Friday, September 20, 2019

Five Loves on Friday // My 41st Birthday Edition!

I write today's blog post with a mixture of emotions.  I began this to preserve the memories of a birthday I'll forever cherish.  However, as I return to my computer to finish a nearly completed post my celebratory mood has shifted.  We received a call this afternoon that my husband's last living grandparent, his precious Grandma Nancy is nearing death.  That being said, I'll be sharing much in this post about those I love, the simple joy of a birthday well celebrated, thoughts on brevity of life and the hope I have in the eternity that awaits.  

These loves are listed in chronological order. 

One  //  Pre-Birthday Celebrations

Last Tuesday Jason came home from work and said, "Well, your birthday weekend is coming up.  It's probably time to start talking about what you'd like to do.  I thought you might need this."  Then he pulled a yummy gift from his work bag that had me squealing with delight!  One of his co-workers has family in Wisconsin.  When Jason heard that he'd be WI bound he asked if he'd pick up a couple birthday gifts there for me.  This was such a thoughtful and scrumptious surprise!  We'd open it on my birthday and enjoy it throughout my birthday weekend!

I love cheese and there's nothing quite like Wisconsin aged cheddar!  Yum!

Tuesday evening we were invited for a birthday dinner party at my parents' place.  My mom cooked up a couple pans of comfort food and created a delightful dessert buffet too.  They also gave me such fun gifts - lots of fall themed goodness and some birthday cash that I plan to set aside to get something special during our upcoming Disneyland trip!

Since my birthday fell on Friday the 13th this year my mom decorated everything in a "spooky sweet" Halloween party theme.  There were orange and black streamers and balloons, cute signage, and sweet treats galore!  I so appreciated her attention to detail in decorating and the love she and my dad put into hosting this enjoyable evening together.

Two  //  A Fond Farewell to "40" 

I spent my last day of "40" with a rare solo morning and afternoon out.  Here's a peek at what I picked up while shopping, and where I headed when my trunk was full of fun purchases...

My first stop was Kohl's.  I had the best combination of discounts imaginable for this shopping trip!  My Kohl's app wallet held $10 of Birthday Kohl's Cash, $5 of Kohl's Cash I received for my Kohl's card anniversary, $10/$50 women's clothing purchase and 30% off coupons!  Here's how I used them...

I found this perfectly polka dotted top with the cute flared sleeves and a pair of dark washed jeans. (I had to try on a gazillion pairs before choosing one!  Can anyone relate?  Buying jeans is one of my least favorite things, but worth the effort to find the right pair.)  I also picked up a beautiful Christmas gift for both my first born daughter and niece.  I walked out the door with all that for only $27 and some change!  Happy birthday to me!

After Kohl's I popped over to the Dollar Tree a few doors down and picked up some snacks for my family, beauty brushes, and a cold bottle of cherry Pepsi for few spare dollar bills I had in my bag.

Next, I decided to do something I've always thought about doing, yet never had.  I got some chinese takeaway from Panda Express and drove to the lake for a solo lunch.  I rolled the windows down, listened to some marvelous music, and eat 'n' drank in the view!  

I also enjoyed some rangoon alongside my bowl of sweet fire chicken breast.  They just didn't make it into this snapshot.

Afterward I swung by home to pick up my oldest daughter and we headed off for quick trip to Walmart.  We immediately made a beeline to the fall and Halloween aisle, then moved onto the essentials we actually needed. ;)  All in all, it was a terrific finale to "40"!

Three  //  My 41st Birthday!

One of the fantastic benefits of homeschooling is setting our own school calendar.  While we may not take snow days and all the same federal holidays as the public schools, we do take off our birthdays!

When thinking about how I wanted to spend my birthday, I knew that I wanted to set aside special one on one time with each of my daughters, enjoy a date with my husband, and include plenty of family fun too!  

Lunch with my Littlest Love

This was sure to be a super sweet day!

The celebration got into full swing at lunchtime with my youngest daughter.  We enjoyed a a lovely lunch, a fun flick, and a delicious dessert for two!  Our afternoon entertainment was a blast from the past.  Over the past couple years we've watched the 90's series, Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  I noticed there was a made for tv Sabrina movie that aired just prior to the series debut.  Neither of us had seen it, so we thought it was the perfect movie to cozy up for on that fun mom/daughter afternoon!

Do you recognize Sabrina's love interest in this movie?

Family Fun Time
...But First, a Thoughtful Surprise!

Jason got off of work a tad early to give us a bit more time together.  I was oh so happy to welcome him to his weekend early and head out for some fun in the sun!

Just as we prepared to dash out the door for a birthday outing, we got a huge box from Amazon.  He acted like he didn't know what it was and said it must be something I ordered.  I've done the majority of my Christmas shopping recently, but had already received everything I'd ordered.  I had no clue what it was and no thought that this was actually a gift for me.  He began to open the box and pulled out batteries that were placed on top.  Then I instantly thought, "Ok, this is some sort of electronic.  It's got to be for Jason." (Ha!)  My hubby then proceeded to ask for my assistance getting the item out of its gigantic packing box.  When I saw that it was something large and stainless steel I was even more baffled.  Until I realized exactly what it was, an automatic (motion sensor activated) garbage can! 

Ok, this may not be something that everyone would get excited over.  Yet, my husband knows me well and knew that I'd be over the moon to receive this gift!  You see, recently the mechanism on my step open trash can broke.  I was completely bummed about it.  This upgrade was an unexpected and wonderful surprise!  I'm loving how handy and convenient it is.  He's made germaphobic heart oh so happy! ;)  It's the little things, like the one I love most knowing me well enough to know just what I'd want (even though maybe no one else would) without having to say a word!  

A Birthday Stroll Through Botanical Beauty

The weather here was perfection on my birthday!  It was in the upper 70s with an abundance of sunshine!  This made my choice of a birthday outing so easy.  I couldn't think of a better way to spend it then with my loves on a stroll at one of my local happy places - the botanical garden!  

I walked hand in hand with my sweetheart, chatting and laughing with my three favorite people on the planet, admiring the beauty in God's creative design in every fabulous floral shape and shade!  My heart was so full!

It was very fitting that my daughter who snapped our photo was in full sun while the rest of us appear to be shaded, as one of her nicknames has been "Sunshine" since she was just an itty bitty baby girl!

Birthday Dinner

I was craving a great burger on this delightful day, so I requested Red Robin. "Yum!"  Our nearest Red Robin is in a neighboring city that's just a short drive away from the gardens.  Being that it was such a gorgeous day, I did some looking online to find a spot nearby where we could enjoy our food and that sweet sunshine simultaneously.  It turns out that there's a beautiful lake and recreation area only minutes from the restaurant that I'd never been to.  How perfect is that?  

I savored the flavor of this juicy Livin' Fajita Loca burger, the terrific time with my family, and the splendid scenery!  

The "Sweetest" Birthday Gift!

Earlier this year my husband and youngest daughter baked a simple chocolate cake together.  They seemed to enjoy it and I obviously enjoy cake, so my one gift request was that they bake me a birthday cake for us to enjoy together on my birthday evening.  Friends, I had no idea what they were about to come up with when I placed that simple request.  I wasn't asking for anything lavish.  I really thought maybe they'd have some dad/daughter fun just jazzing up a cake mix.  Boy, did I underestimate their drive to fulfill my request in the most delicious way possible!  They thoughtfully took into consideration my love of both chocolate and cherries and decided on to create a Black Forest cake that dreams are made of!  They spent Thursday evening shopping for ingredients and Friday when we returned from my birthday dinner at the lake they were ready to bake up some birthday bliss, completely from scratch!

Meanwhile, "Princess" and I got cozy in the living room and binge watched all the birthday episodes of The Cosby Show on Amazon.  We laughed and chatted while the other half of our family spent two and a half hours in the kitchen creating a masterpiece in cake form!  

Once they were preparing to assemble the four layer cake and begin decorating it, Jason called "Princess" in to take what she called a "mom amount" of pictures to capture it all for me!  Again, he knows me so well!  These photos (and others, along with a fun video of them at work) were some of the best gifts I received!  

My littlest love used a cheese grater on a giant Hershey bar to create the chocolate shavings they'd decorate the cake with.  The recipe my husband used called for three layers, but he always has to outdo himself so he went for four!  As you can see in the finished cake pics it began to slide just a bit before I captured some pictures of the completed cake.  I wasn't a bit concerned about that as we were prepping to slide some onto our plates asap anyway! ;)

My favorite baking duo!

I mean seriously, this was AMAZINGLY delicious!  Photos don't even do it justice!  The only thing sweeter than their gift was all the thought, care, and dad/daughter teamwork put into creating, baking, and decorating it with such love!  I am blessed so far beyond what I deserve!  I praise God for the gift of family, for love, for incredibly thoughtful gifts, and for tastebuds to fully enjoy every scrumptious bit of the goodness on that day (and always)!

One on One time with my Firstborn Sweetie

For my one on one time with my oldest daughter I chose a girls mystery movie night!  She's really starting to get into Hallmark Movies & Mysteries like her mama, so I picked up a birthday gift for myself (a 5-movie dvd collection of Murder She Baked) for us to watch together.  (The title sounds scary, but it's really a Hallmark style mystery with more love story than suspense.)  The first in the series is called "A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery".  Naturally we had to bake some mini chocolate chip cookies to enjoy with our fun flick!  However, after eating a huge slice of that beloved birthday cake I couldn't get past a couple tiny cookies.  Most were enjoyed later in the weekend with another movie in this series.  It was such a fun ending to a completely wonderful day!

Four  //  Birthday Weekend Date Night

If you've been around here for a bit, you will not be a bit surprised by my dinner date choice - Thai takeout!  Mmm!  We relaxed and enjoyed each other's company.  It was a sweet and simple night with the one who has held my heart for the past 21 birthdays!  We began dating at 19 in the spring of 1998.  Were engaged a few months later on the 4th of July and were married (both just a few months into our 20s) on November 14th of that year.  It was a whirlwind romance and remains a long lasting love, all through God's grace and goodness.  No matter how many more birthday God affords me with this wonderful man of mine and the beautiful children God has blessed us with, this birthday, will forever be one of my favorites!

Five  //  Life and Hope in Death

As I mentioned in the opening, I'm returning to my computer to finish this post, now knowing that my husband's grandmother is nearing death.  It is crystal clear in this week of celebrating life, just how fleeting this life truly is.  None of us know when we'll celebrate our last birthday, or last day for that matter.  The one thing we can be certain of is what the God who created you and I has made abundantly clear to us through His trustworthy Word, the Bible.  Today I'd like to give you a glimpse into the desperate state I found myself in upon examining my life's actions, thoughts, and motives in light of God's Word.  I'd also like to share how and in Whom I have found hope and rest, today and always.

The Bad News that Makes the Good News Exceedingly Good...

When I looked at the mirror of God's Law, The Ten Commandments, I saw that I stood guilty before a Holy and Just God.  I have lied, dishonored my parents, taken God's Name in vain, coveted what was not my own, failed to honor God above all others, and the list goes on and on.  I knew I had a serious problem.  Could my "good deeds" help me?  The Bible assures me in Isaiah 64:6 that nothing I have to offer can bribe God.  It says, "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy rag."  I knew I had broken His Laws.  I also knew that "inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement" (Hebrews 9:27).  Knowing this grievous truthwhere does my hope come from?  Romans 6:23 sheds a light on it, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  My hope is in Jesus!

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live the sinless life that He alone, being fully God/fully man could.  Jesus died on the cross, bearing the wrath of God that sinners like myself deserve.  Three days later He rose from the grave, victorious over sin and death.  When I repented and placed my trust in Jesus, His payment for my sin was credited to me.  I didn't earn it and don't deserve it.  As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "it is a gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  He gets all the glory due to Him!

I don't know how many more birthdays I will have in this life.  I recently heard of a YouTuber who died suddenly a few months into the age of 41 within about a week of being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.  We aren't all promised a long life upon this earth.  I don't know if I'll live into my 80s as my husband's dear grandmother has, or if this year shall be my last.  I hope that when I draw my last breath, whether it be soon or many decades from now, that I will not leave the incredible gift of salvation and eternal life that my Savior has offered to me and offers to you, unshared.  That is why I'm sharing this with you today, dear readers and cherished friends.  Out of sincere care for you, I ask that you'll think about the day when you will stand before God.  Do as the Bible instructs us to in 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves."  Please, do so today.  We aren't promised tomorrow.  It is the only thing that will matter one hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, and for all of eternity.  For more information visit:

Thank you for being here today.  I praise God for this opportunity to share with you the joys of this life, and more importantly, the hope that lies with me for eternal life to come!

Join me in the adventures to come!
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  1. Sweet, beautiful Brenda! I am so sorry I missed your glorious birthday! But I am over the moon how showered you were with love! You deserve every fabulous thing on this earth! And thank you for the beautiful sentiments about each day being a gift. We are so blessed each and every day and most of all where we get to spend eternity! The cake your cuties made was absolutely beautiful and I can only imagine how delicious! I love the way you guys do life! Lots and lots of extra hugs!

  2. Happy birthday to you! It looks like you had an amazing one with so much good food. I love all the pictures. I'm so sorry to hear about Jason's grandmother and you are so right about not taking life for granted.

  3. Happy Birthday! I loved all the details of your celebration, and I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's grandmother's declining health.

  4. We take our birthdays off too in our homeschool! My parents just got us a motion activated garbage can and I just love it so much. So sorry to hear about your husbands grandmother; my husband and I lost all 3 remaining grandparents in just a few months time a couple of years ago and it was so hard to say goodbye even knowing they had lived such long lives.

  5. Happy Birthday! It looks like you had such a delicious and fun time celebrating your birthday! That cake! What a great job they did! Family and good food are the perfect way to celebrate. I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's grandmother.

  6. It looks like you had a wonderful Birthday! Happy belated Birthday! I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's grandmother, sending lots of prayers to your family during this difficult time.


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