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tickets booked: check! lots to do on to-do list: check, check, check!

i just got back from italy…i had put together a PHOTOTOUR and had an amazing time!

my hubs booked our tickets to manila a couple days before i got home. and had to be paid for by next week to get the good deal with philippine airlines. hmmmmmm.. that’s a big amount of $ in a week to come up with.. :)

needless to say i was already beginning to fret and doubt. how will this happen? maybe we’ll NEVER get to the philippines. where on EARTH are we going to come up with 6K in a week?? these sorts of questions flooded my head. i knew that i had to trust that god would go before us and make a way…somehow…where there seemingly seemed like there was no way at all. oh my.

fast forward to today: someone offered to give us enough airmiles to get the FOUR of us from vancouver to hong kong! seriously. i was shocked. so the tickets we would have to purchase are from HK to manila…a WHOLE lot less $ than the previous booking would have been. and they don’t have to be paid for next week. ya it’s with air canada and we dont get to leave til the 30th of dec unless something crazy happens like 4 openings come open to leave before. but honestly…how can you be picky about dates when someone generously just GIVES you airmiles?? exactly my thoughts. :)

thanks, god, yet again…for proving to my doubtful heart, that you are TRULY in control… xoxo 20101029_stroncone-4268-2.jpg

a shot i took on my trip to italy…stroncone, umbria, italy. image copyright tracey l heppner photography. :)

things always work out how they are supposed to work out

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have you ever been in a situation when you know you shouldn’t fret or worry about something cuz you know it will work out in the end? ya that’s what i thought..only i have been.. ;)

well..this afternoon while getting all the juice from jonathan’s weekend away, we started talking about the kids schooling and housing when we move to manila. renting a house there is UNLIKE here.

there, you give them 6 months rent in advance. plus a damage deposit. that can be a hefty sum for some people.

also there, you have to buy EVERYTHING for your rental. no fridge. no stove. no oven. and of course all the furniture to boot.

so you can see how this can weigh heavily on the brain at times…

jonathan mentioned that he and his dad were talking about dad and mom’s apartment in makati. they are in the process of building a quaint little house outside the city, where land is cheaper and the air is cleaner. dad was repainting the apartment and was going to rent it out partially furnished. you know where this convo went dont you? :)

so then jonathan and i went back to our conversation about housing. what if we temporarily lived in makati? how much would it cost for transportation (bus) to Faith Academy for the kids? is it going to be cheaper than buying a vehicle at first (as buying a vehicle is another HUGE investment there..even for old cars…still $$$). when we started adding up numbers and weighing all the pros about living in makati til summer, it made sense.

1) we wouldn’t have to buy a car right away. everything in makati is a walk away or a jeepney/taxi ride away. the kids would be transported to school safely and quickly. it would be a decent trip on the train to Gentle Hands.

2) we wouldn’t have to come up with a ransom for a deposit on a place right when we get there. we could just be paying rent every month and putting some aside every month for when we find “the right” house for us closer to GH. i have a feeling the owners of the apartment would be ok with that. :) besides, we would be living there, taking care of it..it’s a win-win for them too!

3) its right in the business district or “downtown” of manila.. i have always said i’d love to live right in the middle of the city someday..why not manila? :)

4) there is a farmer’s market every saturday in the park TWO BLOCKS AWAY FROM THE APARTMENT.

5) there are 6 starbucks in the 2 block radius. (i’m not a starbucks fanatic..but i’ll take it.)

6) there is a landline in the house already! landlines are IMPOSSIBLE to get and cost a fortune initially.

the list can go on and on and on, of all the pros.

i have only one major con, however.

1) it’s on the 6th floor. i would have to live in an apartment building. i am not a fan of heights. elevators and me: not cool. i think i will be getting my workout by using the stairs. :)

here’s some photos i took last october when we were there of the apartment building and the “village” it’s located in…salcedo village:

 the 6th floor on the right, above..the top one with the trees overhanging the bannister.

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the view of the beautiful buildings everywhere!

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the tree-lined streets..

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the park where the farmers market is and where kids play with their nanny’s..

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a night shot…WOW!

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thanks god for always providing..at the right time..and ALWAYS where we least expect it. :)

less than 90 days and counting!

i looked at the calendar today and counted 84 days til dec 15. what’s special about dec 15? well..that’s when we are officially out of this basement suite and on our way to the philippines thereafter.

i am currently using a program on my mac and my iphone called THINGS. i’m not using it quite to its full potential yet but let me tell you..it’s awesome!! i have transferred everything in my brain into this program and am hoping it helps my stress levels.. :) want to keep that ulcer under control, you know.. ;)

while looking at our calendars i also saw all the traveling, by both j and i seperately, before we go…this weekend away, next weekend i have a wedding to shoot in estevan, SK..church of god leaderships meetings over thanksgiving week..toronto..kelowna..italy.. (yes i said italy! check out my other blog for those details: http://followyourheart.myfotojournal.com/ )..toronto again…whistler..edmonton..portland..and then one weekend before it turns into dec 15. HOLY COW

and in between there we have a gazillion things to do/prep for…oh my.

one thing i am trying desperately to do is be “all here”..and take in everything around me. 

i will miss our city. it’s beautiful. the mountains..the ocean. the mild weather. downtown..the beach…commercial drive…ah, so many things i will miss. and my dear friends. how i will miss them. thank GOD for the internet/skype/facebook i tell ya! :)

with thanksgiving coming, i have been thinking of the amazing things to be thankful for…as i do i’m totally overwhelmed. but in the GOOD overwhelmed. yes His eye IS on the sparrow..but i know He watches over me.

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i can’t wait for the leaves to turn in the coming days/weeks..how i will relish in their beauty…another “last thing to do in vancouver” for a long while…

it's sept 1..time for a long-awaited update!

hola friends!

sept 1..how DID that happen? the kids go back to school in 6 days..wow.

the summer has flown by.. in fact i made this lovely big post with photos about what we did..but, alas…it crashed and all was lost. :( so here i am today..not with a lovely big post with photos..maybe a few photos.. :)

we had a bunch of jonathan’s family with us…8 of them in fact. some were here for a 2 weeks..some for 6 weeks. it was lovely chaos i tell you! :)

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our kids had a great time with their cousins..and i think caleb and rosie seriously bonded with elijah and merry faye, their two cousins closest to their age. we had adventure days to keep the summer boredom at bay. the girls made scrapbooks. the boys shot LOTS of hoops. it was, indeed, a summer to remember.

then we moved…again.. into a little 2 bdrm basement suite, in our old hood, within walking distance from the kids old school.. yay! we thought to downsize to save money at every corner we could in preparation to our leaving. it’s quite a lovely little burrowing hole, if i must say.. :)

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i told the kids a week after we got here: if we can survive this for 4 months, we can survive ANYTHING! in fact, it has proved to be a really good thing for our family.

and so..here we are…sept 1. today i emailed and mailed the LAST of the forms required for the kids for their applications to FAITH ACADEMY, the missionary kids school in manila.

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one of the things that made this whole crazy adventure/process more real was when we had to ask evan, jonathan’s brotherinlaw, to write us a letter of call to the philippines.. this suddenly made things very real!

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i acquired, what seems to be, an ulcer this summer..so eating and lifestyle has had to do some drastic changing. it’s good though. i’m on the mend so that is very good. jonathan just went to get xrays on his ankles that he wrecked as a teenager..there will most definitely be therapy and perhaps an operation before we leave..nothing like throwing in a few little things for good measure.. :)

we have been busy writing letters and getting dvd packets together for our friends regarding gentle hands and their building project and D.E.L., where we will be working when we move to manila. it’s been fun.. although, jonathan is NOT a secretary, let that be said. details and him..not so much.. :) but he has done a great job with what he’s got.. :)

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our target date is dec 15-20th. we have this basement suite til dec 15 and can renew by month if necessary. the leaving process has begun..we said goodbye to our best friends scott & darlene and kids aug 23 as they head to waterloo, ON, where scott will go to school for his PhD.

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change change change…ahhhhhhhhh. ya… :)

i hope to make posts to this blog much more frequent..so come back soon.. :)

tracey

mid-summer update - by tracey

it was about 5 months ago when we decided that we were going back to the philippines as missionaries.

fast forward to today…the last 5 weeks have been a whirlwind! jonathan’s sister’s family (charity, who runs GENTLE HANDS) has been with us…they have one week left here..it’s been such a good time for the cousins to bond and figure themselves out with each other..good times of memories and “adventure days”…and the reality that in 5 months is when we are headed overseas.

5 months has gone by SUPER fast. and 5 months is how much time we have til we plan to go. whoa. we have a LOT to do in the next 5 months.

besides having a FULL HOUSE and me (tracey) being in the throws of wedding season, we are moving 4 days after the last of the family departs on the 27th. I KNOW!

the place we are moving to is in our old hood (YAY!!)…a 2 bedroom basement suite that is about the size of our current living room and dining area..chuckle..nothing like preparing us for being missionaries already! :) we are in the midst of selling most EVERYTHING before the end of the month, that is not going with us to Manila.

jonathan’s sister had to come to vancouver on thurs for a couple days to look after some important banking stuff and we sent 2 boxes with her. not gonna lie - it was mixed emotions - excitement and tears.

excitement - we have just sent our first two boxes of personal affects to manila…it is REAL!

tears - the process of goodbyes is very real. SIGH.

so…summer is quickly flying by…after the move we go to calgary for a week-10 days for jonathan’s grandparents 60th wedding anniversary (and i’m flying up to smithers to shoot a wedding too!) then we get home and rosie goes to brownie camp and two weeks later - school starts.

wow..then it’s september.

i will try and update a little better.. i have had literally no time to do anything..between managing 4-8 others (besides our own 4) in the house at one time, shooting every weekend, and laundry coming out the wazoo and cleaning the house.

here’s our boxes..manila-bound… until next post… :)

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a coffee review - BoNa Coffee || by jonathan

He walked in. And in his hand? A bag of ‘House Blend’ Bona Coffee. He? Luis Gonzalez and his wife Candace. Wonderful friends of ours from the Philippines who have come to Canada to convince me that there IS good coffee grown in a country known for its fruit. 

Luis and Candace own a coffee company called Bona Coffee. A brilliant couple with an incredible passion to change the world. 
http://www.bonacoffeecompany.com/

And yes, of course they came here just for me. JUST KIDDING. But they should have. chuckle.

Now, it has been said I am a coffee snob…but lets set the record straight. I am passionate about the process of experiencing flavour. You follow? 
So as we chatted we scooped out some Bona coffee beans(which they specially delivered from the Philippines to my doorstep), ground them, put the grounds in my french press, and poured boiling water over them. Although the task takes only a few minutes, we both approached the task almost reverently, like painters handling a treasured canvas full of colours. Over the next few days, the ritual was repeated: A porcelain mug filled with the freshly brewed coffee. In real time?

I let the steam and the aroma envelop my entire face. There is always the adding cream and sugar(sorry for you purists…i love strength, creaminess and a sweet punch). I take a small, tentative sip. 
Whoa. I throw my head back, and my eyes shoot wide open. From a single sip, I can tell…again…i have captured something of heavens reality in my mouth.

The first time I had this cup of the divine, Luis saw my initial reactions and nervously said, ‘what do you think?’ I grinned and shook my head. Then I took another sip. This time I could taste more of the full flavours as they slipped over my tongue. By the third sip(cup…chuckle) I was hooked.

SO…my review? Here it is:

Sumatra is one of the world’s most distinctive coffee origins. And it has curried my favour and whole hearted commitment from the first moment i tasted it…sometime in 1998. The reason I say this is that what struck me initially was Bona Coffee’s assertion that their ‘House Blend’ was smoother than sumatra. Bold statement. It had BETTER be married with a brilliant coffee. chuckle. 

To their credit, it is. Brilliant, I mean.

Bona’s House Blend:
Full-bodied.
Resonant.
Low-toned and elegantly comfortable.
This coffee will be attractive(almost giving off pheromones…chuckle) to coffee drinkers who find the powerfully acidy coffees of Kenya and Central America too high-pitched and softer coffees like Konas, Mexicos and Brazils too delicate. Bona’s relaxed power doesn’t depend on acidity, rather on depth, weight and an echoing dimension. What is really incredible is that the they have successfully blended coffee beans to highlights the best parts of acidity, not remove it. In the process they have produced a blend that has greater breadth than any I have had! Wonderful.
They have created a richly ambiguous complex of flavor notes and the deep, rugged, pungent blends allows the coffee’s intensity to linger in your mouth. 
And the concentrated spicy, herbal notes and earthy flavour are sure to be the telltale signatures of this well-loved coffee.

So today, when you lift a cup of coffee and offer thanks to the Creator…curse your fate…cuz more than likely(unless you live in Manila) you are not drinking a beverage that is as good as the one I am drinking.

Bona Coffee’s House Blend…heaven in my mouth.

Cheers.
Jonathan

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success discussions... || by jonathan

the following are late night thoughts after incredible convos with incredible people: CnL…chuckle.

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And the Lord said, “Go.” (Genesis 12:1)

The pilgrim said, “Go where?”

Lord: “Go.”

Pilgrim: “How will I know the way?”

Lord: “Do you trust me? Go.”

Pilgrim: “How will I know when I get there?”

Lord: “Will you trust me? Go.”

Explorers ventured out on strange seas to unknown places and, in so doing, re-made their world. Buy a book or take a course on history and you can read about about Vasco de Gamma(Portuguese explorer who established the first the trade route from Europe to India), Columbus (You know Chris…opened the Americas to European exploration), and Jacques Cartier(discovered Canada and sailed down the St. Lawrence to where Montreal would be born)…totally inspiring stuff. Then there is Ferdinand Magellan…left his homeland in Portugal to join the Spanish court in search of a king to sponsor his mad dream of sailing west to discover Spice Islands that lay to the East. So bold…so crazy…so imaginative for his day! I read an article that was an overview of a book based on this first circumnavigation of the world by the stubborn, determined, amazing navigator, Magellan. Laurence Bergreen’s book, Over the Edge of the World described how almost no one believed in the possibility of Magellan’s dream.

Few would risk such madness. Magellan spent years forging alliances with brilliant and odd friends who brought the skills and resources to his venture. Finally, Magellan had the resources and people for the adventure. But the maps of the world in those days were piteously inadequate. Maps were the equivalent of the secrets to making nuclear weapons. No country would share them with another. They were kept locked in vaults and viewed as the most important of state secrets. Magellan, therefore, had few maps with which to work with and those he had were terribly inaccurate. They represented the Atlantic as a huge body of water but the Pacific as a tiny pond surrounded by a huge land mass. With such maps, a deeply suspicious crew and co-captain, he set sail down the coast of Africa then made a mad dash across the south Atlantic on the Trade Winds landing on the coast of South America several hundreds of miles from the terrible waters which later came to be named the Straights of Magellan. A little band of people, with all their venality, pride, power, needs and shortsightedness sailed the winds of an uncharted world in tiny boats and changed the face of the earth.”

Alex Roxburgh writes, “There are times when ventures are waiting to be birthed. There are tides and winds which, if risked, bear us to places and worlds our imaginations could not comprehend from this shore.


My heart burns when I allow myself to feel through this…
So…some ramblings as I ‘burn’ tonight:

Life does not come with a clearly defined road map.

We take one step after another.

We move forward without the ability to forecast the results of each step or decision.

Plans change. Situations morph. Life throws us curve balls. Things seldom turn out according to our wish, plan or anticipation.

No one really knows what is going on.

I am often asked, “Does God have a specific plan for my life?”

Yes, God does have a plan. God’s plan is that we might become the deep, fully alive, loving human beings we were created to be. We exist to manifest in the visible realm that invisible beauty that is our true nature created in the image of God. As William Blake wrote in “Songs of Innocence,”

And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love

That is the only plan I know of. The specifics of how that plan works out in our lives are basically irrelevant.

The beauty of God’s plan is that you can fulfill it anywhere, doing anything. It does not matter what the external circumstances of your life may be. Anything and everything can be used to help you become radiant with the life of Jesus that is your true destiny.

You don’t need an academic degree, a particular career, or a special relationship. You only need a heart that is open to the Spirit and willingness to grow.

The wonderfully unique detail about God’s plan that usually spins us right out is that it works best when we don’t know what is going on.

God’s plan is most effective when we don’t understand.

When we cannot make sense of what is happening.

Because the essential requirement for God’s plan to be all that He intended is: trust. Trust grows in the soil of uncertainty; it thrives in the land of doubt and confusion.

The prophet Jeremiah says,

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
And its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7,8)

We do not know where the journey of our lives will lead. All we can know for sure is that there will be times when we feel nourished and sustained AND there will be times when life seems barren and dry. If our roots go down deep, we will pass through times of feast without attachment and survive famine without fear. The wind will blow; but the life with deep roots withstands and even THRIVES in the storms.

These contrary and painful life experiences are gifts given to us to help us develop the muscles of trust. If life were all smooth and the skies always sunny, we would never develop the inner resilience of faith that can stand firm no matter what circumstances we face. Men and Women of character are forged on the anvil of trust…taking the repeated blows of life.

With trust we are able to step into the unknown, confident that only good can come.

The good may not look the way we had hoped.

The good may lay on the other side of great pain.

But it will be good because it gives us an opportunity to open more deeply to that inner reality that is the imprint of Christ at the core of our being. Our attachment to Him, rather than to any particular outcome or plan, is the crux that allows us to journey in joy and freedom.

The beauty of trust is that no one can take it from me. I may lose my career. My family may abandon me. My investments may tank or evaporate. My health may be gone…my strength will fade.

But I can always choose to trust. I can always give myself to the reality of Jesus…who is holding my life, sustaining my heart and enabling me to grow and deepen in my ability to love.

No one knows the future.

We never really understand the past.

We move forward with courage because we trust that whatever we encounter, it will be another opportunity partner with Jesus in the plan of redemption. And in the process He will call us to “Come further up and further in…”

And I love the ongoing discovery that “the further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”

So stop stressing about living a successful life.

Sometimes you have to the roll the dice and go all in…and not worry about ‘what now?????”. Success is not in the accomplishment of something.

Success is in the going. Or as my brotha Luis said last night, ‘Success is in the obedience.’

It’s in the growing.

J

my hour with my rosie - personal || vancouver photographer

today was student led open house at school…the kids have a stack of things to show their parents - work, art, projects - and talk about it all. most parents, i saw, were in there with their kid for about 20 minutes max.

my rosie does not know what a reader’s digest version is. can’t blame her..she didn’t fall far from the tree. :) i love details when telling stories..today i went in with just my iphone to take photos and listened to her intently. as i watched her explain and show my proudly her work, i was tearing up…here sat my little girl..showing me her notebooks or beautifully printed math and science…and reading her journals to me about her little life at school…and showing me her absolutely breathtaking artwork.

i sat there, keeping myself all together, so very, very proud.. rosie was very gracious as i kept taking photos of everything, “so daddy can see this too”…

and so i share the photos with you…my rosie.. :)

a blue washed sunflower painting…

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a sunflower poem…

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a postcard she made..front and back…

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cool colours and warm colours together..

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adorable sea animals..

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artwork inspired by a famous artist who does this sort of art..help me out?! terry something…?

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her picasso-inspired self portrait..

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a photo of her first nation long house…and her in the background.. :)

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gorgeous coloured totem poles they made (at this point i was informed that her teacher also had a major in fine art.. hello. perfect fit for muffy!)

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and so began the piles of work to share… :)

i love the “my dad makes good stew in the fall” bit.. chuckle..

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her anticipation towards our last trip to manila..

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such fun things to hear her read about..

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then she read about her mother - i almost cried… :)

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some more writings..

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one about her friend hannah who lives on a “farm”…

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seriously..her coloring is remarkable. i remember so clearly 3 or so years ago when she was so discouraged cuz she couldn’t color like caleb..cuz she was too small.. :)

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another project…she’s the hand artist in the family..ya think?! :)

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this is grade 4 math mom..and i can do it”, said my proud 3rd grader.. :)

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the ME poster was fun.. she made this at the beginning of the school year…

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seriously?!!!! my 8 year old has year goals?? i gotta learn something from this chicken..

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is she not adorable!??! :)

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she read these 10 things with MUCH enthusiasm it made me giggle.. :)

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FIREWORKS!

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cool painting..

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pastel art which i TOTALLY loved! a framer! :)

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her beautifully coloured totem pole from that earlier photo..

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tulips - my favorite flower… :)

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i am framing this bad boy when it comes home.. (or maybe i’ll wait til we move!) it is absolutely stunning..

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and her turtle!?! hello! framing also!

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it was such an awesome hour..and so i am sharing it with Lover and with you.. xoxo

Spring 2010 Newsletter to be delivered! || by tracey

we have just made up our first newsletter!

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and  YOU can get one. :) there are two ways - snail mail and email.

for those of you wanting to “go green” simply drop me an email and i will get it to you!

and those who would like a coloured newsletter on recycled paper sent to you door, please email me your mailing address.

THANKS! :)

i am alive in this moment || by starfield

Alive In This Moment”

It’s been so long since I have met You here
Since I have said these words or cried these tears
And like a child would come I run into our secret place
And as the music fades, the tears are rolling down my face

I am alive in this moment
In this moment I am found
I am alive in this moment
In this moment I belong

It’s been so long since I have met You here
Since I have heard You speak or let You near
And like a wayward son I’ve come with nothing left to hide
Here in this moment I have come to offer up my life

Here only one fire burns, it burns
Here only one melody is heard
Once again for the very first time
My eyes are opening

check out the music here on youtube: http://www.youtube.ca/watch?v=ehgCYO2sUI4&feature=PlayList&p=629D9C7CE8682775&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=8

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