Mother's Day Card Collection

At the age of 24 (this week!) and married, I am now beginning to understand my mom's heart. Elias and I don't have a child of our own yet, but when we do I'm sure I will have a better grasp of what my mom went through with me...ugh gosh. Come to think of it, I think she didn't know how to deal with me most of the time because she was only my age when she was rushed to have me. She is still advising me today not to have a child too early and just wait a little longer. Indeed, it must've been quite difficult for her to give up her prime for a baby who would do nothing but sleep and refuse to feed. I know that she wanted to venture out more, see more things, have more dates, and spend more time with her girlfriends. But my dad was seven years her senior and was in a hurry to start a family. But being rushed wasn't even the hardest part of it all. Having converted in high school through a friend who brought her to church (praise God for her), she was the only Christian in her family. She really didn't have an example of a godly mother raising her children in truth. She was the pioneer in this scary adventure.

For this reason I am all the more grateful that she had me and raised me the best she could. I want her to know that her sacrifice was not in vain, and that I always enjoyed our sister-like relationship thanks to our small age gap.

To honor her, I have compiled a list of great wisdom she has imparted over the years:

1. Hosting people is a joy

No wonder I love hosting today. My parents ALWAYS have people over and my mom loves cooking for them. God has graciously given us a home where we can host bible studies, birthday parties, and even baby/bridal showers. We love having people over and just make memories in the space that is given to us.

2. Get a gift that you would want to receive

My mom is THE hardest person to get gifts for. She is so picky and doesn't have a particular style. While I have tried to pick something a mom would wear, most of them have been failures... But she told me that the rule of thumb is to get something I would like, even for her! Something classy, something stylish, and something not too cheap. And I think that's a good rule when gifting anyone you care about.

3. Always make yourself useful and be diligent

Because she started a family young and stopped working soon after, she always taught me to develop a skill that can last. Even after marriage and having children, she wanted me to make myself useful and be productive—especially after the children have grown a bit. That's partly why I wanted to start my own business and take advantage of the internet. This is something I can continue to do regardless of the life stage and location.

4. Don't brag too much

I remember feeling unimportant time to time when I heard other moms bragging about their children and my mom often remaining silent about hers. Was there nothing good she could say about me? Was she not proud of me? She was always hard on us, being frugal with compliments but generous with advice and criticism. Today, she admits her wrongs and shortcomings. But looking back, I see that my mom was still an example of a humble woman—considerate of others, not too haste with her tongue, and quick to listen. I saw that other women often came to her to just unload their burdens and seek her advice. I have to say, it would take a lot more effort and grace for me to become like that, and I do pray God will mold me that way.

5. When you are wrong, admit it

I am just getting better at this, especially with Elias. What I will admit is, it's easier for me to admit my fault with my friends than it is with family. Elias and I have had many arguments since our dating days and I often would refuse to apologize first even when I should. My mom and I have always talked, shopped, and fought like sisters, and she really was the one to apologize most of the time. That is not because she was always wrong, but because she was more mature than I was. She would sit me down and say sorry, but I always found it excruciating to say it back to her. If that isn't the proof of my sinful nature, I don't know what is! I need grace...

These are just a few examples of practical life tips my mom has demonstrated in her life. Fear is the first thing I feel when I imagine myself as a mom, but I believe it's a scary road for everyone. Peace is in knowing God will always glorify Himself through His children, and it is in surrendering to His will. So I have faith I won't be alone in that journey when the day comes.

For this special occasion of celebrating mothers, I really tried to go above and beyond to create the new collection of cards. The "White Peonies" card took the longest for sure, because I wanted this one to be more realistic and detailed. It's slightly different than my other work but I was quite happy with it—probably more work like this coming in the future :)

Go mamas!

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This is Elias and my very first Christmas together since our marriage in April, so we are trying our best to make it special. As I had assumed, this holiday season has been pretty chaotic, especially because the shop opened two weeks ago and Christmas card orders have been flooding in. It's a good kind of chaos. 

So I thought I'd share a few things that have made this holiday season special. 

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1. Our own little Christmas tradition 
I had this idea last month, to dress up our brand new Christmas tree little by little every year instead of all at once. Elias and I would gift an ornament to each other every year! The idea was that every single ornament on the tree would be a gift from a loved one. This year, we have 3 ornaments on the tree altogether; two from us, and one from our talented wedding photographers as well as dear friends, Candace & Vitaliy aka Pictilio. We are all giddy thinking about our tree ten years from now, full of ornaments from loved ones. 

2. Giving & Receiving surprise gifts
This year, my small group decided to have our own cookie exchange. Each person would bake about 40 of one kind, come together, and exchange them to end up with many different kinds of cookies. We arranged the cookies into pretty boxes and wrapped them up with ribbons. The plan was for us to individually give these as surprise gifts to people we've been meaning to reach out to. I thought I was the only one who had a plan to surprise, until I found a pretty white package at my doorstep when I got home with my cookie boxes. A surprise package from Candace and Vitaliy! The box contained matching "His" and "Hers" mugs, two little tins of cocoa mix, cookies, and a snowflake ornament. How perfect!

3. Decorating our new house for the holidays
Purchasing a new Christmas tree was a given. But what other ways could I think of to decorate the home for the holidays? We were planning on getting a new garland as well, which ended up not happening because we couldn't find one we liked early enough. So I got a few battery operated candles from IKEA for the windows and white Christmas lights for our deck door. But what I'm most proud of so far, are these bunches of fern that I created to hang on our deck door. They were actually "trash" from a wedding we attended recently, which I had saved. Who knew they could turn out so festive? I think some of the most meaningful and fun memories are the spontaneous ones! 

4. Packaging Christmas cards for my very first group of customers
Salt Stains opened only two weeks ago, and I've already printed, cut, folded, and wrapped Christmas cards like a mad woman until yesterday. I believe this is the joy of having my own business...preparing orders that I've designed and made with love, and imagining them in all different kinds of homes in different places. This Christmas season has been so busy but so special for that reason. I feel as though I've shared it with not just old friends but new ones as well. 

I hope 2014 was a meaningful year for you—and this doesn't mean nothing negative happened. Life is full of trials, but the secret is in knowing everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of things. Then nothing is worth losing hope for. There is always joy to be found!  

"Honeymoon Phase"

Even though we are newlyweds who got married only three months ago, we have already gone through some rough patches. This to me, makes a lot of sense. It's two imperfect people with many terrible flaws and selfishness trying to live together and make decisions together. I mean, that's gotta be hard. We were having one of those bedside talks with one night lamp on, ready to turn it off when the silence got too long and our minds, too tired. And I found myself murmuring, "Marriage is hard." And it sure is, as most worthy things in life are. 

The other day, Elias brought home a bouquet of dark pink roses and poked his head into my studio, with that sheepish smile of his. "I know we've been arguing a lot lately..." he said.

When I am tempted to feel insecure and doubtful about our marriage and relationship, I remember that we will never give up on it because it is founded upon something stronger than both of us. We believe that God put us together, that He will carry us through the roller-coaster of life, and slowly change us to be more gracious, wise, and loving. It's not always about how much longer you've lived, because I see that my parents are going through the same things still. I believe it's more about how long you've been living an obedient life, how much you've been listening to the Holy Spirit. And for me, it hasn't been too long.

When I saw that the roses had bloomed the next morning, I was thankful. I was thankful that God was my Father, that Elias was my husband, and that I really had nothing lacking in my life in any way. God takes care of His children, and it's a choice I make to count my blessings. Our house, friends, community, families, and most of all, our faith. I'm thankful for our arguments and moments of reconciliation. I'm thankful I get to spend time cooking fancy dinners for us just because he really (REALLY) looks forward to eating at home after work.

"It only gets better!" said my father-in-law, and that's him referring to his marriage that's over two decades old. And he's right. You just can't go into a marriage thinking there is this "honeymoon phase" and once that's done it's only downhill from there. There is no fleeting "honeymoon phase" that dissipates, but it only gets better in time, because it is not centered on "me" and I'm not doing it alone.  

We're just three months into our marriage, and I already know my husband better than I did after four years of dating. You do have to believe in this: God changes people.

And so we will, for the better.