Beauty in a broken world

A year ago today, I ran a 5K in Atlanta, what would turn out to be my last in-person race for a long time. I was there alone, my husband home sick with the flu. The day before, I stood outside in a fierce wind, watching as elite runners competed for their spot to represent the United States in the Olympic marathon. Both of those days, I was surrounded by strangers, all of us screaming for our favorite runners or pushing our own lungs and legs to their limits along the race course.

Today looks very different, although there’s again a fierce wind blowing, what with March coming in like a lion and all. Instead of being surrounded by strangers, my husband and dog are my constant companions. As the pandemic stretches on, along with the agonizing wait for my turn at the vaccine, I find myself looking for the beauty in this broken world.

So here’s my idea: Each day for the next 31, I’ll share an image that carries beauty into our broken world. The beauty may be manmade or Godmade, or it may just bring about a beautiful emotion without being inherently beautiful itself.

Today’s image inspired my plan:

Blue Nautilus by Gretchen Lotz

A nautilus here in the mountains grabbed my attention. What was a sea creature doing so far inland, rising out of the ground against the snow?

I haven’t gone back to visit this sculpture since the snow melted, but I suspect it stands out better against the snow than it would against a grassy field. As I stood admiring it and wondering at it, I resisted the urge to run my fingers along its surface. It was enough to admire it from a distance.

Join me for the hunt?
Where do you see beauty in a broken world? Want to join me for the next 31 days with your own images? If so, feel free to comment below with your Instagram handle, and tag your Insta posts with #beautyinabrokenworld.

Full confession: Instagram isn’t totally my thing even though I think it’s perfect for what I’m asking us to do. You can find me there @pixofhope. I look forward to the next 31 days with you as we share where we find beauty in a broken world.

The beauty of color

I try to keep things light and hopeful on here. But I don’t feel light. And despite my name (Hope, for those of you who don’t already know me), I’m struggling with hope today, too.

So I thought I’d share some photos of beautiful colors from nature with you today. Maybe sharing them and sparking a conversation with you might help lift the pit in my stomach and maybe the pit in your stomach, too?

There is such tremendous beauty in color. We appreciate and celebrate diverse color in nature: in animals and in flowers and in the changing color of water and clouds and leaves. We look at nature’s colors with awe and wonder. Why, then, is it so difficult to appreciate and honor it in each other?

What can I do?
I am whiter than the Crayola “flesh” crayon I grew up coloring with. I feel there is nothing I can say right now that would be right or helpful. I also believe my silence would be worse.

So here’s what I am doing:

I am using my voice to say to anyone who wanders by these pages: Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.

I am reading through the list of 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice and deciding where and how I will act, and I encourage you to read through it and act on it where you will.

I am reading The Color of Law. There are certain books I’ve read in life that, almost from page one, I think to myself, “This should be required reading for everyone.” This is one of those books that every single American should read. If you read it, or have read it, I’d love to discuss it with you as I go along.

I am crying out to God in my prayers.

I am looking forward to making my voice heard at the ballot box in November.

I am embracing the gifts and lessons of nature, a place of healing and hope and renewal in the face of some very tough truths about how harsh this world can be. (This is the time of year I wonder how any baby bird survives to adulthood, but then I see one learning to fly. As a country, we’re being asked to decide whether we’re okay with a lot of young people not surviving to adulthood, and a lot of other people not surviving to old or even middle age. If I have so much compassion for a baby bird, how can I not have so much more for a human being?)

What are you doing? How are you doing?

Our nearest neighbors

My husband and I have had bird feeders up since winter, but right now feels like an especially magical time for watching birds. Spring migration and nesting have brought new birds to our backyard, and in the last few weeks, hummingbirds have returned.

Before I share a few photos with you of our nearest neighbors these days, I wanted to alert you to an important birding day coming up this Saturday, May 9: Global Big Day. On Global Big Day, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has asked all of us across the globe to spend a little time bird watching and reporting.

If you can spare even a few minutes—either staring out your window or walking around somewhere outside—the lab would like for you to report what birds you see and hear. Their site also provides wonderful resources to help you identify birds, in case you’re not exactly sure what you’re seeing.

Now for some birds! Continue reading

Llamas for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. I hope it’s a beautiful day wherever you are.

Because life is so different right now, and our usual springtime activities curtailed, I thought I’d try to bring you some llama joy to celebrate Earth Day.

My husband and I got to visit these llamas in early January on a clear, crisp day. We hiked with them, fed them snacks, and delighted in seeing the young llamas run with schoolyard abandon. Continue reading

The anvil and the angel

Last week, I shared with you some tree signs at a park near my house.

At first, someone tucked a little angel under a tree.


Several days—or maybe a week or two later (who can keep track right now?)—the angel found a more prominent home.


I saw the angel glinting in the setting sun, sitting atop an anvil on a monument in the park. For the first time, I wondered why an anvil topped the monument.


One side of the memorial held the answer:

“God forges us on an anvil of adversity for a purpose known only to Him. That is the way He prepares us for life.” – JE Broyhill

Wow, I thought, an anvil of adversity. I think most of us can relate to that statement more now than ever, to that feeling of being in a hard place where we don’t want to be. Wouldn’t it feel better to slide right off that anvil and go about life as we knew it before COVID-19?

But perhaps we can look at that bright angel atop the anvil and think of ways God is with us, preparing us for life after the virus. I’m glad the angel is there. It’s a reminder that the anvil isn’t the final answer.

Maybe that little angel can help us feel less alone. And maybe it can be the spark, the encouragement we need to find ways to come through this experience kinder, more willing to help others, more ready for whatever God has planned for us.

If you’d like support for the adversity you’re facing now, I’d be honored to lift you up in prayer. Just leave your request in the comments below. Be well, my friends.