Monday, August 30, 2010


I was so elated to open my mailbox on Friday and get a wonderful little package from my BFF who lives across The Pond (doing amazing things!!!). She had me choose from some darling pendants from an online jewelry company for
celebrating my 40th birthday which is coming up THIS Saturday!!

I actually chose the one that SHE thought I would choose.

Kindred spirits right there, I tell ya.

I love it so much and wish I could hug her in person and not just see her face on a blog, but thank God for cyber technology that at least allow me to do that much.

I am so blessed to have you in my life!!! I love you so much and
THANK YOU for the perfect gift!

Friday, August 27, 2010

These Small Hours...


::PandaGirl looking so cute with her summer tan and perfect legs (which you can't really see) while getting in some last-days-of-summer Disney Channel addictions.

::PandaPop and his summer addiction: Scrabble

::Robust and healthy. Looks so great on my island.

::Fresh strawberries so ripe and yummy!

::First day of 2nd grade

::Ahem...THE best water in the world, of course. The small print says "bottled in Croatia at the SAINT JANA natural spring". It might as well be labeled St. PandaMom.

::This book changed my heart. I am choosing to SEE things differently in my precious PG.

::Yummy, yummo, yay fall-is-coming-house-sprays!!! I know they only cover up smell and last only a few minutes, but for an exhilarating moment I am transported to a pumpkin patch with brightly colored fall leaves floating around me in the cool temperatures while I bask in the glory of my head.

::My D-A-R-L-I-N-G new keychain that makes me smile real big. She looks just like my girl. ; )

Have a great weekend looking for and enjoying the small hours all around you!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Made Only From Scratch


PandaGirl has been begging me to "make something from scratch...ya know, without any box or anything".


Finally, after her first day of 2nd grade on Monday I pulled out a cookbook and we made--from scratch--chocolate crinkle cookies.

So not hard.

Just a little effort.

We had a blast and the cookies were great! I love these anyway, because my mother-in-law always makes them every Christmas along with a whole slew of other delectables.

Instead of gorging on all of the cookies we made, we kept a few and sent the rest to one of our neighbors who brought me yummy mashed potatoes and gravy from Boston Market when I had my tonsils out. We wanted to bless them back!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I Choose to See

I did something today that I have never done before.

As soon as PandaGirl was dropped off at school and PandaPop left for work I sat down and read an entire book. From 8:30am to 2:30pm with a small break for lunch. As per PP's assignment was to read this book. I did it and am moved by it.

We have a special connection to the Steven Curtis Chapman family due to the fact that we adopted a little girl from China just like them. In fact, the final confirmation that came to PP before we felt led to adopt from China was on a radio station in Houston, TX when PP heard an interview with SCC about Chinese adoptions. They had recently returned with their first adopted daughter from there and were promoting adoption through their own life-changing testimony.

We were front and center when SCC's song "When Love Takes You In" came out which is ALL about adoption. PG is in between the ages of their first and second Chinese daughters. We have faithfully followed his music from the beginning like groupies. We adore this family as do thousands of others who have been blessed by their realness and their love of God.

Two years ago tragedy hit their precious family when their youngest son accidentally hit and killed their youngest daughter in their own driveway. Catastrophic. This book chronicles the journey through the heart and mind of Mary Beth Chapman.

I watched PandaPop bawl his eyes out reading it. I knew I would, too.

Sure enough I sat in my brown leather chair with a Batman blanket on my legs with tears streaming down my cheeks and dripping onto my red t-shirt through half the book. Other parts had me laughing hysterically outloud, but for the most part I was invited to feel the reality of this family's loss.

We live in this broken world and many times there are no answers as to why a loving God would allow such horrible things to happen. Though I have not experienced pain and grief to the level of this family, nor do I wish to, I have had my own times of mind-numbing pain and questions to my God who seemed to be silent, yet in a supernatural way there comes peace that is unexplainable just like the Bible promises. Your head and heart can be in completely different universes like an alternate reality at times. You know on one hand what you read in the Bible yet everything in your heart is screaming something entirely opposite.

That's when we CHOOSE to see God at work in ways we cannot fathom. We HAVE TO hope and trust that His ways are better than our ways.

I couldn't help but feel so much closer to my PandaGirl today. When I picked her up from school all I wanted to do was run up to her in the car line and swing her around like a two year old, but for her sake and her 2nd grade reputation I refrained.

I added our own pics from her Gotcha Day, February 2, 2004 in China. Precious moments.

I also stumbled across this almost edible photo of her at age three in her preschool class at our old church.

How cute can she be?!!!!!

How is it that as the years whip by the younger pictures of her just keep getting cuter and cuter---so much so that my heart even aches at seeing her innocence just stare straight into the camera lens?

Does she possibly know the journey with which she has been entrusted by her heavenly Father?

Below is a photo of PG from just last week. My girl is growing up and I don't want to miss anymore moments.

I have missed a few by being too busy or too bossy or too cranky or too something.

What a gift I have been entrusted with by my heavenly Father. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, August 23, 2010

1st Day 2nd Grade


I'm not quite sure why, but PandaGirl has said all summer how she did NOT want to go back to school. I always LOVED it when school started and couldn't WAIT!! Very excited about all the new school supplies, seeing friends, new things coming: teacher, room, books, etc.

She could care less. Hmph.

Of course, what kid would rather do work than play, but come on, a little bit of excitement would be nice? We're thinking she was just nervous for whatever reason. Some of the other parents said their 2nd grader was nervous, too. Maybe I was nervous entering Mrs. Whitner's second grade class back in 1978, but I sure don't remember it.

Once PG saw her friend who came running up to her and gave her a huge bear-hug I could tell her little 1/2 ponytail was swinging just a bit higher. Good.

We are super pumped about her teacher and can't wait to see the exciting things happen with Ms. Z.

She specifically asked for a backpack with wheels and a handle. I thought she looked like a airline attendant at the airport. She didn't think my humor was funny this morning. I'm sure there was too much on her mind to laugh at such a time as this. Wink.

I have a similar picture from last year of she and PandaPop crossing the street in the morning sun. Sweet memories made right then and there.

Here's to a great 2nd grade year!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eighteen Years of.....



Fabulous honeymoon to Disney World
My Bachelor's Degree
His Master's Degree
Moving boxes-14 times in 16 years thank. you. very. much.
A few arguments
A couple of hissy fits
More laughter
One Nissan Truck-copper
One Dodge Shadow-white
One rusted out '64 1/2 Mustang-red....and rust...bad call....really bad call
One Chevy Truck-cadet blue
One Nissan Pathfinder-charcoal grey
One Nissan 240SX (sniff, baby!!)-hunter green
One Saturn sedan-gold
One Nissan Xterra-silver
One Nissan Altima (can you tell we like Nissans?)-black
One Amazingly wonderful and fun Jeep!-black
A cruise to Cozumel
A few puking episodes
More laughter
Gazillions of brainstorming sessions for ministry events
One wild trip to China for a blessing with almond eyes & rosebud lips
Birthday parties
Road trips
Many, many trips to Sonic
Antique shops
Bills, bills, bills
Several scrapbooks
Thousands of ice cream scoops
Lots of ministry t-shirts
Hearing everyone else say, "We're pregnant!"
Holding each other tightly while we never could
Dreams of future plans
The Lord's supper in our living room with bread & grape juice
Amazing weather
Scary weather!
A few computers
Way too many irons!
Interviews at churches
Discovering Starbucks' frappuccino (him-mocha, me-caramel)
Humbling moments
Proud moments
More laughter
Movies, movies, movies
One fluffy Shih tzu-Dusty
Two parakeets-Palmer & Teeka (and Palmer's anonymous replacement)
One annoying Dalmatian that lasted three weeks-KC
One oh so loyal black lab-Izzac
One pretty, but oh so dumb blond lab/arctic wolf mix thing-Quincy
Two very short lived pups-Snickers & Pippen
**How could I have forgotten Charlie & Hugo?!!-dogs-one black, one copper
Two fish-Cooper & Violetta
Four cats-Pepper, Worf, Geordi and presently, Miao
Bad decisions
Great decisions
House purchase
Tons of friends
Sizzlin' hot times that are none of your beeswax-- ; )
More Laughter
Dark Chocolate
Holding our hearts up to the Lord over a little boy who came and went
Questions why a a fluffy-haired little toddling JOY has been in our life lately
Blessings beyond measure
Sharing this really challenging thing called life with my best friend who loves God more than he does me and forces me daily to be a better girl and cheers me on and hopes along with me and cries along with me and loves me so much I can't even fathom.

I love you PandaPop.

Happy 18th Anniversary!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Around Here...

Outside my window…It's so dang HOT, but not as hot as it has been. I think today is only 102 degrees.

I am thinking…why it is so hard for me to get motivated to do some things around here. Maybe being on the couch for almost two weeks recovering from the tonsillectomy has made me a little lethargic? apathetic? lazy?

I am thankful for…all the prayers that went up for me and my easy-as-could-be recovery.

From the kitchen…I see a well stocked pantry from going to the store this morning for the first time in three weeks.

I am wearing…khaki shorts, brown henley and my Yellow Box brown cow flip flops.

I am creating… a tablescape for a women's luncheon at our church for this Saturday. LOVE to do that kind of creating!!!

I am going…to get it together and DO the things I need to do around this house!!!

I am reading…the same stinkin' book I started at the beginning of summer: Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers, Girl Talk by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, lots of blogs.

I am hoping…for a great time in the next few days when PandaJoy gets to come for a visit! We haven't seen her all summer and all three of us are so ready to see how much she has grown!

I am hearing…PandaGirl watching "Game Day" in the living room. All the TV Mind Mush stops in a few days for her. Yikes.

Around the house…Several projects I want to get done, but I just keep seeing little piles of "you need to get on this".

One of my favorite things… staring at the amazing photography work of a gal I stumbled across who is EXACTLY my style of photography yet she has it perfected and has the right equipment to do it all. Longing to be like her when I grow up! lol!!

A few plans for the rest of the week…clean, drop off PG's school supplies at her school, laundry, play with PandaJoy and finish up summer 2010. OH! and celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary this Sunday!!!

A picture to share…(Yes, you'll recognize the place as Bath & Body Works and yes, I did state on here that wouldn't ever go back in there. Well, my sister-in-law visited and I went in with her and PG and I had a ton of fun gunking on gobs of their ooey-gooey lipgloss. Totally worth it to play with my girl).


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Beautiful Lyric


This is probably going to be a favorite with many people, but I just heard it this week and was moved.

Starry Night by Chris August.


It is simple, yet profound words like these that make me fully remember that God is in control. We are not home yet.

What caught my ear was this:
"I'm giving my life to the only One who makes the moon reflect the sun."

I mean, how incredibly beautiful is that?!!! I added a link at the bottom of this post of the artist performing the song at a radio station because seeing the lyrics alone doesn't give one the beauty of the music to mesh with the words.

From the birds that sing, In the tallest trees.
To the human life, of you and me.
From the desert sands, to the place we stand.
He is God of All, He is Everything.

I'm giving my life to the only one who makes the Moon reflect the sun.
Every starry night, that was His design.
I'm giving my life to the only son, who was and is and yet to come
Let the praises ring, 'cause he is everything
'Cause he is everything

From the autumn leaves, that will ride the breeze
To the faith it takes, to pray and sing
From the painted sky, to my plank filled eye
He is God of all, He is everything

I'm giving my life to the only one who makes the moon reflect the sun.
Every starry night, that was His design.
I'm giving my life to the only son, who was and is and yet to come
Let the praises ring, 'cause he is everything.

Hallelujah (Hallelujah)
I believe
Hallelujah (Hallelujah)
I believe

I'm giving my life to the only one who makes the moon reflect the sun
On that starry night, He changed my life.
I'm giving it all to the only son who gave me hope when I had none.
So let the praises ring,
Ohhhh Let the Praises Ring

I'm giving my life to the only one who makes the moon reflect the sun.
Every starry night, that was His design.
I'm giving my life to the only son, who was and is and yet to come
Let the angels sing, that he is Heavenly

So let the Praises ring
'Cause he everything

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've Come to Realize That....

I totally stole this from my friend who totally stole it from Face*book or something. Totally.

I've come to realize that my body is...a gift. I have not taken care of this gift and am ashamed because of it. I have a great shape and have been very healthy all of my life, but I have put way too much crap in it for way too long. Gluttonous. Yuck. PandaPop and I are changing that very, very soon.

I've come to realize that my job dream and passion. I can actually call myself a photographer. I have so very much to learn, more equipment to obtain and lots of room for vast improvement, but I am really truly DOING IT! I have so many visions and hopes for The Cotton Crop Photography. I am also a stay-at-home-mom which has always been a dream, too. I'm quite sure I could do a better job than what I do, but I love it just as well.

I've come to realize that I need nothing more in life love Jesus, tell Him so, show & tell others about Him and live securely in the JOY He promises right here and now.

I've come to realize that I've lost my mind...when I flail my arms around my head and shout, "HELLO!!! PEOPLE HERE!!!" angrily at the seating hostesses at a local restaurant because the five chatty teenage girlies haven't paid attention to our entrance and it was the final straw in my day and in this existence of clueless, oblivious, selfish and self-centered society. Not that this happened or anything.

I've come to realize I hate...the fight the true Enemy puts forth to make adoptions so difficult. International, domestic, foster system. They each have their own enigmas that make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. I am continually reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:19 that says "the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight". Though there are people who are in all three adoption systems that are genuine in their quest to help the orphan, there are more that are puppets of the Enemy and make the process wrong. This is not just for our own cause. I have countless stories in my mind of others who have prayed, longed, waited and held out hope only to be slapped in the face with some red tape or illogical decisions. God commands us to take care of widows and orphans. He promises that barren women will be the happy mothers of children. The only logical reason for the fight must be that hell hates when families come together, so it fights. Relentlessly.

I've come to realize that money is...something I wish I had more of. Wink. No, doesn't buy happiness, but it DOES buy choices. I learned last spring in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class that many times our "emergency" wouldn't be so much a 911 if we just had the cash to cover whatever "emergency" came our way. I've always known the money is God's and if you hoard it, you won't have it or if you do, you are miserable. Money is necessary to live, but it will not be my master.

I've come to realize that certain people...will choose to live in their lifelong ways and never change. Though I've been told differently, some people certainly do change. I've seen it. I've lived it. I'm certain.

I've come to realize that I'll always remember...cheering at Friday night football games, the smells of Sunday lunch at my grandma's country house with a slew of cousins, riding the school bus when I eat green apple bubble gum, my heart truly breaking in high school, all the fun little trips I went on with my parents, Winn's five & dime store, winning gazillions of ribbons in 4-H, my blue Mustang in high school & cruising The Valley, the feeling of having Barbie hair, all three proms, the first time I met PandaPop, the first time we kissed, the night he proposed, our honeymoon to DisneyWorld, the pang in my soul each time I have had to say goodbye to a kindred-spirit friend, that just because you are employed by a church doesn't mean people are always nice, laughter and tears with phenomenal friends, seeing PandaGirl's referral picture, holding her for the first time, our old playgroup with little Chinese darlings, the countless times PandaPop has encouraged me, meeting PandaJOY this year.

I've come to realize that my sibling...could care less about being my sibling. So sad. He is 8 years older and my whole life I have longed for his attention. He won't give it. His loss.

I've come to realize my the strongest person I know. She has endured so much yet continues to smile and say hope comes from the Lord. She and I can laugh until we tee-tee on ourselves. I love making her laugh. As I turn 40 in a few weeks, she turns 70 next week. She is a survivor. She introduced me to Jesus.

I've come to realize my someone different than I think he would have been if given the opportunities others his age had when they were kids. I've always known he is jovial and funny and teddy-bearish. That would be the same no matter what.

I've come to realize my cell an appendage. Maybe that's why I twitch now when I plug it in to recharge it. How did we ever live without them?

I've come to realize when I woke up this morning...that I had turned the corner on the tonsillectomy recovery and am on the mend!!!

I've come to realize last night...was the absolute worst part of the recovery. I wanted to cry, but knew it would only hurt worse and get all slimy in my throat. I wrote a note to PP for him to make me laugh and not cry. He did something that I cannot type on here. He is a children's minister. His dignity must be kept intact. I didn't cry.

I've come to realize right now I'm thinking about...the food that will be made in love tonight, in our kitchen by our friends who want to bless us.

I've come to realize today...has been the best day of recovery.

I've come to realize tonight...I will sleep in my own bed for the first time since last Tuesday after my tonsillectomy. I do much better on the couch, by myself when I'm recovering from anything.

I've come to realize tomorrow...I need to get back into the swing of living again and do some laundry, design a birth announcement for a friend, play with PandaGirl and help PP with some projects.

I've come to realize I really want to...get healthy and live a life of intention instead of taking my health for granted. In other words, grow up.

I've come to realize my children...well, that plural word prompt alone changes my answer. My child(ren) are nothing at all what I had envisioned, but a blessing none-the-less. Maybe there are "children" to come, but I'm not holding my breath. My one child keeps me on my knees.

I've come to realize this my mom's 70th birthday. I have been so hyped up about my own 40th that I seem to have forgotten the woman who birthed me has a big milestone as well. Happy Birthday, Mom. ; )

I've come to realize the best music to listen to when I'm smooth jazz. Love it. Don't even have to be upset. Just love to have it playing all the time. Thank you, friend, who told me about Pandora online music.

I've come to realize that my friends...have shaped who I am and who I will be.

I've come to realize that this year...has blown by. I'll be turning 40, I had my tonsils out, I've trusted Jesus more than ever, I am a real, honest-to-goodness, full-fledged grown up.

I've come to realize my God's greatest gift to me. He is my best friend and I don't like to imagine my life without him because it makes me cry and get all weary and lose sight of God. He was my last first kiss. He is the other side of me. He is also a way better parent than I am.

I've come to realize maybe I should...actually do more to minister to people than just teach about it. Ouch.

I've come to realize I really don't understand...why I am who I am or where I am in life and someone else was born to a poverty stricken third world country family where flies light on their lips and they have nothing to eat. Why do some people get great jobs that pay loads of money and the wives get to tootle around town in their fancy SUVs while all their kids are cute and involved in great activities and they end up going to private colleges? It's not all about choices. There is something else bigger here. "For such a time as this."

I've come to realize my my past. I have made some awful, awful choices. Some of those were on purpose with my full knowledge it was a bad call. Some were just made out of youthful bliss and ignorance. I have learned from all of it. I have also made some pretty great choices only by the sheer grace of God. Sometimes I wish I could go back and redo something, but what's the point in that? Cliche', cliche', but I am the person I am today because of my past.

I've come to realize parties...are what I LOVE to plan for!!! I would make a fabulous event planner. Just sayin'. I am already planning PG's 8th birthday party in October. I adore the buying for, setting up for, planning for and actually decorating parties! I like attending good get-togethers, too. Who doesn't like a party?!! Wait, I know a few people who could do without them. To each his own. (I cannot wait to party in NYC with my friend as we celebrate the big 4-OHHHH together this fall!!!!)

I've come to realize my a precious gift that has purpose and meaning at this exact moment in time. God is who He says He is and all of me is in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Respite from the Heat!


Our Texas summer temps have been just awful last week and this coming week!! Thank goodness all I had to do was stay in the house filled with wonderful A/C while the outside world lived in 102-104 degree weather!! That wasn't counting the heat index which mixes in the humidity factor and forcing up the "feeling" even hotter! I took a picture of my car thermostat the day before my surgery on my phone and can't figure out how to get it to myself, but it registered 110!!!

This day of PG dancing in the rain was back in June and we would LOVE to have more summer rain NOW!!! We showed her the movie with Gene Kelly when she was a little bitty thing and she adored all the fun music and dancing. We sing this song a lot around here so it only made perfect sense to put it on our collage with rain.

On the good side of recovery.....I think! Hopefully, just a couple more days of sleeping all the time and then I can get back to normal around here. Thank you, God for narcotics! lol!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Peaches & Cream


Spending time with friends at our worship pastor's house after our camp reflection time a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010



::First, update on my tonsillectomy.....I am doing great!! A bit of nausea until all the anesthesia is out (which should be all out today!!) and with the pain meds. I know that come Sunday this will be a whole new ballgame because the nastified scabs have to come off causing more pain than I have had so far, but I have really good meds. I've only thrown up four times and hopefully that is over...not sure. ; )

Honestly, I have had bouts of strep that have been far worse than this. Granted, I didn't have narcotics running through my veins for those cases either.

Thanks for your prayers, but please keep them coming for full recovery!

::NOGs.....The pictures speak for themselves. A study on Ruth. Girls gathering to gab. Food involved. Enough said.

The red shoes play in because of the cover of the book and a reference to Dorothy and Oz and how, as Ruth found her true home, we as Believers in Jesus Christ have a True Home awaiting us. On Monday we all went out with our tootsies covered in scarlet and all our shoes seemed to fit our personalities. Funny. We dined at Red Robin....well, because it had the word Red in it. Nothing hyper-spritual in that decision.

If you start to think, "Ohhhh, I wish I had a group like that!" Then make one yourself. Two years ago I had only known these girls for a year, got the first No Other Gods Bible Study, decided to meet seven Tuesdays of the summer in my living room and whoever could come, could. Of course, now I have more friends who I'd never want to "leave out", but the intimacy of the group gelled two years ago and we stuck with it. Go out and just do it! ; )


Sunday, August 1, 2010

To Pass The Time...


This is my latest shoot that I did a few days ago of my sweet friend's DARLING little munchkin!! What a cuddle bug she is! I have so very much to learn about photographing babies, but I think these turned out cute for a "first" try. The other newborn baby on the site that I did was back in early January and I had no idea what I was doing! I have far to go, but had a BLAST doing this shoot with Little Miss Cutie.

I will be going into a surgical center at 5:45AM on Tuesday morning to prep for having a tonsillectomy. Yes!--I'm getting my tonsils out just a few weeks shy of turning 40.

Happy Birthday to me?

Not sure how I'll do, but am praying for really GREAT anesthesia and a fast, painless-as-possible recovery. It is big-time surgery for adults! Kids heal quickly and bounce back soon.....we grown-ups get to look forward to pain and heavy-duty drugs.

I have all my popsicles, pudding, broths, sports drinks, applesauce and smushy things ready to go. I have a friend on stand-by ready to bring me a venti caramel frap at a moments' notice. Just bought season 5 of I Love Lucy to enjoy. I am very ready to dive into my brand new box of 64 count Crayola crayons along with a grown-up version of a coloring book-----coloring is total therapy to me! Reading, collage-making, sleeping. I hope it is enough to keep my mind off of EVERY SINGLE SWALLOW for the next 10 days.

Your prayers would be GREATLY appreciated!! ; )

I will update as soon as I am able, but until then....

"please count backwards from 99-98-97-9zzzzzzzzz........"