to Jude, on your first birthday

Dear Jude,

It's amazing that you've only been in our lives for one short year, but on the other hand it feels like you've been with us forever. It's hard to remember what life was like without you; you bring us so much joy, so many happy tears, and a whole new perspective on how our Heavenly Father loves us. We've had to change: become less selfish, more flexible, and more loving. Oh, so much more love... it's like you opened the door to a whole new room in our hearts called "love for Jude" that we didn't even know existed... and it's a HUGE room! The moment we met you face-to-face for the first time was an amazing, life-changing, beautiful, holy moment. Daddy sang and Mama cried. Even the nurses and midwife cried. You were the only one who wasn’t crying!

Those first days in the hospital were pivotal for us as a family. There was one evening when you were struggling to regulate your blood sugar and not doing so well, that night was the point where we realized, in sharp focus, that you belong more to the Lord than to us, and just how much we, as your parents, needed to lean on our Heavenly Father to carry us through this journey of parenting you. We knew how inadequate we were- and ARE- but that we could do it... it was God's grace that poured down and met us there in the hospital room as we cried out to Him for wisdom, strength, and His power for each moment. It was at that point that we really became parents, and our family was formed.

And this lifelong journey has had an incredible beginning. This first year has gone by so fast, but it still feels like we're just getting to know you. Every night when we lay you down in your crib, we sing "Amazing Grace" because it's only by the grace of our loving Heavenly Father that you have been born to us, sweet son. You are a reminder of His past and future grace to us, Jude. We are humbled and proud to be your parents. So we look back with so much amazement and gratitude.

But we're also looking forward... no, we're especially looking forward. There are days ahead of us that will be hard, days that will end up being our sweetest memories, days that are ordinary and yet magical. As your personality begins to emerge and we get to know your likes and dislikes, preferences, and little quirks, we're hit with the reality that even now, as small as you still are, we are building a relationship with a little person. You're so much more than a "charge", like a dog or a cat. You are even now being shaped... a baby who will all too soon become a boy, who will then become a man. A man that we hope with all our hearts will have an all-consuming thirst for God, a love for his fellow men, a rich relationship with us, a love and partnership with a wife, and a loving care for his own children. It's a heavy responsibility, but an amazingly exciting one, to grow a man.

Really, it's a journey of letting go... starting from birth, to taking your first independent steps, going to school, driving a car, moving into your own place, getting married and starting your own little family, if those are things that God has for you. Our responsibility is to prepare you for these things by pointing you to your Heavenly Father so you can seek Him and hear His voice to you... and to let you go to follow Him.

Life will be hard, and there will be disappointments, loss, and heartache. We don't pretend to know all the answers, but we long to talk through the night with you as we seek the One who is weaving your story of His grace. We can't wait to tell you about the wonders found in Christ... of grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, truth, holiness, love, and glory. Each one of these words carries much weight and meaning to us personally as they have transformed our lives and the way we love each other. We want you to see the real us, not as perfect parents who "know best", but as flawed humans in need of grace and forgiveness, even as we walk in the sin-killing power of the Holy Spirit.

If there are only two things that you learn from us, let them be that God is always working FOR you, and we will always love you no matter what. Seek righteousness, revel in forgiveness. We're in this life together, son... and we are with you at the foot of the cross, where we pray that you will always find yourself.

As you watch this video, listen carefully to the words of this song; there are many rich word pictures, and the story it tells paints a vivid picture of our heart for you as you grow into a young man fighting your way in faith through this world.

Jude: Year One from Rob Hulson on Vimeo.

"Lesson one - do not hide
Lesson two - there are right ways to fight
And if you have questions
We can talk through the night

So you know who you are
And you know what you want
I've been where you're going
And it's not that far
it's too far to walk
But you don't have to run
you'll get there in time

Lesson three - you're not alone
Not since I saw you start breathing on your own
You can leave, you can run, this
will still be your home

So you know who you are
And you know what you want
I've been where you're going
And it's not that far
it's too far to walk
But you don't have to run
you'll get there in time
Get there in time

In time, to wonder where the days have gone
In time, to be old enough to
wish that you were young
When good things are unraveling,
bad things come undone

You weather love and lose your innocence

There will be liars and
thieves who take from you
Not to undermine the consequence
But you are not what you do
And when you need it most
I have a hundred reasons why I love you

If you weather love and lose your innocence
Just remember - lesson one

And lastly, never forget the words that end your namesake book of the Bible:

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 24-25)

We love you, Son.

~ Daddy and Mama


up and down

Remember the entry I posted a while back wherein I bemoaned the fact that Jude wasn't eating much? Yeah well, things have changed.

Just this morning he gobbled up:

  • a 5 ounce bottle of homemade formula
  • half a banana
  • one cup of whole-milk yogurt
  • about 3 tablespoons-ish of ground turkey
  • half a cup of applesauce
  • 1/4 cup of tapioca pudding
  • half a whole-wheat organic toaster waffle (that he's still working on)

And it's not even 9 am yet! I don't know where he's putting it all; he's still, as his doctor says, "long and lean". All the crawling and walking attempts/practice must be hard work! Huh, maybe I should try it instead of running for exercise? haha

Speaking of, I've been upping the ante lately; my runs are longer (20 minutes non-stop with no- walk breaks today!) and I'm lifting heavier weights during my Ripped workouts. I'm definitely feelin' it. I'm about to start a 3 month Ripped challenge with some online friends and I'm feeling excited! I'm also thinking about doing a juice cleanse and then going vegetarian for a week or two after that, just to give myself another kick in the pants as I start off my Autumn routine.

Gosh, I'm starting to sound like my life revolves around food and its effects. Hrm... it kinda does. And I don't even really like to cook. haha


nostalgia, part one

So wow, it's August! Erm, it's actually past the middle of August... the 17th, to be exact. Last year on this day I was 10 days away from going through one of the most horribly painful, life-altering, and wonderful experiences of my life, but I didn't know it yet. I was blissfully unaware of the deep valley I was about to go through, and ignorant of the love-explosion that was about to happen. I was still worried that I "wouldn't love Jude" (oh I laugh at myself now) because I'm really not much of a "baby person".

What's amazing to me is how much I've changed. Not just in the obvious way- of course I love my son. And that is a dramatic understatement. It's like the day he was born a door in my heart was opened to reveal a whole room that I didn't have before... my heart actually grew a whole new section. (Figuratively, of course. No extra aortic chambers here) So that's the obvious way in which I've changed, and while it seems obvious now as I look back (duh, I'm going to love the heck outta that baby) it was so new and scary and I was so skeptical *before* I had him. I'm positive it was the grace of God that I have this vast amount of love for him now. And boy am I glad, because you kind of need vast amounts of love to make it through all the crap babies can throw at you. Literally and figuratively. ;)

The not-so-obvious ways in which I've changed are harder to put my finger on; harder to define in so many words. I'm more tender, more attuned to others' suffering, more responsible (ha), more sensitive to emotional pain, and more patient with things that would have driven me batty before, it's like I have this well of patience inside me that amazes me... I often think to myself "why am I even able to deal with this right now??" I know all these things aren't fundamentally from ME, they are gifts of the Holy Spirit as he works on changing me from the inside. And boy, did I need changing. Do. Still DO need changing.

That's another thing that this parenting gig is bringing out- just how selfish I really am. I mean, it's not like I always just LOVE making baby meals 4x a day, cleaning up hands, face, hair, highchair tray, table, floor, walls, etc. after each meal, changing the 3rd poopy diaper of the day- at noon, worrying over whether he getting enough food, etc, etc, etc. There are definitely times when I think back fondly on the years of just "R&R" (without the "J") and wish we could be that carefree again, and sometimes I begrudge the day-in, day-out tasks of my chosen career. It's never been more obvious to me just how much I need *continual* changing, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's just been so interesting and amusing to me to watch the Lord use my 'lil Jude-man as that agent of change.

And a cute little agent he is, dontcha think?


on freedom

When my last post about guilt cross-posted over on Facebook, I got a lot of comments agreeing and sympathizing with me. One of my friends (hi Lindsay!) said "Guilt.Guilt.Guilt. I live with it daily. I would love to be FREE from it.
Please, oh please."
Her use of the word "free" really hit me, and I started mulling over the concept of freedom and what it means to be truly set free from something.. in this case, a crippling mindset.

I wrote in the FB comments: "Honestly, I don't want to come under condemnation for 'how good I am' or 'what I do', because that is just NOT from Christ. It's self-imposed. And I'm the only one measuring me against some unrealistic ideal woman-mother-wife that lives in my head. (She has a flat tummy, by the way. haha) And I really don't want to be characterized by feeling guilty about what I'm 'supposedly' failing in. What a killjoy, huh?"

I think the thing is that I am imposing this guilt-complex on myself. No one tells me I'm doing a bad job as a mother or a wife (or friend, or daughter, or sister... the list goes on). In fact, I hear the opposite 100x more often that I ever hear any whisper of missed expectations from anyone. It's all in my head. That same friend also commented "I compare myself to "PerfectWoman" all the time. The thing is, I take bits of "perfection" that various friends have, then combine them all into SuperWoman and expect myself to live up to her. It's not easy to let that go." So we make up a composite woman who has every skill we think we need, then come under self-imposed guilt when we don't live up to PerfectWoman.

So that's the crippling mindset. Where does freedom come in? My friend Johanna wrote: "And also? There is therefore now NO condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. So take that fail/guilt!" There is a difference between condemnation and conviction. As I've been thinking about this, I think that condemnation is this self-imposed guilt that I've been battling and talking about here. It's not *only* self-imposed, it can come from others too (more on that later, maybe!), but in my case, it's all me, baby. It's me telling myself that I'm not living up to something that I'm simply not called to live up to, Biblically speaking. I think that conviction, on the other hand, is from the Holy Spirit and points out the places where I'm not living up to what I AM called to do... like say, live peaceably with all men, or any number of Scriptural mandates. The hard part is figuring out which one I'm feeling at the moment. Sometimes it's clear to me in my head, and sometimes it's really confusing. And understanding is only half the battle, the other half is actually pulling out of the fog of feelings. Reminding myself of scripture verses helps, listening to friends speak the truth is a huge help for me too. Sometimes I just have to beg God for grace in the moment to get me out of the slump, and keep me out. And He will... He does. It was for freedom that we were set free!

I know I've quoted this song here before, but I can't get over how good it is... the message of freedom- freedom FROM my sinful self-centeredness, and freedom TO confidence, love, joy, and peace- is HOPE, even for selfish, whiny, self-condemning people like me.

Derek Webb's Lover. Watch it.

Lyrics | Derek Webb - Lover lyrics

My favorite verse is the last:

"I am my beloveds and my beloved's mine
so you bring all your history and I'll bring the bread and wine
and we'll have us a party where all the drinks are on me
then as surely as the rising sun you will be set free "

It's just humbling and amazing to me that His blood + body are for ME right now, and continuously, as I struggle through the daily ins and outs of life, not just for "my past". That's power and promise that changes me from my fog of self-centeredness, (*whine, whine* "I'm not doing everything right" "I'm not PerfectWoman!" *whine whine*) guilt, and shame, to humble confidence that my God is (right now!) supplying what I need to do what He as asked me to do. He is enough. And that brings me freedom.

(Now I need to remember this "preaching to myself" post tomorrow- when PerfectWoman appears in my mind again, wearing heels and an apron around her 25-inch waist, pulling rack of lamb out of the oven!)


on guilt

It's Sunday morning and I'm catching up on my blog reader (qualifier- we go to church on Saturday nights). Yes, I felt the need to put a qualifier; you'll understand after your read the rest of this post. I came across this post from OMG Mom about "mommy guilt". Go read it then come back and read the rest of this post, it will make so much more sense.

Read it? Okay, good... carrying on then. All I can say is that I TOTALLY relate. Why do we do it to ourselves? I have no idea, but that guilt is almost always there, no matter which option I take. Illustration: Just yesterday Jude flat-out refused to eat or take his bottle except for a little bit in the morning. The day before at his 9-month checkup (which I was 2 months late for. GUILT) our doctor lectured me that he needs to eat more/more often. GUILT. But then my sensible side kicked in and I wanted to ask if *she* has a picky 11-month old. (No. she is a single, successful young doctor and is obviously rolling in dough. Hate) So when Jude wouldn't "EAT, dammit"... I got mad. Really, really mad. I didn't scream at him or anything, but he knew I was mad because I was banging plates and slamming cupboard doors like a 5-year-old. GUILT. So then what happens later that night? He comes down with a raging fever. Turns out he wasn't being obstinate and making my life miserable by not eating his peas like I thought (really? an 11-month old?), but he was getting sick. GUILT. I got mad at a sick baby for not eating. SHAME.

So I'm trying to make it better today by only giving him his favorite foods (bananas + yogurt) and not making him finish it, but THAT is making me feel guilty because I keep seeing Rich Single Doctor in the back of my mind shaking her head and writing notes on Jude's chart as she observes my failure to include protein. GUILT.

So now I'm eating a piece of toasted banana bread in bed from Starbucks, even though I still have 15 lbs. of pregnancy weight to lose. GUILT. And I just got a text from my good pal Johanna about the freaking *triathlon* she was in this morning. She's down 40 lbs. from her pre-preggo weight and her baby is only 6 weeks older than mine. FAIL. GUILT.

I can't win.

But I can do makeup really well, for what THAT'S worth.


last week...

...was a very good week. The time spent with my parents was so much fun, and non-stop action! It's kind of amazing to me how my parents, at nearly 60ish, can outlast Rob and I- and Jude- but they can, almost every time. They're pretty much the busiest, most productive, go-go-go people I know. I love their drive and purposefulness and vision of life, God, and family. I get excited around them, i feel like life just has so much potential, and the possibilities are endless. Inspiring and tiring!

We kicked off their visit with a BBQ in our common area with our small group and some new friends. Can't go wrong with burgers, beers, and buddies. (Okay yeah, that was cheesy, I admit)

In the middle of the week, we took a roadtrip "up north" to Duluth for a two-nights' stay in a historic home. While we were there, we toured the Glensheen Mansion, a gigantic turn-of-the-century mansion (so. awesome.), walked along the shore of Lake Superior, watched one of the biggest barges on the Lake go under a bridge (quite the local spectacle), and spent our relatively lazy evenings on the screened-in porch eating various organic local offerings from the "Whole Foods" down the street. (I quote the name because while they were called Whole Foods, they were not part of the national chain, and made a point to make that known)

Mom and I also found time to hit up various consignment stores while she was here (of course!) and we both came away with some stellar finds. I got something like 10 items for about $20, including a brand-new pair of Ralph Lauren trouser jeans, and Mom did even better. Plus, it's always more fun shopping with her than going alone!

I ran across a Groupon for 1/2 off a dinner cruise on Lake Minnetonka (just southeast of the Twin Cities area) so we concluded the week with a narrated cruise while munching on delicious fajitas and gawking at the multi-billion dollar mansions on the shoreline. Such fun!

My favorite snapshot of the week was taken on the deck of the dinner-cruise yacht:

I already miss them.


I'm not a blogger...

...and I'm finally coming to terms with it.

Really though, every time I think "oh that would be a fun thing to blog about" I actually just end up Tweeting it, which automatically posts it to Facebook, where I get loads of comments and interaction... and that does it for me. But then when I do actually want to post a blog entry, I am immediately filled with guilt about how much time has passed since I last blogged (hmm, reminds me of my journaling habits) and I feel compelled to explain why I haven't posted anything in... 6 months? I And I really don't like blogging about blogging. Or not blogging, as the case may be. :P

AT ANY RATE, here I am now. I'm taking it easy this morning while Jude is down for his morning nap and Rob is at work; I spent yesterday in a cloud of dust, cleaning supplies, and decorations in preparation for my parents' visit. They got here yesterday afternoon on a plane that was an hour and a half late, forcing me to waste 5 gallons of gas circling the baggage claim before giving up and parking, wasting 6 dollars and an hour trying to keep a curious and tired 10-month-old happy in a crowded, dirty airport. But that's another story.

I pulled a fast one on my folks and had our small group over for a cookout last night, which they helped with, and seemed to enjoy, despite being up since 4 am. They really are good sports! After everyone left, we sat out on our deck admiring the sunset while Rob read a bit from one of his latest favorite books, Notes From The Tilt-O-Whirl. Then we decided to be super-spiritual and watch Jim Gaffigan... but not before watching a selection from the Beatles Anthology; the video of their live broadcast of "All You Need Is Love" (and flowers in your hair, apparently).

It was a lovely evening, but I think we wore my parents out because it's 10:15 am and they are still sleeping, which is unheard of. My mom is usually up with the birds, and my dad almost always makes a coffee run before Mom gets up. But I do have to remember that it's two hours later here than it is in Nevada, so to them it's only 8:15. Rob and I kept Jude sufficiently quiet when he woke up at 7:30 (thank you, God- a sleep-in morning for me!) and now he's already been zonked out for an hour. As is obvious, I casually sashayed over to this dusty old blog to see if anything creative sprang to mind to share with the faceless masses on the nebulous blob that is The Internet.

We have lots of fun things planned for the week; tomorrow we're heading up to Duluth for two nights, then dashing home in time for Rob to make Saturday evening worship practice and church, I have a wedding on Sunday for which I am doing the makeup on a LOVELY bride and several bridesmaids at a gorgeous historic mansion, then on Monday we're going to explore Lake Minnetonka and gawk at all the muli-million dollar houses, finishing the evening off with dinner aboard a yacht. 'Twill be a lovely, busy week! We may even have to squeeze a trip to the zoo in there somewhere, too.

I love that I have so much fun with my parents; they are getting cooler and even more fun the older I get... or am I getting older and less cool? Either way, we love hanging out together and talking about God, life, trials, encouragements, and the occasional glass of good wine. I saw this on Postsecret a few weeks ago, and had it saved in an open browser window on my iPhone since then... I was planning on emailing it to my mom, but it really fits this post well:

It's true, it really is.

And now, I'm going to go make avocado toast and coffee, then get ready to go check out a sale at TurnStyle (local consignment chain) and maybe hit Trader Joe's for Duluth-trip snacks. Greek yogurt, perhaps?

Until next time, my friends!