Monday, April 30, 2012

Why We "Cupcake" OR Why Kids Are in Prison in Uganda

How does a child end up in a prison in Uganda?

Great question.

Let's follow a common story...
A beloved child is born to her mother...

She is a delight and a joy!

But her parents' lives are stolen early by disease, HIV/AIDS, war or even struck by lightning. (I heard this so often from street children while in Uganda! Lightning kills many parents!) This once loved child is now an orphan.

Often children are left to fend for themselves while a grandparent or other caregiver works in a field to provide for the children.

When their caregivers die or if a parent remarries, the child must then make their own way in the world. 

This means leaving the village and all they have known...

And trying to make a life in the big city.

 The city is a big, scary place when you are just a child.

The child sees the abundance of food at the market, but has no money to pay for any.

So they must scavenge for food...

The police periodically do "sweeps" of the area and pick up the children and take them to one of the 8 prisons in Uganda for children.

 They are locked up in facilities that are under financed and under staffed.

 Food only comes once every other day.

                                               Their bedding is old, moldy and soaked in years of old urine.
Despair doesn't begin to capture how they must feel.

At times, the facilities may go without water for months at a time.

There is nothing to do but wait...hoping that you will be allowed freedom...someday.

This is the common path of a child who sits in a prison in Uganda. Others are there because of a family's poverty, or because they were rejected for their special needs (physical and mental), or because they were unwanted by new step parents. Some are there for petty crimes mainly driven by their poverty.

But now, a group of Jesus-loving people have come together and formed Sixty Feet...all for the purpose of bringing hope and restoration to these very children in Jesus' name.
They lead them in worship...

They bring the gospel message into the prisons. Children learn of TRUE FREEDOM that is for them no matter if they are locked behind bars or not!

And now this dear child who has experienced so much loss, so much trauma is now a student of God's Word! Hope fills hearts!

And THAT my friends, is WHY WE CUPCAKE!!!

100% of the proceeds from our Cupcake Kids sale will go to the imprisoned children through Sixty Feet.

What will the money do? I'm glad you asked!!
*Food--with protein, daily!
*Clean water
*Medical care
*Providing adequate clothing, bedding and mosquito nets (to fight malaria)
*Repairing the facilities
*Initiating justice so that children who do not belong in the prisons can have their cases heard in as little as 3 months by a judge rather than the lengthy 18 months
*Removing the most vulnerable children to a loving foster family
*Provide on-going counseling, mentoring to the children by Ugandan men who love Jesus

All these things are done with your cupcake money!! 

Are you moved to support this ministry but are not nearby? Worry not! We have a virtual cupcake for you!
Click me!
This one has NO FAT, NO CALORIES and will still bring joy to your heart for helping the most vulnerable children! Click to donate directly to our stand!

Thank you to ALL MY FRIENDS who are so selflessly giving and baking and planning on being at our sale this Saturday! Cannot wait!!!

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.
The King will say to those on His right, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!"    ~Jesus in Matthew 25

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's Save the Adoption Tax Credit!

Many of you know by experience how costly adoption is.

Many of you simply fear stepping out into something so expensive as adopting a child.

A generous federal refundable tax credit ended last year, on December 31, 2011.

Because our adoption was not final until this month, we did not qualify for it. :(

There are 163,000,000 more orphans in the world without families.

Reality is, adoption is not going to happen for MOST of them. :(

However, what if MORE orphans could become sons and daughters? 

What if something like a refundable tax credit made adoption more affordable?

Who knows what might happen! People who had previously thought adoption unattainable might consider themselves as a potential family for a needy child!

Currently, there is a bill in the house that would permanently bring the adoption tax credit back, make it refundable and increase the value of it! If you want to read about it yourself, here is a link. This is a link to the official bill itself.

This is GREAT NEWS!!!

But guess what?

Unless our state representatives hear how IMPORTANT this is to us, it might not pass.


In the name of giving every possible orphan a family, WE WANT THIS BILL TO PASS!!!!

So I ask you...



to please take 15 minutes to email, call, write a letter and let him/her know that you want their vote to be


on this proposed tax credit!!!!

Action is necessary!!

So often I wonder, "What can ELSE I do for orphans?"

Here is a GREAT activity! Make your voice heard! 

Even if YOU personally have no intention of every adopting...


on behalf of those children who go to bed at night with no kisses, no hugs, no bedtime prayers, no last drinks of water, no one to comfort them that there is no monster under their bed...


Here is a link to find who your state representative is!

This is a link to where a petition is being signed as well. This option would be best for anyone outside of the United States. You may read this blog from far away, but you can still have an impact on the future of orphans, at least in supporting giving them future homes in America. (Fellow Americans, although this route will be easier/faster I want to encourage you to contact your state representative personally.) 

Will you take action?

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Yum Yum List

Did you know? Eating every 3-4 hours is key in not overeating later in the day/night...and it keeps your metabolism steady and burning all day.

I thought maybe I'd post a few of the things I like to snack on with the hopes that you'll get some encouragement to eat light as we approach summer...

                                                                            ...and I'm hoping for some new ideas too!

So read on and be sure to comment with your favorite Yum Yum snack! :)

Shakeology Balls--recipe from Chalene Johnson's Push book!
1 cup PB2 (another GREAT secret--Powdered peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed! AWESOME!)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I use Trader Joe's that is full of flax seeds!)
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology powder
Stevia, Truvia sweetener to taste

Mix all in bowl. Wet hands and form into ping-pong size balls. Place in wax paper in fridge...or enjoy write off your fingers! YUM!

2 balls are only 135 calories! SCORE!!

Amy's Healthy Ice Cream--okay, this isn't really ice cream, but it's so good, you can fool yourself!

1 cup Fage Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen red raspberries
Stevia/Truvia sweetener to taste

Tons of protein, no fat and just 209 calories for a huge bowlful!

Carrots and Hummus
Just what it sounds like...I used to dip whole wheat pita chips in hummus, but have recently been backing off on my "breads" and am just as satisfied with carrots in my hummus dip! Mini carrots are more fun too!

Depending on your hummus, anywhere from 35-70 calories for 2 Tablespoons of hummus and another 35 calories for 3 ounces of carrots.

Ends and Pieces from Trader Joe's
The 100% dried fruit bars need to be trimmed into their perfect shapes...what do they do with all those leftover edges? They bag them up in "Ends and Pieces!" You never know what flavor fruit you'll get and they are so healthy!!

4-5 pieces for 100 calories.

Tony Horton's Sticky Bar from Bring It! by Tony Horton
1/2 banana
1/2 cup lean healthy cereal (Kashi Go Lean is what I've used)
1 heaping tablespoon crunchy almond or peanut butter (natural)
Mash all together in a bowl. Roll mixture into a bar. Freeze.  Zap on high 20 seconds in your microwave when you are ready to enjoy!

Calorie count? 215.

Apple and Almond Butter
What a great snack the combination of the sweet apple and stick-to-your-ribs of almond butter! I measure out 1 tablespoon of Almond butter and dip 1/2 an apple (wedged) in for a filling and healthy snack!

Calories in this combination usually run about 145.

Tropical Strawberry Shakeology
This new member of the Shakeology family has me smitten! I prefer it to both Greenberry and Chocolate and have lots of favorite ways to make it. Recently, I've indulged in a cup of skim milk, 2 tablespoons of walnuts and a dash of cinnamon. HEAVEN!

Just in water and ice it comes in at just 160 calories. Slurp!!

Kale Chips
Oh my wow!! How can you get more greens in your diet? Like THIS! Buy a head of kale...wash and dry WELL. Tear off the main stem and lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread them on a cookie sheet and bake for 18 -20 mins in a 300 degree oven. YOU WILL BE AMAZED! They melt in your mouth the way cotton candy does! They taste a bit like a potato chip, but remember you are eating a green vegetable. Try it! If you don't make them right the first time, TRY AGAIN! I bombed my first try and the second left them begging for more! (My littles and I ate an entire head of kale in one sitting!)

P90X Protein Bars
I have always ordered the variety box, but have settled currently on the Chocolate Fudge variety. Since this is a processed food, I eat these sparingly. But they are so yummy and a great grab-and-go treat!

One bar is 20 grams of protein (WOW!) and 260 calories.

Dried fruit
Dried fruit is great for the road! I love apricots and apples in particular. Craisins are another favorite--just watch the portion size!

With dried apples 10 rings are just 110 calories. With Cranberries, just 1/4 cup can be 140 calories!

I'm nuts for nuts! This is heart healthy fats that taste delish and fill you up! My favs are walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios. Raw and unsalted are my preference. Eating too much salt makes you retain water. Boo!

Be VERY careful with your portion size! Just a 1/4 cup can be 200 calories. It's easy peasy to overeat on nuts, so measure them out before your hunger strikes!

What are YOUR favorite snacks?
Comment below and share your ideas!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

There's an ache in my heart that won't go away.

I don't know what to do about it, and I feel a bit like a shotgun all spread out looking for ways to ease the ache. I'm literally all over the place.

I ache for something.

But I can't quite figure it out yet.

I look at causes to jump into.

I look at getting more involved with our church.

I dream of mission trips with my older daughters.

I hear of different organizations I can partner with to advocate for the orphan.

And I stay up late looking through pages and pages of waiting children to adopt.


The need is HUGE.

There are literally thousands of children here in AMERICA who need a family.

There are kabillions of children with special needs waiting for a family to say YES to them all over the world. Meanwhile, they wait.

I've looked. 

I've cried.

I've asked.

For now, it's just an ache.

Hopefully soon, I'll know what to do about it.

Until then, I keep turning it back over to my Lord who holds the hands of each lonely child in our world and He knows the plans He has for them.

And for me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's your CHOICE.

I've heard it so many times, I really couldn't even count.

"It's too expensive to eat healthy..."

I am here to tell you that I bought all our groceries today for 7 people for a week for $86.


7 people.


Now, that said, I still had some remaining staples in my cupboard and freezer that when I planned our meals (bfast, lunch, snacks and dinner!) I didn't have to buy those items because I had them already.

But really, planning meals and now the actual snacks that we'll eat in the afternoon is NOT that difficult.

(With my iPhone and the app "Mealboard" I can plan all our food with a few clicks and it generates an organized grocery list that I tick off as I shop through the store. It has an added feature where I can import recipes from online sites and I can also manually enter our family's favorites. SO EASY!!)

I get weary of people using the expense of fresh fruit and vegetables as an excuse to not eat healthy. I buy what is on sale, in season and use frozen versions when they aren't available fresh. I learn to eat new things and serve them to my family (MORE THAN ONCE to see if they really don't like it!)

The exposing question is: what ELSE are you buying at the store?

And...are you swinging through any establishment that serves you food quickly at any point during your week?

Are you spending your grocery money on soda? On frozen dinners? Prepackaged convenience foods? Are you feeding your children junk food...just because it's "cheap?"

Let me back up and say that I used to eat junk.

I used to have a serious addiction to sugar, fat and salt. Any combination thereof made my mouth water. I would gobble it up and secretly wish I had the nerve to order a second!

How did the change happen?


I meant to.

You don't leave a life of addiction (no matter what your vice!) without a serious desire, conviction, intent and support.

And like I tell all my Beachbody clients, you don't just wake up one day and suddenly eat fresh fruits, whole grains and turn down all items fried and made with sugar. Your caffeine habit doesn't just walk off with another lover and a desire to workout doesn't come in a package you order online.

It's a choice.

I have made this choice first of all for myself. As I leaned into a healthy lifestyle, I saw positive changes in the body I had given up on. This fueled me to try more...which continued to encourage me. My husband began to want similar things to eat, he (after years of watching me workout daily) began to desire to work through P90X and later Insanity, and our children have been watching and listening and actually ask for a snack of raw carrots.

All because of a choice.

None of it happened overnight. None of it. My resolve waived and faltered. But I had a group of people I was hanging with online who encouraged me. They challenged me. They spoke to me when I was ready to throw in the towel. And now, here I am 5 years later feeling better than I ever have. And I'm 5 years OLDER too! ;)

I want you to know that if you are TIRED of being TIRED, if you are stressed by the COST of good foods, if you are tired of buying new clothes that are ELASTIC in nature and you dread your child asking you to come play outside with him... I want you to know: you don't have to live like this.

You can change.

You can.

But YOU must be the one who steps out of what is comfortable, normal and easy.

Choose to step away from living addicted to bad food. Choose to get healthy. Choose to feel good. You'll be SO GLAD you did!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Swept off my Mr. Virus

Immediately after Zeb's adoption became permanent we traveled home.


That word just has a lovely ring to it, doesn't it?

Home to where we both grew up. It will always be home to us. :)

The next morning I pushed through a normally fun workout. felt overly hard.

I took Anneli shopping. I felt overly exhausted.

My muscles hurt.

I felt as though I might pass out.

I had eaten properly but grabbed a healthy snack anyway. (Oh thank you Trader Joe, might you come open a store near me??? Please pretty, please??)

The snack didn't help.

By that afternoon I was seeking solace on a front room sofa of the home where we were partying for my niece.

Pain had begun.

I don't know what the name of this Mr. Virus was, but he took me down.

I laid in bed for 4 days. Writhing in pain for a good day and a half.

No appetite.

No energy.

Just serious stomach cramping and back muscle pain.

I could do nothing.

Easter came and went.

I could hear the family gathering in the outer rooms.

Laughter, dogs barking as they played, children's pitter pattering feet and squeals of delight!

Apparently Easter happened.

The next day I watched on Facebook (via phone) all the lovely family pictures taken in outfits of lovely pastel hues. I never even saw my children the entire day. It was that bad.

Fortunately for me, we have a Kindle! I re-read Crazy Love by Francis Chan, watched the entire season of Downton Abbey and read another 450 page novel after that!

Today, I got up.
(Yes, somewhere in there we drove the 3 hours home. But it took 4. Don't ask.)

Have you ever felt like your days are mundane?

Wonder if maybe your work really may not matter?

Has your spouse ever come home and asked, "So honey, what did you do today?" and you know you were busy but couldn't really point to any one thing?

Ever felt that?

When I got up today, I realized one thing quite clearly:


Like for real.

Nothing Very little had been unpacked.

Nothing Very little had been put away.

Nothing Very little had been tidied. laundry had been washed.

Multiply that times 7 people, take out 1 for illness and multiply times 100 for the work that she normally performs on behalf of the other 6 and get a royal disaster.

My point is...

the daily tasks of "keeping house" and shaping the lives of children may not LOOK like much, but it is.

Oh, how it is.

And sometimes it takes a nasty Mr. Virus to sweep me off my feet for me to understand that no matter how repetitive it may seem, my work matters.

Point taken.

Lesson learned.

Mr. Virus, will you please go now?!

(Truth be told, I have laundry to heave up and down stairs, beds to change, a vacuum to run, floors to sweep but it took me forever and a day just to clean the kitchen and I needed a you got a blog post!!)

*I must take a moment to specially thank my amazing husband who DID do so very much while I laid there on the bed in agony. He called off work so I wouldn't have to travel in my condition. And to my extended family as well. Easter memories were not denied any of my children! And a special thanks to a dear KM who took amazing care of me after we came back to our house once Brian and kids returned to work/school!!!! THANK YOU!!!!! I am humbled by your love and acts of service. I could not have survived without you. Bless you all!!! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Officially Ours!!

Today our local probate judge signed our finalization papers to declare once and for all:

Zareb is OURS!!!

We are so happy! What a "Good Friday" it is indeed!!

We DOUBLY rejoice today!

This adoption of a former orphan now is our son FOREVER


Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross and rose from the dead all so we might be adopted as children of God!!

He has not left us as orphans! He has come!

Happy Easter to everyone!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Living with my littles is a delight.

Living with my littles is a challenge.

Living with my littles energizes me and makes me laugh.

Living with my littles drains me and makes me cry.

How can both of these extremes be true?

I don't know. I just know they are.

There are moments I am so overcome with the TASK and just keeping them out of trouble that I wonder, "What in the world am I doing with an extra child?"

There are moments that my heart is filled to the brim and overflows and I weep with joy as I kiss their peanut buttered faces.

Around comes another moment, often no more than a beat later, that tests my very sanity and pushes my patience to the extreme. Again.

Yet when it's all quiet, the sun has gone to bed and the tucking in has finished, I lie in my bed nearly passing out from exhaustion I think, "This is it! This is what my Jesus has called me to. Some days its fun! Most days it's nothing but work, but this is it!"

And a smile creeps over my face. 

I have laughed.

I have cried.

I have clapped my hands in sheer delight.

I have wrung those same hands in frustration.

This child you have added to our family, Lord...he is OURS. He is so incredibly special. He has his idiosyncrasies. They push my buttons on some days. On others I am filled with patience and compassion for those same annoyances.

And I step back from the moment and SEE.

He was once lost, alone, abandoned. Crying. Desperate. Hurting. Frightened. Dumbfounded.

Now he has a place. He belongs. He has a bed, warm clothes, shoes. He laughs, runs, asks to be tickled and sings to himself.

So often he catches his reflection in a mirror and proudly declares, "Zebby! I'm not in an orphanage anymore! I'm in a family!" (I've shared this a few times on Facebook when he says this, but he says it A LOT. It truly has made a huge impression on him! And me!)

God has done this good thing. He has rescued my child from a life of homelessness on the streets of Uganda. And brought him here--to a family. Our family. Around our table. Under our roof. Into our van.

And most importantly...

                                ...into our hearts.

He is every bit one of us now.

His adoption will be final this Friday.

I could not be MORE excited!!! A judge will sign the finalization order and I'll pick it up later that day. You might want to listen on Friday morning, because you'll probably hear the cries of joy emit from my heart!!!



And...I wonder, will there be fear? Will I be able to mother this child through all his ups and downs? His short life has seen SUCH TRAGEDY. I am no mender of hearts...but God is here and He does that. But will I be able to help him be mended by our Jesus? Will my own shortcomings get in the way?

I do not permit these questions room to dwell. I do not need to be in those future moments. I am called to today, to be faithful with the now.

And right now, we are feeling like family.

We are adjusting.

Thank you, Lord!

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