Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daniel and Lauren Ashley Wedding Photos - Part 1

Mrs. Ashley Or - it's still a bit strange to hear my daughter referred to that way. 

She is now a married woman, starting out a new life with her best friend, Daniel.  It is true, what they say.  We didn't lose a daughter - we gained a son. 

The wedding celebrations were beautiful, exciting, emotional and, did I mention, beautiful?

We received the official photographs from Hugh Forte, their incredible photographer, and I wanted to share, with you,  a glimpse at all the festivities. 

This first group of pictures are from the Cambodian ceremony, honoring Daniel's family and culture.

Endless hours were spent dressing and primping for each one of the three portions of the ceremonies that day.

 Daniel led the procession down the street, bringing gifts for the bride and her family.

Daniel sees his beautiful bride, waiting for him at the door!

Engagement portion of the ceremony - exchanging of the rings

The bridal party - John (Daniel's brother), Andrew (Daniel's best man), Daniel (groom), Ashley (bride), Hosanna (Daniel's sister), Natalie (Ashley's matron of honor)


 Clothing change #2 - green and gold

Grooming ceremony - Daniel and Ashley are 'groomed' and blessed by family and friends.  Some of us got a bit carried away.  You know who you are!

Clothing change #3 - gold, gold and more gold! 
Daniel and Ashley receiving a blessing from their siblings.

Our new and improved family.

The Or family.

What a beautiful day, blessed by God.

Next week - Wedding Photos - Part 2

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The year 2010 was lousy.  One more year at the end of a string of rotten years.  We were glad to wave goodbye and step into 2011. 

Well, so far 2011 is turning out to be a difficult year as well.  I won't call it rotten yet, because this year still has 9 months left to redeem itself.  Since this year began, my mom, Ashley and Steve have all had surgery and Rachel has been nursing a bad sprain.  It's only March, but I can safely say I have no desire to see the inside of a doctor's office or hospital ever again!

It's easy right now, to feel a wee bit sorry for us.  Nobody likes illness and pain affecting the people that they love.  It's exhausting and disheartening.  But every time I feel like I'm due for a full-blown pity party, I think of Japan, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and the beautiful people around the world who live in situations beyond my imagination, clinging to a shred of hope.

I'm choosing to step away from the pity party and be reminded of my blessings.  Here are just a few, in no particular order.

  • I can worship God with fellow believers without fear of reprisal.
  • Sam always knows how to make me laugh.
  • I was raised in a loving, godly home.

  • Ashley will be marrying Daniel, the love of her life, in 14 weeks. 
  • I have a car that gets me where I need to go.

  • I am not dealing with the threat of radiation.
  • I have an incredible, supportive network of friends and family.
  • Rachel plays the piano every day, filling our home with worship music.

  • My daily commute to work is from the coffee maker in my kitchen to my computer.
  • Steve and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this year.

  • We have health insurance and Steve received the surgery he so desperately needed.
  • The sun is shining today and the jasmine is blooming.
I realize now that there is an unending list of things to be grateful for.  We have been blessed beyond measure and certainly beyond what we deserve.

I have a choice now, I can live snug and warm and secure without a thought for others, or think of ways that I can reach beyond me and extend blessing to those in need.  To be honest, I'm not always sure how to do this.  The needs seem so overwhelming that sometimes I'm left doing nothing. 

I don't want to be a nothing-doer but someone who is generous and compassionate.  I choose to start today.

If you feel like life is dumping on you, try this exercise and look beyond yourself.  Tell me, what are you grateful for today?  How do you share with those who are in need?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Back!

Wow!  It has been a long time - 23 days since my last entry.  2010 is behind us and we are firmly entrenched in 2011.

I have sat down a few times, attempting to post, but I have to be honest, this has been a very difficult time for the Rutledge household.  We have been dealing with injury and pain in our home and I have just not had it in me to be chatty and self-revealing.

I shared with you, some time ago, about my personal journey with pain and I am still dealing with that on a much lesser level.  Right now it is my daughter Rachel and especially my sweet husband Steve who are the ones most affected.

Just before Christmas, Rachel was at a basketball practice when she sprained her ankle.  It was a very bad sprain and she is still recovering from that.  Fortunately, she is healing and can now put weight on her foot and walk without that enormous boot, but she has been sitting on the sidelines since the beginning of the basketball season.  We are praying for a complete recovery so she can get back out on the court and end the season strong!

Steve injured his back several years ago, while riding a mountain bike on vacation.  He has suffered back pain off and on since that time.  In the past several months however, the pain has become almost unbearable and he is in constant pain, virtually confined to bed.  It is impossible to express how helpless I feel at my inability to help him or relieve his suffering in any way.  Steve needs a miracle, a special touch from the hand of God.

I shared my own experience with chronic pain in my blog series "The Gift of Pain".  I must confess, I have considered, more than once, removing that series from this site.  It is one thing to endure pain yourself but entirely another thing to watch someone you love suffer daily with pain.

Our faith has been tested through this time.  I can't say that I have always come through with shining colors, but it is a daily process of growing in relationship - with Steve and with the Lord.  Please remember us in prayer that we will be strengthened and that Steve will be made completely whole.

I have to say, in the midst of all of the pain and difficulty that our family has been dealing with, we have seen God's grace extended to us time and time again through the very real friends that have given to us so graciously in every form.  We are overwhelmed and amazed at how generous and loving our family and friends are.  Thank you, from the depths of our hearts.

Although 2010 basically sucked,  I am looking forward to an amazing 2011 and expecting great things! 

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
      My only hope is in you. 
 Psalm 39:7

So, enough about us.  I have a favor to ask.  I have shared with you in the past about my nephew Caleb and his incredible guide dog Kane.  Well, Caleb's dad Randy is competing to win $1000 for the guide dog charity.  If you click on the link below you can vote for Randy's video and help him win money for this incredible organization, making it possible for another family to have a guide dog like theirs.

Please take a minute to vote.  This contest ends Friday, January 21 and you can vote once a day.

Thanks for helping out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has passed and Black Friday is upon us.

Yesterday we headed "over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house" for a big turkey dinner.  I mean BIG.

Two turkeys, a ham, two types of potatoes, various vegetables, and a groaning table of desserts.  There was a big crowd this year - 28 for dinner and 32 for dessert.  I am feeling somewhat expanded after a day of feasting.

I love Thanksgiving - the food (of course) and gathering together with family and friends that we see far too infrequently.

Here's Grandma with her first grandchild, our oldest daughter Ashley.  Aren't they cute?

As our kids get older with boyfriends, fiancees, even husbands - it gets harder and harder to get everyone in one place at the same time.  This year we had a big crowd - the more the merrier!  Seems like just yesterday we were chasing these kids around the house, juggling nap times, diapers and bottles.  Here are most of the cousins, with a few friends and in-laws thrown in for good measure.

No matter how old they get, we have a few traditions that must be kept.  They girls insist that Grandma makes her creamed corn (more dessert than vegetable), the football games are playing constantly on the television in the family room, we play a few enthusiastic card games once our turkey coma has worn off and every year, with Natalie supervising, a gingerbread house is created.

The boys are hanging around because the girls told them they could eat all the candy once they were finished.  See that grin on Sam's face - he's just waiting for me to finish taking the darn picture!

I also love the purposeful time of reflecting on what we are grateful for.  It's so easy (for me, at least) to get caught up in the daily stresses of life, that I need the scheduled times where I stop, look around and remember how good I've really got it.

This year, I am thankful for so many things, these are just the highlights.

  • I am thankful that I am not in the malls fighting the Black Friday madness.  I will wait for saner minds to return to the shopping centers before I venture in to do my Christmas shopping.
  • I am thankful for Chris & Kristen and Erick & Mariesa.   They are our incredible youth pastors and youth leaders.   They lead the youth of our church with incredible patience and enthusiasm and have taken our two youngest to their very first youth convention this weekend.  

Here are our sweet girls, excited to get away for the weekend!

This is Erick, our junior high boys leader.  He rocks!

  • I am thankful for health and freedom from pain - I am mindful of this every day.
  • I am so grateful to you, dear reader, for allowing me to share my heart and responding with words of encouragement and support.  I love writing my little heartfelt posts.  They feed my spirit in a way I never imagined.
  • I am thankful for parents who support us in so many ways.  There is nothing my children could inherit that is greater than the godly heritage they are receiving from their four incredible grandparents.  It is a gift beyond measure.

I could go on all day, but will end with my most precious gifts ~Steve, my incredible husband of 29 years
~Sam, our handsome "manchild" who makes us proud and makes us laugh,


~Rachel, our beautiful miracle baby, now a beautiful and talented young lady,

~Ashley & Daniel, our cherished and lovely daughter and our teasing, big-hearted soon-to-be son-in-law.

What did I ever do to deserve such a precious family?  I thank God for you every day.

Thank you heavenly Father for all the gifts you give.  I accept them from your hands with a full and grateful heart!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's My Birthday!

Well...technically, not today.  My birthday's on Sunday.  But...close enough.

It's funny, I don't get quite as excited as I used to get about birthdays.  Remember, when we were little?

This is me.

See the chubby cheeks and the dimples?

Why aren't chubby cheeks and dimples cute on me any more?  And why aren't birthdays as much fun as they used to be?

I remember when I would notice my "half birthday".  I would comment on the fact that I was 8 and a half years old or 11 and a half years old.  Yippee!!

I've arrived at this conclusion.  Getting old sucks.

I don't like gray hair.  I work very hard at eliminating every one.  Wrinkles are no fun.  I'm noticing more all the time.  Gravity is not my friend.

That's just the surface stuff.  The real kicker is what's going on inside - the aches and pains that have developed since I turned 40 leave me wondering how I'll make it to 70 - forget that, how I'll make it to 50!

I have to say, there are a few benefits to aging.  Self-control is something I have gained.  I have far more patience and deeper relationships with family, friends and the Lord.  These things are priceless. 

If only I could do a Benjamin Button and have that young body (not too young, maybe mid-twenty-ish) with this old mind, I would have it made!

Oh well, here we are.  My birthday is coming, whether I like it or not.  So, to those who care and will be buying me gifts (you know who you are.) 

  • I love coffee and salted caramels.  
  • I need something good to read.  
  • I don't have a decent pair of jeans that fit.  
  • I'm dying for a pedicure.  
  • I would love a nice dinner out (preferably Thai) and 
  • a movie would go great with dinner! 

But really, you don't need to get me anything.  I'm too old to celebrate birthdays.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bah! Humbug!

"Only 40 more days until Christmas!"


"Mom, why don't you like Christmas?"

I guess "Ugh" isn't quite "Bah, Humbug!", but to my daughter's ears it did make me sound a bit like Scrooge...okay, a lot like Scrooge.

I love Christmas.

I do.  I just don't understand why we start the countdown before we've even had Thanksgiving!

I love the decorations
  • the sparkling lights and the festive colors.  
  • driving through the neighborhoods to check out the displays
  • picking out the perfect tree
  • filling the house with lights and decorations
  • the Boat Parade in Newport Harbor.  

Everything is transformed for this wonderful season.

I love the gifts - picking out something special for the people I love and anticipating the look of delight when they open the brightly wrapped package.

Oh yeah, getting gifts too!  That part is great!  I always seem to forget that I will be at the receiving end as well.

I love the food.  I love the food.  Oops, I wrote that twice.

You know what I mean.  All those scrumptious holiday treats that we eat only at this time of year.  Then we ask, "Why don't we make this the rest of the year?" only to realize that if we did, we would weigh approximately the same as a baby hippo (or a mama hippo.)

There are the delicious baked goods for starters (dessert first.)  In my family the list here is long.

Dessert is very important.  Each family event is rated by how many desserts are available. 

One or two, that's for amateurs!

At the top of the list is Grandma's pulla, otherwise known as Finnish coffee bread.  It is the most amazing sweet bread, made in a braided loaf, with a hint of cardamom - off the hook!

All other baking is secondary to the bread.  We must have the bread.  My sister has become an expert at the bread-baking also, so dozens of loaves are baked and consumed over the holidays.  Just thinking about it now is making me a little light-headed.

But, of course, the bread isn't it.  There's
  • caramel corn (Kathy's favorite)
  • shortbread (Steve's favorite)
  • sugar cookies (Sam's)
  • chocolate fudge
  • Nanaimo bars (an overall fav)
  • peppermint bark

  • chocolate covered pretzels
  • Chinese chews (Rachel's favorite)
  • pumpkin pie
  • and the must-have jam-jams (Poppa's contribution to the holidays)
just to name a small portion of the required holiday baking.

We eat real food too, not just dessert.  You know, turkey, potatoes, carrots, yams, green beans, stuffing... I could go on, but I think you get the point.

So...what's not to love about Christmas?

It's so much work!

The decorations are beautiful but they don't just fly out of the boxes and land on the tree and around the house by themselves.  Somebody has to put them up.

The gifts are wonderful, but (don't spread the word on this), little elves do not magically appear with them gift-wrapped under the tree.

The food is marvelous, and I know you can buy it pre-made in the store, but in our family, that just doesn't cut it!

So...when I see Christmas looming on the horizon, I get tired before I've even started.  I just see long 'to-do' lists looming and the days shrinking away while I seem to spin my wheels getting very little accomplished.  I want to relax and enjoy the moment, but 'the moment' never seems to come.

Oh yeah, I forgot one thing.  One little thing.  One major little thing.

A baby.

Born in a manger.

I know this is the only way to keep my sanity during the holidays.  I have to keep reminding myself what Christmas is really about - what the fuss and bother really mean to a believer, to one who is a follower of the Christ child born in a manger, over 2000 years ago.

If we had no gifts (now my kids are starting to panic), if the decorations never came out of the boxes, if the celebrations and parties never materialized and the baking never took place, Christmas would still be Christmas.

All of these are trappings and ornamentation - trappings that pull me away from the focus of the season - to celebrate the birth of my Savior.

For a child is born to us,
      a son is given to us.
   The government will rest on his shoulders.
      And he will be called:
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

   His government and its peace
      will never end.
   He will rule with fairness and justice 

      from the throne of his ancestor David
      for all eternity.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back to the Ranch

What a great weekend! 

Sometimes it seems like the weekend is filled with one activity after another.  This one was blissfully relaxing.

Saturday we returned to beautiful Calicinto Ranch, one of our favorite places on earth. 

We went there with our church family from Convergence and we had a blast, in spite of the tarantulas.  Right, Dina?

What I really loved about the day, beside the horses, the great food, the beautiful blue skies, the wonderful Pirelli family, the hay rides

 and all the other fun, was the opportunity to spend extra time with family, our church family. 

Sundays are great.  We get together,  chat over a cup of coffee, worship and learn together, but it's a brief period of time and then we're gone - off doing our own thing, busy with our lives.

Spending this time together, creating shared memories, was a great opportunity to draw our family closer together. 

Thanks Pastor Norb, aka Sheriff Norb, for providing us with this opportunity to be together.  It was a much-needed break.

The petting zoo was a huge hit. 

For these suburban kids, it took a while to figure out which end of the chicken they should grab!

This is me with my cowgirl Rachel and my mom.  There is no place on earth that Rachel would rather be than at Calicinto Ranch, riding a horse.  She has adopted the Pirelli's as her second family.

I have to give a special shout-out to Erick and Mariesa.  Thanks Erick for providing many of these pictures.  Erick and Mariesa are my personal heroes. 

These three boys are the reason why.  Take a good long look at these boys.  They are Sam, Harrison and Zack.  They are twelve years old.  Erick and Mariesa are the fearless junior high leaders at our church.

Pray for Erick and Mariesa.

It was a great weekend.  God is good.

Right Steve?   Steve...