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My mother had a strong faith in God. I imagine that was taught to her also as a child. And she passed that strong faith onto me – she taught me that God sees everything – He pays you back for every good deed you do 100 fold – maybe not right away, maybe not in the way you would like, but he will. He knows what He is doing, and He will never give you more than you can handle.

He will take you places you do not want to go, to teach you lessons you need to learn. And He will also handle those who seek to harm you. You do not need to concern yourself with these things. Do what’s right, walk in the light – and God will take care of everything else.

Life brings all sorts of ups and downs – good things and bad. I know that “turning the other cheek” is not easy, but everytime I have done that in my life, I have been blessed. I have lived my life in such a way that there are no skeletons hiding in my closet – and when someone seeks to harm me by looking for them (this has happened) – they find nothing. Amazingly nothing. I do good deeds for others, without expecting anything in return, for they are not the ones whom I expect to receive my return from. My children have caused me to doubt a time or two, but always God has blessed the results when I leave it in His Hands. This mindset has allowed me to be free of fear and to live everyday to the fullest.

My mother is gone 17 years now, but there isn’t a day that goes by that one of the things she has told me about God doesn’t enter my mind. And one of the blessings is that my children also know these things and see that life reflected in mine. I am hopeful they too will “pass it on”.

(Top Photo: Cross To Bear – Genuine Beach Stone Crucifix Necklace $45)

My Mom taught me to be a survivor. Years ago I married a man I believed to be “the one”. After two years of being brutally beaten he finally went the extra mile and almost killed me in front of my child. For months I cried and fell deeper and deeper into depression. I drank to kill the pain every day. I was not able to be there for my child or myself.

I will never forget my mother grabbing me by my shoulders and practically shaking me out of my skin. There I was 22 years old and crying to my Mommy. I told her I wanted to die and that my child didn’t deserve me as a mother.

She wrapped her arms around me and I will never forget her words. She told me to stop crying and stand up. Confused I did as I was told. She grabbed my hand and told me about the moment she stopped crying over the past. She told me it is my choice to remain a victim. I was so hurt by that statement that I yelled at her. “How can you say that?” I screamed, “It isn’t my fault what he did to me!”

Her next statement changed my life. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “You did not choose to be beaten, stabbed, or choked by that man, but right now you are choosing to remain his victim. Stand up and be a survivor. Don’t let him own you this way. Take his power away.”

Never have words struck me so hard. I have lived my life by those words every day since then.

I no longer allow anyone to walk over me. I have been hurt plenty since my ex, but no one has had enough power to break me as I was back then. I am there for my children always. Thanks to my Mom I am not a victim anymore, I’m a survivor.

(Top Photo: Siam Camo – Thai Stylee Skirt with Thai at Waist $125)

A significant life lesson my mom has taught me is to always stick up for myself, keep a good head on my shoulders, and love unconditionally. My mom never personally told me any of these things, but yet, she showed them to me by doing these three things on her own. She is one of the strongest people I know.

Growing up I had witnessed my fair share of abuse. Whether it be physical or mental, I’ve seen it all. Every time another problem or argument came around with my dad, my mom was always sticking up for herself. I never really saw my mom cry but only a few times on which I could count on one hand. She had to keep her head up and stay sane for us kids.

Throughout the years growing up we stayed with our grandparents quite a bit. My mom and dad finally divorced when I was in sixth grade. It was a relief to all of us, we knew that we would finally be at peace. By the time I was in eighth grade, we finally moved into our own apartment. It was a good feeling knowing that my mom could do things on her own again. In my middle years of high school my mom had met a new boyfriend. Things got rough again and my siblings and I moved back to my grandparents until things settled. Meanwhile, my mom moved thousands of miles away and we lost touch.

I really resented my parents for a lot of the things that had happened while I was growing up. I didn’t talk to my mom for a few years after she moved. I was so angry at the way things had ended up, I didn’t think I would ever forgive her for leaving us. I started going to church regularly and it really opened my eyes to forgiveness. My best friend Amanda, who had lost her mom when we were freshman, told me that I shouldn’t live my life without my mom. She told me that as long as I have a mom, I shouldn’t take that special relationship for granted, that mother daughter relationship that she wished she could still have.

My senior year graduation was about to come up and I had decided to talk to my mom. I thought this could close old wounds if she would come to my graduation. Unfortunately, she couldn’t afford the trip from Florida to Ohio. So, as a graduation gift from Amanda, she took me down to Florida to visit my mom that summer after graduation.

Ever since then my mom and I have had a really strong relationship. We talk and email often. She came to be in my wedding last September even though the family wouldn’t even talk to her. I remember telling my husband to be that all I really wanted for my wedding was for my mom to be there, and she was.

Throughout all the hardships I have been through, I really am glad I went through it all. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I wouldn’t be where I am at in my life had I not moved back in with my grandparents. I met my husband through a great group of Christian friends, and have been with him since the month we met. Everything that has happened to me has been a blessing because I have grown so much from it all.

I don’t know what I would have done without my mom. She has taught me so much, and she doesn’t even know it. Forgiveness is all it takes, and unconditional love. Without that unconditional love there is emptiness. I think that everyone should love their mothers unconditionally no matter the circumstances. We only have one mom, and she gave us life, so love it and love her!

(Top Photo: The Window, 12×12 $50)

Finally!

My internet service is still down, but I can now announce the winners of the “Mother’s Day Gift Basket” thanks to my dear friend Mariane. As I tip-tap away on her computer, I do it with shaky fingers.

Why?

Because choosing the winners was more difficult than I imagined it would be. All of the contestants who entered shared great lessons that their mothers have taught them.  Some gave me goose bumps, others made me raise my hand in agreement for the words that rang so true. I was overwhelmed with these entries and I couldn’t choose by myself, so I enlisted the help of Mariane (my ace since 3rd grade) to choose the big winners. Truth be told, every single one of you ladies who wrote in are big winners. You’ve been blessed with mothers who’ve showed you what it is to be strong and kind and self-sufficient. If your mothers could see how much you love them and appreciate all you’ve learned from them, I’m sure their hearts would swell with pride 🙂

So, after much deliberation (and a little tweaking of the prizes) Mariane and I have chosen, not 2, but 3 winners.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it – 3 winners.

1st PLACE

(It’s a tie folks) – Mother’s Day Gift Basket

  • Johannah Brookwell (Virginia)
  • Virginia Tanner (Georgia)

2nd PLACE

– 2 Brown Sugar Almond Swirl Cakes

  • Jessica Jane

Congrats Johannah, Virginia, and Jessica. Look forward to your goodies in the mail!!!

My heart cries tears of sadness because I won’t be able to post the winner of the Mother’s Day Gift Basket Contest, today 😦 

Unfortunately my internet service is down at home and I’m unable to access my e-mail in order to notify the winners. I’m typing this update at my day job (ssssshhhh . . . don’t tell anyone) and I’m hoping that by tomorrow afternoon my home computer will be healed of the vicious ailment that has it crippled. Let’s all cross our fingers and toes because I’m eager to make my announcement.

Until then . . . muchas gracias to all the lovelies who participated in the contest – I can’t wait for the big reveal!

Carnival's Cookies

Oh sweet surrender . . . how good it is to set your mouth free.

Yes, Carnival has entered the cookie arena. But there’s no games here, just yummy, satisfying cookies in a variety of flavors. I’ve added to the shop (clockwise, L-R) Green Tea Cookies, Lil Miss Vanilla Cookies, Golden French Vanilla Cookies, and Mocha Supreme Wafer Cookies.

Treat yourself – It’s been a long week and you deserve it!

Love what you see? Get them here.

With the warm weather showing it’s face more often, tiny buds waking up from their slumber, and birds chirping their melodic songs each morning, we all know that Spring is in the air! If you’re like me, thankfully, you celebrate the gorgeous weather each time you step outside to start a new day. And if you have a little princess that’s ready to turn one year older, I know you’ll also want to celebrate how she’s blossomed before your very eyes.

Look no further. I’ve stumbled upon a fantastic article at About.com that gives pointers on how to make your daughter feel extra-special on her birthday.

Every little girl loves a party! And why not go all out. Whether she’s into ballet, crafting, or rhinestone-studded everything, with a little questioning and know-how, you can produce the party of your sweetheart’s dreams. Read on to take note of some helpful tips:

Your primary goal is to make the birthday child feel special. A secondary goal is to ensure that everyone has a good time at the birthday party. The children will remember whether they had fun, not whether your house was spotless or whether you carried out your chosen birthday party theme down to the last tiny detail. As far as I’m concerned, a successful birthday party is one in which no one bursts into tears.

The first step in planning a birthday party is to sit down with your child and find out what type of birthday party he or she wants. Then determine if your budget, your creativity, and your energy can deliver that type of birthday party. If not, scale down. Don’t worry that your preschooler is going to want clowns or ponies. You may be pleasantly surprised. For his first “friend” birthday party (i.e. not just the immediate family), my son wanted to go to the play place at a nearby fast food restaurant. When my daughter turned four, she wanted everything to be pink — pink balloons, pink lemonade, pink cupcakes, pink napkins. Both birthday parties were incredibly easy and inexpensive.

You can’t be in two places at once. In birthday party terms, you can’t play musical chairs, cut the cake, and direct traffic to the bathroom at the same time. Enlist one or more “big people” (adults or responsible older children) to help you at the birthday party. If your birthday kid is very young, chances are the parents of your guests will ask if they should stay for the duration of the birthday party. The answer is yes! They can help with games, pour the punch, and take care of minor boo-boos. Just be sure to reward them for their service when you pass out the birthday cake. If you don’t expect any parents to stay, and you can’t talk your best friend into helping, hire one of your regular baby-sitters to help you. It is well worth the investment in terms of stress reduction.

. . . To read more, click here

Check out these Etsy items to help you plan that sweet Springtime birthday party:

How to Plan a Springtime Birthday Party for Little Girls

Tropical Berry Fusion Paper Cake $24 Blue Hydrangea in White Vase $40 Maki Girl $30 Vintage Kid Tea Set in Basket $49.95 Lil Miss Vanilla Cookies $9 Mini Colouring Booklet $5.50 Cake Photo Holder $9.90 Personalized Circle Stickers $12 Baby Blue Linocut Squirrel Birthday Card $5; TOP PHOTO: Roses are Pink Halter Dress $60

And don’t forget you have to dress your little one too. Here are a few more Etsy items to make her super cute:

Springtime Fashions

Butterflower Hair Flower $9 Kinchi Fresh Flower Dress $59 Glass Post Earrings – Blue Velvet $8 Boutique Autumn Flower Rhinestone Ring $6

Springtime Fashions

Rainbow Windowpanes Infant Dress $36 Turquoise Colored Spring Baby Shoes $25 Flower Power Baby Hair Clip $8.95 Fleece Rainbow Jacket $42

Springtime Fashions

Angel Halo with Custom Headband $25 Pink Ruffle Sleeve Sweater $28 Hot Pink Felted Mary Jane Booties $22 Starlet 1st Birthday Name Bracelet $23.50