Friday, December 30, 2016


We have chosen a name.

Attracting others to draw near and encounter the love of our Savior.
Drawing near to our Savior, as He beckons us to come.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -  Hebrews 4:16

We bought the domain name
 - — which is now under construction!
We have a logo.
We are merging our Facebook pages ... and renaming it.

We have our first 2 events on the calendar.
February 10 - a Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Ball
March 4 - Ladies Brunch

The next adoption retreat is scheduled for September 15-17.

I'm super excited about the future of this ministry ...
and the use of the Red Barn to host many events!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christi Whitekettle

Look who came to visit us!

Christi is still working in Rwanda with Azizi Life.
She was up here in Evergreen visiting friends and came over for the day.
It was so nice to see her and catch up!

Although the face of Azizi has changed some, with Tom married, living in Kigali, and expecting baby #2, and the Rwandans stepping up to run and manage the work being done ... it's encouraging to see their growth.

Our conversation gave me more resolve that rebranding is right where God wants us now.
New name.
New direction.
New focus.

I don't know exactly what the future holds, but I know this is right and we will walk in it.

Civil War Ball Dress

Princess Shiloh learned about the Civl War Ball about a year ago.
It's become an obsession, or a dream.
She can't stop talking about it.
I, on the other had, was dreaming about how much a dress would cost!
The registration fee was only $42.
Dresses online, for that era, were about $300.

Then, I had a brilliant idea.
My dear friend, Melanie Hutchinson, used to create costumes.
After living in India for 10 years, she has now moved to Loveland, CO.
In fact, we attended 3 craft shows together this year and have had such fun together.
So, I asked her.
She first came December 12-13 to choose fabric and sew the bodice.

She came back December 26-27 to complete the dress.
Melanie is an artist!  This dress is perfect.
Shiloh looks lovely!
The Ball is January 14th and she's ready to go!

Monday, December 26, 2016


It was a lovely Christmas!
This year, Flatirons held Christmas Eve services.
We had our fondue dinner at 3pm, so we could leave early enough to get to the 6pm candlelight service on time.

Then we came home, and as usual, the kids got to open a couple presents.
And Steve opened up the Santa Tracker ... wow!  That man can fly!  =)

Christmas morning, which was Sunday this year, found us awakens by our little dumplings about 6:45am.

Cinnamon rolls.

Puppies' first Christmas.

Himes arrive about 2pm.

Naturally, there were many toys to be played with, Lego sets to be built, clothes to be worn.
It was a lovely Christmas this year ... with little stress and no conflict!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Scott, Kaitlyn, and Zach

We just got home from Anchorage, Alaska.
We flew out on Friday morning and got home last night.
I wish I could say we went for fun but ...

On Wednesday the 7th, the kids got home from Awana, when Landon came into the kitchen and said that Scott was missing.  Steve was on the phone with Kneil Novak, who was telling him about Scott, Kaitlyn (14), and Zach (13), who were flying from Port Alsworth to Anchorage.  They had left at 10:30am.  When Kneil called, it was 6pm Anchorage time and they had not yet arrived.  Search parties had gone out, with hopes of finding them.

By the 8th, it was assumed that their plane had crashed in the Lake Clark area.
Port Alsworth is a bush village of only 200 residents, 150 miles southwest of Anchorage.
There are no roads that lead in and out.  Airplanes and boats are the only mode of transportation outside of Port Alsworth.
Josh, who is now 19, has been living in Anchorage, attending University of Alaska.
Sam, who is 17, is a senior in high school.  He was playing in a state volleyball tournament.
Scott, Julie, Kaitlyn, and Zach were flying to watch the game.
The plane Scott flew in could only seat four.
With the two kids and the pilot, there was no rom for Julie who ended up on a commercial plane.

The search found three wheels from the plane, a duffle bag, a propane tank, the passenger seat, and Scott's glove.
Eric Wardell was a part of the search.

Although Steve and I have all but lost contact with Scott and Julie, this news was devastating.
I have been crying for days.
It seems unreal.
It seems impossible that they are all three gone.  Forever.

With the celebration service scheduled for Sunday the 18th in Anchorage, my first thought was to have a simultaneous service here in Colorado.
But Steve felt that he needed to go.  If he was going, so was I.
Thanks to my mom, who had points on her credit card for a plane ticket, we only had to buy one ticket for $630.  Dad gave us another $200 to cover meals.

Having dreamed of going to Alaska for longer than I can remember, it was incredibly difficult to be going in the dead of winter for a funeral.
I'm so glad that we went.  We needed to be there.
It was nice to see so many old friends.
We stayed with the Lemans, had breakfast with the Wardells, and dinner with the Anders.
We got to see Mr. and Mrs. Blom, the Lorenzens, Maggie Feldt, and the Novaks were there too.

Steve wrote his thoughts and reflections on Scott's life.
They were certainly good friends back in the day.
It's not easy to say goodbye!

It's been said there are two kinds of people: Takers and Givers. Scott Blom was a giver. And he didn't just give his money or possessions; he gave himself- his time and his heart. And when you were in the company of Scott Blom, the relationship was primary. No doubt he wanted to enjoy whatever the activity was: hunting, fishing, making coffee, smoking a pipe or cigar, taking in a baseball game or joking around, he was all about having fun. But make no mistake relationships were first. His relationship with God, his wife & family, his friends, his ministry, his outdoor surroundings .... he was engaged and living in the moment.
Scott and I met at a Campus Crusade meeting in 1992. Friendships spanning 25 years allow for a lot of memories: bible studies, retreats and conferences, trips to a friend's mountain cabin, Row 20 Seat 10 at the old Mile High stadium for Rockies games, fly fishing near Bozeman, camping near Seattle, being best man at his wedding - and he at mine, ministry at the AFA, ski retreats, conversations over coffee and too many memories to list. All were special and I will cherish each one.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Saint Nicholas

December 6th was Saint Nicholas Day.
True to form, "he" delivered pajamas for our dumplings.
It's so fun to see them radiant with excitement at finding packages on the front porch.

Receiving them so early in December means that they can enjoy them for the entire month ... as we pretty much stay in our PJs every day, unless we are going somewhere!

Landon's footies didn't quite fit.
Thankfully, he had found some at Good Will a few months prior.
They are so stinking cute!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Family Photo

Every year, I subject my family to a photo op.
It usually involves me setting the camera on a timer, running back and forth, trying to capture the perfect photo to mail out to all our dearest friends and family.
This year was no exception.
I thought about this one.

They are all so darling.
But honestly, I can't stand it when people send photos of just their kids.

So, we drove the truck up by the barn, to act as my tripod.
We ended up with this one.

Cute, but no.

Yesterday, we were in Georgetown for their Holiday Market.
I captured a few candid ones ... but not newsletter material.

We stopped in our favorite shop, and took photos just outside, as we have done twice before.

I loved all the color!
Red. Green. Purple. Orange.
This is the final photo.
I love it!

Thursday, December 8, 2016


After repeated suggestions to rename Passion for Orphans, I finally feel up for the task.
Renaming and rebranding is no easy feat.
P4O gets negative feedback on the name.
So, it's simply time.

Then there's Mavuno Market.
As we are about to hand off the Donor Relations position, we will no longer have connection to Mavuno Village, so the name has lost its meaning.

The decision is to get rid of the DBA of P4O and rename both entities, becoming one.

At the P4O meeting in November, some ideas were:

Since then, Steve and I have brainstormed:
Count (as in count the cost, or count God’s blessings)

and our top favorite idea:
Unforeseen (or Unforeseeable)

Right now, there's a volley of emails to reach a general consensus.
With 12 or so people weighing in their opinion, it's going to take some work to make a decision.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree

Friday, Thanksgiving weekend ... and off we went to cut down our tree.
It's so nice that we just have a short walk to find the perfect tree!

This year, Landon measured from the floor to the ceiling.
14 feet.
He took his tape measure and measured trees in the forest.

Decorating is always a bit chaotic, as the kids are super crazy wound up.
But it's a fun day.

And just like that, it feels like Christmas!


Pineapple casserole.
and blueberry pie.

We go to Grandma and Grandpa's every year for Thanksgiving.
Because Grandpa grew up on a farm, consuming many turkeys, he doesn't like turkey.
So, we eat beef.
Grandma likes to make blueberry pie instead of pumpkin pie.

It's a very untraditional traditional dinner.

Every year, Grandma hangs 11 pair of socks on the mantle.
The kids get $50 in each sock.
The adults get $100 in each sock, along with a $200 gift card to Honey Baked Ham.

Typically, the grandparents head to AZ after Thanksgiving.
This year, they are staying until right after Christmas.
As it's their 10th year going to Tucson, and many of their friends have stopped wintering there, they don't have the same excitement about going anymore.
So we will also have a Christmas brunch at Matt and Jena's on December 23rd.

It's a fun tradition ... and a highlight for the kids, as they are given much money with which to shop.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In Heat

This has been one of the longest weeks - ever!
Dixie started bleeding last Saturday the 12th.
We've kept them apart for over a week now.

Yesterday, she went into heat ... sending "hormones" across the air waves.
Dash is going absolutely crazy.
He can't keep himself from her.
It's been almost impossible.
Dash has broken out of his cage twice now.
He has tried to break through the window to get to her.

With April birthdays, they are only 7 months old.
She simply isn't old enough to be a mama yet.
This is the first of 3 cycles that we will have to endure before she's 2 years old and can have pups.

They will make beautiful pups together.
But until it's healthy for them to do so, this is our scene...
one dog goes in, one comes out ... one is in the house, while the other is out.
It's overwhelming and exhausting, but I wouldn't trade these beautiful dogs for anything.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Challenge B

We just finished week 12 of Foundations and week 13 of Challenge.
I have no idea where the semester went!
It's been an absolute blur!
I remember the anxiousness I felt in July, knowing that I only had 2 students who would be in my class this year ... Shiloh and Micah Hemness.
I debated, right down to the last minute, whether or not I wanted to do all the work of directing for only 2 students.
I hoped that Stacy Bolton might come back or that a new family might join us.

Melissa Hemness ended up with 7 kids in Challenge A, after having 3 in A the year before.
Landon was thrilled to be in her class, especially since Chance would be in there.

In the end, I have truly enjoyed this class.
I've loved the learning.
I love knowing what Shiloh is learning, and staying one step ahead of her.
I love hearing their papers and their thoughts.
They are both diligent workers and excel regularly.
It's a rare day that one of them shows up unprepared.

I have truly enjoyed directing B.
I'm not certain if I want to do it again next year ... but part of me wants to, as I've already done all the hard work, so it'd be much easier next year.
Landon has communicated that he wants me to direct his class.
So, I might just have to do it for him.
I know I can't direct Ch-1, as I can't handle the extra work load of starting all over again with the learning.
It's strange to be thinking about this now, as it's only November, but contracts are typically signed in January for the following year.

I absolutely love CC.
The longer we are in it, the more I love it.
I couldn't imagine homeschooling any other way.

Friday, November 11, 2016


I was in much need of a sounding board.
Steve has been meeting with a guy named Terry.
I just couldn't bring myself to start over with someone I didn't know.
I needed a friend who has known me for a long time,
who has seen the highs and lows,
who knows some of the struggles I have faced.
I thought of two people, Leeann Stutzman and Joni Balian.

When Frontier sent an email that flights to Bozeman were discounted, I jumped on it.
I flew out on Tuesday and came home late last night.

I loved being with Joni.
We literally sat and talked almost the entire time.
Joe, Lydia, and Kendra are the only 3 at home.
All the other Balians have gotten married, except Anna, who is at her DTS.

Joni is a great sounding board.
She listens well and doesn't judge.
She offers input and encouragement and shares her experiences.
It's such a gift to call her friend.

Home has been hard.
There's been much conflict between Shiloh and Landon ...
and me and each of them,
and Steve and me,
and Steve and them.
The Littles certainly play a role, but only a small one.
I wish I knew how to overcome my anger and frustration, and not be a part of the conflict.

I'd like to have Joni's words stick with me for a long time.
I wish I could just wave a wand.
But I know nothing is that easy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Blurred Lines

Buying the Red Barn has been one of the greatest gifts ... ever!
The most challenging part of it is working with my family.
It's wonderful and hard all at once.
Mom runs the books, invoices, payroll, etc.
Dad answers phones, gives tours, and is the legal voice.

Our trip to California sent us into a tail spin.
Spending a week together created more stress and less togetherness.
When we got home, the conversation began ...
and dad began accusing Steve of losing heart.
Then he said that if Steve's heart is no longer in this business, he can "sell" his share back to me.
{i.e. write him out of the will}
That just hurts.

It was just about a month ago that I took myself off the email thread for the business.
I decided it was just too much to get the emails and not carry a heavy load.
I know I need to devote my time and energy to homeschooling.
But lately, Steve has decided that I need help.

So, the lines are blurred at home ... who's schooling?  Who's running the business?
And the lines are blurred with my parents ... who's the boss?  Who's responsible for running this business?

It's been really hard lately.
Especially when my parents assume we have "lost vision".
As we are caught up in a re-zone, it's pretty hard to be moving forward with vision.
The vision is to facilitate weddings.
When we reach the end of wedding season, we want some time to just rest.
Rest does not mean a loss of vision.

I don't know how to navigate through this disfunction of mixing family and work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Too Much Candy

This year, the kids were not interested in selling their candy to the dentist.
So, it just might be the last year we go to much more than a trunk or treat.
They ended up with far too much candy ... and I know it will be a battle to keep them from eating it.

But they sure were cute!
Sawyer - Iron Man
Landon - Obi Won
Liberty - Betty Boop
Shiloh - a Flapper

We went to Flatirons on the 28th, then Aspen Ridge for a Trunk or Treat.
Shiloh and Landon are just getting too big for this ... so Steve says.
And the Littles, well, they are just adorable dressing up and all.

It has become far more than I ever intended.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Foundations Tutor

I was so incredibly excited this summer when Steve went through tutor training at the CC 3-day practicum to be a sub for foundations.
It's such a gift when men are a part of a community.
I have hoped that he might direct Foundations & Essentials, or even direct a Challenge program.
I think he would be fantastic.

After 7 weeks of coming to CC and hanging with the Littles, he finally got asked to sub.
Yesterday, week 8, was Steve's first time tutoring.

Unfortunately, my excitement was quickly dashed when Steve discovered that he did not enjoy it.

I wish it would have turned into his full-time involvement.
Now I fear he will stop coming all together.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Legoland was by far a highlight for all of us.
It was absolutely incredible!
Star Wars.


Famous landmarks and buildings.

Other highlights were 
going to the beach and visiting the Valaseks.
All in all, it was a fun trip.