Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Princess Sweetpea's Birthdaypalooza Celebracione!

Four years and four days ago,
our miracle baby was born!

This long awaited princess

is such a delight in our lives

with her love of snuggling and sweet affectionate nature,

her zany sense of humor,

and how she brings fun and sunshine into everything she does!



In this picture she is dancing all over the beach singing,

"I'm not nakeeeee any moooooore!"..

because three minutes earlier she was dancing all over the beach


See what I mean? She brings the fun!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Happy Cupcake Day!

Three years ago, after travelling for more than 30 hours, Haus and I (along with Sweetpea) arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and met our beautiful baby girl, Cupcake!

Meeting Papa

Meeting Mama

With Almaz, the angel who handled all the details in Ethiopia
and loved on our girl until we could get there
to bring her home to her Forever Family!

Playing with Papa

and with Mama

In what has seemed like a flash, this beautiful, timid little princess

became this sassy,

personality filled


We are SO thankful to God for the blessing of our precious baby girl!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Big Four-Oh!

Last week included a milestone day for me.

It started out with a bang when I stepped out of bed,
tripped over a gift placed there to be the first thing I saw on my special day,
landed solidly on my belly with an OOOOF!,
banged my chin hard on the ground,
and knocked over 3 vases in the process!

Celebrating 40 with my own special flair!

Hey, at least I'm used to spectacular face-plants and as a bonus, it wasn't in public.

Otherwise, it was an absolutely splendid day! I had breakfast at the beach. Favorite. Spent the day at the spaaaaaaaaahhhh. Massage, facial, steam room, slices of cucumber on my eyes, the whole enchilada. Favorite. Delicious dinner at a fancy-schmancy place. Favorite. And, a bunch of my girlfriends stole me away, made me wear a sparkly tiara and we enjoyed a lovely harbor cruise and dinner. Super favorite!

Seriously, ladies, where would we be without our girlfriends? I think I'd have quit a long time ago without mine! My girls encourage and exhort me. They make me laugh, oftentimes at myself. They know my life, joys, struggles, strengths and weaknesses. They know me, see me, and still love me! They tell me when I'm off-base or flat out wrong, when I need to grow up, when I must turn my heinie around and apologize, and help me to forgive myself when I blow it. They wrap their arms through mine, cheerlead, and help me get through the hard stuff of life. And, they let me be and do that for them as well. Shoot, I love my girls!

In between laughs, they asked what I wanted this next year. What is God doing? How is my heart? Good questions.

This next year, I want to go to Ethiopia (hopefully in June) and serve. I want to finish writing a book I've been working on for a while. I want to sing more. I want to build more friendships with women, to be an encourager of my sisters in Christ. I want to be a better woman, wife, and friend. I want to be changed by God, to learn where I'm blind, to see my sins and weaknesses, and to give them to Him who has the power to transform. I want to seek out those I've wounded and repent of my wrongdoing. I don't want to reach Heaven having not made amends with those I've sinned against. I want to learn to trust God with every facet of life, to be more in love with Jesus, and to live in constant communion with Him. I want more of Jesus.

This is the verse for this year, maybe this decade:

"The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."

Zephaniah 3:17

How rad is that?

The biggest gifts of my life:






Ok, so here I go... Into a new decade...

Here's what I think. Life is rich with blessings. Friends are such a gift. God is so very, spectacularly, beyond-my-wildest-imagination good. He has been with me every single step of the way through the big, big highs, and the stinky, rotten lows. He delights in me. Sings over me. Rejoices over me as His beloved. And laughs with me when I trip and fall flat on my face with an OOOOOF! So, come what may...

Bring it on!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Escaping the Vampire

Every girl longs to be loved.

Not just loved, but deeply, passionately, and epically loved.

We long for a Hero (especially if he's dangerous!). We crave being swept up in delicious romance. We want to feel beautiful, sought after, protected, and most of all, to be loved with wild abandon. We need real love, the kind that is heroic, and fierce, and sacrificial. It's the foundation for every fairy tale little girls ask to hear over and over again, and every romance novel and chick flick we consume over and over again as grown women.

Even if we don't want to want it, we do. Even if our hearts know that we could never deserve such love, we still want it. Even if we've had our hearts crushed seemingly beyond repair, our yearning for real and wild love remains.

What's worse is that the world tells us that desire for love, romance, passion, a Hero, is somehow evidence of our brokenness.

But, it is not!

The need for passion, romance, and above all, LOVE
is not a weakness or flaw,
but is an essential strength of women.

God intentionally created women with
a limitless desire for love
as an expression of Himself.

That deep longing is meant to flourish and be satisfied.

I know some of you women are thinking, "Are you kidding me?! Those desires are the bane of my existence! They've caused me pain and suffering every single day! There is no fairy tale! My life is proof of that! If I could have that part of me surgically removed, I would!"

And yet... The need remains.

The "Twilight" Series. A whole generation of teen girls are consumed by it. Actually, it's more than just teenage girls, it's their moms, too, who are throwing "Eclipse" parties and wearing t-shirts for Team Edward or Team Jacob. It's a captivating series full of excitement, danger, fantasy, romance, and passion all wrapped up in an epic love story.

Bella is easy to relate to. She's awkward and doesn't really fit in. She feels unloveable. Edward is mysterious and different. He's not only not only alluring, but he's vulnerable, noble, selfless, sacrificial, and he desires Bella almost beyond his control. But, their love is forbidden fruit. He is a vampire. Loving Edward means embracing death.

"Escaping the Vampire, Desperate for The Immortal Hero is for every girl and woman in love with Edward Cullen! It is NOT a finger-wagging chastisement about the Twilight series. It's not a condemnation if you happen to like vampire stories. Rather, it delves into the issues of our hearts and is an invitation to enter into a deep and meaningful romance with the One True Immortal Hero who wove the desire for passion and real love into the deepest part of your soul and who longs for your heart.

"Escaping the Vampire" is filled with life stories of other young women, some which will make you laugh and some which will make you cry. Some of the topics are: temptation (the lure of "forbidden fruit"), the entrapment of lies, our struggle with beauty, "perfection", self-worth, our need for forgivness, and the Dad Issue. One of my favorite sections is The "Yuck" List. The "Just Breathe" sections are fantastic, too, because they give you a chance to pause, think, and journal, and Kim brings up some great conversational questions, so I highly recommend reading it with a friend or a group! Throughout this study are great Bible verses and references, quotes, and places to pause and pray. You can't help but feel like you're sitting down for a cup of coffee with Kim and some great friends.

Kimberly Powers, author of Escaping the Vampire, is the executive director of Walk the Talk Youth Ministries. She is also my sweet cousin!

Kim has a fire in her heart for young women and a unique ability to inspire teen girls to find out who they are in Christ. We recently spoke on the phone and she shared with me her passion for introducing girls to God, leading them into security in the Father, showing them that they can be found in Him, and leading them towards intense healing and restoration. Just ask her about all the girls she's watched experience the fullness of Isaiah 61's "beauty for ashes" and you will be moved to tears.

If you're interested in having this sparkling, bubbly lady come speak at your church, or youth conference, or event, contact her at WTTYM. She regularly speaks on "Searching for Twilight" and does conferences for girls on topics such as "In Search of a Princess" and "Embrace" for college-aged women.

You can watch Kim's June 28th interview on the 700 Club Interactive or hear her March 18th Focus on the Family interview.

Escaping the Vampire's Facebook Page

How YOU can get involved with WTTYM:
1. PRAY!
2. Pray for Escaping the Vampire
3. Financially support this awesome ministry!

Kimberly & her husband Tim live in Virginia with their two sons, Landon and Logan.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Haus of Cookies

Muffin & Meatball are eschewing the teenage principle of

and have been working like fiends to raise money for summer camp!

Cookies for Camp, AKA Haus of Cookies is open for business!

They are making and selling chocolate chip, oatmeal scotchies & snicker doodles, so now my kitchen smells like Willy Wonka's 24/7.

I must admit, though, that I cannot vouch for how they taste. So far, they've made over 60 dozen and I just want you to know that because of the battle of the

I have eaten nary a one!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

They are also hiring themselves out to:

Walk/ bathe dogs
Wash cars
Do laundry & fold
General office help
Household chores
Garden clean up
Garage clean up
Help serve at parties
Clean up after summer events

YOU NAME IT! They’re willing to clean it or do it! (Can you tell I'm so proud of them?)

And, as a bonus, they're totally CUTE!

OK, local friends, who has a job for these two adorable, hard-working teenagers?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Slammin' Saturday Night

Last Saturday night, Sweetpea got a doozie owie.

Long story short, her right middle finger got slammed in a glass door which...

acted like a guillotine leaving her with a compound fracture between the last knuckle and the nail. We learned later was very nearly an amputation!

Zonked out waiting for x-ray results
with her Nana Blankie and her two teddybears

Poor little sweetie! I'm not going to share all the disgustivo pictures that Haus took of her finger all bloody and sticking out at a horribly unnatural angle because EEWWWWWW! (It's a Man Thing.) But, here's the sad x-ray.

As usual, Sweetpea was incredibly charming and hysterical at the ER, cracking up the nurses and the doctor. The surgery was brutal, though. I'm still beating myself up about not listening to the Holy Spirit when I knew He told me to choose sedation. Holding her through it was punishment to last a lifetime.

Right at the worst part, when the surgeon was stitching through her fingernail causing pressure against the severed bone (which the local anaesthetic didn't numb) and intense pain, she shouted at him,

"FIRST of all, that HURTS me!
And, SECOND of all...


Oh, my little love cannot help being funny, even in the worst pain of her life!

"I want you to STOP that immediately!
And, I want to go HOME
ABSOLUTELY immediately!"

It was "super no fun", but she did beautifully. Her finger is thankfully intact, although looking remarkly Frankensteiny. Prayerfully, her fingernail was not damaged too severely and will grow back.

Very excited about her cool bandage.

(Funny for the Naughty Files:
In the morning, she was so excited to show off to her baby sister.

"Cupcake! Look! This is my owie!
The doctor did a surgery
and it really dammit hurt!")

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cupcake's New Braids

WELCOME to the scary hair experiment!

Being a novice at styling my precious little Cupcake's hair, I thought I'd try a fairly complicated, huge-time-investment, but potentially long-lasting hairstyle that very well may end in disaster! I'm wild that way.

Anyway, you mamas of African babes can commiserate with me about how high maintainance our sweeties' beautiful hair can be. Cupcake's is fine and soft (versus thick and coarse), so intricate hairstyles are a little frustrating because they just don't last very long.

Enter the BRAIDS or DREADS idea.

Since I'm a closet OCD, A-type personality, I then spent hours on the internet researching as well as asking tons of detailed questions of whomever would give me the time of day. Some people were afraid of the white lady wanting to touch and inspect their beautiful cornrows, dreads, or braids and would scamper away. But I run fast and I'm not afraid of tackling.

I foolishly thought that I could complete the entire thing in one sitting, but after 3 hours on Day One and only barely half-way done, my hands begged for mercy. And Cupcake was completely over being duct taped to her toddler chair, too.

On Day Two, I braided another few inches before calling it quits. That's when I realized that I should've been taking pictures. Duh!

OK, so we're starting quite a ways in, but don't worry, you'll catch up quickly. You're a fast learner.

Remember to always start with cleany-clean hair (Über important!) that's been conditioned well and picked out.

Here's a "Before" pic from the church picnic. (Terrible photo, but she's adorable anyway.)

Cupcake is so cute. She loves her hair and will occasionally pass by a mirror, appreciate her beauty, and say to herself,

"I'm wockin' da fwo!"
Translation: "I'm rockin' the 'fro!"

So, here are pictures starting on our final day (PraiseGodAlmighty!) of braiding.

This is what I did with the unfinished part until we were done. Ponytail. Twistie curls. Easy peasy.

This is the product I used. I highly recommend that you use a really good hair product, especially when you're doing a detailed hairstyle. It'll make the finished style look way better and it'll last a lot longer. Plus, Loc Butter smells awesome!

Step 1: Part the hair down the middle front to back. Straight parts are a must. (Read: Do what I say and not what I do. I actually have Straight Part Inability Disorder, SPID for short.)

Step 2: Part a row to braid and clip back the rest. These rows are about 1/2 inch wide.

Step 3: Separate a section in your row. Again, I'd mention the importance of straight parts here, but you know the drill. Use a dab of the Loc Butter and braid away.

At the end of each braid, twist a little curlie cue just because they're sweet.

Step 4: Repeat until you want to impale yourself.

Step 5: Resist the urge to just shave the rest of your munchkin's head when your hands start to cramp up into claws. Remember the stylist who told you she would only charge $350 and pat (as well as you can) yourself on the back for choosing the Do It Yourself Method.

*Tip: Do NOT consume alcohol at any point during the hair styling process. Stay strong.

Step 6: Gather up into cutie patootie ponytails. Let your little one basque in the beauty!

New morning hair routine: Spritz heavily with leave in conditioner. Scoop up about a quarter-sized amount of coconut oil (organic, unrefined, unbleached, un-everything) and run it over every strand and her scalp. Ponytails. Done. 3 minutes tops.

Style time: 9 1/2 hours over 3 days and nary a cuss word was uttered.

I'll let you know how it fares.

Is she killer cute, or what?!