Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Good News!


This is the field near Bethlehem that is believed to be the hillside where the shepherds were told that Jesus, our Savior, had been born.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Sweetness

You may remember that my Bible study group was putting together a photo shoot for families in our area who would not be able to afford one. As of my last post on the subject, we didn't know who we would be photographing.

Three days before the shoot, we found out. It had seemed like God was leading us to a women & children's shelter but all of our calls and emails went unanswered. What to do? We kept praying.

A few days before the shoot, the phone rang. It was one of our previous contacts from the local food pantry. She had several families interested.

So we were off and running. We ended up with four families, which was far fewer than we thought we could handle.

Hmmm...God knew that our first run-thru was going to be a steep learning curve and only sent us four. He's so smart that way. All of the families were single mom's and one of the mom's had nine kids!

Two days before the shoot, a friend from our church contacted me to say that she had tons of donations of toys and clothes that she could set up so that the mom's and kids could 'shop' for Christmas.

So on the big day, we had each family come, be photographed, go inside for hot chocolate and treats, and then go shopping.

Oh my was the most touching thing to see the reactions of the mom's when we told them there was a 'shop.'

One family was particularly touching. We noticed that the mom had dressed her kids in matching white shirts. She told us that she bought them two years ago for a family photo but then she was never able to afford one. When I told her that she could go shop for her children, she started to cry and told me that her ex-husband wasn't paying his child support and because of that, she had no presents for her kids. Wah!

While she was shopping, I told her four kids that they could go and pick out a present for their mom. {There was a different room where a shop had been set up for the kids.} Her oldest son was about 12 and he softly told me that he was saving his money to buy a Christmas tree for his mom because it was all she wanted for Christmas. He said a friend was going to help him get the tree home once he saved the money. While my brain started swimming with, "How can we get them a tree?" I urged all of them to go choose something for their mama in the shop.

As they left the room, I turned to the woman behind me and she had this awestruck look on her face, as if God had just spoken to her.

He had.

She said, "My husband and I are in charge of the Boy Scout Christmas tree lot today. We can get them a tree!" She quickly got her husband on his cell phone and made arrangements to get the tree delivered. A few hours later, he set up a tree in the living room of a very excited family.

How amazing is God! He saw the desire of that little boy's heart. He even changed the original date of our shoot to the day that a woman from our Bible study was going to be in charge of the Christmas tree lot.

Coincidence? I think not.

It was an amazing privilege to be a part of spreading some Christmas love.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nothing says Christmas like...

...a kids Christmas program.

This morning was the kids Christmas program at church. Seven of our kids were in the program. That means, in the picture below, you would have seven chances instead of one, to play, "Where's Waldo."

Molly had a small speaking part as a shepherd.

Five of our kids were angels. Even Jake. Three of them were in the front row which gave us three possibilities for public disgrace.
Here Jake can be seen adjusting his halo. Why they even let him wear one, I'll never know.

So far so good on the synchronized hand-motions.

One musical number included sunglasses as props.

Miss Chloe took her job as angel very seriously and did a wonderful job.

SaraGrace and Jordan also worked hard.

Jake...still going strong on the motions. {He was bribed.}
Notice the halo is gone.
He says it broke.

Look closely and notice where Jake put the sunglasses when not in use.
They fit snugly around his middle.

This move by Jake sent Taylor, Jeff and I into fits of laughter.
I know that we were rude.
But seriously...would you be able to keep a straight face?
The sunglasses on his stomach kinda took it over the top.
Notice all the boys on Jake's right. Especially the one with his hands in his pockets.
Could he be any less thrilled to be there?

The synchronized hand motions have run seriously amok. Notice the little boys on the right. Not one of them is doing the same thing.

When Jake had to continually adjust the sunglasses around his waist, he came up with a new plan. Glancing suavely at the little girl next to him {I kid you not} he made a big production of tucking them into his shirt the way Daddy does. When he finished, he pointed to it so the others would take note.
Kid on right still has his hands in his pockets.
But after all that, he put them back on. And hitched up his pants.
No one else was wearing their glasses except the little girl next to him who followed his lead.

Zoey, to the left, is showing some attitude at this point.

The glasses fell off, he bent down to pick them up and quickly put them back on.

Zoey...chewing her nails (why?), Katie kicks up her heels, and Jake turns the wrong way.

They all look pretty confused in this shot.

Zoey was the only kid in the whole program who bowed.

We did manage to finish the production without anyone picking their noses or pulling their dresses over their heads.

Yay! Success!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Who Knew Being a Christian could be so stinkin' exciting?

For any of you who have been with me on this blog through some of our adoptions, you know that our lives used to have a lot of exciting, mountain moving God stories. But the past two years or so...not so much. It wasn't that God wasn't working in our lives, it's just that He was doing quiet things in our hearts and helping us through the mundane.

Who made up the word, 'mundane?' Even the word sounds boring.

And well...mundane isn't my favorite place to live. However, sometimes God knows that we need a rest from all that adrenaline that He pumps through us when we get to see Him in action in big ways.

Lately, I started to really miss those mountain-moving days.
I might have even whined a little bit to God about that.

And I might have even asked Him for a bit of excitement to change my dishwasher emptying-laundry folding-bathroom cleaning days. Not that I don't appreciate the fact that housework in American is so much better than sweeping a mud hut. But anyway...

Well, He decided to spice my life up a bit and I'm tellin' is SO FUN to be part of some action again! :)

I have to go back a few years to put this all in context, so bear with me.

A few years ago, I entered an essay contest on a whim. The prize was a free photography workshop with a well-known photographer in another state. I entered at the last minute and then forgot about it. My essay was NOT my best work. At all. (I say this so that you can fully appreciate what God did later...)

The winner was to be announced on a certain day and I actually forgot until the email reminder came. I began to read the post and was completely shocked to find that I had won!

No way!

After arriving at the workshop location, I had dinner with the photographer who had offered my prize. I was completely floored when she shared with me how she had chosen me as the winner. She said that God had put it on her heart to offer one free spot at the workshop because there was a person that He wanted there and that person could not be there any other way. So she made the offer and then started to get submissions. As the essays poured in, she got overwhelmed because they were all good and she had no idea how she would chose just one person. She began to pray that God would make one person's essay stand out and do a little dance in front of her so that she would know. And then she read mine...and God made it known to her that I was the one.

Well...I was completely humbled and in awe that God would go to all that trouble to put me there. WHY?

When I went, my goal was to learn to take better pictures of my kids. That's it.

I remember sitting there for those two days wondering why God had sent me. I was surrounded by professional photographers who all had their own businesses. And there was l'il ole me with my entry level camera.

By the time I left, a seed had been planted. That seed was to start a photography business. So I went home and studied.
And studied.
And practiced.
And studied some more.

And this year, I have been in business. God has sent me client after client in the most amazing ways. Not too many. Not too few. Just enough.

Even though I LOVE the job, I was still wondering...."God, why am I doing this? How is this furthering Your kingdom? Because isn't about making money. I want to reach people with Your love and let them know they can be in a relationship with you that will change their lives."

And there were other things...negative thoughts like, "What do you think you're doing? You're 47 years old and you have 10 kids. Do you really think you are going to start a business?

But here is where it gets good. You've been waiting for that, right?

I'm in a Bible study group and the author of our study challenged the group to a community service project. We had to choose a group of people who is often overlooked and show them in a tangible way that God loved them.

Many ideas were discussed...all of them good. How would we choose? We didn't know.

One day I was talking to one of the mom's in my group and mentioned my dream of going to a foreign country on a mission trip, taking family photos, printing, framing them and giving them to people. She had grown up in Honduras and she told me that she would have LOVED to have been able to have a photo of herself as a child.


Then the next day, she sent me an email that basically said, 'Karin...we don't have to wait to go on a mission trip to take those pictures! We can serve the needy right here in our community. We could do it as our Bible study group project!"

I was totally excited. She shared it with the group and it was instantly decided that it was the project we were supposed to do!

We have been full steam ahead because we wanted to do it before Christmas. It hasn't been a smooth road. There have been many twists and turns--and even now, the road has forked and forked so that I'm not sure WHO is going to get photographed next week. But God knows. And I know He will show us.

But here is another very cool thing...

I 'just happened' (yeah...right) to see a post on a fellow photographer's site this week about a charity group that was doing...THE SAME THING. Only they were doing it on a much bigger scale. They are even doing their photoshoot world-wide ON THE SAME DATE as we are. And they had put together a very well done video.

It turns out that God has been stirring people up ALL OVER THE WORLD with the same mission.
1. Find someone to photograph who would normally not be able to afford it.
2. Take their picture.
3. Print and frame their picture.
4. Deliver it to them.

That is EXACTLY what we had been planning to do. And now we find out that God told another (much more famous) person to do the same thing. God was already at work...we were just supposed to hop on the train. (If you have done the "Experiencing God" Bible study by Henry Blackaby, I know you are cheering, 'Yes! See where God is already at work and then join Him!') This group even had some of the same ideas about providing snacks, delivering the gifts, etc.

And now I know why God sent me to that workshop a few years ago. He wanted to include me in something He was doing. Had I not gone, I would never have had the confidence to attempt portraits of anyone except my own children. But now, I can use my new-found abilities to help spread His love to those who might not otherwise hear the Good News.

God is just so cool.

I wanted to post this so that some of you might be able to go join an event in your community. Many of the photoshoots will be happening Dec. 10th so you still have time to volunteer. They need greeters, snack makers/servers, administrators, hair stylists, photographers, etc. The name of the group is Help-Portrait. You can go to their website HERE. At the top of their page, click on the video. You will be moved. Maybe even to tears. I am posting it below for those of you who don't get the blog via email.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How We Spent Thanksgiving

It started here.

While the turkey was in the oven, we got out the tree and decorations.

J-Man tests out the lights. Yay...they work!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

My favorite cooks working on dinner.

"Hey, Dakey! Do you like pie?"
"Yes! I can't wait to eat some."

Rub-a-dub-dub...bring on the grub.

I asked Jeff to take this picture to prove I was there.

These two both have birthday's this week!

My two big girls. I heart them!

Jakie's lovely table manners.

Then on Saturday, we decided to go to Plymouth--our favorite place--because you know...the Mayflower is there and there is that whole 'this-is-where-the-first-Thanksgiving-happened' and all

The temperature was a factor, too.
If I believed in global warming, I would be saying, "WOOT! I'm loving it."
But I don't believe in it, so I'll just say, "Hooray for temperatures in the 60's on Thanksgiving weekend!"

Am I the only one whose heart goes pitter-patter when I see street names like 'Samoset' and 'Carver?'
I cool is that?

My pumpkins on the beach. Jake wanted to know if he should wear his bathing suit. He was so confused.
There WERE some tourists dipping their bare feet in the frigid water.

Beach combing for shells and beach glass.

Leaving the beach (sob).

Down to the harbor. I never get tired of this amazing view. I could sit and look at it for hours, listening to the sounds of the boats, the water, the birds. A little slice of heaven.
But of course, I never get to sit and look at it for hours.
So I take pictures.
Every time.
Of the same thing.
It's a sickness.

The Mayflower II.
My kids are unimpressed that it's not the ORIGINAL Mayflower.
And let me tell you, if I had to have endured the voyage on this tiny vessel with 80+ people, I would have been certifiable by the time she landed. Just sayin'...
The kids think it's really cool that people uh....went potty in a bucket and tossed it over the side.
I'm thinking that isn't the only thing that got tossed over the side.
My cookies could go just thinking about it.
If you haven't read the stories about the voyage, you should. The hold of the ship was uh...where all the sick people were. Sea sick. Dysentary. ETC.
It really makes you appreciate the horrible suffering that people went through to get here.
Let's not forget.

Bye, bye Plymouth Harbor. Hope to see you again soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Haircuts gone horribly awry...

It's no big secret that I cut my kids' hair.

It usually turns out fairly well.
They're kids.
How coiffed do they have to be?

And besides...when the older boys were little, they suffered through some pretty horrible hair cuts by 'professional' stylists that must not have finished at the top of their class.
Just sayin'... I figured I couldn't do any worse and I wouldn't have to pay $12.

Last night the little boys needed haircuts. For some reason, they had ants in their pants. Normally they are so good about sitting still but not last night. Jordan kept turning his head from side to side just as I was cutting.

Exasperated, I said to him, "PLEASE...sit still. Your hair is going to look totally weird if you don't stop wiggling and turning your head when I'm trying to cut it."

Jeff was walking by and said, "Yeah. Sit still or you're going to look Lloyd from 'Dumb and Dumber.' Oops....too late."

And I'm sad to say...

Well, you take a look and see if he doesn't bear an uncanny resemblance.

Thankfully, he doesn't look in the mirror very often, so maybe he won't realize how bad it looks?

{J-Man...I'm so sorry I made your hair look THIS bad. }

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baby Timothy

Morning Star recently had a new arrival! Baby Timothy arrived as a very sick little guy with a severe heart condition, needing immediate hospitalization. In China, hospital bills must be paid upfront before treatment will be given. Morning Star needed $5,000 up front and Timothy's bill could easily exceed $10,000. I had just completed the "Doors Of Israel" print fundraiser and was able to send all of that to help. Thank you soooo much to all of you who purchased the print!

Because this little guy's medical bills are going to be high, I am extending the fundraiser. If you would be interested in helping Timothy by purchasing a 'Doors of Israel' print, leave a comment below telling me how to contact you. There are two sizes: 16x24 or 11x14. It is also possible to get the print already framed. Let me know if you want this option. With Christmas around the corner, this might be a nice gift for someone on your list! All of the photos of the doors were taken when I was in Israel earlier this year.

ALL PROCEEDS go to help the babies at Morning Star. If baby Timothy doesn't need the funds, there will be another baby who does.
Cost of the 16x24 is $65 + $4 shipping. Total $69

Cost of the 11x14 is $45 + $4 shipping. Total is $49

If this is more than your budget allows but you would still like to help (I know that any amount helps!) you can donate directly to Morning Star HERE.

Friday, November 11, 2011


To all the veteran's and active duty personnel...THANK YOU for your service to our country. Thank you for standing between us and danger. Thank you to the families who endure long separations and hardship.
Please know that you are deeply appreciated and loved.
And to our Ryan....we miss you and are so proud of you!


Monday, November 07, 2011

It's that time of year

Time for a family photo.

This brings more whining, griping and general unhappiness than telling the kids to clean their rooms.

What is the big deal?

I don't get it.

I have been taking family photos for other people and thinking about how I wanted to do ours this year. I mean, most of the families I photographed were fairly congenial about the whole thing.

And I took many shots.

And there were many poses.

In more than one location.

I momentarily forgot that my family wasn't all that cooperative. Buoyed by my own foolish euphoric fantasies about getting a great family photo for us, I announced:

"We're taking family photos this weekend!"

Everyone cheered.

Right. There was a ridiculous amount of complaining.

But as the weekend neared, low and behold, it SNOWED.


So we had to wait for it to melt.

It did...and warmed up nicely but my fantasies came to an abrupt end. My main prop disappeared. Argh. You see...there was a really cool antique pick-up truck parked outside of a car refurbishing business. The truck sat out there all summer. I had finally worked up the courage to go up and ask if I could bring my family over to be photographed there. The owner was quick to oblige and said photographers have come at other times and he was fine with us coming.

And then he moved his truck. As's nowhere to be seen.

How rude.

Yesterday was beautiful...sunny and warm. Jeff asked if I wanted to do the family picture and I knew I better come up with plan B or I might miss the opportunity completely.

I put together some props (not NEARLY as cool as an antique truck....grrrr....), changed all the clothing that I had planned for us to wear, and we headed across the street to a spot I have used before.

You should have heard them grumbling. Good grief. Even the dog had an attitude.

Guess how many shots I got before there was a mutiny?


Yes, four TOTAL shots.


Not exactly what I had in mind. I reserve the right to a re-shoot if that truck reappears!
Family Pics 049_copy_boost_70s

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Birthday, SaraGrace!

SaraGrace turned 8 today.

How is that possible?

We just brought her home from China five minutes ago, didn't we? Sigh... She loves to hear stories of her first days with us in China and I thought it would be fun to post a photo or two from way back then.

In her crib at the orphanage, tinged so blue and struggling to get enough breath.

Crazy, spunky kid who was this comfortable with me after only a few days together.

I wanted to post more photos, but cannot seem to locate them...grrr...

Anyway--we had a very fun day today. First, school was cancelled due to lack of power. Second, I had a haircut scheduled, so I took her with me. My amazingly wonderful hair stylist was able to squeeze SaraGrace in for a trim as well. Usually Mama cuts SaraGrace's hair, so this was a big treat for her. When her cut was all done, she also got a cute little braid. {Thank you, made her day!}

On the way out to the car she said, "That started out kinda boring but then it got really exciting." She was grinning from ear to ear and continued to tell me how happy she was and how much fun she was having with me.

So I did what any other mom would do who wants to spend a few more precious minutes with her daughter.

I said, "Do you want to stop at McDonalds for lunch on the way home?"

Yeah. I stooped that low.

And it was handsomely rewarded with an squeal of delight.

In the back of my mind though, was a dark foreboding.

You see...when I called to schedule flu shots for our family, the only time and day they could accommodate all of us was.... TODAY.


In the past, SaraGrace has not been what you would call brave about getting shots.

And that is putting it mildly.

I kept my dark secret the entire day until we pulled into the doctor's office parking lot. She guessed it as we all trooped through the door.

To my great surprise, I did not hear the great weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that I was expecting.

Except for one child.



The child went nuts.

But this post is supposed to be about SaraGrace.

She told me on the way home from the doctor that she didn't mind a bit having a shot on her birthday and that it was still a 'super, exciting day.' I love that kid!

Let the present-opening begin!

Modeling her cute braid.

Her first 'big kid' Bible. She picked it out. She is totally into reading and wanted books for her birthday.

Jillian made this cake all by herself.

SaraGrace picked out all the cake colors and it turned out looking like a rainbow. So HER!