Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A New Perspective

Have you ever had one of those moments when you God was speaking directly to you? When you read something or hear something that was the exact thing you needed at that exact time? I love it when that happens and I'm praising the Lord it happened for me earlier this month.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you might recall this little gem of a picture that I posted on Friday, Nov 1. (Proof that Madi does indeed cry!)

That day was probably the worst that we've had so far. She spent the entire day screaming and I wish I could say that I handled it well. That I was patient, kind, and loving. But then I wouldn't need God would I?

That weekend wasn't much better and I finally stormed out of the house Sunday night in the pouring rain and just sat on a park bench crying. I let Satan get ahold of me and everything I'd done, everything I wanted to change, and everything that I wish would happen was flooding my mind. Guilt, pain, anger, failure. You name it - I was feeling it. I was screaming to God "why, why did you do this to me if you weren't going to give me the strength to handle it?" (Dramatic I know, but thankfully the rain and lack of people outside meant minimal witnesses to my ridiculous breakdown).

That following Monday wasn't much better. The morning was good, but the afternoon was tough. I went into my bedroom (leaving Madi crying in her crib) and spoke to God out loud. I told Him I was finished. That I wasn't strong enough to do this. That I needed His help. That if He wanted me to deal with her then He better give me love and patience and He better act fast. I was neither respectful nor hopeful in my request.

Shame on me. Because He delivered in both parts. Not even 10 min later I was driven to go and pick up my daughter and console her crying and comfort her and hold her. The rest of our afternoon and evening went well. That evening I sat down to work on my Bible study Freedom for Mothers. It's been a good study so far but hadn't had that "Bang, this is awesome" effect on me. Yet.

I turned to Week 7, Day 3 and before me was the lesson that God knew I needed right then and there. He knew exactly where I was struggling and exactly what I needed at that moment. I read it twice (while of course crying - notice a theme here? I'm a big cry baby. :-) ). I handed it to Jason to read and he smiled sweetly at me and agreed that it was perfect.

Here are some of the snippets from that day's study that I underlined as I was going over it -

  • Our present circumstances become our only reality if we don't have a Heavenly perspective.
  • Because you are in Christ, you are in a position of authority over Satan and his dominion.
  • Your life can flow with the fruit of the Spirit because of your union with Christ.
  • Knowing that you are in Christ gives you a different vantage point in two critical areas:
    • It gives you a perspective from which to view the daily events of your life. We live on a place up above our earthly circumstances. The stuff of this earth-both the irritating stuff and the funs tuff-is temporary and passing. You are seated with Christ in Heaven and at the same time inhabiting a body for the purpose of bringing His kingdom and His will to the earth and you will see each of those scenarios as an opportunity to be an open channel for Jesus to bring His kingdom rule onto the earth.
    • You can confidently go into battle for yourself, your husband, and your children knowing that you are an overcomer because you are in Christ. We can see them [daily events of our lives] as events that God uses to produce character in us. 
  • We are heirs of Christ. We do not have to stand for Satan's harassment and oppression. It is so easy to be made to feel guilty about our mothering. But one incident doesn't make you a lousy mother. Your behavior does not make you a success or failure. If you are in Christ, you are totally accepted by God and a valuable person regardless of your behavior. You are justified. Of course you need to confess your sin to God and to your children, repenting, and asking for forgiveness. 
  • If you are in Christ, you are the body and the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a mother full of the virtues of Jesus Christ. 
  • Satan's attachs usually give you a vague over-all feeling of depression, despair, and of being a failure. But when the Holy Spirit convicts you of something, it is specific and clear. He will shine His holy light on a particular area of sin and flesh in your life that needs confession and cleansing.
  • Openly admit that you are a failure as a mother in your own strength. The truth about who you are in Christ is that you have been crucified with Christ. Your own strength is not the power source of your life - Christ is. If you are a guilt-ridden, defeated, depressed, dejected mom, how are you going to rear strong healthy children? You can't. But you can stop that cycle. You who know who you are, where you are, why you are and you can teach those truths to your children!
Reference: Freedom for Mothers, Kardo International Ministries Copyright 2009 Denise Glen

Is He good or what? Is that not exactly what I needed to hear? Yesterday and today have been a tough days. Madi has been cranky and whiny and fussy and I can't seem to comfort her or do anything to help her. I needed to look back and review these amazing truths to help me get through this afternoon. I'm not perfect. And I never will be. But I am getting better - slowly, but surely- and it's only because the Lord is giving me the strength to change and grow and become more patient and loving.


Monday, November 25, 2013

28 Blessings

Today is my birthday! And as I sit here drinking a delicious cup of coffee with a happy and sleeping baby, I thought it would be a good exercise to make a list of all the blessings I have in my life. I am constantly taking for granted just how amazing God is and how much He pours His love on me. This post is a good reminder for me to re-visit when things are tough or I'm struggling. :-)

I am blessed because...

28. I have taste buds and a love for food! And I'm pretty concerned my four weeks in the States is going to have a direct impact on my hips, haha.

27. I know how to read (although I wish I had more time for it!) and I love to get lost in a good book.

26. We have an automatic food dispenser, water bowl, and (this one is the most important) litter box for the cats. We can leave them for a weekend without having to worry about someone watching them and I haven't had to scoop out litter for over a year. Hooray!

25. My husband is amazing at photography and my daughter is a smiley and happy little model. We like to have photo sessions almost weekly at the Stingerie house.

24. Madison lets Daddy and I sing to her every night and doesn't realize yet just how horrible we are at singing. I'm sure one day she will realize we aren't very good, but until then she lets us hold her and sing to her ignorant of our lack of talent.

23. I have God's grace and forgiveness. Without them I'd be lost and hopeless.

22. I love coffee! And it's caffeine helps me to get through the day. I seriously don't know how non-coffee peeps function (ahem, Jason).

21. Jason helps me with anything I ask (cooking dinner, laundry, cleaning, etc) and never complains. He's also great at just doing it without me asking. Such an amazing man!

20. We have found a church home here in Stavanger. We have been able to get involved in Men's and Women's Ministries, join Bible studies, and grow in our walk with the Lord.

19. My husband takes care of our finances and stocks and 401k and all that other business that I know nothing about (and want to know nothing about).

18. The Lord is growing me, teaching me, refining me, and sculpting me. He is using my husband, my daughter, and my circumstances to stretch me and draw me closer to Him. And while it's not always joyful and it takes some tough times, I know in the end that this world and my circumstances are temporary.

17. My mother was an amazing example to me of how to love, how to work hard, and how to have faith. Her testimony and courage and determination are absolutely breath-taking. She is my hero and I love her so much.

16. Jason holds the same values and beliefs as me. We agree on discipline techniques and parenting strategies. He wants to raise our daughter in a Christian household and I couldn't be more blessed to have that in my man!

15. My daughter puts herself to sleep and goes 8 hours at night. I forget how much of a blessing this is until I meet someone who says their little one is still waking up one, two, three times a night. Perhaps she will go through a phase like that at some point and I will have this reminder of how amazing she was most of the time. :-)

14. I have running water and can relax in a nice bubble bath with a glass of wine.

13. I have strong legs and determination that's enabled me to run two marathons, two MS 150 rides, and a number of 5k, 10k, and half-marathons races.

12. I know how to read and write. I have access to a Bible and am free to worship the Lord and sing to Him.

11. We have amazing friends across the world that we've developed over the years. I know I could call any of them up for a chat, help, or anything and they'd be there for me.

10. There have been technology advancements (Facetime, Skype, etc.) that allow us to stay in touch with our family and friends despite living so far away.

9. My job. I enjoy it and I was so fortunate to be able to take six months off to spend with Madison. My boss is also supportive of me returning back part-time and I'm looking forward to being able to spend some additional time at home with Madi.

8. The Lord worked everything out quickly and effortlessly for me to return to work in January. We have a private nanny lined up and a guaranteed spot in daycare next August (huge answers to prayer for us!)

7. There's a roof over our heads, food on our table, clothes on our backs, and money in our bank account. These are things that I take for granted constantly and instead should be thanking the Lord for daily.

6. I've been able to see a lot of the world - 17 countries in fact. I realize how fortunate we have been to be able to travel and especially to be able to take Madison with us to some of these places!

5. I have two fun, albeit trouble at times, cat companions who allow us to pet them, play with them, and sometimes even snuggle with them. So glad we brought CeCe and Zoey with us to Norway!

4. We have families that encourage us, pray for us, love us, and support us. It hasn't been easy for them to have their first grand-baby live so far away and we can't wait for them to spend time with her next month!

3. Madison is beautiful and smart and joyful and fun. She is teaching me so much about how to be a better Christian and where I need to grow.

2. My husband is my best friend and the most important person in my life. He is such an amazing husband, father, and friend and I am honored to be his helpmate.

1. I have a Heavenly Father who watches over me, who loves me, and died so that I might live.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

First Thanksgiving...Sort Of

Obviously living in Norway, the fourth Thursday of November is just a regular ol' day. And since Madi and I will be jetting off to London this Wednesday we decided to have a Thanksgiving get-together with some of our American expat friends.

We planned to host the event at our house and then Wednesday this past week Jason came home and wasn't feeling good. Poor guy is still sick today so we opted out of hosting and the Johnson's graciously let us crash their place instead. (I believe the reason Jason is still sick is because I cleaned the house on Friday in preparation for company. Had the house still been dirty I guarantee you he would be feeling better. Sorry babe...)

Since we were in charge of a few key components (turkey, ham, stuffing, and gravy...no big deal) - all of which had already been purchased and prepped, I got cooking and Madi and I went over there to enjoy the meal with friends. Yep, I left my poor, achy husband at home. And I didn't feel too guilty about it since there was nothing else I could do to help him feel better or make him more comfortable at home. That is until I got there and we started talking about Thanksgivings with family and I realized just how sad and upset I was that Jason wasn't with us for Madi's first "Thanksgiving". (But let's be honest, she slept the majority of the time anyway, haha.) I had a fabulous time with our friends and I'm glad to have gotten a little taste of 'Merica this weekend. :-)

The food everyone brought was amazing and I'm looking forward to sharing the delicious leftovers with Jason tomorrow when I know he will be feeling better. (If I say it enough times I can will it into happening, right?!)

And since my birthday is Monday, Jason was super sweet and ordered cupcakes from a friend of ours, Lisa, who has started her own cupcake business here in Norway called Creative Cupcakes. She is super talented - I mean check out these flowers?! And the girls surprised me with candles and singing. So sweet!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Turkey Day this upcoming week!!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas Card Family Photos

I am so thankful that we have found Beautiful Moments Photography here in Norway!! If you recall, Marta did an amazing job on Madi's newborn photos so we knew she'd do great for Christmas card photos. But wow, did she really amaze us! (And we took these photos yesterday! Talk about a quick turnaround!!) And fortunately Madi did much better than last time (although with how bad she was before anything would have been an improvement, haha).

I debated waiting to share these since some of them will be on our Christmas cards, but we all know I don't have that kind of self-control! :-)

And since we got all of the Christmas-themed photos we wanted, Marta suggested we try out some of her new accessories and we got these gorgeous gems! :-)


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Madi: Five Months

- You are a pro at traveling already! You've visited two countries (Hungary and Scotland), two cities (Bergen and Oslo), and taken eight flights, including a flight with just Mommy that was a bit disastrous! It's a good thing you are such an awesome baby. :-)
- Eating has become a bit of a wrestling match these days. You are very interested in everything around you - the TV, Daddy, the cats, random sounds, and especially Mommy. I cannot take a drink and usually cannot even talk without you popping off to see what's up. It's hard to get mad at your adorable smile though when it happens.

- You've started to take an interest in our eating and so we've been giving you tastes of foods. You make a funny face at all of them and then start gnawing on our finger. We haven't started you on any rice cereal or purees and honestly haven't decided if we are going to at all. Mommy and Daddy are reading a book called Baby-Led Weaning and are debating that method of solids introduction.
- You have discovered your feet and love to grab them (as is evidenced in her five month pictures!). You grab them during diaper changes and when you are playing on the floor. You've even attempted to eat them like you did in the womb...

- We had some really good ups and some tough downs this month. The hardest was a week when I don't think you were getting enough food. I had started taking fenugreek to help increase milk production, but after a couple weeks on it you were cranky, I was starting to get depressed, and fortunately Daddy came to the rescue. He started researching fenugreek and found out that you are not supposed to take it when you have a thyroid condition as it can actually inhibit the absorption of your thyroid medicine and actually cause a decrease in milk production. We stopped it immediately and both of us had a quick turnaround. You are chowing down now and we are so blessed to have such a smart guy leading our family!

- On our trip to Hungary you really started talking up a storm! You are making all sorts of different sounds now and are incredibly loud and talkative. It's so wonderful to see you inherited some of Daddy's personality traits. ;-)

- You are a baby on the move! We were warned when you started rolling early that you might hit other milestones early too. Well, Little Duck, you indeed have started moving around in circles, backward, and forward!! We were able to catch it on video and you've since then moved forward in little spurts. You are definitely not crawling, but bets are on that by the time we return from the States this December that we will be needing to start thinking about baby-proofing!
- You have decided that getting dressed is a hassle and you want none of it. You fuss every time we have to change you. The only exception (usually) is before and after bath time, which you still love. (You have started smiling and panting and moving all of your limbs when we lay you down in the bathroom to take your clothes off and say bath time.)

- You have entered a "mom-only" phase when you are upset. Poor Daddy cannot get you to calm down to save his life. He hands you to me after trying bravely to get you to take the pacifier or stop screaming and within 2 min you have stopped and are fine. :-/
- You have learned how to communicate with CeCe. On multiple occasions when you are talking to us, CeCe has run over meowing and jumped up on the sofa. She stops cold when she sees you and realizes that the sound was coming from you and not Mommy. It's quite entertaining!

Are we done yet??

Miss Madi -
You are such a blessing! We've been asked multiple times if you are always such a smiley and happy baby. We can honestly answer that 85% of the time you are. ;-) We remember when Mommy was pregnant and she was so worried you weren't going to be a smiley baby. How silly of her! You love talking to strangers and smiling at everyone when we are out and about. You travel amazingly well and still love to gaze intently at things and analyze them. You are very serious sometimes! Thank you for being so wonderful, patient, and loving to us.
Daddy and Mommy


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scotland Weekend

This past weekend we decided to hop the short 1-hour flight to Aberdeen, Scotland and visit my college friend Emily. We arrived Friday night and enjoyed a quiet evening of relaxing and catching up.

Saturday morning we got to catch up with some of our American friends for brunch at Sand Dollar Cafe. It was wonderful to see all of them and introduce them to Madi!

After a leisurely morning we loaded up the car and drove down to Edinburgh for the night. We walked around that evening and grabbed a beer and dinner at a pub, Beehive, that was recommended by our friends Tyler and Emily (a different one) that used to live there.

Sunday morning we planned to hit the Edinburgh Castle and walk along The Royal Mile. We were looking at a sign for walking tours when a gentlemen approached us asking if we could be his guinea pigs for him and his partner starting their own walking tour company. He would take us around half of The Royal Mile and some of the other sights in the area for about an hour in exchange for feedback on his content, pace, etc. Sounded like a deal to us!

Our fabulous little traveler! :-)

We enjoyed the information he shared and had a great time. It ended up taking about an hour and a half which wasn't a big deal to us. After giving him some feedback we grabbed lunch and then headed to Edinburgh Castle.

We got on the road back to Aberdeen late that afternoon. We spent the rest of that evening and the following morning before our flight home relaxing and enjoying each other's company. And of course a trip to the grocery store for goodies we can't get in Norway. Like blueberry bagels. Mmm, delicious carbs. :-)

Overall it was a great (albeit short) visit to Aberdeen, which I loved because it had been way to long since I'd seen Emily and I'm glad she got to meet my daughter (does it ever stop getting weird to say that?!)

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