We got the star on the tree – Aunt Elizabeth knows it was missing for a long time.  It was set (poorly, but set) last night after 9 p.m.


But we never got the nativities sorted beyond the flash mob status.  A reflection of some of the unique characteristics of this particular season – good season but always on the go!


Even Miss Sophie needs a bit of a nap after all the rushing around.


Papa needs a nap because he got up early and plowed away the new fallen snow for us and the neighbors (Merry Christmas neighbors), and he went for a run – all before we were opening gifts at the crack of dawn.  Get rested up Papa we still have a movie to catch!


The goggles and flannel shirt are new, helmet is old.  But this seems to be the chosen attire for the day – threatening to go to Unbroken wearing this later this afternoon.  We’ll see.  I bet he selects this outfit instead:small-4032

New jacket is from Grandma and Grandpa – thank you!  He’s in love and I love the idea that I’ll be able to spot him on the ice flow or the ski hill.  He’s wearing it right now (flannel shirt under, helmet and goggles still on) while listening to music by Lecrae.

All this colorful fun to celebrate the best gift in history – birth of Jesus.  Can’t forget that without that best gift we just wouldn’t be the same – not the same at all!

Categories: Andy, Blessings, Christmas, Daily life, Faith, Family Fun, J, kids, snow, Thankful to God, Winter | 3 Comments



small-0422 My gratitude book/list is almost full – don’t worry, I’m already shopping for the next volume.  Giving thanks is such a meaningful and productive part of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever stop.  So, here is where I am this week:

3716.  Unexpected afternoon off with J.

3717.  Seeing ice climbers up on the ice falls in Hyalite Canyon – inspiring and encouraging.

3718.  Super nice ice climber who returned J’s dropped wallet at some significant effort.

3719.  Encouraging developments around photography business. 

3720.  Working with nice people at MCS fundraiser dinner.



3721.  J finding connections with classmates getting easier.

3722.  Quick check-in with Holly

3723.  Getting lots of photos processed

3724.  Inspiration for some photo projects.

3725.  Good discussion at Bible Study

3726.  Americana chicken laid a blue egg after two months off for molting – a beautiful blue egg!

small-04343727.  Ann Voskamp on the importance of Jesus’ family tree

3728.  Arrison sleeping at my feet.

3729.  Good mango for breakfast two days in a row!


3730.  Warmer weather – supposed to be 40 degrees today!

3731.  Needed reschedule granted

3732.  Andy’s kindness/generous heart for J and I

3733.  Good friends all around!

3734.  No wreck when swerving to avoid sudden obstacle in the road – and J impressed with my crisis driving.

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Blessings, chickens, Daily life, Faith, Fall, gratitude, Montana, Montana weather, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Thankful to God | 1 Comment



All of todays photos are from the hike I took on Sunday afternoon just before the polar vortex hit.  As it is -20 ish as I type, I’m thinking my timing was pretty great.  I’d love to get back up Cottonwood Canyon with my camera and document the changes over the past three days, but . . . I’m just not crazy enough to do that in this frigid weather.


So instead I’ll focus on being grateful and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll go for an indoor walk at the mall.

I do have much to be thankful for and a loving and caring God who provides so very much.  These details are absolute assurance to me that he loves and cares for me specifically – how else would all these blessings come into my life?


3676.  Live in housesitter so we can take a trip and the animals will be cared for

3677.  Dinner and photos share with Brett and Roberta

3678.  Safe travels to and from Cody with no car issues.

3679.  Beauty of two different parts of Yellowstone seen on weekend travels through the park.

3680.  Sharing time with the Becker clan.


3681.  Good meaty discussion with J in the car as we travel.

3682.  Arriving home to a clean house.

3683.  Beautiful sun drenched morning photographing Julia

3684.  Walking and talking with Elizabeth on the phone.

3685.  Beautiful fall weather

3686.  J’s grades holding steady where he wants them.


3687.  Phone call with Daniel and Stacy

3688.  Danielle likes youth group.

3689.  Freedom for a client who sat in jail a long time before justice came his way.

3690.  Strength shown by Miss M. in a difficult situation.

3691.  Chance to learn more about photography.

3692. Great inspiring blog post by Ann Voskamp


3693.  Homemade apple sauce for breakfast.

3694.  Friendships in the school community

3695.  20 young chickens for free

3696.  Unexpected evening home watching game 7 as a family – and the Giants won making my boy so happy!\

3697.  Beautiful sunsets several days in a row.

3698.  Tank’s ability to help find missing little chickens


3699.  Looking forward to Advent

3700.  Variety of little chickens and how much Tank loves them.

3701.  Success in court for dear friends.

3702.  Referral of a new case that highlights Andy’s skills and faith.

3703.  Supportive phone calls from friends on a down day.

3704.  Second visit with the Becker clan – this time at our house.

3705.  New cases to replace those that are wrapping up.

3706.  Honesty/transparency character of the folks in our Bible Study group


3707.  Warm clothes to wear as the weather turns.

3708.  Fun watching the chickens around the yard.

3709.  Great positive feedback from teachers at parent teacher conferences.

3710.  Misty sunrise

3711.  Chickens surviving in bitter cold

3712.  Hike up Cottonwood Canyon before the snow flies.

3713.  Paul not injured in an accident sliding off the ice.

3714.  Having enough to get bills paid without stress.

3715.  Significant progress on over coming debt burden


Categories: Autumn, berries, Blessings, chickens, Cottonwood Canyon, Daily life, Extended Family, Faith, Fall, Fall leaves, gratitude, Hiking, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, Thankful to God, Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I am not a huge fan of describing myself as “busy.”  Especially not when it becomes part of the “norm” for our daily lives.  Sometimes there are just seasons, but I don’t like it.IMG_5856sm

This seems to be one of those seasons.  Here we are, being busy with little out of the ordinary to show for it. 


So we are going to take a few days and do something special as a family.  School is out for a four-day weekend and we re-arranged the office schedule some.  Time to slow down, take a deep breath, and just be family together.  A chance to change the cadence of our lives a refocusing.  As we refocus we are reminded of all the goodness God grants into our lives even during the seasons of being too busy:


3644.  Family who lives close enough to visit for a weekend – this is new for us!

3645.  Good friend in Eva – listens when I’m babbling on and on.IMG_4828sm

3647.  Money on hand to fix the Subaru.

3648.  Support from a friend.

3649.  Family discussion over dinner – and a chance to eat dinner together

3650.  Email of affirmation.

3651.  One year of our wonderful kittens – now they aren’t “kittens” any more!IMG_0298sm


3652.  Order from the court signed quickly.

3653.  Safe travel to and from Helena for Andy.

3654.  J signed up for ice climbing clinic


3655.  A good school for J.

3656.  Fall colors in the treessm-45

3657.  Getting to see the lunar eclipse (or at least the tail end of it)

3658.  Beautiful sunrise – pink clouds over the north valleysm-61

3659.  New walking/running shoes at a great price – and they feel great!

3660.  Enough money to pay bills fairly comfortably.

3661.  Trees with red leaves sprinkled around town.

3662.  Miss M. allowing some help for the abuse she suffered

3663.  The good feeling fo making progress on a difficult unpleasant tasksm-40

3664.  Orders of Protection in place for friends who need it.

3665.  J holding steady on his grades at a place that surpasses his own expectations.

3666.  Hearing the wind whistle and howl while I am safely in the house.

3667.  Subaru fixed after two weeks, and a fair price set for the work.

3668.  Less debt now than a year ago – progress!

3669.  Great photo shoot with a high school senior.

3670.  Donna hearing some encouraging words.

3671.  The hope that comes from planning a few days off.

3672.  Good lawyering by Andy – strategic and effective advocacy!sm-25

3673.  Andy’s detailed knowledge of the law.

3674.  Being able to breathe on the days when events seem so heavy that breathing might not be possible.

3675.  Sleeping through the night – at least once in-a-while.


Categories: Daily life, Faith, Family Fun, gratitude, kittens, Photography, Progress, Thankful to God | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments


There is so much to be thankful for in this life  and I don’t ever want to forget it.


3628.  A day at home doing chores as a family.

3629.  Good family walk/talk.

3630.  J joining the adults to celebrate a 75th birthday party after being specially invited by the birthday girl.

3631.  Studying the Christmas story in detail.

3632.  Forgiveness from friends after a mis-step.

3633.  Support from Andy in an emotionally difficult time.

3634.  Connecting with Alicia.


3635.  Plenty of rain to keep the countryside fresh and green well into the fall.

3636.  Bumper crop of apples – enough to share with friends

3637.  J getting to participate in homecoming traditions for first time.

3638.  Good advice from Jeremy.

3639.  Knowledge that God is in control when things seem to be flying out of control.

3640.  Paul’s good music leadership at worship.



3641.  Cooking with fresh eggs

3642.  Beautiful place to live all year-long – stunning views of storms coming in.

3643.  Family who lives close enough to visit for a weekend.


Categories: Autumn, Daily life, Extended Family, Faith, Fall, Gallatin River, gratitude, J, Montana, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, River, Thankful to God | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


It took three years plus a little, but I’m at 3000 items on my gratitude list.  What a blessing the list has been!  A chance to showcase God’s work in the little details of my life and to remind myself to give credit where credit is due.  So, at the risk of being redundant, Thank You God!IMG_3044sm2961.  S able to help J out in a bind

2962.  Turning a disappointment into a chance to problem solve and remember strengths

2963.  Lunch with Andy at Sola

2964.  Unique flowers at fusion to photograph

2965.  Client who is grateful

2966.  Color for June is purple at 2 peas photo challenge

2967.  Pat’s kind comment about my lilac photo

2968.  Getting a blog posted two days in a row

IMG_3045sm2969.  Positive feedback spontaneously given for a project I did when the person didn’t know it was my project.

2970.  Bambi Cantrell video on-line – so educational and free!

2971.  Living close to camping opportunities

2972.  Walking up Yonder Road

2973.  Lupine beginning to bloom at Spire Rock camp ground

2974.  Feeling strong after walking 11 miles.

2975.  Figuring out karate tournament registration

2976.  J safely off to Washington DC

IMG_3050sm2977.  Friendly chat with our neighbor

2978.  Good long walk with Denise

2979.  Views five miles up Cottonwood Canyon

2980.  J seems to be doing well on trip

2981.  Getting a model opportunity set-up

2982.  Walking before the rain hit in the morning

2983.  Many opportunities to view wild flowers this spring/summer

2984.  J remembered to call Andy on Father’s Day

2985.  Inspiring photography website

IMG_3072sm2986.  Rain for all the local crops after a dry May

2987.  Tank able to run with Andy again

2988.  Able to walk at the mall on a rainy day – still getting the walk in and not getting all wet

2989.  Satisfaction with the result of the Kirby family photos

2990.  Yummy pork chop dinner cooked the way my mom did them

2991.  Getting through a “To Do List” relatively early in the day

2992.  Bright green of different shades on the shrubs all around our office building

2993.  Reliable friends for J in both S and N.

IMG_3076sm2994.  Wisdom from others rattles in my head when I need it most

2995.  Drops of water shinning on all the leaves after a spring rain

2996.  Arnika and Arrison playfully chasing each other around the house

2997.  Getting the bank and quicken to communicate over the internet for hope of easier bookkeeping work


2998.  Interesting rows and rows of low hanging clouds over the fields on Gooch Hill

sm-32372999.  Having enough of what we need.

3000.  Getting to 3000 and the consistent uplifting feeling that comes from keeping this list.


Categories: Andy, Arnika, Arrison, Daily life, Faith, flowers, gratitude, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, poppies, Spring, Thankful to God | 1 Comment



I’m not generally one to jump on a band wagon – I tend to think it through and be sure it is my cause.  But this thing with the missing girls in Nigeria has me worked up a bit.  I don’t have any answers as to where they are or how to bring them home.  All I have are questions – how can a mother go through this?  How does a daughter find the strength to survive?  How can so much evil exist in this world?  Where is God in all this mess – I know He’s here, I just don’t understand yet how He is going to show Himself.


If those were American girls swept away from their families, threatened with slavery, missing because they were being educated would we do something different about it?  I don’t know the answer to that question but I do wonder.


Here it is Mother’s Day and my heart breaks for the women who sit at home or go out to government officials asking “where is my daughter?”  “Is she still alive?”  “How is she being hurt?”  I can’t bare the thought of what that would be like.


But even worse is to think what is going on in the hearts and minds of those girls.  Educated girls knowing enough to realize the danger they are in.  Girls who were studying and working to improve their lives, being treated as chattel (property to be sold or destroyed at the whim of the owner).    How can that be?  


I look at these photos of “my girls”  — some of the daughters of friends and family who have captured my heart.  If one of them were missing I don’t know if I could breath anymore with all the tears, let alone walk or eat or speak.  Completely disabling!  How does a mother whose child is missing gather the strength to search and urge others to search?


Yet if I was the mother of a child who was missing, how could I do anything but search and urge others to search?  How could I even acknowledge Mother’s Day knowing that some insane man and his minions is in charge of the fate of my child?


I hope I would recognize that the God of the Universe is in charge, and that He has the power to turn this into something good – even something great –  for those who love Him.

 I don’t have a child in this terrible tragedy, I can’t look at any of those mothers and tell them what they should feel or think or believe.  But I hope beyond all that is realistic that each and every one of those mothers and daughters has a peace from God that He is aware of the problem and has it in the palm of His hand.  



Still I ache with the knowledge that if my child was missing I don’t know if my faith is great enough to overcome the fear.  It would require a super natural intervention from the King of the Universe to bring me even one iota of peace.


So I pray for each mother of the 275+ missing girls – that throughout this tragedy they will experience the God of all Comfort in a new and beautiful way.  That they will have the knowledge that God is with their daughter providing her with the strength and peace that she needs to get through all that she faces.  That God is available to those who call on His name – so call away mothers, call away! 


I pray that the communities impacted by this terrible violation of freedom and humanity will be strengthened to stand up and protect themselves from the terror brought by evil men so misguided as to think  any human, male or female, is less worthy, less valuable or less in any way.

Because of my own sin and judgment, I am reluctant to pray this, but out of obedience, I pray for the man and his minions who took these girls.  May their hearts be changed and softened, bringing them to let the girls go home safe and sound.
Copy of IMG_8244cropbw

And I pray that each of the girls be safe from further violations, free of physical pain, comforted by a peace beyond understanding, and found alive and healthy.  I pray that they can be reunited with their families, homes and communities in a way that brings Glory to You God – glory to You!




Categories: Faith, kids, Missing Girls, Photography, prayer | Leave a comment


It has been far too long since I published a portion of my ongoing gratitude list.  I am just going to go with the last 25 things and count it good because it would be the worlds longest post if I went all the way back and got completely caught up.    The photos posted today are just random photos from the past few weeks.  Hopefully soon I’ll be blogging more regularly and having more organized presentation of photos.


2531. Charlie’s sincerity

2532.  Nail didn’t hit any nerves in J’s foot or impact the bone when it went in from the bottom and popped out the top of his foot on Easter Sunday

2533.  Conflict-free time with big family

2834.  Beautiful spring weather for Easter and most of family visit

2835.  No rain while walking around Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone


2836.  Three year old boys

2837.  Emily survived accident and is healing so well.

2838.  J’s motivated to get back at karate despite foot injury.

2839.  Good Easter sermon

2840.  Charlie’s excitement over being outside and helping with Chickens.


2841.  Emily’s quick healing process

2842.  Seeing Christian friends rally to help and pray for Emily and her family.

2843.  Andy’s diligence with a challenging client and case.

2844.  Fields are getting green – raspberries getting leaves

2845.  Happy chickens


2846.  Able to have doors and windows open without freezing.

2847.  Friends through karate activities

2848.  Learning a new way to use my camera – back button focusing

2849.  Beautiful green fields as we drive to and from Colorado

2850.  Finding good photos on the computer.


2851.  Andy’s good taste in buying clothes for me.

2852.  Talk with Hannah Sue re: chickens

2853.  Someone to watch Tank while we travel.

2854.  Well written book that moved me to tears.

2855.  Beautiful view of the Crazy Mountains shrouded in clouds as we returned home.

2856.  Connecting with Eva.

Categories: Daily life, Faith, gratitude, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, Spring, Thankful to God, Yellowstone | Leave a comment


IMG_1057_3379smThank you for praying for Emily (who is featured in the photos of this post).  The prayers have worked wonders!

Emily is home now after 2 days in ICU and 2 days in the regular hospital as well as two surgeries.  After that second surgery she just really made rapid progress!

IMG_0923_3393smThere is still much healing needed – she broke her femur, now has a rod in there, and will need to rehab that; she has a small laceration on her liver which should heal on its own; and there was a brain bleed that while it was small, it has an impact.  Her short-term memory is pretty poor right now, and may take months to come back.  And of course, she is pretty bruised up.

Also, there is an issue with not being able to do blood thinners because of the brain bleed, but being at risk for clots because of the leg injuries.  They have a filter in one of her veins, but this is an area that will need on-going prayer – probably 4 – 6 weeks before this can be a non-issue.


Another thing to pray about is she was really excited to be going to Uganda late this summer for a number of months on a service trip.  That is in question now because it is not clear her brain will heal in time or that she will be able to work to save the money needed for this trip.

So, lots to praise God for, and still some things to humbly ask Him to keep His hand on.

The Breuner family is recovering for over a month of just a little too much on our plates – and we definitely spilled over on to the table and made a mess of some of it.  So now we are in clean up mode.  A wonderful family visit is concluded (so glad that was able to happen)and a bigger than we thought it would be court hearing is over.  The clean-up has begun.

Now we are on to new things as well – Andy is visiting with family for a few days;  I’m working on some photography goals/projects; J has his 8th grade project to keep him busy; a couple of college students who need a place to stay during a time of transition will be moving in soon; and we still have a bit of karate tournament traveling to do soon.  Add that to the regular full case load at work and the beginning of the season where we can work in the yard and whew!  It doesn’t seem like things are going to slow down anytime soon. 

Gratitude to God for a full and joyful life!

Categories: Daily life, Emily, Faith, Family Fun, Photography, Spring | Leave a comment

GRATITUDE – Tuesday February 11

Sometimes it feels like our lives are a wreck buried in the deep winter snow.  We don’t have it all together as a family.untitled-9328And that’s a fact! 

The laundry is flung on the guest room bed left unfolded for weeks at a time.  The mountain grows three feet high and we pick our way through looking for what we need each morning.

After we get those wrinkled and crumpled clothes on our shivering bodies, we only have to walk around the house and the white dog hair from Tank jumps onto our  finery like moths to a flame.

And now we are beautifully attired and ready to face a world that wonders just what goes on in our house.


The barn door came off its rails but it is open only 4 – 5 inches.   None of us can squeeze in to get the needed old client files so safely tucked away in boxes under the silver tarp in the beautiful barn loft.   Might wait  until spring to get that door re-hung, because the snow blown up against it has hardened under the weight of more drifting snow and the ice formed by a warm day causing some melting only to be met with days like today where it is -31 when we get up, and every drop of moisture outside is solid!  That door is shut for some time to come.

We howl at the hurts of years ago come back to haunt us.  And we tire from the effort of battling demons old and new.

We  struggle on, alternating optimism for victory  with the sinking feelings that utter defeat is only moments away.

We are a mess.

untitled-9334Yet each day we look around and there are the gifts from God – the little and big ones custom designed to care for us, encourage us, provide for us and allow us to feel loved.

Even in our messy broken, crumpled, defeated state, we know we are loved by a God who is there with us every moment of every day.  Here is the proof:2665.  Healthy baby for Daniel and Stacy

2666.  Drive time with Andy

2667.  short but fun drive with Andy to look at a crime scene

2668.  Arrison curling up next to me on the couch – he’s getting cuddly after all.

2669.  Home before full dark – a rare event in the winter.

2670.  Time with Shawna talking and taking photos

2671.  Completing a large volunteer project

2672.  sharing something I really like and getting good feedback and affirmation.

2673.  leftovers for dinner making an easy evening.

untitled-93362674.  Talking with Daniel about the birth of his new daughter

2675.  J able to express his feelings

2676.  J wanting/seeking out time with wise adults to process traumatic events

2677.  J feeling affirmed by his teachers in a challenging social situation.

2678.  Andy and I unified in helping J through a tough situation

2679.  Access to an important resource on short notice

2680.  Evening at home with Marissa joining us for social time.

2681.  Tank sleeping with Andy on the couch

2682.  Sophie, Arnika and Arrison sleeping on the foot of our bed

2683.  DK’s gangly body playing basketball so very well.

2684.  J’s insight into people

2685.  Solid legal advise for someone important at the death of a loved one

2686.  R & J’s good care for Liz

2687.  Connecting with Sarah W. over aging in-law issues

2688.  The kindness of “strangers” at MCS events

2689.  J standing firm for what he believes is the right way to handle a troubled student’s harassment

2690.  A new-to-us bigger BBQ – free hand-me-down

2691.  Beautiful spring-like day with sunshine

2692. Chickens laying eggs consistently.

2693.  Able to watch a missed episode of Downton Abbey for free on PBS website

2694.  clean sheets on our bed

2695.  Arnika cuddled in the dish towel drawer.

2696.  Half a day spent taking photos

2697.  Bill helping Andy move the stove

2698.  Helen seeing good things in J

2699.  Time with LP

2700.  Beautiful clear colors of the world in the late afternoon sunlight

2701.  EKL thinks to send me photos of Liana

2702.  Chance to chat with AA

2703.  God is a God of order and the world works well because of it.

2704.  Time with Roberta walking and talking

2705.  Ability to purchase needed medications

2707.  Plan for CR

2708.  Getting an update from Holly – being included

2709.  Stumbling on a good preacher on the internet

2710.  An agreed upon plan to deal with J’s disrespectful tone.

2711.  Return of an item went smoothly

2712.  Feeling “heard” when expressing myself to Andy about a concern

2713.  Articles/information to help make a plan for dealing with a bully situation.

2714.  All photos recovered from blown hard drive – like 30,000 of them!

2715.  Walking and talking with Denise

2716.  Bully not allowed on class trip – easier for all the students

2717.  sharing Peach Raspberry Cobbler with Andy

2718.  Safe travels for a lot of driving

2719.  Sense of humor over poor food and poor service when eating out on weekend trip – all the meals!

2720.  Shooting photos at Ironglass Lighting

2721.  A morning with Hannah and Camille and a camera

2722.  heat source installed by Andy just before a big freeze hit

2723.  Seeing beautiful black and white photography in Lewistown Art Center

2724.  Wolf feeding on a dead elk 200 yards from our home.

2725.   Forgiveness for all the times I forget to be thankful

2726.  Watching J process his own photos – learning and excelling at lightroom

2727.  J’s photos from Expedition Yellowstone

2728.  Expedition Yellowstone was a good experience for J.

2729.  J saying thank you to his teachers without being prompted to

2730.  Friendly call from Denise asking how our trip was

2731.  A fast walk by myself


Categories: Barns, Daily life, dog, Faith, gratitude, Outdoors, Photography, Rust, Tank, Thankful to God, the house, Winter | 2 Comments

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