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


Ellie-45ONE:  This week five on Fridays is decorated by photos of Miss E.  She is 4 and was honored to be the flower girl for Miss Amanda back in August.  The trouble was that Miss E’s mom and dad had a huge job to do the day of the wedding and could not attend.  Mom was crushed – tears and all.  Who could blame her?  Miss Amanda is special to their family and this was a huge deal. 

So the solution was for Miss Susan Beth to hang out with Miss E all day and take photos so mom and dad could relive the day.  What a fun day!


TWO:  This week was a big jury trial for Andy – after three full days it ended in a hung jury, which is both a victory and a frustration.  Onward!Ellie-118THREE:  This week has driven home a sense of vulnerability in so many ways.  Bringing me back to “Daring Greatly” for assurance that being vulnerable is not a bad thing.  Just have to keep on living with a whole heart, knowing that there will be bumps in the road, ditches to slide into, and crashes along the way.  But that is okay because we may not have all the answers to life’s questions but we know who we are in Christ.




FOUR:  Headed out to early morning before school worship team activity for J on Tuesday and thud!  No more functioning in the Subaru.  It broke the timing belt, which took out all the valves in the engine.  Faced the choice of fixing it or having a good start to the purchase of a new to us vehicle.  Decided to fix it and move forward.  This is the danger of having only cars with around 200K miles (truck is well over, Subaru is closing in fast).  Cars are definitely not a source of glamor in our lives, and probably that is as it should be.


FIVE:  It is October!  Can you believe it?  So many seasonal activities and projects that bring comfort, joy, hard work and warmth.  I believe this will be a very busy month but also, I pray, a very rewarding month.  Andy has yet another jury trial coming up at the end of October and lots to do between now and then, so we are hitting the ground running!

Categories: Five on Fridays, kids, Photography | 1 Comment


Been a while since I did a five on Friday so thought I’d go for it again.  And it has been a while since I’ve focused on my boy, so this time, five photos and five facts focused on my so.




It was weird to take photos during  a worship service, but what mom could resist memorializing her son’s participation as part of the worship team.  This was actually his second service participating.  It isn’t every week that he plays his cajon, but he really looks forward to it.  He’s working towards playing the full drum set in a service, and since his drum teacher is also the worship leader for the service we attend, I think he’ll get there.


TWO:sm-6J is a very social guy – loves to be with his peers and loves to attend family orientated activities.  He’s got friends from our Bible Study/church group, friends from his current school, friends from his old school, and friends from karate.  Some of his friends (as above) are younger, especially at karate.  But at school many of his friends are older (he eats lunch with the Juniors).  And since he moved up to the adult class at karate, he is putting his ability to relate to adults to good use and has lots of adult friends.  Just this week he was the only under 40 invited to a birthday party for a woman turning 75, and she was very specific she wanted him there.  Socially he’s in good shape.




Although he doesn’t have a girl friend, or date (or even express an interest in actual dating) he has consistently shown himself to be a gentleman with the girls his age.  Here he went back, got his shoes wet, and helped his friend from Bible Study across when she got nervous about balancing over the creek. 

I know I recently posted about how he has a friend from kindergarten – well, he’s known the girl in this picture and her sister since he was three, and we did a couple of hikes with her family this summer.





J is playful and competitive.  These four kids are the four who went to the Karate National Championship competition together back in July, and they love to play together – and most of their play includes some sort of competition.  But we are blessed that J is generally a well-rounded competitor. 

He does not like to lose, but he is gracious when it does happen.  And he’s learned in the last year or so not to be so discouraged by a loss that he gives up.  In fact, we saw it at the National Championship tournament – he did not place in the Kata competition on Friday and was very disappointed in that, but he held it together




J will tell you that he doesn’t want to “hike” but once you get him out there he does pretty well and enjoys himself.  What he really likes are extreme sports like ice climbing, snow boarding fast, rock climbing, mountain biking and things that generally give him an adrenalin rush.  So when I take him hiking he does things like scale the cliff along the trail (see above). 

Categories: Family Fun, Five on Fridays, Hiking, Hyalite, J, Karate, kids, Montana, Outdoors, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment




Right away, lest a mistake be made, let me say these two are just friends.  They have been buddies for years and years – since kindergarten.  They are super comfortable with each other, and when one of them has a crisis in life, they call each other and talk it through – been that way for years. 


Because they are buddies she felt comfortable asking him if he wanted to attend the “Swing Ball” the last Saturday of August.  You see, if they bought tickets together she saved quite a bit, and she knew he’s usually up for trying something like this.


Not only was he up for it, but Andy and I joined as well – not pictured here because, well we didn’t have anyone to take our photo and frankly we were so poor at learning the dances that if someone else had a camera we would have avoided it like the plague!


At the real deal in the evening (other photos are from the morning teaching session) it was revealed that she is really quite the swing dancer already – way ahead of him and us!sm-83

But she taught him and he caught on pretty quick.  They enjoyed it.


This event was put on by a couple of young siblings who grew up home schooling and run a pretty tight ship on this event.  And they taught the dances too!  I think the brother is like 21 and the sister is just getting out of high school, so they really are young.


By the way, that man in the gray vest?  That’s her father.  When she met J in Kindergarten he was in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.  J was super impressed because she told him that her dad was there fighting the Taliban with a giant bull-whip.  J believed every word of it!  Every word!

Categories: Daily life, Dancing, Family Fun, J, kids, Photography, Swing Dance | 2 Comments




































































Categories: Andy, Andy's Family, Cottonwood Canyon, Daily life, Family Fun, flowers, Hiking, Hyalite, J, Karate, kids, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, Summer, Tahoe, Travel, Vacation | Leave a comment



Matt and Lisa (Miki) bravely brought their girls up the trail a full mile to get to the first crossing of Cottonwood Creek in late May.  The water was rushing, but the trail just before the bridge was a fantastic spot for a little family fun.


This fun family serves as the leadership for the CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) organization on the Montana State University campus here in Bozeman, and I met them through church.   Not only do they provide great connection with young people learning about Christ, but Matt is a talented musician who generously shares his gifts with our congregation.


And then there are their beautiful daughters!  Oh my!  They are cuteness defined!  And so happy and easy to take on a little photography adventure.


It was my pleasure to spend an hour or so of time getting to know them better, watching them play together and capturing it to share with the world.  Truly it was a blessed morning!






Categories: Black and White Conversions, Cottonwood Canyon, Family Fun, Family photographer, Hiking, kids, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, Spring | Leave a 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.
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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


IMG_1328_7924smIf you are a 13-year-old boy, going to a “Ball” of English Country Dancing might not be the first thing on your bucket list.  But these boys did it before and liked it enough to do it again. . . and even again.  Last Saturday night was the third one for my J.

IMG_1334_7930smThere is a pretty strict dress code – and honor code about how you behave with someone of the opposite sex.  But back to the dress code.  A tie is required.  But Saturday evening Andy was working (remember big trial coming up in less than 3 weeks) so J had to tie his own tie for the first time.  On our way to join the others in his group he expressed to me that he was “proud of myself” for having tied his own tie.  He did use YouTube to help.  Then when we got there, he helped N tie his tie.

IMG_1339_7935smBoth of the other boys were going, but the second N still had to meet up with his parents and get his attire.  C is the first N’s sister, and she is a bit older than the boys, but a real trooper to get ready with them.  And she looked beautiful.  These photos were taken at C & N’s home.

So fun to see them growing up!

Categories: Daily life, Family Fun, Fashion, J, kids, N, Photography | Leave a comment


It isn’t kittens – but I’ll be back with more of them, don’t worry.

Got this photo when out with some young ladies doing a just for fun photo shoot, and I just really like it.  Hope you don’t mind my sharing.IMG_8374bwsm

Categories: Autumn, Black and White Conversions, Fall, Fashion, kids, Outdoors, Photography | 2 Comments


It takes a bit of courage to go to the fissures in Yosemite.  And a little hike to get there.IMG_7094SM

Most people don’t know where it is or how to get there – except the photos show it is obviously on the south side of the valley and way high up.



It gets its name from the cracks in the rock platform that is literally 3000 feet above the valley floor.  IMG_7158sm


Believe me when I say that when you look down it is all down.  Hard to keep from panicking even when you are perfectly safe laying down on your tummy.IMG_7170sm


You can see El Capitan and Yosemite falls from up there – you’re looking down on them.


There aren’t a lot of safety bars, so it is not a place for the faint of heart or children who are not well under control – a complement to my cousin’s family as we took young children up there and they all behaved very well.  And it is a good thing they were so well-behaved, because the adults were all going to have heart attacks and die right there if any of them didn’t obey and got too close to the edge or didn’t step back when told to do so.


Different people have different techniques for handling the nerve-wracking views – I encourage the crawl out on your belly so you are safe like a snake.IMG_7216sm



Apparently Andy is willing to get up off his belly and lean over, creating two good views – the valley and, well, you know.

There is a bit of wild life up there as well – saw this guy hanging on the edge – literally, and was amazed he didn’t fall off.




Hope you enjoy the view!

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Family Fun, J, kids, Outdoors, Photography, Travel, Vacation, Yosemite | 2 Comments

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