DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations & Free Printable Templates

FIVE.

Sunshine girl turned FIVE last month.

Although we didn’t do the big party with friends this year, we still decorated for the family party. The birthday girl picked the theme.

FLAMINGOS.

This was not a big surprise, given her choice of a ballerina and flamingo bedroom. Plus, we already had a ballerina birthday party and cake a couple of years ago.

You guys, sunshine girl loves flamingos. Some kids are fickle on favorite colors and animals – not sunshine girl! Everywhere we’ve gone – Sea World, Animal Kingdom, and any zoo – flamingos are what she gets excited to see.

Hands down. She’s all about pink.

Initially, I planned to buy decorations but couldn’t find what I had in mind. After some thought, decided to attempt making my own paper decorations.

By party day, our walls were scattered with a flock of flamingos cut and taped together from cardstock.

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

I need to be honest. I’m no artist. Coming up with templates for these flamingos took some serious time and effort – as in a whole bunch of trial and error (and paper scraps).

After several failures that looked NOTHING like flamingos, I cut one out and texted a photo to my mom and a friend. After they confirmed it looked like a flamingo, I finally had a template.

With a template, cutting out an entire flock from 5 shades of pink cardstock was a quick process.

Today, I’m going to save you the headache of making templates by offering mine as free PDF printables! To create a similar look, you will need the templates, scissors, tape, various shades of pink cardstock (or other paper) and some aqua crepe paper.

Inexpensive. Pretty. Pink.

Ok. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk DIY flamingos.

DIY Flamingo Party Decorations

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

I think the reason why the flamingos turned out well is because they are not all the same. Their legs were taped in different positions, and there are 3 neck styles. Otherwise, the body and beaks are the same shape, just varying the colors.

For one flamingo, cut ONE of Template 1 and 2 and pick ONE of Template 3 (a, b or c). 

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

Template 3:

Vary the colors as you cut – the more you make, the more color variation you can have. For example: if using 5 shades of pink cardstock, cut 3 of each template per color to make 15 flamingos.

Cutting things out does take some time to sit down and just do it. It’s a good idea to cut and assemble the flamingos a few days ahead of time, even if they don’t go on the wall right away. No one wants to do everything the day before while prepping food and cleaning.

Put your feet up and watch TV, or, even better, grab coffee and a friend to help. Spend some time catching up while you cut and have a little fun while you assemble them.

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

Start with the bodies, necks and beaks and stick them together with tape – it is easiest to put the tape on the back so you won’t see it when they’re on the wall. Then add legs in varying positions.

If you are a rule-follower like me, making them all unique may be a challenge.

I asked my mom to come help make them all different. She suggested laying them all out side-by-side as we put the legs on, and that really helped. If you feel like you’re stuck, check out our ‘flock’ for some more ideas.

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party DecoDIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

Once assembled, use painter’s tape to attach them to the wall while protecting your paint. The twisted crepe paper to create the ‘water’ below the flamingos added some color, but also served as a guide for height and helped the process go faster.

Our flamingos were placed in intentionally ‘random’ order and spacing. Thank goodness my mom is capable of not placing them in equally spaced distances – random is SO hard for me!

The finishing touches were a birthday photo banner and a homemade cake topped with its own tiny flock of flamingos.

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

Who in your life would love a flamingo party?

DIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.comDIY Pink Flamingo Birthday Party Decorations and Free Printable Templates | thisgratefulmama.com

Advertisements

Claiming God’s Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped

Claiming God's Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com

Last Wednesday, our son had an allergic reaction to peanut butter. Peanut butter we gave him, knowing he may have a reaction.

Wait. What?

Let’s backup a bit. Our son was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy shortly after his first birthday. We quickly became Epi-Pen carrying, label-reading, question-asking protectors of our son.

All along, we have prayed for our son’s protection. And we have prayed with expectant hope for healing from all food allergies. 

Over the past two years, his tree nut blood test results have increased but his peanut results have steadily decreased.

This year, both blood and skin tests were clearly negative for peanut allergy. We hoped our prayer had been answered. 

Our allergist recommended an oral food allergy challenge. While we agreed with the allergist’s recommendation, this was not a decision we made lightly. Consenting to allow our child, who we have protected from peanuts for 6 years, to EAT peanuts is a scary thing. We also knew our son did not fully comprehend what a reaction could feel like or how dangerous and scary it could be.

We requested prayer. One day I’ll go into specifics about how so many of those specific prayers were answered.

Last week, we went to the hospital and watched our child eat peanut butter for the first time. Between the third and fourth dose of peanut butter, he began to react. The details of the reaction aren’t what I am writing about today.

Here’s what you need to know: Our son had an allergic reaction to peanuts. He is doing well and has recovered fully. We received great care and have a plan moving forward to keep him safe.

Now, let’s get back to what I do want to talk about today. Our son still has a peanut allergy and this is not the result we prayed and hoped for.

We are disappointed. I’ve had some deeply emotional moments with loved ones and before God this past week. It hurts to fully hope for something and not receive it. We hoped to celebrate his healing.

It hurts that our son will still be carrying this allergy and the possibility of serious injury or death if we make just ONE mistake. It hurts that sometimes he feels excluded or left out because of what he can and cannot eat.

It breaks my mama-heart that I cannot fix this.

When our prayers are answered in a different way than we asked and we’re feeling broken – what do we do next?

Claiming God's Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com 

Grieve

When we’ve prayed – in our case, for 6 years – it is OK to grieve when the answer isn’t what we asked for. We love our son and want him to be free from this burden. One way to express this grief is to lament. In Psalms, God has given us many examples of lament. It is OK to tell Him what we feel – He already knows our thoughts and won’t turn us away.

I’ve spent some time this week pouring out my heart to God – the disappointment and sadness, and how scary it was to watch our son’s reaction. It feels strange – but pretending I don’t feel these things makes my prayers fake and prevents me from feeling His comfort and peace.

God calls us to come to Him and He promises comfort.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
-Matthew 11:28-30

Claiming God's Promises When Prayer Is Answered In A Different Way Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com

Claim God’s Promises

But lament isn’t just telling God how we feel – it also involves reminding ourselves of who God says He is in His Word, and what He promises to do. As we claim His promises, we acknowledge His character and sovereignty, and surrender to His will.

With my emotions out of the way, God began to show me a new perspective based on His promises – not the way I feel

This was not the answer we hoped for – but we are not without hope.

On the surface, it appears God said NO to our prayer to heal our son. But that is not an accurate answer. What God did say is ‘Not yet.’

The Bible is clear that God is ABLE to heal. There are many accounts of Jesus healing people throughout the gospels. But even Paul, who was a profoundly effective, faithful servant of God, had a ‘thorn in his flesh’ (2 Cor 12:7) that God did not heal during Paul’s life on earth.

God responded to Paul’s prayer for healing with a promise:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

Although God is ABLE, He does not heal everything we ask Him to. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8-9). God does promise that in every weakness, His grace is enough. And He promises the power of Christ in those weaknesses.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort
-2 Corinthians 1:3

God doesn’t leave us to struggle on our own – He promises comfort. 

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
-Romans 5:3-5

God promises that our suffering, whatever it may be, will not be in vain. Furthermore, He will use it to make us more like Him, giving us hope while pouring out His love upon us.

I do not know if our son will be healed of food allergies while on earth. Romans 5 reminded me that continuing to pray and hope will not be put to shame – because God IS ABLE. I will not stop asking God to heal our son just because God hasn’t done it yet

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28

God promises that He will work in all situations for our good and for God’s glory. We have already seen God’s faithfulness in this area – good has already come from these allergies.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
-Revelation 21:4

Finally, God promises that ALL will be healed in heaven. I trust God with our son’s heart and have full confidence our son will see heaven. I also have full confidence that our son WILL be healed of all food allergies in heaven.

This morning I woke up needing to hear all of these things, even though God has been showing them to me all week. I needed to be reminded of His love and to have my soul lifted up.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.
-Psalm 143:8

Can I let you in on a secret? This post isn’t actually for all of you. It’s for me. Sometimes we need to be reminded of truths God shows us and to speak them into our own lives. God is who He says He is. His promises are still true, even when He does not answer my prayers in the way I want Him to, when I want Him to.

Claiming God’s Promises When Prayer Is Answered Differently Than We Hoped | thisgratefulmama.com

Which of these promises do YOU need to claim in your current circumstances? 

 

Do you know what a Link Party is? It is a place for bloggers to share their posts. It is also one of my favorite ways to find encouraging posts from great bloggers – you will certainly find great posts from amazing bloggers. Check them out!

This post was shared at the following Link Parties:

Salt & Light Linkup #Moments of Hope Linkup Mommy Moments Linkup

SL_button Moments-of-Hope-full-size-button-e1461968753546 button with website added

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alone In A Crowded Room – Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

A mom leaves an event full of lovely women, laughter and fun only to stumble through the door at home in tears.

This was me several times last week.

For much of my adult life, I’ve struggled with loneliness. I’m surrounded by people – good people. But often I stand in a crowded room and feel unseen. 

And alone.

As an introvert, large social events and groups tend to be a challenge. I’m much more comfortable with just one or two people. In many groups, I tend to sit back and listen instead of jumping into the conversation. As a result, unless someone asks me a direct question, I may not speak at all. Often, I go home feeling like I had things to say and I regret not speaking.

That regret becomes frustration. That frustration opens old wounds. I don’t feel heard. Or seen.

Did it even matter I was there at all? Familiar feelings of loneliness rise – powerful and painfully real.

Still, other times, these feelings of loneliness rise up out of nowhere, uninvited, and without cause. 

These feelings aren’t based on truth. They are a result of me believing a terrible internal lie – that I wasn’t wanted or needed.

The truth is, I was invited to the event I spoke of earlier. My presence was welcomed. My words and thoughts would have been welcomed as well. No one said or did anything unkind or cold to me. Loneliness doesn’t always show up when it makes sense. Often times, the feelings are real, but they don’t make sense at all.

Why do I still feel lonely?

Usually it isn’t others who make me feel lonely.

It’s me. 

But that doesn’t change the overwhelming way feelings of loneliness hurt. Experience has shown that left unchecked, loneliness can be paralyzing. Focusing on loneliness robs my days of joy and causes me to pull back from relationships – further perpetuating the problem.

When loneliness surfaces, it is imperative that I take purposeful steps to battle against it. As I said before, I am still struggling (even as I write this) with loneliness and perceived rejection.

These are a few ways I’m learning to address loneliness when it comes up.

Seek God

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

A good friend is a beautiful thing. But no friendship can rid me of loneliness. When I’m lonely, what I need most is more of God. Whether I ‘feel’ His presence or not, I need to press into Him by reading His Word and praying.

When I feel lonely, the enemy’s lies seem like truth. I question my worth. I begin to suppress God’s truth about who God says I am. When this happens, I need to tell God my thoughts, even though they go against what He says.

‘God I know You made me without mistake. I know I am fully loved and fully known by You. Yet, right now I feel inadequate, unloved, unworthy and rejected. I feel so alone and unseen by others. Help me to see myself and this circumstance as you do. Will you help me believe it and walk in truth?’

Often, pouring out feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and self-loathing at God’s feet brings peace. It is hard to be in God’s presence and believe lies. Being with Him opens my eyes to truth and helps my soul rest in His comforting arms.

In the midst of loneliness, the focus is on me. I desperately need to worship God. Worship turns my focus outward and upward. He is still God, and He is good – regardless of any emotion or circumstance I may be in. When I remember God’s character – His goodness, faithfulness and kindness – and how He has revealed Himself to me, it becomes hard to feel alone.

Kari Jobe’s ‘I Am Not Alone‘ has helped me worship this week. What comfort there is in recalling that God never leaves me and always goes before me!

See A Friend

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Isn’t it strange that when struggling with loneliness, I tend to isolate myself?

Isolating myself happens when I believe and accept the lie that no one cares if I’m there or not. In all honesty, even after spending time with God, I sometimes still feel lonely and disconnected. Isolation only makes things worse.

In these moments, I need a good friend. I am grateful to have several women in my life with whom I can share hard things. One friend, in particular comes to mind – she lifts me up, encourages me, and points me to Jesus. We don’t see each other that often, but when we do, it is like no time has passed between us. We do spend time catching up on daily life, but we always spend time talking about what is on our hearts.

Time spent with a good friend lifts the soul.

God gave us the gift of fellowship so we can be mutually encouraged by one another. But we need to be IN fellowship with others to experience it. 

Last week, after a rough morning wrestling with emotions, I called that friend. We met at a park with the kids. Kids played. We took a walk. We talked. I shared my heart – she listened and then spoke truth and kindness into hurting places. I left feeling recharged, refreshed and so very grateful. Time spent with her is life-giving. Friends like this are a priceless gift.

As an introvert, I know I need more one-on-one time with good friends. This time has to be built into my life on a regular basis because life is BUSY. Schedule it. Show up. 

BE A Friend

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Sometimes we long for deeper friendships, but we haven’t made it our mission to just go out and BE a friend.

Friendship is a two-way street – if we want people to be there for us, we need to be there for them! Cultivating deep relationships takes time and purposeful effort.

Check in with that friend about ‘that thing’ they mentioned last time you talked – the appointment, interview, struggle, celebration or milestone. Notice when a friend is unusually quiet and ask how they are doing. Then be prepared to make time to listen to how they’re really doing. 

Often, I feel the most lonely when I’m busy. Some seasons, like after having a baby, may just be busy. It happens to all of us. But sometimes, we allow good things to make us so busy that there is no margin for people. When this happens, we need to make some adjustments to maintain valuable friendships. Examine your schedule and priorities to be sure you’ve left room for people. 

Let people know you care. Be available to others. Being connected to others in daily life opens the door to have conversations about what is on your heart.

Start with one person. Who will it be?

 

This post was shared at the Salt & Light Linkup #23, head on over to see tons of encouraging posts!

SL_button

 

 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus – Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up

A Little Girl And A Big Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

Two weeks ago our four year old sunshine girl climbed the stairs of a school bus for the first time. Unexpected mom-emotions threatened to overtake me as my mind raced with thoughts of all she would experience – good and bad – while away from me.

She’s growing up.

She rocked 3’s preschool and has been away from me for countless bible studies, Sunday school, and more. But as I watched her climb onto that big school bus wearing that giant-flamingo backpack, she looked so small.

Isn’t that my baby up there? 

Parenting is full of these emotion-fueled moments – when we realize our children are growing up and stepping a little further into the world. These moments remind us that we cannot control our kids or their experiences.

She didn’t hesitate as she turned back, grinning with sparkling eyes as she waved goodbye.

She didn’t hesitate. So why was I?

I stood, choked up and snapping pictures. I waved furiously with a smile plastered to my face as the bus drove away.

The bus rounded the corner. The only evidence it had been there at all was the plume of exhaust and my husband, mom and I gazing at an empty street.

Sunshine girl was on her way to school with a bus load of new friends. Without me. 

Year by year, our children will spend more time at school and activities, with people other than us. They gather life-skills and knowledge and are slowly equipped to become independent, functioning adults.

Independent. Of us. 

And what of us, their parents? Once their ‘whole world’ and providers of everything they need – we’re gradually needed less and less as our role continually changes.

We proudly cheer them on, celebrating new freedoms and opportunities while acknowledging that there is less we can protect them from. We’re grateful they don’t grow up overnight, even if looking back, it feels like it did.

And this is all right and good. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

Or unemotional.

Our emotions are real and powerful. And sometimes emotions creep up out of nowhere and threaten to knock us off our feet.

We need to adapt and learn to not only accept but embrace these moments and the emotions they stir up.

Stop Comparing

Your emotions are yours. They don’t belong to your neighbor, friend, or that mom over there that you don’t even know.

Stop comparing. Every parent feels emotions and processes them differentlyWhat you feel as your child climbs onto the school bus is ok.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

You don’t have to apologize for crying, even if you’re the only mom ugly-crying on the curb as the bus drives away.

Quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and give yourself permission to feel it all.

So now we admit we have these emotions and we’re not worried about what everyone else is doing. Now what?

Own It

We love our children. So it makes sense that our emotions can be fierce. Letting go and watching our children step out into the world is hard. And excitingAnd scary.

Stifling emotions never really works. They just bubble out later in another way or at someone else, with increased intensity.

Feel something? Own it.

So what if you’re an ugly-crying mess at the bus stop? So what if you’re the only dry-eyed mom in the crowd? So what if summer was so long and tiring that a part of you feels like celebrating and maybe a twinge guilty about that (or maybe you feel no guilt)?  So what if you’re suddenly crying in Target 3 hours later because you just miss them?

What if your kids see you? While we do need to have wisdom and discernment about how and what we share with our children, it is ok for them to see you express what you feel.

In these milestone moments, watching you feel and process emotions in a healthy way gives your children permission to feel and process their own. 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Process It

Do your emotions surprise you? Days before school started, I expected to cry at the bus stop. Then, that morning as we stood waiting for the bus I felt only excitement. I was happy and exited – not sad at all!

Then she took those first steps up and WHAM!

When emotions surprise me, the best way to work through them is to process them. Feel them. Think through them. Talk about them.

This does require time and energy but is too important to pass up.

Go to God – Night or day, God is always available. Our loving Father loves to comfort His children. No matter the emotion, He already knows. When it comes to emotions I feel as a parent, it is such a comfort to know that God created our children and loves them even more than than I can. He listens and provides peace and comfort beyond our understanding. Try it! Pray through emotions and spend some time reading His word. He won’t leave you hanging.

Talk to a Friend – One of the reasons we need community is to process real-life with people who are willing to be authentic. We need to know we’re not alone and to be encouraged by other parents. Be honest. Cry if you feel like it. Speaking how we feel out loud is powerful.

Write – When home with kids all day, I can’t always process emotions out-loud with another adult. Journaling or blogging about what I’m feeling helps me find clarity and understand what I am feeling and WHY.

Celebrate 

One way to take the edge off of our emotions of sadness, longing or fear is to celebrate milestones – even if just official days like the first/last day of school and birthdays.

That said, we don’t need to celebrate everything. Celebrate events that are significant to your family and priorities. Celebrating puts the joy back into even the most bittersweet milestone.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

Celebrate with a meal, a sporting event or activity, a gift, a handwritten card, or an intentional conversation. Celebrate to remind your children that you’re cheering them on and proud of them.

Be Present

Finally, no matter how emotional you feel, at some point, you need to step out of your own head and step into the time and place you’re in.

I spent a couple hours dwelling in my own swimming emotions and thoughts before doing anything productive with them. Once I began to process them, I was able to step back into the day and be ready and excited to hear all about that first day of school. If I’d kept it all in, I’m not sure I would have been any good to anybody – just a puddle of tears and self-pity.

Be present with those right in front of you. Don’t let your emotions put you in a funk that steals quality time from you and your family.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com Embracing Moments

 

Hello, Fall. I’ve Been Waiting For You – 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

Hello Fall. I've Been Waiting For You - 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hello, fall.

I’ve been waiting for you.

By far, Fall is my favorite time of year. This year, the Minnesota weather has been cooler than normal, so it started feeling like fall in late August.

While some are still mourning the loss of summer…I am celebrating fall.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

5 Reasons This Mama Is Grateful For Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL. The. Apples.

By late August, I am ready for orchard apples. While Pink Lady apples are my choice when it’s not apple season, they simply do not compare to orchard apples.

I wait ALL year to pick those first apples so we headed to the nearest orchard on September 1st. It was lovely – we went early on Friday afternoon and were alone in the orchard picking a bounty of McIntosh (my favorite) and Zestar apples. Now the kids are running to the fridge for an apple after school and we don’t have to fight over what constitutes a ‘healthy snack’. I’m grateful our favorite orchard is just 10 minutes away. We’ll buy apples as long as they have them (and hopefully stock up just before they’re out).

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it does make all of us rather HAPPY.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Boot Weather

A former life guard, I used to love baking in the sun. And, after all those winter indoor pool hours, humidity never bothered me. That is, until we had kids. I’m not sure if I changed and can’t handle it, or if it is caused by becoming a walking pack-mule who hauls kids and their stuff everywhere we go. Either way, I loathe the heat and humidity and love the 70 degree days with a cool evening. Cooler nights mean no bugs – in Minnesota where the running joke is that the state bird is really the mosquito, a no-bug evening is a gift.

And, finally, fall marks the return of boot-wearing weather. Tall boots, short boots, rain boots, leather boots…so long shorts! Oh, how I love boot-weather!

Routines

While I miss the kids while they are at school, I love the repetition and structure of the fall schedule. It feels like we’re shaking off lazy summer days and stepping into productivity. This summer was less structured than ever before and it was wonderful. But I was also very ready for it to be done. Actually, I was ready about a month before it ended. While the lack of structure is rejuvenating and relaxing, I just don’t thrive in an unstructured environment for an extended period of time. I find I accomplish less and lack motivation without deadlines or places to be.

After this first week of the fall schedule, I’m exhausted, but I am loving the return to BSF, kids in school, and my morning routine of waking up before the kids. In the morning I feel ready for them to get up. At the end of the day, I feel so much more productive and like more has been accomplished than on the majority of summer days.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Fall Fun

Bonfires, apple, raspberry and pumpkin picking, hiking, collecting leaves and taking in the colors, cooking soups and baking pies, football, soccer and more! There are so many activities on our fall bucket list, there just isn’t enough time to do it all. Fall activities make up some of our most treasured family time of the year. We’re off to a great start but have much more to do fit in before fall ends.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hot Cider, Tea, Coffee

I love sitting outside on a cool morning or evening holding a warm mug of hot tea, cider or coffee. It’s kind of silly, but the smell and warmth of the mug in my hands is just better in the fall. In fact, I’m going to go get a cup of something hot right now.

 

What do you love about fall?

I am THAT Allergy Mama: Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy ’20 Questions’ Before We Get Together

I am continually amazed by friends and family in our lives who go above and beyond to ensure our son is safe. Thank you for texting me ingredient labels, discussing the menu, and for graciously answering my questions time and time again. We are so grateful for all of you.

this grateful mama

Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy '20 Questions' Before We Get Together | Thisgratefulamama.com

How I miss the days when all I had to do was ask what I could bring to a get-together and not have to know what was being served…

Or when someone could bring anything they like best to our house.

Any dessert. Any bread. Any salad topping.

Sigh.

Now I’m constantly MEDDLING.

I’m calling ahead, asking friends to read food labels over the phone, and explaining that the phrase “processed on equipment with nuts” is just as bad for us as something containing an actual peanut.

I’m asking what dessert they are serving, where it came from, and usually planning to bring something similar and safe for my son to eat.

And YES, I often request foods containing nuts aren’t served while we’re there and that nuts are never brought into our home. This is my son’s SAFE zone (and ours). He should never have to question his safety here.

I DO realize…

View original post 1,316 more words

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket – Teaching Kids About Grace

Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids. That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com #grace #faith #parenting #lesson #lifelesson #teachingkids #faithforkids #christianmom #teachablemoments #mistakes #graceformoms #graceforkids #godsgrace #moms #teachkids #conviction #truthforkids #speedingticket

Exactly 3 days after the accident with sunshine girl’s finger and the Epi-Pen, I had another humbling experience.

A speeding ticket.

My first one.

In the mini van.

With all three kids.

In the aftermath of the Epi-Pen accident, I wasn’t feeling like the best mom. I was actively fighting for joy from some pretty heavy mom-guilt. Not that there is ever a good time for a speeding ticket, but this one certainly came at a bad time.

The Ticket

We were having a rough morning. The littlest one was teething and in apparently fierce discomfort. She was just not herself.

After attempting to soothe and distract at home, it was clear we needed to get out of the house. I decided to do a quick errand.

Because baby was so unhappy, I decided to drive further to a less crowded store, hoping she would fall asleep coming home.

As we neared the store, the road was closed. We turned right at the barricade and continued on an unfamiliar road. I was just cruising along at roughly the same speed as the previous road, checking street signs to figure out where to turn.

Heading down a hill, I noticed a small park and thought – I should remember that. Then, I saw a police car parked at the bottom of the hill.

Yikes. Sharp intake of breath. You know that feeling, don’t you? See a police car and tap the brakes even though you’re not sure how fast you’re going?

Hmm. How fast was I going? Didn’t know.

Then I saw the speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill. 30.

Pretty sure I was going faster than that. Sure enough, on came the lights as he pulled into the street.

‘OK guys, mama is going to get a speeding ticket’.

Our very cautious, rule-following oldest child looked wide-eyed from the back. He was silent but his shocked face revealed concern. Or maybe horror.

I assured the kids it was going to be OK and reminded them that police help people. Today this one was going to help mommy be a better diver.

The officer was very kind but informed me I was going 52 in a 30.

By a park.

And my license plate tabs were expired.

Without excuse, I apologized. Pretty sure my eyes were as wide as our son’s.

I told him about being diverted from the road closure and how I was paying attention to street signs instead of the speed limit. I was sure we’d paid for our tabs so told him I would go home and find them. He headed to his car.

The kids were silent, even the baby. For possibly the first time all morning.

When the officer returned, indeed our tabs were paid for. Find them. Then he gave me my very first speeding ticket – but not the ticket I deserved.

I deserved a ticket for driving 52 in a 30 by a park. That friends, is a humongous ticket. Instead, he gave me a ticket for going 44 in a 30. Two full tiers below what I deserved.

I choked back tears and thanked him.

Teaching Grace

As a rule-follower myself, I could not hold back the tears as he walked away. I was still so surprised it happened, embarrassed and humbled, and felt guilty for getting the ticket in front of the kids. Then I felt bad for crying in front of the kids, but could. not. stop.

Not my best mom-moment.

I may have prayed a silent ‘really, God? – don’t you remember Monday?‘ prayer. Ok. Yes. Actually I’m sure I did that.

Now in the store parking lot just around the corner, I wept.

Our poor kids were silently watching, unsure of what to do next. Finally, our son spoke up from the back – ‘Mama. I’m so sorry you got a ticket‘.

His kind words caused me to glance up at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. His worried look put a stop to my tears – there was a lesson in this.

The moment must not be wasted. 

Oh Lord, please give me the words to use this moment for YOUR glory.

You guys, it is in these moments, when we have made a mistake, failed or been humbled in front of our children – in the midst of authentic remorse and emotion, when well-chosen words can be most powerful.

Our children are often the first-hand witness that parents are not perfect. While we don’t need to discuss our every failing with our kids, something that unfolds right in front of them should be addressed.

How we address it matters.

When these things happen, whether a speeding ticket or some other obvious show of imperfection, we need to use the moment to teach them about truth.

After some deep breaths, we talked about why I was pulled over. And the many reasons I deserved a BIG ticket – speeding was breaking the rules, having expired tabs was irresponsible, and how as a mom, I should be even more attentive to places like parks where kids could be crossing the street.

The officer had every right to give me exactly what I deserved – but he didn’t.

We talked about how the officer treated me. He spoke kindly to me and listened to what I had to say. He treated me with respect and we talked about how in our family, we respect police officers.

Then, despite the emotional roller coaster in my brain, joy crept in and we begain to talk about grace.

The officer chose to give me a smaller ticket than I deserved. In doing so, he showed me grace I did not earn or ask for.

Their sister’s middle name is Grace, which means a gift undeserved.

And like the officer’s gift was undeserved, I also do not deserve the grace of God. It still baffles me that God showed such lavish grace in sending His son Jesus to die as punishment for my sins. And for the sins of our children.

All because of the simple yet profound reason that God loves us. The imperfect, the sinful, the unlovable – we are the beloved redeemed because of lavish grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Just like I was unaware of my speeding, we were once unaware of our own sin. We didn’t ask him to give grace, He did it on His own. Salvation is God’s work alone.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

We don’t deserve it, but Jesus stands in our place of the judgement we deserve because He chooses to. We just need to acknowledge Him and receive it.

We deserve punishment.

We get grace.

Because He loves us.

The heart of the Gospel.

Smiles. Nodding. I think these precious children really got it.

We prayed, thanking God for Jesus. We thanked God for the police officer and the kindness he showed mommy. And for the reminder of what Jesus did for each of us.

The call to my husband started fresh but brief tears as I explained how the stellar mom who allowed the accident on Monday had just gotten a speeding ticket with all the kids in the car on Thursday.

Not a great week.

My husband showed me unwarranted grace, just as he did on Monday. He is an undeserved gift to me.

Finally, we got out of the car and stumbled into the store with my tear-streaked face but a sense of God-given peace that cannot be described here with mere words.

The outing wasn’t exactly the ‘distraction’ I’d planned. I’m grateful we ended up with a lesson of eternal value that left a strong impression on their hearts.

I guess if getting a speeding ticket is what it took to give them a tangible understanding of grace, then so be it.

Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL speeding tickets might not be so bad after all – but I’d rather not get another one.

If you see me driving around town like a granny, now you’ll know why.

Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids. That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com #grace #faith #parenting #lesson #lifelesson #teachingkids #faithforkids #christianmom #teachablemoments #mistakes #graceformoms #graceforkids #godsgrace #moms #teachkids #conviction #truthforkids #speedingticket

This post was shared on the Salt & Light Linkup (#16). Click on the image below to find other great posts relating to Christian encouragement. Check it out!

SL_button