Beauty and Blessings on the Way to a Goal Achieved

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When we’re trying to achieve a challenging goal, we may find the climb especially difficult. We may grow weary and wonder if we can hold out to see the view from the top, from the vantage point of a goal achieved. We may feel sorely tempted to give up.

But I’ve got good news. Good news that can help keep us pushing onward.

We don’t have to wait until we achieve the goal to experience the joy of the journey. If we take time to look, we can find beauty and blessings along the way.

This summer on our trip to Colorado, my sisters and I got a reminder of this truth when we decided to take the hike to the top of the mountain at Hoosier Pass on the Continental Divide. The information we had about the hike made it sound fairly easy, but we got more than we bargained for. The altitude along with the steady and sometimes steep climb had us huffing and puffing and wondering if we’d be able to achieve our goal after all.

I’m happy to report we did indeed reach the top, but we also stopped frequently along the way to catch our breath and soak in the beauty of the natural wonders around us. The mountainside dotted with the reds, yellows, purples, whites, and blues of happy little wildflowers. The majestic snow-covered peaks in the distance. The winding river and reservoir in the valley below. Each one a blessing along the difficult way to our goal achieved.

If any of us find ourselves on a difficult or painful journey today, let’s keep our eyes open for the joys that can be ours when we stop and look for them. Let’s take frequent breathers when we need them. Let’s allow the wonders we see to recharge us for the rest of the journey. Let’s enjoy the beauty and blessings along the way.

“. . . the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in him.” Psalm 32:10b

*What beauty or blessings have been yours on a difficult road?

*My photo

Summer Photo Fun: Identify This Bird, Please

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You didn’t think I’d let Summer Photo Fun go by without featuring birds in some way, did you? This time, though, I’m not just quizzing you like I did for my Name This Location post. I really need your help in identifying the subject of this photo!

I saw this bird on my recent trip to Breckenridge, Colorado with my sisters, and I’m not sure what kind it is. We were hiking and I was able to snap only a couple of photos before this little guy (or gal) flew off. I think it may be a flycatcher of some sort, but I’m not sure so I thought I’d see if one of you can identify it before I spend more time pouring over my bird book.

Any bird lovers out there who can help me out? What kind of bird is this? I’ll include my other shot below in case it might be helpful. Here’s hoping for an answer!

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a

IMG_8991*My photos

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out this week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Summer Photo Fun: Sisters Trip!

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Summer Photo Fun this year absolutely has to include a few shots of my sisters and me on our first-ever Sisters Trip. As you may remember, my theme word for this year is adventure, and I love how my sisters helped me live an adventure this summer. (Left to right above: me, Carolyn, Debbie, and Janice)

We had a wonderful time together in the Breckenridge, Colorado area making memories and building our already strong sister bond. We are so glad we made time in our schedules for this special time together. We don’t know if we’ll ever manage to pull off such a trip by ourselves again, but at least we’ll always have this trip to remember and rejoice in.

Hope you enjoy a peek at a few of the memories we made!

Debbie's pic of us downtownShopping in Breckenridge our first day. Nothing too strenuous so we could get used to the altitude. Love all their flowers downtown!

IMG_6277With my book release still fresh, I watched for appropriate shops and introduced the book to shop managers. Authors are ever on duty!

IMG_8581The next day was a hiking day. Off to Cucumber Gulch!

IMG_8584We saw lots of gorgeous wildflowers all week long on our hikes. Can you guess what these are?

Debbie's selfie of us on Cucumber Gulch trailWe tried to take selfies throughout the week, but it’s kind of tricky when you’re trying to get four people in the picture :)

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We had so much fun riding the ski lift and then hiking on up to the top of Peak 8 in Breckenridge.

IMG_8760Finished our day in Frisco with homemade ice cream from Foote’s Rest Sweet Shop and Eatery. Extremely yummy, especially after our hike to Rainbow Lake!

IMG_6447On our hike up to the top of the mountain at Hoosier Pass we stopped to catch our breath and get some photos. The altitude, steady climb, and steep portions of the trail along with hiking into the wind made it extremely difficult.

IMG_6483We made it to the top! Very proud and extremely wind-blown! :)

IMG_6469Hiking down was no joke either. Pretty nerve-wracking but we all made it okay.

IMG_6542Some of our last views of Breckenridge before we headed home the next morning. What a great adventure and an amazing time together!

Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth . . .” Isaiah 42:10a

*Do you ever take special trips with a specific part of your family?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter comes out this week. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Photos by me or my sisters

Sometimes the Wonder Is at Home

High hopes and firm expectations of a marvelous week fueled our packing and quick-as-possible exit from home a few weeks ago. As we escaped the confines of our small community in our rather ordinary region of the country and headed towards the mountains—towards the promise of beauty and wonder and grandeur galore—God surprised us with an early taste of the refreshment we sought.

Not more than a half-mile outside of town, unexpected movement not far off the roadway captured our attention. In a split second, Don and I both saw it—a fawn leaping through an overgrown field. No momma in sight, just the baby. Our first wildlife spotting of the trip.

We had to laugh. Here we were headed to Colorado to surround ourselves with the beauty of the mountains (and our kids!) and to see the wonders of God’s creation—wildlife included—and we saw a little miracle bounding through a field not five minutes from home. In that moment, God reminded me that sometimes the wonder is at home.

Not only did He give that reminder as we left for our much-anticipated week in the mountains, He bookended our trip with the same reminder as we traveled home. Believe it or not, less than twenty minutes from our house, we spotted in the light of our headlights four or five deer dashing across the highway in front of us. After a week filled with exciting encounters with the wildlife of the Rocky Mountains, God seemed to say again, “Remember, sometimes the wonder is at home.”

Even though over the next few days I experienced the normal let-down most of us feel after a vacation and even though the beauty of the mountains feeds my spirit like nothing else, what comfort I found in the knowledge that wonder and beauty can be found at home, too. What comfort in knowing that God—and the beauty of His creation—are ever-present, no matter where I am.

How about you? Are you in need of such a reminder? Take a moment and consider your life. Consider the world around you. And remember—sometimes the wonder is at home.

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.” Psalm 9:1

*Flickr photo by Jeffery™, Creative Commons License

**Don’t forget to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway 2! You must comment on that post by noon Aug. 28 for a chance to win.