Hello everyone!
My a lot has changed since I last blogged. πŸ™‚

When Joel and I first started working with Visalus and the Body by Vi Challenge, Joel was working 2 jobs at approximately 70 hours a week. Starting today, 3 months later, Joel is now down to one 40 hour a week job.

We are counting our blessings and thanking the Lord for His provision and blessing over us.

I truly believe the Lord led me to this amazing company and it has been life changing to say the least. Not only have we changed our economy, we have changed our health. Joel has lost 20 lbs and I have lost 16 lbs. We feel better than ever and are believing that the Lord has a future for us in this company. We are helping people change their lives, their health, and their economy.

It’s working and it’s working for me and my family. I couldn’t be more thankful.
If you have any questions or thoughts, you can go to my website, call, or email me.


May the Lord bless each and every one of you!
Cheers! Anna


As most of you already know my husband and I are currently on the 90 day challenge with Body by Vi.

Here is the reason why.

For the past year, Joel and I have struggled. Struggled to make it financially, struggled to get vision for our future, and struggled to lose weight. I tried to pursue my baking and actually got lots of catering orders which was wonderful. But devoting a lot of time to perfecting baked goods does a real doozy on the body and I ended up gaining 15 lbs. Not good, not good at all. I still had 5 lbs of baby weight to lose from Maxwell so adding 15 to that was not ideal. I needed something else, other than turning to my baking every day.

Over the year, Joel struggled with his health and ulcerative colitis. We are such foodies, which isn’t helpful when he has to watch what he eats and we tried diet after diet, and nothing worked.

I prayed over and over that the Lord would highlight something to me and that I would be able to start a business or find some way to produce income from the home. Money was beyond tight and Joel was working two jobs to make ends meet.
I was fed up with my weight gain and decided to make the sacrifice and go to the gym every night, 5 nights a week and workout. I combined that with counting my calories and taking out all sugar and carbs. In the course of 2 weeks, I lost 2 lbs, and never saw my husband because evenings were the only time he was home.

I was devastated. I honestly felt hopeless. I worried that I could never change my body, change Joel’s body and health, change our finances, and get a vision for something that I could do from home for the next 5-10 years.

Then one day in January, I met with Jordan Sarmiento, a friend of mine and Joel’s. He just started with a company called Visalus and was promoting a 90 day challenge. He had made decent money promoting it and asked me to look into the products myself.

I did lots of research and was totally surprised.
I have been asked to do every MLM under the sun, and never once had a peace about it. Until now.
I was stoked. For the first time, I had excitement about my future. “This could really work because it’s a product I truly believe in.”

I started promoting it, started my challenge and in my first week I lost 8 lbs. I was beyond shocked.
In over 3 weeks on the challenge, I have lost a total of 13 lbs. I only have 7 more to go before I am at my goal weight.

Never in a million years would I think this would work for me. Never would I have thought that I would love the products, and be able to make some extra income.
I am not making “bank” by any means, YET, but I am making at least an extra $400 a month which pays for my kids to go to their amazing Christian school .
I couldn’t be more grateful to the Lord for His leadership over my life and bringing this company to my awareness.
I truly believe it was my tool get me out of the hole I had dug for myself.

This is not a sales pitch. This post is for me to encourage you that in the midst of your situation, whatever it may be, the Lord has a plan for you. Keep pressing in, persevering, and asking questions. He will answer you!

If you have any questions about Body by Vi or the 90 day challenge, you can go to my website here.


Bless you! Have a fabulous Monday!

This is the day you have all been waiting for.

Ha, well maybe not, but it’s a big day for me as I reveal to you the recipe for my famous chocolate dipped macaroons.
Here you go!

Coconut Macaroons
– 1 bag of shredded sweetened coconut or 3 cups
– 4 egg whites
– 4 TBSP all purpose flour
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 1/3 cup sugar
– 2-3 tsp vanilla extract

Take your egg whites and beat them on high until they stand in stiff peaks

Add the sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour to the egg whites and mix until combined.

Add the entire bag of coconut or 3 cups of shredded sweetened coconut.

Stir until combined.
Take a cookie scoop and fill it until rounded and full with the coconut mixture.

Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you do not have parchment paper, do not attempt this recipe.
Macaroons are very sticky and will either stick to the pan or fall apart when you try to remove them.

Bake them at 325 for 12-14 minutes.

You are looking for them to get slightly golden brown on the top and a little golden brown color on the bottom edges.

Remove them from the pan and let them cool on the parchment paper on your counter.

While they are cooling, melt some semi sweet chocolate in a double broiler.

After it’s melted, use a spoon to help dip half the macaroon into the chocolate. Place back on parchment paper and let it cool.

I always pop the freshly dipped chocolate macaroons into my refrigerator. It will harden the chocolate a lot faster then if they sit at room temperature.

Then serve!

I store mine, covered or bagged, in the refrigerator and then bring them to room temperature before serving.
I hope you enjoy. This recipe is tried and true and took me countless times to perfect.
When you eat these cookies, think of me. πŸ™‚

I have been making homemade tomato sauce for pizza and spaghetti for a long time.
Here is my recipe. I hope you LOVE it!

Chop up one onion (either red or yellow) and add to a pan with about 6 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil
Add 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Let it saute for a bit.
Add fresh or dried basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and touch of sugar. (I use around 2 tsp. of the salt and herbs, but never ever measure. It’s all in the wrist) πŸ™‚
Add a large can of whole tomatoes (106 ounces). I use the can from Costco. You could also use 3-4 cans from your local grocery store.
Pour it in and blend with an emersion blender.
Add a good bit of balsamic vinegar, about 1/4 cup
Season with salt if it needs it.

Done and done. You have a lovely, bright tomato sauce.
From this point, you can add meatballs to slowly simmer and cook, or spread on a pizza and top with your favorite toppings!!!


I am a sucker for tortilla soup. It is my absolute favorite!!!!!

So today I thought I would give you my recipe and pass on the love to your family.

Here are the ingredients
– half red onion, chopped
– bunch of cilantro
– 2 chicken breast or precooked chicken either rotisserie or TJ’s grilled chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken and only used the white meat)
– 1 avocado
– 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
– 2 cans rotel
– 4 TBSP tomato paste
– 60 or so ounces chicken broth
– cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder
– sour cream, optional
– your favorite brand of tortilla chips

Let’s get started.
Put your soup pot over the stove on med heat.
Add some extra virgin olive oil, about 3 TBSP.
Add 1/2 red onion, chopped and let it saute for a minute
Add 1 tsp each of cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder (use less chili powder if you want it mild, my recipe has a little zip to it)
Add half the bunch of cilantro, chopped
Add the two cans of rotel tomatoes
Add your precooked chicken, shredded
Add 4 TBSP of tomato paste

The smell in your kitchen will be divine at this point.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil.
Turn off the heat and start preparing your add ins. πŸ™‚

Grate some sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 cups worth.
Chop up some more cilantro
Slice and chop the avocado.

Ladle the soup in the bowl, add avocado, a dollop of sour cream (if you choose), sprinkling of cheddar cheese, and some cilantro on top.
I crunch up my chips and put them in the soup while I eat. It’s just the best soup on earth!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Cheers!!!!

Have I mentioned that I love lentils? Cause I do!!!! They are so delicious and wonderful and warm and comforting and tasty.

Here is my recipe for lentils. It is easy, simple, and oh soooo good πŸ™‚

Soak a small bag of lentils in warm water for 3 hours.
Drain and rinse and put the lentils in a crock pot

Add chicken broth to the lentils. I use 48 ounces of chicken broth, or one and a half quarts. If I don’t have homemade chicken stock, I use Trader Joe’s free range organic chicken broth.

Then add
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp salt
– some black pepper.
– 2 bay leaves

Set your crockpot to cook for either 4 or 6 hours.

I always add Frank’s sauce to my bowl of lentils when I eat them, but they are great just like this. πŸ™‚
You can always add sliced veggies to your lentils while they cook if you like. I’ve added zucchini, squash, carrots, and celery at different times when I want to mix it up a bit. I try to make a big crockpot once a week and eat a cup a day.

I hope you enjoy this lentil recipe as much as I do! πŸ™‚

This recipe is truly unique and will surprise your taste buds with it’s deliciousness.

It went from 55 degrees here in Kansas City to 8 degrees within 24 hours. We are all needing something warm for our tummies. πŸ™‚

Broccoli Cheese Soup
– 30 oz frozen broccoli
– 3 cans chicken broth (the small ones)
– 6 TBSP butter
– 1 chopped onion
– 1/2 cup flour
– 2 cans coconut milk
– 1 1/2 lbs velveeta cubed
– pinch of pepper

Simmer the broccoli in the chicken broth, just until the broccoli softens.
Melt butter in a soup pot.
Saute onions for about 2 minutes.
Add flour and make a paste by combining it with the onions and butter.
Slowly whisk in the coconut milk, until thick and bubbly.
Add chicken broth and broccoli, stir together.
Add the cheese and melt. (Do not boil)

Use an immersion blender to thoroughly mix the soup and break up some of the broccoli chunks. I like to leave some bigger pieces of broccoli though.

Serve warm with some hot, toasty bread, and a salad if you like.
Cheers to a nice, delicious, winter meal! πŸ™‚

I have 3 recipes for pie crust that I love using.
One with all shortening, one with all butter, and one with a blend of both.

All shortening pie crust (Marci Sorge’s recipe)
for a double 9 inch crust
– 2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 cup cold shortening
– (I always add about 2 TBSP of sugar to balance out the salt, but my MIL does not.)

– Add salt, flour, and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or use your food processor.
– Add 8-10 TBSP of ice cold water.
– Mix with a fork until combined, form into two balls, and roll out the dough.
– Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.

All butter Pie crust
– 2 2/3 cup flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 4 TBSP sugar
– 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cold. (must be unsalted butter, as it has less water content than salted butter)

– Mix the first 3 ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry blender or food processor. Until it resembles, small peas.
– Add 10-12 TBSP ice cold water
– Mix with a fork until combined, form into two balls, and roll out the dough.
– Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.

Here is a picture of my all butter crust. You know it’s a good crust when you can see small pieces of butter. It will bake up beautifully.

Pie Crust Recipe (the first pie crust that I tried and LOVED)

– 3 cups of flour
– 4 TBSP sugar
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1/3 cup shortening
– 2/3 cup butter, unsalted and cold
– 1/2 cup ice cold water (i usually use a few TBSP more than that, but feel it out)

– Mix first 3 ingredients, cut in shortening and butter or use a food processor, then mix with a fork the ice cold water.
– Form 2 balls, and roll out the dough, put it in the pie pan and then refrigerate for 30 minutes at least before baking.

****MAJOR TIP****
One thing that I have found with pie crust, the wetter the dough, the better it rolls out. If there are lots of “floury” crumbs then you need to add another TBSP or two of ice water. You don’t want wet dough, you want dough that is wet enough to stick together. Trust me, when in doubt, add another TBSP.

Here is a picture of the all shortening crust, ready to go into the oven. It’s a blueberry pie πŸ™‚

Good luck with all your pie making adventures!

If you are looking for an amazing chocolate pie recipe, this is it!!!!!

Seriously it’s that good. Just ask my kids.

I needed to make some pie tartlets for a friend of mine hosting a benefit concert. These babies fit the bill perfectly.

Here is my recipe for French silk pie.
– 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
– 1 cup sugar
– 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
– 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 3 large eggs
– Whipped cream, for serving and chocolate shavings if you’re all fancy and such.

Beat butter and sugar together with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Add melted chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time and beat for 5 minutes after each egg. This part takes the longest and it’s easy to think that it’s whipped enough, but just keep whipping it! Set the timer on the stove, the mixer at med speed and beat those eggs into the choc/butter mixture.

Then spoon the chocolate mixture into a fully cooked pie crust and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Serve with homemade whipped cream.

I pour some heavy whipping cream into my mixer and start beating it on high until it forms some consistency. Then I add powdered sugar and vanilla. Add sugar to taste. When it forms and becomes thick, taste it and see if it’s sweet enough or needs more vanilla etc. You can always add more sugar and vanilla, just not take it away πŸ™‚

Tomorrow I will post my 3 favorite pie crust recipes. Look back here tomorrow and pick your favorite to try.

Cheers!!! Hope you enjoy your chocolate pie. O wait, you don’t have it. I do.

No seriously.

Enough truly is enough. This is a new year, a time for resolutions, and a time for true change. I am not just saying this. I am actually going to change.

I am taking on the 90 day challenge. Want to do it with me?????

I officially and sadly have 20 lbs of weight to lose that I never lost after having Max, my fourth baby. I am still, nearly 20 months later, not in my old clothes. It is frustrating to say the least, but more uncomfortable and sad. I wear clothes that cover my problem areas. I put so much time and effort into making my face and hair beautiful, and feeling uncomfortable from the neck down. I am done. I need to change and I don’t need some “fad, extreme” diet. I need something healthy that will actually work.

I found this.


Check back here to track my progress and still get amazing recipes from me. I will still be blogging on all things life, God, family, and food. We are in this together. I am not looking for a quick, extreme fix. I want something that will fill my body with nutrients not deprive it of something while I try to lose the weight.

So cheers to life, a new year, a new body, and change!

Mmmmmmmmmm, homey, delicious, warm, healthy, amazing chicken noodle soup.

Nothing is better than homemade chicken noodle soup. Here’s my recipe.

Take a large onion, and chop it. Add to a large pan with extra virgin olive oil and saute for a few minutes.

Chop of a bunch of carrots. I never count or measure the veg. I just do what seems right. If i have extra carrots than I chop them too.

Throw the carrots in the soup pot with the onions and just let it saute while you chop up some celery.

Throw the celery in the pot. Keep the soup pot on med heat and just saute the living daylights out of it.

Now I add my herbs. Rosemary, thyme, sage (I used fresh because I had it on hand, but I normally use dry ingredients at around 1 tsp. a piece), oregano, salt, and pepper.

Throw them in the pot and add your chicken stock. I use homemade from the chickens that I roast once a week. But you can use store bought or homemade. Add a good amount. Again, I never measure. I just know what looks right. Definitely cover the vegetables by a couple inches.

Bring the stock to a boil and throw in the egg noodles. Let them cook in the soup, and then add some chopped up chicken.

I usually roast two chickens a week. We eat one for dinner then I pick the chicken off the other and save it in a ziploc bag for either soup or a casserole during the week.

Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
There you have it!

Enjoy and make it on a cold day or when someone is sick and needs to get better fast!!!! There’s healing in this soup.

p.s. Thought you would enjoy a view from where I cook. I have such a wonderful view of all my friends on my refrigerator. While I chop, cut, and cook, I pray for all my friends and their families. Want me to think and pray for you? Send me a photo of your family. πŸ™‚

This is by far, my go to pizza dough recipe.

If you haven’t tried making your own dough, try this. It is pretty easy and tastes awesome.

I use it for my ultra thin crust pizzas and my deep dish thick crust pizzas.

Dough Recipe-
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
4 TBSP softened unsalted butter
1 TBSP salt
4 cups of all purpose flour

– Put water and yeast in your mixing bowl and let the yeast dissolve. About 5 minutes. When it gets all foamy, you know the yeast has dissolved.

– Add 3 cups of flour, olive oil, and salt.

– Mix with a dough hook for 3 minutes.

– Add the last cup of flour. Maybe half a cup more if it needs it. You don’t want dough that’s too dry or too sticky. And knead with the dough hook for another 2 minutes.

– Add the softened butter. Mix about 30 seconds more or until the butter is fully incorporated.

– Take the ball of dough and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let it double in size.

– Once it doubles, punch it down. At this point, I either divide it into 4 smaller balls for thin crust pizzas or divide it in half for two thick crust pizzas, whatever your preference.

– Stick in your fridge if you aren’t going to bake it until later. Or after forming your balls, let it sit for another 30 minutes before rolling it out and making your pizza.

– Bake according to your recipe for pizza. For thin crust, I bake at 550 for about 10 minutes. For thick, deep dish crust, I bake it at 400 for 40 minutes.

I hope this helps you have the confidence to go forth, and make your own pizza!

So yesterday, my little brother turn 21. Crazy how fast time flies.

We celebrated with a homemade pizza contest. Each sibling couple had to bring a large homemade pizza of their choice. Everyone voted anonymously, and the winner won two movie tickets and free babysitting.

The selection of pizzas included a white pizza with spinach and feta from Beau and Mercy, a chicken pesto pizza from Brian and Grace, a pepperoni and olive pizza from Marcus and Rachel, a proscuitto and fig pizza from James and Hanna, and a deep dish pepperoni, peppers, and sausage pizza from me and Joel.

Our pizza came in second. We lost to Hanna and James. But you know what. That’s okay. I have resolved my anger and jealousy.

It’s a bad picture, but it’s the only one I have. This is my pizza. First time ever making a deep dish and I have to say it turned out awesome. There will definitely be “tweaking” but that’s normal in the game of food.

Happy Birthday Truman!!!!! I love you so much and I am so proud of the man of God you are. We love you too Lauren. πŸ™‚

Here are some snapshots of me and my handsome hubby.

Life is grand isn’t it?

Tonight, I threw a couple chickens in the oven for dinner. My kids, sadly, are entirely sick of roast chicken and veg. From being on the GAPS diet for 3 weeks, they had their fair share of chicken stock and vegetables cooked in chicken stock. They need a break. But alas, it was what I had and they had to eat it.

My method of cooking chicken is foolproof and super delicious. I thought I would share it.

I always throw two chickens in a roasting pan, usually weighing 3-5 lbs a piece. I throw some chopped up vegetables in the pan too. Celery, carrots, potatos, squash, onions, or anything else that sounds good. I love using fresh herbs but don’t always have those available. Today, though I did and I used fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage, along with salt and pepper which I generously spread over the chickens and veg.

Put half a stick of butter on top of each chicken and put in the oven at 250 degrees for 4-5 hours. It always takes my oven 4 hours to get fully cooked but I have a terrible fear of serving under cooked chicken. It is one of my biggest fears. So I always want to make sure my chicken is fully cooked. And cooking the chicken at 250 nearly guarantees that it won’t be overcooked even if you do go over time.

Many a time, I have been in a rush and cooked my chicken at 350 for a couple hours, and the meat is always tough. In this method, you will have juicy, succulent meat. I promise.

Add some cumin, paprika, garlic, onion powder, anything you find in your cupboard. Experiment with seasonings. But 250 for 4 hours is the way to go.

I almost forget to mention that halfway through cooking, I add another stick of butter to the pan and mix around all the veg and start basting the chicken for the remainder of the cooking time.

The great thing is that you have plenty of bones and chicken for stock and soup the next day!!!!

Cheers and happy eating!

p.s. On a side note, for lunch I tried some veggie burgers from Costco.

They were just okay. The only redeeming thing is that I ate them with Frank’s sauce, the most glorious condiment on earth.

I am still looking for the best veggie burger available in stores.

Please let me know if you have on you adore! Thanks!

Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday. Truman turns 21 and the family is having a party.

Here’s the deal. It’s not just any ‘ole party, it’s a pizza competition. Each sibling and their spouse has to bring a homemade pizza. At the end of the night, everyone will anonymously vote and the winner gets two free movie tickets and free babysitting from my mother.

I will win.

Joel and I talked long and hard about what type of pizza to make. We decided on a deep dish. We normally only make ultra thin crust (he is from NY) but wanted to shock everyone and go with a thick, deep dish pie.

I will post pictures tomorrow of the grand event. For now, Here are some other pizzas I have made.

When Joel and I were throwing out an idea of starting a pizza shop, this was one that would’ve definitely been on the menu. Alas, we do not have a pizza shop, but this pizza is definitely worth trying. So delicious!

Go ahead. Make it for your family one morning. They will love you for it. We have tried bacon as well as sausage. They both work.

Since we are done with the Christmas season, it is time to start thinking of getting healthy and eating right!
My favorite vegetable of all time is the brussel sprout.

Here’s how to cook them properly.
Cut off the stubs with a small knife.
I normally cut the large ones in half and throw them into a colander.
Give them a thorough rinse and scatter them onto a large cookie sheet.
This is where the fun comes in. Don’t measure just take a bottle of Extra virgin olive oil and drizzle them nicely. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper.
Toss with your hands to evenly coat them all.
Bake at 450 for about 10-15 minutes.
I like mine brown and crispy. The burnt bits end up tasting like popcorn. Even my kids devour them.

Cheers and happy brussel sprout eating!!!

Hello again,
I was reminded today of something the Lord spoke to me and I wanted to share it with you all.

Short story, but I was born in Tucson, Arizona. My parents had family there and in the middle of winter, early February 1986 to be exact, they heard a Mike Bickle tape (yes, tape). That tape so transformed them and they knew that Kansas City was the place the Lord had for them. So they packed up all their belongings and without even hesitating, they moved to Kansas City. My mom was also 9 months pregnant with Grace at the time. Crazy story.

We have been here ever since, under Mike Bickle’s leadership, 25 years to be exact.

One sunday morning at church, I was sitting listening to Mike preach. My heart was so stirred and I was thanking the Lord for my parents’ decision to move here. If they hadn’t left family, friends, church, a good life and job, and moved in the middle of winter, 9 months pregnant, I don’t know where I would be. In my life, that is the single most important decision my parents ever made.

Then I asked the question. What will it be for my kids? What is the one thing I will do that will mark and set my children up for their destiny in God?

And you know what? God answered me, right then and there. He spoke to my heart saying, “Your faithfulness and your steadiness in the mundane of doing IHOP will be the thing that marks their hearts.”

Clear as day. It really ministered to me because most of the work of an intercessory missionary is mundane and hard. It’s also joyous and beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But the number one thing I am tempted with being an intercessory missionary here at IHOPKC, is the dream of moving away and living in a beautiful city with gorgeous outdoor activities, etc. Still loving the Lord of course and doing the work of the kingdom, but just living somewhere else.

The Lord clearly spoke to me that day and told me that I am called to be faithful and steady, here at IHOP KC. My children will see me and Joel and they will know of the goodness of the Lord over their lives.

So I challenge you to ask that tonight. What will it be in your life that will mark your children for greatness in God? It’s a fun question to ask the Lord. Maybe He’ll speak to you tonight.

Anna Rose

Hello everyone,
Today I had a moment.
A moment where time stood still and I knew that I would remember this day for the rest of my life.
Every night before my kids go to sleep, we have bible story time. Well, that’s not true. I try to stir up everything within to be spiritual and tell them something that they will remember about God. Most nights, it happens, but other nights are just busy and a tired mom can only put her children to bed.

Tonight was a night where heaven met earth.

Let me give you a little history.
Two sundays ago, a friend of mine, Shelley Hundley (name drop) gave an incredible message. One thing she said stuck out to me. She was not a believer in college and a group of Christians at her school started praying for the Lord to save her and encounter her. They knew that if God could save Shelley, anything could happen. This group of believers on Shelley’s campus, started praying for her daily. She eventually came to know Christ.

This got me thinking. How often do I pray for my unsaved friends? So that very day, I sat down and started praying. Specifically for my friend Nathan. My kids came in and saw me kneeling down with tears in my eyes. They of course were worried for me. I ended up explaining all about hell and told them to pray with me for my friend Nathan, that he would not go to hell and that Jesus would encounter him.

Today, we drove by a funeral home. My kids have never asked before, but for some reason, today they asked. “Mom, what is that building?” I went on to explain about when we die, we get buried in the ground and our spirits either go to heaven or hell. That kind of confused them, but they knew the heaven and hell part.

Audrey nearly started crying saying that she never wanted to die. Then of course I start telling them about heaven and how we will get to be with Jesus forever.
Conversation ended.

Tonight, after a busy crazy day, I sat down with the kids. I had yelled at them just 30 minutes before for their bad attitudes and had to repent for my anger. I am just saying this to let you know that I am not some super spiritual amazing mother. I struggle with anger. I am not perfect. But I am quick to repent and I know that it takes effort to stir myself up at the end of the day and tell them about Jesus, so I do it. Tonight, I told them about Mary of Bethany. We talked about pouring out perfume on Jesus’ feet and loving Him with our whole hearts.

Somehow we got talking about heaven and hell again. We went into specifics this time. We talked about the lake of fire and people that don’t know Jesus who will burn in hell for ever. The kids all got tears in their eyes. Then we talked about Jesus and how we will be in heaven with Him forever, worshipping Him, dancing, eating good food and talking with all the heroes of the bible. Then we talked about hell again and about how important it is to obey God, and our parents and love each other and give to each other. We talked about evil men and women and how they have turned their backs on God.

Audrey looked at me crying, asking to go to heaven to be with Jesus. She said, “why do I have to be here on earth? I want to go to heaven!”

This broke my heart. My daughter, who just turned six, is yearning for eternity in a way that I wasn’t. I am happy here. I am content to go about my day and sleep in my bed and wake up and drink delicious coffee. Tears were streaming down her face tonight, because she was not satisfied with her life and wanted to be with Jesus.

Then we prayed.
Each one of my children were in tears. Each one of them closed their eyes and prayed for Nathan to come to know Jesus so that he wouldn’t burn in hell for eternity.
Then we prayed for our own lives. That we would love righteousness and hate wickedness and we would love, serve, and follow Jesus all the days of our lives.

Tonight, I am convicted by my children. They have shown me how to hunger and thirst for righteousness. They have shown me how to long for another age.
Today was a long, hard day. I did not feel spiritual. I did not feel righteous. I have no goodness apart from Jesus.

I have always struggled to feel that I was doing enough, and teaching my children enough about Jesus. When they were 2 and 3 years old and I would sit and have bible story time, they didn’t take it seriously. Guess what? I took it personally. As if it were my fault they weren’t more spiritual and talked about Jesus all the time. I thought to myself that I was doing something wrong and I had to change my approach or if I had just let them watch less movies, then they would hunger for Jesus more.
Guess what? They were just young. They didn’t have the brain capacity to understand what I was even saying to them. Now, they are older. They are starting to get it.

My point is this. God uses weak people, in seemingly unimportant moments of life, to glorify Himself. I am just a weak person, a mom, who is trying the best I can (and I fail miserably), to teach my children about Jesus. My hope is that in my weakness and in the mundane, hard, trying, tiring, moments of my day, that suddenly, in a moment God will show up and glorify Himself. Tonight was one of those moments. My heart is happy, convicted, provoked, and needing more of Jesus.

I hope this encourages you in the journey that you are on. Keep persevering and pressing on, because in a moment, God can come and reveal Himself and glorify His Son.
Blessings tonight!

I know my posts are few and far between. But I am hoping to make them more frequent. Please have grace with me as this momma of 4 little ones works harder.

Thanksgiving was just peachy. How was yours????
I spent the day before making tons of yummy goodness including 4 dozen chocolate dipped coconut macaroons, an apple pie, and a banana cake with cream cheese frosting.
The day of Thanksgiving, I woke up and made 15 lbs of mashed potatoes and drove over to my parent’s home, the Falkner’s, and ate a beautiful Thanksgiving lunch with them. It is a tradition in my family to go around the table and say what we are thankful for. It always ends in tears and hugs and a huge celebration over the Lord’s goodness to us the past year. This year was no different. Mercy started it off with the crying and within 3 minutes, every person was in tears.

Thanksgiving is by far my #1 favorite holiday with my family.

Home for naps at 1pm. I make another 15lbs of mashed potatoes. Yes, you read that right. I made a total of 30 lbs of mashed potatoes. Hand peeled and all.

At 3pm we headed over to the Sorge household for dinner and festivities. Every Thanksgiving, us and the Hebbert’s spend the night over at Bob and Marci’s house. It is so fun and the kids look forward to it every year. We stay up late and eat leftovers and watch a movie. The following morning there was a brunch at the Sorge’s house with lots of people stopping in and saying hello. So fun!

Coming home, it took me a while to get my bearings and stop eating leftovers and resume a normal schedule.

But it was a joyous holiday and I am so thankful to the Lord for all that He has done in my life this past year. Especially for being so kind and bringing Maxwell forth into this world and helping us through that crazy time.

Here are a few photos of our day. Hope you enjoy.

Isn't Maxwell getting so big? 6 months and 20lbs of beautiful chunk.

Audrey being gorgeous. Noah being gangster.

The women in my family. Starting from the left, Mercy, Grace, Rachel, my mom, and me.

More pictures to come from the Sorge side.

Here are some recent family photos courtesy of Steve Willis at http://thepureportraitproject.com/

This time Alexander wasn’t crying. He wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t crying. I’ll take what I can get!

Currently, Joel and I are 27, Audrey is 5, Noah is 4, Alexander is 2, and Max is 5 months. My kids are growing at rapid speeds. Partly due to the fact they have a snack every 2 hours. It really is insane how much food they can all eat!

On a completely separate note, I am very excited for fall and the upcoming holiday season. I want to have nice fires, bubbly hot chocolate, and lovely times with my family. What do you love about fall???

I was so stirred by Mike Bickle’s message this morning at church. Here are some things on my wish list.

– I want to be a woman of diligence. Diligence is a constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken. I want to be a woman of diligence.
– I desire an ever increasing fear of the Lord. I want to always be aware that He is in the room with me, watching me, and knows every thought I think.
– I want to be rid of all my anger.
– I never want to struggle with envy ever again.
– I want to train my mind to only think godly thoughts of others. Even in difficult circumstances, when I, my husband, and my family are judged or wronged.
– I want to be only encouraging and uplifting with my speech. I want my words to give grace to the hearer. I really mean this. It is so discouraging to leave a conversation or time with a friend, and not feel uplifted or loved at the core. I want to only speak affirming words and give life.
– I want my life to give testimony of the goodness of God. I want to be a faithful witness of Jesus Christ.

This is not an all encompassing list of the things that I want. Just things that have been on my heart today. I need Jesus. I need Him bad. I have no goodness apart from Him.

What are some things on your wish list?

Today was a glorious and incredibly hard day.

It’s absolutely shocking to me have days that are filled with such high highs and such low lows. Wow. Joel and I went out for lunch today to celebrate my birthday coming up. We had such a lovely time together, outside of Max being a little stinker and crying for the first part of lunch, he eventually calmed down and slept in Joel’s arms so we could finish eating. Our waiter was awesome and gave us free seafood chowder and dessert on the house for our birthdays. Such a treat!!! It was just glorious. Then we went and got coffee at our favorite coffee shop, the Roasterie, and sat outside in the glorious weather with the cool September wind blowing around us. I held Max as he gently cooed and awed at people walking by. Did I mention it was glorious??? It felt as if we were communing with Jesus as we enjoyed each other and our surroundings.

Then we went and picked up the kids and life got a little more interesting. Let me just say that life with four children, 5 and under, is gloriously busy and slightly chaotic. Beautiful but busy. I will not go into the details of the afternoon as they are too many to recount. But our evening ended with our son, Noah, throwing a fit for 3 hours. As I write this, he has just now calmed down and gone to sleep.

It is in moments like this when I realize my dependance on Jesus. Without Him, I am nothing and can do nothing. My days can be so wonderful and yet so hard all at once. My kids are amazing, beautiful, loving, and surprising and yet try me and test my patience like none other. Every day, I have to turn to Jesus and ask that He strengthen me and fill me with more of His Spirit. I have no good apart from Him.

Isaiah 40:28-31 is such an encouragement to me and I hope it encourages you tonight.
“Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

The Lord is mighty to strengthen you tonight. He can lift you up and bring renewal and refreshing to your heart.
Thank you Jesus!

In closing, here are a couple pictures of my gorgeous children whom I love so dearly. πŸ™‚

Audrey and Noah

Alexander the Great!

And just in case you thought that this photo shoot was smooth sailing and the kids were complete angels……..

All 12 Falkner grandchildren

Yes, the ones screaming are mine. Aren’t they just sooooooo cute????

Here it is. The story of my fourth child’s birth. I hope you enjoy reading it and I hope it encourages your heart.

Maxwell Finney Sorge

Sunday night, May 16th, I was laying in bed. Frustrated from having contractions for several days and nothing was picking up. I prayed out loud to Jesus and surrendered my body, the birth, Maxwell, the surrounding circumstances of family going out of town and not wanting them to miss the birth, and surrendering my own wishes and hopes for this birth to Jesus. I put myself in His hands and ended the prayer. I closed my eyes to go to sleep. Contractions started. Nothing too intense but I definitely had to focus on them. They were about every 5 minutes apart from 12:30am- 6:30am. I stayed awake by myself, took a bath, watch a birthing video, watched another movie, and then finally went to sleep around 6:30am. I woke up a few hours later and got dressed. I went to my midwives appointment at 10am that Monday morning, May 17th. I was having small contractions but nothing intense and nothing consistent. I was dialated to a 4-5 and they stripped my membranes and sent me home, saying I was definitely in early labor and would have a baby probably later in the day maybe closer to midnight.
I went home and decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. It was about 11:30am and I got Alexander and Audrey in the double stroller and went a ‘strollin’. I came home 20 minutes later with completely wet pants. My water broke. Joel and I had planned on going to grab lunch somewhere with the kids because it would be our last time with just 3 kids and eating out gets pretty hard to do with 4 kids, or so I’ve been told. I wasn’t having contractions, so I decided that labor would start when it wanted to and I was safe to go to D’Bronx for an hour and eat a slice of pizza.
We packed in the car and headed to D’Bronx. I called the midwives and ended up having to leave a voicemail. I told them my water broke around noon and that I would come in when my contractions really picked up and I knew I was in labor. I asked them to call me if there was anything else I needed to know.
We got home from lunch around 1:30pm and I decided to lay down for a little nap. One of my midwives called and said that I needed to be at the hospital at 4pm because I was GBS positive and my water had broken and they needed to start an iv with an antibiotic. I figured I had 3 or 4 hours to relax and hopefully get some sleep. I laid down and contractions started coming. I talked to a few people and they said not to wait too long because I would probably go pretty fast being I was already dialated to a 4.
At around 2:30pm, I got up to use the restroom, and Sheila, my midwife called me saying that I needed to get to the hospital right now. She was worried that I was going to dialate super fast and she wanted to get me there asap. As soon as I hung up the phone with her, my contractions came on fast and hard. I knew we had to get to the hospital NOW. We called our babysitter, Chauntelle Hall, and thankfully she was able to come right over. She was at our house within 5 minutes, and we headed to the hospital.
I knew something was up when I had 5 contractions getting from the car to the hospital entrance. I was in full blown labor and I could barely walk. As soon as we got up to the maternity floor, I asked to use the restroom and get into a gown immediately. Liesl Arteaga, my dear friend and nurse practicioner, was there to assist me during labor. I got into the bed and asked for them to start the iv with the antibiotic asap because I wanted to get in the tub. Thinking I had to endure such intense labor for several more hours was getting me freaked out and I wanted in the jacuzzi, yesterday.
They are required to do a 20 minute fetal monitoring strip to see how the baby is doing. Praise the Lord for this required test!!!! I laid there having hard contraction after contraction, and they noticed that Max’s heart rate was dropping during my contractions. By now, it was 3:30pm. I had been at the hospital for 30 minutes. I knew something was wrong, when they gave me an oxygen mask and when they saw that I had meconium stained amniotic fluid. Also, they checked me again and I was only at a 5. Sheila, my midwife came in and sat on the bed to check me herself. She put her hand up and said the words, “O no we have a cord.” Next thing I knew was everyone went crazy. People were yelling across halls and Sheila said, “Anna, we have a prolapsed cord and we need to get him out asap.” I just started praying “Jesus come” at the top of my lungs and praying in tongues. Sheila, my amazing midwife, stayed on the hospital bed with me, with her hand holding the cord away from Maxwell’s head. I just kept praying. Now I was in the OR. Joel wasn’t allowed to come. Because of how fast everything happened they had no time for an epidural and I was given general anesthetic. I just kept praying at the top of my lungs through the mask, “Jesus come, Jesus come, Jesus come.” Doctors and nurses were shouting at each other to get things, turn the lights up, get the anesthesiologist so they could get Max out!!! It all happened so suddenly. The only 2 things I remember, is I had a huge contraction right before going under, and they were able to get the fetal monitor on me and we heard a strong heartbeat. That made me have hope that Max was okay, and the other was that the doctor performing the surgery leaned over to my ear and just kept whispering, “It’s going to be okay, you’ll be asleep soon, just keep praying, just keep praying.” And I prayed.
Next thing I know, I am awake and in a hospital room. Joel was standing next to me, smiling, saying Maxwell was okay and in the NICU. He had taken a huge gulp of meconium coming out of the uterus and they were working with him. I remember feeling so much peace during this time. The presence of the Lord was with me and Joel and I had surrendered this all to Him the night before. I felt that I was in the Lord’s hands and regardless how terrible these circumstances were, the Lord was in control.
My different family members I had invited to be at Max’s birth, came in 2 or 3 at a time to see me, Rachel, Grace, Mercy, my mom, Marci, Katie, and Liesl.
Thankfully, Sheila and my doctor, Dr. Schwartz had taken an hour to go sit and talk with my waiting family members and explain to them in detail what happened and why it happened. I am so thankful that they did this as it brought such a peace to my family to have their questions answered.

Definition of Umbilical cord prolapse- is an obstetric emergency during pregnancy or labor that imminently endangers the life of the fetus. Cord prolapse is very rare and only occurs in 1 out of every 300 births or about 0.14% of all births. It happens when the umbilical cord precedes the fetus’ exit from the uterus. It is often concurrent with the rupture of the amniotic sac. After this happens, the fetus moves downward into the pelvis and puts pressure on the cord. As a result, oxygen and blood supplies to the fetus are diminished or cut-off and the baby must be delivered quickly.

In my case, my water broke at noon, and that’s when the cord slipped down ahead of Max. With each contraction, it was cutting off oxygen to Max therefore causing his heart rate to dramatically decrease into the 60’s when it should have been in the 130’s. That put stress on the poor little guy and he passed meconium during that period.

My water broke at noon, contractions came on hard at 2:30pm, I got to the hospital at 3pm, Max was born at 3:52pm.

Sheila came in the next day to talk with me. She explained to me that Maxwell is my miracle baby. Normally, from the time they call a c-section to the time they actually take the first cut, it is 30 minutes. In my case, they called the c-section and Maxwell was out in 17 minutes. It was one of the fastest emergency c-sections they have ever done. Sheila, who fractured her knee in December, squatted on my bed holding his head back away from the umbilical cord for 20 minutes. She is my hero!!! Throughout my contractions, she kept her hand there and actually had some bruising on her hand from the pressure of my contractions. In the ten minutes before Max was delivered, I went from 5 centimeters dialated to an 8. My contractions were very strong and Sheila did an amazing job of keeping her hand in place and squatting for such a prolonged period with her bad knee. I am eternally grateful. Sheila made a comment after the whole thing, saying “Anna, God wanted this baby more than any of your other babies.” She is not a believer and had to proclaim the goodness of the Lord in this situation. She said that if I had come into the hospital 30 minutes later, we would either have a dead baby or a severely brain damaged baby. Max really was in the Lord’s hands and the Lord brought him forth. My doctor described this as a perfect outcome to a terrible situation.

Within 2 hours after having a c-section, I was in a wheelchair on my way to the NICU. I was dying to see my baby. The neonatal doctor who had been at the c-section, explained to me how scared everyone was for me and the situation. She said she fully expected Max to come out not breathing. Max came out crying, praise the Lord, but had swallowed a huge bit of meconium. He immediately had his stomach pumped and spent 6 days in the NICU recovering. I will not go into detail about what happened that week in the NICU and me in the hospital while Joel stayed at home with the kids. It was a long hard week, full of ups and downs. I thank each and every family member and friend who prayed, helped out, brought me meals, and watched my children.

I praise the Lord for bringing my baby out in health and wholeness! My heart rejoices. Even though this is not the birth I envisioned, it is the birth I had. And I rejoice in the Lord, for He is only good, only sovereign, and has good plans for me and for Maxwell Finney. I pray that this encourages your heart as you read it. For the Lord truly is King over our lives and He will bring us through whatever trials

Max just a week old

Hello. Again. I promise I will be back for good.

Today was one of those days that literally flew by. I have no idea where the time went. Somewhere between nursing my 3 month old all throughout the night, sending my oldest to kindergarten, 2 birthday parties, and a birthday lunch with my family, then dealing with children who don’t want to go to bed and one very cute little boy who is now awake right now hanging out with daddy, I remembered that I don’t want to take these crazy moments for granted.

Life has been happening so fast.

It seems like I blinked and Maxwell is now almost 4 months. How did this happen? Sometimes, I just sit down at night and look through pictures on the computer and cry thinking of how quickly time has passed and I’ll never be able to get those moments back.

Then I go and kiss my 4 babies and tell them how much I adore them and how I pray that they will love Jesus. Then I go to bed and pray for my own heart that I will love Jesus and be able to forgive myself for my weaknesses as a wife and mom. I don’t want to take these hard days for granted. I want to enjoy the craziness and enjoy the simple things in life.

So my prayer for you tonight is that we, as moms, wives, and women who love Jesus, can press on during the hard crazy times in life and can find pure joy in knowing that this life will go by so fast and our hope is in Jesus and we will live with Him for all eternity.

For those of you who have not heard, Maxwell Finney is here! He was born May 17 at 3:52pm. He was 7 lbs 6 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. He is perfect and just gorgeous. Joel and I so enjoying our family of 6.

Noah is very much in love with his new brother.

I love that I get to be his mommy.

I’ll blog more later about his birth and I’ll share the entire story with all of you. Hope you enjoy these pictures.
More baking to come. I am dying to get back into the kitchen. Any special baking requests? I am ready to make some summer berry pies, and tarts, and really anything yummy and fruity.

Bless you all! Anna

I have once again neglected this blog. I do apologize and ask for your forgiveness.

This past month has been absolutely crazy. I was summoned for jury duty and ended up having to serve on the jury for a week and a half. It was a roller coaster to say the least but so good for my heart. Not only did I grow in appreciation for Joel and him being so willing to stay home with the kids so I could go do my civic duty, but I grew in love with Jesus. I was with a group of 12 other people, complete strangers, for a week and a half. I got to know many of them. After the first day of jury duty, I left feeling frustrated with everyone’s negativity and complaining. I went home and read my Bible and was awakened to the fact that I have a reason to be joyful. I am saved!!!! I know where I am going when this life is over. I am not without hope when bad things happen to me. I have unspeakable joy and for me to require someone else who does not know Jesus and does not have the joy of salvation to have an optimistic outlook on life, is ridiculous. It’s completely unrealistic. They have nothing to be happy about! Out of the 12, 9 had been divorced, remarried, and/or separated. It was a shocking number to me. So many talked about going to church and yet were completely depressed and had nothing positive to say about anything. I knew the reason Jesus had me there and it was primarily to bring a light into those peoples’ lives even if just for 9 days. I was thankful for my time on the jury because it gave me a restored joy. Salvation is truly a gift and I don’t take it lightly.

I rejoice that I have a Saviour!

Joel had another colonoscopy the following week. His third colonoscopy this year. What a crazy journey this has been. He is doing good. Not great, but his condition has not worsened which is good news. If you think of him, please pray for full healing. He is on supplements, prescriptions, and eating good but we are primarily depending on Jesus to heal him. I know it’s in His heart to heal and Joel and I are contending for the fullness of healing for his body. We appreciate your prayers for his ulcerative colitis.

My sister Grace had her baby 3 weeks early and that came as quite a shocker to our family. Her daughter, Evangeline Hope, is just beautiful and their family is doing so well.

In case you were wondering, I am back in the swing of things and ready to continue this blog faithfully.
I will be writing on matters of the heart, speaking encouragement, and also blogging amazing recipes that I have found.

If there is a certain food you are wanting a recipe for or any questions you may have, please feel free to comment and I’ll try my very best to get back to you or post something in response. I am excited to not only post wonderful baked good recipes, but also healthy spring entrees to feed your family.

May the Lord bless you and yours and may you today be filled with the joy of knowing that you are saved!!!!

Today my daughter Audrey Elizabeth turns 5! I am quite shocked at how fast it has gone and that I am 3 months away from having my 4th baby. Praise the Lord for His goodness over me and my family. Here are some photos of Audrey in order to celebrate her special day. She was born at 9:30pm, weight 9lbs. 3oz. and was 21 1/2 inches long.

pictures coming later or today’s festivities.

Today is my sister Mercy’s birthday. So, I made a cake. Not just any cake the king of all cakes, Tiramisu.

First you bake two gorgeous layers of cake. Drench them with an espresso/kahlua/sugar syrup. On the first cake, smother it with mixture of marscapone cheese, kahlua, vanilla, sugar, and whipped cream.

Cover that with chocolate shavings. Top it with the second layer of drenched cake.

Cover entire cake with marscapone cream.
Make design out of wax paper and cover with cocoa powder and chocolate shavings.

Ta Da!!! Finished Cake!

Pictures to follow of the party and eating of the cake. πŸ™‚

Here is the recipe by Deb at Smitten Kitchen! Amazing!
For the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy (Deb note: I used brandy)

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy (Deb note: I used brandy)
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9Γ—2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To make the cake:
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.To make the extract:
Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.
To make the syrup:
Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.
To make the filling and frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.
To assemble the cake:
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.
For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa. I cut a star shape out of waxed paper and placed it lightly over the cake, and shaved a layer of chocolate over it with a microplane, before carefully removing the star to leave a stenciled shape.

Not that it’s a big deal but I am 20 weeks along in my pregnancy. Yes, that is exactly half way. Well I am 20 weeks and 5 days to be specific. πŸ™‚

Thought that it would be fun to post a picture of my growing belly to show the world how delightful it is to be carrying this little prophetic warrior.

He is expected to arrive May 21 and I can’t wait!!! Trying to get through winter. Kansas city is expected to have another winter storm tomorrow with wind chills of -20 and I am wanting it to be spring, yesterday.
Hope you all are doing well! Blessings,

So Joel is joining Laura Hackett’s team at the House of Prayer. Tonight, is their first set. He volunteered me to bake for their little pre-set-party and I couldn’t say no, especially after he told everyone I would do it in a heartbeat. πŸ™‚

Here is what I decided on. These cookies are just amazing! The perfect combination of mint and chocolate. I originally tried these cookies when my good friend Song Harri made them. I think I ate 10 cookies without blinking. Well, maybe I blinked a few times, but time flew by. I immediately asked for the recipe and have made these cookies many many times.

Recipe (from Song Harri and All Recipes)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Andes mints

In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.
At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. While cookies are baking unwrap mints and divide each in half. When cookies are brought out of the oven, put 1/2 mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread the mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!

Seriously. You need to make these scones.

Don’t look at how much butter is in the recipe.

Don’t even worry about it. Make them today. Add extra glaze on top and enjoy with a cup of coffee. I promise you won’t be upset. You will thank me later.

Recipe -from Ina Garten
4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Hello to you all!!!
I am deeply sorry for my long absence from the blogging world. Things have been very busy and somewhat chaotic in my life.
One big thing that I need to announce is that Joel and I are pregnant with a BOY, Maxwell Finney Sorge. We are super excited and cannot wait to see him. I cannot believe that I will have 1 girl and 3 sons. This is insane to me. I am thinking after 10 years, well maybe 20, I should write a book on how to raise boys. Ha! Well, if you think about it, just pray for me. πŸ™‚
Joel and I and are family are doing amazingly well. The holiday season was fantastic and now we are in the swing of the Onething Conference.

Random, slightly unimportant fact. I just ate a salad. I was hungry and knew that I would probably eat a lot. So I made a HUGE salad. Problem is, the salad left me more hungry at the end than I was at the beginning. Why? It was like a huge amuse bouche! Ha!

Well, I hope that you haven’t completely forgotten me and this blog. I hope that everything is well with you and yours.
God bless!!!!

I have a big announcement to make. Yes, I am pregnant with baby #4!!!! Joel and I are beyond excited about this baby.
I have been searching for healthy snacks that will not be sugary and will also keep me full.
These granola bars are the perfect option. They are just that good!!!

Makes 12 to 16 granola bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds ( I used pecans and almonds mixed)
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 TBSP melted butter
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup dried fruit, or a mix of dried fruit (I used chopped apricots, pineapple, cranberries, and raisins)

-Preheat your oven to 350Β°F. Butter an 9×13-inch baking dish
-Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300Β°F.
-While the mixture is still warm, stir in the honey, vanilla, butter, and salt until the mixture is well coated, then the dried fruit. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and press, press, press it in (wet fingers and/or a silicon spatula work great for this) until the mixture is packed as tightly as possible.
-Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares β€” your best serrated knife is great for this.

Yes, these bars are going to be just the ticket for a healthy breakfast and snacking option during my pregnancy. Healthy, naturally sweet, and satisfying.

I am always looking for an amazing coffee cake. I am a firm believer that coffee is just that much better with a piece of cake. This cake is amazing as it has three different layers of cake all in one; vanilla, mocha, and espresso. Deliciousso.

Here’s the recipe if you are daring enough to try a coffee cake that will make you want to sit and drink coffee and eat cake all day.
Mocha Coffee Coffee Cake with Espresso Glaze
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook and Joy the Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder dissolved in 1 1/2 Tablespoons hot water
2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 Tablespoon hot water

For the Glaze
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2-3 Tablespoons strong brewed coffee
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Make the Cake
Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour 8- inch (6 cup) Bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just incorporated.
Transfer about one third of the batter to a small bowl. Add espresso mixture and stir until combined. Transfer 1/3 of the remaining vanilla batter to another small bowl and add the cocoa mixture and stir until combined. Spoon all three batters into the Bundt pan, alternating so each flavor is distributed through the pan.
Bake until cake is golden, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
Make the Glaze

Stir together espresso powder and 2 tablespoons coffee in a bowl until powder is dissolved. Add confectioners’ sugar and stir until well combined. If glaze is not pourable, thin with remaining coffee if necessary.
Pour glaze over coffee cake and let cake stand until glaze is set, about 10 minutes, before serving.
(This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 10- inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. Increase the baking time to about 1 hour.)

Some days I have cravings. Some days I have intense cravings. Let’s just say I have had an intense craving for chocolate pudding pie for about a week now.
And now that my schedule has calmed down a bit, I had some time to make it.
This pie is what every good pie should be; easy to make, absolutely delicious, and tempts you to eat the whole pie in one sitting.

Here’s the amazing recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
One recipe for a 9inch pie crust

Pudding filling:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream

Make pudding filling: Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk [tips alert!] in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.
Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least two hours.
Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings, if you’re feeling fancy.

Seriously, this pie is just that good. But don’t take my word for it. Go ahead, try it and see for yourself.

For those of you out there still reading this humble blog, I thank you for your patience. I have been extremely busy with so many things lately. Here, in bullet format, is what’s been going on with me the past month.

– Joel had a flare up of his condition, ulcerative colitis, and entered the hospital for an overnight stay. He is now on some good medication and is doing a lot better. Praise the Lord.
– Joel had a birthday and turned 26! Yay!
– Joel traveled with his dad on a ministry trip and I held down the fort with the kiddos. πŸ™‚
– Joel threw his first Forerunner Art events by hosting a benefit concert for the Zoe Foundation. He is now the director of the Arts department at the House of Prayer and is absolutely loving every second of it. He comes home every day excited and thrilled by his job and what he gets to do every day. He is also the senior production manager at the House of Prayer and loves doing that as well. This really is his dream job in every way.
– I threw my sister in law a beautiful baby shower. Katie Hebbert will be having a beautiful little girl, Emma Kate, due October 3rd. The whole family is super stoked for this little wonder to enter the world.
– I have one of my best friends in town this weekend to visit me and the House of Prayer. We have so much history together and have known each other before we got married. It has been such a joy to host her and her brother this weekend.

All in all, it has been a very crazy month. I am so thankful for the Lord’s leadership in my life and His sovereignty. I am so blessed and also so challenged to grow in the Lord. The trials that the Lord brings are really blessings in disguise because I get to grow in Him.
I thank you all for your friendship in love. Thank you for welcoming me back to the blogging world with open arms and hearts.
May the Lord bless you and your families!

This morning I was pining over what to make with the last of my blueberries from the Berry Patch. I browsed tons of recipes but decided I had to make a classic blueberry muffin.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine:

7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the Topping
3 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that. Keep a close eye. Remove from heat.
Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add the brown butter and stir to combine.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the blueberries.
Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.
To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.
Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I don’t like to use the word perfect that often. It’s just not something I throw around in order to sound cool. The other day a friend dropped off a tray of gorgeous, ripe peaches and told me to make something with them. How sweet is that? I thought about the many different things I could do with these amazing peaches, but I just had to make another pie. Here you go everyone. If you want to “wow” your friends with the simplicity of a perfect fruity pie, this recipe is for you.

Perfect Peach Pie Recipe
– Pastry for 2 crust pie, ready in pan to bake
– juice of 1/2 large lemon
– 6 or 7 large peaches, peeled, sliced
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 2 1/2 TBSP. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400F
Mix sliced peaches into lemon juice to keep them from darkening. Mix together sugar and cornstarch and pour over the peaches ( Mixture will become “soupy”). When oven is hot, pour the mixture into the pie shell and either lattice or put the second crust on top. Cut some slits in the pie and sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduce temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. Oven times do vary. I ended up baking my pie for close to 45 minutes because my crust was a little thicker. Then let cool on a cooling rack for 2-3 hours. Then slice, serve and try not to eat it to fast!

So yesterday I went downtown to the River market and ended up getting some super scrumptious cherries. Problem was they were a little too ripe. I thought and thought about what I could make with them and came to one conclusion. I must make a pie. Mind you, this is my first attempt at a cherry pie. So don’t be too critical. πŸ™‚ It tasted fantastic, but looked a little shabby. I made a few mistakes, but rest assured that the next time I make a cherry pie, I will knock your socks off!

Ultimately, pie was a winner. Enjoy!!!

Cherry Pie with Cream Cheese Pie Crust
– One recipe of flaky cream cheese pie crust for 9-inch lattice pie
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 2 1/2 TBSP. cornstarch
– pinch of salt
– 3 1/2 cups pitted fresh sour cherries
– 1/4 tsp. almond extract
Optional Glaze
– 1 TBSP. egg yolk
– 1 tsp. heavy cream

Stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the cherries along with any juice and the almond extract. Allow the mixture to macerate for a minimum of 10 minutes and maximum of 3 hours. Transfer to pie shell, add the lattice, and bake in a preheated oven at 425F for 40-50 minutes. Cover the edges with a foil ring after 15 minutes of baking, and the edges will not look like mine. πŸ™‚ Let cool for 3 hours before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

I seem to have a burning desire to bake. Every day. I go to bed thinking about pie crusts, and the perfect coffee cake, and chocolate peanut butter candy bars. It’s truly insane, even I admit that. I have found that over the last few weeks, I have baked at least 5 times a week. Crazy, I know. Most of the time, I bake and then give it away to my amazing friends and family. But me and my baking craze have led me to one conclusion. I should start a food blog. Well, it would probably be mostly baking with some cooking thrown in every once in a while.
But, I need to know your thoughts? Does this sound like a good idea to you? Why or why not? Do you even care about if I bake or not? Any ideas on what types of things I should bake?
I am looking for advice and wisdom. Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts. Blessings!!!!

Above Matthew 6 verse 1, it says “Do good to please God.” Verses one through four go on to say that you should let your charitable deed be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you.
I was thinking about motherhood and how so much of the time I feel like I am so hidden, so alone, and forgotten by my friends and every other cool person on the planet. No one sees how many diapers I change, or how many times I sweep or mop my floor. No one sees how many times I pray for my friends, family, children and I choose to smile even when I feel like yelling. πŸ™‚ Only the Lord sees the countless hidden moments in which I choose to serve those around me. And it’s set up this way for a reason, because we are learning to work the muscle of faithfulness and servanthood in the secret place, so that we get reward in heaven from Jesus. Not earthly reward for doing something nice in front of someone else. This is very encouraging for a mom who feels alone in her house because it means that it’s not all lost. I am getting a reward from Jesus in heaven.
Be encouraged! Your reward is in heaven!!!!

This morning in my quiet time I was reading from Psalms 78:12-25. “Marvelous things He did….He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink in abundance like the depths….But they sinned even more against Him and they testing God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy. Therefore the Lord heard this and was furious”.
I was thinking about how I am so much like this. I thank the Lord for His provision and yet in my heart I still long for more. Today I was challenged and provoked with the fear of the Lord. I do not want to test God in my heart. I do not want to be ungrateful for the things He so graciously gives me. I want to live a life satisfied with His goodness. Today, I resign up again to have a grateful and thankful heart. In good times and bad, I will give thanks and praise to my God.

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it,” Matthew 10:38-39.

The point of this whole journey is to lose my life for Christ’s sake. There is not a better path for that, in my opinion, than motherhood. Motherhood is a continual pouring out, an unceasing death to self. Motherhood has taught me that my life is truly not my own. And this is the very thing that God intended for me to learn. He wants us to be separate from this world, to live our lives for Him and Him alone. Motherhood teaches us to not live for ourselves but to serve our children. I think this soil of motherhood is where we work out our salvation. 1 Timothy 2:25 says “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing…” And I really believe that this is what the Lord intended motherhood for: our salvation. He knew that it would take a continual laying down of our wants and desires. He knew that it would take sacrifice. A death to self. Lou Engle says that God will never send fire on anything but sacrifice. Our very lives are a perpetual laying down by the act of motherhood. We are standing in our homes calling out for the fire of God. Asking Him to pour out His spirit and presence in our homes and lives. This act of sacrifice is so beautiful before Him and every time we change a diaper or read a book we are pleasing the heart of God. May the Lord bless you today and may He refresh your heart!

Well, what a journey I have been on the past few months. I am laughing today at the goodness and sovereignty of the Lord.
I can’t go into all the details and neither would you want me to, but the Lord is definitely up to teaching me a lesson. I have been pursuing trying to get a part time job because our family is in need of some extra finances to pay the bills and such. πŸ™‚ I have had several doors open to me and then they have closed in my face. Nothing bad has happened. But It is just so funny to know that even though I may make plans, the Lord directs my steps. The thoughts in my mind are mine, but the word has to come from His tongue. He ultimately has to breathe on it in order for it to work. So, now I am waiting and trusting. I believe the Lord has good plans for me and my family. I truly desire to be in His will.
So for all of you who are frustrated with circumstances, I stand here with a testimony of God’s goodness. He is sovereign. All the time He is good. He has good plans for our lives. Be encouraged. Be strengthened. Take courage. He is in control. Blessings!

1 Peter 4:15, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody (meddler) in other people’s matters.”

I was reminded of how relevant this is to us moms today. It is so easy as women and moms who stay at home, to enjoy talking about what’s going on outside of the home and in the world. It is fun to talk about the exciting things other people are doing and how beautiful and wonderful everyone is. But it is very easy to slip into a “busybody” or a “meddler” mode. If one negative thing comes up, whether it be gossip or just talking about the negative in someone’s life, it is meddling in other people’s business. Even in our thought life, if we are just consumed with what “so” and “so” are doing, and wearing, and living their life, etc… that is wrong too. Peter puts it in the category of murderers and thieves. It’s bad. He’s telling us that this is not something that Jesus likes. He does not want us to be found meddling in things that do not pertain to us.

I want to encourage you in this arena today. Trust me, I am preaching to the choir. I need to be reminded of this every day and even probably multiple times in the day. πŸ™‚ But ladies, we can do this. We can hold out tongues, and not talk about other peoples business and meddle in others’ affairs. I am challenging myself to not talk about that which would displease God. To not talk about the negative things in other’s lives. I want my words to arise unto the Lord as a pleasing sweet fragrance. I do not want to be grouped in the category of murderers and thieves.
I want to live blameless before my God.
I hope you all have a wonderful day and I pray the Lord blesses you today!!!!

Yesterday was a hard day. It felt like such a whirlwind of craziness. Every day I am confronted with thoughts that I am failing. I was reminded this morning though that the Lord was with me in that whirlwind. The Lord is with me when my day is perfect, which is very rare, and when my day is terrible. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. I am reminded again today to practice His presence. He is in this room with me while I type this. He wants me to be aware of His presence. He just wants me to go about my day with Him. That as I discipline my children, clean my house, cook the dinner, He is with me. He just wants to do it together. It’s so comforting to know that even in the midst of the worst days, He is there. He wants communion with me. He is after a relationship with me regardless of how perfect my life is. That is my hope and my encouragement. I can have hard days where I do fail, but Jesus is there with me. My helper, the strong tower I run into.
May the Lord bless you today and may you be renewed to practice His presence.