I began with the “H” in royal blue across a square of white, my rainbow of classic Crayola markers splayed over the plush burgundy carpet. I smiled, imagining Mom’s delight when she spied it in the morning, my signature, block-bubble letters, surrounded by a wavy, drawn-ribbon border: Happy Birthday!

I taped the poster board in its traditional spot, above the doorway to the dining room, where all the delicious indulgence would occur. Next came assorted balloons with bold red curling ribbons cascading down.

She created them for all of us, a sign for every birthday growing up. I delighted in the task of creating hers.

Mom made birthdays special. For us, that started with a breakfast of our choice. Often, we opted for the usually absent sugar-bomb cereals like Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, or Lucky Charms. My brother began pushing the envelope with a Belgian waffle Neapolitan ice cream sandwich. Think a huge slab of Neapolitan ice cream smushed between two toasted Belgian waffles, oozing brown, white, and pink goodness.

Though Mom’s much-anticipated gifts reflected her deep knowledge of each child, the thrill was more than the material. It was the experiences with Mom that made birthdays memorable: the day trip to a favorite city for window shopping and treasure hunting, craft fairs galore, lunch out.

Mom celebrates people.

Nine months pregnant, weary to the bone with baby number 3? Mom offers, “Let’s go to your favorite restaurant for a good, hearty meal before baby arrives. You’ll need your energy for labor.”

Hello, Olive Garden’s Stuffed Chicken Marsala.

Each of my children? They rotate spending a weekend at Grammy and Pa’s house each month. It’s a highlight for them.

Whether it’s an art exhibit reception, a new dream endeavor, (starting a blog, ahem…) a graduation, a milestone, or an accomplishment, Mom wouldn’t miss it or the chance to make sure I know: Way to go! I’m proud of you!

She taught me to value people, to reach out in little ways and big ones.

To rejoice in them.

Jumping up and down and squealing in delight encouraged.

(Photo Credit)

16 Responses to Celebrate!
  1. Sharon Dorland
    April 17, 2013 | 6:30 am

    This is my first time visiting this site,,, I came upon it because I know Mandy and she is a young faith filled woman…I do want to be a part of it, because she is always in my heart and on my mind…Thank you

    • Mandy
      April 17, 2013 | 11:46 am

      Hi Sharon! Thank you for visiting us here! Your support means so much to me. Let’s celebrate together!

  2. Kara
    April 17, 2013 | 11:54 am

    I love that this is the kind of mom you had…and that you honored her in this way here. And somehow I kinda already knew you had an “encourager mom” because of who you are ­čÖé I so appreciate the way you support my writing and how you encourage me in life.
    #onceagainweshareabrain #chickenmarsalaeverytime

    • Mandy
      April 18, 2013 | 6:41 am

      I am blessed to learn from the best, Kara:) Thanks for stopping by today! #youareawesomegirl

  3. Marilyn
    April 17, 2013 | 12:25 pm

    Oh WOW! such a beautiful reflection by my beautiful daughter! You have so moved my heart! Thank you:) Loving you, much!

    • Mandy
      April 18, 2013 | 6:42 am

      LOVE you, Mom! You are the best, and I am one blessed girl. I am so glad it touched your heart:)

  4. Katie
    April 17, 2013 | 9:24 pm

    Like Mother like Daughter!!!!! You too are incredible loving, caring and extremely thoughtful!!!!!! I love you both to pieces and you have affected my life in a major way for the good!!!!

    • Mandy
      April 18, 2013 | 6:44 am

      I love you right back, Katie! And I could say the same about you. In fact, I will: I am so blessed by loving, caring, thoughtful, amazing you–who has affected my life in a major way for the good:)

  5. Barbie
    April 17, 2013 | 11:15 pm

    Such a beautiful glimpse into the heart of your mother. Thank you for sharing Mandy!

    • Mandy
      April 18, 2013 | 6:45 am

      Thank you, Barbie! It was amazing to be able to share her with everyone.

  6. charis
    April 18, 2013 | 9:30 am

    what a fun way to grow up – celebrating life’s milestones! i bet the way you parent and celebrate your kids overflows from what your mom sowed into you. a beautiful tribute to your mom!

    • Mandy
      April 18, 2013 | 12:15 pm

      Thank you, Charis! I am certainly blessed by her example, and I try to emulate it:)

  7. Nikki
    April 18, 2013 | 11:01 am

    What a valuable lesson to learn! and by example no less… love it!
    your mom got it and I can see why. for you’re worth celebrating, Mandy;) {HUGS}

  8. Mandy
    April 18, 2013 | 12:16 pm

    Love you, Nikki:) Thanks for your encouragement!

  9. susie klein
    April 18, 2013 | 1:32 pm

    What a sweet tribute to your mother. I loved reading this and it brought back many great memories for me. Beautiful.

    • Mandy
      April 18, 2013 | 6:57 pm

      Thank you, Susie! I am so glad for your great memories! Blessings to you, and thanks for stopping in here today.