any day now.

This is the first time since entering my third trimester that I’ve had the chance to sit down and write. Yet here I am, 37 weeks, 4 days. Dilated at a “5cm+.” Increased Braxton Hicks and practice labor three of the last four days. Hospital bags packed. I’m sitting in Eliza’s almost-finished nursery while Lydia sleeps. I’m sitting in here trying to process the reality that we’ve finally hit the any day now stage of pregnancy. Kevin, Lydia and my world is about to change… any day now.

It’s been a challenging last few months. This pregnancy, by far, has been worse on my body than my first. Braxton Hicks and piercing abdomen cramps wake me up at night. One night, I felt paralyzed laying on my back and couldn’t move for several minutes, panicking to tears and waking up my husband who proceeded to lift me to an upright position through piercing pain and coach me through breathing until the cramping went away. Daily I’ve been pushing through hemorrhoids, heartburn, pelvic pressure, fatigue, and not to mention seasonal colds and a teething toddler.

I’m ashamed to admit that there’ve been moments where I’ve longed for the days of not being pregnant more than the day that I will meet this precious little girl growing inside of me. It’s hard to bring attention to a child inside of me that I can’t see, and much easier to bring my attention to the discomfort I’m feeling. I remember confessing this to God one day as I clung to the words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

There have been days where I physically feel like my body is wasting away and breaking down. On the harder days, I praise God for practical truth that reminds me to

bring my attention
not to the physical
to what is seen
what is temporary,
but to the spiritual
what is unseen
what is eternal.

He promises us that our light and momentary afflictions are actually preparing us for eternal glory beyond all comparison. We may feel, emotionally or physically, the brokenness of sin in our world, but He has promised to renew our Spirit within us, every day, as we cling to Him.

And He is a God who is faithful to fulfill His good promises.

 

J O Y F U L . P R O M I S E .

Does this sub-title look familiar? If you read my post Naming Eliza Rose, you’ll recall that Eliza’s name means “joyful promise.” This has been a season of choosing joy as I cling to His promises.

About a month ago, we had the privilege of taking a family vacation to the beach for a long weekend of rest, to slow down, and treasure our last few weeks as a family of three before Eliza makes her arrival. With family help and an automatic-reply email set up for work, I fully unplugged and spent much needed quality time with the Lord through the weekend. One day while overlooking the ocean waves, I found myself in 1 Kings 8 when King Solomon dedicates the temple after the process of building it was finally complete. In a lengthy sermon, Solomon again and again echoes praises to God for fulfilling His promises. God had promised to David that his son, Solomon, would be king, and that Solomon would see the temple completed during his reign. Solomon is full of joy as he meditates on how God fulfilled this promise!

I paused from my reading and thought of my Eliza, being reminded in this story of the meaning behind her name. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for her, that she would have the gift of wisdom like Solomon and have eyes to see the way that God fulfills His promises. I prayed that she would know and trust fully in the joy of His promises.

I’m not one to ask for a sign much, but I felt the urge to open-handedly pray, “God, if this is from you, would Eliza move right now?”

Immediately after praying that prayer, I felt her move in my womb.

Overcome with peace and comfort, I continued to pray for her and also praise God that He felt so real in that moment. As I sat to finish 1 Kings 8, I came to verse 56:

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise…”

As if to just lavish me with His love, unbeknownst to me, I stumbled upon a mirror image verse of Joshua 23:14…

The verse I read the morning after we found out we were having a girl.
The verse I read while contemplating the name Eliza Rose, which means joyful promise.
The verse I wrote about in my post 3 months before this moment.
The verse that sealed her name.

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”

I sat in awe.

In an incredibly busy third trimester that included three weeks of travel, work events and deadlines, and a sprint to the end—a third trimester that has taken a beating on my body—it’s been these quiet moments of overwhelming peace, hope, and joy that have gotten me through.

 

S H E . W H O . B E L I E V E S .

As Kevin and I place the finishing touches on Eliza’s nursery, we picked out the verse that will hang above her crib. We hope that Eliza will keep this piece of art with her when she moves out of our house one day—yet even more—we hope and pray that this verse will be on her heart for all of eternity. It’s the second verse I mentioned in my previous post as we were in the process of naming Eliza. It echoes the words of Elizabeth as she greets her sister Mary, pregnant with Jesus, our Savior and Messiah, in Luke 1:45:

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

The word believed will be emphasized as an encouragement that we must choose to believe, to trust, to have faith, even when the promise is yet unseen. We must choose hope and choose truth in any season of waiting. And blessed will we be on the day when we get to look back and say not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord my God promised! All have come to pass, not one of them has failed.

So here I sit.
Waiting.
Praising.
Hopeful.
Joyful.
The wait is almost over, any day now.

I am choosing to trust God’s timing, not my own, not my doctor’s, not what other people say based on my dilation or contractions or due date. God alone is the author of her birth story. In His perfect time, in His perfect will, Eliza Rose, we are ready to meet you.

baby two.

As I write, I’m sitting and looking out a window of our guest house on Table Rock Lake. To the west, I see a beautiful sunset, colors of pink, orange, yellow and blue painted across the sky, shadowing the Ozark Mountains. One glance to the east, and I see rain pouring onto the lake from a distance.

Such is life.

With one look you see the beautiful blessings that God provides, and in the next glance you see the brokenness of the world we live in.

I feel this tension every day, and especially in this moment as I sit down to write and process the fact that I am 14 weeks pregnant with my second child. I see the sunset. 14 weeks. Out of the first trimester. Out of the higher risk for miscarriage. Into the second trimester, just six weeks away from finding out the gender of our baby, and just 26 weeks away from meeting him or her face to face.

The next glance.

Since arriving at Young Life Camp three weeks ago for our summer assignment, two friends from my church community back home have lost babies through miscarriage. I see the rain. I feel the brokenness. I wish I could stop their storms. I wish I could trade places with them some days just to take away their hurt, their grief, their fear.

but
here
I
am

experiencing the beautiful sunset and merely glancing at the storm from a distance.

To be honest, I didn’t want to write this. I fought guilt in posting a photo of pregnancy. These two friends with recent losses aren’t the only ones I’m walking life with experiencing pregnancy loss or infertility. There are many more. The last thing I want is to be a trigger for others pain and grief. It makes me want to run and hide and pretend that I’m not experiencing the incredible blessing of having a second child that will be only 19 months apart from our first.

It’s hard to admit that I inflict shame on myself for experiencing this blessing when I have absolutely no control over my circumstances or those of others when it comes to fertility. But what I do know is this: In the midst of the broken world we live in, I have a God who redeems.

I have a God who sees the beginning and the end.
I have a God who is writing my story and their stories perfectly for His good and His glory.
While it may not seem good right now, I have a God that will see it through in His perfect timing.
He will calm their storms and bring them to the shelter of His presence and His peace.
He will redeem the hurt, the pain, the fear, and the grief, and they will rise redeemed.

With eyes wide open to the blessings of my circumstances, here’s my story.

 

F I N D I N G . O U T .

Kevin and I have always dreamed of having kids close in age. I grew up with three siblings within four years of each other, including having a twin. I have wonderful memories of childhood and still love how close the four of us are to this day. Around the time that Lydia was 9 months old, I remember feeling disappointed that I wasn’t pregnant yet, but also wanting to trust my body and trust God’s timing. I remember taking a pregnancy test, that was negative, right before I got the stomach flu. It was the first time I experienced disappointment from a pregnancy test, and I realized that it was time to start praying intentionally for God to provide another child. However, I lowered my expectations and set my mind on the present season.

A few weeks later, around the time that Lydia was 10 months old and shortly after my best friend Keely’s gender reveal party, I had a dream. In the dream, I was having a conversation with Keely and said, “You’re pregnant with a girl… I’m also pregnant with a girl!” I told Keely about it the next morning at church but shook it off as just a dream, again masking my hopes that it was reality.

About five days later and a few days after my missed period, I had another dream that I was pregnant. The next morning, I asked Kevin to pick up a pregnancy test at the store simply for “peace of mind.” When he got excited, I quickly quieted his emotions because I told him that I didn’t want him to feel let down if we weren’t pregnant, insisting that I didn’t “feel” pregnant.

The busy day began and turned out to be quite chaotic. Lydia was biting me while nursing throughout the day and having quite a few toddler moments. Even during happy hour with a few friends, I made a joke about it being my last drink but continuing to doubt that I was actually pregnant. “My cycle has been off since breastfeeding….” I claimed, among other excuses. That night I had yet another rough feeding attempt before putting Lydia to sleep and actually had to pump after. (PS, I found out later that hormones could change the taste of breastmilk for her? I’m going with that, or else, a strange coincidence that it was all on this day.) Finally, after a long day, I sat down to pump. As I was pumping, I felt a wave of nausea and extreme thirst. And that’s when it hit me. Oh my God, I feel pregnant.

Taking the pregnancy test was no longer casual after that because I knew in that moment that I was pregnant. After cleaning up my pumping supplies and confirming that Lydia was sound asleep, I grabbed the pregnancy test and started shaking as I took it, my mind racing as the pieces of how I felt the last few days were coming together. I left the test in the bathroom and after a minute or two, insisted that Kevin go in to grab the test and confirm. Around 9pm that Friday evening, I saw the look on Kevin’s face as he read it out loud and smiled. “You’re pregnant.”

Immediately we embraced in joy and excitement and—me being me—I quickly downloaded my old pregnancy app and pulled up my calendar to calculate our due date and plan out the next 9 months of our life.

 

F I R S T . T R I M E S T E R .

About one week into finding out I was pregnant, I got the stomach flu, really bad. I look back now and laugh that I thought it was pregnancy symptoms at first, so I tried to push through my work day. I remember the relief I felt when I realized I was sick and that this pregnancy shouldn’t feel that miserable all the time! Those few days forced me to slow down and just remember my dependence on the Lord throughout this chaotic season. I wrote more about what those two months looked like in my recent two entries, “finished.” and “work ahead.”

About a month later, I had my first doctor’s appointment. After my sonogram, they pushed my due date one week later to December 13. My cycle was indeed off since I was still breastfeeding. It was a small reminder that regardless of Kevin and my attempts at “trying” to get pregnant, I ovulated a week later than normal, and we happened to get lucky. The timing made it feel even less of something we could have controlled and made me even more grateful for the way God orchestrated it all. Truly it was He that created this little life and spoke his or her name into existence.

It didn’t take long for me to start showing way earlier this time around. My stretched out skin and belly button quickly popped back out, and around 7 weeks, I realized that I needed to start telling friends before they could look at me and see for themselves! Nausea and aversions were in full swing, so I slowly starting weaning Lydia in hopes that would help. Lydia was fully weaned around the time I was 10 weeks pregnant, and nausea ceased shortly after that. I was also wrapping up my Master’s degree at that time, leaving behind a lot of stress that I’m sure wasn’t helping. It was a tough few months not feeling well and working really hard with a lot of late nights. I had little time to process the fact that I was pregnant and merely just trying to survive!

 

R E A D Y . F O R . T W O .

We publicly announced our pregnancy right before leaving for our month-long summer camp assignment for Young Life. Being at camp has allowed me time to rest and time to spend one-on-one time with Lydia in this sweet season before Baby #2 comes. It has allowed me time to process the previous two months as well as physically, emotionally, and spiritually recover.

As I hit the 14-week milestone and am headed into our final week away from home, I feel peace and a readiness to look forward to December and begin making preparations. I’ve started to process the fact that I am going to love another tiny human as much as I love Lydia. That he or she will be like Lydia… but different. Their own person.

Sometimes I get scared. Will I really love baby two as much as I love my first? It seems hard to fathom. I also have feared: will God provide the finances for us to support a family of four on a ministry salary? Will we be able to afford sending them both to college? In all these fears, He has comforted us and provided people to speak truth and encouragement to us.

Still, I am scared. Aren’t we all scared for the unknown? Will I be able to do it all? Will I be able to be a working momma of two? Will I be able to care for a newborn while having a toddler? Will God really provide the finances? Will our marriage continue to strengthen as life only seems to get more messy?

In the midst of the unknowns and the fears, I am thankful for a God who sustains me through it all and gives me peace, assurance, and confidence. He hasn’t failed me yet, and I choose to trust in His promise, that He never, ever will.

Baby two, we’re ready for you.

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)