Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Free to be Happy!

As most of you know, my March has been insane. I was away the first weekend for the youth group snow camp. Then the following weekend was Kirsten's dedication. After that was a weekend away for scrapbooking. So last Thursday, I was really debating whether or not to attend our church's women's retreat. I really wanted to, but with all the time away, plus working, business, etc, I was feeling the need to stay at home and relax. But, in the back of my head, I heard a voice saying: "Go." I was pretty sure it was God telling me to go, so I decided to brave the 3-hour drive with a 5-month old AGAIN, and see what would come of it.

All I can say is WOW. God knew what he was doing when He told me to go - imagine that! Kirsten did have a hard time in the car, and there were moments that I was thinking: "Why am I doing this to her again?" But we made it there, and thankfully my lovely friend Shan was in the backseat trying to keep her calm. Once we arrived at Blueberry Mountain, we managed to get settled and Kirsten was super happy to be out of the car.

The theme of the weekend was "Free to be Happy", and it was based on a Beth Moore DVD where she talks about the blessing of Asher from Deuteronomy 33. The weekend was a perfect mix of down time and structured time, allowing us to have time to process what we were learning. Friday night we had some fun playing the game "Two Truths and a Lie", and I found out that I was not able to lie as well as I thought! Saturday brought personal devo time, times to watch the DVD and discuss, free time, and of course lots of meals.

I have never done much with Beth Moore before, but I have to say I was completely impressed as well as inspired to truly dig deeper into scripture. It was amazing how God spoke through her directly to me and to my situation. I learned that God truly wants us to be happy, and we can be when we recognize the amazing works that He has done in our lives. That's a very simplified explanation of what I learned - I just don't have the brainpower to go further into detail at the moment.

One of the most moving moments of the weekend for me was when we did the "20 Things I Love" activity in our small groups (we had been broken up into small groups for discussion and activities). We had to make a list of 20 things we love, then read them aloud twice to our group. We then had to turn our chair around while our group "talked behind our back" about us. This was meant to be good things, of course. I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks as the women in my group said things like "adores family, Proverbs 31 woman, high expectations of self, a woman to look up to, and a fear of letting others down." I was overwhelmed by the love and support of these other women who had listened earlier in the day as I shared my struggles as a new mom and learning to balance it all. And now they offered words of encouragement and support, affirming me in every way. After they were done, I said, "I think I needed to put 'I love crying' on my list, since I seem to be doing that all the time!"

Sunday was our last day, and we had breakfast followed by personal quiet time, and then our final DVD. After the final DVD session with Beth, we had a time of sharing in the big group. It was amazing to hear how many women had contemplated not coming, but once they were there, God moved in them deeply. One woman even shared how Christ had met her there, and she had made a commitment to Him even though she had thought of herself as a "Christian" for years! We rejoiced with her and it was truly amazing to see the change in her face - she was truly HAPPY!

I am so thankful that God prompted me to go this weekend. God truly showed me that I am not alone, and that there are so many women with a wealth of wisdom and experience who are willing to help me in this journey. I am also thankful for dear Shannie who roomed with me and Kirsten so I wouldn't be alone, and gave me an afternoon free so that I could just do whatever I wanted. Although Kirsten screamed for part of it, thankfully she calmed down and I was able to enjoy some quiet time alone.

Well I am off to bed as Kirsten's been sleeping for 2 and 1/2 hours now and she'll probably want to get up early!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Scrappin', Tea, and Sleep

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to a scrapbooking retreat at the Bar Harbor Inn. Yes, this beautiful inn was the location for a weekend full of cropping, arranging, and attaching photos to pages. I went with my fabulous friend Amy, and she brought two friends from church. We all shared a room together, and thankfully the inn was gracious enough to move my room closer to the scrapping area since I had Kirsten with me! I was so grateful for that, and was able to use my monitors all weekend for whenver Kirsten was asleep in the room.

I tried to go into the weekend with minimal expectations, although looking at the amount of stuff I had with me, you'd think I was going to scrapbook my whole life! I worked whenver Kirsten was sleeping, as well as when she was content to be in her bouncy chair or laying on the floor with toys. So although I did not get as much done as I usually would have, I DID manage to complete 36 pages in her baby album, and got caught up to the beginning of March. Overall, a pretty good weekend!

As I continue on this journey of motherhood, God continues to teach me to be still, to be patient, to cherish the moments. And during the weekend, I was once again reminded of my need to do this. Saturday evening, I spent several hours getting Kirsten ready for bed (i.e. feeding her, giving her a bath, snuggling and bouncing, etc). By 9:30, she was still not asleep, I hadn't eaten dinner, and I was feeling frustrated and annoyed. I am thankful for such good friends (new & old) who offered love and support. Amy took Kirsten so I could eat, Sheila took her for a bit, and Amy's friends told me that I was an amazing mom and that I was doing great. After a few tears, realizing that I needed to let go of my goals and desires and just be, I was able to go back to the room, get Kirsten from Sheila, and finally get her to sleep.

Another recent happening was a Mother's Tea that took place today. I took Kirsten with me as I did not have anyone to watch her, but I hope that the next time I go, I'll be able to go just me! I have to say that this Mother's Tea was just amazing. Amy & Rachael put this together and they did a wonderful job. It took place at the Lighthouse Cafe, and they had it all decorated with candles, tea pots and tea cups, delightfully yummy food, and an atmosphere of fellowship. As one of the newest mothers there, I felt completely surrounded by people who were full of wisdom and experience that I do not yet have. It was fun to meet some new people and hear about their journeys in motherhood. And, once again, I was reminded that I am not alone, that other moms have felt the same things I feel, and how important it is to savor the moments and not wish them away.

And as Kirsten grows, she continues to be more and more funny, amazing, and beautiful. One thing that is also changing is her sleep habits. Last night she went to sleep around 8:30pm. She was up around 2am to eat, and then again at 5:45. But then she slept until 8:15am! She never sleeps that late anymore. It was so amazing, and it gave me time to get ready before needing to tend to her. And today, I've been trying something new: putting her down when she is sleepy but not totally asleep yet. And all three times that I did it, she went to sleep! I just turned on a sound machine, patted her back a bit, and walked away. Didn't hear a peep from her at all. Now, this could be a fluke, so I'm not going to expect the same tomorrow or the next day. Nonetheless, it is still exciting to see that she is feeling safe & secure and being able to fall asleep on her own a bit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fun Times with Kirsten

I have so much to update on, but since my eyes are heavy and I want to take a quick nap while Kirsten sleeps, I'm just going to post these two videos that are super adorable! Enjoy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Giveaway - Very Cool Stuff

Well I just found out about this giveaway through my friend's blog. This gal, Shey, is giving away some fabulous stuff! I am totally in love with these scrabble pendants from HomeStudio. All I can say is WOW, I want some. That is just one of the great things you can win during this giveaway. Now yesterday was the final day, but I think you can still enter between now and Monday. There are also some other great things you can win. Another one of my favorites is the beanies from the Portland Beanie Co. If I had tons of disposable income, I'd be buying lots of these for Kirsten!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Times of Refreshing

Well it's been a bit since I've posted and I realize that I need to update folks on the weekend away at Snow Camp. I was feeling quite nervous about going, seeing how I would be taking my 4 month old daughter 3 hours away from home into a totally different setting, surrounded by teenagers all weekend! Thankfully God calmed my heart, especially after talking with a few friends, and I realized that I really needed to go. And I am very thankful that I did. Here's a rundown of the weekend and a little about what I learned.

Friday afternoon: We left the church around 3:30ish, and Kirsten had eaten and was quite happy. 3 girls piled into my car along with Kirsten and I, and I knew it would be a fun ride. Kirsten did well for a while, but around Skowhegan began to fuss and cry. I figured I'd stop at a gas station or something, but I passed the first one only to realize that there were NO MORE to come! Thankfully she calmed down and we got to another gas station in about 15 minutes. There I had fun trying to nurse her in the backseat of the car while everyone ran inside to get a snack. Back on the road again, and she fell asleep for a while. But about 1/2 hour before we arrived, she began to cry, and she continued to cry - no, SCREAM - for most of the rest of the ride. Once we got to Blueberry Mountain, I was so relieved, especially when I was able to just drive up the hill without having to wait for everyone to switch vehicles, etc. As soon as she was out of the car, the crying stopped and she was happy! Yay! Friday night consisted of FOOD - yum - and then an evening devotional, followed by night sledding. I got Kirsten to sleep around 9 and then I went to bed by 10 cause I was exhausted!

Saturday started with morning personal devotions, meal, morning group devotional, then outside for sledding. Kirsten did great all day on Saturday and took naps like a pro in her pack 'n play which was in our separate room. Scott even gave me a chance to go sledding while he watched Kirsten! That was super fun. The evening was not as smooth, but it wasn't horrible. Scott did a neat devotional in the evening and had everyone do a lectio divina. I ended up staying in my room after I got Kirsten to sleep to do this. The reading we did was Matt. 6:25-34. God really spoke to me during this time, and the theme that I was hearing was "DO NOT WORRY." It is so easy for me to worry about little things, as well as big things. And I think I have allowed worry to steal the joy and peace that God wants me to have. I am very thankful for that time of prayer and that I was able to sense God speaking directly to me through that scripture.

Sunday was our final day, and we had another morning devotional time. During this time Scott had each of us write a note of encouragement to each other, and although it took quite a while, I think it was a great idea. It gave everyone something to take home with them to remind them of the love and encouragement that we should each share with each other as Christians. After that we had lunch and then we headed out on the road. Kirsten did great on the way home and was very entertained by the 2 girls in the back with her.

Overall, the weekend was a blessing to me. I have a hard time just stopping and doing nothing, and being out in the sticks with no internet, no cell phone, etc, really forced me to do this. One scripture that caught my attention this weekend was Acts 2:19b: "so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." I thought that phrase "times of refreshing" was really powerful - that is what God wants for us in our relationship with Him! He wants us to be refreshed in His Spirit. I am thankful I was refreshed - I think God knew I would need it, especially given the kind of week I am now having. (More on that later!) Now I just pray that I can continue to seek Him and enjoy His presence every day and not just wait until another weekend away.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kirsten Being Cute