"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Life’s Adventures

Standing on the Corner of Drive a Ford and Farmer Road . . .

Another reason why we love Julian . . . this is a real street corner!


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We Struck Gold!

Well . . . not really. ūüôā But we did go visit an old gold mine for our anniversary and it was so much fun!¬† BTW our anniversary was months ago. I’m just behind between the holidays and some recent computer technical difficulties. I am glad to be back to photo editing again!

We visited Julian for our first anniversary and decided it was only fitting that we go back for our 5th. If you haven’t been, Julian is this adorable old mining town that is widely famous for their award-winning¬†apple pie. We like the town because it reminds us of where we grew up. They are close to the same size.

Anyway, this time we decided to go visit the old mine. They actually let you go in! A couple of brothers own the property and have been giving tours for years. It was pretty neat.

A tour bus of senior citizens arrived as we got there so we jumped in with their group. They were hilarious and such troopers. The mine was not easy to get around in and it was dusty and really dark.

We got about (what I perceived¬†as) halfway in, when the tour guide told us that there were several floors of tunnels above us, and several floors of tunnels below us and that we were going to be going up to the next floor. I don’t usually get claustrophobic, but I’m not going to lie—I was starting to feel a little anxious in that small space with all those people, and began to wonder what we would do if there was an earthquake.

Old Mining Equipment

Blacksmith's Corner

We climbed up some very narrow and steep steps to the next floor and the tour guide shared with us that back when the mine was being used, they didn’t have electricity in there. The miners used candles and since candles were expensive, they mostly worked in the dark and only lit them when they really needed too. Then he turned out the lights so we could see how dark it got in the mine. It was super cool, but a little freaky at the same time. One of the older gentlemen behind us shouted. “Don’t touch me there!” Funny guy.

Next, the tour guide lit a candle so we could see how much light it put off. Not very much.

After we got out of the mine, we were shown how to pan for gold.

And we got to see the equipment that crushes the rock and learned how the minerals were separated.

If you are in the area and are interested in mining history, we definitely recommend this tour!

If you enjoyed this and would like updates on my photography, be sure to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter! Photos are available for purchase at ToniRiggsPhotography.com. Thanks!

Too Much Nature for Today

I think I’ve had enough nature today to last for the week.

Earlier today I went outside to pick tomatoes and found that a HUGE green caterpillar devoured all but 5 leaves on my cherry tomato plant and ate half the cherry tomatoes too. I mean, this guy was enormous- he ate the whole plant in a day and a half. Then I found my heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes were covered in tiny spiders and spider webs (yuck!). I tried to brush off some of the spider webs and picked off the dead leaves (without touching any spiders) and almost grabbed a hold of a praying mantis cleverly disguised as a dead leaf, of course. I’m glad he’s there, hopefully he’ll eat the spiders, but he nearly gave me a heart attack. I went inside and debated whether to make lunch or go back outside and take pictures of the caterpillar and praying mantis, and decide to take pictures.

I walked outside and turned around to slide the screen door shut and to find¬†a man eating, spotted orangey-red spider, at least the size of a half dollar, right near my face on the screen door. (I thought the praying mantis nearly gave me a heart attack). I didn‚Äôt notice him when I walked out because the blinds were mostly shut. So, I backed up in the corner near the caterpillar (who was big enough to easily eat my index finger in one swift gulp if he were a carnivore) and millions of tiny spiders to the right of me, not exactly sure what to do. I decided to take a photo of the spider, you know, in case I died so my husband would know what caused my death. For those of you who think I‚Äôm over-reacting (I probably am) but we have these big ugly aggressive black spiders in our house that actually run at you. (This I‚Äôm not over-dramatizing).¬† I‚Äôve found three of them in my office, one per day, for the last 3 days in a row and one of them actually ran towards me, backing me in the corner behind my desk (I had to throw a blanket on him and run out). So, the entire time I‚Äôm picturing this red and orange spider leaping onto me with its fangs out. And that’s when¬†my camera battery died. So there I was, trapped outside, starving, with an unusable camera, no pictures of the praying mantis, and my cell phone was inside the house.

I started praying the spider would travel left instead of up, like he was trying to. He took his sweet time but the spider eventually moved far enough to the side that I could get back inside. I did not go back outside to take more pictures or remove the caterpillar from my poor naked tomato plant.

For those of you interested, I think the spider I saw looked very similar this marbled orb weaver, but darker with more red and orange shades. It turns out they are not man eating or venomous (if that’s what kind it was) but I don’t plan to test that out anytime soon.

I did get a few photos with my phone¬†of the caterpillar and praying mantis the first time I went outside. They aren’t great, but I’m not going back out there today ūüôā

And . . . We’re Off!

Five years ago today, in a hot air balloon in Del Mar, James asked me to marry him. And then almost exactly 2 months later, we were married. We planned a beautiful wedding in only 2 months—it can be done! We originally¬†thought we’d have it in summer of ’07¬†but¬†decided we just couldn’t¬†live in two different states for another year. Everything fell into place so we moved it to November.

Fun Fact: When I called my grandma to tell her the date and location we chose, she told me that my Uncle Bob and Aunt Elena (who happens to be one of my favorite people) got married on the same date and in the same church. It was meant to be!

Back to the story of our engagement . . . I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. Not about getting married, but the balloon ride. James had been talking about going up in a balloon for awhile. I was hesitant due to my fear of heights, but he¬†really wanted to do it¬†so I said ok.¬†Once¬†we got there James wouldn’t let me read the disclaimer in the paper work – he told me to just trust him and sign it (I still don’t know what it said). Then a guy came out and told us that taking off was easy, it was the landing that was tricky. He proceeded¬†to tell us that there were two¬†different landing scenarios that could happen.

1. The basket would hit the ground 2-3 times and then stop upright.


2. The basket would hit the ground, fall over on its side and then we would be drug across the ground for who knows how long. We were instructed to hold on tight if this happened.

Next he loaded all of us up into a rickety old¬†RV and we drove down an unpaved bumpy road to the middle of nowhere. Someone mentioned what we were all thinking – that they hoped we got there bfore the RV fell apart. And then someone else¬†says “Hey, did you hear about the balloon that ran into some power lines last week?” I’m pretty sure James didn’t think he was getting me up¬†in that balloon.

We reached our destination and they began to blow it up. It was a really neat process to watch!

Once we got up in the air it was amazing.

We had a view of the sun setting into the ocean over Del Mar and there were several other balloons out that evening. They handed out champaign and sparkling cider. We chatted with some of the other people in the balloon as we took in the views. Many were there celebrating birthdays or anniversaries.

Then, James announced in front of everyone that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, got down on one knee, pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. Everyone in the balloon started cheering and later we found out that at the same time James was proposing to me, another couple on the other side of the balloon also got engaged!

An incredibly nice couple took photos of James proposing and then mailed them to us:

After the balloon ride was over they put out a spread of chocolate covered strawberries and cheese and crackers. And then¬†James and I went out¬†for a tasty¬†dinner at Red Lobster. It was a perfect, beautiful, and¬†memorable¬†evening. ūüôā I still feel so lucky to be married to such a romantic and thoughtful man. I love you James!

Food Allergy + Art + Fun

If you have food allergies, or know someone with food allergies, you have to check out Food Allergy + Art + Fun. Thankfully, my food allergies aren’t life threatening, but they do make me very sick. Most of my family and friends are really¬†supportive but I have met a few people who just have a hard time “getting it” and¬†I know it’s probably just because they have never had anyone in their life with allergies before.¬†Tiffany’s cartoons are hilarious and relatable. Here are a few of my favorites but you should definitely check out her website!

The Power of Prayer

. . . and doing what God is calling you to do.

I have chronic pain in my neck and shoulders from a car accident I was in over¬†two years ago. Some days are better than others, but I’m in some level¬†of pain and have¬†headaches almost everyday. I’m not complaining.¬† It is what it is, and I know other people who live with far worse pain than I. I’ve tried several types of treatment – Physical therapy, chiropractic care, physical therapy again, and now I’m in massage therapy.¬† The massage has been helping. I still have a ways to go, but I¬†haven’t had a migraine for¬†almost 4¬†months now! That’s progress ūüėÄ But that’s not exactly what this blog entry¬†is about.

Our church offers a prayer time after each service.¬†I’ve thought about going up and being prayed over for my neck and back, but just never have.¬†Why? Well, I already have people praying for me like my small group, and¬†some friends¬†& family.¬†And I truly¬†believe that God will¬†heal me when He feels it’s time.¬† Whether it’s tomorrow or 10 years from now (hopefully he won’t wait that long!).¬†But mostly, being prayed for by someone I don’t know makes me really uncomfortable.¬†I’m not sure why exactly¬†. . . could be pride, shyness, or not feeling worthy of a stranger’s time.¬† Probably a little of each.

Our church started a new series called Revolution¬†a couple weeks ago. At this weekend’s service¬†our pastor spoke about when Jesus washed his disciples¬†feet. This story is always a hard one for me because I don’t like feet, and the thought of someone having to wash mine . . . wow. But, the point he made that really hit home to me is that it’s not only important to serve others, but it’s also important to let other’s serve you. I have a hard time with that. Pastor Darrel went on to say that when we don’t allow others to serve us, we are robbing them from the blessing God gives when they serve.¬†I had never though about it that way.

When he said that, I knew that I had to go up and get prayer.¬†That’s their ministry,¬†to pray for people. And God has been whispering that I need to do this¬†for awhile.¬†¬†A very nice man from our church sat down with James and I and prayed over us and asked for healing on my back and neck. ¬†He seemed to really¬†understand¬†how chronic pain effects people. I wish I could say that I¬†walked out of there¬†healed completely.¬†But, the next best thing that could have happened did.¬†

You see, about a week ago, I slept on my shoulder wrong and my neck locked up and I could barely move it.¬† My shoulder became really inflamed and it was pretty painful.¬† This happens every couple months¬†or so but it usually starts to get better after about 3 days.¬† A week later it still hadn’t gotten¬†much better.¬† When we walked out to our car after receiving the prayer, I could feel my shoulders start to loosen. We got in the car and I could begin to move my neck.¬† By the time I got home, I had normal post-accident¬†range of motion again. It was truly amazing! In a strange way, it made me really¬†thankful for the amount of pain that I live with.¬† Not to have it, but thankful knowing that it could be a lot worse. Thankful for answered prayer.¬†And for peace after¬†doing something God had been putting on my heart to do for a while, but wouldn’t step out of my comfort zone to do. Thankful for the reminder of what can happen when you do what God asks of you. I’m praying that it blessed the man who prayed for us at least¬†as much as it has blessed me. And I should clarify that I know he didn’t heal the kink in my neck, but he answered a calling¬†from God to pray for others, allowing God to give me healing through him.¬†

Have you been avoiding anything that God has been calling you to do?

Love, Loss, and Hope

A wise woman and dear friend once told me that she and her husband always say I love you¬†each time¬†they get off the phone, or whenever one of them leaves to go do something without the other. They do it even, and especially,¬†if they¬†are in a fight . . .¬†that way if one of them dies while they¬†are apart they would have comfort knowing they said they loved each other the last time they spoke.¬†James and I do this too. You might think that it’s a little morbid to think of these things, but I’ve¬†lost a lot of people close to me¬†during my short life. My dream and prayer is that James and¬†I get to live to be old and gray together, and then die in each other’s arms at the same time (just like in The Notebook. I don’t care if that makes me a big romantic sap! :)), but I also know that¬†our time on earth¬†can be cut short in an instant, and it gives me comfort to know that if anything did happen to either of¬†us, that the last words we would have said to each other¬†would be I love you.

In February, my aunt passed away.¬†She referred to herself as¬†“crazy aunt Shelly” but I liked to say she wasn’t crazy, just a little kooky. ūüôā¬†I miss her.¬† She lived in CA while I lived in WA and then moved to TX before I moved to CA so we didn’t get to see each other often.¬†¬†When I did see her she had this knack for making me feel like I was the most special person in the world.¬†I always¬†knew that if I asked her about¬†anything I would receive her very unsugar-coated honest opinion, but in a way that would never make me feel judged or belittled.¬†It’s something I have always admired and appreciated about her. I also¬†loved how when she got excited about something, her voice would rise and crack¬†a little.¬† My grandma’s voice did it too. I miss them both.

This weekend a close¬†family friend passed away.¬†His family was like a 2nd family to me growing up. We spent a lot¬†of the summer months with them when I was a kid, and every year my mom and his wife would pack all of us kids¬†up and head to the OR coast for vacation. Their kids¬†were a few years older than my brother and I, and we looked up to them like they were an older brother and sister.¬† My heart is breaking for their family and it’s times like these that I find it so hard to be far away from home.

Today is Easter and I have found myself¬†reflecting a lot on death this weekend and the people I have lost during my life-¬†both grandparents on my dad’s side. My aunt. A few close friend’s of my parents. Friends and coworkers of mine who were¬†only in their 20’s.¬†An old college¬†boyfriend not long after we had broken up. Great aunts and uncles.¬†Not in a way that questioned God’s judgement, but just in remembrance¬†. . .¬†and if I’m being really honest, with¬†a twinge of self-pity in my sadness. As I thought about them and prayed about everything, I realized that I could dwell on the fact that I’ve lost so many people who¬†I’ve cared about during my life,¬†OR I could be thankful that I’ve had so many people in my life that I’ve cared enough about¬†that it hurt to lose them. It doesn’t make me miss them any less, but it reminds me of all the joy and love God has brought to my life.¬†He has given me a lot of people to love. And the gift He gave us through His Son at Easter blows my mind.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ” John 3:16¬†

He gave His only son . . . for us!

I had to remember that¬†he never promised that we would have eternal life on earth with all the people we’ve ever cared about.¬† He’s promising that if we follow¬†Him, we’ll¬†have eternal life with Him¬†in Heaven, and there won’t be any pain or sorrow there.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

And,¬†He¬†didn’t promise us that our life here on earth would ever be easy.¬†He told us it wouldn’t be.

¬†‚ÄúI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.‚Ä̬† John 16:33

He¬†also said that with Him, we wouldn’t be alone while we were here.

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.” Psalm 91:9-11

Today,¬†I am thankful that He has risen and is alive, thankful for the gift God gave us through Jesus, and thankful for all the people He’s put¬†in my life.¬†Thankful for YOU!

What are you thankful for this Easter?


Celebrating 4 Amazing Years!

Today I have been married to the love of my life for 4 years! We’ve known each other for 17 years so sometimes it seems like we’ve been together for so much longer. Sometimes I have trouble remembering what my life was like before him. Brad Paisley has a song that is out right now that I absolutely love because it makes me think of James and our journey together every time I hear it.
I Thought I Loved You Then
by Brad Paisley
I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you.
You had me mesmerized.
And 3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss goodnight,
I hadn’t told you yet, but I thought I loved you then.


(I do actually remember the very moment I saw James for the first time. It was in the gym at a basketball game and when I saw him I stopped so suddenly that the person walking behind me almost knocked me over. All the people and noise in the gym disappeared and all I could see was him . . . until the person behind me told me that he was in junior high. I was in high school so of course I thought nothing could ever happen between us. Later that night I caught him staring at me.)  

Homecoming 1993


Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world.
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl.
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it’s ever been.
We’ve come so far since that day,
And I thought I loved you then.

(We really have come so far since that day we first saw each other. Someday I will write about it on here. It’s been a long journey getting to where we are but it’s made us stronger and more appreciative of each other. And with each passing year I find myself loving James more than the year before, even when I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I already do.)

10 years later, he still gave me butterflies

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you.
You were so surprised.
There were people around But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there.
And once again, I thought I loved you then.

(James didn’t propose to me where we grew up, but he did have me meet him there to make his intentions known. I drove 5 hours to eastern WA and he drove 2 days from southern CA. We picked up subway sandwiches and ate them in the back of his Explorer while the sun set into the wheat fields. He told me that he wanted to start dating with the intention of finding out if we were supposed to be married. A year and half later he proposed in a hot air balloon after watching the sun set over the ocean in San Diego where we live now.)

Sept 2, ’06 after I said yes!
The amazing sunset God provided that evening!

*Nov 4, 2006- Our big day!

Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world.
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl.
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it’s ever been.
We’ve come so far since that day,
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way.
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray.
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more . . .
But I’ve said that before.

(“But I’ve said that before.” That line always gets me. Before anyone asks, we don‚Äôt have a baby on the way or are we anywhere close to it yet, but we do talk about the future all the time and what we picture ourselves doing. We especially like to talk about how we will retire and are torn between a senior living center in Coronado where we can walk hand in hand on the beach every day . . . James wearing a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt and me wearing the biggest sun hat available. Or getting a nice house in WA on a piece of land with a giant wraparound porch, 2 rocking chairs and some cold lemonade. Either way, I know with God‚Äôs help, we‚Äôll love each other even more then, than we could ever imagine to now.)

**”I have found the one my heart loves.”

Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world.
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl.
Well look back some day, at this moment that we’re in.
And I’ll look at you and say . . . and I thought I loved you then.
And I thought I loved you then . . .
On our wedding programs we used the verse ‚ÄúI have found the one my heart loves.‚ÄĚ Song of Songs 3:4. I found the one my heart loves that day in the gym and every year it just keeps getting better and better.



Happy Anniversary Babe! I am so blessed to have you as my husband, spiritual leader, and my best friend.


**Showing WA some love. Sorry San Diego.


Photo Credits
*Craig Volpe
**Claire Wolfe

Health update

Some of you have been asking how all the health stuff has been going.  We are doing much better, thank you!  James is doing great, kitties still aren’t quite themselves but seem a little better, and a lot of my symptoms have started to go away.  I started physical therapy for my back again and my physical therapist has an interesting theory.  Obviously, a lot of my headaches and migraines are from the accident, but she thinks my sinus pressure may be also.  I noticed one day that when she poked around certain places in my neck that my sinus pressure would increase.  Not long after my accident (also the same time we figured the mold started growing) I started getting the worst sinus pressure of my life- in the beginning of winter!  It got so bad that the bridge of my nose actually became swollen and bruised.  Since she said that might be a possibility, I’ve been paying closer attention and it seems that when I have bad neck pain, it’s usually followed by increased sinus pressure a few days later.  If this is true, it would totally explain why the Claritin wasn’t working and my allergy test came out negative!

Wedding and Vacation Highlights

Yay!  My little brother is married starting a new life with my lovely new sister in law.  We took a mini vacation and Rach and Lorin came down a couple days before the wedding to hang out and drive up to Rohnert Park with us.  Here are the highlights of the week:

Wed- James, the girls, and I went to the Wild Animal Park.  It was a great day- beautiful weather, a baby cheetah, and lots of laughs.  Oh, and a really scary bird that wanted to eat us AND our lunch.


This picture is complements of the Rachy Rach

Thur- We grabbed some sandwiches and went to the beach.  There we were all sitting in a row- sun on our faces, wind in our hair, sandwiches in our hand and a seagull swooped over my head and snatched my entire sandwich out of my hand and flew away.  Thank you Rach for sharing part of your sandwich with me! 

Complements of Rachy Rach

Later that afternoon we¬†headed back to our house for a yummy BBQ and a big game of scattergories.¬† I got food poisoning from my turkey burger, but we had lots of fun and laughs regardless.¬†¬† I still think ornery spider should have been counted as an insect starting with “o.”

Fri- We got up super early and drove 8 hours to Kevin and Cherie’s.¬† “Groove is in the Heart” came on the radio and Lorin announces- “oh, I love oldies!”¬† Lorin almost got left behind.

That evening we had a relaxing BBQ with Dad and Peggy and some of Kevin’s friends I haven’t seen in a long time.¬† Then we drove another hour to Ronhert Park and dropped the girls off at their hotel (no cornflakes there!) and then went to our very beautiful hotel and crashed.

Sat- Mom and I made wedding favors with Cherie, DeBi, and Cherie’s mom and grandma while James had lunch with my grandparents and Skip.¬† Later that night we all met for the rehearsal dinner and got to hang out with the rest of the families and wedding party.¬† Kevin gave a wonderful speech thanking us all from coming that got everyone just a little teary eyed.


Sun- Wedding day!¬†¬† James and I ordered room service and watched the KC game while eating a late breakfast.¬† Then I spent the day taking pictures of Cherie and her two best friends while they got ready for the wedding.¬† I had so much fun hanging out with Cherie and getting to know her friends!¬† James, Kevin, my dad, and the rest of the guys went to the bowling alley to watch the Seahawk game while the girls were getting ready.¬† I’m not sure why, but some of these photos just don’t want to stay centered….


This picture is complements of my love.



 The wedding was outside at a beautiful golf course at 6pm just as the weather cooled down to the perfect temperature. 

Complements of the Rachy Rach

I did not take my camera because I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the moments rather than try to capture them all, if that makes any sense.  Cherie was gorgeous and Kevin looked so handsome in his tux.

Complements of the Rachy Rach

As she started to walk down Kevin got this huge smile and then looked like he was going to pass out.¬† It was so cute to see him so giddy and in love.¬†¬† The reception was beautiful and fun.¬† Grandma and I got our own dinner plates and little cakes because of our food allergies.¬†¬† We had good food, a great time with friends and family, and I got to see my dad, Kevin, and Cherie boogie all night long.¬† One of the most beautiful weddings I’ve been to- 2nd only to our wedding of course! ¬†The following pictures are from CJC Photography.