Had to learn to spell this word to make it my word of the year.  (Learning something goes along with the family word, so I’m okay with that).sm-8234

My first word for a year was Proactive, and it was such a success that I thought I’d revisit a portion of the concept this year with Initiate.

I envision this word reminding me not to just think and dream, but to do.  Start the things I want to do.  I find that I’ll think of an idea and then freeze.  Maybe I wonder around the house, look at the items needed to implement the job, and not do anything.  Sometimes I do that so long I forget the idea and nothing ever

This happens with my interactions with people too.  I get shy and don’t mention, invite or comment, and the conversation never happens. I need to initiate the contact, conversation, interaction rather than wish I had.

The dictionary says that initiate means “to cause  or facilitate the beginning of” – yep, that is what I want to do.  I can’t necessarily control the out come, but I can get it

This year I want to initiate the ideas.  Who knows, maybe the implementation will take a different direction that I originally thought, but it will go somewhere.

My first act of initiating?  Well, these photos sprinkled throughout this

See the first two I took way back when we had the cold snap here at the beginning of December.  They are photos of ice dams that formed on the Gallatin River and some of the results.  I heard about the issue on the news and drove over there one morning on my way into town just to check it out.  What was significant was that these photos are all of the property of my brother’s former boss – and I would say his friend.  The building was where my brother worked many days (before the shop got moved to a new location).  Anyway, my thought at the time was “I should post these on the blog because I’m sure Daniel would be interested to know what was happening to Russ and Lorie’s property.  But I never did

Today Andy and I were back over that way for a little walk and I took the rest of the photos in this post.  I was shocked to see that the ice dams have not cleared, that part of the river is still clogged, and the water is flowing on Russ and Lorie’s property as well as on many of their neighbor’s properties.   While there is a beauty to the river, and it looks like Russ and Lorie’s actual house is still livable, the damage to property is stunning, and still in progress.  (Daniel helped to do a major remodel on that house and if it flooded it would be ruining some of his handiwork as well as really harming our friends and their family).sm-2821

So, Daniel, these shots are for you, and I am initiating (better late than never) showing them to you by posting them here on my blog.  An idea delayed, but not forgotten!   I haven’t spoken to Russ or Lorie, but it appears their house itself stayed dry and is being lived in through this

That is what I’m hoping for with this word.

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Gallatin River, initiate, Learning, One Little Word, Outdoors, Photography, proactive, River, snow, Winter | 2 Comments


We knew J would love sledding – he always does – so we planned an outing even before he asked.  He asked about 1.5 hours after we had secretly talked about it being a good idea.

So after Sunday afternoon errands on the way home from church, and after watching the end of a football game, and after a nap on the couch for papa, we headed up to the spot where I go running, and did some sledding.

J said it was “the best sledding excursion ever” and the reason why was because of the photo below:

Yes indeed, it was because his momma got on the sled and rode it down – more than once!

And I feel good about being the momma who participates in the activities rather than just watches and takes photos.  It is part of my proactivity goals, and also my general desire to be fit enough to do these things.

Although I did take some photos too – actually, a lot.  More tomorrow, because we did something quite daring for us, and the landscapes were stunning as a storm was blowing through but no dropping any new snow.

Categories: Family Fun, J, Outdoors, Photography, proactive | 2 Comments


 Most people really want to avoid the why’s of life.  Maybe it is laziness – sometimes figuring out why takes a lot of effort.

Maybe they are avoiding, because often understanding the whys requires a look at things that are painful, challenging, and/or require some mental and emotional effort to figure out. 

But if you don’t know the whys of your life, it is impossible to live proactively.  There is just no way around that.

Spiritually we need to  know why we believe what we believe if we are to be anything but lukewarm about God.  And as we know, being lukewarm results in being spewed out.  (Rev. 3:15).  Failing to commit to a belief is not rewarded, and you can only really commit to something if you know why you are doing so. 

Do you know why you believe what you believe about God?

We need to know why we want financial success if we are going to be motivated to implement a plan to achieve it.  Financial success for the sake of financial success will always be a pipe dream – if it has no definition, the goal will always be just out of reach.  But if you know why you want it, you will have a way to measuring whether you achieved it. 

We need to know why a particular behavior of another person is or is not acceptable to us if we are going to decide how to make that relationship go forward.

Think about it.  If you don’t know why you are attracted to people or activities that hurt you, you won’t know how to avoid the pain.  If you don’t take the time to figure out why certain situations bring you joy, you will be challenged in attaining more joy by creating similar situations. 

You’ve got to know the whys if you want to accomplish the goals.

Categories: Faith, J, proactive | 1 Comment


There is a “going for it” story behind these feathers.  Sort of gross, but for me it was an example of proactivity this week.

I know you are thinking “Who needs proactivity if it involves a gross story about bird feathers?” 

Really, it is not a story about the grossness, it is a story about building up the courage to do something in order to accomplish some goals.

So, along about Monday I noticed that there was a dead bird in the road just as I turn off to J’s school road.  And it is clearly a field bird had been hit by a car.  It made me a little sad, because it was obviously a beautiful bird.

For those of you who do not live in Montana, something you have to understand about our roads here – nobody ever cleans up the mess of road kill.  The animals just stay where they were hit and stink up the place,  (especially the every so commonly hit skunks) until they are eaten by the birds and other scavengers, or until they are flattened into the road surface and no longer recognizable as anything more than a dark spot in the paving material. 

Yes, I know, that is gross (but don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Anyway, when I saw that bird on Monday I thought about how beautiful its feathers were, and how I would love to have a collection of them for my art – yes, the art I plan to do in my mind, but have a hard time finding the occasion to actually implement.  Still, I could think of several past opportunities to use feathers – and the feathers of that bird dead in the road would have been so much nicer than my beat-up collection of chicken feathers from my friends farm.

But, I am not one for approaching dead things, so the feathers were just a pipe dream. 

I saw them again on Tuesday, not yet pressed into the pavement by the cars whizzing by at the posted 40 miles an hour for that road – oh, and don’t get me started on the way this town has 20 mile an hour zones for blocks around all the public schools, but somehow manages to increase the speed limit to 35 or 40 right in front of the two Christian schools.   Lets just say, I have an issue with that!

Anyway, I passed the bird on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday as I went to do yard-duty for lunch recess.  It was still in tact enough that I could tell the feathers were usable for art.  And they were so beautiful.  And I wanted them for that art work that is taking place in my head.

Believe it or not, as I was leaving the school on Wednesday I finally got proactive, stopped at the intersection, and ran into the road to see if they were salvageable – don’t worry, I looked both ways for cars before I darted out there.

Sure enough, there were masses of intact, beautiful feathers. 

Suddenly, my left hand was reaching down and pulling what I assumed was the wing, and my right hand followed by grabbing a bunch of downie feathers that had a beautiful pattern on the tip (see photo above). 

There, it was done!  I had the feathers I wanted, and darted back to the sidewalk.  And I looked and realized.

The wing piece had some flesh with it.

Oh Dear! 

Not at all what I wanted or needed.  And I was stuck there on the side of the road with cars whizzing by, holding it.  Not wanting to let go of the precious beautiful feathers, but not wanting that raw-chicken-looking flap to come with me.

So before my brain could register the gravity of the situation and begin the freak-out I felt coming, I bent down, let the flap hit the sidewalk, stepped on it, and pulled the rest away.


I had feathers in a bunch, but no flap of dried-out-raw-chicken-looking stuff.  And I tried not to even consider the bottom of my shoe – I figured whatever was there would walk off before I got back to the truck or needed to inspect it.

Jumped back in the truck, found a used ziplock sandwich bag which would accommodate my treasure, and set them in.

Big sigh as I drove away!  I got what I wanted despite the fact that it wasn’t in my comfort zone.

And I kept that bag in the truck until this morning.  Every time I looked at it I was so pleased with myself for taking the initiative to get it.  Made me feel good.

By the way, on Wednesday when I went back to the school to pick J up for the day my eyes were naturally drawn to that spot in the road where that dead bird lay.  And it was gone.  If I had taken even a couple more hours of building up my nerve to go get those feathers, I would have lost the opportunity.

So, there you have it, proactivity in the going for it.

Categories: Art, proactive | 1 Comment


Today I had an opportunity to give a gift, and it didn’t cost me anything in a material sense.  Did that make it not a gift?

So, I am thinking about this whole giving thing.

I have a quasi-talent  and passion for taking photographs.  Oh, now there’s a humble statement!  Let me rephrase that:  God has provided me with some equipment, an interest, and the opportunity to be better than I once was at photography.  

Several years ago, as Andy and I were on a walk we talked of my desire to cultivate this passion and make it better.  But I didn’t really think I wanted to become a professional (which is good, because my abilities are far from the levels I expect from a professional, although once in a while I hit the nail on the head in a way that gives me encouragement.)  But I digress.  The point is, one of the things we talked about that day was using the development of this skill so that people we knew were struggling could have access to nice photos done on location.  Specifically we were thinking of single mothers, low-paid or out-of-a-job workers and others who just don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on photos but would love to preserve a glimpse of their families.  This was the planning/goal setting part of proactivity.

It made us happy that day to think that there was a way we could bring a bit of joy into their lives while developing something I have a passion for, and not having to go into business.  I can give/share with others.  It takes some time, but all the supplies are things I have already, and they are not consumables.  And I get to do something that I love.

Sometimes people ask me to take their family photos and insist on paying me for the use of this talent, although I do not think I am at the level that deserves to be paid.  That is fun, and gives me a bit of encouragement.

But the really special times are when I see someone at church and know they are faced with a situation that would make a family photo shoot off the radar screen for them.  I approach them, tell them the truth – I am practicing my photography and would like to practice on them.  I did this once around Christmas time with the dad of four kids in a family where the wife/mom was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer.  I knew she didn’t have the energy to be taking photos of her kids, and with medical bills, hiring someone to do that would be out of the question.  I gave him a disc and he gave her a Christmas gift in a year they weren’t going to be exchanging gifts.

Did a shoot today with a family where the husband is suddenly and unexpectedly out of work.  And yesterday at church, during offering, I was suddenly compelled to offer it to a single mom of two sitting near me.  In both cases the response from the moms was pure delight – they are so willing.  This is the getting out of myself and passivity and making it happen part of proactivity.

But here’s the thing.  I know the shoot I did today blessed me more than it blessed that family.  I know it did.  I had a chance to practice two particular skills that are part of the photo seminar I’m taking on-line.  I got to be around some of the most well-behaved yet curious children I’ve been around in a long time.  And I got to make some beautiful photos – at least some of the ones I looked at already have that potential.  It is amazing for me to have done that – of course, it doesn’t hurt that this family is stunningly beautiful, and even the 5 month old looked at the camera when I called her name!

So is it really giving?  I don’t know.  To me it seems selfish and self-serving because I get willing subjects for an activity I love.  It is the rewarding part of being proactive about this particular issue.

But you know what is true giving?  All those gifts from God in my daily life that I take for granted so often.  Thinking about gifts makes me think about the need to be grateful for what is provided to me.  So the list continues:

549.  Opportunities to take other people’s photos

550.  Snow on the mountains

551.  Deer in the fields

552.  Provision of enough and not any extra

553.  Community where I know people

554.  Free facial

555.  Sunshine days

556.  Improvement in J’s grades

557.  Daniel’s family over for a visit

558.  Dinner with friends

559.  Crisp mornings for a run

560.  J ran a whole mile even when he thought he couldn’t

561.  Tree cut from the mountains for firewood

562.  Working from home with flexibility – this is a perpetual repeat, but it is so special!

563.  New client and the provision that comes with it.

564.  Mick and Kate – safe people

565.  Happy children to photograph

566.  Beautiful family

567.  Stunning photo-taking weather

568.  Insight into what’s bothering J these days

569.  Hopeful academic progress and goals (and maybe even some motivation)

Categories: proactive, Thankful to God | 2 Comments



Around here we have to be planned and purposeful about relaxing and resting.  If we don’t, Sundays become just like any other day of tasks and work.

That isn’t to say we don’t do some tasks, but usually they are of a different nature.  More enjoyable.  They may be hard work, but they aren’t the kind of things we do the other six days a week.

And we take the time to be sure we are together as a family.

I wish I cold tell you we do a Sunday Dinner every week.  We don’t.  Maybe some day we will do that.

How are you being proactive about getting down time for your family on Sundays (or whatever day you choose)?  Leave me a comment to let me know.

Categories: Photography, proactive | 4 Comments

Proactivity Day 8 – Learning to take photos

So, when the other moms saw what the weather was like (photo above), funny thing, they all backed out of the socially proactive hike I had arranged for yesterday morning.


But I went anyway – yes a woman alone hiking in the woods.  Not saying it is right for everyone, but it works for me on this particular trail that is very well-known to me.

To make good use of the time, I took my camera, and between spurts of power hiking, I shot a few photos.  Sort of set an assignment for myself to try to get some fall bokeh.  I’m learning, and getting the f-stop  right for both focus and depth of field takes lots of just doing to get the hang of . 

Here is one of my attempt, with f/1.8, which is probably too low:

Focus is just  not sharp.  No two ways around it.  And bokeh is just about lost because of it.

But I was afraid to go with too high an F-stop and lose all the Bokeh.  I thought for sure 3.2 would be too high for good bokeh, but as you can see below, it wasn’t really.

I’m not claiming that’s the best bokeh in the world, but it is much better focus than the previous photo, and the over all impact is pretty pleasing – IMHO.

So, by being proactive about taking photos, I’m learning.  Still have a lot to learn with bokeh, but have to turn my attention to a lesson on back lighting if we ever get some sunshine this weekend. 

For me, the proactive part is just doing the photos instead of thinking about them and reading about them.  Doing.


Categories: Outdoors, Photography, proactive | 1 Comment


Not to brag here, but today I am reaping the results of being proactive socially. 

I love to get together with women and enjoy each other.  It is a lot of fun and good for the soul.

Earlier this week I invited many of the moms from my son’s school to go on a hike today.

And some of them accepted.

It is too easy to limit ourselves to just seeing each other after school and chatting before we take our children home.  YOu can’t imagine how many of them were delighted to be asked to do this activity.  Not that they could all go, but they felt loved and included because of the invitation.

And we are building community among a group of women who might not know each other if their children did not got to school together.  That is good for the school too!

And it is good for me, because I am the type that could just sit back and wish to be social and wait for someone else to do the inviting. 

But today I get to be social because I was proactive.  How about that!

Categories: Photography, proactive | 1 Comment


Bees are known for being busy.

And these days American’s are known for being busy.

But sometimes I fear that busy-ness is not proactive – it isn’t taking us anywhere we want to go.

I’m working on getting out of the business of being busy.  Instead, I want to have things of value to do.

That will allow me to be proactive.

Categories: Photography, proactive | 1 Comment


I didn’t get to blogging about proactivity yesterday because I was busy being proactive.  That’s what you thought, right?

Actually, it is true, I was being proactive. 

The beginning of the month brings about a task that is daunting for me – doing the billing for Andy’s law office.  It is daunting because it means a good 5 – 7 hours in front of the computer tracking a months worth of time in 6 minute increments.  It is tedious, and I’m not always good at tedious.

So, I’ve set out to get the billing done as early in the month as I can.  And this is proactivity at it’s best because it shows a plan, a long-term goal being reached for, not just motions being gone through.

With billing, the long-term goals  are as follows:

  1. Be supportive of my husband in his work by doing what would be a burden for him and does not require his particular expertise.  That in turn allows him to grow his business to something that can support us in the lifestyle he believes is best for us.  It also allows him to do his work in a way that has time to treat his clients with respect and not as just commodities that help him pay the bills.
  2. Help our household make money – lets face it, without the billing, we wouldn’t get paid, and then we wouldn’t eat.  Plain and simple.
  3. Reduce my stress by getting it done as soon as possible – no nights waking up thinking – I’ve got to get the bills to the Public Defender or they won’t pay us until next month, and then we won’t be able to pay the mortgage or the phone bill, or buy gasoline, or have dinner every night . . . and on and on and on.  No, don’t need those kind of nights, so have to get the billing done a.s.a.p. each month.

That’s the thing with proactivity – it gives a hope that all the things we set out to do can be accomplished. 

Note I said a hope, not a guarantee. 

Yeah.  That can be hard to swallow sometimes.   It is just a hope, and not a guarantee. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a guarantee that being proactive about a chore like billing would bring about the achievement of all our goals?  Why, then all of life’s goals would be in the control of us and what we do.

But that isn’t the way it is.  We can get all the things done, be proactive about every aspect of our lives, even drive ourselves to exhaustion running around making sure that what we want is accomplished, but that does not guarantee achievement of all our goals. 

Circumstances change. 

Other people’s actions impact our pathway to achievement.

Sometimes we even change our mind about our goals and don’t want the same thing any more.

But there is one hope that doesn’t change.  The hope in salvation.  It really is a guarantee.  You know why?  Because it is already accomplished.

Christ already died for our sins on the cross.  When we have faith and believe in His promises it is more than just the hope of things to come.  It is the assurance of what has already been done.  Through that assurance we can look to the future of heaven, not knowing exactly what it will be like, but filled with hope that will not be diverted. 

Now, I’ll continue to try to get my billing done early each month, because it is a step towards some goals that I hope to achieve, but know may always be elusive.  And it is responsible.

But it is not the thing I hang my hat on in life.

Faith in Jesus, well now, that is a hope I’m willing to hang my hat on.

Categories: Being a Godly wife, Faith, proactive | 3 Comments

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