More Than Bunnies, Candy, and Pastel Colors

Easter is so much more. So much more than bunnies. So much more than candy. So much more than pastel colors. These are the things we see all over town around Easter time, but I want the world to know something. It is so much more.

Easter time is celebrating a man that died on the cross but more importantly a man who rose from the grave. This man is Jesus. He had no sin but died to atone for the sins of the world–for every single person.

And He is so much more than “just a man.” He is my Lord. He is my Friend. He is my Saviour.

He is my Saviour because he conquered death. He made a way for me to go to Heaven. He made a way for you to go to Heaven. He can be your Saviour too!

I do not know about you; but when I think of what Easter really means, it is so much more. So much more than we could ever imagine.

Easter is about the cross and the stone that was rolled away.

So…

Happy Resurrection Sunday, dear one!

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What My Birthday Means to Me

Today is my birthday! My 21st birthday to be exact, and I am very excited!!! And nervous…

For some reason, the last few weeks I have actually been nervous about turning 21. Call me crazy, but the thought of a new age milestone and new chapter is kind of nerve wracking. Now, I feel like I actually have to grow up. I was counting on being Peter Pan the rest of my life. But here I am turning 21.

Do not get me wrong–I am still tremendously excited about turning 21 too! And the excitement is outweighing the nervousness. So that is good!

I love celebrating my birthday. That might sound a little vain, but I do not want to be vain.

I love celebrating my birthday because I am reminded how great life is. God created me for a purpose. I have been His since the beginnings of the earth. He knew me before I was even conceived. I have been fearfully and wonderfully made by my almighty God, my heavenly Father.

I have a purpose. I have been given this great life.

For a long time, I did not like the way God made me. I did not like the life He gave me. I did not think I had a purpose.

But the more I knew God, the more I knew me.

Now, I love the way God made me. I love the life He gave me. I know I have a purpose.

So celebrating my birthday is not because I want a lot of gifts or whatever. I celebrate my birthday because I am grateful for the life God has given me. I celebrate because I have life. I celebrate because my life is beautiful. I celebrate because I have a purpose and am of value.

Below is my favorite song, “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. It might not have a lot to do with this blog post, but I love it, so it has to be played on my birthday. Enjoy!

21 Acts of Kindness for my 21st Birthday

For my 21st birthday, I did not want to do something for myself but for others. Lying in bed one night while attempting to fall asleep, the thought popped in my head to do 21 acts of kindness to celebrate my birthday. What a great way to do something for others!

I spent the whole month of March looking for opportunities and waiting for God’s leading as to what I should do and for who. Some of these are simple, and others took a smidge more work.

1. Left a Reese’s cup with a note in our mailbox for our mailman.
2. When we were going through Burger King’s drive-through, we paid for the order of the car behind us.
3. Purchased a dozen donuts from DeLuxe (the BEST donuts in the world!) for Bethel Baptist Christian Academy teachers.
4. Made and took dinner with dessert to friends who are very busy. She is a pre-med student, and he works a lot.
5. Purchased a value pack of diapers for a young, single mother in our church.
6. Purchased the groceries of the lady in front of me at the grocery store.
7-11. Made chocolate chip cookies for the Mantua/Shalersville fire department, Ravenna police, Streetsboro police, the Sheriff’s office, and the Highway Patrol.
12-15. Made chocolate chip cookies for the four families in our cul-de-sac.
16. Made chocolate chip cookies for the sweetest man in our church and his wife. He is always checking on us and talks with us every church service.
17-19. Made homemade, organic body scrub for our preacher’s wife, assistant pastor’s wife, and a sweet lady in our church.
20. Purchased something for friend that she had been looking for but could not find.
21. Taped a small baggie of quarters to a Redbox so someone can rent a movie or two.

It was so much fun doing these acts of kindness, and I am hoping it planted a seed in me so I will continue to find opportunities to do acts of kindness for others through out the year. I ended up making 144 chocolate chip cookies–that is a lot of baking!

I highly encourage you to spread a little love, care, kindness, and grace. It definitely will not be something you regret and is a a ginormous blessing to the soul!

Do not forget to enter the giveaway that ends tomorrow evening!!! Click here to enter–it is so simple a caveman could do it!

21 Years in Pictures

My 21st birthday is 2 wake-ups away! Here is my life in pictures:

Right after birth :)

Right after birth 🙂

1 year

1 year

2 years

2 years

3 years

3 years

4 years

4 years

5 years

5 years

6 years

6 years

7 years

7 years

8 years

8 years

9 years (This is Clash Day during Spirit Week at school. I did not normally dress like this. Ha!)

9 years (This is Clash Day during Spirit Week at school. I did not normally dress like this. Ha!)

10 years

10 years

11 years (I loved those princess PJs!)

11 years (I loved those princess PJs!)

12 years (I was in a pageant and definitely did not win, but it was fun.)

12 years (I was in a pageant and definitely did not win, but it was fun.)

13 years

13 years

14 years (Piano recital)

14 years (Piano recital)

15 years

15 years

16 years (Mister and I's first official date to the Sports Awards Banquet his senior year.)

16 years (Mister and I’s first official date to the Sports Awards Banquet his senior year.)

17 years

17 years (The date on the picture is very much wrong.)

18 years

18 years

19 years

19 years

20 years

20 years

It is so neat to see how I have changed over the years. So there you go; I hope you enjoyed this journey!

I “stole” this idea from Aprille at Beautiful in His Time. Thanks for the idea!

My Baby Will Be 21 {Guest Post from my Mom}

3 wake-ups until my birthday! To continue the celebration, my momma is here today!

On July 27, 1991, we moved into our first home (where we still reside)! On July 28, 1991, I woke
up quite sick and after about two weeks, I made an appointment to see my doctor because I
thought it must be a stomach flu that just wouldn’t go away. NEVER did it cross my mind what
reason the doctor might have for my “flu”, we just never thought of it. At first the diagnosis was a
little shocking and our excitement just grew from there. We were having a baby!

We started praying immediately for a healthy baby, wisdom in parenting, who our baby might
become and the spouse that our child might have someday; oh, and I really wanted a girl. We
already had too many boys in the family in my brothers’ children and we really needed a girl
to spoil in the Cleveland area. We prayed constantly for a healthy baby because I was sure
there might be something wrong because of the horrible “flu” I had my entire pregnancy. You
see, my “flu” continued quite heavily for about 6 months and then tapered off to become more
manageable. I had standing appointments with the doctor every Saturday morning for about the
first 4 months to check me for dehydration. Yes, I was that sick.

My due date was March 30, 1992. The day before my exact due date I woke up with
contractions but said nothing to my husband. I knew it was too early to be going to the hospital
and had no intentions of being poked and prodded forever while we waited. We had planned
on going to Aurora Farms that day, so of course, I wasn’t going to divert from those plans! We
walked all day while baby shopping , went grocery shopping and were settling on the couch to
watch a movie that I wanted to see that night on TV when my parents stopped by and found out
about my contractions and insisted I call the doctor. By now the contractions were much closer
than hours earlier. I called the doctor right away, because if I was going to the hospital, I had to
go then because I had just enough time to get to the hospital and settle before my movie came
on. The doctor couldn’t believe that I hadn’t called earlier, so off to the hospital we went. I was
in my room and settle before the movie came on, so I was happy. I did not want any downtime
that would give me time to dwell on the pain of the contractions. The movie ended and it was
another hour before the real action started.

At 2:42 a.m. on March 30, 1992, Kayla Estelle Lopilato was born and she was perfect! She was
the most beautiful thing we had ever seen. She had a head full of black hair that stood straight
up and she was as round as could be, she was the perfect cuddling size.

And, the spoiling began! I mean, who couldn’t help but spoil such adorableness (my new word)?
Kayla was a truly great kid; she was always so bright and cheerful, eager to learn, eager to help
anybody in any way, never any trouble and always so responsible.

Kayla may have been spoiled but she also grew up sharing everything she had. In the
Cleveland area, she was the only girl among four male cousins…another reason to spoil her!
Kayla shared her toys, her home and her parents. My family is very close and my nephews and
nieces have always been a big part of our lives, and Kayla wouldn’t have had it any other way.
If we were out shopping and she got something new, she always insisted that we get something
for the boys too. And, if we went somewhere special, those boys had to go with us. Three of the
boys moved out of town when Kayla was about four or five, leaving Kayla and her cousin, Justin
behind.

Kayla was eight years old when Justin, then nine years old, came to live with us. It was at that
time that Kayla became a “mother”. Kayla was large and in charge when it came to Justin.
You see, Justin was lost without Kayla constantly reminding him about his homework, his
lunch money, his tie for Chapel Day, his gym clothes, his report due date, etc. If there was a
permission slip to be signed, Kayla would get a slip for each of them, or a fee to be sent in,
Kayla would take in the money for both of them. Justin never complained, I think he
liked having a personal secretary. Justin, who was 1½ years older than Kayla, had no interest
in getting his driver’s license when he turned sixteen, but when Kayla turned fifteen and a half
and started the process of getting her license, she insisted that Justin get his too. Kayla took
care of Justin from third grade all the way through high school.

Now, Kayla is about to celebrate her twenty-first birthday and is happily married to the guy that
we specially ordered straight from God back when we first found out that we were having a
baby. My how the time flew by!

My Sweet Kayla,

It seems like just yesterday that Dad changed your diaper and put Desitin from your belly button
all the way down and around to half way up your back. I think about all of our movie nights,
all cuddled up in my bed, watching the same Disney movie over and over again until the next
movie came out the following month. Nanny was so proud to haul you around everywhere she
went and especially to Young at Heart, she still talks today about how much the senior saints
loved you and you loved them. And then there is the time when you told us that Kyle Lindsey,
the boy that you always swore that you couldn’t stand, was coming to visit and before we knew
we were planning a wedding. Planning the wedding of your only daughter and only child is such
a special time and there was no sweeter moment than the moment you walked out the dressing
room in “The Dress”! We all gasped and everybody knew that was the one. So, now you are a
married woman and our baby is about to turn 21 years old!

We are so proud to call you our daughter and couldn’t be more proud of the christian young
lady that you are today. We love you beyond measure and wish you the happiest day, not
only on this your twenty-first birthday but every day to follow. We cherish the memories of your
childhood and look forward to many more years of sweet memories.

Love you bunches,
Mom

Do not forget to enter the giveaway! Only a few days left. Click here to enter!

21 Facts About Me for My 21st Birthday

My 21st birthday is 4 wake-ups away, and I am pumped! These facts will most likely be useless, and I am going to try to give you things that are not in my bio already. So here we go…

1. My name is Kayla. I use “K” because it is short and sweet (just like me! hehe).

2. I absolutely LOOOOOVE my middle name. Estelle, Estelle, Estelle. It is so pretty. My middle name was named after my great grandmother.

Gram and I when I was a baby

Gram and I when I was a baby

3. I looooove Reese cups and orange juice…together. I think it is one of the best food combinations ever! Yum!

4. I am a total foodie. You can read more about that here.

5. I met three of my closest friends via Facebook.

6. I love animals, especially dogs and horses. I rode my first horse solo when I was five years old.

7. I oil pull at least once a day (sometimes twice) for 20 minutes with extra virgin coconut oil.

8. I write in cursive 99% of the time because printing is boring.

9. I am obsessed with printed socks/knee-highs. Plain white socks are super boring!

10. I was a cheerleader in high school and was the flyer.

I loooooved stunting!

I loooooved stunting!

11. I was born an only child, but when I was about seven years old, my parents’ attained custody of my cousin; therefore, I was not raised an only child.

Family picture when Justin and I were 15/16ish

Family picture when Justin and I were 15/16ish

12. I play the piano but only for my own enjoyment. My fibromyalgia and RA really interferes with it.

13. I grew up a city girl, but I now live in the country. I prefer the country over the city!

14. I love to dance. It is a blast!

15. I hate editing. I do not edit pictures (except for watermarks), and I will only read through a blog post once (maybe twice) before I schedule it to be published. Should I spend more time editing? Most likely but do not count on that happening…

16. I very, very, VERY rarely wear make-up. Since I have been married, I have probably only worn it three times.

Our wedding!

Our wedding!

While visiting a friend! We had professional pictures taken.

While visiting a friend, we had professional pictures taken.

17. I own a handgun.

18. I am an introvert. Many criticize introverts, but I encourage criticizers to read “I *want* to be all by myself” and “Guide to Understanding the Introverted.” Not everyone can be a people person…

19. I traveled a lot growing up and still love to travel. Visiting new places is so much fun!

20. Whenever I have a piece of paper in front of me, I have to doodle. I just cannot stop myself. Plus, I seem to pay attention better to whatever is going on when I am doodling.

21. My husband and I have matching tattoos! We were inked during our honeymoon. We have each others initials. Mine is on my left wrist, and his is on his right wrist so that when we are holding hands, our tattoos kiss. I know…totally weird! Ha!

Our very fresh tattoos!

Our very fresh tattoos!

So there you go! I hoped this helped you get to know me better.

I “stole” this idea from two of my friends, Aprille and Kathryn. Aprille blogs at Beautiful in His Time, and Kathryn blogs at Singing Through the Rain. Thanks, ladies, for the idea!

To My Wonderful Wife {Guest Post from My Husband}

5 wake-ups until my 21st birthday! We are continuing the celebrating on my blog, and my amazing husband will be joining us today. Today is the first time I have read what he has written, and I have definitely been looking forward to it!!!

 

Dear K,
I have been sitting here staring at the screen pondering what I should write. Should I write about how funny you are? How when I am having a bad day, you are always there to cheer me up. Should I write about how smart you are? How you juggle all the bills, the housework, prepare the meals, and still find time to spend with me. Or should I tell all your readers how much I love you? How you are all I think about, and how whenever I leave you all I want is to come back to you. I decided instead to write you this short letter, because I don’t want to talk to your readers. I want to talk to you, and the only thing that I can think of is “I LOVE YOU”!!!! Words can not express how much I love you. I thank God every day that He brought us together. I want to spend every second of every day with you. I don’t know exactly what the Lord has in store for our future. All I know that as long as I have you, I have everything I need. It is your birthday this week, and I want it all to be about you because you deserve it. I wish that I could give you the world, but I hope you can settle for my heart. HAPPY BIRTHDAY VITA MIA AMORE MIO!!!!!!!!!!!
LOVE,
MISTER

 

Do not forget to enter the giveaway that is still running. Go here to enter!

Let’s Celebrate My 21st Birthday!

This giveaway has ended!

It’s PARTY TIME! My 21st birthday is 6 wake-ups away, and we are going to spend the whole week celebrating. I hope during this week you will get to know me better and I can get to know you too (virtually, of course)!

To kick off the party, today is the start of a give-away! Yipee!!! I love giveaways. Come on–it is a chance to win free stuff. Who does not love that?! And I am very excited about the prize…

Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge

Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge

I had Captivating sitting on my book shelf for years growing up but did not really read it. After a year or so of marriage though, I finally read it, and boy, oh boy! was it life changing. God waited for the perfect time for me to read it. He knew when I needed it the most! It changed how I view myself and God. It was the beginning of real spiritual growth for me. Captivating truly unveiled the mystery of a woman’s soul.

I wish I could give a copy of this book to every woman I know, but alas, that is impossible. So I will be giving away one copy of Captivating. 

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment under this blog post with how long you have been married. If you are not married, comment with how long your parents/grandparents have been married. You may only enter once.

When it ends, I will use random.org to pick a winner using the number generator. The winner will be emailed and will be announced on the blog on April 2. The winner will have 24 hours to respond via email. If I do not hear from the winner, I will pick a new winner.

The give-away starts today and will end on my birthday, 03/30/2013 at 11:59 PM EST.

Happy commenting!

*Disclaimer: This give-away is solely of my own doing and is in no way affiliated with the authors/publishers. I have not received any compensation.

A Hero Who Will Never Be Forgotten

One year ago today, a great hero went home. I am sure he received a heroes welcome when he walked through those pearly gates.

SSG Jamie Jarboe was shot by a sniper on April 10, 2011 in the Zhari District of Afghanistan. Due to the penetration of the bullet, he was left a paralyzed from the chest down. After 11 long months of fighting for his life, our dear heavenly Father took this hero home. His memory lives on through his wife, two daughters and one adopted son. There is comfort in knowing Jamie is walking streets of gold with a perfect body.

In his memory, his wife, Melissa, founded the Jamie Jarboe Foundation to support our military in any way they can. The Foundation has grown tremendously over the past year and has helped many soldiers and their families.

Jamie and Melissa will always been in my heart. The fight they fought has not gone unnoticed. I admire them so much!

Have fun in Heaven, Jamie! Cannot wait to see you someday!

In loving memory of SSG Jamie Jarboe!

In loving memory of SSG Jamie Jarboe!

Click here to check out the organizations I love!

Blessings, Big and Small #2-7

This is an installment in the Blessings, Big and Small series.

I am far behind on my blessings. Sorry about that! I will probably start posting my blessings weekly or bi-weekly. This one is going back about two weeks. I have them in the order as they happened.

~The opportunity to spend the night at my parents’ house when Mister is at drill. You can read about my weekend here and here.

~A husband that will stay home from work to take care of me due to the lack of meds. He walked me to wherever I needed to go, cooked all the meals, and kept me somewhat sane while I was meds-less.

~A husband that will fight with Express Scripts, Tricare, and CVS to get me the proper meds since some things were messed up along the way. He was victorious!

~Feeling well enough to go to the gun show with my Love. It was so nice to do something he enjoys!

~Dinner out with family for my mom’s birthday. We had hibachi, and it was delicious!!!!! Plus, I was able to see some family I do not get to see much.

~A spiritual leader/friend in our church that calls to check on us and see how we are doing when we miss services. We have never really had a church home like that.

~My parents’ treating us to Dairy Queen after Mister’s basketball game.

~Having our own washer and dryer. I am three weeks behind on laundry but am almost caught up. We did not have our own when we were first married. We washed clothes at my parents’ house. But thanks to some awesome people, we have our own, and I am loving it!

I think that is all for now!

What blessings has God brought your way?