finding beauty right where you are


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Every year, around this time, I grow a bit heart-sick. While I scroll through images on my phone of apple orchards, cozy sweaters, and brightly colored leaves, our air remains warmly humid and summer foliage endures. I love our small town because of the people we are connected with here, but it is not in itself a beautiful place. It is our home and that is what makes it beautiful. Everyday friends stroll by with their children in wagons or walking their dog and simply pop in to say hello. Although not all of our friends live on our street, many live within two miles, and I realize there’s something special about our small town living that has little to do with foliage or weather. Still I do love the outdoors. My children and husband love the outdoors, and we live in a somewhat forgotten neighborhood, with no immediate wild parts to roam. This is the season where I learn to look a little deeper to find beauty right where I am.

It’s easy to look view online lives on my little hand-held screen with a sense of longing, whether it is over a dreamy home, a style of living, or the natural beauty of mountains, woods, and ocean. Any amount of my own discontentment can cause my heart to ache a bit. Without realizing it, I can find myself with thoughts, “if only. . .” and left unregulated those thoughts can quickly send me spinning. While online connections can be in so many ways a large sense of encouragement and inspiration, they can also distract me, keep me from taking a deeper look at our life, at my heart.  I’m sharing this so you know no one is invincible to distraction, to heart-ache, to longing for something other than what we have. Even here, I am learning to let go, to put down my phone more often, to live and enjoy right where I am.

I’m often up before the sunrise, and right now, as it’s the coolest part of our day, I am enjoying these first moments of dark passing to light right on my front porch with my morning coffee. It doesn’t matter where you live, the warm, hazy glow of morning light will always reveal beauty, even the most obscure. For thousands of years, people have written about the miraculous newness of morning, even simply that it happens every day. In my opinion, a morning walk is the best cure for a longing heart. It gently revives the soul. It reminds me to pay attention. It cultivates gratitude.

A couple of weeks ago at first light, I went for a walk with my camera. The girls, still in their PJs, joined me on their bikes, and the boys not long after. Here are a few snippets of morning from our humble street, a gentle reminder for all of us: beauty is found everywhere.

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  1. Pingback: favorite blog posts of 2015

  2. I move to the midwest 10 years ago from the caribbean, it is very hard for me every year during the cold months, this means so many things that I did no grew up, the hardest being the lack of community. It seems that everybody hide during this time.
    thank you for the remainder- and as usual the beautiful pictures. What present do you use?

  3. Have you ever lived somewhere with four true seasons? I moved to Texas from the midwest. And for the first five or so years, I desperately missed the seasons. But now that I have five children, I am so thankful to be here. Fall is some of our absolute best weather here in Texas. I read on one of those fall IG posts that it was 42 degrees there. That is pretty cold for kids… and even for me. Think of what the morning temperatures are! We are so appreciating this weather right now – the mornings are glorious and the weather is perfect. We’ve been taking 2 mile walks each morning, the kids are spending hours upon hours outdoors. And if you miss beauty in Texas, you just have to look up. Our skies are incredible – so expansive and blue. Lately there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky, just pure blue skies. I remember when we first moved here, we couldn’t get over how big the skies were. Cold weather is not what it’s cracked up to be. Especially not with kids. When we left Wisconsin we had something like 30 days without ever seeing the sun. My husband and I were shocked when we were back home several years ago around Thanksgiving at how the sun never seemed to get high above the horizon. And it gets dark so early there. I never thought it would happen, but I think I’m officially in/tex/icated. People told me it would happen but I always thought, “No, not me.” But even NPR did a report that people tend to acclimate much better to hot weather than cold weather. As my husband likes to say, “Nobody hurt their back shoveling sunshine!” :D

  4. i love everything about this post and the timing couldn’t be any better. Thank you.
    P.s the photos just by looking at them makes me feel so calm. Is that weird?

  5. As someone who lives in the PNW, an area of rugged mountain beauty, ocean, and towering pine forests, I can attest that even those surrounded by that beauty that you crave are just as susceptible to discontent. For example: as I read your post I thought about how wonderful it would be to live in a town / on a street like that. We have natural beauty, but houses are far apart and towns sprawl. We usually only see friends after making a specific effort to do so. There’s not much “stopping by” because everyone is out of the way. There’s an art to being content with where you are and at peace wherever God has placed you. I’m still working on that.

  6. You verbalize so beautifully my own heart sentiments. Agree that the internet can be such a source of inspiration and at the same time be the root of so much discontent and envy. Such a good reminder that it’s the people that can truly make a place beautiful. Love this gorgeous photos.

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