April 30th

Monday, April 30th, 2018

When I rolled over at 6am this morning, and peeked out the window, I could not believe my eyes.

The texture of the clouds was incredible.

Now, I’m rarely out of bed at 6am, but this morning I bounded out of bed.

After photographing them, I settled down in our sun room with my bible, specifically to read the book of Ephesians. Paul and I have been trying out a new church, and their current sermon series is on “7 Words to Change Your Life.” Last week’s message/word was “Thanks,” and at the end of the message, the pastor suggested reading Ephesians for more context and guidance in being thankful (specifically to God). I’ve always loved Paul’s letters, but I hadn’t read Ephesians before. One of my favorite passages was this one:

“I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you may understand the wonderful future he has promised to those He called.”
Ephesians 1:16-18

The first verse is the ringer for me: I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly

I don’t know about you, but I can do a better job of this. The thankfulness lives in my heart daily, I see it and recognize it, but do I stop and tell God? Stop and thank Him? No, not everyday. I need to step it up; the day is never to busy, too full, to thank God.

My other motivation to the quiet time with my bible this morning was Paul. My husband Paul, not Apostle Paul, haha. The sermon yesterday was on “Help,” and it really resonated with us both. I was on the verge of tears the entire sermon, and when we walked out, I knew it would be a deep conversation starter for us.

The sermon focused not only on asking for help, but knowing when and how to give help. This resonated with Paul and me very differently, but still profoundly. On our way home, I expressed to Paul first, how thankful I was that we weren’t in need of any great help. We’re both healthy people, no loss of spouse or children, no job loss, we have a house to live in, food to eat. The only real help I’ve needed recently was help through the loss of Burke. But through that pain, God really showed me the quality of friendships I have. The incredibly special, selfless, caring friends and family that gave their time, their words, their prayers, their love when I really did need it the most. They gave me help, even when I didn’t ask for it, they just stepped up and were there.

Overwhelming in a good, beautiful way.

And then God brought me a friend who had been a key part of my healing with Burke, who ended up going through the loss of their pet, exactly one week after I lost Burke (the exact same appointment time and everything – exactly one week to the minute), and I was able to reflect that love and support back on them. God gave me that opportunity to give help after a wave of receiving help.

This all can’t just be coincidence people. I mean, really.

So after I shared my reflection on the sermon, Paul said he really resonated with the closing verses, 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

He felt inspired to dig into the Word more; he wanted to start reading his bible when he woke up in the morning, so he could pick a verses to focus on for the day.

Our cat, Finn, is always on the bed with us when we wake up in the morning; I open my eyes to him staring quietly at me, and the moment our eyes meet, he starts to rumble-purr, the sign of ultimate contentment and excitement from him. Paul said he felt like Finn was a great analogy for God; He sits on a edge of the bed, expectantly, waiting for you to wake up so together you can explore the day He made for you. For us to recognize that, and to not blow right past Him, but to stop and talk with Him.

When I was photographing the sunrise this morning, that’s all I could think about. I imagined myself sharing those awesome colors and textures with a God that enjoys our delight, and it was a wonderful way to start the day.

If you are interested in listening, here are links to the Thanks sermon, and the Help sermon.

April 29th

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

This guy’s been hanging around lately.

Today, he stood in this spot for an hour. He also opened his wings and chased my car today.

He’s also alone, and the weather has finally made the turn toward spring.

Any guesses on what this may mean? Want to know my guess?

I’m thinking that his mate is laying on a nest nearby! My biggest clue was the fact that he chased my car – I’ve only had Sandhills confident enough to take on something as large as a vehicle when they’re protecting a nest. While they can be aggressive when protecting a nest, I’m excited that they’re so close. I’m hoping to catch a couple glimpses of a sweet little chick!

He did make me laugh pretty good today, though. On his rounds this morning, he walked up to a tree full of song birds, and opened his wings, hopped at the tree, and yelled at them. About 25 birds came flying out of the tree, and he was so proud of his ability to clear the area.

The swans are also settling into their nesting areas. The pair behind our house has been grounded for about 4 days and have also been pretty vocal lately. I went out to start working in my garden this afternoon, and the swans were resting in the field, and they stayed there while I planted my potatoes and onions. Pretty neat to be within 25 yards of such awesome birds like that.

April 28th

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

It was a gorgeous morning for a roadside cleanup!

Now, before people get upset thinking they had missed a notice saying we were doing one, Paul and I decided last minute to go out and do it this morning. There was no planning, just a drive to get out and enjoy the morning. And quite frankly, to get out there before the grass started to grow, in turn hiding all of the trash.

However, I’m hoping to plan more throughout the summer, that way people can get involved if they want, and it keeps the amount of trash more manageable.

Along a single two mile stretch, Paul and I filled eight 30 gallon bags. Plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags, paper, clothing, rubber balls, carpet, pipes, head bands, phone books, cigarettes, misc. car parts, chew tins…the list really does go on and on.

When we started doing this last spring, it was really eye opening for all of us the amount of trash that just sits in our landscape. In addition to the roadside clean up, with Earth Day in our rear view mirror, this time of year is always a great time to reflect on the amount of trash we consume on a daily basis, and what we can do to lower our impact. A couple of simple things you can do: Use reusable containers (think coffee mugs/travel containers/water bottles), recycle (learn more about how to properly/correctly recycle here), and donate and buy used clothing.

Changes don’t have to be monumental – small things add up to make a difference!

April 27th

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Ohhhh yeah, and so it begins!

Storm cloud season.

The first rain of the spring, and not only was it beautiful, but it smelled so good! So fresh; the earth awakening from it’s slumber.

We got this one huge cloud with one large downpour, and then the sun continued to shine. This image shows how starkly different the weather was from one moment to the next.

The other super fun thing about this system? There was a small cloud that followed the large one, but the rain wasn’t reaching the ground:


As Paul is reading over my shoulder, he says that phenomenon is called “Virga.”

Super neat!

Welcome. spring! I sure am happy to see you.

April 26th

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

A full day of running errands and doctor appointments, ended with something pretty neat.

My cousin, Dustin, was sworn in as a Wright County Sheriffs Deputy, and I was able to attend the ceremony.

Pretty darn neat.

I was hoping to photograph the event itself, but they requested that no pictures be taken until the end of the ceremony, so alas, you get to view some of my home decor instead.

April 25th

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Spring brings warm evening light; I’ve missed it!

My friend and mentor, Shelley, was approached by a publishing company last summer to collaborate on a book deal. She moved forward with them and a few short months later, a lovely collection of Shelley’s favorite images and stories came to fruition. Last night was Shelley’s book launch party.

A local barn hosted the event, and it was wonderful to see so many people come out to support a good friend. There were very yummy cupcakes, wine, and fellowship, along with lots of laughter and many signed books.

Shelley had asked if I would photograph the event, and I happily agreed. It was something out of the ordinary for me, and was a fun way to be a part of momentous day for her. At one point, many people had meandered out through the barn, and out to the pasture fence to greet the horses. I wandered out with them to photograph another side of the party – the guests – when I caught the warm light coming from the indoor arena.

The arena had been perfectly dragged for the party, except for one trail of footprints that walked out into the sand, turned around, and came right back. Someone else had been seduced by the light.

The texture of the sand, along with the disruption of the perfect, patterned lines of the drag, captivated me.

April 24th

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The bird’s chatter filled the cool morning air as I stepped out onto our front porch this morning.

It seemed like hundreds of them, and it was such a welcome sound.

Yesterday I filled all of our bird feeders, and it didn’t take long for them to find them. I had forgotten how much I enjoy their presence! A Mourning Dove pair was one that came to the feeders, and they also settled into our fresh mulch for a nap at one point. I almost lost them when they walked out into our yard – their color is so similar to our still-dead grass.

Hopefully that won’t be the case for long!

April 23rd

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Death is one of those things where you never truly understand it.

The idea is a simple one when you aren’t emotionally involved: a soul leaves the earth, you won’t see them again here. They aren’t on vacation, they aren’t just gone running a few errands, they aren’t just in the next room, they’re just simply not coming back gone.

The end.

However, when you are emotionally involved, it just isn’t that simple.

A quick glance at a cat’s toy sitting in Burke’s favorite spot becomes Burke for a split second in my mind. I round the corner into our bedroom, and it’s a physical habit to move around in such a way so I can see his cage and check for him. I open the crisper drawer in the fridge, and I turn around with a smile already on my face expecting to see his little nose wiggling at me, but he isn’t there.

In one week since he’s been gone, it’s been an adjustment. But life moves on. With that comes both freedom and guilt.

I’m navigating both of those things. Lots of prayer, lots of reflection. It’s the first loss of an indoor pet for me, so this adjustment is entirely new.


But this is another step towards healing.

While at the vet last Monday, they offered me cremation services for Burke. I did end up opting for individual cremation, and Paul and I actually picked his ashes up on Saturday morning. I was able to “bring him home,” and surprisingly, that gave me a lot of comfort. However, what really, truly, brought me the most comfort?

Our vet had saved a piece of his hair for us. A recognizable physical piece of him – something I thought I’d never have to keep. Also in there was a small, circular clay disc that had Burke’s paw prints pressed into it. This office has just kept giving and giving.

I had it all together when I walked into the office that morning and was feeling surprisingly well, but that additional small gesture (and time) that they gave had me in tears as I walked out the door. The kindness and compassion they’ve shown through this whole deal has just been unending.

When we got home, I opened the small cardboard box to look at his ashes. I knew going in on Saturday to pick them up that there wouldn’t be much (he was only three pounds, and mostly hair at that), but there really wasn’t much. In fact, he’s in that small box I’m holding in today’s picture. Dust to dust.

“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

April 21st

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Paul and I love to grill, so naturally, with the welcome change of weather comes cooking outside.

We let the cats out with us, and we all enjoyed an afternoon full of sunshine. It’s fun when the cats enjoy the sunshine and warmth just as much as we do. It was so good for our souls.

As our dinner was cooking, Paul and I reflected on the bible study we had had with Cody and Dana last night. It was so good to dig into the word with friends, and Paul and I were hungry to do more. So naturally, because death was on our minds after the week we’ve had, we went down the path of what reaching heaven looked like. Being the seeker of truth that he is, Paul went in and grabbed his bible, and he sought out verses that addressed our discussion.

This man is just incredible. Cooking me dinner while digging in to what also feeds our souls. Dedicated is an understatement. To me, his faith, his job, his friends, to doing the right thing. To quote back at him what he said to me tonight – Paul, I love you a ridiculous amount. Thank you for being on this ride with me. Everyday is an adventure with you.

Also a note: this wasn’t setup or posed. I snuck my camera out while he was deep in concentration. That may not matter to many, or seem significant, but it matters to me.

April 20th

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Remember a week ago when I was focusing on being thankful? Today was such a good reminder of how good He is.

Paul and I are so incredibly lucky to call these two our friends. Some of our very best friends, actually. Our schedules worked out that we got to spend this wonderful spring day together.

If you follow my blog, you’ve met Brooklyn, Cody and Dana’s daughter. Paul and I love her to pieces. You also know that I love photographing her; she’s full of life and joy. A kind, helping heart as well. Here’s the thing though – she didn’t learn that on her own. She’s had excellent examples through Cody and Dana.

Today I had my back to them, as I was busy photographing Brooklyn playing in the dirt, and when I turned around, I caught this of them dancing together before they saw me taking their picture. I doubt they knew they’d be on my blog today, but I couldn’t help but share. Aren’t these two beautiful together? An incredible example of a marriage that serves, loves, is jubilant, is thankful.

They are the same in their friendships; add in loyal, encouraging, and authentic and you just touch the surface of how great of friends they are.

A challenge for you today – in the spirit of thanksgiving, reach out and thank those people that bring you joy, encouragement, or enrich your life. Let’s feed one another, let’s fill those cups.

Dana, I know you’ll be reading this – we love you guys!


April 19th

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

I woke up to a beautiful sunrise this morning.

No, there weren’t vibrant shades of pinks and reds, or warm sun rays coming through the fog. No, just simply the fact that the sun was shining was what made it beautiful.

The kind of sunrise you get after a rain storm. Clean, warm, faithful. A sort of blank slate, ready for you to rejoice in it. To seek the day that God has made.

As I watched the song birds happily flitting from tree to tree, singing at the presence of the sun, I realized I needed this sunrise today. I needed those joyful little birds, too. The reminder of God’s goodness and His beauty; the reminder of His ultimate plan.

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus
Jeremy Camp // Give Me Jesus