Tuesday, March 25

My name is...

I fall short on a daily basis; actually on an hourly basis... I take that back, every second of every day I fall short of the perfect Son of God. Exhausting isn't it? It's like a child learning to walk for the first time; they try and try and try and they just keep falling backwards. If we were born sinners, then there would not be one single thing we could do to change our damned fate. Ah, but there is something! It's not something you can buy and it's not an act you have to perform; it's called grace. 

Grace & Forgiveness: these two simple concepts are God's greatest gift to us. He offers us forgiveness and shows us grace. 

The enemy will use your sins against you on a daily basis! He will throw your past in your path when you're on the path God has planned for you. He'll splash your past on you like a cold bucket of water when you're resting in God's forgiveness. He will call out your past, your indiscretions, your shortcomings and will hold them out for you to feel again with a taunting smile and whisper those daggers of lies: "you're not good enough" "you'll never learn" "you don't deserve forgiveness" "it was your fault" "you're a failure" "God doesn't love you". But don't fall into this trap! Satan knows your name but calls you by your sin. He knows who you are, but will only look at your shortcomings.

God on the other hand, He knows every single one of our sins. He also knows every freckle, every hair, every tooth, every tear, every thought you've ever or will have and know what- he still calls you by your name. Grace is having a relationship with someone's heart, not their behaviors.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

God knows your sin but calls you by your name. He calls you wonderful. He calls you beautiful. He calls you His. He calls you beloved. He calls you blessed. He calls you perfect in imperfection. He calls you by your name: Forgiven Child. 

Thursday, March 6


Pluviophile: A lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.
Isn't the rain such a peaceful and relaxing sound? There is nothing quite like sitting next to a window, closing your eyes, pressing your forehead against the glass and feeling the coolness that starts in your head and crawls down your spine. 

Some people hate the rain, but I love it. I find escape in the rhythmic pit-pat of the rain drops on my car. It's my excuse to get a cup of Earl Gray from Starbucks and take an extra-long lunch break to just sit in my car and read that book that's stashed in my glove box. I think one of reasons I love the rain is that it becomes therapeutic; cleansing, calming, reassuring, life-bringing. The smell, the taste, the feeling of it on your skin, it is natures way of cleansing the earth, restoring life, and creating new life; isn't it incredible?

The same goes for our spiritual beings- the cleansing of our soul. We are washed cleaned, able to start anew, by the blood of Christ. We are given a new life, we are restored in Him, and it creates a new found hope in our spirit. Every once in a while, we need a cleansing to remember who we are in Him and that there is a much greater purpose to the struggles we face on a daily basis. Just like a flower, we need the occasional rain storm to restore us, let our roots grow deeper, and allow us to continue to grow to our full potential. Don't be detoured by the rain, but embrace it and realize that through the rain and the storm, you will come out on the other side revitalized, renewed, and restored.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." 
1 John 1:7

Thursday, February 20

More than Religion

I was sitting at Starbucks this week during my lunch break and while I was setting up my laptop, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of the two men behind me. The two men were probably in their late-50s, dressed nicely with salt-and-pepper hair and definite strong Southern accents. There conversation immediately peaked my interest because it was clear that they were talking about God and church and religion. I was trying to untangle my 'tangle-free' headphones and they just kept talking about their church, which happened to be a particular baptist in town. One of the gentlemen said  "..that was a great moment for our neighbors, because they are from all sorts of different churches, but none of them are as good as ours" I was stunned. 

They went on talking for another 45-minutes about how their church was the best church for x,y,z reasons. I half listened to the rest of their conversation as they gossiped about the members of their congregation and it became obvious that these two men were somewhat "high up" in their particular church. It was a perfect example of why people are so turned off by Christianity and church; they see the legalistic rules they have to follow, they witness the gossipy members and hear the judgmental comments by their Christian neighbors, co-workers and friends. 

Being a Christian isn't about the church you attend or the denomination you qualify yourself, it's about your relationship with Jesus Christ. 

These two men had lost the true meaning of being a Christian. They had gotten caught up in the titles and and legalistic thinking of 'the church'. But that is not how God intended for it to be. God loves all and wants all to come to Him for healing, peace, worth, forgiveness and love. It truly does't matter if you're a baptist, lutheran, presbyterian, nondenominational or whatever 'church' you attend; He just wants you to know Him and His full heart and plans for your life. 

Thursday, February 13

Snow Day Adventures

That anticipation. Wondering if the call will come in. Fingers crossed. Finally 6am rolls around and the call comes, work is closed! What a glorious phone call!! I don't think I have been this excited for a snow day since high school. Snowpocolypse was here and the world appeared as it was coming to an end; good luck finding a loaf of bread within a 5 mile radius. 

So what does the Traveling Cupcake do on her snow day?
1) Snuggle with her puppy (after doing an intense flexibility Pilates workout: note the fun rebounder in the background) 
2) Be amazed by God's creation, covered white with snow
3) Bring the puppy out in her cute pink snow coat and watch her explore this new world
4) Help your brother shovel your car out of the garage 
5) My favorite thing: bake bake bake.

I haven't had a chance to create a stock pile of gluten-free, healthy snacks for weeks it seems so I took this opportunity to spend a good 6-hours in the kitchen food prepping for the weeks ahead. Here's just a few highlights from the day: 
Blueberry Bark
Protein Peanut Butter "Cookies"
Rice Krispy Treats...okay these aren't actually that healthy, but they are Gluten Free :) 

Seriously, spending time in the kitchen is one of my favorite things! I also made a GF chicken and asparagus stir-fry, meatloaf for a later date, peanut butter protein cups (healthier version of a Reese), homemade granola and I may or may not have broken down and made chocolate pudding...but I won't say.
Jack had a friend spend the night so I spent the rest of the night hunkered down watching every great movie out there: You've Got Mail, The Holiday, Notting Hill, Father of the Bride I & II, and of course Pride & Prejudice... while enjoying a glass or three of Pinot Grigio, hey it's gluten-free!

I hope you all enjoyed Snowpocalypse 2014 and had just as great of a day as we did!

Saturday, February 1

Adventures of the Traveling Cupcake: Spain & Portugal

Wanderlust: a very strong and irresistible impulse or desire to travel the world. 
"You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself" 

And just like that, a whirlwind of a trip has come to an end and here I sit in a squeaky airport chair waiting for the last leg of my journey home. Time can pass so quickly, it's so vital to savor every moment you have and fully experience every morsel of an experience: the taste, the smell, the feel, the electricity. 

Spain was my first stop, Madrid to be exact. With little Spanish under my belt I managed to navigate the tube on my own, figure out where to get off, get to my hotel and check-in all before 10 a.m. - I was rather pleased. The rest of the day was spent exploring historic Plaza Mayor and the surrounding areas. The streets of Madrid were cool and crisp, little old men sat smoking their pipes outside of their spice stores, couples dotted benches and monuments completely enthralled in each others presence; what a scene from a movie. Fountains and statues erected to long-forgotten warriors graced every street. Tiny little shops were stuffed with sangria, spices, fresh meat and wine. For the next four days my friend and I explored the nooks and crannies of Madrid from the Royal Palace to solemn cathedrals to street markets and wine cellars. The heartbeat of Madrid was apparent at night, life began around midnight with endless bottles of sangria and the intoxicating beat of salsa music loomed in the air. I literally danced the night away.

A plane awaited to whisk us off to our next adventure. A quick hour nap and time change brought us to Porto, Portugal. The city had the strangest mix of historical significance and modern day destruction; gorgeous historically significant buildings had been completely abandoned, terrorized by years of taggers and homeless generations. The town felt old and decrepit yet eerily luring. All I wanted to do was get lost in the catacombs of destitute little shacks that people lived in and capture the images of reality. A gorgeous town on the ocean, forgotten and yet completely modern at the same time. Moss clung to the old churches and a dampness clung to you no matter the hour. The lure of Porto drew you in and mesmerized you by it's quiet story. 

The train lurched past the ocean at brilliant pace. The journey to our final destination had begun. As we zipped along the Atlantic Ocean was a feverish pace, I couldn't help but be enthralled that I was sitting on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were huge and crashed on the jagged shoreline. Unlike our smooth and salty shores of North Carolina, Portugal was jagged with rocks and pebbles. Three hours after departure, we arrived in a sunny haven- Lisbon "Lisboa". A complete juxtaposition to Porto, Lisbon was bright, modern and sunny. The city had a level of sophistication and class, our particular street was dotted with every store a girl could dream of: Prada, Burberry, MAC, Longchamp, Kate Spade, oh and the list went on and on. Just a short 5-minute walk out of the bustling modern city brought you into brightly colored neighborhoods of lime green, hot pink and yellow. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it was breezy and sunny and invited you to get lost in the vibrant world of Lisboa.

Thursday, January 23

What's a Girl to Pack

I love traveling but I've had an awful track record with packing; I either horrendously over-pack or atrociously under-pack and have nothing to wear! Over the past year and a half I have had to become a 1) light and 2) quick packer for last minute work trips, trips to Europe and spontaneous weekend getaways. 

After I returned from England and became an Ambassador, people (girls) always asked how I managed to pack my life into a suitcase! The best advice I have is to outfit plan and try on all the outfits! It sounds daunting but with a closest full of clothes, an iPhone and Pinterest inspiration boards it's really more organization than anything. 
While I'm waiting for my overnight flight to leave, I thought I'd post about what I packed for my little 10-day European vacation since a lot of people ask the best way to pack :)

10 Day Quick Trip to Spain & Portugal:

5 Bottoms --> 
1 lace skirt
2 jeans (cropped & ankle)
1 black trousers
1 colored denim
6 Tops -->
2 Sweaters
1 Basic White T-shirt
2 Blouses
1 Chambray 
Shoes (my downfall)
4 Pairs --> 
Aldo Boots
Steve Madden Flats
Blue Platform Heels
Madden Girl Wedge Heels
Accessories -->
3 Scarves 
2 belts
1 hat
3 sweaters 
 2 Dresses

Now a quick trip to California or a long-weekend in Florida, you can kind of get by with wearing 3 or 4 outfits and just winging it. Europe is a different story; especially because we're hitting a few different countries I wanted to make sure I had enough appropriate clothing for wine tasting in Northern Portugal, pounding the pavement in Madrid, seaside visits in the south of Portugal, and climbing the steep hills of Sintra…so I aired on the side of having plenty of outfits this trip! I came up with 16 outfits that can go from day travels to night clubs with a few simple changes.

Now that everything is packed and organized, all I have to do is have my phone in hand and I don't have to stress about what to wear that day- everything is already ready to go and allows me to enjoy every moment of the traveling adventures. 
Bon Voyage from the Traveling Cupcake!

Wednesday, January 22

The Traveling Cupcake

2012 was an incredible year of travel adventures:
London, Basingstoke, Bath, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Nottingham, Surrey, Stratford-upon-Avon…and all sorts of other little charming towns all throughout England.

2013 I stayed a little closer to home and traveled around the US: Charleston, San Francisco, Myrtle Beach, Yosemite National Park, Phoenix, Philadelphia,  New York City, Hershey, Lancaster County, Charlotte, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Raleigh, Hudson, Excelsior and of course the sandy shores of Wilmington called me home a few times. 
Have I mentioned I love traveling? 

I love traveling throughout the United States but there is something wonderful about going abroad. It's been about a year since I've gone out of the country and probably for the last 11 months the travel bug has been bugging me. It's time to go somewhere.

Someone asked me once why I love traveling and I wasn't sure how to explain it other than you get to be someone completely different when you're in a foreign city. There is something so therapeutic about being completely anonymous is a foreign city; no one knows who you are, where you came from, what you've been through, where you're going. You get to make memories, meet new friends, try new things and explore the surroundings in such a raw and natural existence. It's something I've never been able to harness anywhere else. Simply put, adventures are the best way to learn.

You learn what it takes to survive in a foreign city. You learn to adapt to a new culture and language. You learn to accept others. You learn how much you can withstand. You learn who you are. You learn what you want, you learn what you don't want. You learn that everybody is so different yet we all have a common ground. You learn that life is so much bigger than your hometown. You learn to be you and that…that is the most wonderful part of traveling this girl has learned.

So its time to pack up my life into a suitcase, book a flight, and head off to a grand new adventure. Here's to another adventure from, The Traveling Cupcake. 

Monday, January 20

Stop Looking

 I've been searching for answers and, in full disclosure, I'm a girl and read too much into 'signs'. When I was deciding on where to attend college, I felt like every billboard or bumper sticker was a sign from God that to where I was supposed to go! I'm not sure if it's a female thing or just a me thing, but I am notorious for desperately searching for an answer and sometimes making up my own answer. 
Questions about future career- TODAY show has a segment about relocating to Guam…maybe God wants me to move to Guam and open an orphanage? 
Questions about a future move- see 10 moving trucks in one day…God wants me to pack up and go. 
Questions about pursuing a dream- find 15 inspirational Pinterest quotes, God is trying to speak to me.

It always seems when you stop looking, that's when you find what you're looking for.
I've been looking for answers to so many things, and lately I feel like I've been overlooking to find God's answer. Maybe His answer is more of a quiet whisper rather than an in-your-face lightning bolt…exactly what this type-A girl doesn't want :) 

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart
Maybe it's time to stop desperately searching for my own answers and go back to listening for His guidance. 
Usually, when you stop looking, you find exactly what you need….His answers.