Have A Little Faith

It is hard to believe that my husband Craig and I have already published the first edition of our magazine Faith On Every Corner.

A little background. Craig and I are both writers, I am a Photo Journalist and designer. We often take drives, we call them Photo Journeys because I take photos for stock photography sites, marketing materials, client projects, and newspaper and magazine articles. On a drive three months ago, I had a thought come to me that it would be fun to write a book about the people we have met on our journeys. Craig said, “I always wanted to write a book about the people I met in coffee shops.” A few minutes later, I felt a wave of inspiration come over me and I said, “What if we wrote a book about the people of faith we have met in our travels, and the stories they shared with us. Craig looked at me and said, “Faith In America.” And an idea was born.

During this drive, both Craig and I felt inspired, the ideas just kept coming to us. We went from a book idea to the feeling that we should create and publish a digital magazine. I must back up here for a moment and tell you that we pray all of the time while we are out and we prayed that day that God would give us wisdom and discernment if this project was from Him. He did, God continued to flood our minds and hearts with ideas and we were on fire, we knew we were just given a new ministry. We were going to interview everyday people, we were going to share the stories with hopes that they would encourage others to serve our mighty God and their communities.

After researching names, Faith On Every Corner became the name under which we would publish this magazine. Craig came up with the tag line “Everyday People Making a difference. And less than two months later, our premier magazine was published and is being received well.

I believe God had something more in mind for us. He has given us many gifts and talents and has trained us up over the years for this new task. We are filled with joy. I thought about the verse, “Ye of Little Faith,” as I was going through the changes that were necessary to give me the time to fulfill this new passion.  We will continue to take our Photo Journeys, we hope to have many more trips as we go to interview people for our magazine. I thought I would share a couple of photos that were taken on that trip.

I only took a few photos during that trip. My attention was on this new ministry. Was I listening and discerning what God wanted me to do? I once again learned that I don’t have a little faith, I have great faith. Faith in a God who wants us to serve Him. He has been training us up over the years to be mature enough to handle this ministry. All of our gifts and talents were given to us for this.

 

Sweet Victory

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We are on the right track!

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Visiting The Cincinnati Zoo

Zoo elephant house

The historic elephant house at The Cincinnati Zoo

A True Treat

About a month ago, my niece Kim and I were talking about her upcoming cruise. I asked if she needed someone to house sit and take care of her two very large, very lovable Newfoundlands. She was thrilled, it meant they could stay home and not go to a kennel. My husband, Craig, and I were thrilled to be able to help out and decided it would be a mini-vacation for us. We live about 1 1/2 hours away. While talking about the arrangements, Kim asked if we would like to visit the Zoo. Really?  I hadn’t been to the zoo in years and I have been wanting to take Craig since we moved back home from California almost 2 years ago. Yes! We would love to go. What a true treat!

The Cincinnati Zoo has changed tremendously since my last visit over 20 years ago. It was always a beautiful zoo, now it has so many new animal habitats, its a real treasure for Cincinnati.

So, lions and tigers and bears. Yes, we saw them. Here are a few photos.

White lionThis beautiful white lion was basking in the sun. We were blessed with a sunny day in the low 70’s, perfect for walking around and watching the animals enjoy a warm day.

Zoo Bengal Tigers     Bental 1Bengal tiger

Everyone knows Cincinnati is Bengals country! It was fun listening to the little children talking to their parents about the Bengals. I think some had a hard time grasping the difference between our football team and the Bengal Tigers at the zoo.

Who doesn’t love to watch the elephants. It is amazing watching how they move around carrying that much weight. They were doing a little dance from one foot to the other while we were there. Seems they were waiting to be fed and getting a little anxious.

Zoo Elephants 2

My favorite animals changed with each exhibit we visited. The penguins took my heart at an outside exhibit. They are so sweet.

Zoo PenguinsZoo Penguins bZoo Penguine swimmingZoo Penguin Love

I think the bears just wanted to remain in hibernation. The brown bears were curled up inside the rocks so not a good photo opportunity. The black bear was very comfy in the sun. The black bear reminded me of Nick and Noel, the two Newfies we are dogsitting.

Zoo Black Bear

There are so many other animals to tell you about. The zoo is also a botanical garden, walking around is a pleasure. The trees were budding and some of the early flowers were in bloom. We saw a couple of butterflies around the Butterfly Garden too.

Zoo Gorilla

I will end today with a photo of the mama gorilla and her adopted baby. The male gorilla was not in the mood for photos, he took his blanket and covered himself up then walked to the rocks to get away from the crowd or perhaps to get out of the sun. The baby didn’t get very far out of mom’s reach and most often clung to her for some loving caresses.

Thank you to Kim and Tom for a very special day. Thank you for reading about our adventure at The Cincinnati Zoo. Feel free to email me at karenruhl12@gmail.com with any comments or questions.

My Books

Chasing The Light (Coming in June 2015)

A book of devotions with photographs to help you meditate on God’s word and the beauty surrounding us.

The Cemetery – Who’s child is this? (Coming in the Fall of 2015, working title, may change)

A mystery of a child abandoned at a cemetery. A photographer finds the newborn while out photographing the countryside. A violent storm comes up leaving the photographer with no choice but to remove the baby from the scene. The are twists and turns to this story as young people are questioned to find the identity of the parents.

Count down to Spring

Clear Creek c

There are only a few days left of the winter of 2015, time is just flying by!  I remember when I was a teenager, I was at my grandparents house helping them for the summer.  I made a simple statement, “I wish it were Friday,” and for the first time that I ever remember, my grandfather gave me advice and said, “Karen, don’t ever wish your life away. At some time in your life, you are going to wish you had every second of it back.” I still remember that so while I may eagerly anticipate a special day or a new season, I try not to wish away the days I have in front of me. Isn’t there a saying that goes something like, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God.”

The photo above was taken on a winter drive after the last big snow we had here in Southern Ohio. Clear Creek is close to our house so we went and were blessed to catch the light at just the right time for beautiful colors and reflections. The area was beautiful with trees heavily laden with snow.

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Just a few days after this snow, the temperatures were in the high 50’s and the meltdown began. The creeks flooded the fields and the rivers were over their banks. We took a drive to Ripley and Portsmouth, Ohio and shot some flood photos. The first bridge photo does not really show how high the water is. The Scioto River meets the Ohio River in this area, standing and looking out over the water, you would never know there were two rivers, it’s was just a vast sea of water.

2 rivers meet Flood at suspension bridge Flooding on streets of Ripley Ripley bench Street in Ripley flooded

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. I hope you are all anticipating the warmer weather, the flowers that will be blooming soon and the arrival of the leaves on the trees.

-Karen

Distractions and Writing Tips!

How many times have you started out with a purpose in mind only to get distracted as soon as you stand up? I have the same type of problem on the computer.  I sit down with every intention of writing an article, query letter or working on a novel I am writing and before I know it, I have been answering posts on Facebook, Twitter or posting photographs to a site. At the end of it all, I ask myself “what happened to my writing time?”

I recently had an article published in an online writer’s magazine about “How Not To Write.” I thought I would share a few of the tips with you.

Find your voice and stay true to yourself. My husband would be the first to tell you that I never have trouble finding my voice, but I digress. Don’t try to write like everyone else, write the way you talk. That is how the words will come to you, just start typing or writing and let the words flow. Don’t worry about the grammar in the first draft, you will have time to fine tune your article and get it in tip top shape.

Avoid Interruptions. I’ll get back to this article as soon as I _____. You can fill in the blank and I guarantee there will be many distractions to take you away from your task. The dog will need to go out, the laundry will need to be changed, hunger will overtake you and you will feel the need to eat immediately. Don’t give in, one way to avoid these distractions is to set a time when you can write and find the space where you are most productive. I am a social person and have found that when I am in my office away from activity, I tend to get distracted and want to know what’s going on. I moved my desk to the living room and became very productive. Calendar your writing time just like you would a client appointment. If you are a serious writer, your writing needs to come first.  Oh, do as I say not as I do, I just came back in from walking the dog.

Write about subjects you know about. Don’t sit down to write the next best-selling novel, get experience on short stories or articles. Start out writing about your family. Every family has a story; a sister who was out of touch after a major hurricane who was found after a frantic call to the local police in the area. The real kicker, she was dating the cop who answered the phone. An Aunt who was the first female to run for mayor, she didn’t win, but she gave it all she had. Think about your family, the stories will flow.

Accept criticism. This is the hardest part for me.  Being creative, I have a slight sensitivity to being criticized. I have learned that constructive criticism is really good for me and helps me learn. I just have to be honest here and tell you this will be a tough one to learn, but you must.

Lastly, submit your articles. Post them on Facebook so your family and friends can read them. Search the internet for places to post or sell them. If you want to be a writer, you have to approach it as a job. Each article is like going through the interview process except you don’t have to dress up in a suit. Write a good query letter (you can find examples on the internet), find out what the client wants, how many words, what topics, how to submit your ideas or work. Next, write and submit and then wait for your rejection letters! You may get many or you may be the one who will get that wonderful letter or phone call that says, “Congratulations! We would like to publish your article.” Happy writing.

After submitting my article to the online magazine, I got a letter from the editor that was simple and sweet. It said, “Congratuionals! We are publishing your article.”

The same principles can apply to getting interrupted with your photography sessions. As a Photojournalist, my photos are sometimes more important than the words. They need to tell a story of what the subject is, where it might be taken or in what conditions and what emotion does it convey. Here are a couple of photos.

Autumn Perspective

Autumn and boots Bookcover

Both of these photos were shot for a book cover. The client wanted to see a different perspective and wanted feet in the shot. There are many other variations of these photographs, but I have decided to use the bottom photo for my newest book “Chasing the Light.” See what you think.

Chasing The Light Cover

While writing this post, I stopped to check Facebook, read several emails and found myself lost as I searched for where I saved my book cover. I also took time to create a Twitter and Facebook cover, those I do for income so I like that type of distraction. Distractions are normal, I hope you have a productive day and eliminate the unnecessary distractions.

Drop me a note, I love hearing from you. KarenRuhl12@gmail.com.

The Snow Globe

A little over two years ago, my husband and I became full-time RVer’s. We live in our 32′ motorhome and love every second of it. Well, to be honest, when we woke up to frozen water pipes this morning, I am not sure I was loving the day. However, as it turns out, we turned up the furnace and within the hour our water was running again. We are still waiting for the hot water heater to thaw and feel very happy that we didn’t have any pipes burst from the frigid temps.

I call the RV our Snow Globe because we have a 180-degree view from inside. We open our window blinds and watch the world around us. Our snow globe is a reverse snow globe. We stay safe and warm and the weather happens outside.

We are blessed being able to work from home as writers, photographers and doing design work. I am editing photos throughout the day and found a few that made me feel warm just looking at them. I thought I would share a few.

Egret 2 Pelican 2 CR Pelican 4 CR

When we lived in So. California, we would head to Bolsa Chica Bird Sanctuary to watch and take photos of the pelicans, skimmers, egrets and sandpipers. If you got there at dinner time, you could watch the frenzy as the birds dive into the water for the fish. The sky is filled with pelicans and you feel like you are back in pre-historic times as they fly over with their huge wingspans. It’s quite the site.

After a cold winter’s drive this week, I was editing a few photos and enjoying the change of seasons and the differences between So. Cal and So. Ohio. Both have beauty and plenty of subject matter to photograph. Ohio has ever changing skies and you can drive forever without seeing another car on the road. Here are a couple of recent Ohio photos.

BArretts Mill

I hope you can make out the old foundation in this photo. It was Barrett’s Mill along the Factory Branch Creek. The mill was purchased by Jack Hope, and opened as a tourist attraction in 1968. It later fell victim to arson. Today all that is left of the mill and covered bridge that crossed the creek is shown in this photo. We have had the privilege of meeting Jack Hope and learning about the history of both Barrett Mill and McCoppin Mill. I will go out and explore both areas as the weather warms up and bring more photos.

While driving through areas around Paint Creek, we spotted this tree that didn’t make it through the winter weather. We had fun talking about the old saying, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a noise?” I posed this to a photography group recently and one man said, “yes, the darn thing woke me up in the middle of the night.” Of course, that brought some smiles.

Tree in forest

I hope you enjoyed our time together, please email me, I love hearing from you. (karenruhl12@gmail.com). While you are here, I invite you to click the button to get these blogs by email. The button is on the top left.  Thank you!

Cold Winter Days

What can be more fun that sitting with a cup of hot chocolate, your computer and editing older photos? The temperature is right about 20 and is going to drop to 1 degree by tomorrow night. The sun is shining and giving a false sense of warmth from inside.  I just took Snickers the wonder dog for a walk and when I came back it felt like my face was frozen. Time to sit back down to the computer and warm up!

As you can imagine, I have thousands of photos, 4-5 external hard drives and dozens of CD’s holding my works of art. Craig always tells me that I need to delete some of my photos, but that is easier said than done.  Today, I opened an older photo file and saw a photo I thought I should delete. Then I got this feeling and opened it up in my editing software and worked on it for a bit. It went from being a loser to a keeper.

San Diego County Sunset

Shot on the way to San Diego, the rays of the sun were bursting through the clouds.

On another trip to Monterrey, we decided to head toward the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. I would say it is about 1/2 way between Monterrey and San Francisco. It is beautiful and serves as a hostel now.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

A drive the other day in Ohio took us up a steep hill and I saw a shale on the side of a hill with trees sitting precariously at the top.  It is a beautiful drive and the shale lies at the bottom of the hill and just seems to be beckoning the trees to come down. The trees, however, are playing King of the Mountain and stand tall against the beautiful skies.

Shale Hill and trees

On another cold evening, a friend of mine called me to ask if I had gone out to see the moon. I had not. I walked out to see what she was excited about and found a beautiful full moon lighting the sky. It was shining over a log cabin with spruce trees framing the moon in the sky. I wish I could have captured the beauty, I did get a good shot of the full moon and enjoyed watching it as it rose higher and higher into the night sky.

Moon 4

With that, I will sign off and wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day weekend. Go do something you love with someone you love. And if you are alone, treat yourself to a special day.

I love hearing from you, my email is karenruhl12@gmail.com. Thank you!

Photo Memories

When I was growing up, I used to sit with my mom and we would go through the old photos. She would glow as she told me the stories of the people in the pictures. I have one burned in my brain of her and a little cousin “Buddy.” The sad thing is, the photos are still around by my mom isn’t and with her the memories and stories of those photos left us as well.

I was going through some photos from a few of our more recent trips or daily drives and found a few photos I would like to share.

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In 2011, Craig and I took a trip to Utah to visit Zion Park. It was a weekend trip for my birthday! Utah is so beautiful. We drove through Zion National Park and loved the beauty that surrounded us. But then we went off course like we always do and found this beautiful view of the rock formations around Zion.

The next day, Craig and I went on our own adventure and drove around making turns at random. We saw old cabins, beautiful lakes, and even more gorgeous rock formations.  What we didn’t see, was much human activity. It was on a Sunday and the Mormons do not work or play on Sundays. As the day wore on, we started to worry about dinner. Would we find a restaurant open? We did, I guess it’s capitalism at it’s best.

IMG_2132Sunset shilouhettes

At the time this photo was taken, we were still living in California in Orange County. A quick 20 minute drive and we were on the beach. The sunsets were spectacular on many nights, especially if there were clouds in the sky.  In the photos above, the kids were having so much fun and making the most out of the last rays of the sun.

Pelican at Bait Sho

Heading down to the San Clemente Pier was about a 40-minute drive from where we lived, depending on California traffic, of course. My friend Pam and I were on the pier taking photos of the pelicans who were watching for fish to be reeled in from the fishermen.  I turned at one point and was able to snap this photo of the pelican by the bait shop. I guess they know where to get lunch too!

Pink Car

 

While visiting Arizona, Craig and I drove up into the hills to see what we could find. This was somewhere around Sedona, Az. We found a street called Pink Car Lane and lo and behold, there sat a beautiful old pink car with many bullet holes sitting along side the road. I think it’s clever, just think how easy it is to tell people how to get to your house!

 

Trainstation Guest

 

This photo is a more current photo from Ohio. There is a beautiful old train station in Leesburg. While taking shots all around the station, I got an idea to add a visitor to this lovely station. You can see an apparition of a young lady sitting waiting for her train as the sun sets on the station.

I am sure you have many photos sitting around that you have not labeled. All of us do. When you have time, be sure to mark the ones you want your family to remember for generations to come.

I hope you enjoy my post. Feel free to share it with your family and friends. I would love to hear from you, drop me an email at karenruhl12@gmail.com.

Welcome To My World

Trees at sunset
Hello and welcome to my blog. I am a writer, photographer and creative designer. I am married to a writer as well. Both my husband Craig and I love words, and we like them in all forms, written and verbal.

I guess I should start by telling you a little about where and how we live before I continue. Almost two years ago, we had a life altering experience and lost our contracts in California due to the economy and state cutbacks. We prayed and followed God’s will for our lives. We sold our lovely Southern California home and moved into our cozy motor home with the goal of traveling when we could and writing and taking photographs across country. Our home is a grand 240 square feet of space. We have tons of storage inside and outside and you learn to live a much less cluttered life when you don’t have space for all of the trappings. We love our new world.

The other part of my world is photography. I am in the field during the week either taking photos of clients or working on photographs for my article. I have several sites where I sell my photos as well.

My world can be very quiet when we are in writing mode. One thing, I have learned is to  look up before I start to talk to see if Craig is deep in thought. Craig has a tabletop desk in the living room and I use the dining booth as my office. It works for us, but we totally understand that it isn’t for everyone.

That’s enough of an introduction! While I have many outlets for my writing, I wanted to have one where I could interact with my readers. It is from you that I get inspiration. I look forward to getting to know you.