My due date nears, May 6 is D-Day. I am happily rotund, crossing over that "she could be just fat" stage into the "oh, look at that pregnant lady" stage. I regret that I haven't had near the time to daydream about my new daughter as I did with Jude, this pregnancy has steamrolled right through like Thomas the Tank Engine. When I think of this little girl, though, joy settles into the pit of my heart and I am content. I'm happy for Jude that he gets to learn to care for a sister, and I'm happy for us that we get to experience the boy/girl difference and sameness.
Jude has been quite a handful these days. Well, if I'm honest, I think he hasn't changed much at all. He is a very intense, serious little fellow, and he has a one track mind for sure. I think he gets it from daddy :) Since crossing over to toddler world, the tantrums have come on full force. I can see so clearly that he isn't trying to be disobedient, but he is testing us on all sides. I am trying to learn how to respond to these without frustration and anger, and without taking the easy way out. I have read several books that have left me feeling empty and confused, all very clinical approaches to discipline. A friend gave me a book called "Don't Make Me Count to Three" and it has been just what I've needed to hear. This woman talks about shepherding your child's heart from the beginning toward Godliness. She has such great insight into how to communicate to your child by helping them understand where their feelings are coming from and then redirecting them. I don't know why, but it never occurred to me that Jude has the capacity to start learning how to be merciful and loving, even at this young age. That's not a good synopsis, but I do recommend the book. I want more than anything for Jude to have a thankful and compassionate heart, and it makes me shrink to think of the responsibility of leading him there. I'm glad that it is God who has complete access to Jude's heart, when his mother's is so limited. It comforts me to remember that Jude was created to commune with God on a very personal level, just like the rest of us, and there is a limit to where my love and influence can reach. I pray he finds that communion at an early age.
I'm not sure how this will go, but I would like to attempt to share something that has been on my heart since even before moving to Vermont. It has been months, maybe close to a whole year that God has been teaching me things about myself regarding where my security lies. I joke that our income has steadily decreased over the nearly ten years that we've been married, but it is really quite true! In the past, I have taken each pay cut as a challenge, made the adjustment, and haven't so much as batted an eyelash at it. Today we find ourselves living on as little as we've ever lived on, and living in one of the most expensive places in the country. For the first time, it's starting to hurt. I have felt something foreign creeping into my heart, I dare to say it feels a little bit like entitlement. I mean, we have followed God from one hard ministry job to another, from one small paycheck to a smaller one, from a small but solid income, to one that may not be there next month. Don't we have a right to expect a nice place to live, a college fund, our modest lifestyle to be maintained? The more I pray and ponder this question, the less sure I am about the answer.
I am very uncomfortable with the conclusions that are forming in my mind. Part of me has a death grip on the security that comes from having excess. And by excess I mean it in it's very literal sense--anything extra at all. I just can't escape the fact that there is at least one thing that I DO KNOW, that we have followed God here. That leads me to believe that God is providing for us in a very intentional way. I also believe that He wants me to learn to depend on Him this time, only on Him. In the past, we have always had just enough to make it through, so I could do my magic act on our budget. Cut our Blockbuster membership, get rid of cable, cut back my phone minutes, nix my gym membership, eat out less, and voila, I did it! I did it.
I will say this one thing, if only to ease my own mind of the arguments it makes against me. We do have a responsibility to pay our bills and, specifically for Kevin, to provide for the family while on this earth. It's a responsibility that he does not take lightly. However, instead of maybe, trying to make money so we can maintain our current standard of living, we are considering the option that bigger adjustments need to be made, bigger sacrifices. As "poor" as we may seem, I have never felt poor, not for one day. Sacrifice has always been one of those things that we hoped we could live up to one day, but never really have. I mean, sacrificing a Blockbuster subscription felt like having to take a half mile detour, inconvenient at best. And still, the word sacrifice scarcely describes even the most radical adjustment we can make to our charmed lives in this great country.
I guess I long to have more. In fact, I long to have something that maybe I've never had, security in something much greater. I want a richer life. I want to want for nothing, even while having little. I want to remember that there are people in this country and especially around the world who have even less, and are hurting, or even dying because of it. But more than that, I wish that I understood how rich I can be in the things that won't leave me. I am rich in God's grace, and his kindness, and his provision. The things that I have are from His hand and they should be precious to me just because of where they came from, not because of what they are.
This nowhere nears the jumbled mess that is swirling through my mind as I pray about my life, but it's a snapshot. I have this feeling that God has good things to give us to replace what He has taken away. Things that are so much more lasting and will be of greater use to us in our struggle to raise our family and minister to this community. I have hope that I'll learn to put my security in a God who became poor so that we could be rich. (2 Corin 8:9)
Here are some recent pictures, Jude LOVES popcorn (just like Mommy):
Sing us a son, Piano Man
Sometimes he's pretty snuggly
I bought Jude a doll to play with to get ready for the new baby. This is the one and only moment that he has been sweet to it. Usually he find the appendages useful for swinging and throwing
One of his favorite activity is lining up all his trucks in a row, all facing the same way, and then systematically rearranging them