a snowy beginning

In the fall a friend told me that the acorn load was particularly heavy which suggested a harsh winter was ahead of us. Isn’t it a wonder how God would orchestrate the operations of nature to ensure that extra food stores are provided when especially needful? He looks after the birds, surely He will look after me.

And so a wonderful snowy winter it has been. If memory serves me well, last winter was crazy mild around here and my snow-loving, Rocky-Mountain-girl heart was aching for a real winter. I remember spring coming upon us suddenly and feeling a bit like we had just skipped ahead. Am I remembering correctly or was that the year prior? I’m not sure now. Last year honestly feels like a strange time warp. Personally, it was one of the hardest years of my life for reasons I can’t share here. Suffice it to say, I felt incredibly disoriented all the year through.

We explored a new-to-us area on New Years, a very beautiful and brutally cold day. The rocky bald at the top was stunning and very similar to the place where Brandon proposed to me some 16 years ago now. I surprised the kids with sparklers which was a fun treat before heading back down. Philippa got very quiet after that and I realized she was crazy cold, but was refusing to put on extra layers she had with her. I think she may have been mildly hypothermic because after bundling her and requiring her to wear Brandon’s coat, she perked back up and was herself again. These sorts of excursions into the quiet and empty spaces of nature calm and reorient my soul in ways I’ll never quite be able to articulate. I suspect if you read along here, you might know what I mean. We were made for creation, and creation was made for us. It speaks endlessly to us of our Creator and His character. He uses it as an avenue to restore our souls and commune with us.

The rest of the snowy pictures are from two separate snow days, one in January and one earlier this month. There have been a lot of other days with flurries too, and it has truly blessed my soul. My heart sometimes need to see the landscape made new and soft and bright with snow. We have enjoyed snowy walks, snowball fights, and the kids have found a special fort in the bamboo “forest” nearby that really comes to life when the bamboo is bent over with the weight of snow.

Though I never really feel hurried about winter ending, I do feel like this year may be the first time I’m getting ancy for that warming soil smell and the excitement of seeing new life sprouting up around us again. Gardening has really changed my enjoyment of the warmer months that I typically just endure. Today the children and I went for a walk at a favorite park and nature area though the temp was somewhere around 29 degrees. We don’t go walking there as often in the wintertime but it was still beautiful and hearkened to me of memories of warmer days. Still, I plan to savor whatever is left of winter that I can.

So this new year has been off to a gentle start. We have mostly been carrying on as normal with our homeschool, co-op, and music lessons, and the normalcy has been a gift. Brandon had shingles a few weeks ago and that was brutal to watch him undergo, but he rode it out with the toughness and endurance typical of him. We celebrated his birthday early February and now preparing for Wren’s birthday coming very soon. Any good ideas for a girl’s third birthday? I have a few ideas but need to get cracking on it. I hope January and February have been sweet months for you, and for all the parts that maybe haven’t been sweet, that you have known the comfort of the Spirit.

family + summer gatherings 5: these blue mountains

DSC_0827 DSC_0823 DSC_0825 DSC_0831 DSC_0832 DSC_0836 DSC_0837 DSC_0840 DSC_0843 DSC_0844 DSC_0845 DSC_0847DSC_0850 DSC_0851 DSC_0853 DSC_0854 DSC_0856 DSC_0860 DSC_0857

While family was in town visiting, we squeezed in as many picnics as we could.  This one, up at Craggy Gardens, one of our favorite spots.  After dinner we hiked up above the picnic area to catch this view and this gorgeous sunset in the dusky light.  Truly breath-taking.  I’m super thankful for my brothers and the way they love on my kiddos.  My little ones adore them (and the Aunties, too!) and hopefully they will one day realize what a sweet gift it is to have lots of family that loves on them and spends time with them!  And I’m thankful for my parents who taught us to love the outdoors, still so hip + young and able to get out and enjoy God’s creation.

Let There Be Light

DSC_0130 DSC_0132 DSC_0135

This little board book for children is absolutely LOVELY.  I’m always looking for ways to teach my children God’s Word and to bring Scripture to life for them.  The illustrations are truly stunning, and this book has been lying around the house for a few weeks now, with the kids constantly poring back over the magical yet life-like drawings.  This book aims to break down the story of Creation found in Genesis 1-2, illustrating how God formed all that we see from nothing, culminating in His creation of mankind, the crowning glory of His creative work.  The artwork and text is engaging for young readers (intended for ages 4-8) and also agrees with the biblical account, which is, of course, important to us!  I love the way the illustrator imaginatively depicted God’s person in each of the pictures, whether as a form of light or as a hand hidden within the illustration, displaying Him as intimately involved with the work of creating.

A boardbook edition of the popular Let There Be Light, the story of Creation from Nobel Peace Prize winner, bestselling author, and cultural icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu paired with Nancy Tillman, the phenomenally successful New York Times bestselling children’s author/illustrator of On the Night You Were Born.

I would highly recommend it as a delightful read, and as a tool for teaching the concept of Creation in an easy-to-break-down and understand way to your children!  To pick up a copy of your own, click HERE.


*          *          *          *          *

I received a complimentary copy of this book from HarperCollins Christian Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Counting His graces

“The initial step for a soul to come to knowledge of God is contemplation of nature.”

DSC_0212 DSC_0214

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books.  But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things.  Look above you!  Look below you!  Read it.  God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink.  Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made.  Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”
{St. Augustine}

DSC_0219 DSC_0221 DSC_0222 DSC_0223 DSC_0226 DSC_0227 DSC_0229

“Christ wears ‘two shoes’ in the world: Scripture and nature.  Both are necessary to understand the Lord, and at no stage can creation be seen as a separation of things from God.”
{John Scottus Eriugena}

DSC_0235 DSC_0239 DSC_0242DSC_0241 DSC_0248 DSC_0250

“Nature is schoolmistress, the soul the pupil; and whatever one has taught or the other has learned has come from God–the Teacher of the teacher.”

DSC_0254 DSC_0255 DSC_0256 DSC_0257 DSC_0259 DSC_0260 DSC_0261DSC_0266 DSC_0268 DSC_0276

“The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God.”
{St. John of Damascus}

DSC_0280 DSC_0289 DSC_0292 DSC_0297

“I see You in the field of stars
I see You in the yield of the land
In every breath and sound, a blade of grass, a simple flower,
An echo of Your holy Name.”
{Abraham Ibn Ezra}

DSC_0298 DSC_0301

“See that I am God.  See that I am in everything.  See that I do everything.
See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally.
See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began,
by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it.
How can anything be amiss?”
{Julian of Norwich}

DSC_0303 DSC_0304 DSC_0307 DSC_0310

“I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator.”
{Basil the Great}

DSC_0312 DSC_0315DSC_0317DSC_0318DSC_0319

“Everywhere windows and gates, and I did not know it.  No.
I have known it and I have forgotten it and I remember it again.”
{Ann Voskamp}



Sometimes a hard week calls for the rest of soul that comes from escaping into the wild for a bit.  Going where only the sound of wind, and birds, buzzing bees, and hushed voices live.

Leaving behind the busy world and going where your soul can grow a size or two,
expanding and remembering that we live to collect moments, not things.

And in these moments, ordinary, simple, we find we are counting His gifts.

“Counting His graces makes all moments into one holy kiss of communion
and communion comes in the common.
He will break bread and I will take and the world is His feast!”
{Ann Voskamp}

Going where the voice of man is quieted, absent almost.  And the voice of God is amplified.
Looking into what He has made and seeing how His invisible qualities are written over each one {Rom.1:20}, how the expanse of sky is declaring His glory {Ps. 19:1}.

This is what brings rest to our souls on the Sabbath: the coupling of the Word of God spoken over us, the quiet expanse of the Creation singing over us.



If you listen close, if you listen patient, you could hear it.  The way the tree’s fingers reach for heaven, the way they scrape through dirt and up to sky, hands raised to Him.  Their speaking is bound to time, to the rhythm of the seasons, and in this season they let go of their leaves, the million little hands that cup the warm sun and drink it down to the roots.  They close up and keep warm for the long cold months and they nourish the ground with what falls.  It’s a death of sorts.  A death that gives way to the next years’ life.

Do they get tired of this rhythm like I get tired of it?  The bondage of corruption.  The work of living.. producing, growing, feeding, transporting, competing, protecting.  And all the small deaths before the final death.

Can you hear the groaning?  In the way they winter, can you hear their cry for redemption soon?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”  {Rom. 8:18-23}


And how back in that good Garden, where futility and thorn began (Gen.3), the creation’s eye was trained on mankind and on the story of redemption playing out.

The star that bore witness (Matt.2:9-10) and the rocks that held their tongues in worship (Lk. 19:40).  And then, when the Redeemer held arms wide and let breath go, creation couldn’t hold back any longer.  The Son, in whom was all light and life, had darkened, and so the Sun could no longer shine (Lk. 23:45).  The earth gave a violent shudder and the rocks broke open, maybe from horror, maybe from worship they could no longer silence (Matt. 27:51).  How could Life itself die?  How could the creation open up her cold ground to bury the Creator?

Though redemption was secured that day, creation still groans and labors toward the consummation.  These waiting trees, bound in time and curse, they are still waiting and watching as the Story of redemption continues to unfurl.  And I can’t help but wonder if they don’t glory over redemption’s victory every time.  One more life redeemed, one more reminder of the redemption they too will one day receive, when all things can return to full obedience to God’s intended design.

This past weekend, my extended family gathered to sing and to feast and to rejoice over the life and death of one of our own beloved ones.  Yes, mourning too, but oh, how the grave is swallowed up in victory!  The mourning doesn’t stand out to me, the piercing joy is what I remember.  And as we gathered yet another time to sing together, these words ran through my mind.  My sweet loved one, he lived a lot of life far from God and from his family.  But in his last years, he came near and he found his Redeemer.  And the wasted years were swallowed up in joy and in victory and blessed assurance.

IMG_1445*photo credit: Catie Councell


My loved one, they said he smiled as he died.  That his mouth hung open in a small smile as he breathed his last; but two hours later, his mouth closed in a full-on grin.

He went out of this world in JOY and the Father saw fit to lead Him out in peace.  The very mountains and hills broke forth into singing before the One who carried him to glory, and the trees of the fields clapped their hands with a raucous, fist-pumping roar of praise (Isa.55:12).  The very creation can’t help but rejoice in God’s acts of redemption.  The beauty of the Gospel… there’s nothing like it!  You can almost hear it, if you listen.  The heart hears the testimony, because there is no language where the voice is not heard (Ps.19:1-4).  The heavens declare the glory of God, and day to day pours forth speech.  “For since the beginning of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom.1:20).

The Gospel is the story creation labors to tell, season in and season out.  Redemption is what makes creation sing, for she knows her full release from corruption is coming.  What a mercy that every day God puts the Gospel visibly on display in the created order for all our senses to experience, to the praise of His glorious grace.

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope. {Rom.8:24}