Social Distancing Day 25

Today was the first official day of Spring break. It was also the day we learned there will be no more school for the 2019-2020 school year. These two littles don’t mind so much – after all, they are living their best lives playing all day long and having both parents home all day with them.

The trail: Ancient Lake Trail – roughly 3 miles total that we walked.

This hike was gorgeous. We saw a total of 2 people from a distance.

The warmth and fresh air were healing and life-giving to the soul.

The exercise was needed…because the Corona 15 are a real thing.

The beauty was stunning.

The wide open space was freeing.

The mist from the waterfall at the end was refreshing.

Those holding of hands? Priceless because it’s very rare that they are not annoying each other these days.

see, marvel, observe

Acts 7:30-31 caught my attention in church last week. Just a small blurb about Moses that Stephen was using as an example while admonishing the council that had him on trial.

It says, “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him…”

DSC_6766We’ve heard this many times, yes? What I love about God’s word is that it’s living and active and this week God spoke through these verses to me. Forty years had passed. Forty! Moses was doing his thing, living his life, getting married, having children and must have been so busy making a life for himself in the land that he had run to while running from his past. It’s tiresome to run from your past. It takes work. There are many voices in your head and often times, when we are running from something we cannot hear God so easily. The cacophony of fear is too much. But for some reason, after 40 years of not hearing God’s voice, and running from God, Moses first SAW the fire. Most of us see things all the time. But do we really see them? Or are we just noticing them while a million other things are ping ponging in our heads about every aspect of our lives?

DSC_6772Not only did he SEE the flame, it says that he MARVELED at it. Marvel means to be filled with wonder or astonishment. Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you actually marveled at something? Do you do it daily? Or is it more of a “when I go to the beach I marvel at his majesty” because it’s so huge I can’t miss that fact. Marveling takes time, takes being still.

DSC_7009After he marveled at it, he didn’t just Instagram it and move on with his walk that he was on. Nope. It says that he “drew near to OBSERVE it”. Drawing near to something and observing it once again requires getting out of your own thoughts and into God’s thoughts. What does God want to show me here? What is it about this very thing that I’m observing that has the fingerprints of God if I look closely enough? The meaning of observe actually means to notice or perceive something and register it as being significant. When Moses saw the burning bush, marveled at it and then observed it, he was understanding that it was significant and he better take off his sandals because suddenly he was on holy ground. DSC_6788You could argue that of course he noticed and marveled….a bush was on fire! But really…how many times have we had burning bushes in our lives that we didn’t give a second thought to? How often has God tried to show us something that required observation and how often have we taken the time to really sit on it for a while; camp out, if you will, at the place He’s speaking to us?

DSC_6758I want to be better at hearing God’s voice. Not his audible voice, but that still, small voice that He speaks in to His children. He doesn’t yell at us. He won’t text us with extra excited emoticons to get our attention. But He might use the beauty of a clover field, or the majesty of the ocean waves coming and going, the grandeur of being on a mountain top to speak. Just the same, He may use a small, but intricately beautiful flower blooming in your yard, a single bird perched on your fence or just sitting back and watching your children play without a care in the world. God can use anything to speak to us. Anything. And don’t get me wrong here – clearly the easiest, most important way for Him to speak to us is through His Word. He has given it to us as a gift and we need to daily unwrap it to learn and grow in Him.

DSC_6774I’m learning to do this little by little and God has given me special friends who are better at this than I as an encouragement to me in this area…and I’m thankful for that gift.

DSC_6755Here’s to seeing, marveling and observing. May we do it often. May we clear the clutter in our heads so we have room to invite God into our thoughts and may he guide our every day.

Champoeg Park

Since we are still having “summer in fall” weather, we decided to go hang out at Champoeg Park on Sunday. Usually I am here for photo shoots and don’t get to just enjoy all the park has to offer. What a treat…a picnic in the shade, fishing off the dock, frisbee golf and walking on trails. Thankful for days like this.


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Forced Family Fun Day

So you know when your kids hit a certain age? That age of not thinking the same things are cool that we just did 1-2 years ago? Like walking with your family around the local wetlands on a gorgeous, sunny day? Yep. We’re there. Hence the title “FORCED FUN”.

But, when you have teens, tweens, elementary and babies all in one family, there is no win-win. There will always be SOMEONE that complains. No worries. This too will pass. And I hear that for the most part, they won’t remember all the whining they did, but they WILL remember the adventures we went on.

So, I take pictures to prove to them that they had FUN. Walking around wetlands, enjoying God’s creation. FUN. They’ll thank me later, I’m sure of it.

My unsolicited advice? Force em’ to have FUN (wink, wink).


And while we’re talking about forcing…this photo. Yup. Lots of forcing to get this one.


Checking out the river rat at the edge of the bank, while momentarily forgetting they didn’t want to go in the first place.


We even brought our friends to have fun WITH us…cuz we’re good parents like that.

2014-01-06_00032014-01-06_00072014-01-06_0001Let’s just say Jo won the prize for best attitude!

Opal Creek

We decided to go on an adventure Sunday. Where? Opal Creek. I’d never heard of it, but it sounded so intriguing that we just had to jump in the car and head out with our adventurous friends (the Hartfords) to check it out.

Off the Santiam Pass, down miles of gravel and many “are we there yet?” comments from the back seat, we pulled up to the “no cars beyond this point” sign. Everyone got their backpacks on (OK, I lie. I strapped the camera on and Tad carried both the backpack and the baby. He’s a keeper.) and we headed out.

It was 3.5 miles to Opal Creek, otherwise known as Jawbone Flats (population 9) and a fairly easy trail walk. We stopped many times to look at the amazingly, green, clear water and talked the boys into waiting till “later” before jumping in.

What a cool place. Jawbone Flats is fully off the grid, using water and solar for all their power. They have several cabins to stay in that are fabulous and a huge lodge where they apparently have an amazing chef. And get this. They see between 50,000-75,000 people a year up there! Mostly school children on field trips and outdoor school adventures, but also including businesses who use the facilities for team building, conferences.

Opal creek-21Opal creek-10Opal creek-9Opal creek-22Opal creek-17Opal creek-23Opal creek-25Opal creek-9Opal creek-34Opal creek-23Opal creek-27Opal creek-29Opal creek-39Opal creek-32Opal creek-24Opal creek-35I won’t lie. My dogs were BARKING after 7 miles and being as out of shape as I am. Geesh, I need to exercise someday 🙂


Nothing sure but change. Right? We’ve been in our home for almost 9 years now and we love it. Especially in the spring and summer when we can enjoy the outdoors, our park-like life, throwing huge 4th of July BBQ’s…but now we find ourselves in a different season. One in which we are driving and driving and did I say driving? No, driving isn’t the only reason we’re pretty sure we’re gonna move. Trust me. We have a very LONG list of reasons why it would behoove us to move at this time, but I won’t bore you with them. The point is, change is possibly coming {if the Lord sells our house, of course}. And with it will come both the good and the bad. House

House-3-3(baby girl’s first time in the swing…she LOVED it, of course)


Ruby and Josie and I took advantage of the nice non-rainy weather and went for a stroll down our road. Love that little grin of hers…

House-3-2Miss Ruby riding her bike and stopping to put gas in of course.


I’ve come to realize the only way for me to be documented is to have my children take my picture. Sometimes it’s scary; sometimes they do pretty good.


So glad that Jo (yes, we have gone from Josephine to Jo. we are simple people) is old enough for her Boba. This is my absolute favorite carrier for front or back (for ages 5 months-3 years) and she lives in it when we are out and about.

Life. Cheers to change and babies and bicycle rides that need to stop for gas fill-ups.

Day 15 well of course…the sun

How can a day pass like today that I’m not thankful to the Lord for the blessed sun?!

I know it comes in limited amounts for the next 4 months, so I feel the need to go capture it today.

{first as it floods into my living room}

{next, as it makes the bamboo next to the house glisten}

{outside, catching a glimpse of my shadow}

{across the creek, looking up into this deep, red berry, decorated tree}

{and finally up…where the jet-streams are}

I love that beauty is all around every day. I find it amazing that unless we are intentional about FINDING the beauty, we lose out on finding joy. Because joy comes through THANKSGIVING.

Day 2 beauty

I’m a photographer. I’ve forever loved taking pictures, though there is always a sense that you just can’t quite capture in a little black box, as sophisticated as they are these days, the absolute truth as to what your eyes are actually seeing in real life.

Yet…we all (at some level) want to stop and get that gorgeous sunrise on the way to work, that colorful painting in the sky on the way home, the vibrant fall colors, that perfect flower…and then never fail to say, “It looked SO much better in person!”.

I think it’s a gift from God…our sight. To be able to process that beauty around us is pretty amazing when you think about it.


So here I am being thankful for the beauty that awaits me several times a day as I drive to and from my house. Yep. I’m thankful for my ROAD. The sunset behind the hills, the farm fields to the left and the right. The gravel and all the pot holes that come every winter. My road calms me down as I drive the 4 minutes, transitioning from the cement highway that is hurried and full of people rushing, to my country road that forces me to slow down and (ok I admit that I should go slower on gravel – sorry neighbors!) take in the beauty and decompress.
Psalm 100:4

“Enter His gates with THANKSGIVING, and into His courts with praise”.


If I could have a fresh vase of dahlias year round, I would! I love these vibrant flowers and I’m so thankful for the dahlia farm just 3 miles from me. For $4 we can grab some clippers and head out to the field and cut to our hearts desire (12 stems). Any size, any color – it’s one of me and my girls’ favorite things to do every August.

Wakeena Falls

Pre-hike smiles….The kids were so excited to set off and begin our 5.6 mile journey, climbing 1600ft.

This really was one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve done. Almost the entire way was the sound and view of waterfalls.

I love water pictures where the water is slowed down in the picture….and I finally know how to do it with my camera 🙂

We stopped MANY times to take in the beauty, the creatures, play in the water…and let Mom take a breather!

Max loved counting the rings to find out the age of trees downed we passed.

Snails and bugs.

Pure cuteness.

The boys hiked way down (and us girls were content to sit and watch) to get close to a huge waterfall.

Oh these boys 🙂

This was near the end of the hike….I think we were all so glad to get to the car that I forgot to take an “end of the hike” picture.

We celebrated our accomplishment by getting dinner at Burgerville (mom’s favorite place) and taking it to the St. John’s Bridge (park).

No such thing as running out of energy for the Raichart kids!

What a fabulous family day.