"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

27 February 2013


Source: freshieandzero.blogspot.com
I totally planned for this to coincide with Little B's 2nd birthday, but as you all know, N and B were both under the weather all week last week. And into the weekend. 

It was a long week.

I may or may not have had a meltdown of epic proportions on Saturday morning. Not that I'm confessing anything.


For those of you who don't know (where have you been my whole life?!), just before the holidays, I launched a small home business to supplement our family's income with the hopes that I could continue being a stay-at-home mom for Little B. You can read more of the back story here.

Since then, thanks to the generous support of my wonderful friends, my fingers have been kept busy, I hit 100 fans before Christmas, and now, it's time for...



1. COMMENT with your answer to this question: "What is your favorite thing about spring?"
2. Visit me at Hannah Plays Hooky. SHARE the giveaway post on your Facebook Wall. (Please make sure it's set to "Public" so I can see it and give you an entry for doing it.)
3. INVITE your friends to "Like" Hannah Plays Hooky and tell them to leave me a comment saying you sent them. You will get an extra entry for each new friend you send my way!


Your very own, custom-made, adorable Easter bunny to keep or give as a gift to someone you love!
Source: Projectnursery.com
***This giveaway will close on Friday, March 15 so that the bunny and owner will be united in time for Easter!***

26 February 2013

From Chinese New Year

I've wondered for a long time why it's "Chinese New Year," when it's celebrated throughout eastern Asia. Maybe because the Chinese were the first large group of Asian immigrants to America? Does anyone know? I would go look it up on Wikipedia myself, but I'm too drowsy right now after attending a MOMS event at church tonight where I learned all sorts of ways to be paranoid about someone abducting my kid and the rampant prevalence of drugs and sex amongst children.

At least the police officer doing the seminar was entertaining.

At any rate, that has nothing to do with what this post is about.

N and I were recently commenting that one of the things we love the most about living here is the cultural diversity that is available right at our fingertips. This area might not have the same opportunities as a booming metropolis, but it's so refreshing to regularly see and interact with people whose primary languages are something other than American, as well as people of various ethnicities. I could go for weeks without seeing a non-white person where we used to live (other than my own face in the mirror and my son). 

A couple Sundays ago, we went to a pretty terrific worship service that included hip hop dancing.

Which, by the way, in my opinion, far surpasses watching gyrating women doing "interpretive dancing" on stage any day all the while cringing in my seat and sneaking glances at my husband, who is averting his eyes and reading his Bible held in his lap so he doesn't have to watch thrusting pelvises and breasts in a church service.

Ahem. Where was I?

Oh, yes. So after church, we decided to stop at the Asian market plaza across the street and were delighted to find this going on:
Needless to say, a little Mr. Someone was absolutely thrilled with all the loud music ... and the dancing dragon.

25 February 2013

Making Home Beautiful

A couple years ago, I read a book that made me think twice about housework. I don't remember the title of the book or the author. But she (I'm most certain it was a woman; after all, how many men do you know who write books that involve housework?) talked about how keeping the house is an act of worship and love.

It is doing the beautiful work of creating a haven for our families, a small glimpse of heaven on earth. It isn't just about keeping a clean and tidy home but about filling it with kind words, good smells, scrumptious food, lots of hugs.


Honestly, doing the chores is the easy part for me. The hard part is having a cheerful heart while mopping up the dirty little footprints on the kitchen floor right after I've just finished putting the cleaning supplies away. Looking at the growing stack of folded laundry and gladly putting it away myself instead of grumbling about my husband's priorities. Giving gentle kisses instead of impatient words, joyful laughter instead of angry shouts, uplifting smiles instead of pointed looks.

Oh, those looks. I grew up with plenty of those. They withered my spirit whenever they were directed my way. I don't want that in my home, for my family.
But while I work on being a beautiful person, I can do small things to create a beautiful dwelling place for my family.

In this day of over-sharing all over the internet, it's easy to get caught up in having a magazine-cover-worthy, perfectly coordinated, classy-but-trendy house. Interior decorating has taken a whole new turn with the creation of Pinterest. I thought it was bad enough when all those shows began popping up on TLC and HGTV. Don't get me wrong ... I was a huge fan of "Trading Spaces" back in the day. But these days, they have taken "over the top to an entirely new level." Multimillion dollar closets? A second, vacation home in Europe? Really, do normal people live that way?

The thing is, we (my family) are not magazine-cover-worthy, perfectly coordinated, classy-but-trendy people. We want our home to reflect our interests and values. We want it to be a place where people feel welcome and comfortable, not one where they walk in and ooh and aah over the decor or how hip and trendy we are (or aren't, as is the case). We want it to reflect the divine grace that covers our broken, imperfect, God-needy lives.

One of the reasons we loved this house when we saw it was that it wasn't pristine and flashy with all the *bling* of a brand new house.

It felt like a home.

Of course, it's always good to set aside time for this -->

22 February 2013


"Mama Snuggles" by artist Maureen Hargrove
Little B has been under the weather for the past couple days, which has meant that the nights have been rough. We have been up repeatedly throughout the night, soothing, rearranging blankets, cuddling, doing midnight laundry, taking temperatures. I never appreciated a full night's sleep as much as when B first came along, waking up every 2-3 hours wanting me. And now that he has been sleeping 12+ hours a night without interruption, I'm remembering all over again what a blessing a solid night's sleep is.

Last night, the fourth time B woke up calling for us, it was my turn to check on him. He just wanted to be cuddled and rocked, and as I softly sang the many soul-refreshing verses of "Amazing Grace" to him, he buried his head in the crook of my neck as he never does during the daylight hours, his blanket held snugly against him. I breathed in his no-longer-baby smell, still sweet, and just ... dwelled.
When older moms tell me to fully enjoy these little years, I sometimes wonder just how I do that.

But I have precious moments of grace like last night.

Then I read heart-wrenching mama-for-too-short-a-time testimonials like this.

I think I'm beginning to catch quick glimpses what it means to relax even more, to remember that I am more than just "mama," to grow in grace and self-control as a daughter of the King, to let the unimportant things go, to focus on the kingdom work of raising my child, to truly treasure these little years.

20 February 2013

Love on My Window

When I opened up the blinds in the dining room this morning, I found this:
Proverbs 31:29
He knew I would need an extra dose of grace and encouragement today, after a long night of being mostly awake with our stuffy-nosed B. I am muscle-sore and a bit heart-cranky this morning, but between this message of love, my coffee cup reminder, and a cheerful-despite-being-sick little one, I'm finding just enough to go on.

19 February 2013

A Carrot, An Egg, or Coffee?

Last year, my lovely-to-the-core heart-sister Carol and her husband Keith took off with their four children on a God-called adventure to Thailand. Keith and Carol were leaders in my youth group when I was a freshman in high school (in Cameroon). I didn't know them well back then, but we just happened to reconnect two years ago. I have been so blessed by Carol's beautiful spirit and incredible writing ever since.
Carol recently posted this thought-provoking anecdote on FB, and because we seem to have a cold virus making its rounds in our little family (the sleep forecast doesn't look too good tonight), I thought I'd share it with you all. 
I love my daily cup of coffee, but this puts that cup in a whole new light. I'll have something to remember each morning as I start my day.
A Carrot, An Egg, or Coffee: Which Are You? 
Author Unknown
A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. "What's the point, Grandmother?"

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water -- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
So which are you? A carrot, an egg, or coffee? 
*Carol just informed me that it was actually Keith who posted that story. "But," in her words, "Me is he and he is me." 
  Keith got the story from another friend from their Cameroon days. And speaking of Cameroon and coffee, check out the following links!
Espresso Coffee Guide
Mocha Joe's
 World Trader Coffee 

18 February 2013

"Doc Zoolie"

I had all a million things I wanted to write about today, but at this moment, I just have one thing in mind.

One of our prayers for our new home in Texas was that God would provide a great chiropractor to replace Dr. Keith's amazing care for our overall health in New York. I think we've found a keeper in Dr. Julie at Allen Family Chiropractic!
A few weeks ago, B took a nose-dive (literally) out of N's arms, which resulted in his very first bloody nose. Because of the way he hit the carpet, we were concerned about potential neck strain, so we made it a priority to look into pediatric chiropractors in our area.  I am so thankful this morning for Dr. Julie (or "Doc Zoolie" as B calls her) and the tender care she provides for B.  We have had three appointments since B's fall, and although the first one was a bit difficult for B (when he heard "chiropractor," I think he was fully expecting Dr. Keith), since then, when N gets home, B is eager to share: "Doc Zoolie Ben-nan back click-click!"
I think the one thing that would make it even better for B is if they had a table like this:
Part of the reason I really appreciate chiropractic care is being able to go to a practitioner who believes in holistic care. Regular visits to Dr. Keith did wonders for all three of us, even before B was born. I am thankful to be blessed with the reminder each time we have a chiropractic appointment that our bodies are incredible with an amazing capacity for healing.

When I went to a GP to inquire about a cyst on my wrist that appeared a couple months ago, she talked about surgery and prescription medications (neither of which I opted for, because the cyst wasn't really bothering me). When I mentioned it to Dr. Julie, she told me that as long as it wasn't causing pain, it was fine. She showed me a couple stretches to do and recommended icing it. As of a few days ago, that cyst is gone.

And finally, it was because of finding Allen Family Chiropractic that we were lead to the church we are currently attending, one that might very possibly be our new church home! I'll share more about that when we're positive this is where we'll be planting roots, but for now, I'll just say that after a few months of searching, it has meant so much to our hearts to go to church to worship wholeheartedly and enthusiastically (the worship at this church is beyond incredible, both the worship team and the congregation), to learn Bible-based truths, to hear from our son's lips that he had "fun" in children's church after weeks of hearing "NO FUN!" every time we pulled into a church parking lot, to actually recognize someone after the service to say hello to.

What are YOU thankful for today?

17 February 2013

Party Time in Texas: Part 2


We had a "CHOO CHOO TRAIN" birthday party for Little B this year, because he just lo-o-o-oves trains right now. It's hard to find train decor for little boys in America that isn't "Thomas the Tank Engine," so we ended up combining Thomas items with handmade items for decor.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!
I used festive ribbon on my Sseko sandals for the party.
N stayed up late making this for Little B's party. Isn't it pretty awesome?
Sign for the front door
Birthday banners
Front walk-up and patio

A break from decorating to check out a gecko
And do some "work" in the backyard
A special birthday lunch: B loves corn dogs!
Reading birthday cards
Delighting in the ribbon before opening the actual gift
Parallel play at its finest
We took several family pictures ... this first one ended up being the best.

Despite being relatively new to the area, we were thankful to have friends with whom to celebrate our little boy's life. 

Thank you to everyone who came and to everyone who has sent birthday cards and gifts in the mail!