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!)