INVENTING DARLA/Rocco is here!

He is here. He is huge!!! Those words were music to our ears. After 22 hours of labor, and 2 hours of pushing, Roy Cotton III made his entrance into the world. Like my Dad and his great grandfather William Earl Davenport, who didn’t get a chance to see him, he took his time getting here. My daughter’s due date was July 31st, but I knew all along that Rocco would come in August. What I didn’t know was that my grandson would be born on the same day as my Dad’s home going celebration; one soldier left and another soldier entered. God’s timing is impeccable.

My six-week visit with my daughter and son-in-love was heaven on earth. I enjoyed every minute. I was there for the 3rd baby shower, Niya’s doctor/dental appointments, Sunday services at St. John (Grand Prairie and Southlake), Wal-Mart and Target visits, evening strolls, Cotton/Powell fellowship dinners, and much, much more. I was there…

 I was there for Niya’s 37th week pre-natal checkup when the nurse said, “This baby is already 7 pounds, 1 ounce and 19 inches long;” I was there when she lost her mucus plug, had a bloody show, took long walks in the Mall, insisted on acupressure as an alternative to what was presented. I was there when Niya had gone well past her due date and was faced with the dilemma of going in after 40 weeks to be medically induced.

That evening, she said something didn’t feel quite right. The family prayed, and with her husband’s full support, she decided to wait. Rocco was probably 8.5 pounds then and wondering, ‘How do I get out?’ On the other hand, I can imagine him saying “What’s the rush? I’m eating all of this good food at Genghis Grill, Pappadeaux Seafoord Kitchen, Furr’s Family Dining, Sweet Tomatoes Buffet, Bordeaux’s Cajun Restaurant and Nana “Ds” healthy cuisine. I may as well hang out here until they evict me.”

I was there when they evicted Rocco on August 11, 2011 at 12:06 a.m. His Mom pushed him out naturally, and he weighed in at 9 pounds and 11 ounces. One thing is for sure, they do it Big in Texas.

Another thing for sure, Texas has its fill with churches and restaurants; I had my fill with both. I applaud my daughter and her husband for their dutifulness. Is that a word? They did more with one working car than some folks do with a whole fleet. To see this pregnant child of mine  – get up early to take her husband to St. John in Grand Prairie, and then travel to St. John in Southlake where she ministers, go back to pick him up and sometimes sing for that service if it was in overtime, and then drive all the way back home on the other side of Texas – was remarkable. The experience was exhausting. I was so glad to be there when God blessed them with two new cars.

God is reigning down blessings in the Cotton household. First a new house, then two new cars and now a brand new baby. Look out world, Rocco is here!



I Need Your Vote!

It’s official! I am now a Jamba Juice Ambassador.  Here is what the letter said:

Dear Darla,

Congratulations! You’ve been selected as one of the 25 Local Ambassadors for Period 4 in our Ambassador of WOW Contest and you could become the next Jamba Juice National Ambassador of WOW.

Public voting for Period 4 runs from August 3, 2011 to August 16, 2011, so be sure to give yourself a vote and don’t forget to encourage your friends to vote for you as well by going to

What did I have to do to land this laudable position? I wrote the following:

I sincerely love Jamba Juice. I recommend different menu items to my friends and associates, without prompting. I am a dream machine with extra bananas connoisseur. I have called the Jamba headquarters numerous times to give kudos to the staff and manager of the Fairfield Jamba Juice store. The entire Jamba team at my neighborhood Jamba store knows me by name. I have a morning routine that involves an early Jamba stop to get my oatmeal with bananas, crumbled sugar and glazed pecans; plus my spice chai tea with soy. Then after my gym routine, I double back and get my orange dream machine with extra bananas smoothie. I’ve also tried the new pineapple coconut splash.

 As a local Ambassador, Jamba Juice is sending me a $100 gift card to jumpstart my day with what my mother used to give me each morning before I left for school—a big bowl of oatmeal, a glass of orange juice, and a banana.  Jamba

Juice gets my vote; I hope I get yours—Vote Darla D.


INVENTING DARLA: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: A Letter to Derik III

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

Dear Derik III,

You will soon meet your first teachers. They are called, “parents.” From the moment you take your first breath as you enter this world, the education process begins. You will hear sentences, sounds, numbers and bible verses before you are able to form your first words.  At first it will all sound a bit strange but as the days go by, you will begin to mimic the things that you hear because of your natural desire for learning. You will amaze your parents with your intellectual curiosity, and fascinate them with your quick wit and innate gifts.

Your parents will have their hands full in finding schools that will challenge you to excel academically and spiritually. Your job is to always aim higher than your reach and to strive for excellence.

There are no excuses! Your education has been paid for by those who ‘sat in’ at lunchroom counters; by those who went to jail for justice; and by those who marched miles and miles for our freedom. I can hear them saying: “Get your education, no one can ever take that away from you!”

Derik, study to show thyself approved like the biblical Daniel and his teenage friends who developed their skills so well it landed them at the top of their class; “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better…” (Daniel 1:20)

Parents, grandparents, and the village, the Latin word for education is educare, “bring up,” which is related to educere “bring forth what is within.” Our job is to “lead out” what God has already placed in you, Derik III, leaning not to our own understanding but acknowledging Him as He directs our paths.

Derik, the world awaits your arrival with high expectations!

Much love!

Ms. Darla


INVENTING DARLA/Living the Kodak moment

My friends are great teachers and I learn a lot through their experiences.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a good friend about her daughter’s high school graduation. Like any Mom, she was proud as a peacock when the day came where her baby would walk across the stage to receive her diploma. She was ready to capture it all with her camera in hand. This was indeed a Kodak moment to be remembered in years to come.

I haven’t blogged in a little over two weeks.

Thought I’d do a creative 30th Anniversary “shout out” blog to my husband a few days ago in that I’m in Texas and he is in California. This was actually the first time that we hadn’t been together on our anniversary. I celebrated at a wonderful restaurant on his dime and he had the pleasure of reading my blog. How romantic! We must have talked at leas 50 times throughout the day. Space is sometimes a good thing.

I haven’t forgotten the story. My friend shared that she was so busy snapping pictures during her daughter’s big day, that when it was over, she realized that she had missed the graduation; she had missed being in the moment.

I learn a lot from my friends.

I’m in Texas helping my daughter and son-in-love prepare for their “first born” and our “first grandbaby.”  It’s a joy watching my daughter in her nesting mode. Everything has been sterilized, organized and put in its proper place to get ready for our new arrival. We’ve mapped out the hospital route, placed the hospital bag in the car and have the car seat all ready to go.

New house, new car, and soon-to-be new baby, it’s a lot to take in…

I’ve been away from my blog for over two weeks because I’ve been cherishing each moment with Niya and Roy. Don’t want to miss the process. I learned from my friend that you only get one chance to capture the moment and if you are not careful, you can miss it in a flash.

Darla Davenport-Powell

July 28, 2011


It’s my Anniversary!

Thirty years ago ,my husband Wayne and I said, “I do” to God and each other and entered into a covenant, not a contract, to live out a marriage designed by God. Wow, little did we know that walking out our vows would be harder than climbing Mt. Everest or swimming the Nile. There were difficult days ahead.

How can two walk together except they agree?

Agree with whom, and agree on what? After the romantic phase was over, there were those power struggle years where it felt like we weren’t agreeing on anything. We didn’t even agree to disagree. One thing for sure that has kept us is our love for God and the desire to do “marriage” his way. He designed it so whenever there was a bump on our journey, we went to Him for answers.  The beautiful thing is that as our relationship with God grew deeper, our relationship with each other began to grow deeper? Why, because we were agreeing with His principles and serious about living them to bring Him glory. We learned early that our lives are not our own.

There is no seniority; always in the process of becoming…

Before we got married, my husband and I went to premarital counseling. After we were married, God always led us to marital enrichment groups, marital retreats, couples ministries, and discipleship classes, all designed to strengthen our relationship. It was there that we learned active listening skills, healthy communication techniques, the value of “leaving and cleaving” and so much more… Life’s a funny thing. Today, we are marriage counselors and facilitate premarital classes. We are still a work in progress.

What’s love got to do with it?

Marriage is that place where God finishes His perfect work. There are three phases: Romantic (That’s easy),  Power Struggle (That’s hard) and Mature Love (That’s mighty sweet!) To all my married folks, be patient with the process and hang on in there until you find the sweet honey in the Rock!  It’s work but it’s well worth it… What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Darla Davenport-Powell
July 25, 2011

INVENTING DARLA/Songs to cheer you!

A good song can put a smile on your face and lift your spirit. Here are 10 of my favorite “happy place” songs:

  1. Smile (Kirk Franklin)
  2. I Gotta Feeling (The Black Eyed Peas)
  3. Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby Mcferrin)
  4. Sailing (Christopher Cross)
  5. Celebrate (Good Times) (Kool and the Gang)
  6. We Are Family (Sister Sledge)
  7. Walking In Rhythm (The Blackbyrds)
  8. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now (McFadden and Whitehead)
  9. Groovin (on a Sunday Afternoon) The Young Rascals
  10. Happy Feelings (Maze)

What are some of your favorite “happy” songs?


INVENTING DARLA/Warren Buffett, I’m on your trail!

I must admit. I am in way over my head.

What have I gotten myself into with this social media marketing animal? And, boy, I do mean animal.

For two weeks, I have been trying to wrap my brain around all of this new media technology. I said yes to blogging with a passion. I love extemporaneous writing. The major hurdle was sharing my inner most thoughts with the world—pretty much like handing the key over to anyone who wanted to read my diary.

Now I have a Twitter account and a new NiyaKids Facebook page. It’s kind of weird having followers and following people around on the internet. The goal is to get as many people of like interests to sign up as followers, which would make me a leader. I’m all for that. But the other way around feels somewhat odd. I know. In order to have a friend, you must first be a friend; and to be a good leader, one must be a good follower. I get it! The same principle applies to my new Facebook page The goal is for me to get 100,000 friends to LIKE the page to gain the interest of a manufacturer or licensor.  The more toy folks I like, the more folks may like my products. I’m still trying to figure out if my Twitter name is Niya@NiyaKids or @NiyaKids. I need all of my global diary readers to ‘tweet’ me – and we’ll see which one works.

My technology tutor said that the object of all of this is to connect all of the dots. It’s like the neck bone is connected to the shoulder bone concept. With a push of a key, my blog will go out to all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers. The thought of it is a bit overwhelming.

I wonder what Warren Buffett thinks about all of this texting and tweeting?  I bet he doesn’t answer his own email. But he does have a Facebook page. In fact, Warren Buffett’s page has180, 797 LIKES.

Tweet this: Warren Buffett, I’m on your trail!

INVENTING DARLA/An invocation that continues the dream

SACRAMENTO, Calif. _ Drexel University held its inaugural commencement outside Philadelphia yesterday in a stellar ceremony that featured Darla Davenport Powell giving the commencement. We’d like to share her words!

My Mother’s favorite saying is: This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it; indeed, this is a great day. Psalm 118:24. Let us still ourselves in this moment… as we give thanks for this special occasion…a historic day in Sacramento…the first commencement of Drexel University outside of Philadelphia in the 120-year history of the University.

We have a lot to be thankful for…

Let us pray…

God we are grateful to be alive today…to witness, to participate and to celebrate our inaugural commencement. We are filled with appreciation for those who made this journey possible.

We give thanks to our grandparents, our parents, our spouses, our significant others, our children, family and friends who gave us the inspiration to “keep on keeping on” in spite of the challenges and in the midst of obstacles.

We give thanks for our late President Constantine Papadakis, ‘Taki’ for his vision, his wife Eliana, for her continued support of his vision and thanks to our administrators for carrying out that vision.

We are grateful for the Trustees, President John Fry and the alumni for their continued commitment and service to this outstanding University. We give thanks to our professors for their rich deposits, our guest lecturers and mentors; and the excellent staff that truly was the wind beneath our wings.

We are grateful for the soldiers who serve to protect our freedom and give thanks for their sacrifice.

Now God we ask your blessing on this ceremony, and on this graduating class. Guide us in our decisions and allow us to use what we’ve learned to make a difference in our communities, this nation and the world. Keeping in mind: “To whom much is given, much is required.”(Luke 12:48)…and in the words of Winston Churchill: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”


Darla Davenport-Powell, M.A., MSHE

INVENTING DARLA/God has a funny way . . .

My daughter and I were talking this morning about God and his sense of humor. One thing is for sure:  He has been consistent.

I can imagine how Abraham felt when God told him to “get thee from your kindred and kind, and I’ll make thee a nation; and make thy name great.”


Did anyone bother to tell God that Abraham was old, and his wife Sarah’s eggs had long since dried up? They were probably hardboiled by the time Isaac was conceived. Nevertheless, Isaac was conceived and we know the rest of the story.

The same God took Paul, persecutor of the Christians, and turned his life right side up to be a premier apostle of the very same Christians he hated.


God has a sense of humor, and He is consistent.

We see it in the story of the Mary the Mother of Jesus (a virgin), Mary Magdalene (a former prostitute), Peter (a former thug) and throughout the Bible. Take Noah for example. Here it is: He hears from God to build an ark for years with no rain in sight. I can imagine people murmuring: “Look at that crazy Noah, building a boat, and it ain’t even raining.” The flood came and we know the rest of the story.

I can talk from my own experiences. He sets me up to get a second master’s degree with full tuition paid, without a book allowance. Unemployed, son in college, one in high school, bills up the ying yang and you want me to go back to school and earn a second degree with no books, Lord?

It gets better . . You are not only going to earn a third degree, you are going to graduate with a 4.0 cumulative GPA.

And one car, 17-thousand schedules ( everybody going in opposite directions) and an ailing Dad, who was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma plus a myriad of other demands, I graduated.

And we know the rest of the story.

It doesn’t make human sense . . .

I live in a house that our salary does not sustain. My children attend private schools, I’m sitting on top of a mega-million children’s entertainment business. I’m able to fly to Philly for my graduation. I get my hair done and eat on the regular. I enjoy full medical benefits through my husband’s teaching salary. I get stopped in public places by people from foreign places who ask me: “Aren’t you that doll lady I saw on “American Inventor?” Who knew I would win $50,000 as a finalist to take my product to the next level on a show with 14 million viewers, a product that now is licensed internationally to countries around the world?

God’s ways are not our ways.

I don’t have to imagine what went through Abraham’s mind when God promised to make him a nation with faulty equipment. I know how Noah felt when he was given the assignment of building a boat for an event that people didn’t believe was going to happen. I can identify with Peter, who was rough around the edges but willing to trust what he couldn’t see. For faith is the street where I live; not knowing how but knowing who; not knowing when but knowing that if God said it . . . we know the rest of the story.



INVENTING DARLA/This just in!!

Dear friends and supporters: I wanted to share this news with you!

Drexel University Mom Graduates Top of Her Class without Buying a Book

Darla Davenport-Powell was so excited to learn that she would be one of the first recipients of a merit- based full fellowship from Drexel University that she forgot that it didn’t include a book allowance. So how did this mother of three graduate at the top of her class with a 4.0 cum GPA without buying any books?

“I literally lived in the library,” says Davenport-Powell My day consisted of searching the web to find text books on line. Google became my friend and I read and printed any information on the topics that were assigned. On occasion, I would borrow my professor’s books and read as much as I could before returning them the following week. I also had wonderful colleagues who allowed me to make copies of pages that I couldn’t find (on-line).”

Davenport-Powell will give the invocation at Drexel University Sacramento Commencement at 6 p.m. on June 25, 2011 at the Crocker Art Museum, where more than 100 graduate students are expected to participate in the ceremony. Drexel has enrolled 424 students in its doctoral and master’s programs since opening its Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento in January 2009.

“I feel a double honor to be celebrated as a graduate of Drexel’s inaugural class and keeper of my Dad’s legacy,” says Davenport-Powell. “He had a work ethic second-to-none and never called in sick after working 46 years and 3 months at the U.S. Postal Service. He was an example of excellence, determination and discipline. My success is a tribute to my father—a man who lived the motto: No excuses!”


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