** The picture I mention in the post that my older sister sent me. One of my favorite gifts of the day.
**Stella's cousin grace releasing one of the doves for the birthday party
Thank you for all of the prayers for us this week, especially since we had Stella's birthday on the 11th. Phillip told me a few days before that we had a choice. We could choose to let it be a very difficult day or try to make the best of it. This kind of choice is not easy for me. Looking at the glass half full has never been my forte. However, with God's grace that was the choice we made. So...we decided to have a St. Stella birthday party. I planned on Monday and Tuesday, the cake, the food, what we would do, etc. I thought at first we would have an animal theme since that's what we did last year for her birthday. However, a heaven theme seemed much more appropriate. I just wanted to give you a run down of ALL the magnificent blessings from heaven we received on Wednesday, on her birthday. On Monday, Johnny and I went to the Dollar Tree looking for some tinsel garland to make halos\crowns for all the cousins and siblings. I wasn't sure I would be able to find it since it is not holiday season. But God knew, and of course the Dollar Tree had it! I also found some nice sea creature stuffed animals there, to my surprise. Stella LOVED stuffed animals! I picked out one for each of the cousins and Johnny. I wanted them to receive a present from her that day. We got home and John handed me nativity wrapping paper. At first I told him we couldn't use it because it was for Christmas. However, then I realized there were no Christmas words on it and the Holy Family wrapping paper would be perfect for our Heaven party. So on Monday I worked away on the halos, gifts, and started making the cake. Tuesday I made a banner out of felt I had laying around for Stella. I cut out felt letters saying "Good Job St. Stella!" I finished the cake that night and also found some scrap fabric to make Gia a special dress. My mother-in-law and one of my sister-in-laws gave me two beautiful bouquets of Sunflowers. I wanted the table to have bright , happy sunflowers on it. I told everyone to dress up because we are royalty. We are the sons and daughters of the KING. So the big day arrived on Wednesday. My husband's family met us at Mass that morning. I felt joyful preparing for everything. At Mass however, I lost it. I was sobbing. Stella was mentioned in the liturgy. This seemed so strange to me. The blessings just started pouring out though. A woman from our Church gave me a "spiritual" gift. She shared a special experience with me and it confirmed something I had a sense about. I was thankful and blessed.
We drove to my in-laws house, where we had the party. I could feel this drive start within me. I call them "creative juices." I wanted to change the table setting. I ran outside and started cutting down branches, foliage and oranges from some trees. I just wanted lots of colors and nature. I scurried to find and clean a couple jars. I ran upstairs to find some fabric and a picture of Stella. I looked for gold stars to hang. In a matter of minutes, my little girl's birthday table was set and so beautiful. It was exactly what I wanted. I made star shaped sandwiches for the children and a delicious gourmet sandwich for the adults. I was showered with three more beautiful bouquets of flowers that day, and of course the hugs and blessed conversations to go with it. The joy in the air was astounding. I kept waiting for the next surprise gift from heaven. Friends stopped in with their children to play and offer support. I received a very special physical present and another spiritual one. My older sister emailed me a picture of Stella she had worked on. I had never seen it before. It looked like someone took a picture of her now, in heaven. It is of her running, and it was another confirmation of how I knew she RAN to Jesus. Her facial expression is priceless. I cried when I saw it because of the meaning I knew it carried.
One of my favorite gifts was given to us through the Mass. The Gospel was John 6:36-40. That was the exact Scripture I used in the blog last Monday. I randomly fell upon it and it didn't hit me in particular at first. But as the week had gone on, before I used it in the blog the words really empowered my spirit. I kept thinking about how Christ's sole purpose was so that nothing given to Him would ever be lost, but would be raised on the last day. I know the Holy Spirit placed that Scripture before me, to dwell on it and take it in. And of course, that was the exact Gospel on Stella's birthday! Only the Holy Spirit could have done that. Each moment just kept getting better. The day was coming to an end, my cup was overflowing. Just when I thought it was all over, I heard a knock at the door and a package arrived. Close friends of ours called this Italian bakery in San Francisco and had a variety of the store's cookies sent to us. This place is very special to us. My parents would always bring cookies from this bakery to my siblings and I when they would go to the city for a play or date. It was the BIGGEST treat for us and one of my favorite childhood memories. The name of the bakery is ... STELLA'S. They were also the cookies we had as part of the desserts for Phillip and my wedding, which was also the exact night we conceived our Stella. I was blown away at the way God is a part of intricate details of our lives if we let him. I received two more spiritual gifts and one special physical one. They are mine personally, but I just wanted to make known the three more. The peace and absolute joy everyone felt was only from heaven. Stella I'm sure enjoyed prompting all of those wonderful blessings she had for her family. We all felt a piece of the joy she experiences completely and fully at each moment! I long to live in that for always. The pictures don't do it all justice. Enjoy them! Our Father in Heaven honored our choice to live and seek after the glory of the truth on that day. The day I thought was going to carry such a heavy load, carried with Jesus felt almost like carrying a feather. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We allowed Him to carry us that day. The days following, have been much harder for me. Keep prayers coming. AHH! I wish I was better at taking pictures! They just don't captivate the beauty of the day! Oh well, you can get some idea.
**This is Gia and Johnny dressed up before Mass. Gia is in the dress I made the night before.
**This is Johnny playing with his hammerhead shark stuffed animal from Stella's party
**Some of the star shaped sandwiches for the children
**Some of the cousins and John in the halos. We are all saints in the making. We are missing a quite a few cousins in the pic.
** Here's Miss Gia with one of the white birds for the dove release at the party. My inlaws have the birds so it was an easy activity to do with the children. They each said a prayer to ask Stella to pray for them and then after the release we all shouted happy birthday.
**This is the banner I made
** This is a closer picture of the cake. I wish the detail of the decorations came out better in the picture. I had pretty glitter on it and silver pieces. I had never made a tiered cake before.
**I had to add the lamb stuffed animal on the table.
**I used my mother-in-laws colored teacups. The table was so colorful and happy. I threw the halo around each cup with the child's name on it. God calls us each by name.