Kari Rae

The Big Announcement | Hearts on Fire by Kari Rae Photography

Today is huge!!! 

I told my husband that I'm so crazy excited to be putting this out in the world that I feel like I'm "having a baby!"  

I'm not having a baby (thank goodness! Two is plenty right now!). But similar to many pregnant women, this has been a dream of mine for a long time.

And after much prayer and dreaming and planning with my husband, we are ready to bring something new into the world. Something that will take a lot of work, but that will also bring so much joy and blessing to the people who are a part of it. Lord willing! 

Whatever the pregnant glow feels like... I'm pretty sure I'm feeling that. ;) 

 

Yesterday, I posted this... 

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Today, you receive the formal invitation!

And the big announcement...

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 (insert my giddy-squealing, heart-pounding, palm-sweating, jumping up and down excitement.)

 

I can't wait to share the full stories, release the website and get this new business venture underway. And I can't wait to see YOU at the launch party! It's gonna be a swell time. 

Until then, I ask that you join me in praying for Jesus to continue leading this business and guiding these dreams. The things He has inspired in us are beautiful, and it's been an awesome journey leading us here. So blessed. So thankful! 

 

Also, come join our private Facebook group to see what we're up to, where we're headed, and to receive special goodies that will put a spark in your love. (We promise to keep the fire puns to a minimum.)

**The first 100 people added to the group will start off by receiving a FREE custom printable for keeping love alive every day.** 

 

Fostering is Too Heartbreaking, Jesus Loves Me, and Other Things that Drive Me Wild

I was reading an article and came across this comment. The woman said, "Me and my husband cannot have children. I would gladly take someone's unwanted baby. Adoption, however, is 15,000-20,000+ (dollars). And fostering is too heartbreaking."

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What's truly heartbreaking to me is her mindset, and how it likely represents innumerable others (including me at times).

Yes, being a foster parent can be really hard on one's heart. REALLY hard. But ultimately, it's not about me or my feelings or my broken heart. There are thousands of "unwanted babies" out there who just need their basic needs met. They need us to love them, feed them, keep them safe, give them a home. They need this way more than we need an perfectly whole heart.

Her words are so interesting, and so telling. Saying we would gladly take someone's unwanted baby and then immediately giving two excuses about why we WON'T gladly take them in.

When I hear these words that frustrate me, I'm reminded to examine my own heart. I know I tend to get most frustrated with others about things that I can relate to...things I could have said or done myself. And this comment could so easily be me!
I'm terribly selfish. My feelings matter to me. I don't want to do something hard. (And other whiny things...)

But again, it's not. about. me.
And my favorite fact; no matter how much I'm into myself, Jesus is into me even more. He is crazy in love with me! (and with you, too.) And just like anybody in love, He wants to take care of me and provide for me and be with me and promise me beautiful things. And since He's perfect and He has never failed, He actually DOES these things!

Along the way, He asks me, "Do you love me?" And I say yes, so much! And He replies, "Feed my sheep."
And I say no, that's hard! But okay, maybe.... Well fine, I'll think about it, and see if it's God's plan for my life. Oh wait, you are God. And you just told me what to do. And you really love me and want to take care of me and be with me. And You've always been good. Like, really good. You've seriously never left me.

And you didn't just suggest that I feed Your sheep one time. You also said, "True and perfect religion is to care for the orphans." And You love me. And You want to be with me. And You LOVE ME.

 

Precious Jesus, keep us from ignoring You! Direct our eyes back to Yours as You gaze right into our hearts and whisper "I love you" over & over & over again. And then help us not to look away as You turn to the orphan and the unwanted, and then look back at us and say, "I love them too! Please feed my sheep."

Friends, we are insanely, out-of-control, beautifully, passionately, fully, completely, unconditionally loved by a God who promises big things and never breaks His promises.

So let's stop making excuses.
You won't be doing that big, scary, crazy hard thing alone.
The God of the Universe is on your side.

So You're Looking for a Wedding Photographer; 4 Tips for Getting the Best

Congratulations, you newly engaged lover! You are now ready to start planning what is sure to be one of the most fun, most beautiful days of your life.

But the process of planning such a day can be completely overwhelming, which is why you need to gather your "Dream Team."

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When my husband and I were engaged, we set out to build the best team of people who could make the day happen with the most smiles given and the most love shared. Our Dream Team made a world of difference on our wedding day and we owe them a million thank-yous! 

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As wedding photographers, we are in the business of storytelling. You have a story that has led you to your fiance, there is a story that will take you to the vow exchange...a story will unfold on the day of your wedding, and a story begins as you drive off together in your getaway car. We have the joy & responsibility of capturing and telling these stories; and we take it seriously (but have a lot of fun doing it!).

Here are some pointers so that you can choose the best wedding photographer for your love story:

0.5. (because this is a great preface) Make this a priority.

A bride's advice: "Make this a priority. Don't settle for a photographer that you're just okay with. Find one that shares and can interpret and enhance your vision. Don't be afraid to get exactly what you're looking for! You are hiring them to capture one of the biggest and greatest days of your life. After all, 50 years from now, it is only your love and your photos that will have lasted."  -Danielle, married 08/12

1. Know your style - then go find it.
There are likely hundreds of photographers in your area. Know (or decide on) your style. Think things like: romantic, fun, genuine, quirky, traditional, eclectic, light & airy, emotion-oriented, detail-oriented, colorful, moody, silly, dramatic, etc.Who are you as a couple and what kind of images will best convey that?
Then... Research is your friend! Go find some artists whose work you adore.

I recently received an e-mail that read, ""Wow, I really love your work. It's my style! Lots of giggles, smiles and laughter. Intimate, romantic, FUN, creative, candids...you seem to capture the best moments!! :)"

When you come across a photographer's work and automatically picture yourself in it, you've found a great match. Knowing your style will help that!

If you talk with some photographers and they don't feel right, don't be afraid to be specific & ask for recommendations. Wedding photographers want clients who "get us" just as much as you want a photographer who gets you - we are happy to recommend another photographer to fit your style!

A bride's advice: "Look for a photographer that does something timeless. Basically something you know you'll look back on 50 years from now and still love it! And of course make sure their work is your absolute favorite because you only get married once!"  -Amanda, married 05/13

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2. Go on dates.
And take your fiancé with you ;) Whether you are meeting for coffee, happy hour, a steak dinner, or even just a Skype date, I can't tell you how good and important it is to meet with your potential photographer before booking them!

As a photographer, I want to hear your story, your heart for each other, and your wedding dreams. And as a couple, you'll really want to know who you'll be working with and how/why they do what they do.

     Funny fact: It's very likely that you will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than anybody else. 

Make sure you like him/her and their way of doing things. :)

A bride's advice :) - "Make sure you feel comfortable with the photographer you meet. If you can't act natural while they're photographing you, then I think that will reflect in your pictures. It's about a feeling more than anything else :-) "  - Andrea, married 09/13

Another bride's advice: "I think it's important to find a photographer that really loves and has a passion for what they do. Of those who are in the business of making a paycheck, find the person who actually loves their job and has an absolute love for people in love!" -Sasha, to be married 07/14

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3. Decide how much you value it.

You will get what you invest in.

On Facebook, I asked to hear from married people who were bummed with their wedding photos. The most common response from these disappointed folks was that, "I wish I had hired a professional." or a sentiment about how their hired professional didn't act very professional (i.e. showing up late, never getting their images back, or getting yucky images altogether). I'll say it again folks, you will get what you invest in. Your wedding is not a "let's see if this works" type of event. The documentation of it probably shouldn't be either. ;)

Great wedding photography is expensive. These are going to be some of the most emotional, powerful, and important ones of your life. What happens on your wedding day sets the foundation for your family and generations to come. You can hear more of my thoughts on this here, where I explain how my wedding blessed my foster boys.

If you can't afford the photographer you are dreaming of quite yet, ask about payment plans!
Save up, budget, and prioritize accordingly.
These images will be telling one of the most beautiful stories in your life.

A bride's advice: "Price is always manageable, so don't just hear a dollar amount and be turned off - in the end you will make it happen! :)"  - Sasha, to be married 07/14

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4. Take your time, enjoy the ride, and get excited!

You are about to bind your heart and your life with someone you happen to be madly in love with. What a joy! And it's going to be PHOTOGRAPHED, to look back on and remember forever! How exciting!

Take your time finding the best photographer for you, who matches your style and matches your heart toward this glorious union.

Enjoy the process and getting to know a photographer or two; there are some really cool people out there who love telling photographic stories for a living. Have fun meeting them!

 

I'd love to hear from you. Is there anything you would like to add to this list?  Let's hear it in the comments below! Was it helpful? If so, share it using the buttons at the bottom. :) Happy Planning!

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Let Freedom Ring!

We are spending our Indepedence Day on the river, with a fishing pole in the water, the wind in our hair, and the setting sun as our view. This little man is decked out in red white and blue and can't wait for the firework show to begin! But for now, peace.

Ahhhhh....freedom tastes good, doesn't it?

A huge thank you to the men and women who have served this country, sacrificed their precious time with loved ones, and/or given their lives for us. You are so very appreciated!

I hope your 4th is a blessed one. Much love, my friends!

Transient

Foster Parenting FAQs

This is a crazy journey. Our emotions run a wide spectrum from total excitement to total fear, and then finally to peace because we know that God is with us. He is the one who put foster parenting on our hearts, and He is the One who has promised to be right here with us and going before us! What a beautiful promise. The topic of most of our conversations these days revolves around our journey as #fosterparentsinthemaking ;) And that's great! Any chance we can get to share about this opportunity, we will take! But as I was in my third or fourth foster conversation yesterday, I realized that I seemed to be answering all the same questions time & again. And that's okay! But I figured...if everybody has these similar questions, that means that most people don't know the answers. (Deep thinking, Kari....)

So here I am, putting together some of the FAQs I receive, as well as my FRAs (frequently responded answers. feeling clever today... :) )

 

Q:

How did you decide to become foster parents?

A:

In short, we read the Bible. It told us that pure and true religion is taking care of the orphans & widows in their distress... so that is what we will do! The longer answer & full story can be found in my full blog post HERE.

Q:

Are there a lot of kids in the foster care system?

A:

Yes!! Far too many :( There are over 8000 Oregon kids in foster care, and about 200 of them are also waiting to be adopted.

 

Q:

What is the difference between foster care and adoption?

A:

Foster parents are essential partners of the state's services to children. DHS (The Department of Human Services) depends on foster parents to do the day-to-day parenting for these children until they can either return safely to their own homes or until an alternate permanent plan is found. As foster parents, our intention is to love & care for the child(ren) as long as they are in our home, with the goal of reuniting them with their parents or another family member. We would be setting ourselves up for heartbreak if we thought to ourselves that we might be able to keep the little one forever... that is not the goal. (Yes, every once in a while there is an exception. I just can't allow myself to think about it or it will hurt too much to let them go).

Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a child. When children in foster care cannot be safely returned home to their parents, an adoption plan is possible. The goal is to help the child transition into being a part of your forever family. Some children are placed with other family members or non-related adults with whom they have a significant attachment.  Foster families may also choose to adopt the child in their care once the child is freed for adoption (which means that the parent either gave up their parental rights or had them taken away). Sometimes none of these options are available and a new family is found for the child.

 

Q:

So are you guys going to adopt a child?

A:

When setting out in the process, it is really important that you & your spouse/family decide what your desired end goal is. Right now, our intention is foster care only. The Lord could absolutely change our hearts and desires, and adoption is definitely not out of the picture for the future; however, as I mentioned before, we can not set our minds on adoption, in order to protect our hearts.

If your end goal is to adopt a child, then your process will look different! Your track will be "Foster-to-adopt" rather than simply "foster."

Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer about your intentions. Both fostering and adopting are greatly needed! So wherever God is steering your heart, you should follow :)

 

Q:

Why do children come into foster care?

A:

Because it was reported that the child was not being cared for, or was mistreated. The reasons range from abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.) to neglect to drug or alcohol affects. Sometimes, a baby will come straight out of the hospital into a foster home because the mother and/or baby tested positive for drugs - meaning the baby is now on drugs and will suffer from withdrawals and possibly the lifelong repercussions of their addiction. Other times it is for alcohol abuse and the child will suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects. Sometimes, children will not come into care until a later age (anything up to 18 years old) because of their situation. If their parent(s) can no longer care for them, they will be brought into care and hopefully placed with family. If no family is available, a foster family is next.

 

Q:

What is the process like? What do you have to do to become foster parents?

A:

First things first, gather all the information you want! We asked for an information packet, and then proceeded to attend an orientation class, where we received an application. We filled out the long, detailed, somewhat nosy application and sent it in. ;)

Then we met with somebody from our assigned branch (usually, the DHS branch nearest to your home), who gave us the training schedule. We are required to attend 8 classes that are 3 hours each, for a total of 24 hours of training. The classes cover topics such as: -The Importance of Birth Families -Child Development and the Impact of Abuse -Sexual Abuse -Behavior Management -Valuing the Child's Heritage -Working with the Child's Family -Next steps for foster parents/relative caregivers/prospective adoptive families.

You will attend the same training whether you are on the Foster track or Foster-to-Adopt track.

You will also need to get your fingerprints done to ensure that you are not, and have not been a criminal. If there is something on your criminal history background, it does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster parent, but it will be looked into to determine whether or not you are a good fit for traumatized children in your home.

Then you will undergo a home study. This means that a Certifier will come to your home and talk with you about your home life, your history, your relationships, your dreams/goals/interests/hobbies, parenting style, your support system...etc. There is also a Home Safety Assessment to ensure you have all the required items to safely have children in your home (such as a good fire extinguisher, a carbon monoxide detector, an evacuation plan, doors that can unlock from either side, etc.).

There are 3 Home Studies, and then your certifier will put together a write-up of all they learned, checked, and saw. Once that is turned in, you will either be approved or denied. Hopefully approved! :)

Andthen you will be certified foster parents, ready to accept children!!

 

Q:

Do you know what age the children in your home will be?

A:

Not necessarily, but mostly. When you meet with your Certifier, you will inform them of the age and number of children you are comfortable with having in your home.

This is important to discuss with your spouse/family. Some families with children want to stick with foster kids who are younger than their bio kids. Some families, like us, do not have any bio kids yet, but want to start young since we don't have parenting experience.

We told our Certifier that we are most comfortable with children who are newborns to 3 or 4 years old. Our hope is that one day, we will be ready and able to take in older children. It's a pretty standard rule of thumb that older children are much harder to place. As you could imagine, the older they are, often times the more trauma they have experience and the more difficult they might be. My heart is to take them in and love them regardless...but we feel the Lord telling us to start small and He will guide us into bigger adventures.

 

Q:

How long will you have a foster child?

A:

This is a case-by-case, child-by-child answer. In some situations, the parent(s) only need a small amount of time to get back on their feet and ready to take the child back. It could be a couple days or a couple weeks. In other cases, there is a lot of work & help needed. It could be multiple months and sometimes even over a year.

Children used to grow up in the foster system because there were no time restrictions given to the parent(s). They had as long as they wanted or needed to fix whatever was wrong. After learning that this is not ideal for the children, the law changed and bio parents now have 1 year. That's the short answer. If the bio parent makes no progress throughout the first 10 months and then comes to say that he/she is willing to attend rehab, they will keep the child in foster care with hopes that the parent will now improve.

If the year goes by and no progress has been made, the parent's parenting rights will be terminated. You could imagine how heartbreaking that would be to see. At any point, if the parent decides they just can't do it, they have the option to give up their parental rights, and the child would then either be placed with a relative, or a foster family if no relatives were available.

So, how long will we have each child? I don't know! We could get a call when the child is all bundled up & ready to go for a walk in the park, saying that they are ready to go home and will be picked up in 30 minutes. Painful, yes, but that is how it works.

 

Q:

I could never do it. Giving the child back to their family would be way too hard from me. How will you do it?

A:

I was talking with a foster mom who is a new friend of mine, and we were discussing this very question. She mentioned that she had read an article that stated, "Yes, it will be hard. But this is not about me."

And there is the plain & simple answer. Of course in my heart I do not want to pour all of my love & all of myself into a child, just to have them "taken away" or given back to their parents. But if I let that selfish fear keep me from loving a child, then who knows if that child will ever receive this kind of love. We are not becoming foster parents for ourselves... we are doing it because we see an immense need in the lives of so many children here in our city, and we are ready to do something about it.

 

Luke 12:48 says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Zach & I have been so loved, so cared for, so blessed throughout our lives. We are asked and even required to love back. What a high and beautiful calling.

I read this a couple days ago and was so inspired! It can be really hard to see a huge need, because we get overwhelmed easily and don't know how to move forward to help. I pray that we will be people who act on the belief that every life matters, and seeing one smile or treating one wound can make all the difference in the world.

 

 

If you have any more questions about foster parenting and would like to talk with us, please don't hesitate to do so! And if anything I said above was not quite accurate, let me know :) I just type what I've come to understand...

 

xoxo!