Garden Babies

tomatobabies

Summer Portraits

r_07_livia_portrait_01

r_07_livia_portrait_02

r_07_livia_portrait_03

r_07_livia_portrait_04

Branched Oak Lake

Last weekend we drove up to Branched Oak and… ahhhhh… the light gleaming off the water immediately filled my bucket. I don’t know why water makes me so relaxed and content and happy, but it does. We joined friends from church at the lake for the dinner and went home as the sun was beginning to set. Almost all the rest of them stayed overnight in tents. Which is SO cute. I am so happy for them and their adorable tents. I thought about my joy for them all the way home to my air conditioned house with locked doors and a deliciously soft and thick queen-sized mattress. I digress.

The Creagers’ Life Group—what Redeemer calls our small groups—has gone camping for the past several years and it was sweet fun to join them for several hours. Photographic evidence of fun follows:

r_01

r_02

r_03

r_04

r_05

r_06

r_07

r_08

r_09

r_10

r_11

r_12

Friends in Evening Sun

r_cooper

r_cooper_dejana

We joined friends at Branched Oak last weekend and, as always, the setting sun inspired me. The subject sitting in the light, by virtue of his leash and a well-placed tree, was of the canine variety. Cooper posed nicely, and so did our lovely human friend Dejana.

More images coming soon.

Abigail & Colton, Engaged

A big thanks to Abigail and Colton for spending a few fun hours with me early in June. You are both wonderful and it was truly a joy to tromp under trees and through the flowery meadow (hill?) with you. May God bless you richly in these months leading toward your wedding! The best is yet to come.

blog_MC0_3708

blog_MC0_3667

blog_MC0_3675

blog_MC0_3691

blog_MC0_3696

blog_MC0_3745

blog_MC0_3777

blog_MC0_3790

blog_MC0_3792

blog_MC0_3826

blog_MC0_3853

blog_MC0_3861

blog_MC0_3871

blog_MC0_3876

blog_MC0_3944

blog_MC0_3930

blog_MC0_3920

Champion for a Child

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson

foster_champion_bw

Every time I read of a drug bust or domestic dispute and there are children in the home, I know that a foster family is getting a call—often at a really inconvenient hour—to provide shelter, comfort and stability for a child. Sometimes a home is needed for a few days, and sometimes it’s for months, or for life. These kids are minors and have no voice here on social media, so yes, I am reminding the world that they exist. By no fault of their own they will find themselves in life-altering situations.

If you believe all children deserve a loving home, would you consider foster care? Think about it. Ask questions about it. Pray about it. And then act. ‪#‎fosterlove‬ ‪#‎champions‬

Carolina & Theodore

r_carrie_2016_bw

r_carrie_2016_light

r_theodore_2016_bw

r_theodore_2016

These two! They are crazy cute and easy to photograph. I am forever entertained by their antics.

Sweet Little Friend

kezziah_2016

Images like this remind me why I love photography. It’s been a quiet spell for awhile, but I can feel the light beginning to flicker in my soul again.

Tree Blossoms

spring_2016

Remembering Shelli

shelli_graves_tribute

Shelli Graves was never bothered by my stress. Whatever my question or problem, she’d respond by either swooping into action or commiserating with me. That’s a beautiful thing, to have a friend who isn’t blown over by your emotions. And that’s the kind of friend she was to me. I still feel like she’s a phone call or text away, like I should be able to pick up my phone and get in touch with her within an hour. I miss her.

One of the last times I sat down and stared at a blank page on my computer screen was when I filled out the story of my last foster child for Shelli. So to sit here and talk about her in the past tense is a strange thing entirely. What I keep feeling is that Shelli = LIFE. For someone who had every reason to complain or decide to sit on the sidelines, Shelli was a mover and shaker. Shelli lived. As discouraging as her health issues had been lately, she still loved living.

I’ve known Shelli since I was a teenager. Sometime in our years at Covenant Presbyterian (where Grace Chapel is now on 40th & Sheridan) we became friends. Shelli became a friend of our family and that’s how I have long known her. Time passed and I got married and eventually adopted a child. I remember being on the phone with Shelli and our friend Brenda when my daughter hit age three and I could no longer figure out what I was supposed to do with the little strong-willed pistol. From their many years of working with children, these women gave me incredibly helpful parenting advice. They expanded the tools in my toolbox, if you will, and perhaps I have them to thank for preserving the life of my child—now a 5th grader who is doing well in spite of being three once.

I’d say that I knew, kind of, who Shelli was but I didn’t know her full scope of Shelli-ness until my husband and I began attending foster parent training classes with Christian Heritage. We got to see the REAL SHELLI. Shelli in action. Shelli where God used Shelli the most in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s no exaggeration when I say that the death of Shelli Graves is an incredible loss for the children of Nebraska. It’s true; this woman was an advocate for them. She was a fighter. A connecter. She knew everyone and what she didn’t know she’d find out for you. She understood these children’s needs and—this is where we came in—understood the families who had chosen to love them. Shelli was an amazing support for foster parents. In her capable hands, I knew we could work through whatever challenges faced us in foster care. She was compassionate, wise, resourceful and forward-thinking. As I reflect on her character, I think God made Shelli just a little tougher than the rest of us so she could do this relentless work of advocating for foster children and foster families.

Shelli and I had coffee a few months ago. (This is a refrain many people could say, I bet.) Though our foster parent license expired with the state last fall, Shelli valued us. She coached us through four foster children—and the one permanent one we had already!—and she had a long view on serving the kingdom of God in foster care. She still felt like I had worth to Christian Heritage and wanted me to serve on the focus committee, that in turn would serve the foster families of the agency. Perhaps that is what Shelli was about more than anything: she could see worth and value in people. She didn’t discard others based on their abilities or perceived worldly value, she saw our God-given worth and was ultimately a great point of encouragement for me as well as for others.

I was diagnosed with RA about ten years ago, and though Shelli dealt with problems greater than mine, we still had a sweetness in shared body problems. Over our last Starbucks coffee and tea, we shared our misery at joints that hurt, wounds that wouldn’t heal well, stupid weight gain from health issues and all the vanity a normal woman has when her appearance is messed with. And yet, I left our time together feeling relief and even joy at our shared experiences. To talk with someone who really gets it, with someone who can both be honest and yet somehow still hopeful, makes all the difference in the world. Shelli’s kindness to me was expressed time and time again in these years that we’ve known one another, and she cannot be replaced.

All of us who knew Shelli will have a unique Shelli-shaped hole in our worlds now. Though I cannot text or call or see her for coffee again soon, I take comfort in knowing she’s with our Savior now and that soon enough I will join her in Glory. We’ll get those new bodies, perfect and whole and capable of climbing mountains and running races, together. Our hope is in Christ. Praise Him.