Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Once a Week Sweet

Zach and I are trying to only have sweets once a week. I know that might sound crazy to some people, but it just helps us keep the sweet teeth we have under control. :)

Anyways, this past Sunday I tried out a new Pinterest-find, No-bake Nutella Cheesecake Cups.
They were pretty good and very rich and filling. The texture is more like a mousse, less like actual cheesecake. I think the only thing I would change is the cheesecake to oreo ratio. I'd either put less of the cheesecake mixture in each cup or more of the oreo crust.

No-bake Nutella Cheesecake Cups

Ingredients:
- 12 oreos, crushed
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 pkg cream cheese (8 oz)
- 1 tub of cool whip (8 oz)
- 2/3 c Nutella
- 1 tsp vanilla
- cool whip (optional)
- chocolate shavings (optional)
- toasted, chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions:
1.  In a medium bowl, stir together the Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping until well blended and no streaks remain.
3. Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
4. If desired, garnish with additional whipped topping, chocolate shavings, and/or toasted, chopped hazelnuts.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Water Project

One of Kids@FHC's core values is opening our arms to the world and serving those in need. Because of this, we work hard to be honest with kids, open their eyes to needs in our world, and empower them to share the love of Jesus, serve, and make a difference.

This past weekend we launched a water project fundraising campaign with kids ages 3 - 5th grade. The international water crisis is something we care about and something that really resonates with kids. Many of them were stunned and speechless to find out people in our world don't have clean drinking water and can't just go to their kitchen to get a drink or their bathroom to take a bath.

Watch this WaterMissions video to learn more about the crisis.
(Pause music player below before watching.)

For the water project, every kid in our ministry got an empty Kids@FHC water bottle to take home and fill up with coins, bills, whatever to contribute to our goal of $5000. 
Buckets of bottles to give away
Out with the dirty, in with the clean
Since I was teaching in The Art Studio, I got to share this project with our preschoolers and our passion to help get people clean water. They were so excited to help and love others in this way. Because of this global focus, we kicked off the water project by painting a map of earth. 



(Earth is upside down so the north pole could be painted. :))
I was so overwhelmed to see the response of kids and parents alike to this cause and to the project. They were so pumped! Many left saying, "I'm gonna have a lemonade stand!" or "I'm gonna give all the money in my piggy bank." Two kids from our Ballantyne campus even went door to door in their neighborhood Sunday afternoon and raised $50 each! 

Kids have such compassion and sometimes we forget that they can do a lot. They can help. They can make a difference. Their hearts are often unhindered and their imaginations limitless. We should never squelch this, but enable it to thrive. You never know what God can do through a child, especially one that loves Him and wants to love others too.

If you know any kids at FHC collecting for the water project, give! It's a great cause and not only helps people in great need, but helps kids see that they can have a huge impact and make a difference in the world.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dairy Barn Day

This past Saturday Zach and I both worked a wedding. It was held at The Dairy Barn out in Fort Mill which is a quaint, country location surrounded by rolling hills and roaming horses.

Zach played the ceremony and I was a second-shooter for the videographer. This is the second time I've done this and it went much better than the first. I was much more comfortable with the gear and in my shoes. I wore heels the first time (since I was actually attending that wedding) and it was a total disaster. Ha! My feet have never been in so much pain!

Anyways, while around the venue I snapped some of these stills to capture the lovely landscape and fabulous wedding details.

Friday was kinda dreary, but it made for some cool pics






Ceremony space
Saturday morning though was all blue skies. It turned out to be a completely lovely day.
The wedding was at 11 so the reception was a brunch. So fun! I've never been an early wedding before, but it was so nice.
All the food was served family style
Pretty tulips
Tasteful menu
French toast

Part of the second course - grilled veggies
Incredibly good sweet potato puree
My plate :)
Simple and elegant wedding cake
 Other treats
I seriously am so excited to see the finished video I can barely stand it. Eek! Stay tuned for more Dairy Barn wedding day footage coming soon. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Uninterrupted

Zach and I have had a great long weekend with our Allie here in Charlotte. It's always a joy to have her home with us and hear her foot steps through the house and see signs of her presence. This was a particularly special weekend because it was the first one in over a year that Zach and I both had off from work. It felt so strange not being at the church for all the services, but it was a blessing to have uninterrupted quality time with Allie.

We've had a super fun time, as always, but here are some of the highlights.

For me, my favorite sweet moments have been:
  • going to wake Allie up one morning and finding her asleep on her Allie's Adventures book, the book we made for her of all the things we did last year
  • sitting in her room drawing floor plans with her and talking about our dream houses
  • watching Nicholas Nickleby (one of my old favorites) while eating chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Allie coming down for dinner one night dressed as an "Anthropologie model."
This weekend Zach and I introduced Allie to a few "new" things including the movie Back to the Future, the tv show Inspector Gadget, and the game laser tag. We all had a blast over at Laser Quest and can't wait to go play again.

Z and Al. These shoes were made for playing.
Almost ready to play! One more phase to go before game time.

Zach and I also treated Allie to Kabuto, her favorite Japanese steakhouse

and made some pizzas at home another night.
Allie always loves to dress up and looks for any opportunity to wear a costume or create a unique look. Here she is rocking at least 7 or 8 hair accessories at one time. Ha!

And of course, a weekend in Charlotte would not be complete without time at FHC. Allie loves to be at church, in the Exploratorium, and playing with her friends.

Playing the wii with Annie in one of our offices
Allie also always writes Zach messages on the whiteboard in his office. I've posted pictures of her notes a few times because they are always cute or really funny. This time, Allie's creativity did not disappoint in either category. I've spliced it together so you can read her message easier.
Yes. Her business strategy involved robots and fighting. She's hilarious and truly one of a kind. :)

We love you Al and can't wait to have you home for Spring Break!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eyes On The Other Side

Recently I read the NY Times Bestseller "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo.
A lot of my family and friends had read this book so my curiosity finally got the better of me. (Thanks for letting me borrow your copy Steph!)

I was a bit skeptical about this book due to the 10 second synopsis I knew prior to reading it: a young boy supposedly goes to heaven and comes back able to recount his experience on "the other side". Really? How could this be? "That's impossible," I thought. Throw in the fact that his dad, Todd and the author of the book, is a pastor and my suspicion flag was flying high and proud.

For those of you who don't know, the book chronicles the young life of Colton Burpo, a spunky 3 year old boy who loves super heros and swords. Typical.

While on a family vacation, Colton becomes violently ill and is hospitalized. After quite a kerfuffle (my new favorite word by the way. Yes, "antler" and "marzipan" have been dethroned on my word list) Colton is finally diagnosed with a ruptured appendix as his tiny life hangs in the balance. While in surgery, Colton has a very vivid spiritual experience in heaven unlike any other, but according to the hospital documents, Colton never died and his heart never stopped beating. After the surgery... and then actually after a second unexpected surgery, Colton miraculously improved, his wounds healed, and he resumed his normal boyish life.

A few months later, while the family was passing by the hospital where Colton's surgery happened, the family started to discuss those dark days and Colton's time spent there.

And that's when he said it.
Colton, an innocent, average 3 year old child casually busts out with, "That's where the angels sang to me."

???!

I can only imagine how his parents, Todd and Sonja, felt after hearing the very first detail of his experience and how those words must still ring in their ears today. As they asked more questions, Todd and Sonja began to realize something extremely extraordinary and real had happened to their son weeks prior as Colton shared shocking details and descriptions of a time spent in heaven...with Jesus.

Over the next couple years, Todd and Sonja continued to casually ask Colton open-ended questions about his experience and deal with the new heavenly perspective that changed the way he saw the world forever. I have no idea how his parents had the self-control to not bombard him with questions everyday until sucking every tiny detail out of him right after he dropped that "angels sang to me" bomb, but they did. Maybe it was because he was so small, maybe it was because his attention span was only so long, or maybe that's really just all the supernatural info they could process.

For Colton, things were simple. He knew what he saw, he knew who he was with, and he knew things he could not have possibly known without actually being in heaven. It was very black and white. He recounted details of meeting a miscarried sibling who he never knew about prior, had conversations with a great-grandfather who had passed away 25 years before his own birth, knew how Jesus looked, where Jesus sat, what angels carried, where his parents were exactly during his surgery, and much more.

The book and Colton's experience is definitely fascinating to me. Do I believe it's true? I don't know. My jaded eyes refuse to have the wool pulled over them and that prevents me from making a definitive decision. However, I do know that the book does:
  • exalt the name of Jesus
  • acknowledge that the only way to heaven is through believing that Jesus is God's son and that he came to earth and died for our sin (John 3:16)
  • match the scripture's descriptions of heaven (which is pretty crazy considering it came from a child who had never heard those details or knew those descriptions)
  • present God, Jesus, and heaven in a peaceful, loving, happy way and Satan as something unspeakable
To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the book is Colton's description of Jesus and Jesus's "pretty" eyes. Over the course of a few years, Todd and Sonja would ask Colton what Jesus looked like. Every time they came across a picture, painting, or drawing of Jesus, they'd ask,  "Is this right?" or "What's wrong with this one?" since none of them seemed to be right based on Colton's encounter. It was always something - the hair, the eyes, nothing matched the Jesus Colton met in heaven.

That is, not until he saw Akiane Kramarik's painting titled "Prince of Peace." Akiane is a child prodigy who started drawing at age 4 after having a life-changing spiritual transformation of her own. Raised in a atheist household, Akiane all of a sudden began expressing things about God, Jesus, and beyond that she had no exposure to prior to her visions and dreams. This supernatural experience radically changed her family as well as the course of her life - now a world-reknowned artist, poet, author, and more. And I think she's like...only 17 now. :)

While in Atlanta, I stumbled across Akiane's biography at a friends house (ironic) and began flipping through, marveling at her work.
Paintings completed at age 6
Painting completed at age 9
Painting completed at age 10
Self-portrait, age 11
At age 8, Akiane painted "Prince of Peace" (pictured below) which is a portrait of Jesus. 
Akiane's progression of "Prince of Peace." I think it's interesting she started with the eyes.
When Todd was told about Akiane and her painting, he casually showed it to Colton and asked what he thought of it. After much silence and staring, Colton confidently announced, "It's him. It's right."

How incredibly odd, yet shockingly beautiful at the same time. Two children from different families, in different parts of the country, never meet, both claim to have had spiritual experiences with Jesus in heaven, and both visualize him in the exact same way. What are the odds?!

I don't know about you, but I like this painting of Jesus. I find it to be quite moving and see such comfort in His eyes. I hope these children are right and this is exactly how he looks. After all, Jesus does love the little children, so it's very fitting that they'd be the ones to get it right.

Read "Heaven is for Real" and let me know your thoughts! Personally, I hope it's true and that a ray of light is shed on a few of our unanswered questions about heaven through Colton's little life.