If you follow on instagram, then you know our biggest girl just turned 9 this past weekend! I can hardly believe it! I remember the day she was born so clearly, just as if it happened yesterday. These past nine years have been really hard, but not because she’s difficult, but it has been a battle of fighting my own self-centeredness. I’m the difficult one. I have no clue how these kids live with me! Being a mother, at least a good mother, is a role that demands a lot of selflessness, and honestly, that doesn’t come natural to me. It’s taken a long time for my heart to understand denying myself, trusting in Jesus, and living out grace. Even still, I suck at it and that is precisely why I need more Jesus. Every single day goes like this… I mess up, ask for forgiveness, pray my heart believes the grace and mercy given at the cross, and things are fine and dandy, but then… boom! And repeat all of that about twenty times over.
I chose a pink fabric for her birthday dress because pink is her favorite color. I was going to do grey and something similar to my eye dress, but knew she would like pink much more. Just like the eye dress, I had initially planned to do a shift style, but with the girly glitter shoes she was going to get for her birthday, I thought a drop waist would be much more adorable. To make the nine tally marks, I just used black fabric paint and hand-painted them on. If you have my book, you know we are all about creating our own patterns on fabric. And of course, before you do any painting or sewing on your fabric, it is best to wash your fabric first. Next, iron it, and then go to town painting (or sewing). To heat set the design on, I allowed the paint to dry completely, and then press the fabric again to heat set in place (use some scrap fabric between in case any of the paint bleeds off).
Happy birthday my dear True! We love you whole heck of a lot!
Today, I’m especially thankful that life’s not fair. If it was fair, that should have been me hanging naked on that cross. If it was fair, it should have been me wearing the crown of thorns. If it was fair, it should have been me dying for my own sin. If it was fair, an innocent man should not have died a criminal’s death, but He did. On that cross, He cried, “It is finished.”
I think of my lying and harsh tongue, arrogant and covetous heart, evil thoughts, love of self… and I’m totally guilty. This separates me from God. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” What good news that is! I can’t redeem myself. Jesus already did that. It’s not about what I do, but what Jesus did. It’s only through Jesus that I can be restored to God.
With the girls, we try to keep things fair, but it doesn’t always happen that way. And when they complain that someone got something they didn’t, I tell them, “Life isn’t fair.” It’s a truth that we really want them to understand; I totally didn’t (and probably still don’t). Growing up, I kept score of all the good I did and all the bad my siblings did. I wanted everything to be exactly fair, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. Not that I was treated unfairly (my parents were more than gracious), but in my score-keeping heart, I felt entitled to so much (and still struggle with it). How arrogant I was (I still am)! I pray my daughters have a better understanding of grace than me.
Thinking about all of this makes me so thankful for grace and that life isn’t fair. I’m glad it’s not. Things won’t always make sense to us, and we like to rationalize the heck out of things, so it makes grace hard to swallow. When someone buys me lunch, I automatically feel the next time we hang out, I have to buy them lunch. If someone brings me a gift, I will probably make sure to return the gesture. Accepting something freely is really hard. We feel we need to make up for it, but in our relationship with God, we can never make up for it. Nothing we do will ever be good enough.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift, not from works, so that no one can boast.” I’m thankful for this gift of grace through Jesus. I’m thankful for new life I’m given because of Jesus. Jesus paid it all, and this day reminds of the grace I’ve been given. I’m really so glad life isn’t fair.
If you’re in the Inland Empire, and are looking for a church, I would love if you were able to join our church for Easter gathering (or any Sunday). Get information about our church gathering here.
There’s no picture to go with this post because just thinking about this day, and Jesus on that cross, is enough of a visual for me.
I heard that and my eyes got wide. I didn’t plan anything, but my failure to remember this day happens every year. I never remember it until the night before. Thankfully, I have a stash of goodies for an occasion such as this and I hoard craft supplies. Thus, with some kraft containers stuffed with a little wooden car and toy horse, along with gold shreds, we had the perfect “pot of gold” for the end of the rainbow. The rainbow is just made with colorful crepe paper streamers leading from the upstairs hallway to the bottom of the stairs.
See last year’s surprise here, and the year before is found here. This morning, during breakfast, we watched this short clip about St. Patrick. Did you know Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish?! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Do you do Valentine presents? Sometimes we do all handmade, and sometimes we get a little something. We don’t give the children chocolate or candy, but there will be handmade cards, and I always bake something for the occasion. Plus, February 14th is my parents’ wedding anniversary, so that day is extra special to us. We did order the girls more of these Tegu blocks. Ben’s sister got them this set for Christmas, but after seeing how much they play and create with it, we thought they would enjoy more pieces. Ben knows he can’t go wrong with jewelry for me, but I did tell him I would really love a handmade card (or another Pablo Neruda poem like last year). And for Ben, I know he would love another fruit tree, or some gardening things. It probably isn’t what most men would ask for, but I think my Ben is a rare species.
For Her (from left to right): gold prism band, path moonstone ring, pearl and sapphire ring.
For the Kids: playon crayons, anime projector, magnetic blocks.
For Him: large pot, hoop watering can, cultivator and trowel set.
And I’ll be hosting a Valentine’s Day giveaway soon from Jean Jean Vintage, so don’t forget to check back in the next couple days.
There’s this tradition Ben started when we just had True, and it’s called, “Rockin’ Mommy Day.” It’s not Mother’s Day, but a random day he picks and they end up surprising me with something just to show his appreciation (he’s a sweet guy). I never know when it’s coming and it isn’t a yearly thing either. The last time we had Rockin’ Mommy Day was in 2009, and they surprised me with a Michael Jackson performance (see the post about it here, and here is a picture from the very first one).
Well, one Saturday morning, I got a special note telling me to take the day off, and chillax doing whatever I wanted. Later, I got another note giving me instructions to go downstairs, and I yelped in excitement in seeing all the Elvises. They had me sit down while they did a special rendition of “Jailhouse Rock” for me. At the end, Soul came to me to give me another note accompanied with a little present, which was a southwestern turquoise ring I wanted a couple years ago from our trip to New Mexico, thus giving me a rock. I made them do the performance a couple times, so I could get pictures of it too.
After I got my little surprise, I had Ben spill all the details of how he planned this out. Apparently, he started working on this surprise about a year and a half prior. He purchased the girls’ black shirts and leggings from Old Navy; his top is from Old Navy and his pants, from the thrift store. He hand painted each one with white fabric paint. Upon emailing my friend Karen (Misha Lulu) to get some ideas of how he could make Elvis’s jailhouse outfits come to life, she suggested doing a trompe l’oeil style for the costumes… so that’s what he did. He’s such a perfectionist, so it took him a long time to do each one (back and front are hand painted), hence the surprise did not come to fruition until a year and a half later. Also delaying the surprise, was finding the time to work on the outfits when I wasn’t around, and I’m always around. HA! Another funny thing is, him fearing the girls growing out of the costumes before he could execute his idea prevented him from delaying any further; the girls’ costumes purchased over a year prior were at risk of not fitting anymore!
I saw the jailhouse pipe things assembled in the garage the week before the surprise, and he said it was a trellis for the garden. He always has some sort of project going on for our garden, so I didn’t think much of it. He ordered Elvis wigs for each of them, and when I wasn’t around, which wasn’t often, he would practice the dance with the girls. Even the girls had been keeping this surprise from me for over a year! They did a really good job of not spilling any beans.
The girls did so well with their performance. I was dying of laughter and these teeny Elvises are the cutest ever! Seriously… the wigs! Oh man. And then the little shaking and sliding going on, these girls are so precious. I know they drive me nutso sometimes, but it’s normal, and I love being their mother.
I was so surprised and felt (and still feel) very loved. I’m thankful for these sweet things Ben does, and especially thankful that he leads a good example in showing the girls of how a husband can show love to his wife. I really love that guy of mine a whole lot! The performance was a riot and if you care to see it and get a laugh, you can watch it here.
The years we go to Texas for the holidays, we make sure to do a little Christmas celebration once we get back, and it’s usually the very next day after we arrive home. The girls get their present from “Santa,” smallish stocking stuffers, and they get one more present from us. In total, they received two presents from us, one in Texas and one in California, and three little stocking stuffers. Actually, we got them one more, but that’s going back to the store. Ben and I were exhausted from the long drive we made the previous, but seeing the girls excited is definitely an energy picker-upper. Of course, the highlight was the surprise my parents left them while we were gone; the bikes stole the show!
The sweetest part of the celebration, at least for Ben and me, was this giant stack of presents the girls had for each member of the family. Ben and I had no idea they made all this stuff! They also had little gifts that they “bought” at their piano teacher’s “store” for each other. They earn points for each piano lesson, and during the recital, the teacher has a store, where they can buy things to redeem their points. Well, the recital was early December, so it was perfect timing for students to use their points to “buy” gifts for their family. These girls are so thoughtful when it comes to gift giving. They really take so much joy in making something, wrapping it up, and adding a little note for someone. They even made presents for their each others’ favorite dolls!
We actually even had a Christmas part 3 since we had to celebrate with my family once we were back, but it was a laid back Friday evening at my parents house feasting and hanging out, and no one busted out the camera. This year we will get to be home for Christmas, my baby sister will be back, and we’re hoping Ben’s mom and sister come join us here, so then we’ll have one giant family celebration in our home. Anyway, we have a ways to go until I start any planning for that.