Goodbye, September and Farewell Instagram, for Now

September is turning golden.

I took a late afternoon hike last Saturday, when the trails were abandoned and the sun was beginning to set. The lowering light beams lit up a field of grass seed—I was so glad I had my camera to capture some of the beauty, and that there was no one else around to think I was crazy laying on the ground to get these angles!

Hunter enjoyed the solitude and open field too while I did my grass seed photo shoot.

In the spring, I had brought Scout on this same hike and he frolicked through the spring grasses. That seems like just yesterday and forever ago.

Time keeps moving.

Summer into autumn.

Moments become memories. Some of them grow sweeter, like the memory of my Scout, running through a meadow.

And others, with space, grow harder. Or rather, the distance allows the space to acknowledge the losses more accurately. I’m strong enough to hold the pain more—simultaneously with much joy and new life.

It means a daily balance of sorrow and joy, grief and gratitude each day.

Contentment in singleness and longing for relationship.

Gratitude for free time for creative pursuits and sadness over childlessness.

—>> What both/and is part of your daily life?

As I’ve grown into this raw and real way of living, one thing that is becoming more and more clear is this—that I want to live in my body, in experience. Not in my head, not virtually.

The simple gifts of being human—of hiking in nature, of playing with and holding my nieces, of laughing with family members, of baking with my hands, of picking apples with a friend, of wading through a creek with my dog Hunter, of drawing with chalky pastels, of practicing soccer with my 9-year old girls team…of taking photographs of grass under the golden sunshine…these are the gifts that have been healing. The gifts of being human.

I’ve decided to more fully lean in to this prescription for joy.

For a while I’ve been struggling with how “social media” fits into my life. As an elder millennial, it’s been ubiquitous in my adult life. And for me in particular, it’s been a source of great harm, and good connection as well. A both/and.

For now, I’m taking a break. I admit, it feels particularly confusing as a “creative” (I don’t want to use the term “content creator!”). My art, photography, and writing have been sources of great joy and healing, which I enjoy sharing…and of course social media marketing is a significant aspect of that these days. So, I admit—I don’t know what this looks like. Perhaps in the future I can figure out a balance. Come on occasionally to share work/connect. I don’t know. I just know that I need a break, and I have serious questions about the role of Instagram and social media in my life long-term. Is anyone else struggling with this? (Leave a comment below👇🏼.)

I don’t think I’m the only one wondering about this. We’ve become so used to our phones, that I think we forget how much technology and the Internet have changed life. In a very short amount of time. In many ways, we are in this historic junction. What is social media, technology, the Internet, doing to us? To me? To you?

This really hit me recently at a soccer practice. During a water break I dropped in on a conversation among several girls and I could tell by their energy level and the decibels of their chatter that they were really excited. As I heard more, they were exclaiming their excitement that when they turned ten, their parents would let them get Tik Tok. They were so excited to get Tik Tok.

My heart just sank. Not that Tik Tok or Instagram are inherently wrong, but to see 9-year old girls awaiting the arrival of Tik Tok in their life like it’s the best thing they could hope for…that was heart-breaking. Because yes, it might be fun, surely it will deliver some dopamine (because that’s how all of social media is engineered), but it’s also likely to have a lot of other detrimental effects, like anxiety and depression. My soccer girls are still pretty sweet and innocent right now. I want them to be excited about books, and sports, learning, and playtime, and new experiences…not Tik Tok.

(My heart and prayers go out to all the parents navigating how to do this and set boundaries and help their kids be part of the world too!! It is hard, I get it!!)

We’re all in this whole new world together. Technology isn’t going away. Will social media one day? I don’t know. Is it really sustainable in the future? I don’t know.

What I do know, is that for me, I need a break.

I plan to hang around here more, on my website, with my creative pursuits, but I’m actually quite excited about the social media break—I’m hopeful, praying, and expectant for a renewed season of being human, of being me—not the “somebody” I think I need to be online.

My prayer is that we all find wisdom in navigating life when the Internet is all around us. May you feel the sunshine, the breeze, and soak in the beauty of the changing seasons.


The Gift of Scout

Sad news friends, and anyone who has enjoyed pics/videos of my adventuresome and handsome dogs…

My sweet Scout has died. I am heartbroken.

It was all very sudden and unexpected a few weeks ago—he would have only been 7 in August.

He went from a seemingly healthy dog, hiking on a Saturday afternoon, to breathing problems, and then multiple Animal ER visits. It was a horrible and heart-wrenching few days.

Essentially, he died of an enlarged heart. The symbolism has not been lost on me. This dog loved me so much, took on my own heartache, and gave so much to me. Scout had the sweetest heart—he was truly a gift from God.

I do not know how I would have survived a lot of hard things without my dogs, which makes the loss feel even more acute. Scout in particular was keenly in tune with me. Every time I would cry, he sensed it—he would find his way to me, give me a dog-kiss, and cuddle up with me. He was an athletic, energetic, joyful dog who thought he was a lapdog. He was incredibly affectionate and very smart. He loved everyone he met.

Incredibly, in his last few weeks, we had managed to go to all of our favorite local spots. He swam, he climbed rocks, he hiked, he waded in creeks. I had even recently taken him out on several solo hikes bc he was such a perfect hiking companion—I will cherish those memories so much.

He was the best dog a girl could ask for.

With Scout it’s not just the memories I’m thankful for—though so many of them are sweet. No, it’s the gratitude for him and his brother Hunter helping me—to smile and keep going.

It’s been a few weeks now and we still are in shock. Hunter is doing okay, but is a little subdued from losing his brother and litter-mate of almost 7 years. They were the best of buds and their playtime and antics always, always brought me joy. And their sweetness and affection for each other always warmed my heart.

I don’t understand why Scout’s time was cut so short, and we are grieving the loss. But I do know that he was given to me as a life-saving blessing. I will always miss him and for ever be grateful for the heart full of love that he gave me.

These pictures are all from his final month—I’m so glad I let him lick my ice cream cone. I am so glad we took an Easter picture. I am so glad we hiked, and swam, and enjoyed the spring. He was so sweet and happy. And so brave through every last horrible moment til the end.

I know there are so many larger tragedies and suffering out there. Yet the story of Scout is not one of “just a dog.” It’s about how God provides grace in our darkest hours.

This world is so hard with evil and suffering and brokenness, and yet there is still good. There are dogs like Scout, there are flowers, and there is God’s peace and presence when all else fails.

I will forever be grateful for my Scout and all his love and joy ❤️🙏🏼


Spring Watch: Trusting the Underground Work

What wind we had this weekend! Several walks had me bracing against blustery gales, and chuckling at my dogs as their ears were blown around. Frigid temperatures arrived Sunday…today was nearly 60 degrees and sunshine…and the forecast shows rain for the rest of the week.

Yes, it’s that in between season…getting close to spring but not quite there yet. And who knows what March may bring! But I am ready. The winter has felt so long. It’s been quite cold, and not as much beautiful snow as we had last year.

The thing is—time doesn’t stop. The calendar doesn’t lie—we are inching closer to spring.

Sunday’s hike may have been freezing with a palette of grays and browns—but in a couple of months it will be transformed.

It’s almost hard to believe that in about a month, daffodils will begin to bloom, and trees will start to blossom.

The ground still seems so dead, if you will, so frozen. Yet, things are happening underground.

Life feels like this often, does it not? Desiring change, but progress feels like it will take forever. Wondering when newness will abound. Waiting for a new season.

I continue to realize how our modern world is conditioning us to expect quick fixes. When Amazon can deliver a purchase within 24 hours, how is it not natural to be frustrated by slow answers?

Yet patience is a practice that yields deeper fulfillment. The ultimate wait—to be with God in glory—is the greatest gift, so how can we form our souls to learn to wait in the here and now?

Waiting for spring, for the earth to renew, is a perfect opportunity to cultivate patience. And to fuel the imagination for what redemption will look like. It’s a real-life metaphor for learning trust—we know that something is happening in the brown earth right now which will give way to lush greens and vibrant colors. We can also know, that the God of the universe is working—leading you and me on his providence.

Patience is the key ingredient. In her excellent book on the spiritual life, author Sue Monk Kidd writes:

“To create newness you have to cover the soul and let grace rise. You must come to the place where there’s nothing to do but brood, as God brooded over the deep, and pray and be still and trust that the holiness that ferments the galaxies is working in you too. Only wait.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions

Yes, God is working. I must faithfully wait.

Remember the big picture. Think of spring. And look to God’s word, which reminds of the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭130:5-7‬ ‭

I’m on watch for spring. Are you this year too?


Summer Wildflowers

The summer is slipping away. I don’t want it to end. Do you?

I like to hold on to every moment of a shifting season. To day by day, notice the small changes. The angle of the sun. Flicks of color in the leaves. The golden hue of autumn creeping in.

Perhaps it’s a manifestation of anxiety? Go slow because the prospect of fast change is too much? Or, settled into the rhythms of one season, there is fear of what the next one will bring?

How can one entirely know? I’m not sure. But as I grow, and continue in this new slow pace though, I am learning how the Lord is gracious with all that’s on our heart, including every fear, and every hope.

With a new season on the horizon—he has reminded me, there will always be new delights along the way. Even if it’s as simple as an unexpected wildflower, the simple joys are there. Sometimes, you may just have to wander off the beaten path or look a little more closely.

I have been amazed to discover new wildflowers blooming in places I never remembered…of a gorgeous fall color palette, soaking up the late summer sun.

I’m grateful for these late summer wildflowers, a show of God’s creativity and provision. I don’t know what this fall will bring, but I know God will be with me—will be with you—in it all.


Yellowstone, You’re Amazing!

Where is the summer going?!?!

My end-of-summer-angst is setting in. It’s almost August, and it feels like the fading summer. The days are a little shorter. The sun’s a little longer. The cicadas are buzzing. The grass is drying up. There are even some changing leaves in my favorite spots.

Time is just always moving along, isn’t it?

I have needed time recently –  to reflect on some traveling I was blessed to do in July. It was a memorable – epic even – adventure, with my parents and sister. It was celebratory for various family reasons. And for myself, it signified SO much. Such as a milestone victory from just the prior July going through a (minor) back surgery, after 8 months of severe, debilitating pain…traveling and hiking takes on a whole new meaning when you are grateful for every single step!

We ventured out west, to visit a few national parks, most notably, Yellowstone National Park – the first, the oldest, and the most unique (I’d say!) park in the U.S.A. I was blown away!

It’s been a few weeks now – it’s taken time to let it all sink in, to sift through my pictures, to think through my thoughts. My most simple summary is this: it was refreshing; it was beautiful and incredibly awe-inspiring; and it grew my gratitude for home.

To try and pick a favorite feature from the trip is challenging. I tend to be drawn to themes, which is what I am gravitating towards to make sense of what I saw out west.

Here’s how I’d group my favorite aspects:

  • Water
  • Wildflowers
  • Wide-open spaces

Working on blog posts to elaborate on each of these, so stay tuned for more words and pics!

The incredible water features, wildflowers, and wide-open spaces were stunning, and signified some meaningful messages. Everything is just so much bigger, and bolder out west, it seems to me. And yet – by the end of trip when some anxiety got stirred – I found myself going to peaceful places in my mind to calm myself – my nature spots back home. Perhaps not quite as grand, not quite as wide-open, but familiar, safe, and beautiful to me.

Nature can’t just be a sightseeing, thrill-seeking adventure. Nature is needed, day in and day out, or at least, week in and week out! The mountaintop experiences (literally for me on this trip) are incredible! But the daily nurturing of our need for creation takes cultivation. And as I have found through years of trials, it’s life-changing. In small, simple ways that take effect over time.

Yellowstone is absolutely amazing. The incredible beauty and uniqueness of it will grow your love for nature and the outdoors. Plus, the grandness of it, will make you feel small – a healthy perspective for all of us – yet will simultaneously remind you of your place in the world, being known and loved by the Creator of all of Yellowstone’s majesty. So go to Yellowstone – soak up every square inch of it (as we attempted in 3 jam-packed days!). AND, go to your park, your place, your little square foot of yard or backyard garden, and soak up the peace of Creation, and the love and signs of God, that flow through it every day.


The Unfurling of Ferns

It’s now officially summer! And it felt like it this weekend with hot and sunny Maryland weather!

Hiking along a favorite trail Saturday evening, my dogs and I came across a forest ridge filled with ferns—after some rain recently, everything is looking so green, lush, and alive!!

Ferns have been on my mind a lot over the past season and as I’ve reflected on the spring, and my hopes for it I wrote about here. It was a different spring for me. A spring without physical pain, where I could walk and explore. A spring where I had more time without a work commute. Yes, much still lurks under the surface, but it’s been a quiet spring.

And so I have gone to the woods. Like I always have over the years, to stay grounded, and connected to reality. To breathe the fresh air, to listen to the sounds of safe solitude. To connect with my Creator.

I’ve walked my favorite paths over and over again, and explored new trails that have become new favorites. I’ve delighted in spring ephemerals like bluebells, and woodland blossoms like mountain laurel. It’s been a beautiful spring—a good spring filled with beauty and newness and hope.

With spending so much time in the woods this spring, and my head and my heart in a much more clear place to take a slow pace, I was so much more keenly aware of the awakening woods and things like… ferns. Yes, simple ferns.

Ferns are fairly ubiquitous in the woods, but I suppose I had never noticed them in the springtime as they are coming up out of the earth, unfurling. But this spring I did! And wow, are they cool!!

Everywhere I turned in the woods this spring, these little fern coils kept jumping out at me—all different types of ferns. Seeing them progress over the weeks brought so much delight and joy! A friend even teased me on a hike for what she considered my over-exuberance for ferns!

But, that is who I’ve been this spring, a woman enthralled with ferns along woodland trails. It’s been a strange path that’s brought me to this place, of noticing and finding joy in unfurling ferns. A complicated one—one of grief and the feeling of missing out on so many other non-fern joys. A path that I wouldn’t choose, yet I’m grateful for how it’s refined me and for who I’ve become in my fern-awareness and appreciation. How to make sense of that? You don’t, you just accept it—while the sorrow can’t be erased, perhaps the hollowed out places can be filled with simple, reliable joy and contentment in the simple delights of this world? If we notice them—like unfurling ferns.

The ferns have also been teaching me about patience. The beauty of a vibrantly green lush fern starts with a little coiled spring, and slowly, slowly, with imperceptible changes each day, those little corkscrews become a woodland of glorious ferns.

Growth and beauty and flourishing take time. It’s hard to notice the movement day by day, but it’s happening. Because that is just how God, the author of beauty and flourishing, works. On the days I doubt, I go back to this truth. On the days it’s hard to go on, I cling to nature’s reminders of redemption.

And now, I think of the unfurling ferns as a reminder too. They will become a glorious forest floor of beautiful ferns, in time. The journey is often hard and confusing, yet there are still the sweet gifts of woodland delights to be found, for simple joy and reminders of truth.

A newly discovered song, an old hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways, also speaks to this beauty and the patience in trusting God’s guiding hand:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower

Gratitude. Delight. Patience. Trust. These are the lessons of unfurling ferns. Enjoy the woodland blankets of them for now, and remember to look for the coils next spring!


The Bluebells of Susquehanna

A highlight of my spring has been experiencing the wild flowers along the Susquehanna River, particularly the Virginia Bluebells.

I’ve hiked at Susquehanna State Park for several years, and have fond memories of the park as a little girl, but I now realize I had been missing out on the springtime delights found there!!

I first noticed the bluebells at the end of March, as I hiked the ridge line trail, and was intrigued by the tiny purple blossoms I saw sprouting up.

When I returned a few weeks later with my dogs for another hike, I was pleasantly surprised to see that these were beautiful blue wildflowers—Virginia Bluebells—all throughout the park!

I was so enthralled by the beauty of these flowers, I was drawn back to them several times. I particularly wanted to see the the bluebells with different types of lighting, so I visited for both a sunrise and sunset—both were lovely in their own way!

The sunrise experience was my favorite. It was a perfect April Saturday morning with glorious sunshine for several hours before turning cloudy. The bluebells in the morning light were stunning—I truly encourage anyone local to visit next year—it’s hard to describe how dense the flowers are along the river, making for an absolutely breathtaking scene. And with the chorus of birdsong throughout the early morning hours, my sunrise experience with the bluebells of the Susquehanna filled my heart with so much joy!

A few days later, I rushed off to the park after work to try and make the sunset. There is one spot on the ridge line trail where there is a dense portion of bluebells, right where the sun would be setting, and I was hoping to be there for the moment those setting rays of light would be hitting the hillside. As I arrived at the spot, my heart sunk as it seemed like I had just missed it. I paused, with some disappointment settling in, and reminded myself to just change my perspective. Sure enough, as I moved further up the trail, I was greeted with the beams of the setting sun lighting up those bunches of delicate blue flowers! The picture (of course) does not do it justice.

How wonderful it has been to discover this natural beauty so close to home. It’s reminded me of the simple delights that come with nature. Sometimes life can get into a pattern of monotony that can feel hard—and then a new joy from an old place is discovered. On the other hand, just like the seasons, life can feel like it’s always changing and never certain—which sparks gratitude for the comforting familiarity of favorite places. And whatever is happening, there is always the constancy of light. There may be cloudy days, but the sun is always there. Just like God’s love, guiding, leading, and making life beautiful.

Life is hard. But there is beauty. There is light. There are bluebells along the Susquehanna River…and I can’t wait to visit them every spring for wildflower delight.

How can you not feel happiness in this place?

For a more botanic description of the bluebells and their presence at the Susquehanna, check out: “THE BLOOMING BLUEBELLS OF THE LOWER SUSQUEHANNA RIVER, MARYLAND,” by THE SANGUINE ROOT: A Website about Urban Environmental Restoration in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

And lastly, a few comparison shots of sunrise light vs sunset light!

And a glorious sunrise and sunset picture for good measure!

Mark your calendar for next April to visit the bluebells at Susquehanna State Park!


Gratitude for Gifts Along the Way

It’s been a lovely spring so far! I have been soaking up lots of glorious sights – blooms, blossoms, and beautiful scenery.

I’ve also been blessed to be very active – with lots of hiking and adventures with my dogs. We’ve discovered new trails, along with the joy of favorite trails re-discovered.

With the weather getting warmer, we’ve also enjoyed swimming! Well, the dogs have enjoyed the swimming, and I greatly enjoy watching them and attempting to capture videos of their hilarious antics.

Trying to catch some ducks

We’ve visited our favorite spot a number of times as the sun is fading. Last weekend was a stunning sunset. It was the dogs’ first time back swimming in the Bay since last October (?) and they didn’t miss a beat. Their swimming ability always amazes me.

It occurred to me this week that it’s been exactly four years since Hunter got hit by a car. And yet, on Saturday he hiked over 6 miles with me, and on Sunday he swam, and swam, and swam. I am so incredibly grateful he recovered from the accident and injury!

Hunter, enjoying a swim and the sunset!

A remembrance like that, brings a flood of gratitude. Life has been quite difficult in those four years since, and my dogs, Hunter and Scout, have been some of my greatest blessings.

Just a girl and her dogs watching the sunset! 😂

It’s hard to understand our trials, suffering, challenges. I believe God wants us to ask the questions, but to remember not to “lean on our own understanding.” I certainly can’t make sense of it all, and am continually learning to lean into “trusting the Lord with all my heart.”

But what I do know – is that God is with us in our trials. He is always present and will never leave us. Nothing can separate his love from us. That love has been the rock that has kept me afloat.

He also provides. And for me, these precious dogs have been an incredible provision that have brought me so much love and comfort when all else has been dark and lonely. And they have provided so much joy, fun, and laughter!

So today, I am grateful for a pup that survived a car accident, and for the joy that my two pups bring me, that has helped me survive the trials of life.

Gratitude doesn’t take away challenges, but it sure feels good, and gives perspective. In this season of new life and blossoming, may we all be filled with gratitude and the grace to go on!

And here’s to more beautiful springtime sunsets!


Mountain Views

Family time in the mountains is always a good thing. As the year mark passed on COVID, I could not be more thankful for time spent in the woods my loved ones. There’s something about the mountains, especially at springtime, when new life is ready to burst.

Mountains surround me

I breathe in air, crisp and clear

My gaze lifts, upwards

The first blooms begin

Tree buds are ready to burst

Life renews, again

Clouds and fog roll along

Sunshine breaks, painting the sky

Peace flows from above

May spring continue to abound in beauty, whether you’re on a mountain top or not!


Wintering and the Hope of Springtime

It’s been a beautiful winter…as I wrote about last week. This first week of March in Maryland was still quite cold! And yet, there was a feel of spring in the air, with the upcoming week having a forecast of temperatures in the low 60s!

It was a weekend of more snow geese, on a frigid Saturday evening in Pennsylvania, still with snow on the ground. It was definitely representative of my gratitude for what this winter has been in discovering new pursuits and delight in nature.

A Sunday hike with sunshine brought thoughts of spring. I’ve also been starting to see daffodils shoot up in my neighborhood! The first sighting stirred something within me—my longing for spring. It’s felt especially poignant after a year of hardship, not only with COVID, but personally, after a year of back pain and surgery, which prevented me from experiencing spring last year.

I’ve been thinking of that for a few weeks, and working on some words to reflect it. Enjoy, and may the hope of springtime feel strong in your heart!


The sidewalk led me around the familiar neighborhood,
Strewn with vestiges of February’s ice and snow.
The sun set slowly behind me,
While the near full moon shone brightly ahead.
I rounded a corner and saw a neighbor’s flower bed, still with a few spots of snow,
With shoots of daffodils starting to emerge from the soil.
Something stirred in me, seeing those stems,
Pushing through the earth, starting their journey above ground.
With the sting of the winter winds gone, and birds chirping in the distance,
A few deep-seeded tears came to the surface,
Reflecting an ache and a hope;
A longing for spring,
For spaces long dormant to come alive.

I’ve been bundled in sweaters, scarves, and coats for months, a welcome relief from the cold,
A blessing I don’t overlook.
Home has cocooned me, protecting me from the elements,
But the long dark nights keep me inside and isolated.
Now I long to shed these layers and let the sun shine on my skin, to relish in a gentle breeze and soak up the warmth of rays of light.
To embark outside my four walls and explore the outdoors,
Free and unfettered.
Alive and attune to the natural world around me.


So intense is this desire,
I wonder what’s wrong with me,
Or where this is coming from.
Is it just my penchant for pretty flowers?
The exhaustion from shoveling snow?
The lack of sunlight?
Perhaps just my seasonal, and otherwise, depression.
And…
Or…
Is there something within our souls that is simply drawn to renewal?
Of songbirds,
Warm breezes,
Blooms,
And butterflies?

I don’t want to wish the winter out of existence.
There’s great beauty to be found in it;
I see this looking at the delicate intricacies of a small snowflake,
Or moonlight shining through a frozen forest of snow capped trees.
But it’s not just the beauty.
Acceptance of the season, and all of the necessary things that are happening,
Has allowed me to make peace with the winter.
Even in the hibernating, the quiet, the darkness,
There are meaningful things taking place;
And the rest, is restorative.

The cold cannot go on, though.
I am thankful for the wintering,
And acknowledge growth gained.
But the human heart is wired for winter to end;
The hope of spring is deep within.
And so, I don’t want these longings to languish;
To become numb and frozen,
Okay with an endless winter;
Because bulbs are no good if they stay buried.

Thus, in this transitioning time,
I welcome the gratitude for winter,
And the peace that comes with its acceptance,
And I also allow my longings for spring to be piqued.
I start looking for signs,
Harbingers like the daffodils,
And the pure happiness of a chorus of cardinals.
As they start to appear, and make themselves heard,
My spirit lifts and my heart feels lighter.
This is hope, in the watching and the waiting for springtime.

Newness and life alive is on the horizon.
This is what we were made for;
Each season has its place,
And the fall and winter will come again,
But it’s the regeneration that sings a sweet song to my soul.

The hope of springtime fuels the spirit;
Without it, how to go on?
It’s coming.
And so I wait, I watch.
I keep walking the path in front of me,
Seeing those shoots press further above ground each day.
The daffodils will be dancing soon.