song came on: It is well.

Keely shared how this song had carried her through her miscarriages. We took a moment, even in the midst of her labor and excitement, to grieve the loss of the three babies that she would never hold in this lifetime. As painful as labor is, she grieved that she wasn’t able to experience the pain of childbearing with her first three. We imagined what it would be like to hold her babies in heaven. We imagined how proud they were of their momma in this moment, having chosen to place her faith in the Lord and trust Him in the unknown.

Through tears, we listened to the words of the song as her next contraction came on. “Even through it all,” Keely whispered. “It is well.”

 

P E A C E . I N . P R O C E S S .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

Here’s what I mean. Sanctification is this process that the Bible refers to as the time between salvation (justification) and the moment when we are restored to new life in Christ for eternity (glorification). Sanctification is the in-between, it’s the process of being made holy. While we are a new creation in Christ at salvation because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17), the Lord still has a lot of work to do on our sinful hearts and flesh. And this doesn’t happen overnight. For most of us it’s a painful, long process of being made holy.

The hope of sanctification is that the longer we walk with Christ, the more we should look like Him. I have learned that God is much more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. Along the way we think we want happiness but really, our deepest desire is peace. Sanctification is the smoothing off of our rough edges and letting the desires of our heart become God’s will for our lives. It’s the pruning of dead branches, so that we can bear more fruit, and fruit that will last. It’s finding peace in our circumstances of this life, knowing that our hope rests in a Good Father who will come and redeem all the brokenness, guilt, and shame we feel and restore all of creation to perfection. Sanctification is the painful process of letting go—and letting God.

I wish I could say that things have been all rainbows and butterflies since the moment when Keely finally held her daughter, Emmaline Grace. But the next trial we will face in this life is always right around the corner. In baby Emmaline’s first month of life, Keely’s had to deal with the challenges of having a newborn and learning to nurse in the midst of Emmaline having a benign tumor on her gum and undergoing surgery at 4 weeks old. God is not done with Keely’s story yet, and neither is He done with ours.

 

I T . I S . W E L L .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

A few weeks ago, I had my own sanctifying motherhood moment. Caught between the demands of work, ministry, and our busy lives, I realized that I was not giving my daughter Lydia the attention that she deserves. In the middle of transitioning her from a morning nap ready to rush her to my parent’s house so I could get more work done, the voice of mom-guilt came in my head, accusing me of being a bad mom.

I stopped. I looked at Lydia and asked her, “Do you think I’m a bad mom?” Knowing that Lydia couldn’t answer that question, I broke down into tears. My 15-month-old daughter ran into my arms and hugged me. I picked her up and my little girl didn’t stop hugging me back for several minutes as we walked up and down the hallway. She continued hugging me until my tears finally quieted. She didn’t need to have words in that moment, she communicated everything that I needed. The Lord reminded me through my daughter that I was doing my best, and that Lydia loved me not based on “how I did as a mom that day.” She loved me because I am her momma. The same is true with God. He doesn’t love me based on “how I did as a Christian that day.” He loves me because I am His daughter.

The Lord used Lydia to encourage me to find peace in the process.

This life that my toddler and I live together isn’t going to be easy. I hear from other mommas that it only gets harder. I’m going to be an imperfect mom, and Lydia is an imperfect child. We are going to hurt each other. We are going to let each other down. We are going to have moments where we say, “I’m sorry” and ask each other for forgiveness. Yet through every trial, every mistake, every burst of anger, every moment we can’t control, and even the most joyful moments that we can’t slow down—through it all—we are being sanctified.

When I say that motherhood is sanctifying, what I mean is that motherhood brings out all the ways we fall short on our own efforts. Motherhood brings out our flaws and imperfections whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Yet God uses motherhood to refine us, to make us more dependent on Christ, and to therefore become more like Him as we choose to place our trust in Him.

It is sanctification that brings us to a place where we can say, no matter my circumstances, I have peace. God is good. He will redeem.

Through it all — it is well.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

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)