My nerves were all over the place – was I going to be able to capture moments that had meaning?

A few weeks ago I was asked by Susan from DS Connections NW, if I would come and do team photos for their annual Step Up to DS walk in Spokane. I actually met Susan last year when I was planning on doing a community event for down syndrome children, giving them a pirate party for fun! When the event was not published as it was suppose to, I took it very personal and felt terrible for these families that never got to share their story with our community. So when Susan asked me to step in to do photos for this year, I was very happy to do so.

The Step UP for Down Syndrome Walk (formerly known as the Buddy Walk) was developed as a way to reach out to friends, family, and co-workers to promote awareness and inclusion for people with Down syndrome. It is also designed to raise funds for local and national education, research and advocacy programs.

The Step UP Walk is an easy one mile walk in which anyone can participate without special training. Hundreds of thousands of people take part in different walks from coast to coast and around the world each year to show their support for Down syndrome awareness.

People throughout the Inland Northwest whose lives have been touched by Down syndrome will join with members of our local business community in helping to raise awareness of the many abilities that people with Down syndrome possess and to celebrate the many ways they contribute to the benefit of both our professional and civic communities.

The walk was held at Discovery Park in Spokane, which is an adorable park! There were all kinds of things for the kids and the families to do together before and after the walk started. Raffle items, American Ninja course, photo booth, arts & crafts, bubbles, a happy clown that makes balloon animals, hats and swords and a sweet little spot for the kids to be in the Hall of Fame photo wall. Each year they take a photo and each year they can look back to see how much they have grown. And then of course, the team photo area – which is where I was.

The families were all in happy spirits and it was wonderful meeting all these beautiful children that were full of precious personalities. Everyone played, danced, laughed, and joined together to help make a difference for DS Connections NW.

Here is a list of the vendors that also participated in the walk event.

Title Sponsors $1000+: CdA Peds | Kootenai HealthCdA Tribe  |  KLEW TV

 

Major Sponsors $500+: Mountain Power  |  Lakeside Pediatrics  |  Barrett Family Chiropractic   |    Jitterz  |

Lake City Rental  |   American Universal Storage  |  Isolutions

 

Supporting Sponsors $250+The Ugly Duck  |  Unlimited Marketing  |  Jax Creations Photography

The Inlander  |  Ruby Frog  |  Raptor Reef  |  Jeda  |  Northwest Restorations  |  Northwest Pet Resort

Periwinkle  |  Northwest Extreme Sports  |   Panera Bread We Got Wood Northwest  |

Sandy Zimmerman (American Ninja Warrior)  |   Northern Dance Academy  |  All Star Glass

 

Associate Sponsors $100+:  Verdis  |  Syringa  |  Centerplace  |  Bloom Dentistry  |  Spoelstra Chiropractic

Lost Moose  |  ICARD  |  Curtis Orthodontists  |  Pepsi  |  Buffalo Wild Wings  |  Centerplace

 

 

The next day after the walk I learned that there was over 700 registered Walkers, 48 teams and they raised enough money  to fund all of their programs for 2018! That is very exciting news!!!

Here are a few sneak peeks of the walk and these kiddos that I just wanted to scoop up and snuggle!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Roses are Red. Violets are Blue. Sugar is Sweet , check out these adorable photos!

 

Ok, so I am not great at rhyming or poems but I do love a good photo! Over the summer I gathered with some local vendors and some adorable children as we created a unicorn princess party. We twirled, spinned, and danced through the Healing Garden located next to the Bonner General Hospital in Sandpoint Idaho and had a tasty treat of the most beautiful cake, cupcakes and cookies. What a blessing it was to watch these kiddos play through the garden. The flowers were in the fullest bloom, the skies were gently covered with clouds, the dresses were flowy, a special crown that made anyone feel like a queen of royalty.

 

Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint

This dress, Clarice Gown, and floral crown are from Sew Trendy Accessories.

Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint

It is unbelievable but that whole cupcake is edible!! The little pine cone and butterfly are edible!! Chocolate and gelatin.

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Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint

These dresses were custom made and hand dyed from JH Gowns. Again, I shared my color choices and theme and she created a dress set that was stunning.

Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint

This stunning hand made crown is from Lovespun Creations. I am so happy and blessed from each vendor that helped make this event and photo shoot the most amazing.

Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint Valentines day, flowers, cake, princess, unicorn, pink , purple, healing garden, sandpoint

 

That most amazing stunning cake was created by Pastry & More in Coeur d’Alene. They are the most amazing talented bakers I have ever met – award winning even. I had gone to them with a small idea and feel of what I wanted to create, but after viewing their work, I knew that as an artist myself, I just wanted to give them my simple thought and let them get creative with it. The cake was inspired from the tapestry “Lady & the unicorn“. With just sharing the colors I was inspired with – the whole session and event was breath taking.

Cookies were made by Milk & Honey Cakery – were delicious yummy treats are shipped directly to your door. And they are so adorable and so yummy. I have never had cookies delivered – that weren’t from my mom, so I was unsure on what to expect, but I was so thrilled when I opened the box and they were perfectly decorated, none of them were broken and they were soft and delicious.

The beautiful dresses the girls got to wear are from Sew Trendy Accessories and JH Gowns.

The floral crown – first, isn’t that the most amazing floral crown?! This handmade crown was created and made by Lovespun Creations. I was able to also share my small little vision and she created this beautiful piece of art. I won’t lie, as soon as it arrived, I walked around the house with it on. Even my  boys were smiling when they saw it.

All the accessories, furniture and props were provided by prop rental – Lucky Prop Co in Sandpoint Idaho and Fresh Design Gallery & Design in Medical Lake, Wa. Both places are like walking into a girls decor heaven. So many things to look at and decorate with.

And beautiful floral display by Sandpoint idaho local florist, Fresh Sunshine Flowers. It was wonderful meeting Jen – she has a local delivery truck that delivers flowers right to you. She is another amazing talented and creative person!

 

I am so looking forward to summer again, not just for the weather or to see another color other than white, but for the fun of children! I love helping create themed parties and events and being able to capture their little moments. I hope if you plan a party this summer you will consider having a silly photographer join in on your fun!

 

A good friend of mine who I have known for years, was sweet enough to capture some behind the scene footage of me working with the kiddos. Thank you Amy Henderson Photography for being there and capturing me with the kids! I also heard from a little bird that Amy is opening a studio this summer – so all you local Sandpoint peps, keep your eye out for her new place soon!

Jax Creations Photography, Amy Henderson Photography, Sandpoint idaho, children party, princess, unicorn, healing garden Jax Creations Photography, Amy Henderson Photography, Sandpoint idaho, children party, princess, unicorn, healing garden Jax Creations Photography, Amy Henderson Photography, Sandpoint idaho, children party, princess, unicorn, healing garden Jax Creations Photography, Amy Henderson Photography, Sandpoint idaho, children party, princess, unicorn, healing garden Jax Creations Photography, Amy Henderson Photography, Sandpoint idaho, children party, princess, unicorn, healing garden Jax Creations Photography, Amy Henderson Photography, Sandpoint idaho, children party, princess, unicorn, healing garden

 

January 11, 2017

If you follow on my personal page and on my other social media platforms, you will notice that I speak freely about my walk with faith. In 2016, some beautiful things had happened that really changed the way my faith and my personal walk with God. And even though this is a personal post shared on my business page, I really do hope, you take the time to read and watch this documentary. It is long both in the written blog and the video, but I promise it is worth it.

I must have written this blog post about 5 times and written it in my head about a 100 times. So many words and feeling floating around just not sure how to put them all together to make it all make sense.

 

I grew up believing there was a God but I didn’t really feel a connection in church unless it was done through stage lights, a big band and loud music. My husband on the other hand grew up in a very christian household and can pretty much tell you every story in the bible. He was a type of person that can continue to love accept a person when they did wrong and I was a type of person that had no problem letting them know that I did not appreciate their actions or choices.  I thought of myself as a “christian” believing that I had God in my life but also picking and choosing between society and what was written in the bible. When a cousin of ours struggled terribly with addiction, I drew my line in the sand with this cousin and I was firm with my stance on him having no more communication with our family because of his choices. I had basically shunned him and expected my husband to do the same.

When I heard that my husband had been talking to him and seeing him without my knowledge, you can imagine how hurt, angry and betrayed I felt. And it seemed when I brought up the subject to my husband, that he just did not hear my heart and hurt on it. Which just boiled my anger even more.

What I did not know at the time was that our cousin had gotten himself into a faith based rehab program, Good Samaritan Program, which had changed his life drastically and was about to change my life too.

My husband had tried to set up a session for the 3 of us to talk with our cousin’s pastor but I basically laughed in my husband’s face stating that there was no way some pastor was going to change my mind about the actions that had taken place. I did not understand addiction and to me it seemed as simple as just turning off a tv. I know… I was stupid and foolish. Ignorant and I am deeply embarrassed for thinking such things.

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. – Proverbs 18:2

I can only say how ugly and ignorant I was. Childish and foolish. In those comments and remarks and body language, I also disrespected my husband. But again, I was a fool and I knew nothing better.

Not too long after that conversation, my husband came to me again and asked if I remembered our conversation about him asking to meet with our cousin’s pastor. Again with arrogance in my voice, I said “of course”, to then he replied, well, that is the pastor that was just shot.

I was speechless. I couldn’t believe the world we live in. I didn’t know the story or even about guns or bullets but from what I heard, I really had no words for what happened but I was for sure praying that Pastor Tim survived.  Not only did he survive but he also overcame some pretty amazing medical hurdles.

My husband had kept talking in pieces about how much our cousin had changed. And more and more he kept bringing it up and the enthusiasm in his voice was starting to drive me bonkers. I was not raised in a way to believe that people could change. I had a hard time believing it unless it was proven – and him just telling me was not proof. I felt of course he was going to build him up in a better light, because he was family and my husband believed that you never leave your family behind.  But there was something in my hubby’s voice, but I think I was too scared to trust in what he had to say about something I was so angry about.

When my husband came home one day and shared that he had found a church and asked if I would go with him, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe he had gone to church, I couldn’t believe he found a place that he enjoyed and I couldn’t believe he invited me. This was a huge deal to me. In part, I was a little nervous because he always spoke about wanting to get feed during the message and I was worried that I would be lost or even laughed at because I really did not know my bible. In fact, if you were to tell me to turn to Luke blah blah blah… I would be searching for it still while the next lesson was given.

We walked into The Altar Church together, hand in hand, and even though I was filled with anxiety, there was still some calmness in me. Everything was simple there. The faces were friendly, kind, warm and real. Nothing was fancy, or made up or even dressed up to be this “Sunday Best” thing. When worship started I had to listen to most of it because it was mostly old songs I never heard. There were no special lights or a big band – it was all so simple and yet beautiful. Again, in my foolishness, on my welcome card, I even wrote  that there needed to be better music. Remember that is how I thought I needed to connect. When service started, I was pulled in like a child listening to their favorite teacher reading a story. I didn’t feel stupid. I didn’t feel uneducated. I didn’t feel lonely.

Then my most favorite part of church happened. The graduations. Each week, there are graduations of those who completed the Good Samaritan Program (The Ranch). They stand up and give their testimony. Each week, I cry and I pray and I am moved. Sometimes I seek out the graduates and ask if I can give them a hug just because and other times I just journal about them and keep them in our prayers.

So- how does this all fit together? Well, my husband was right about my cousin. He did change. And I didn’t need to have him prove it in some 5 step program or make him beg in some creepy way. I saw it in his eyes and in his heart but the biggest way I knew was from God. I was at church one morning and it was like the Lord called me up sit right next him and told me that He was still there waiting for me. I did not need to hang onto my anger, hurt, or bitterness. God was there for me, all I needed to do was ask for Him.

And I did. On my knees with tears down my face, I asked for forgiveness in all that I have done and become. I wanted my ashes turned into beauty the only way that I knew it could be done and that was to accept God back into my life. I needed to be cleansed and in doing so I was able to love again.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– 1 John 1:9

When I saw my cousin the next time, I needed to ask him for forgiveness and apologized for my behavior, attitude and foolishness. I felt so ashamed for my thoughts towards him. I told him I was so proud of him for completing a program to help his addiction but I was even more proud that he was able to find God in his life.

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If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and or abuse and needs help, please read about the Good Samaritan Program. If you need to talk to someone, please feel free to reach out to the church, a friend, a loved one, a stranger, a doctor or someone you can trust. Seek the help you need. Sitting in the chairs at church, walking in the building, and being a follower of God, I have seen so many wonderful things happen through our church and with this program. The facilitators are there to answers questions and can guide you more than I can, but I can tell you as a witness – you can FEEL and SEE that new light in them. As a church body we are there to keep loving them and making sure they don’t wander.

 

I am so grateful that we have found The Altar Church. Never have we felt like we are a part of a church family. For myself, I feel  like I am part of a real family. I had joked with a friend and I had said, I feel like I am a child that has waited a lifetime to be adopted and finally my day has come. I am surrounded my loving parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. It is a place where I can walk through the doors and be who I am – on good days and bad days. It is a place where I can learn and be fed and the message doesn’t end at 12:30 – it continues through the whole week. It is a place where people actually love – really truly love on one another. The Altar Church is a place where you can be and lay your burdens down and not feel ashamed.

The Altar is a place where I have witnessed many beautiful things happen through tragedy (the shooting, a fire, addiction) and through wonderful things (births, friendships, family, health). Miracles happen every day but we as a society have been so brainwashed in a way to ignore them or to be embarrassed to praise them, that unless it is something so remarkable, we don’t speak of it. There is beauty in every day- a blessing in every day – in every person.

 

 

 

 

Pastor Tim had asked me to do a slideshow to show the recent events of 2016 at The Altar and unfortunately since I am still a newbie, I had hesitations that I wouldn’t be able to give him what he wanted. I am a storyteller by heart and all I knew is that there are some amazing people with amazing stories of faith.

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Now I invite you to grab a drink, a snack and get the kids entertained for a while to watch this video about The Altar Church. The video is about 27 min long and parts of it are pretty emotional and speaks about drug addition and loss. If you are looking for a place to come worship or a place to come kneel, I invite you to come to The Altar Church, where everyone is welcome at all times.

The Altar Church from Jax Creations Photography on Vimeo.

 

I am so happy I have found my way home and my family but best of all I have found God again.

dadNow that summer has started in our home, things seem to sneak up on me faster than I can blink. As I am parenting my kiddos today in a way that is only described as trying to herd cats with a cucumber, I realized that tomorrow is Father’s Day.

I know there are many of us who have not had the pleasure of having a “father figure” growing up – some maybe a lifetime of no father and some of us who were blessed with a father late in life. I was a late blessing. But oh what a blessing he is, my dad.

My hubby is also a blessing I never thought I would have- for myself or for my kids. I would love for you to share stories of your hubby or dad that you have in your life. Let’s lift up these men and do some bragging!

 

If you struggling on what to get that perfect dad in your kiddos life, check out this cute craft idea. Easy supplies you should already have at home, but if not, just a quick run to any store can fill in the missing pieces.

 

ITEMS NEEDED

  •  Solid Colored Mens Shirt (darker the better)
  • Sticky Contact Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Spray Bottle
  • Bleach

Trace child’s hand on the backside (graph) of the contact paper with pencil. You can add a little heart for a cute addition.

fathers day craft

Fathers Day Craft

Cut out hand tracing – use a X-Acto knife to cut out heart. I only had scissors which worked but that was tricky!

fathers Day craft

Lay out dad’s shirt – I used a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to wrap the shirt tight to and to keep the bleach from dying the whole shirt. It also helped getting the contact paper to stick to the shirt better.

Gently take the backing off the contact paper and place hand print on shirt. When you have it in the position you want, press and rub the contact hand print to the shirt. You want to make sure it is on there all the way- each finer tip and sealed around the heart if you add one.

Fathers Day Gift

Next, tell your kiddos to back away. Fill your spray bottle with bleach and start spraying the area where the hand print is.

Fathers Day Gift

Give it a few seconds to start showing… I actually got a kick out of watching it turn colors.. but then I thought that I better make sure there was enough bleach…. so I kept spraying. Not sure I would recommend that, so use your discretion and crafty experience.

 

fathers Day Gift

Ohhh Pink!!! Hmm I wonder if I keep putting more bleach on it, if it will turn more white or orange instead of pink?”

fathers day gift

“Oh dear! That did not seem to work!”

Well, at this point, I did all that was needed for this craft. Now all that was needed was some dry time. I am lucky enough to have a clothesline so out in the yard daddy’s shirt went.

Fathers Day Gift

After drying time, I gently peeled off my son’s adorable chunky hand to see my creation completed. It is adorable. But I do have a few tips. Using a patterned shirt like my hubby’s does not do completely well as a plain t-shirt. Again, the darker the shirt, the better the bleach splat color, but be creative and have fun. Also I noticed that I traced my little guy’s wrong hand and put it on the wrong side of the shirt that I wanted. I was going for over the heart area on the shirt. Either way, hubby was touched by it and loved his special gift!

Fathers Day gift

 

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Over this Mother’s Day weekend, I invited my mom to the movies and let her pick. She had picked to go see God’s Not Dead 2. Here is my review on this Christian movie.

GodsNotDead2Poster

God’s Not Dead 2 is a movie from Pure Flix Entertainment (A Christian film production company) and even brings back some main characters from the first God’s Not Dead movie. The first movie was good, but personally I did not think it was “great”.  So going into the second making of the movie, my expectations were not very high.

But, was I in for a surprise! I actually cried 3 times during this movie and really really enjoyed it. In fact, as soon as we were finished watching the movie, we rushed right over to the local christian store. My body, heart and soul was fired up. I enjoyed all the characters in this film and it was great to see Melissa Joan Heart (Clarissa Explains It All- if you were a 90’s child) as the lead actress in this movie. And the guy that played her lawyer wasn’t too bad on the eyes 😉

It doesn’t make a difference if you go to the movies and see it or wait for it on DVD and Redbox, but you should make time to watch it. Even though the movie isn’t a sad movie, it is powerful and that is where my own water works came from.

Check out the Trailer of God’s Not Dead

 

If you had a chance to watch this movie- leave me a comment and tell me what you thought about it.