Have Courage and Be Kind – a Cinderella Birthday Party

If I recall correctly, I have already spent thousands of words discussing in detail how passionately I adored the new live-action Cinderella movie. You can read all about it here.

But what you may not know is that another one of the reasons I loved the movie was…

ahem (materialism alert)…

this dress.

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The one on the left, not the one on the right.

I mean, I love the one on the right, too, it’s just that I’m personally still too postpartum to wear an ankle-length all-over floral fabric, even if it was broken up in the midsection with a darling pink apron.

Nevermind the fact that my “baby” is almost 2 years old.

ANYHOW, where was I?

Oh, yes, the dress on the left.

It just basically sent me into sentimental hysterics before I was ten minutes into the movie. Don’t judge, mkay? Wardrobes speak to me. Always have. Always will. Even if I joined a nunnery!

Therefore, well after the movie had concluded – all the way home, in fact – my mind was sort of racing, daydreaming intently about how I could find such a dress for Rebekah.

It is, after all, one of my favorite ways to celebrate girlhood, this adorning of my daughters in frocks that pay homage to the timelessness and beauty of being little and free and pure. It’s such a short season. Let’s frame it in a floral print and a bit of lace, yes?

And, just like that, before I could really consciously make the decision, the “Rebekah of Sunnybrook Farm” birthday party I had been planning for my soon-to-be 6-year old was kicked resolutely to the curb and a new vignette was replacing it.

Goodbye, gingham and haybales and overalls and teacup pigs.

Helloooooo, Cinderella!!!

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First things first, where in the world was I going to find a dress like Ella’s for this party?

I could hardly sleep that night, I was so excited, and well after my family had dozed off, after perusing all my favorite stores for a suitable dress, I withdrew to Facebook and shared the above photo with my little friend, Leslie (“little” as in much younger than me, much smaller, and much like a tiny, beloved pixie that I would keep in my cupboard, if I could).

Leslie has always shared my love for nostalgia and vintage, and I have long felt that she, young whippersnapper though she be, might rival me in her ability to find all the stuff that must be bought on the internets. Thus, if anyone could help me out or, at the very least, sympathize with my plight, it would be her.

And, on this night, she totally won the title of Internet Shopping Queen. In one fell swoop, she dethroned me and I now will forever bow in reverence to my successor.

Because, before the night was up, Leslie had somehow miraculously found THE EXACT FABRIC of the dress in the movie and had promised to sew up a dress for me.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Yes, sure, the fabric was in Great Britain, and, okay, it was $36 per yard (more than I even paid for my couch upholstery!), and, granted, Leslie lives in Kentucky and this entire project would have to be done through the mail, but…

still…

how often does a girl get the chance to have the exact same dress as the actress portraying the younger version of Cinderella in a blockbuster movie???

(Leave me alone. I know I’m a weirdo).

Obviously, I was giddy with my peculiar brand of excitement, and the following Cinderella party sprang forth from that first night of scheming on the internet.

The following week, I proceeded to purchase a “Have Courage and Be Kind” print at Etsy.

I next bought a ceramic goose at Hobby Lobby. (Because…duh…have you seen the movie??)

I then began to pressure my amazing friend, Tammy, who HATES making cake balls, into making thirty cake ball pumpkins.

And it was sometime after purchasing the goose, I think, that I realized I had better get more bang for my buck and make this another SISTER party (like this one that we did two years ago!).

Betsie and Rebekah celebrate birthdays only nine days apart, and it just seemed crazy this year to invest in two separate girl parties when we could do this one big shindig together.

Leslie quickly began scouring the internet for another fabric that would coordinate with Rebekah’s dress and soon added another Cinderella-inspired frock to her sewing line-up and…

well, the rest is most definitely history.

Wanna see?

 

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First, I obviously have to show you the dresses.

Leslie mailed them to us by post in this gorgeous packaging that may or may not have made me cry, a personalized garment bag for each girl, along with two little mice boasting ears made of matching dress fabric (I know, right?!)…

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And the actual dresses are everything I hoped they would be, lightweight and gorgeous and comfy and perfect.

I paid for the fabric and supplies and shipping and Leslie wrote the rest off as “an experimental prototype” (a.k.a. the sweetest and most generous birthday gift ever), but if you have wealth of any sort and would like to have a Cinderella dress custom-made for your little girl, Leslie is offering a very limited number of these in her new Etsy shop, My Dear Poppy.

I cannot praise my friend’s work highly enough and I am SO VERY proud of her. You can find her – and the dresses! (and lots of cute vintage-inspired baby clothes!) – by clicking here.

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Here’s a picture of just Rebekah in her dress. You’ll see more of Betsie’s dress in the weeks to come! She’s a wiggly little thing and hard to get a picture of. 🙂

This picture is a little fuzzy, but you get the gist.

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Now, backtracking just a bit, before the party started, I had several hours to myself to set everything up.

If you watch the show “Fixer Upper”, this was my JoJo moment, where I had time to myself to create and use my noggin. Many thanks to my sweet friend, Kodi, for understanding a mama’s need for quiet on birthday days by offering to watch my children all afternoon!

First up is the food table, bedecked with pretty flowers from Sprout’s. The butterfly clips were purchased at the $1 bin at Michael’s (and were on sale for 15 cents apiece!), and found a perfect home on a branch that was winding its way around this tree. The “One Shoe Can Change Your Life” sign is from my bedroom, given to me when Mr. Gore proposed to me with a pair of engagement shoes in 2004.

Whoopsie, I’ve never told you that story, have I?…

Someday, I promise.

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Here’s some plates and whatnot. This tuh-die-fer chair was my Christmas gift from my mama. You can find it in an assortment of colors here. The little pink table is from my favorite antiques store in the state, The Pink Lily, in Jenks, Oklahoma. You can find the shop on Facebook by clicking here.

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The party was set up in front of an old grape arbor that is currently holding up our climbing roses, which, by the way, were blooming brilliantly the week BEFORE this party.

Not so much anymore.

Whatevs.

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Here’s the dessert table, our antique buffet, dragged outside and heavy-laden with treats and sweets. Tiny cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, raspberry cookies, and lots of chocolates!

One thing I couldn’t really capture on camera were the wooden butterflies tied all along the arbor. They were purchased at Michael’s, spray-painted pink, drilled with a tiny hole and tied up with twine in various lengths. The end result, in our famous Oklahoma wind, was what looked like a dozen pink butterflies fluttering all around the dessert table.

Rebekah was atwitter. “They look like REAL butterflies, flying!!!” she laughed.

“I know!” I cried, daubing my eyes with a hankie.

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And here is another of my favorite parts of the party, this precious “Have Courage and Be Kind” print from You Doll Design on Etsy. I framed it with this lovely piece from the Studio Decor Savannah collection at Michael’s (I’m kind of nuts about these frames!), and it will soon be hanging between Betsie and Rebekah’s beds.

A true party keepsake, touting my favorite quotation of the year. Buy one of your own (and see MANY other beautiful prints) by clicking here!

(p.s. I can’t wait to do more business with this company – in fact, I’ve already put in a custom order for August that you guys are sure to love! Stay tuned!)

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This little wooden birdy was also purchased at Michael’s. I believe it cost a dollar, and I felt all kinds of crafty when I painted it blue.

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Now, I don’t really even want to THINK about the fun I could have had if this birthday party had landed in the fall — it kind of hurts my tummy to consider it — with pumpkins out the wazoo.

I tried to find pumpkins in June, I really did, but alas, even the Asian Supermarket had none. (It’s a long story).

As it was, I grabbed some fake pumpkins from our church’s decorating stash at the very last minute, and they did just the trick.

Again, could we all just applaud Leslie for adding the little mice with Cinderella fabric ears to our birthday package? I can’t even.

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Lastly, these floral paper straws that I bought at the last minute were a lovely touch to the party. Thank goodness for Prime shipping! The girls absolutely loved these straws. It’s the little things, truly. To find them at Amazon, click here.

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On the menu for the evening was a big plate of chicken salad croissants…

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berry-centric fruit salad…

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Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers (a no-brainer, that one!)

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along with pimento cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a plate of cheese slices, for Jacques and Gus Gus, of course.

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But real-people food is kinda boring, isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at the desserts.

I made these mini cupcakes from a box and Wilton’s icing mix, but my friend, Tammy, made the fondant bluebirds for me. You can find some like these on Etsy (click here), or if you live in the Tulsa area, you could just ask me to contact Tammy for you. 😉 She can make crazy things out of cakes and sugar and such. CRAZY, I tell you!

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And here are the little pumpkin cake balls she made, too cute for words.

(And tasty, too! I will never tell you how many of these pumpkins were in my tummy by the time the clock struck midnight).

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My mom made miniature versions of her famous “Kentucky Butter Cake” with my mini bundt pan from Williams Sonoma. Find a similar pan by clicking here. And the “Eat Cake” cake server can be found here.

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This is my favoritest cookie ever, raspberry rugelach from Merrit’s Bakery in Tulsa. So pretty and perfect with a cup o’ coffee.

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At 6:00 p.m., as I was putting the finishing touches on the set-up, our guests began to trickle in, and I was just so tickled when my nieces showed up in costumes.

The children in our family are growing up and are really beginning to get into the spirit of things. I think our fun must just be beginning around here!

Here’s Anna in a darling Cinderella maid costume that she bought with her own money for the party. (You can find it at Etsy here).

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And Abigail used her own money to procure these “ugly stepsister” aprons for her and her friend, Katy. HOW CUTE IS THIS?? You can find your own here, and my sister-in-law, Amy, reports that this shop was great to do business with, ensuring that they got their last-minute orders in super-speed time.

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By the way, Abigail and Katy are the sweetest girls on the planet and had a really hard time pretending to be mean and ugly. Here they are just being them:

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So now that you’ve seen the basic set-up of things…

let’s party!!!

One thing I love about the young Ella in the movie (you know, the one with that FANTASTIC dress!) is that she was not a princess, but just a girl who loved her family and loved her life.

My daughters are not princesses, either, and neither are their friends, but they are little girls, and little girls are DIVINE!

Especially when they’re sitting on old quilts on the lawn, sipping tea and pink lemonade.

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The dessert table was, as usual, a big hit…

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Betsie was a fan of being allowed to help herself to her own treats. That doesn’t happen every day, you know.

Only every other day.

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Here’s my niece, Kate, in a beautiful floral dress, just being her awesome self…

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We were also so happy to have Rebekah’s music teacher, Christy, join us for this party.

Not many young ladies would give up a Friday night to party with a group of younglings, and that’s just one of the thousand reasons we love Christy.

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And here are my little birthday girls! Eating cake balls and feeling pretty!

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So after the girls had snacked and guzzled to their heart’s content, we pulled out our new favorite party trick, led by my eldest niece, Abigail.

Last year at their church, Abigail and her sisters were introduced to the fun of barn-dancing, and it is catching like wildfire ’round here.

These girls can’t get enough of the Virginia Reel!

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This dance is so easy and SO much fun!!! These little ones get absolutely dreamy-eyed when they are Virginia Reeling.

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And what would a dance be without some boys watching standoffishly from the sideline?

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Grandpa wasn’t afraid to join in, though, but he had to have two partners, Shepherd, and my cutie-pie niece, Harper.

Harper, by the way, came dressed in a Disney Cinderella dress, carrying a doll dressed like Cinderella. I was impressed by her thoroughness.

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After a couple of dances, we took a break and moved on to cake and presents (and refills of lemonade – it was hot out there!)

I couldn’t find a link for these, but I nearly did a jig when I glanced over during a shopping trip and saw these magic wand candles at Wal-mart. How fortuitous! They were still there, in the baking section, last time I checked.

(psst! If you are reading this from the future, this is June of 2015. I’d hate for you to make a special trip to Wal-mart only to realize that this blog post was written six years ago and that candles are now digital instead of wax. I’m thoughtful like that).

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Okay, the following isn’t the BEST picture of Betsie, but…

her dress matches everything in this picture!

It makes my eyes happy!

Doesn’t it make your eyes happy, too? All those pastels…

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Rebekah blows out her candles…

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Betsie blows out hers…

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And then we tossed the cakes over our shoulders so we could move on to the PRESENTS!

I do love a big pile of presents, don’t you? Our daughters were so blessed by many thoughtful and fun gifts from our friends and family.

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Rebekah was especially thrilled by this photo album from her dearly beloved cousin, Kate. We call them “You and Me” because they have made up a theme song about themselves and they sing it together whilst skipping through meadows.

“You and me…

“And me and you…”

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This is mayhap my favorite picture of Betsie from the night. A present as big as she is!

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Have I ever mentioned that I love this crew of kids?

I do.

I really, really do.

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There were lots of fun Cinderella gifts at this party. Like this picture book.

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I’ll post some Cinderella gift ideas at the end of this blog post.

I’d hate for this blog post to be too short and not have enough shopping links in it, you know?

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After the presents were devoured, we just spent some time together, talking, cleaning, dancing and making general merriment.

I love this next picture because I adore my boy Shep and his BFF, Daniel, but also because these hats were NOT set out for the party.

Shep reportedly found them in the sunroom, and next thing you know, he and his friends were birthdaying it up, all on their own.

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Well, sweet friends and party lovers, as you can hopefully see for yourself, even though I almost truly DIED from party exhaustion, this turned out to be a great night for all of us, being with friends…

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being with family…

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and doing it all in the dress of my…er, OUR…dreams.

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Happy birthday, Rebekah and Betsie, and many, MANY more.

Oh! And we all lived happily ever after.

The end.

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And now, for anyone who is interested, I present to you four fun Cinderella gifts. To find any of these products, just click on the picture:

1. We bought this book for the girls to share. It is a thick, hardcover volume with a soft, velvety feel to it and I think it is really beautiful.

2. Our girls were really excited to receive this small paperback book with images from the movie. Especially when they received two of them!

3. And this “Cinderella Day Dress” by my favorite dress-up clothes company is just the CUTEST. Both girls received one, and they have lived in them since. Little Adventures dress-up clothes are great because they are very comfortable. No scratchy fabrics, no glitter falling all over the house. I’m a huge fan. And this little dress might be my favorite of all that we’ve brought home!

p.s. Here’s a picture of Rebekah in her “day dress”:

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4. Lastly, the following product is not one I actually used, but OH how I wanted to! My deepest heart’s desire was to buy this necklace for each of our little guests but, by the end of this party’s planning, I barely had a penny left to my NAME.

However, this would be such a great gift with a great message for any little – or big! – girl in your life. Find them by clicking here.

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And that’s REALLY the end. Thanks for partying with us today! I hope this gives you plenty of ideas and inspiration for a Cinderella party of your own. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or find me on Facebook. Happy endings to you all!

Want to remember or share this party? Pin it!

Untitled presentation (22)

Have Courage and Be Kind: 7 Spectacular Things about 2015’s Live-Action Cinderella

I grew up on Disney Princess movies. Sleeping Beauty and her pink (no, blue!) dress. Snow White and her terrifying journey through the woods (no, really…TERRIFYING). Belle with her precious lil’ nose stuck in a book. Ariel and her beautiful singing voice.

And then there was Cinderella.

One of my very favorites.

Even as a preschool-aged girl, I admired the rich timbre of her voice and I so desperately loved everything about her story. Her attic bedroom. Her bluebird and mouse friends. And don’t even get me started on the ballgown and glass slippers.

But, mostly, I think what I loved most about Cinderella was her dazzling rags-to-riches happy ending, and the message wound its way deep into my young heart that, no matter how my heart was grieving, if I’d simply keep on believing, the dream that I wished would come true.

Cinderella said it would.

And so did Jiminy Cricket.

And lots and lots of other animated friends.

Well, I’m 33 years old now, and I have slowly come to the realization that, in reality, most dreams DON’T come true.

And sometimes none of them do.

This news was initially quite distressing to me, but over time, I have begun to understand that, in truth, there’s something SO MUCH BETTER than getting all the things you want out of life and having every single one of your childhood dreams come true.

And the new live-action Cinderella movie told this sort of happily ever after, exactly.

It took my breath away to watch my beloved daughters, especially my 5-year old, being carried off by the INCREDIBLE message that this new Disney masterpiece brought to life in one of the most beautiful movies I have ever, ever seen.

Today’s Cinderella didn’t tell my little girls that all their dreams would come true.

She actually told them secrets FAR SUPERIOR to that, and as a huge believer in the power of story-telling, my greatest prayer is that the movie we watched together on Thursday last will inspire them in ways that I will never be able to measure.

Who am I kidding? I was inspired. And here I am, a mom in my 30’s and still wanting to be like Cinderella. But not for the reasons you’d think.

Here are just a few of those reasons, proof that really well-written fairytales are not just for children. They’re for grown-ups, too:

1. An innocent countenance.

First of all, can we just stop for a minute and talk about the breathtaking Lily James? She is a flawless flower, plucked straight from the meadow, and I am such a fan of her performance that I can’t even find room in my heart to be jealous of her. Just…bravo, you beautiful girl, and congratulations on the role of a lifetime. You lived up to Cinderella, in every possible way, and took her to a level beyond anything I ever could have imagined. You ARE Cinderella now, forever and ever. Thank you, for accepting this part, for all your hard work, and for giving the daughters of our country someone to emulate.

Obviously, I was dazzled!

But not simply by her outward beauty (of which there is a LOT).

You see, somewhere during my adolescent years, a role model emerged that took my eyes of the good and the wholesome, and I began to put more stock in that daring sort of beauty that immediately caught the eyes of men and weakened their knees. These vixens of the silver screen influenced me, and it really did seem like only these sorts were able to snag any real attention from the opposite sex. It pains my heart that I believed them and ever tried to imitate them.

In a culture full of bold women with bold eyes, it was so refreshing to see someone so gentle as Cinderella on the big-screen. Someone so good. Someone so modest and pure and, yes, KIND.

There were obviously no heaving bosoms in this movie, no damsels in distress, no challenging and lusty glances, just a sweet young woman who went about her work and who wasn’t a slave to her own interests and her own dreams.

A true heroine.

I want to raise girls like that.

Girls like Cinderella could change the world, if only they would believe they have value.

2. A simple and quiet ambition.

You guys know from past stories that I can get a little cray-cray around celebrities. Cough, cough…Pioneer Woman. But my husband, God bless him, has been a constant and needed voice of reason to remind me that celebrities are just people.

The new Cinderella movie brought this point to life, I think, when it repeatedly pointed out that the prince was “an apprentice to his father’s trade”.

I want to work very hard to see celebrities – and royalty – in this light, no more special than the lady next door, unless, of course, they are “brave and good and love their father” like the prince. That was what made him really special to Cinderella and what she valued about him. Not his crown. Not his charm. Not his looks.

That’s a happily-ever-after I can get behind.

I don’t want my girls to long for princes or titles or fame or fortune in their love stories, just a good, godly man who loves them well.

What more could any of us ask for than that?

3. An indwelling magic.

The Disney fairytales of yesteryear were stories of triumph, of some sort of magic getting you from a bad life to a good life and of helping you escape from where you are to where you want to be.

This sort of ideology, while lovely in a movie, is rather weak, in heart, and dissolves the great pillars of faithfulness and perseverance in the reality of daily life.

The new Cinderella, however, teaches that the best magic is found within, no matter your circumstance.

Cinderella wasn’t pursuing any life other than the one she was living, and the magic of her story was not saved for her triumphant escape from suffering and her elevation to the palace, but was actually what fueled her all along.

We are all probably familiar by now with the secret her mother imparted to her early in the film:

“Where there is kindness there is goodness and where there is goodness there is magic.” 

Hollywood can’t be all bad if there are people there writing lines like that, and I am thrilled to say that my daughter has memorized those words, of her own accord. If we can muster up this sort of magic in our homes and amongst our families, and even in our suffering, who knows what sort of real-life fairytales might ensue?

4. A contentment with memories.

When Cinderella’s mother died, the narrator says that her pain eventually lessened and her memories became her feast.

In fact, those memories of her “golden childhood” went on to sustain her during her darkest days as an orphan and servant, keeping bitterness, the true slayer of hearts, at bay.

I have often thought that, should something very tragic happen in my world – and, please, God, don’t let me practice this – I should never have any reason to question God’s goodness to me. There have been too many glimpses of Eden to ever be overshadowed by misery, and I would hope that my memories of God’s grace would carry me through any seasons of doubt.

This tenet was further expressed after Cinderella’s night at the ball in the fact that she wasn’t breaking her neck to make it back to the palace and see the prince again. She had her memory of that night and it was enough for her.

I found this sort of contentment very beautiful and terribly inspiring.

5. A beautiful determination: HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND.

A week has gone by and I just can’t get over this mantra that dominated the entire film.

So simple, but those are the best lessons, aren’t they? The ones that you can easily repeat in times of need.

This message of “having courage” and “being kind” is mighty POWERFUL, and leaves the self-absorbed “every girl can be a princess” stories that I grew up with in the dust.

Let’s repeat it to our daughters, o’er and o’er again, and also to ourselves, until we are, by the grace of God, a people of kindness and courage.

6. A love for family.

As an avid fan of my parents and my family and my church, I found in Cinderella a kindred heart. When her step-sisters were asking for fripperies as souvenirs from her father’s journey and all she wanted was the branch that brushed his shoulder, I melted into a puddle of goo.

Then I looked intently at my daughter and hoped she was in some way understanding the level of beauty that was being offered to her young and absorbent heart.

Cinderella went on to endure years of hardship just to be true to her home and to her parents, and I was cheering her on every step of the way.

7. A freedom in forgiveness.

In case you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t expound on the “happy ending”, but you really HAVE to believe me that this was the best ending to any Disney Princess movie, ever. Go see it. Take a hankie. Or, if you’re like me and your tears start flowing during the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie, take two.

Three cheers to the screenwriters of this story who were brave and thoughtful enough to add dimensions to Cinderella’s tale that could be the foundation for a new generation of “princesses”, girls who have courage, who are kind, who are pure, who treasure the good guys, who love and honor their families…

girls who know what “happy endings” are all about.

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If you are a Christian mama, I encourage you to talk with your littles about Cinderella’s story and take it a step further. We know from God’s Word that none of us are “good” or “kind” without the redemptive work of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I want my girls to understand that “being like Cinderella” is only something that will work if their “courage” and “kindness” is a direct result of the grace of God and is used as a vehicle for His glory. In our home, judging by her fruit, 2015’s Cinderella is obviously a Christ-follower. 😉

To read another great review on this movie, click here. And as always, you are CORDIALLY invited to keep up with Mrs. Gore and family on Facebook by clicking here. No glass slippers required.