Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Blueberry Hazelnut Pie.

This Week: The Pie Project.

If you have been reading, last week, I decided to begin my "pie a week" project. If anyone has not heard of “The Pie Project” by Phoebe Wood and Kirsten Jenkins, please go check it out! Amazing! And to kick start this new adventure, I made not one but, two pies. The first was Rhubarb, Strawberry, Thyme and Balsamic pie and the second was a gluten free {yay! Something I could actually eat!} Blueberry, Hazelnut Crust Pie. They both turned out amazing; although, the blueberry was a little tricky and challenging. 

The day {Friday} had started out with me chatting on the phone to my friend and cleaning the house. Michael and I were planning a day shopping and a visit with some friends on Saturday, so I had to prepare Friday afternoon. Which meant everything needed to work out; no time for mistakes; but this is Kelle we are talking about. ;)  So to begin, I made the Strawberry Rhubarb first and used my shallow pie dish. This was poor planning on my part because I needed a shallow dish for the Blueberry. The Strawberry Rhubarb came out perfectly and looked heavenly! That balsamic and thyme smell! The Hazelnut crust called for a little more hazelnuts than I had on hand, so I substituted with pecans; is that bad?? The recipe called for it to be baked while the blueberry filling was cooking. Bubbling and bursting, the blueberries cooked over the stove until it thickened and looked like jam. This is where the first mistake came; I went to place it into my cooked pie crust baked in my deep dish. The filling only filled half; it looked quite sad. "Maybe it will rise." "Maybe that's how it's supposed to be." I thought to myself. Winging it, I threw it into the oven and hope for the best; my second mistake. Thirty minutes later, it did not rise; don't ask me what I was thinking. Frantically, I looked at the clock and sighed. There was no way I had time to remake everything. Luckily for me I happen to live with Michael. If there is anything he taught me over the past few years of being married to him, it is to think outside the box and create a solution with things I have around me. Meringue! It's answer to any problem, of course. I pulled out my recipe and went to town. Eggs whites and sugar cooking over the stove, whipping to perfection and it tasted oh so glorious! I layered it over my small, sad looking pie and fluffed it up with my knife a little. “I’m a genius!” I sang to myself. Now, into the broiler it went; just for a little extra detail. I watched it like a hawk; opening the stove and peaking. We shall pause this story to remind you of my little Elias. He was a perfect angel all day; until the blueberry incident. Resuming, I peaked at it once more. "Ahhh, a few more seconds!" At this very crucial moment, Elias started to grab the stove knob and turn the flame on. "No no!" I said to Elias. He looked at me, paused, and touched it again; turning it on. "No no." I bent down and scolded. Elias shrieked and I picked him up and took him to the other room. "Why does the house smell like s'mores?" Then I shrieked, "The Pieeeeeeeeee!!!!" Squealing, I ran into the kitchen. I flung open the oven and pulled out a very black meringue pie. "No, No, Nooooo!" Pulling myself together, I wasted no time. I carefully removed the meringue and simply began again. Cracking the eggs very carefully, I began to separate them into the sugar mixture. Nearing the fourth egg, I peered over to the stove and there was my dear Elias; smiling and reaching for the knob again. "No, no Elias," I said. I looked back into my bowl. Sadly, the fourth egg had slipped out of the shell as I turned away. The yoke broke; intertwining with the rest of the whites. "No, no, noooooooo!" I tried as hard as I could to separate it. Hopeful, I cooked it and whipped it. Twenty minutes later, the eggs still had not thickened; they were a thin liquid splashing around in the bowl. I gave up. After putting Elias to bed I cleaned up the kitchen and, taking a breath, started again. There was no way I saw going to bring this pie anywhere looking like that. I had run out of sugar in my jar, so I grabbed a bag from above and started to transport it. At this time, Michael had come home from work and was sitting at the table eating some snacks. Unfortunately, the bag slipped from my fingers and sugar came pouring out everywhere. "Ugghhhh!!" I responded. "That's it, I quite! It's over! No meringue! I'm done!" Michael chuckled; not knowing what I had been through. Being the hero that he always is, Michael hugged me, cleaned the sugar up and encouraged me to keep going. After Elias woke up, Michael took him outside and told me to try again. So, eight eggs, tons of sugar and a whole afternoon later, I took out the ingredients again. Carefully measuring and separating, I made my meringue for the third time and broiled it to perfection. The pie was finally beautiful and and complete. Plus it tasted amazing!

My moral of the story; sometimes being a Mom means sacrifice. Friday, my sacrifice was my beautiful meringue, burnt to a crisp. But the outcome; my dear Elias learned not to touch the burners. At least I hope he learned. Until next time. :)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Cheval Mirror.

Thursday. Where do the days go?
I wrote this Tuesday but Elias kept trying to push the power button on my computer and I thought finishing it when he went down for a nap would be better. So Thursday evening it is.

Below is a story of my recent find!

I was out with my friend at an antique store and saw an absolutely beautiful cheval mirror! Like really beautiful. I have been looking for a mirror to put in our bedroom for awhile and just haven't found one that I've liked. I'm really picky when it comes to furniture and clothes and colors and food and....I'm pretty much picky with everything. So after falling in love with it and learning everything was half price, I frantically searched for a price tag. Unfortunately we couldn't find one. I went to the main desk and asked about it. Sadly, it was not for sale; of course. I went home with it still on my mind and did a little searching. Surprisingly, I found one for sale on Facebook Market for $25! Can we all just take a minute and appreciate how wonderful Facebook Market is! I have found and sold many things on there. It's like an online garage sale! So anyway! I messaged the owner and it was indeed available! $25 later and it was all mine! I took it home and Michael brought it up to our bedroom. Pure bliss. Standing back and looking at the room, I decided the dresser needed a little nudge. "Michael, push it a little bit that way." "No, a little too much." "Oooo, just a little more!" It looked so cute! Michael walked out of the room and I thought, "Would it look good on the other side?" Excited, I didn't want to wait for Michael to come back so I gave the dresser a little nudge. Not realizing how heavy it was, I struggled and the candle sitting on the dresser fell and broke. Glass shattered all over the dresser and in the carpet. Oops. Michael came back in, "Go get the vacuum," He chuckled. I ran down and returned with the vacuum. "I should have waited, I should have waited!" was all that came out of my mouth. Rushing because I wanted to see how my mirror looked, I took the attachment and sucked up the glass pieces on the dresser. Suddenly, everything happened all at once. First went my bracelet that was laying there. Then went my diamond necklace. I gasped. "Ohhhhhh no." I shut the vacuum off and looked back at Michael. "What happened?" He asked; not looking surprised. "My necklace! It's gone!!" was all I managed to get out. Michael giggled. "Stop laughing!!" I said. "Please can you get it out!?" After a little digging and a mini heart-attack, Michael managed to get my jewelry out. I will never live this down. All that for my cheval mirror. And it turns out I ended up leaving it on the side it was originally on.

Anddddd I decided I didn't like the cherry wood color, so I painted it white. Why? Because of course everything is better white. It just goes with everything. Am I right??

Also, stay tuned; my newest idea yet. I have decided to work my way through a cook book. Not just any cook book, a book all about pies. The Pie Project. 60 homemade pies. My goal is to make one at least once a week. Starting tomorrow. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Golden Straw.

The sun shone through the old wood panels on the barn and cast its rays upon me.  I squinted and turned my head as the rays caught my eyes.  I threw a straw bale into the pen and climbed over the fence; swatting cows with my arms and legs to push them aside.  Grabbing a pitchfork, I started bedding the muddy cold ground. Pink noses rubbed against my sleeve and slobbery tongues licked my fingers.  All eyeballs were on me and the straw.  The crisp cool winter air turned my cheeks and nose bright red. It prickled my fingers and toes but I move quickly to avoid shivering knees. I looked down at my dirty boots and jeans and brushed my messy hair out of my face.  I kept working hard, anxious to get the job done. I began to climb the fence to the next pen when I noticed my surroundings.  The sun moved down in the sky and within minutes “golden hour” hit. Instantly everything looked different.  The hills covered in snow illuminated the sky; glittering and sparkling. The old barn pillars were no longer wooden but genuine gold.  Strands of gold straw floated in the air as the cows kicked up their legs; excited to play. Everything was captivated by the sun’s rays. Everything was pure gold. I breathed it in; the fresh smell of a barn. Outside, the snow lay on the ground; swooping and sweeping with the curves of the land. Exquisite. Magnificent.  I quickly finished my chores and jumped the fence; running to find Michael. I didn’t want to waste one precious golden moment. I found him in the back of the barn.  “Can we finish up quickly and catch the sunset?” I asked him, puffing cold air in between breaths. He smiled sweetly at me and said, “Whenever you want to go, you let me know.” We worked a bit side by side; lifting, carrying, feeding, cleaning. I peered down between the boards and gasp, “Now! Right now! It’s close!” Michael grabbed my hand and we ran out of the barn and through the snow. We trampled through the drifts and I shivered as snow fell down my boots. We neared the grain bins and I followed Michael up. With anticipation, we climbed the rickety steel steps quickly. Reaching the top, both of us gasped. It was beautiful.  The view all around us was striking and pleasing to our watery eyes.  We were high above the ground. Our little farmyard looked so different from up there. Everything was so small, but the space around us was so grand. The wind was stronger and the air was frigid, but  We stood up there leaning against the railing; holding each other to keep warm. After a few moments of silence we began to talk. Michael’s blue eyes looked deeply into mine. His strong arm held me tight. We shared our hearts and every thought that passed through our heads. We spoke with our feelings and reached deep down into each other souls. So many hopes, dreams and wishes. We watched the sun slip slowly down. The vibrant colors danced back and forth with each move. Then Michael stopped, “Watch, there it goes.” I looked and tried to grasp it. But very quickly it sunk down and slipped completely below the horizon. The colors above still danced but somehow the weather seemed colder. We made our way down and immediately headed for our warm house. The yellow warm lights made the inside look so cozy. We walked inside hand in hand and I sighed contently. Michael looked at me and our thoughts connected.
somehow the scene before us warmed our souls. It looked like a painting; the sun sitting above the horizon, the pinks and reds swirling and intertwined. They were woven together, changing every time we blinked.
Beautiful. Those little moments that make time stand still. Those little images that grab our attention. Those little “somethings” that make us smile. I think back to how I ended up here; how I went from a suburb to a farm; how the Lord answered my deepest desire.  I remember the things I thought I wanted, the things I prayed for daily that the Lord didn’t answer. When I look back on it, there was so many “unanswered prayers” in my mind that actually turned out to be the best “answered prayers”. So many things I thought I wanted to be happy but God knew I wouldn’t be happy.  He knew what was best. 
I love our farm. I love our house. I love our cows. Our farm is hard and it does take work. It takes late nights and early mornings. It takes sweat and frostbite; sore muscles and scrapes. It results in very large appetites three times a day.  Its mud all through the laundry room sometimes; strands of hay through the house and gloves lying over the heaters. It’s bundling up to care for a sick calf and buckets of hot water for a frozen water hose.  It’s panting and running after a runaway cow {or 16 of them}. It’s a small town and a small house.  It’s really getting “snowed in” and not being able to pull out of the driveway. It’s a cozy couch and a warm kitchen. It’s little star lights in the windows and lace curtains in our bedroom. It’s sometimes dirty and smelly and continuous in the barns.  It’s not perfect. It’s a little rundown barnyard but its true beauty to me; even when my hoodie is covered with warm sticky milk, or my jeans are mud smeared and ripped in weird spots.  Even when my husband walks in from work smelling like hogs from head to toe; mud smearing with every step he takes.  His cheerful smile, dancing blue eyes and simple kisses are beautiful to me.  Some people call farming a job, an occupation. But I call it a lifestyle. It’s simpler than I thought it would be. It’s just a way of living.  It might not be for everyone, but it’s what God has for me. God placed me here so I could fully grasp His beauty; even in all the little things that seem ugly.  I want to engrain those little moments in my thoughts so when I feel like being ungrateful or unsatisfied with where I am, I can look back at them like little pillars of light and be reminded. “Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” {Psalm 28:6-7}

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sparkles & Love

I held on to Emma’s arm tightly as we walked around the empty room. She smiled as she tilted her head to talk to me. I breathed in and out slowly. Emma knew I was nervous, she could sense it in my eyes. My heart pounded wildly, butterflies swarmed around in my stomach and every muscle in my body was tight. Emma talked to me to pass the time. Her sweet laughter eased my thoughts. She looked beautiful with her hair all done and her gorgeous cream dress flowing with every step she took. I looked down at myself still in shock that I was the one wearing white. The sparkles on my dress glistened in the sunlight from the windows above reminding me of the day I first tried it on. That day it was so hard to imagine actually wearing it. My blue shoes peeked under the lace hem on my dress. My curls hung down my back brushing my neck and cheek. My eyes were tired as I remembered my sleepless night; the longest night of my life. The excitement of the next day and the promises it held were more than my sleepy mind could grasp.  Then finally the sun came up and that morning I woke up on the day I would marry my best friend. So many thoughts dashed through my head, so many memories overflowed me. As I waited hours for that afternoon to arrive, I tried to let it sink it. I dreamed of this very day, this most important day, this anxiously awaited day, ever since I was a little girl. I had been to so many weddings in my life. It seemed easier when I was younger to wait; days flew by then. But once I got older the wedding day seem so far off. And now finally, after months of planning I was the one walking the aisle. Excited, nervous, anxious, overjoyed, thankful; all these emotions and more consumed my soul. I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving followed by a prayer of need every ten minutes that morning. “This is torture.” I thought to myself as I listened to the endless ticking of the clock on the wall. I looked at my bridesmaids all dressed up. All these girls here to stand next to me. To support me. To love me. To encourage me. I was very humbled.

As I stood behind the closed, dark brown, wood doors holding my Father’s arm, dressed in his best suit coat, my heart beat faster with anticipation. I held my flowers tightly and looked down once more at my dress. “This is it Kelle. Are you ready?” My Dad spoke, breaking the silence. I nodded as I heard the music queue. Slowly the coordinators opened the doors. I followed my Dad as he took a step forward. Slowly then quickly, one by one, our guests rose. I gasped. So many dear friends and family stood up awaiting this moment. So many individuals supporting us, my mind could not grasp that moment. Then after two steps I looked frantically for Michael. It seemed so far up the aisle as I searched for him. Then, within seconds, I spotted him standing next to our pastor, smiling calmly. Instantly, every nervous, anxious emotion fell to the floor. I left everything behind me and walked forward calmly to my future. As I walked I kept my eyes locked on Michael’s. Murmurs from the people, music flooding the church, our bridal party standing in place; everything set the stage for the covenant that was to take place. Slowly walking, my mind flashed back to last year, January 6th, 2014 when we first began. The very first day I opened the door; the very first smile that sprang forth, the very first words spoken. I know how people say "their life flashed before their eyes" and we all roll our eyes in disbelief; but mine truly did.  I thought of the long nights we spent talking about everything; from church to school, to farms and cows, from Jesus to our faith and cooking to child training. The Monday nights of sitting together pouring out our likes and dislikes and the many walks over the bridge together flashed through my head. I remembered the heartache I felt every time he drove away from my house and the excitement I felt when he came over. Every step I took closer to him I was reminded of every heart to heart talk that drew us closer together. Every day we counted down to our wedding, every night we said goodbye, every date we wanted to last forever was all coming to an end with one simple walk.  As we came to the end of the aisle, Michael took my hand and led me up to the altar. As we made a covenant before our friends and family and before the Lord, I blinked to keep the tears back. I had prayed for Michael for so many years. I had prayed for him before I knew him.  Now to stand up here with him, holding the hands of my soul mate, I thanked our dear Lord for His blessings before me. I looked up in Michael’s eyes and vowed to be his forever. The Lord was present that day and looking back He was present even when I couldn’t see Him; on those hard days, on those long days of waiting, wondering if I would ever find the right one. But the Lord knew my desires and He knew my heart. My job was to wait and trust Him. As we were pronounced man and wife I felt every ounce within me break forth with abundant happiness and joy.

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. I never could quite grasp what love felt like. I knew what it meant to love my family or my friends. But I never knew the feeling of being truly loved so much as an individual by someone else that they would want to spend the rest of their life with me.  That feeling is beyond words. It’s a humbled feeling. Someone to love you despite your flaws and weaknesses. Someone to love you when you’re ugly or moody. Someone to love you forever and never leave you. To love you when you say the wrong words or the right words at the wrong time. Someone to love you sacrificially every day. Someone to give you all of themselves and want nothing in return.  It reminds me a lot like the love of Christ. No matter how ugly my self is or how many days I neglect my quiet time, God still loves me. It humbles me every time I feel Michael’s love to know that Christ loves me more. So much that He gave His Son, Himself, for me. I don’t deserve Christ’s blood. I don’t deserve forgiveness. But God chose me. Not because of anything I did or anything I said. He chose me. How utterly blown away am I.  I am humbled that the Lord placed Michael in my life. My love for Michael grows more every day as does the love for my Savior. He knew I needed Michael. He knew what personality I needed to match mine. He knew where I needed to live. He knew Michael and I would  be better together than as separate individuals. Yes, the road was hard. Yes, it was long. There were days that I felt like God wasn’t listening. But He was, in His timing, not mine.

Marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s not all fairytales I used to dream about when I was younger. It’s not easy. It takes work. There are those chores that appear everyday that I'm responsible for now. Cooking meals. Cleaning sinks, towels, muddy pants and socks. Mud stained floors. Getting up early before the sun to fix a hot breakfast. Bundling up to help him do chores after a long day. Eating supper late. Rejoicing with him in triumph. Encouraging him in heartache. All those endless duties. But the joy that I have waking up every morning looking into Michael’s eyes, the contentment I have preparing a home for him to help him succeed and the happiness I feel holding his arm make saying “I do” so much more worth it.

 “I see who God is making you and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to His throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, “I always knew you could be like this. I got a glimpse of it on earth, but look at you now!”

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

More Precious Than Silver.

I sat in my rumbling jeep in neutral behind an endless line of cars awaiting the dreaded deep red glow to change green again.  It was a chilly late afternoon in February.  The cool, brisk, winter air streamed through the “needed to be fixed” hole in the floorboard.  I pushed in the clutch and felt the breeze on my bare ankles; reminding me that it wasn’t quite spring yet.  My breath was visible, fogging up my window as I leaned my head against it.  I cautiously peered down at my gas gauge as I felt my car back fire.  “Stinky,” I said out loud, hoping I had somehow misread it.  Feeling half sorry for my tired, exhausted, homeward bound body, I quickly switched lanes and headed East instead of West.  My mind was a thousand miles away as I turned the corner.  So many excited thoughts were flowing at once; circling my head in a steady stream.  

Then suddenly, I was caught off guard.  The sun peered through the buildings behind me and I glanced over at my dirty, rustic side mirror.  Red, orange and yellow eliminated my whole car.  Every window prided itself with the majestic glow of the radiating colors; so vibrant my eyes couldn’t comprehend.  Every mirror reflected this beautiful sunset.  I gasped and caught my breath.  I wanted to capture it quickly and somehow lock it away forever in my soul.  It soaked me through and I drank it in knowing it wouldn’t last forever.  Just minutes before I was impatiently waiting for traffic to quicken and now I shamefully sat at a stoplight not wanting to move for fear it might all be a dream.  Everything I was feeling at that precise moment shown through the sky.  It was as if God orchestrated that moment to drip into my soul and show me Himself. 

 How could God create something so beautiful?  Why does He continue to bless us?  I thought of the beauty around me that I experience everyday; the things I take for granted. {The piles of pure white glimmering snow in the sunshine.  The soft breathtaking sound of snowflakes gently hitting the ground as the warm yellow light from the lamppost glows during a nighttime snowfall.  The glistening icicles on the tips of the trees; covering their bare brown branches.  The smile from a sister; the deep love that radiates from her sweet tender eyes as she clings to me with a tight hug.  The precious heart to heart talks that last long into the evening with someone special and the blue eyes that look deep into mine.  The smiles exchanged that say a thousand words.  The excited feeling of what God is going to do.  My sweet dear little baby nephews and the way his eyes light up when he cheerfully and excitedly talks to me.  The spontaneous water balloon launch in the middle of winter with my brother-in-law.  The love of a family as we cry during hard times and laugh during the good times.  The long hours of prayer and the endless months of waiting.  The feeling of coming home to a warm house filled with laughter and talking, homemade bread and piles of shoes by the back door.  The way we share with each other our hearts and the wisdom we bestow on each other.} 

I thought of all this as I drove to the gas station.  Part of me felt so unworthy.  Unworthy to see these things every day, unworthy to feel the love of Christ and unworthy to accept God’s blessing.   I mess up daily, many times, and yet God still loves me.  I struggle and react in my own sinful way and He still cares about me.  I have selfish desires and selfish thoughts and He still calls me His child.  Without Christ I am nothing.  I have been bought with a price and I am humbly thankful.  I am honored to be His chosen.  How many times a day do I express my thankfulness?  How many times a day am I on my knees with overcoming passion for the Cross?  I will admit, not nearly as much as I should.  I look back at the past year and I am amazed at the work God has done; not only in my life, but also in those who I hold close.  God tries us and waits for us to let go of those things we cling to; the things we think are important.  God wants me all to Himself; He doesn’t want anything hindering my love for Christ.  Yes, it hurts, but God’s plan is more than our selfish wants.  God’s plan is more than what we think we see.  God’s plan is powerful and is more beautiful than anything imaginable. 

"Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.

Lord, Your Love is higher than mountains.
Lord, Your Love is deeper than seas.
Lord, Your Love encompasses the nations,
And yet, You live right here inside of me!

Who can weigh the value of knowing You?
Who can judge the worth of who You are?
Who can count the blessings of loving You?
Who can say just how great You are?

Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.

And nothing I desire compares to You.”

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A note to a best friend.

The warm summer greeted us with a refreshing breeze as we pulled out of our driveway. We buckled up and held on for dear life. The Jeep rumbled and we jolted forward and back as we turned the corner. Our skin was sun-kissed and our hair blew in wispy stands, dancing in the wind. Jeep ride to the Frisbee field, “4th of July” t-shirts, and bare feet held the promise of a good time. I looked over at you, holding your hair back as you finished telling me a story. Your big eyes sparkled, holding excitement as you talked to me. You looked so much older that day, on your 16th birthday. Part of me knew you didn’t change overnight because you looked the same the day before. But the other part of me saw something I failed to notice; you weren’t my seven year old sister anymore. You weren’t that little girl with butterfly clips in her thin brown hair asking me to play with her. Or those chubby little cheeks squished together under the bicycle helmet as you pedaled away on your wobbly training wheels. I closed my eyes and could imagine your high squeaky little voice calling for me to play Barbie’s, doll house, or little cars. I can remember those Saturdays when we would play Barbie’s endlessly and Mom would have to drag us out of our room to eat lunch. Now our Saturday’s feel so grown up; cooking and baking for church and parties.
What sat next to me in the Jeep was not a little girl, but a beautiful, talented young woman. I am so very proud of you! I love how you can read my inter-being; knowing how I feel better than I know myself. You can reach down and seep right into the deepest parts of my soul. Remember that day a few months ago as we drove to the library together. I was having a hard day and had fooled everyone into thinking there was nothing wrong. I was so proud I could keep myself from admitting I was struggling and I could force back the tears effortlessly. But I didn’t fool you; you saw right through me. “Kel, what’s wrong?” you asked. I was in shock! I just remember bursting into tears. Your caring spirit lifted my mood as you comforted me with happy words. By the time we arrived at the library you had me laughing and joking.
I love watching your style change as you grow older. Remember we used to decorate our room with different themes? I love your eye for good old books and your cute, vintage, Paris style. I will never ever forget that day when you sat in your room all day and cleaned out under your bed. You threw out so much stuff; all of your little collections and papers. That was the day you became organized. Now you re-organize for fun. ;)
I am so proud of the way we keep active; running and playing sports. I thank the Lord everyday that I don’t have a weak sister. You inspire me to push harder and not whine over the littlest ounce of pain. You have taught me that we can accomplish great things and be strong women! You have taught me to be patient waiting for the Lord’s timing and to persevere even when it’s hard. Remember when we had the chicken pox? We had movies planned and books left out for “when we got the pox”. But I remember as soon as we broke out we didn’t want to do any of those things. Having the chicken pox was not as “fun” as we thought. We said to each other each night before we went to bed, that we were one step closer to being better. That was a hard two weeks, but you were there right by my side.  
I don’t want to ever forget those precious days we had growing up. We have been through so much together. We have strengthened and stretched each other on good days and bad. Many fights we have overcome and many weaknesses we have fought against and conquered. Sometimes I wish we can go back to the days when we were little, building sand castles on the beach in Florida or sitting in the grass in our matching calico dresses as Mom read “Little House” to us. But instead of looking at the past and dwelling in what was I will look toward the future, as we grow up, marry, and have kids of our own, being thankful for the memories we shared. God knew we needed each other and He knows we still do. I look forward to more late night talks and more secret looks across the gym during trench ball. Continue to strive to glorify our Maker. In everything you do may you be a light to those around you and an encouragement to many. I love you more than words can express. I hope you have had the happiest of birthdays!