If you have visited here before, you can probably see that I have changed the name of the blog again. I started blogging at 4URuthie to tell the story of our journey to adopt our 1st daughter. I changed it to Mountains for Maggie when we were praying for God to move mountains on behalf of our 2nd daughter. Well now it is no longer just Ruthie’s or Maggie’s stories. It is now our family's story, and the stories of those we share life with, as we Conquer Mountains together. Both ConqueringMountains.net and 4URuthie.blogspot will lead here.

About Me

My photo
I am a pastor's wife, mother of 4 kids (2 adopted and 3 with special needs), physical therapist, and photography junky. This is where it all comes together for me. Feel free to join along as I process life out loud.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Testament Tuesdays #1



Starting September 13th we are going to be reading the entire New Testament in 75 days! Won't you join us and help spread "the Word"?

*We have an iphone app that you can get here

*My husband will be doing a daily commentary on the reading here

*I am going to be starting Testament Tuesdays as an opportunity for all of us to write and share on our blogs what God has taught us that week in our reading.

*And I will be announcing a Giveaway in the next few days related to this too!

Won't you consider joining us! It all starts September 13th!

Here is the reading schedule. Jump in and join us at any time!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sailing!

Ni Hao Y'all


Jack went sailing yesterday with an organization called Heart of Sailing. They take special needs kids out on sail boats. It was pretty cool except for the fact that there was another kid on the boat with us who has motion sickness. No I am not kidding and YES my mind asked the exact same question you are thinking right now. :)

Here are a few pictures from our adventure. Oh and please keep praying this week that Jack's doctor will call and schedule his follow up testing and that they will indeed find something that is treatable. We are so hopeful.

Oh and stay tuned because I am announcing a GIVEAWAY in the next few days!







Friday, August 27, 2010

PRAISE, PRAYERS, AND A CRAZY DAY

I woke up this morning thinking about how to best tell you about the amazing things God has done with this Haiti project. Then I entered my day and came out with so much more to share. So let's start with Haiti.

PRAISE
I asked you to pray for some people to really catch the vision. You must have responded because since then, we have completed our goal for the $3000 and God did all that through a faithful handful who said they wanted to be a part of what God is doing in Haiti. AMEN! So of course as that was coming in, we got an email from YWAM asking if we would be able to build a duplex instead so we could house 2 families. My husband said yes. This morning all I could think was how incredible it had been to see God lay this on people hearts and then see them respond in obedience. I am not worried about the new goal, because I have seen God move and I know it will come. My part is to just keep taking pictures and saying YES!

PRAYERS AND A CRAZY DAY
Jack had an MRI on Wednesday just to make sure that we weren't missing anything since he is progressing faster than expected. I really didn't expect them to find anything significant, but felt we needed to just go ahead and do it. Well, the neuroligists' office called today and they said the MRI showed that Jack's spinal cord is longer than it should be. Of course Jack's Dr. is out this week and some unknown portion of next week so we won't really know what is next until we talk to him. After making several calls I have learned that this could be the cause of ALL of his current symptoms and if that is the case, it is treatable with surgery!

The scary part for me is not letting my heart get too hopeful or excited because there are people with longer spinal cords who don't have symptoms so it could just be an anomaly. We do know that he definitely has Spastic Paraplegia but if he followed the pattern of my family, he should not have symptoms this early from that gene. It really all could be from this other "thing".

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PRAY that Jack's doctor will order the recommended follow up tests and that they will find a treatable diagnosis. Oh that would be so amazing.

As I look at my week, I can't help but wonder if God allowed me to experience his provision and faithfulness in this Haiti matter so I could reflect on that as I trust him to take care of Jack.

Thanks for praying

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Worked Hard For This One- A Photoshop Tutorial too


I took this picture last Saturday from the top of a brick wall in Kemah. When you have a family sitting on a large concrete Texas, you just have to get above them- right? Shortly after taking this picture, I fell off that wall. I was a little sore for a few days and I jacked up my hip, but I really am fine.

You can imagine how interested I was (after all of that) to see how this picture turned out. I was mostly pleased except for the car in the upper right corner. So I dropped the picture in to Photoshop Elements and got to work on covering up that car.

So what did I do? I am glad you asked.









After playing with the color a little in Lightroom, I did this:

1. I cropped the picture as much as I could to get rid of as much of that car as possible

2. I used my quick selection tool to copy the flower bed in the upper left corner and then I pasted it over the car.

3. I didn't want the flower bed to be huge so I had to leave some car uncovered up in the corner. So I used my clone stamp tool to clone the grass and copy it over the car to make the flower bed look deeper

4. Then I used my blur tool around the bottom edge of the flower bed to blend it in so it did not look like a sticker on top of the tiles.

I did essentially the same thing for a friend the other day who wanted me to replace his mother in law's closed eyes in a picture. I think the blur tool and the clone stamp tool are the secret to making this trick look natural. On the eye switch, I had to clone stamp some skin changes.

Let me know if you have any questions





Monday, August 23, 2010

That Sweet Child

My big boy is a 2nd grader today and our trip to school this morning spoke volumes about his heart.

1st of all the only way I could get him to give up his backpack from the last 2 years was to let him carry a free one that he got when he went to camp with his dad. He wouldn't let me get him a new lunch box so the same old dirty one went into the camp backpack.

I asked him how I could pray for him this morning and he teared up and said, "For people to be nice to me." I think I forget sometimes how insecure our little guys can be.

He cried when we walked into the classroom after telling me on the way there that he wanted the Dr. to make him small again. I love that sweet little guy and his tender heart. I just can't believe that he is a 2nd grader. If you don't mind, will you say a quick prayer that people will be extra nice to him and that he would make some good friends.





I got home from dropping Jack off and saw that Ruthie was sad too about Jack going to school and something about dad making her sit down and eat breakfast. Everyone needed a little extra attention this morning.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Hardest Part of Photography

I have learned so much about photography since starting this Homes for Haiti project, but the one thing I have learned the most is how bad I am at narrowing the pictures down to my favorites. I am NOT saying here that all my pictures are so good that it is hard to find a bad one. I just don't like deleting decent pictures of other people's kids.

(As an aside- Have you ever had your pictures taken by one of those companies that prints them ahead of time and then lets you choose from the already printed copies what you want to buy and what they end up throwing away? They know something to be true that I am going to tell you about here. Women are awful at walking away from a picture of their children!)

When I started, I was given the advice by several people to narrow it down to the best 25-50 pictures and give people those on a CD. That sounds simple enough- right? It's not!! I usually start with about 400, narrow those down to the best 300 and then I am stuck. The rest is facial expression preference and whether you prefer pictures of kids looking at the camera or playing naturally. The last 2 times I have had the customer come over to my house and do the final narrowing. You know what? THEY CAN'T DO IT EITHER! I don't know how other photographers do it.

So if you call me, you are going to have a solid 25-50 really good pictures and another 100+ that were good enough that I just couldn't bring myself to delete them. I guess being overwhelmed is better than knowing that there was a picture of your child out there that you might have loved but never got to see. Right?


A few more pictures from our trip to the Children's Museum. I chose these because they show just how functional she really is.



Friday, August 20, 2010

I Could Be A Homeschool Mom

IF homeschooling were all about field trips!

I met a man the other day who works at the National Weather Service and he was nice enough to let me bring Jack for a little tour. Jack loves following the weather so he was overjoyed when I told him about my plan. It was short and fun. My new friend showed Jack all the screens where they watch the weather and make predictions from. He loved it. They also handed him tons of magazines and a rain gauge.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure. Oh if homeschooling were this easy! But since it is not, I will stick to starting public school on Monday.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love and Truth (and a trip to the Children's Museum)

Love and Truth. I was thinking about these 2 the other day and how to be effective in ministry they must be inseperable.

Many try and teach truth without love and all they get is rules and rituals that when done for the sake of themselves have turned many away from the church.

Others have tried to show Love with the absence of truth and what they get is words like “tolerance” that come with temporary band aids to mend wounds but not target the source of the problem which is the state of the human heart that has no hope apart from a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ.

Another thought on Love is that true love cannot exist apart from Christ.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

I think this is why I am so excited about what YWAM is doing in Haiti. They are demonstrating love to the people by serving them and meeting their needs, but they are also teaching them about Jesus. Truth and love together offer them a far greater service then love alone.

A few pictures from our trip to the Children's Museum today. It was a wonderful (and very crowded) place.






Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunday Snapshot


Ni Hao Y'all

One of the blogs I follow does this thing called Sunday Snapshot. This is my first Sunday to participate, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share these pictures that I took at my brother's lake house this weekend.







Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homes For Hope Photography Update

First let me say that I am having so much fun with this photography project to raise money for a home in Haiti. Seriously, I love taking people's photos and then spending hours editing them. I am sure it would be less fun if it was my job but as a blessing, it is a blast!

A really fun update on the home is that a team from our church is going to be traveling to Haiti in October to build the home that I am raising money for. I can't wait to get pictures and maybe even video from that. How great to be able to see it to completion!

There are a few ways you can pray for this project if you don't mind:
1. Pray that God would bless my camera, lens, creativity, and whatever else goes into the final project. I really do want to give people great photos of their families and I need God's help to do that.

2. Pray that these sessions would bless families who otherwise would not be able to afford a portrait session.

3. Pray for a handful of clients to really catch the vision for the project and make donations that reflect that. I love do this for these families and giving them quality photos, but without some larger donations, it is going to take a L-O-N-G time to raise $3000.00. I don't want to charge a certain amount because I think this is supposed to bless families too and if I go charging extra to reach the goal for the house, then I am afraid that I will miss the opportunity to truly bless people on this side of the project. I just need God to really capture the hearts of a few of the families for this home in Haiti. Can you ask Him for that and then lets see what He does.

THANKS SO MUCH!

A family side note:
Trent's dad and step mom came in town for a few days and took the kids each to do something special. These are pictures they took on their adventures





Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Few Words Wednesday

Other than Ruthie getting stung by a jellyfish,



it was a great trip to the beach!





Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Sets You Apart?

At different times in my life I have felt set apart from those around me. Growing up I felt set apart because I was the only one without a mother. At other times I have felt set apart by my decisions and then at other times by a diagnosis. So yes I know how it feels when your "something" makes you feel like you are outside of the normals all around you.

You know what I have noticed lately though? Everyone has a "something". It's true. We often don't see it either because we don't share life on that level or because we are so consumed by our own "something" that we miss those of the ones around us.

So you know what I think really sets you apart? It is not your experience, hard choice, or diagnosis. It is what you choose to do with it!

Tracey Schalk is a perfect example of that. I met Tracey shortly after we adopted Ruthie. She has Arthrogryposis too, but that does not set her apart. Tracey is set apart by the amazing things she does to advocate for other kids with this diagnosis. She has a website, http://traceyschalk.webs.com/, where she provides all kinds of information and resources on Arthrogryposis. She hosts frequent online chats for those affected by this condition and she spends much of her time advocating for orphans all over the world with Arthrogryposis. She is one amazing young girl and the world is a better place because she walked this road and chose to use her "something" to set her apart.

I am going to close with 2 quotes from Tracey's facebook page:
"Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same." ~Francesca Reigler

"Something good always comes out of something bad" -Julia Donner Andersen






My youngest 2 flying a kite together on the beach


Friday, August 6, 2010

My Sentimental Boy















3 1/2 years ago, Jack got his first bike for Christmas. After hours and hours of riding, it is time for that beloved bike to go live somewhere else. That kid has ridden that bike so much that the handle bars and seat all have holes on them and the tires are now raw.

I loaded the bike in the back of my car last night and Jack lost it. He cried and screamed that he wanted to keep his bike. I tried to explain to him that he has a new bike now and the old bike doesn't even fit him anymore, but that did not stop the sobbing.

It broke my heart to see him so sad and I completely understood where he was coming from because I am pretty darn sentimental myself. I started trying to think of things that we could do with the bike. Hang it on his ceiling? No. Make a piece of furniture out of it? No. Just leave it in the garage? No way.

About that time my neighbor made the comment that the people on the show Hoarders probably had parents who didn't make them throw things away like their old bikes.

Okay okay okay I get it! But I let him sit there and say goodbye as long as he wanted to. After about an hour we settled for a picture with the bike before it went away.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We Thought She Was Chinese

But now I am figuring out that she is actually a Chineximerican. What is a Chineximerican you ask? Well it is someone who was born in China, moved to America, and while there discovered her true long lost Mexican ways.

It all started with the a layover in the Austin airport on our way home from China when I fed Ruthie a plate of bean and cheese nachos. Ever since then, the girl can put down as much Mexican food as any adult at the table. It really hit me though today when we were in the restroom of a Mexican food restaurant and she was dancing (while sitting on the potty) to Salsa music. I looked down at her and concluded, this child is not Chinese. She is a Chineximerican!


Pics below are from our trip to get snow cones today and of course I had to take my camera!








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