Tuesday, April 21, 2015


WOW...where to begin? I guess I'll start here:

First of all, we're on the tail end of ALL the paperwork to finalize the adoption of our foster son, Lil J. We thought we were done raising our "Brady Bunch" family when Elijah (our baby) graduated high school (WOOHOO...US time!) But Jesus had other plans for us. I received an email about a young boy that changed everything. It reached deep down into my core. I was unable to shake it. So, after praying with my hubby for several days, we began to move. We took steps of faith, walking it out and waiting on The Lord's will for our lives, our family's and lil J's. 

His mom was in hospice, dying of breast cancer. He hadn't been placed in a home yet and had been at the large local facility waiting for the right family for 3 months. As we visited with him (getting to know him and him us), I prayed that if The Lord wanted us to have him in our lives, to please let his mom hang on long enough to meet us and know her son would be well taken care of. 

After several visits with lil J, knowing/getting confirmation that he would become our foster son, I asked him if it would be okay to visit his mom so she would know that he would be well taken care of. I just couldn't imagine getting ready to leave this earth and not knowing where my child would end up/who would be taking care of him. He gave his approval (he was 13 at the time). I sat on it for a whole week. I was nervous and knew it would be awkward (Hi, you don't know us but we're going to be raising your son, as you prepare to go to Heaven). 

Finally, after work on a Friday, I KNEW it was the day we HAD to go visit. I bought flowers, took pics of our house, his room, our family, and our dog. The hubby and I headed over to the hospice facility. She looked better than I expected and was sitting up. She was very thin, pale, with long dark hair and big eyes. She was so young...too young to be going through this. We nervously introduced ourselves. She stared intently at us for a few minutes, looking, searching...then told us she was really hot (I'm sure she was just as nervous and uncomfortable as we were). My hubby went out to get her some ice for her ice pack. I stumbled over my words...wanting her to know how we came to this point, standing here in her room-preparing to care for her child. I showed her the pictures and explained each one. She took a long time...as though committing each and every picture to memory. After about 30 minutes of visiting, her mom and aunt came into the room. We introduced ourselves to them and then said our goodbyes (it was about 8:30 p.m.) I mentally made plans to come and visit her in the coming weeks so she could really get to know me. 

The next day, (Saturday, at 12:00 p.m.), as we were driving to go visit lil' J, we received a call that his mom had passed away. I broke down sobbing. I thought we would have more time. She looked like she had more time, I mean, we had just been talking to her...

At her services, her family shared the fact that she had been praying for a good family to take her son. After meeting us, she felt she was finally able to let go of her pain and suffering and go home. I took special note of the date, it was December 7th...the day before my birthday. One mother, handing her heart over to another; her gift to me, her greatest treasure, her child...her son.

After 1 year of being in our family as our foster son...we are now making it permanent. Sometimes children are just meant to be a part of your family. God knows exactly what He's doing. It happened first years ago, when I received my three step-kids to help raise and guide. And now we've been given another son, who was meant to be a part of our lives. As we said, "Yes, LORD, YOUR WILL for our lives," He in turn answered a mother's prayer before she was called home. He is always working, as we learn to let go of our carefully planned lives and give HIM room to work, we find our true purpose and joy...HIS WILL. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

After Holiday Pictures/Post

My Family...so blessed to add our new son lil' J
Well we made it through Christmas and the New Year. It was actually pretty smooth. I had my shopping done before Christmas Eve (miracles can happen!) ALL my kids were with us this year along with their significant others. We went to an awesome Christmas Eve church service.

My boys gettin' down to the Christmas songs

Family + Beautiful Girlfriends

Next stop was my brother & sis-in-law's for dinner and a gift exchange.
The older kids exchanged gift cards (white elephant style where they picked numbers, then blindly picked cards and could steal from each other.) it's always so much fun.

This was a pic I took at my in-laws 50th Wedding Anniversary...we had it put on Canvas.

Then my competitive family headed outside for a basketball game. They peeled the layers of dressy clothes off as the sweat began to build. We take our sports seriously. I loved that the girlfriends joined right in. You better be ready for adventures in this family!
Elijah trying to dribble around his big (little) sister;)

We got home by 11:00 p.m. and all the kids stayed the night. We had hot chocolate, popcorn and watched Elf. Then it was present opening chaos first thing in the morning before every body headed off to make the rounds to other family members houses.
And this is my heart!

This was seriously one of the most special Christmas's we've had in a LONG time. ALL the kids together makes my mama heart soar. Yes...I'm SO BLESSED!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vacation #1 Reno, NV-Tragedy in the Midst

I usually only get one vacation a year (if I'm lucky.) This year however we had 3. Two mini vacations and one big one. Our first vacation was a trip to Reno to see my dad and a family reunion/camping trip at their property up at Frenchman's Lake where I spent every summer growing up. Little did I know the tragedy that was about to unfold.

It's been a long time since my cousins and I have been together, so I was really looking forward to it. Also, I wanted our new foster son to get to meet the family and go camping for the first time.

I made my hubby stop several times at beautiful, picturesque spots. What's a trip if you're not looking for adventure along the way?
 We've never been able to spend time with my dad on Father's Day (we grew up in CA with my mom & he lived in Nevada) so we planned to bring him a homemade present from my sister and I. She read an amazing life memories story for him and then presented him with the present...it was a hit!
My sister Stacy and my dad after she read her beautiful tribute letter.
The next day it was off to the property. Hiding in the thicket along the road was this mama and her baby. Bambi? I stopped and slowly crept up to get a good shot without scaring them away. It was short lived.

As we turned down the dusty road, all my childhood memories came flooding over me. What fun and adventure we had here.
We walked down to the creek (It's become very small from the drought...no more swimming holes.) We walked across logs, rode ATV's, sat around the campfire telling story's and reminiscing about "the good ol' days." We walked down to the lake, watched the kids swim, rowed in the raft, and then returned to camp.
Our new son got to drive all by himself on his 14th Birthday! He said it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
Then tragedy struck.

My sister went into a full Grand Mal Seizure. I'd never seen one before. I jumped up and held her by her neck and head as her body went stiff as a board. She was now sideways in her folding chair. Panic set in as my sister-in-law ran all the kids into the trailor. I tried to talk calmly to her, but quickly noticed her lips turning black. I began to yell, "is she breathing?" No one responded. Everyone seemed frozen and unsure of what to do. My husband was standing above her and I yelled, "Pray for her!" My cousin had dropped to her knees and was praying. My sister was fading away. I literally watched the color drain from her face, starting from her neck and moving up until she was completely gray. As I held her head, I knew she was passing away. She had stopped breathing. Her now dead eyes were blankly staring at me. I knew that I needed to get air into her. I haven't had CPR training since 7th grade. But as clear as someone was talking out loud, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "BREATHE FOR HER NOW!" I breathed three times. After the 3rd breathe, she gurgled, sucked in air and began seizing again. It finally stopped. SHE WAS ALIVE! Our prayers were answered. The Lord showed up mightily right there in the middle of our campsite.

After everything calmed down and my sister was doing okay. I ran into our tent, dropped to my knees and sobbed. I thanked the Lord for answered prayers; for saving my sister. I read some scriptures and let Him fill me up. My hubby took a walk with me down by the creek and prayed that the memory of my sister's dead eyes would be removed from my mind. I couldn't get the look out of my head.

It was a bitter sweet trip. The family time was incredible. The fact that we were able to leave the campsite with my sister, safely sitting in the backseat of our car, I can't put into word's what I was feeling.

When you get to carry a true life miracle with you...you realize, there is nothing more precious in this world than family and life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014



After my near drowning on Saturday, and the passing of Newport Beach, CA. Lifeguard/Hero- Ben Carlson while saving a man's life; I realized how incredibly dangerous large swells can be even for the most experienced. I decided to head to "The Wedge" on Monday to take a few shots. The waves continued to swell to unbelievable heights. To my surprise there were several people actually charging out into the water, speedo's on (which isn't commonly seen in Orange County, CA., but I overheard them saying that trunks always fall off) and fins in hand, excited to ride these monsters.
Can you say, "CRAZY!"
Seriously, there were bodysurfers as young as 12-13 chasing these incredible waves. They were obviously very experienced even at their young age, along with "The Wedge Crew" (a group of seasoned bodysurfing veterans.)
In between the click of my lens, I found myself praying for them, setting my camera aside to scour the white wash waiting for them to pop up from the humongous waves that had just crashed over them. My anxiety level was definitely heightened as I recalled being tumbled, thrown and disoriented under water; losing perception of up or down under waves half that size.
The crowds excitement and adrenaline kicked in as each giant grew to enormous height...taller and taller. They would gasp and stare in awestruck wonder. Even captivating these three active young boys attention.
It was definitely something to behold in person. The lifeguards coned off the area to make sure that inexperienced people didn't get too close and risk getting swept out to sea. They stood along the shoreline, ready and waiting to risk their lives for someone in need. I'm sure it was a difficult day for them while still mourning the loss of their fallen brother. 
Until you see these waves in person you can't begin to understand the volume of a lifeguard's job.
I was lucky enough to get there before the huge crowds arrived and found a perfect front row spot. 
To see more pictures from the day or order prints...stop by my website: