About hopesquires

I've left behind the daily grind to write full time and to figure out what my own flourishing tree looks like. I'd love to help you flourish and grow along the way, so that you, too, can cultivate a life that pleases God.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

Tree signs for Holy Week

If you’ve followed this blog for a number of years, you may recall my tree signs series from California in 2015. Well, a few weeks ago, as I walked through a park near my home, I noticed someone had started putting up tree signs here, too.

I took it as a nod from God, a call to notice messages of calm and hope and peace during this truly hard time. While we are keeping our physical distance from one another, a neighbor in my community is trying to connect with us all through these signs, and I want to pay attention to that person’s blessing.

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The last one here, this cracked tile, landed right on my heart. In a time when so many of us feel a bit (or a lot) broken, when we stumble for prayers, when life feels too difficult, this beautiful, cracked prayer sits quietly under a tree’s branches.

It’s Maundy Thursday today, and so I wanted to share these tree signs with you, partly as a reminder of the Easter promise that’s coming Sunday, and partly to help us remember that even in broken times, God is with us, and God hears our prayers, be they fractured or whole.

Courage, my friends. Do you have a short prayer or song that’s sustaining you during these challenging days?

Cherry blossoms in the time of Coronavirus

Spring is here! Or at least was here briefly for the last few days. Today it’s raining where I live, and a few snowflakes sneak in from time to time. It’s also the first full day of my state’s stay-at-home order.

I wanted to be sure to notice spring happening around me over the past week, to not let the stress and anxiety of such uncertainty take over completely and cause me to miss what I can still enjoy. So I’ve been trying to get out a bit more with my camera.

There’s a beautiful cherry tree in full bloom at a park near my house, and it’s loveliness stopped me mid-dog-walk Sunday morning.

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I never noticed the star in the center of each cherry blossom before.

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Spring’s reawakening always feels miraculous to me, even though I know it will come each year. It’s a lovely reminder of God’s live-giving breath, too. Creation comes back to life, perhaps a necessary reminder for us to hold onto in the time of Coronavirus.

I want to encourage you to notice spring where you are, too. (If you live in the southern hemisphere, notice autumn and its own beauty coming?) Whether it’s from your window, or you’re able to walk outside, what spring gifts can you find?