Category Archives: Birthdays

When Hospitality Looks Like A Late Night Cupcake Tasting

Cupcake TastingI think I need to start this post with an admission…or an apology. But it is highly likely that if you call our house, I will not answer the phone. Oh I may be there…but I am not going to answer an actual call. I know it is silly…I pretty much hate making or taking phone calls. It is something in my introverted self that feels intimidated by the potential for the “awkward silence.” So I screen and call back when necessary.

Last night I had already changed into my “don’t go out of the house lounge clothes.” Dominic was outside getting the garbages out and I was on the couch when the phone rang. I honestly figured it was the school with a graduation related announcement…so I let it go.

Then I heard the voice on the machine…was that Amy saying something about cupcakes and Dominic’s birthday? Sure enough, my friend Amy from church was calling asking if we were still up…she was making cupcakes and wanted to know if they could bring us some for Dominic’s birthday!

Can you even believe that?! Seriously I was blown away!!

So Dominic came inside and I played the message…he was surprised too. He said we could go over and pick up a few cupcakes… 😉 As a side story Amy and her husband Greg bought a house that we had looked at online several times before we moved here. It is a beautiful, older brick home with a ton of character…we had always wanted to see it in person.

So I called her back. It was 9:30 at night, I was in clothes I wouldn’t ever wear outside of the house…and we asked if we could come over instead. She said yes and we headed over.

Sometimes outrageous hospitality looks like a late night cupcake party! (<====Click to Tweet)

The heavenly smell that came out of their kitchen when they opened the door to us was AMAZING. Amy was making cupcakes for her kids to take to school on one of their last days. Lots and lots of cupcakes and all sorts of wonderful flavors.

Cupcakes with oreos on the bottoms and others with strawberries in the center. She was trying a few new recipes out, new creations, and wanted us to try a little bit of everything so we could tell her if it was a recipe she should use again.

She and her family gave us a tour of their home. She said don’t judge…it’s lived in. But all I could see was a space filled with love. Yep there may have been messes in the kids rooms and clothes in piles (just like my own)…but it didn’t matter. When you open your home, as it is, and invite people in…the condition of the space is the last thing that will be seen. What is seen is love.

We were showered with love last night.

The fact that she called and offered to share some cupcakes with us because she saw it was Dominic’s birthday was one thing. The fact that they opened their home, made us feel welcome and shared laughter and stories and cupcakes until probably way too late on a school night…that is hospitality.

She has a gift, not only in baking, but in making people feel like family. 

We went home last night full and with a few extra cupcakes to share. But more importantly we felt a covering of God’s love in a way we haven’t in awhile. All she did was pick up the phone and make a call.

Is it really that simple?!

Honestly I forget sometimes how easy community can be if we are willing to step out and make a simple call. What a reminder that was for me last night. What a blessing to be remembered.

Amy, what a blessing you were to us last night. Thank you for simply picking up the phone and making that call…for inviting us in and stuffing us full of your amazing creations. 😉 I pray that God pours our a special measure of blessings on you today!

Happy 40th Birthday Dominic!!

DSC_8158Today is a special day in the Smith home because my husband has FINALLY reached the glorious ranks that I have been living in since January. Yep that’s right…he is 40 today! 😉

I know that he isn’t as thrilled about turing 40 like I was….I did however get spoiled to a fun surprise weekend away. And while we aren’t wisking away for a fun filled adventure…I did want to take a moment and honor my man.

Dominic, I know we have different thoughts about how birthdays are celebrated…but I couldn’t start my day without telling you how much I love you. We have walked through difficult times but we have grown so much through them. We have laughter now. Sometimes at the most peculiar things…but it is a joy to be able to share life with you.

I was afraid what would happen when we started working together. Yes I may have quit 6 times in the first year…but you stuck with me in spite of my drama and today we make a great team. You work so hard for our family. I know most people don’t see the time, the hours, you spend so that our clients feel like they have received the best plan they can get. You truly care about each of the clients we work with. What an honor to be a part of the legacy you are leaving.

You love our kids well and I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to be parents together. You said once that our kids are one of the best things about the two if us together and you were right. They are amazing. They have a little of you and a little of me in them…and watching their personalities grow and develop has been fun.

I wouldn’t choose to do this life with anyone else.

You have taught me that life can be falling apart and yet we can still trust God. You had faith at a time that mine was failing…you were my rock. Thank you for continuing to work out your own faith so that you can be an example to me and our kids.

And while life isn’t and can’t be perfect, it is better than I could have hoped for when we first met. Yep we argue at times and we mess up…but I have never doubted your commitment to me. Thank you for always being steadfast in that.

I know that at times 40 feels old…but my prayer is that we have another 40 together. (Oh boy can you even imagine us at 80 together?!) 😉 Today I celebrate you. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of your past, present and future and I pray that you would be showered with blessings today and in the coming year.

I love you, Happy Birthday!

More than anything, I want them to see You

merry go roundI am less than a week from turning 40. The BIG 4-0. And I am surprisingly ok with it all.

I wasn’t really dreading 40, I feel better about who I am and where I am, than I probably ever have. 40 isn’t something to fear or dread. It is just another year right?! And I am surrounded by some of the best family and friends a girl can have, so I am really just overwhelmed with blessings.

I have spent more years than I can count, and really that I would like to admit, worrying about trying to be the perfect person.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted what I didn’t have. I wanted the Strawberry Shortcake dolls that the girl down the street had, or the cute red Esprit jeans with the white hearts on them. (Oh how I coveted those pants and don’t even get me started on the matching heart sweater!!) Maybe it was the name brand jeans or a place on the cheerleading squad…there was always something missing.

I found myself wanting, lacking, and it wasn’t a place that I wanted to be.

So I studied hard so I would be the smart one and do something amazing with my life. Then I went off to college and couldn’t hack the career that I was certain was for me. And once again I knew that when someone looked at me, they just saw someone who was lacking.

For a perfectionist like myself, this is a terrible place to be. Because when you looked at me I wanted you to see beauty and grace and maybe the least bit of fashion sense.

But I was certain that what you saw was the opposite.

Have you ever found yourself there, on the merry-go-round of striving to be something, someone better than you feel you are? (<====Click To Tweet)

And yet it seems that no matter how hard you try, you come up short.

The past few years have been growing ones for me.

Yes I may have added a few pounds towards my waistline, ahem 😉 that comes with the aging I am told but I am not talking about that today. No, even more than that I am discovering who I am. What I love and where my passions are. I have reconnected with my love of writing and that alone has brought me so many gifts.

This refinement process hasn’t always been easy either. Dominic and I are learning how to work well with one another in our business, as we also try to manage a reasonable balance between work and home life. We have big kids, and middle kids and little kids…and raising them isn’t always a cake walk.

I yell too much, and get frustrated about little messes. I often forget to take time to count my blessings.

But despite all of that, all of my shortcomings, I am filled with the overwhelming peace that God will use it all for His glory. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have seen Him do it in my life already. How He took all the messy and the ugly parts of me and healed them and then gave me a story to share. He gave me a heart for others, for loving them and sharing the hope that is found in Him.

I don’t head into the Big 4-0 wanting you to see me and how put together I am or what a wonderful wife and mother I am.

More than anything, I hope that when you look at me you see Him.

You see a woman who loves Jesus. A woman who is admittedly a hot mess most days, but even on the worst of them can see the potential for God to use it for good.

Yes Lord, it is my prayer for year 40 and beyond…as long as you have planned for me here, that when people see me, they see You in me. Fashion or no, good hair days and bad, muffin tops and veiny legs….none of it perfect Lord, but through You I have the faith that I will be perfected for Your glory.

And that is all that matters.

Photo Credit: Great Beyond

A Weekend Filled with Love

What a whirlwind weekend of fun I had. I still can’t believe that Gindi, Christine and Delonna wanted to do this for me and that they worked with Dominic to pull off such an amazing surprise!

I feel so blessed. The trip to Houston (once I knew where I was going…) was a long one. What is it about trips that once you start you just want to be there already and once you start the journey home you just want to be home?!

Birthday 22

I was greeted by Gindi with a sign that she and her kids made for me, a balloon and beautiful flowers! And there were chocolates all over my bed when I got to her house as well. I felt so loved.

Gindi is an amazing planner and gets joy out of party planning, and she had a packed but wonderful schedule planned for us. On Sunday morning we got up and all went to church. Her church had these beautiful stained glass windows and rich hardwood pews. Her pastor talked about not getting stuck (frozen) in our lives as Christians, but rather we need to go out and be a people of community, we are God’s chosen and we need to start sharing the joy of that message with others!

Birthday 23

After church we ran home to get ready for all of the fun of the afternoon. It started with brunch at Benjy’s. This place was so fun and we had a wonderful meal. Next we were off to do a little shopping (because of course!) and then on to a high tea at the St. Regis in Houston to celebrate Gindi’s nomination of one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Houston!

I knew she had been nominated, but was even more excited when I go to the actual award ceremony! I had the opportunity to meet her boss and co-workers, her best friend (in Houston) Mary, her mother-in-law and niece and her beautiful mother. Gindi’s mama was such a joy to visit with.

I had not ever had high tea before, but they served us 3 courses! This close after a full brunch…we ate and ate on Sunday! The first course was several different petite sandwiches, followed by a scone (which I hadn’t ever had before!) and then 3 desserts. While I am not a huge fan of tea, this experience was so nice and to be able to cheer Gindi on as she was called up front…priceless!

Birthday 24

After high tea we did a little more shopping and found some great clearance deals. And then onto another restaurant for dinner. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already! The waitress knew it was my birthday and brought the most decadent chocolate dessert as a treat for us to share. So wonderful!

Birthday 25

Monday was a bit more relaxed. Gindi had booked us a morning at the Trellis spa, and for my first real spa experience it was oh so good! We got swedish massages first and then pedicures. If money were not object, it would be lovely to visit there once a month to relax and de-stress.

We shared lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, which was also new for me…I clearly don’t get out enough! (BBQ chicken pizza that was to die for!) And then some shoe shopping. (Because of course) And then we grabbed some groceries to prepare the treats for the Turquoise Table neighbors party she was hosting that night!

Birthday 26

Because we were home early we got to surprise the triplets and pick them up from school. I should have gotten a picture of their uniforms, because they were adorable. All the way home the talked about their day, what their favorite part was, what they learned. It is fun hearing it from 1 5-yr old, but 3?! I just giggled all the way home! 🙂

They quickly changed out of their uniforms and into  something that was more appropriate for the “Let it Snow” party Gindi was hosting at her turquoise table from 5-6. And of course, Frozen PJ’s and cowboy outfits were the perfect choice!

We made several treats for the party, Snowmen noses (carrots and dip), hot chocolate, frozen hearts (strawberries dipped in melted white chocolate), snow (popcorn) and ice treat (rice crispy bars with blue sprinkles on them!)

It was COLD (even for the Minnesotan) and so it was a smaller gathering than usual, but I got to meet a few of her neighbors and it was so much fun….which leads me to my next post that will be titled “Dear Dominic, We ARE Getting a Turquoise Table” (look for that later this week!) 😉

Birthday 21

After the gathering we all went out for Mexican food at Los Tios. A fun, kid-friendly restaurant where we ate AGAIN. I am going home today happy, blessed, full and 10 pounds heavier!

This morning we were up early, early and out the door by 6am. I should be home shortly after the kids get out of school and I can’t wait to see everyone! And kudos to Dominic who spent the weekend with not one but two kids barfing. 🙁

I know it wasn’t the weekend he had hoped for and he had to work from home yesterday to stay with Karlena who needed a little more time to recover. I can’t say that I am sorry I missed all of that…but it is no fun being a single parent during times like that! I am so blessed to have him as a husband.

I keep saying it, but this weekend was such a gift to me. It filled my spirit in so many ways and just getting to do life with Gindi for a couple of days was over the top. I wish that Delonna and Christine could have joined us in person (heck I wish all of you lovely friends could have joined us!!) but really it was just a time of so many great memories and such good food! 😉

I don’t feel like I deserve all of this, so I truly am just sitting back in awe of what God has done for me in these beautiful friends! Thank you so much girls, it was a weekend FULL of love!

The Most Unbelievable Birthday Gift

Birthday BanditsI can hardly believe it, but I am sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting to board a flight that will first take me to Chicago and then shortly thereafter, Houston, Texas.

On Thursday night around 8:30pm I got the surprise of a lifetime when I came downstairs after painting some more and sat down to send an email….I opened my computer and inside was the letter pictured above.

As I started to read it my eyes filled with tears, Gabriel had been in the room and he grabbed it from me and started reading it aloud. Dominic apparently at this point was taping me with his phone…. (The video is hilarious and I sound like a freak – if we are friends on FB you can see it there!)

On Saturday I was to report to the Minneapolis airport and would be flying to somewhere unknown for a special early birthday weekend.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that someone would do something like this for me and to pull off all the details….amazing.

My second thought after “are you serious, how can this be??”, was “yikes, I haven’t painted my toenails in weeks.” What can I say, vanity has been a struggle for me! 😉 Because I didn’t know for sure where I was going (although I had a strong suspicion) I wasn’t sure exactly what warmth of clothes I should pack.  But the reality is that most of the south right now is dealing with cold weather themselves, so anything I would wear during the fall/early winter should work.

So that night I packed what I could, tried to get Dominic to tell me ANYTHING, which he would not…and proceeded to walk around for the next day and 1/2 with a silly grin on my face.

This is too much.

On my route to MSP this morning I got a call from Gindi and she finally confirmed where I was headed. She said that back in December Delonna had started a secret vox chain with her, Gindi and Christine. They wanted to plan something super special for my upcoming 40th birthday.

These women are such an unbelievable gift to me. To think that just a few short years ago we were all strangers…oh God brought them into my life for such a time as this.

God knew…

Just 4 years ago in November I lost my best friend Karlena. A few months before she passed away I planned a secret trip to go and visit her. I worked with her husband and her MIL to arrange all the details and travelled to see her for the weekend. I was pregnant with our girl and Karlena had been so sick the few months prior that I just wanted to cheer her up.

It was a wonderful time, and the last time that I saw her  alive. I will always cherish that weekend.

Losing your best friend leaves a hole….and it was one that I didn’t expect would ever be filled again.

But God.

Oh those 2 words that seem to define so many of the remarkable moments in my life.

But God knew, and somehow a group of 99 women were chosen for a book launch, and then several of us broke off to encourage one another in a mastermind group, and finally a God-sized dream was birthed and a website was born.

And from that group, friendships were born.

From across the miles, voxer has kept us connected. Life has been shared, tears have been shed, cheering has ensued. These women are have filled my life to overflowing, and this…this birthday surprise?

It is the gravy.

Christine and Delonna weren’t able to to join us in person, schedules, work commitments etc., made it tough to find a way for all of us to be together. So instead, Gindi is hosting me for a weekend full of SO MUCH.

Seriously you should see the agenda, I am almost speechless.

But the fact that these three women worked so hard, schemed, planned and made arrangements with my husband, got ideas from my mom….it is just so much.

I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I am marveling in the lavish love that God has for me that he would place these women in my life so that in the month of my 40th birthday I would be treated to a surprise weekend. Something only the #birthdaybandits could do.

Ok, I probably should stop writing now because just thinking about it is bringing me to tears and the other people in the waiting area at the airport are going to start giving me the crazy eyes. 😉

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough…and I am sure that I will have more to share as the weekend unfolds, but for now, as I wait to board my flight I want to just say thank you. Gindi, Delonna, Christine, Dominic and my mom….for everything that you did to make this weekend possible, I am humbled by your gift.

Speechless (almost) and overwhelmed. I wasn’t really depressed about 40…but now, this? I am entering into this new season full of joy and hope. I love you all!

Updates and More

Wow I have been an absent blogger recently! I have found myself doing my best to just keep up it seems and blogging just has to take a back seat.  I have been writing recently, but it hasn’t exactly been for this space.  I am humbled and honored to be a part of an amazing project which I will be able to share with you very soon.

It is a God Sized Dream for sure so don’t leave just yet…I promise I will be able to share all the details, God willing, before the end of the year!

Until then I wanted to share a few things that our family has been up to!

Christmas Tree 1

We have been decorating!!  Every morning my favorite time is waking up to the tree all lit up and spending some quiet time soaking in the beauty. I am going to miss this view when we have to take it down!

This is my favorite time of year, I so enjoy the decorations and the lights. On Saturday we are going to our hometown to do a tour of the holiday lights in a stretch hummer limo! Dominic made the arrangements and we got to invite people from both of our extended families. I am excited and it should be a fun way to start out Christmas week!

Elijah - Reindeer

We have been to a fun Christmas program at Elijah’s school!  And can I just say isn’t his shirt adorable?!  His amazing teachers made them for all the kids. I am going to have to save that for sure!  The kids did a great job and I was so proud of Elijah because he knew all of the words and actions!

Karlena is 3

I can’t hardly believe it but our baby and only girl is going to be 3 tomorrow! How has the time flown by so fast?!? She is our little miss independent and likes things her way. We have our work cut out for us in a few years I think! 🙂 But she is a doll and we are so lucky to have her in our family.

We are looking forward to a couple of days off over Christmas but won’t be able to take as long of a break as we had hoped. Business is crazy busy (yes a blessing even when it is stressful) and so we will likely have to get back to work sooner than expected…but we are counting our blessings and grateful we are busy and not too slow!

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