Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday Social Link-Up #3

I'm loving this link-up! Thank you Suzi at Chores and Chandeliers for doing this and "introducing" this idea to me. It's so fun to read about other bloggers across the world and how they answer the same questions.

1. What is your dream job?
Teaching. Thankfully, I accomplished that dream and worked my dream job for 5 years as a junior high reading teacher, basketball coach, and a high school assistant track and field coach. I took a break after my fifth year to stay home with my beautiful baby girl, and that has been my dream job. I never knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and now that I'm living it I've realized it's a dream come true. I love every minute I have with her.  
How can you NOT love those adorable baby blues looking at you, showing unconditional love? (I know I'm a bias mom, but I think she's pretty much the cutest little bean out there.)
When I was a senior in high school I debated on whether I wanted to be a P.E. teacher or an Interior Designer. Funny how neither of those jobs panned out because my degree is in English/Language Arts. When my daughter goes to school I'll begin teaching again, but until that day, I'll love every minute of my mommy job.

2. If you had just won the lottery and didn't need to work for money, what would you do with your time?
I'd still teach. The money I earned would be spent on technology for the classroom, iPods for everyone! I would LOVE that (one less tree that I'd have to kill with all that work I printed off daily).

3. What piece of career advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?
Teaching is a self-less job. You don't go into it for glory or power. You WILL be affecting the lives that walk into your classroom - good or bad. Do not go into teaching thinking it will be easy, or fun (all the time), or short hours (there's ALWAYS work to do - day and night, winter, spring, summer), or that the paycheck will make you rich. Go into teaching because you love your kids first and foremost. If THAT'S your focus, you'll successfully and effectively TEACH them because you care about their future.

4. What would be your ideal "just for fun" job?
Interior Design or Decorating. I LOVE decorating.

5. What was your first "real" job?
In high school I cleaned hotel rooms and waitressed at a local restaurant, it doesn't get any more "real" than that. I'll always be a big tipper (even when we stay in a hotel room) because I know how much hard work is required day in and day out; it's exhausting, time consuming, disgusting, and people can be downright nasty.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Gentle Passages" Book Review {A Celebration of WOMANHOOD}

Gentle Passages by Robin Jones Gunn is a must read book for any mother of little girls. You will literally bawl your eyes out as you read the first story about the Fine China Plate, which helps a little girl understand the importance of staying pure. Later, this little girl (now a woman) wrote Robin a letter and in it she stated, "As I look back now, I realize that something happened that day. A thought began. As deeper understanding grew, it established a mind-set, which turned into a lifestyle. Tonight I seek to invest in three young girls and to give to them the secret you gave me that summer day. ... One day I know God will use them for His highest purposes, which are, as you taught me, being clean and ready so He can use us to serve others." You'll have to read the book yourself to find out the SECRET of the china plate and I promise that it's worth it.

This book is incredible in more ways than I can count (and it's less than 50 pages long!). As I turned each page a new idea formed on how to make the entry into womanhood a beautiful experience with my daughter rather than an embarrassing one. I have so many ideas, spurred on by this book. Some are taken directly from this book (like the fine china plate) and other light-bulb moments were my own as Robin encouraged mom's to make learning about womanhood a joyful experience. In fact, it should be an experience we CELEBRATE because we are WOMEN who God specifically designed to be part of an amazing miracle.

I have a ton of favorite little stories throughout the book (like the story about wildflowers and dreaming of future husbands... oh man, did I choke up), but I won't share them with you, you need to read them (with a box of Kleenex’s – seriously) however, I do have a favorite poem called, What a Mother Thinks¸ that I will most definitely share…

I love you so much.
There is no way
I can possibly put into words
how proud I am of you.
You're absolutely beautiful.
Sometimes when our eyes meet,
It’s like gazing into a reflection pool.
I see in you glimmers of my past.
Do you see in me hints of your future?
You are everything I ever prayed for.
There’s nothing about you I’d change.
I love you more than you’ll ever know,
More than you will ever ask.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t give for you,
Nothing I wouldn’t do for you.
You are my daughter,
And I will always love you
With a love so immense
so eternal
I could never find a way to squeeze it into words.

Besides beautiful stories of how other moms discussed the entry into womanhood Robin offers “Celebration Suggestions” to help get any reluctant mom excited about this topic. I truly believe that Robin’s point was to make this experience one worth celebrating rather than dreading it or being disgusted by it. If you have a daughter, you need to get this book and refer to it often as she grows up into a beautiful woman.

P.S. When I say womanhood, I mean the "hush-hush" topics all moms are afraid to discuss with their blushing 12 year old daughter; using words like: sex, period, penis, vagina, breasts, (aaaaand you get the picture).  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten [Things I Want My Daughter to Know]

1. You are loved more than you'll ever understand. Yes, mom and dad love you no matter what, but human love is unreliable. God's love, however, is unchanging, steadfast, unconditional and immoveable. That love, no matter what you do, will never, ever, ever go away.

2. Never stop learning. There will always be someone that knows more than you do. Don't be afraid to explore, ask questions, and seek instruction (even when you're 80).

3. Mistakes happen. Own up, deal with your consequence (with your head up), learn from it, ask for forgiveness, and move on. If God forgot your sin, why should you dwell on it?

4. Work hard. Nothing in this life is handed to you. You must work for your grades, money, food, your education... everything.

5. Watch your mouth. Out of your mouth speaks your heart. Individuals with dirty mouths are uneducated fools who can think of nothing else to say.  Gossipers, racist-dirty-joke-laughers, cussers, whisperers, bulliers, know-it-alls, liars, and self-exalters deserve zero respect. They need compassion, sympathy and pity; not respect.

6. Your body is sacred. Women are specially designed to grow and nurture life. It's an honor to be a woman, because God specially designed us to be part of an amazing miracle. Your husband should also honor and cherish and love that about you. You have something extremely wonderful, and breathtakingly beautiful that you should be excited to share with your husband. Your body belongs to him and his body belongs to you. If there's ever a time that someone wants to take that honor away, FIGHT FOR IT. Let the men in your life protect you (ahem, daddy, brothers, uncles), because they love you! You should be embarrassed and ashamed to share it with anyone besides your husband. Sharing your body with... no, giving your body to your husband is NOT embarrassing, shameful, or disgusting - it's beautiful, romantic, and what God wants... no, expects, you to do.

7. Surround yourself with like-minded people. You become like who you spend the most time with. If you hang around gossips, racist, dirty-minded, cussing, whispering, bulling, lying, haughty, know-it-alls - you'll become that as well.

8. You are beautiful. Dress yourself with strength, intelligence, and dignity. That is what's beautiful. People will forget the color of your lipstick and someday your boobs will drag and your face will wrinkle, but people will remember what you say and do, and count that as beautiful.

9.  Be kind and show compassion. Remember you are a sinner in need of God's grace. If you forget the gospel message and forget that you need it, you are much more likely to become selfish, heartless, haughty, and judgmental. Forgive, forget, give, and love, just as Christ does for you - daily. 

10. Live your life to glorify God. It's not about you. When you die what will you do with the crown given to you? You'll lay it at Jesus' feet. Remember this is HIS world with HIS rules and no matter what you do you WILL have to answer to HIM.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Social Link-Up #2

1. What is your favorite handbag you've ever owned?

I kinda cringed at this one. Is it a crime to be a girl and not be a big purse fan? I hate carrying crap around and I'm the type of person that (if I have a bag) I throw everything in it, because -oh-my-goodness- what if I need it?! All my purses end up weighing 20 pounds and give me a shoulder ache. I can't wait for the day when I can give up the diaper bag for that very reason. Sooooo I don't have a favorite purse. I have learned, however, that I like my purses to have one strap and I usually use a purse until it quite literally craps out on me.

2. What is your dream handbag you lust over?

Well... I just don't lust over a bag. I lust over shoes, shirts, skirts, jackets, dresses, jewelry, and especially a scarf of any color, size, shape, material... just not purses. I have everything I need (and then some) so I really shouldn't lust over anything.

3. What are the daily essentials in your purse or work bag?

This one made me laugh because (again) if I carry around a bag I pack it full of EVERYTHING. My must-haves are: chapstick, lotion, phone, wallet, gum, a book, but I also include a first aid kit (just in case), bandaids, phone charger (you-never-know), nail clippers, nail file, nail polish, scissors (school-teacher), post-it-notes (seriously), pens AND pencils, paint samples from my house because if I find something I like I want to know if it goes together... When I go to clean out my purse I logically think, "I don't need this crap!" but when I try to throw it out I seriously can't bring myself to actually do it.

4. What's in your purse (with pictures)?
My purse...

Wallet and Mickey Mouse Checkbook

Aloe Vera, Deoderant, Tide-to-Go (because I'm a messy person), hand sanitizer...

Bandaids, chapstick, tums, stick cover up that's probably more than 10 years old....

Random contents: diaper, empty gum, index cards, sticky note tabs, highlighters (okay, I enjoy taking color coded notes at church!), a rubber duckey and another random toy, glasses case, half used kleenex, Minnie Mouse Key, Burts Bee's, pad...
Whenever I shop with my purse I dig around for my -huge- wallet for an enternity because it gets lost in all that mess! Oh well, it made for an entertaining post at least!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Birthday Party for Two Special One Year Olds!

Addi and Brielle have a unique story. One of my friends, who I've known for six years now (we taught together and we go to the same church) was due six days after me. However, she went six days early and had Addi on my due date and I went six days late and had Brielle on her due date. What a story to share, huh? (I joke that I was mad at Erin that day.) That story will forever bond our families together. We only found it natural to share a birthday party, especially since we have the same friends.

It ended up being a lot of fun. It was pretty low-key and I think the two birthday girls had a blast. (They were both wore out afterwards so I'll take that as a good sign.)
Birthday Girls!
We blew up balloons because those are always a success at any party.
Addi's favorite food is cheese and Brielle's favorite food is crackers of any sort (ca-ca-ca) so we had to have cheese and crackers on the menu!
Erin made this DIVINE apple, pecan cheese cake (pictured bottom right)... I need to get the recipe! Yum!
Brielle's nursery is decked out in Minnie Mouse, so I couldn't resist making these adorable cupcakes. Brielle and Addi seemed to love them...

Look at that chipmunk!

Paper and all...

Addi dug right in...

Trying to share with mommy! I had chocolate cake ALL over my phone! Haha.
They played for a while before we opened presents (we were waiting for the guys to join us during half time of the Nebraska game.)
Brielle didn't seem to understand or care that much about digging in and seeing what was inside. Once it was out, however, she loved it.

Kyle and I noticed that wherever we go she makes a beeline for anything with wheels and goes around the room pushing it. That's immediately what she did when she opened her pink convertible!
By the end of the afternoon both girls had had enough....
"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to! Cry if I want to! Cry if I want to!"
All in all, Erin and I were glad we decided to plan a party together. The girls had fun and ate a lot of cupcakes, cheese and crackers. Aaaaand the boys were happy because Nebraska won. ;)

Both of us can't believe how fast this year has gone and I'm sure that next year at this time we'll be saying the same thing. These two girls are an amazing blessing. I love them both.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Briella Bean!

On the eve of her birthday she decided to walk for the first time. She's attempted taking steps in the past and accomplished 2 or 3 at a time, but this time she realized that falling down meant getting back and doing it all over again, and again, and again. She was so proud of herself and would clap along as daddy and I cheered her on. I was absolutely thrilled that daddy was home to witness it as well.

We are still laughing at how it all came about, because I did get it on video, but she's as naked as a jaybird. She has a diaper rash and I've been letting her "air out" and run around. She LOVES this. FREEDOM! So last night when her diaper and clothes came off she decided to walk. I guess her clothes were getting in her way.

Birthday morning we blew up balloons and put them in her crib. She was so excited! (She LOVES balloons.) I want birthday traditions in our household to be super special, because it is a super special day to celebrate. So today we started her birthday off with balloons, a banana muffin (with whip cream on top) and strawberries on the side. She feasted on TWO muffins! 

It was a special morning, but I can't even begin to describe how incredibly special this last year has been for us. God has blessed us in more ways than I can possibly count. Day's like Brielle's birthday are excellent reminders to praise God for all that he has given us. I will spend the day thanking Him for the year I've had with her and praying for the years to come.

What a journey it's been...
12 Weeks
32 Weeks
1 Day
1 Month
2 Months
3 Months
4 Months
5 Months
6 Months
7 Months

8 Months
9 Months
10 Months
11 Months
Birthday Morning!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

RnR [Hope]

This weeks read and reflect is obviously from the Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer and I'm going to try and talk about five HUGE sections (although combined took up a total of less than ten pages): All Things Crucified, Part 1 and 2, Hope of Heaven, Mortifying the Flesh with Fullness, and Thankfulness Enriched by Relief.

I'm borrowing this book, but I've realized that I need my own copy to read, reread, highlight, mark up, and take with me where ever I go. He has this amazing way of summing up the gospel message and preaching it to himself daily and as he does this, his life is forever changed. Here's a few ways he describes that change:

All Things Crucified

Vincent's first sentence under this section is quite a way to start, "The gospel is not simply the story of "Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2); it is also the story of my own crucifixion." (Galatians 2:20, 6:14, 5:24, Romans 6:6, Luke 9:23, 1 Peter 2:21-24)

My own crucifixion?

In referencing the above mentioned verses I began to realize a central theme: my old self is crucified on the cross with Jesus. I've known that. Especially since I'm not the same person I was a few years ago (thank goodness). Still, what Vincent says next is the part that blew. me. away.

Crucifixion hurts.

That got me to thinking. There's nothing pretty about the death of Christ on the cross. The movie "Passion" gave a pretty clear view of that. (Although not clear enough, because Jesus wasn't even recognizable as a human being and he endured the humiliation of being naked.) Still, I cannot watch this without bawling my eyes out.
Not only did he endure a beating that left him unrecognizable as a human being, but he was then nailed to the cross.
He then became sin and endured God's wrath on our behalf. WE DESERVE THIS DEATH and he took it instead. So when Vincent states that "crucifixion hurts" and that Christ's crucifixion is "... also the story of my own crucifixion" I wondered where he was going with it.

"I must seize upon every God given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christs death, no matter the pain involved."

That sentence in and of itself left me feeling overwhelmed, but his next paragraph struck every heart string I had left, "When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don't want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When wanting to cling to wrongs done against me, I must die.When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unment, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die."

I must die. Fill my life with YOU, because there is quite literally nothing good in me. Help me live my life to glorify you and give up selfishness, anger, hate, the desires of this world, "Not MY will, but YOURS be done." That is one hefty thought: I must die.

Just when I thought that my brain and heart couldn't take any more, the next section starts out with an equally amazing sentence, "Thankfully, the gospel teaches that dying is not an end, but a beginning." (Philippians 2:8, Ephesians 1:20) Although crucifixion is painful and giving up the things of this earth like dreams, drunkeness, sexual immorality, lieing, gossiping, &etc. (because those things pull us farther away from a perfect, holy, and just God); giving up our self (the dying of our self) draws us closer to God and to heaven. The moment you accept Jesus as your saviour (Romans 10:9), you are a new person! You are no longer a slave to sin! Death is a way to life (Luke 9:24)! "These facts surrounding Christ's resurrection stand as proof positive that God will not leave me for dead, but will raise me similarly, if I would only allow myself to die." (p. 42) (Romans 6:4) By allowing your old self to die, you become Christ-like. By embracing this new life, Vincent explains that you, "...taste the power of the resurrection of Jesus himself (Philippains 3:8-10). The death to which Christ died is the death to which I am also called, and the death to which I am called is my entry point to union with Christ and life at it's fullest. (p.43) So come what may, I'll let no one take this death from me." Wow. Come what may. This life is filled with trials and adversity, but embrace them because they are building  your character and drawing you closer to eternity! Which is a perfect lead into the next section... .

Hope of Heaven

There's one paragraph I have to share from this section, "... a gospel-centered heavenward focus yields enormous benefits to me while on earth. The mere hope of seeing Christ in glory releases the purifying influence of heaven upon my life from day to day (1 John 3:3). Also, knowing of the future love that God will show me in glory enables me to love my fellow-saints with a heaven-inspired love even now. .... Hope of eternity with Christ in heaven also enables my heart to thrive during the most difficult and lengthy of trials here on earth." (p.44)

Remember my reflection on his section about how Trials are my Friends? That last sentence, "Hope of eternity with Christ in heaven enables my heart to thrive during the most difficult and lengthy trials here on earth." THAT'S why Christ calls us to lay up treasures in heaven, because nothing can be destroyed there (Matthew 6:19).

Mortifying the Flesh with Fullness

This section was so good that I wrote sentences from this part in my Bible. First things first, mortifying? What does he mean by using that particular word? When I think of using mortifying I usually think of embarrassing, or shame, humiliation, etc. I decided to look it up and one of the definitions stated, "to subjugate (the body, passions, etc.) by abstinence, ascetic discipline, or self-inflicted suffering." Self-inflicted suffering reminds me of a character from "The DaVinci Code" who mutilated himself as a punishment for his sin. That's as far away from the gospel message as you can get. The punishment was already taken - on the cross! There's no need to punish yourself, accept the gift of forgiveness and move on! It doesn't mean, however, that the "moving on" process will be fun, painless, or easy. When your old self is crucified on the cross it is painful because you let go of those sinful desires of your previous life. I was very into the party scene, for example. I would get drunk, be sexually immoral, wake up and do it all over again the next day. Giving up that life also meant giving up hanging out with those friends who participated in that life style. That doesn't mean they're no longer my friends, or that I shouldn't witness to them, it simply means that the drunk lifestyle was crucified on the cross and no matter the pain involved, I had to give it up. So in a sense I did "subject myself" or "disciplined myself" or created a "self-inflicting" pain because giving it up was not easy or fun. Now, I don't want to go back to that lifestyle because I realized that my life is more joyful and more fulfilling now than it EVER was when I thought I was having fun. So when Vincent wrote about "Mortifying the Flesh with Fullness" it came alive to me when I applied it in that sense.

"The key to mortifying fleshly lusts is to elimante the emptiness within me and replace it with fullness; and I accomplish this by FEASTING ON THE GOSPEL. ... Indeed, it is in the gospel that I experience a God who glorifies Himself by filling me with His fullness. (Ephesians 1:22-23)" (p. 46)

My sister describes "the emptiness" as a heart wound. We ALL have a heart wound, and we try to fill it with things, like alcohol, drugs, a new car, a new house, a large savings account, new clothes, friends, a new girlfriend, babies, husbands, but NOT ONE OF THOSE THINGS will fill it completely. Those are temporary fixes to an eternal problem. If you don't fill it with Christ you'll forever feel empty. Christ is quite literally all you need. Jesus tells us that He is the bread of life, we seek for food here on earth because we are constantly hungry, but Jesus tells us to seek "... the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you." (John 6:27) We will have DEEP SATISFACTION by filling that emptiness with Christ, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6:35) He's not talking about the physical hunger pains we feel, but the utter emptiness we feel within the depths of our soul. By preaching the gospel to yourself daily, or as Vincent says in this section by "FEASTING" on the gospel, we realize and understand how desperately we need HIM, and we can trust fully that HE will meet our needs and that no matter what we endure here on earth we have hope in a perfect, fullfilling, amazingly beautiful eternity with Him. Because without Christ, we would endure the HELL WE DESERVE.

"As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as INFINITE IMPROVEMENTS on the hell I deserve. ... Life's blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve."

In other words, we have every reason, because we deserve the wrath of God that Jesus endured on the cross, to give thanks in ALL circumstances, good or bad. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) It reminds me of Betsie Ten Boom who was thankful for the fleas that infested their prison barracks. Remember when I wrote about that story? If not read it here, if you don't want to read it there, read Corrie Ten Boom's book The Hiding Place. Her story is a fantastic reminder to give thanks, even during trials and tribulations, because WE HAVE HOPE. We simply need to persevere because our death simply means an eternity in heaven.

And in THAT hope: that Christ lived, died and rose again, is all I need to rest on - nothing else matters in the grand scheme of things. 150 years from now I won't care about the things of this earth, because my flesh will be dead and my spirit with God. And I'm super excited about that!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shout Out to

While checking out other bloggers I ran across a widget showing one bloggers reading goal for the year. I'm a reading teacher/fanatic and immediately began checking the website out. I'm officially addicted. Come to find out a lot of my friends on Facebook have already "been-there-done-that" and I wasn't surprised to find that I'm behind the times.

Here's why I like it:

... after completing a book you rate it and can also write a review. I love this feature when selecting books to put in my "want to read" list. I know the average rating and can find out what others think of it. I had to laugh that a few of my favorites were given horrible reviews, I can't decide what that means for my tastes.

... creating a reading goal for the year holds me accountable to that goal, especially if I place a widget showing YOU how many books I want to read. Reading is important and I want to make it a priority.

... the app for your smart phone device is free and user-friendly.

... your friends on Facebook currently using automatically show up on your newsfeed. I love that, because I have the same tastes as many of my friends and what they're reading typically interests me.

... using your smart phone you can scan the barcode on the back of any book and it will automatically tell you the average rating and how many people have rated it. This will be handy in any book store (one of my favorite places)!

... it has an "explore" feature on the smart phone app which allows you to see the most downloaded ebooks, the "best books ever," or the best books by genre, favorite series, and my favorite: "best unknown but must be known books" folder.

... one of my favorite features is that you can type in your location and it will give you literary events to attend. Say your on vacation and you're bombarded with a rainy, good "book-reading," coffee-drinking weather; just by typing in your current zip code  you are able to see different events in your area. I decided that I wanted to vacation in Palm Beach Shores, Florida (who wouldn't, right?) so I typed in the zipcode (33404 - I Googled it) and found that I could attend an event titled "Authors in the Park - Booktoberfest" at the Lakeside Inn. This event sounds like so. much. fun! They described it as a "unique costume contest based on characters from the participating authors." There will be music, a costume contest, book signings and the proceeds go to breast cancer research. Who wants to go with me?

I'm a big fan of and I'm new to it, so I can only imagine what hidden secrets I will uncover with time. Check it out, I promise you will be glad you did! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten [What I Love about being a Mom!]

I know this list will change as Brielle grows up and more kids come into the picture, but I saw this idea on Pinterest (of course, where else do you get ideas?!) and figured that by writing them down, I won't forget. When those tough days come, I don't want to forget how much I love her. When she hits that "I don't need mommy anymore" age, I don't want to forget how I feel about being a mommy at this moment. When she starts becoming more independent and having that desire to move out and be on her own, I don't want to forget what I love about being a mommy. So even though I've only been a mommy for almost a year now, I think this is something I should keep adding on to as the years of being a mommy continue, grow, develop and change.

What I love about being a mommy...

1. Watching her face light up as she discovers something new and exciting.

2. Getting her to giggle (especially to the point where her chubby little belly jiggles).

3. Her huge smile every single time I praise her by clapping and singing, "Yay, Brielle!"

4. Playing. Being a mom means you have an excuse to get out your old toys and be a kid again. I can't wait for Lego's and doll houses and crafting. Right now I'm loving building towers and giggling along with her after she destroys them, or throw toys in and out of a basket (who knew that'd be fun?!) or pushing her up and down the driveway as she sits on a toy train.

5. When she's tired, or sick, or cranky mommy is the only person she wants. Mommy's will forever have this ability to make things all better - even when you're 30.

6. Kisses and Aw, Aw, Aw's. When daddy comes home he gives me a kiss. Brielle then wants to give us kisses too, it melts my heart. When she loves something she hugs it and says, "aw, aw, aw" as she gently pats it. I get those too and my heart is reduced to a puddle on the floor.

7. Reading to her. She just sits on my lap, pointing at things she likes, giggling, talking, bouncing as I read each page. I love those moments.

8. Bath time. It's always after supper (when she's an absolute mess) and she can hardly contain her excitement after I grab her towel, walk to the bath, get the bath water running... she loves playing in the water and I love that she loves it.

9. "Daddy's HOME!" Those words alone send her in a tizzy. When daddy walks through the door her excitement is contagious. I'm happy, the dogs are excited - the home atmosphere is that much better and life is complete for my little Briella Bean. Everyone's where they need to be. It is more than evident how much she loves her daddy.
10. I'm learning to love the little things, over and over again. She points at everything, wanting to know what it is, to touch it, or put it in her mouth. For example it doesn't matter how many times she sees the Minnie Mouse wreath her great grandma made her, when she wakes up it's the first thing she points at and laughs as she touches Minnie's nose. I love that wreath because she loves it.  I love the flowers, and leaves, and trees, because she points and giggles and the wonder in her eyes makes me appreciate them all over again.

Being a mommy is joyful, and scary, and beautiful, and difficult all at once. There's not a better job out there. I never knew that I'd love being a mommy. God knows best because when I doubted whether or not I wanted to be a mommy, he gave me an incredible blessing that shows me daily the true meaning of unconditional love.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Stevi's Little Cupcake {Baby Shower}

I feel honored that I was able to throw a shower for a former student. She was part of my first 8th grade class and is now all grown up and entering the world of motherhood. She chose a cupcake theme for her little Oaklie's nursery and I followed suit in preparing for her shower. Her color scheme was inspired by an adorable cupcake blanket made by her grandma: teal, pink and brown. I couldn't believe how many ideas revolve around a cupcake party. I hope Stevi enjoyed her cupcake party.

I used Punchbowl to send out virtual invites (which were ADORABLE).
Punchbowl invites.

Homemade "snail mail" invites. I owe Terri (Stevi's grandma) and Stevi a big thank you for helping me put these together!
Approximately 30 people showed up, which was good considering we had over 100 cupcakes on our overflowing cupcake and ice cream bar. (Terri amazed me by making 94 cupcakes before 10 am on Saturday morning! I was impressed. It took me all night to make 30 more... .

Before food...

After food.

All the goodies to top off your cupcake.

There were pink lemonade cupcakes, confetti cupcakes, strawberry, vanilla, and strawberry too!

Psssst.... I'll tell you a little secret... the cupcake stands were just wrapped boxes and vases topped with plates. But. THEY. WERE. SWEET.

The cupcake kabobs made of sugar wafers, marshmallows, rice krispies, and mini cupcakes.
There were even bright pink gift bags and I encouraged ladies to take home as many as they so desired! I didn't have many left over, thank goodness.

The decor was perfect because I didn't do a lot of it. :) I struggled with the caulk that was supposed to serve as fake frosting on these cute mason jar cupcakes, so I had to call a friend. Mine turned into one of those "failed Pinterest ideas".

My first attempt...
It was terrible. Thinking it was just because of my inexperience with a caulking gun, I scraped it off and tried again...
At this point I was hysterically laughing. I'm not sure if it was because it was so funny, or because I was losing it.
I tried smoothing it out and adding sparkles, sparkles fix everything, right? Wrong!
I was told it looks like a santa hat.
I had to call a friend. Her's turned out adorable. THANK YOU LORI!

They were filled with personalized "It's a Girl!" M&M's. They were a perfect center piece and excellent favors to take home.

The banner hanging on the fireplace says, "Sprinkled with Love" and although it's hard to read and see on the picture, the doiles made it so cute.

The guest table was adorned with the cupcake liner flowers, a "Daddy's Cupcake" onsie, and the cupcake frames I made her to take home for her nursery.

The guest book was simply writing addresses on an envelope. That way Stevi wasn't playing a guessing game with who brought her what. There were many women from our church that blessed Stevi with gifts even though they didn't know her. I have an amazing church family! I hope Stevi felt welcome in it!

The frames I made her.

On the left is a vase full of cupcake liners and the guests were encouraged to guess the number for the prize. Ironically, the mommy-to-be guessed the number EXACTLY.
The cupcake banner that didn't turn out how I had planned. I was super bummed because I originally wanted to hang this from the food table, however, when we pulled the yarn through the poof balls, they began falling apart. So we displayed them seperately. I went ahead and gave them to Stevi, but it was the one piece I was most excited about giving her and super bummed about the outcome. Oh well. There are more important things than decor, like our church family and devotions.
Enough about the fufu decor and food. Although it's what gave the first impression of a shower, it's not what made it successful. First of all, I mentioned before how amazing my church family is, but I have to brag on these people for a bit. Immediately after church everyone gets together and sets up tables, chairs, table cloths, table runners, &etc. What should take me an hour or so, literally takes me 20 minutes or less. During the shower, the women forgo filling their plate to help serve punch, fill ice cream bowls, and make sure the frosting stayed full. After the shower, women were wiping tables, putting tables and chairs away, doing the dishes, and packing the boxes for me. I have yet to wash a dish I DIRTIED. Every time I throw a shower I'm amazed at this group of people and their willingness to serve others, which is exactly what Christianity is all about. Not only that, but the women who never knew Stevi before Sunday filled gift bags with items from her registry out of the kindness of their hearts. They didn't have to, but they gave joyfully knowing that Stevi would walk away prepared for the arrival of her baby.

I feel extremely blessed. I hope Stevi felt that way too.

I also hope the women who attended walked away feeling refreshed after an amazing afternoon playing games, gorging on cupcakes, ooooo-ing and awwwwww-ing over all the cute baby clothes, and hearing a beautiful children's story called, "I Couldn't Love You More" by Jason Ingram. (I always read a children's story. I'm a reading teacher, duh!) It tied right into the devotions where I talked about how the love Stevi feels for her little cupcake is only a fraction of the unconditional, steadfast, unwavering love God has for His children. Even though (like our own children) we screw up on a daily basis, that love never changes. The gospel message is similar to your child being convicted of a crime and the judge looks at you (mom) and says you can take the sentence on behalf of your child. Most mom's wouldn't hesitate because we would give our life for our child. Jesus did that on the cross! We deserve that death and He took it for us! Parents have a glimpse into that kind of love once they have a child of their own and Stevi is beginning to understand that. Stevi has loved that child even before she knew she was expecting! I hope the gospel message came alive for those mommies in that room, who can relate to that kind of love.

Even though we're all liars, gossips, judgmental little cupcakes (Romans 3:23), and deserve an eternity in hell (Romans 6:23), God died for us even though He KNEW WE WERE SINNERS (Romans 5:5), so although we are imperfect humans we are made holy and blameless through Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross. That was our deserved death and He took it on our behalf and can now be in the infinitely holy presence of God. How? "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 That's it.

That is one sweet love story.

And so is the one of Stevi and her little cupcake, Oaklie.
Her sister made her a cute little blanket and painted a cupcake piggy bank for her, both were abolutely adorable. Her little sisters gift was the one earning the most ooooo's and awwwww's especially because it included this adorable poem Mikey included...

I couldn't have done it without the help of Terri, Lori, Kelleigh, the Deb's, Jessica, and the many men and women who stayed after church to help set up. THANK you!