pandemic milestone.

It’s not a wedding, or a graduation, or a funeral, or the birth of a child. This milestone may seem small on the outside, or small from the casual smile and shrug when you ask me. But the truth is that it hit me deep in the soul. My first milestone to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic: my daughter’s second birthday.

Two months ago, many in Kansas said that May 15 would be the date that things would start to get better. While some stay-at-home orders have lifted, it’s not the end, and it turns out we are nowhere close to an end in sight.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I have it good. My family is beyond blessed. But the purpose of this writing and this processing is an effort to not play the “comparative suffering” game. In my own circumstances, I am processing loss and change. I must grieve.

 

O U R . G R I E F .

I’m grieving that the last two months of Lydia’s second year of life, she didn’t hug nor play with many of her favorite people. She didn’t go to many of her favorite places. No kids church, no toddler gymnastics, no parks, no visit to see her grandparents in Texas, no play dates or babysitters, no chance to be the flower girl in our friends’ wedding, no softball or baseball games… the list could go on.

The things I am missing out on as an adult pale in comparison to the loss I feel for my daughter. My heart aches for her. It hurts. I feel a weight that is hard to explain. The pain I feel for Lydia’s loss of life’s experiences, diversity of people, sports, and activity is multitudes more than my own loss.

Day by day, I make an effort to focus on the positives. But for a moment, I can’t escape from what’s been hard. Like the moment when, during a “social distance” dinner with friends in our driveway, Lydia knew to keep a distance before I even told her. She learned from imitating the actions she saw everyone else doing to keep a distance. Or the moment when she asked if her two best friends could come to her birthday party, but she’s too young to understand why the answer is no. Or when she asks to go to the gym and upon hearing it’s closed, she responds with a prayer: Please God, open the gym! I admit that her prayer has more faith than my own.

And while she is too young to understand a global pandemic or perhaps even recognize a daily difference, more than it’s hurting her, it’s hurting me.

Outside of social media and select family, now for over two months, some of our closest friends aren’t seeing the beautiful young girl that she has grown into over the past few months.

They’ve never heard her sweet excited voice speak in full sentences or sing entire songs.
They’ve never heard her use the words please, thank you, I’m sorry, great job, I’m proud of you, and I love you—words in her daily vocabulary.
They’ve never heard her makes jokes just to get you to laugh.
They’ve never seen her use her newfound imagination to play “make believe.”

So much has happened in her little life. She picked up a ball bat and took a swing for the first time. And let’s not forget the fact that she’s potty trained! They’ve never seen her pride and joy every time she makes it to the potty, just waiting for mama and dada’s celebration and her piece of chocolate reward.

I wish they could see.

 

O U R . T I M E .

Some days the quarantine feels like life has paused.
like we’ve slowed down,
and
we can appreciate the simpler moments.

But as this milestone passed us,
it reminded me that
time
doesn’t
stand still.

Time moves forward no matter how much we try to slow it down.

No matter how many things are canceled
no matter how many free evenings and weekends we have

Time moves on.

Which is why, I must remind myself of truth: these losses are not worth dwelling on. Time goes far too quickly to dwell on the things you can’t control.

I must grieve,
yes,
and then
let go.

I must move on.

I must let go of the what-ifs and could-have-been and remember what is eternally important.

.

This quarantine has been an incredible opportunity to teach Lydia real life skills and to rejoice in the simple pleasures of life. Every night, we recite our family motto together: “We are the Tietz Family,” Kevin and I start, “and in this family we…”

Lydia usually prefers to finish it herself. “We live simply, give more, and expect less… because we have all we need in Jesus.”

She may have it memorized, but that doesn’t mean she knows what it means. Well, not yet. We are planting seeds that one day, we pray, will bear fruit.

We are modeling a family that eats meals together, takes care of each other, laughs together, prays together, reads God’s Word together, exercises together, takes care of our home and yard together, forgives, celebrates, and loves.

We are modeling a family that endures. We don’t always get what we want, and not everything in life will be in our control. We have to be brave when things are hard. We have to ask for God’s help when we are afraid.

We have to remember to live simply, give more, and expect less.
Why?
Because we really, truly, have all we need in Jesus.
and
for eternity
that’s what counts.

Lord, help me let go.

 

O U R . H O P E . 

On April 29, 2019, I started reading the Bible chronologically with the hopes of finishing it in a year. 364 days later, I finished Revelation 22, the last chapter.

I was reminded in that chapter of our eternal hope. The timing was fitting. By the way, this is how the entire Bible ends:

‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:16-17, 20)

Jesus reminds us that He is the promised one, the one that fulfilled all the laws and all the prophecies from of old. And we are reminded that those who want Jesus, get Jesus. The one who is thirsty can come to Him, drink from the water of life without price.

There is no price to pay,
no checklist of things we must do,
or we must achieve,
or we must get right before we come.

We get to come without price because Jesus paid the price for our sin on the CrossAnd He promises that He will come again.

.

So when we see the pandemic at hand, the death count rising, with no end in sight
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we read yet another headline of a racially driven murder
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we feel helpless to comfort friends, spouses, children, or parents, those we love the most
Come, Lord Jesus!
When our private thoughts and actions are exposed, and we must confess our own sin
Come, Lord Jesus!
When we hold walls up to others or self-harm because it feels like the only thing we can control
Come, Lord Jesus!

When we teach our kids that we have “all we need in Jesus,” this is what we mean: All of our hope, our joy, and our satisfaction is found not in material things. It’s found not in the exhilarating experiences of life like sporting events or big parties. Whether homebound or traveling the world, whether richer or poorer, whether sickness or health, no matter our circumstances, our hope in Jesus is one thing that doesn’t change, even when our world changes.

.

So as I reflect on Lydia’s second birthday and let go of birthday party hopes and dreams, or what could have been for her these last few months, I am reminded of the opportunity to point my daughter to her ultimate hope. No matter the trials she faces in her life on this earth, may those seeds be planted, that even she has all she needs – not in mama or dada or birthday cake or balloons – but in Jesus.

In Lydia’s heart, mind, and soul
Come, Lord Jesus.

life with two.

About 8 weeks into this two-kid life, I had a realization: I am really, really unhealthy spiritually, emotionally, and physically. My kids are thriving, I’m transitioning back into work, meals are getting cooked and the house is (mostly) clean, but I am not taking care of myself.

The breaking point came one Sunday morning. Eliza was napping in her crib and Kevin was out of the house. I sat down on the floor near the coffee table to color with Lydia. Only a few minutes in, I started feeling intense anxiety, like I was wasting time. Thoughts were swirling through my mind. Eliza is asleep and Lydia is distracted, what can I get done? What can I multi-task while playing with Lydia?

It’s impossible to get anything done with two kids under two awake, so when I have at least one asleep, I try to be doing something – cooking, cleaning, getting myself ready for the day, responding to a text  – rushing to the next task to complete before the free moment passes.

But this morning I wanted it to be different. It was a Sunday morning. I wanted to sit and color with my daughter. I wanted to simply enjoy her company. To enjoy the calm, the silence.

And I couldn’t sit still.

As I tried to fight the anxiety and be present with Lydia, conviction set in. I knew in my heart that it wasn’t just this moment. Since coming home from the hospital and starting our life with two kids, I’d had an inability to sit and be still, to spend quiet time with the Lord, or even prioritize taking care of myself. I broke down as I realized that not only was I hurting myself, but it was now affecting my ability to be present with my own daughter.

It was time to acknowledge my sin and ask for help.

 

F I V E . M I N U T E S .

Breaking the habit of hurry, which isn’t easy for any momma (but especially those of us that are enneagram 3’s) takes discipline, dedication, and accountability. A wise friend spoke the words of God into my life when she suggested that I start small: Five minutes of silence a day.

Literally, five minutes. The first chance that I get.

There have been a rare few days where I’ve been able to start my day with five minutes. Usually it doesn’t come until 2pm when both my girls are taking naps. There’s been some days when it comes at 10pm. But there have been few days I’ve missed. I set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes and 5 seconds (a few seconds for adjustment) and my phone on “do not disturb.” The only thing I’m allowed to “do” during that time is drink a cup of coffee or other beverage that fits the time of day.

And I must sit
still
in
silence.

I can’t also eat, also drive, also shower, also clean.
I must
simply
sit
still
and
listen.

And as my husband reminds me
let God listen to me.

The first time felt anxious and uncomfortable, but it only took a few days for it to become the highlight of my day. I sit in silence and listen for God. When the timer goes off, I sometimes journal a few thoughts or a few words I hear from God.

Little did I know that five minutes a day would be so transformative.

“It’s like, it’s just five minutes,” I said to Kevin about a week later. “Why is it making such a difference in my day?”

He pointed out simply, “It’s not just about the five minutes. You’re taking control of the day and stopping to sit with the Lord, instead of letting the day control you.”

And that’s the freedom I’ve felt. In the midst of spending 14-16 hours a day, usually with an hour at night, taking care of other people, I am stopping to at the least spend five minutes taking care of myself, my soul. Drawing near to the Lord in the midst of the hurry. And that is a victory.

 

L I F E . W I T H . T W O.

I am here now this week, 12-weeks postpartum with my second daughter. Praise God, there has been so much that the Lord has done in the past four weeks to bring me into a healthier place – way more than I could possibly write! The Lord has been so kind to bring in just the right Scripture or podcast or song or text when I needed clarity, to provide a husband that wants to fight for me to find health in this season, and some amazing women who speak truth into my life.

So how is life with two kids under two?

I’ll be real. Many days my patience runs thin. I look forward to work because it’s actually a break. I’ve got a strong-willed toddler that loves to test the limits and a 12-week-old that only naps for 30 minutes at a time. I’ve fallen asleep on the couch and had to be carried into bed by my husband honestly more times than I can count.

Yet at the same time, life feels natural and normal, just with an extra layer of joy and love that I feel toward my second daughter Eliza and seeing her grow and discover the world. I am still fighting the same temptations I had before marriage, before motherhood, and before being a momma of two: the temptation to fill my days and my life with business, distractions, and excuses that keep me from intimacy with the Lord.

In every season, God must re-teach me the same lessons:

He alone is the One who has not only called me to this life but equipped me.
He alone is the source of my peace and joy.
He alone is worthy of my heart’s worship.
He alone is worthy of my all.

Thank God for a five-minute reminder each day of the Truth that will last for eternity.

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)

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.

 

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)