Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Her Story: Lydia Joy

So many times over the last 8 weeks I have been asked, "what's her name?".  And my simple response of, "Lydia Joy" feels so cheap. And much like a sell out.  But to tell the whole story each time someone asks is also a bit unrealistic.  There's so many parts.  It seems like it should have started about 7 weeks ago, maybe nine months before that, at best.  And one might be thinking - this must be a short story.  When in actuality, it started two and a half years ago.  I wanted desperately to share it before her dedication, but the jig is up.  I'm tired and behind on pretty much everything in life right now.  Between our 2 jobs, full time schooling, a newborn and two extremely busy boys, keeping our heads above water is a goal each and every day in the Wykes household.  So it posts when it posts!  It's a step of obedience to share it, no matter when I share it. And it's good for me to relive the wonder.  

It all started in April 2013.  I was getting ready to go to sleep.  Lying in my bed, I saw a picture.  My eyes were closed, but I don't think I'd call it a dream.  Very clearly, I saw a baby girl in hospital garb (little knit hat and a hospital-striped blanket) being handed over to me.  That was the picture in its entirety. It was quick, but the feeling that came along with it felt real and intense.  Somehow, I knew she was mine.  I don't know how, I just had a strong maternal feeling during the vision, and when I sat up in bed, I also knew it was something I needed to pay attention to.  I often get dreams and "pictures" from the Lord.  I journaled it and moved on, not thinking too much about it.  However, two nights later, I had another dream.  I was in a parking lot, carrying an infant carseat, looking for what was apparently my daughter.  I was calling out, "Lydia!  Lydia!".  Patrick came into the scene, and said, "don't worry, I'll help you find her.  We will find her."  After that, I heard a little baby's cry and we headed towards it.  Then I woke up.  Again, I journaled the dream.  But this time I started to pay a little more attention.

My original journal drawing of my vision of Lydia -
I'm no artist, but it looks just like her, don't you think?  :)

We had absolutely no plans for a third child at that time, so the dreams did not make a ton of sense.  And I had even less interest in being pregnant ever again, so the best sense I could make of it was that we would adopt someone else's baby.  I had a couple more dreams (five total, I believe), all different in scenario, but all focused around a little girl.  At some point, I felt the need to start praying for this little girl.  I didn't know when or how she would join our family, but rarely did I lean towards it being from my own pregnancy.  Each time I would journal through a prayer for her, the Lord would give me total peace that it would be in his timing, and his doing, and it wasn't something I needed to go about making happen (for instance, were we supposed to start looking into adoption.. should we get licensed to foster, etc).  One of the most clear ways/times he spoke to me about her, I was up in the balcony of our church, writing out a prayer, listening to my Pandora station.  I was asking again, "what is my role in this?  what am I supposed to be doing about this Lydia girl?".    As I wrote this out, the next song that came on my Hillsong worship music station was a lullaby.  A LULLABY.  In the song, the singer spoke of a child being light on a dark day.  I, of course, immediately starting crying, up in the balcony, by myself.  What were the chances?

Fast forward to last December.  Still, no plans for a third child on our radar.  However, shortly after Christmas, we found out God had other plans for us.  Plans that did not line up at all with what we thought were our plans for 2015.  I was planning (and excited) to work full time at the church this year.  Patrick was in the process of signing up to go to a local college and complete a third degree.  A baby did not exactly line up with any of that.  January was all about coming out of shock and course re-direction.  Pat changed his plans to an out-of-state college that would allow him to do most of his course work online.  I had to inform the church I would no longer be filling the extra hours.

You might be wondering - so you had two years of clear "warning" and still the shock?  Yes.  Lots of it.  I had pretty much decided in my head it was going to be an adoption, and it was still a ways off.  I envisioned the boys being (even) older.  So for her to come this way, at this time, I was surprised, to say the least.  I remember sitting in Simpatico, about an hour after I had taken the test, sobbing, and listening to the song, "Cece's Lullaby" by Stefanie Grettzinger.  In the chorus it says something like, "Lay your head down, you've been tired lately, come and rest, I've been a Father for a long time, don't you think I know best?"  The words stung, but I knew down in my core they were true.  I needed to trust He knew best for our family.  But I sure didn't feel ready to.

To say the beginning of the year was a tough time for me feels like an understatement.  Paired with the worst morning sickness I've ever had, I was just plain angry with God. But in his complete graciousness and kindness, in response to my silence and occasional tongue lashing towards him (but mostly silence), he surrounded me with a loving community.  Surrounded feels again, like a gross understatement.  Enveloped might be better.  They held their shields around me when I couldn't muster up the strength to hold my own.  They prayed for me, they sent me cards with words I needed to hear, drank tea and listened to me whine, they let me cry, even when they maybe didn't agree with my tears.  They were simply there.  They held on to my joy for me, until I was ready to accept it myself. 

Finally in April, I had a "come to Jesus" moment, literally, where I gave him a minute to speak (wincing, no less), and he simply informed me, "It's my faithfulness, not yours, that matters right now.  I can be trusted, I love you, I love this child, and you're all going to be ok. Let's move on."  And we did. 

Shortly there after, we had our ultrasound looming.  I had total peace about it being a girl most of the pregnancy.  I wasn't hunting for names, I knew she was Lydia.  I had four of my dear friends tell me, "it's a girl, I had a dream too!" or, "it's a girl, the Lord told me in my prayer time...  I know this is your girl."  And then the night before the appointment, in my spirit I clearly heard, "It's a girl, she's a gift from me, and I wanted to be the one to tell you."  So when we opened the card from the tech that said "IT'S A GIRL!  I CHECKED THREE TIMES!", joy and tears bubbled up.  Who am I to deserve such a gift?  Crazy.  After months of fit throwing, it certainly felt undeserved.

And then there was her arrival.  She was scheduled to arrive August 31st via c-section.  It wasn't a great week for my family.  There were other things going on, things that you wouldn't necessary want to pair with the joyous birth of your child.  They were far beyond our control, so I decided to beg my doctor to schedule or induce me early.  I went to the Wednesday prayer meeting I lead, and they prayer as a group for the doctor's mercy, for the Lord to go ahead of me into the appointment, for divine intervention for Lydia's arrival time.  I went into my appointment on Wednesday afternoon, pleaded my case, and she said she could get me onto a waiting list for the 28th, but that was the earliest she could go.  But it still wasn't great timing.  Two days later, I woke up having contractions - the first of any labor of my three pregnancies.  Again, crazy.  We headed into the hospital the morning of August 14th, and my contractions were two minutes apart.  My own doctor just happened to be on call there that morning and got to deliver Lydia Joy.   Again, I was given total peace as I sat on the sterling silver table, needles and knives all around.  I could literally feel a calming presence all around me as I laid down on the table.   And as they took her out and Patrick held her out to my face, I saw her for the second time; it was just like my vision.  Snug hospital hat, hospital blanket swaddled around her sweet little body.  Our little Lydia Joy had finally arrived. 

That moment, seeing my vision come to fruition.  Amazing.
Since her arrival, the tenderness of the Lord with my heart and joy has been so clear.  Instead of it being the night of the first home game, it was during Patrick's two week break from school and prior to fall sports starting that she arrived, so he was able to be around and was a huge help.  My mom was able to come stay for a week due to her early arrival.  It was literally perfect timing.  Again the outpouring of our community and family was so loving - the endless meals and treats and thoughtful gestures has met so many needs and then some.  And it was like He knew we were going to need some joy (and distraction) in our lives in this season.  Both sides of our family have had their share (and then some) of hardships and less-than-stellar news since her birth.  

I am beyond thankful for our little lady, for her story, and for the Lord's clear hand in all of it.  This past Sunday we dedicated her back into the hands of the Lord, when really, it feels like she has been there all along. The verse we choose for her is Ephesians 3:14-19, something I pray regularly over all my kiddos and unsaved loved ones:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart, Lydia, through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.