Beauty Hunting in Midcoast Maine

Beauty must be God's love language. Because every time I see it, I swear it's like He's talking straight to my heart! For me, places like The Grand CanyonProvence, the rocky coast of Maine, and even our little farm here in Franklin pour forth speech {Psalm 19}. We don't travel much {homebodies at heart...who wrestle with the high cost of vacation}. But for 21 years, I've been blessed to return to a beautiful spot with my family: Midcoast Maine. Beauty hunting never gets old there!

From our boat trip to Roque Island:

Famous for it's light sandy beach.
{Most of Maine's beaches are dark and rocky.}

I love hunting for heart rocks.
They feel like love notes from God.

Thanks for this one, Mom.

The trip back was a foggy one.
{Thankful for a dad who knows how to use the instruments!}

Traveling through fog is a lot like faith:
trusting and believing when you can't see. 

Back "home" in Rockport Harbor:

Hints of sunshine breaking through the foggy soup.
{A reminder that there's light and life on the other side of your foggy places!}

A new addition to Rockport Harbor this summer:

A farm fresh menu that changes daily.
I enjoyed it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
{The dark chocolate sea salt cookie was divine!}

So many great elements of simple design,
including a fabulous mix of lighting:

A few farm fresh goodies you can take home with you.

A few of the heart rocks I collected this trip:

Feeling like I might have more to share about these soon.

And who could forget to photograph these beauties?

That would be me. Sadly, this is one of the only photos I took.
{Maybe because it was raining most of the time.}

We are blessed to spend time with family in such a beautiful place...especially now that we live in Tennessee instead of a few miles away in Houston. But I have to confess: returning home isn't nearly as hard as it used to be...because we get to go from beauty to beauty! {Thankful.}

Back to farm duties and beauty hunting right here at home. And making the most of these last weeks of summer freedom!

Blessings to you,


Deep Seeing

I'm reading this book again...

...thanks to encouragement from my sweet prayer partner in Houston. {So thankful she's stuck with me through the last year. She's been one of my greatest gifts.} This book was a game changer for me two years ago, but just as my friend suspected, it's sinking in even deeper the second time.
"That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To the God whom we endlessly crave." (Ann Voskamp, page 22.)
We all have our soul holes. We can try to cover them up by staying busy, avoiding our pain, ignoring our hearts, but when we do that, we miss the gift of the torn open places. I'm finally letting mine show. And the beautiful thing is, they are becoming places of deep seeing...places where glory shines through and thanksgiving bubbles up.
"The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible." (Ann Voskamp, page 118.)
Finding joy today as I give thanks for...

A hammock beneath the trees.

Thyme that grows wildly despite being ignored.

Herb infused drinks.

My husband's delicious dinners.

Two farm fresh eggs a day.

A puffy-faced Hope who's still alive and well.
{We lost another hen yesterday.}

A surprise double yolk.

Hole-in-the-toast filled with a farm fresh egg.

Breakfast in bed thanks to my youngest daughter.

My songbird playing in the trees.

A daddy who takes his daughters on special dates.

Sisters who've found all kinds of ways to have fun this summer.

Fresh squeezed lemonade and the biker who buys some.

Neighbors who come to your rescue
when a giant snapping turtle is threatening your animals.

And loan you a tractor when yours is broken.

Dogs who've learned to relax while chickens peck around them.

Funny sideways stares.

God's glorious artistry.

Ducks taking an evening flight...and returning home.

Dogs who feel like family.

Happy rescue kitties living in our barn.
{My oldest daughter took this incredible photo.}

A full moon rising as the sun sets.

As I freeze these moments in photos and words, my heart swells with joy and thanksgiving...even amidst the soul holes and struggles. There is magic here...magic in the deep seeing of real life. What are you seeing today?

With joy and thanksgiving,


Today's Struggle Is Tomorrow's Glory

A sincere thanks to those of you who responded so tenderly to my last post. Each time I've shared a loss with you, your words have been like healing balm to our hurting hearts. I'm convinced that our sadness, brokenness and even depression is worth sharing...so that we can receive the healing balm that our hearts need. Which has me thinking....

What do you do with your deep sadness? This question has been on my heart a good bit in the last year, so I thought I'd put it out there for both of us to ponder.

As you may have noticed, I've had my fair share of deep sadness since we moved a year ago. Leaving your comfort zone and all things familiar has a way of exposing some pretty raw places. I've blogged about some of it, journaled about most of it and cried out all of it. I crawled back into bed more times than I care to remember during the winter months...and feared having a public meltdown here on the blog if I said too much about it.

But something is shifting as I wrestle with my raw and exposed heart. It may be uncomfortable and even unpredictable, but I'm believing it's good.

Back to the question of what to do with your deep sadness. I'll tell you what I used to do: I used to put on a happy face. I thought smiling through pain and struggle was the ultimate sign of strength. Little did I know, I was faking it...versus feeling it. And while I'm a big believer in the power of a smile, when it's used as protection from pain, your most authentic, true self slowly erodes...to the point that you may not even know who you really are anymore.

There's something really scary about feeling deep sadness...and then admitting it. What will people think? Some people have determined I'm depressed. Some have suggested I should move back to Houston. Some just want me to smile and keep my chin up. {At times, I felt awkward and overexposed when someone confronted my sadness. I think it was good for me to feel that way...and to learn that I didn't need to put on a happy face in order to bring comfort to others.} It's true that prolonged sadness and struggle can make other people feel uncomfortable, but sometimes the only way out is to let it all the way in. 

If you're in a place of deep sadness or struggle right now, I know this much is true: you are not alone and this is not the end of your story. I don't have all the answers and can't offer you an escape from depression, deep sadness and struggle, but I want to encourage you that these low places can be the pathway to deeper joy and greater glory. Sometimes it's hard to trust the process, but in the end, even the hard parts of your story will be used for good.

When you're feeling blue, some people will say things that make you crazy: "Chin up!" or "Choose joy!" But you and I both know there are days when that feels impossible or just downright artificial. On those days, I say this: let your head fall low and let your tears fall out...

...all while begging God to help you BELIEVE. Beg like a child. Beg Him to help you believe that He is up to something good...even when you can't see it or feel it. And if you can't do the begging, ask a friend or even a praying stranger to do it for you. {Even when, and especially when, you don't feel like you want anyone to know how down you really are.}

I don't feel like my blog is the place to share every high and low, but there are days when I feel prompted to share the journey right smack dab in the middle of the mess...right alongside the beauty. I don't always know how the messy pieces fit in with my love of beauty, but I just keep trusting that it all fits together somehow. Because this is the stuff of life.

As I sit here on my front porch and look out over the same pasture where we witnessed loss a few days ago, I see life and beauty. Blue skies, sunshine, a cool breeze, children playing, butterflies dancing, birds singing....

A reminder that loss gives way to life.
Brokenness gives way to beauty.
Struggle gives way to glory.

With increasing joy,
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