Thursday, April 27, 2017

Life Lessons from Hiking

The weather in Ohio has been perfect lately.  I'm talking sunny, 70°, gentle breeze, kind of perfect.  It's because of this weather I have found myself wandering around in the woods several times over the past week.  Well, the weather, and because of the emotional tornado of the last week.

(I may or may not get around to sharing about all of the stories but here's a few:  accidentally showed up to a scene where a twenty-something either ODed or killed himself because of a break up, talked to my ex for the first time since our break up to learn he is a fully committed Muslim whereas before he was raised Muslim but abandoned the practice, had one of my best friends call me because she lost her job, had another friend call me because she needed a therapy session, got a side upholstery job, got offered more hours on the farm, went on another date with Hank, one of my former closest friends got married.... a lot has been going on over the last week.)

So, on Sunday, instead of going to a church building, I headed into the woods to let nature show me how to testify and glorify God's awesomeness.  I was finally going to take the outer red trail, and I had all day to do it, so I planned on taking my time.

It was beautiful, then again, I've never been disappointed with nature.   It was my time of prayer and I released all of my burdens. I've realized the reason for my pain and anxiety is my struggle to surrender the control of my struggles.  In my head, I prayed that when I let go, and let God, that I see a deer to help me know I no longer needed to pray about those situations.  Then, out loud, I sighed, and said, "Let go, let God."  And a butterfly flew right in front of my face.  Maybe, a butterfly was my sign.  The butterfly led me towards the red path, and I gladly went, continuing my prayers but now leaning more towards gratitude than expressing my worry and fears.

My thoughts shifted and I started going to nature school and learning all sorts of life lessons.

#1 Just because you are broken doesn't mean you are done growing

So many times in life, we get stuck in our brokenness.  We forget that just because one section of our lives is not perfect, that the rest of us is still thriving and growing.  Sometimes, it's the growth from our brokenness that makes us unique, and so much stronger.

#2  It's Just Mud

It's easy to feel like mud.  We've all been trampled on and it seems too hard to show any of our beauty and growth because every time we start to transform, we get rained on, walked on, and shoved even further down.  Sometimes we have to get out of the situation that makes us feel like mud so we can dry out, plant some seeds, and start fresh.  Maybe you are the mud, maybe you are treating people like mud, or maybe you're just stuck but here's the good news....there's almost always a branch nearby that is willing to help us out of the mud, don't be afraid to use it.

#3  We make climbing hills harder than it should be

Where is it written that we aren't allowed to pause and catch our breath when we are going uphill?  There isn't a time limit!  So often, we are in such a rush to get to the top that we miss out on everything that happens as we are climbing up.  I suppose that's why the saying is that it's lonely at the top.  Take the time to notice your surroundings, no matter the level of your climb.

#4 Balance brings calm. not chaos.

Have you ever noticed that when we rush through life and everything on the calendar, everything seems to be making life harder, and not better?  It's like trying to walk across a log without taking the time to get balanced first.  You're going to fall off.  But when you pause, focus, and breathe, you'll find your balance and will be able to cross with ease.  

#5 The unexpected is always waiting to be seen

It's amazing what you miss out on seeing when you aren't looking for it.  Roald Dahl once wrote, "And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." One of the reasons I like to hike at my own pace is so I can take the time to notice what is around me.  If it weren't for taking the time to look around, I wouldn't have as many fun stories to share.

#6 There will always be forks in the road

We will always have to pick which direction we want to take in life, and though the choice is never easy, I believe we are always being guided.  Even if we take detours, there is meaning, lessons, and a purpose behind it.

#7 God hears your prayers

He really does.

I was on the final stretch of my hike when I looked felt peace rush over me.  I looked up and even though I had been praying to see a deer, I still had a moment of disbelief that a deer was looking right at me as I walked down the path.  I paused and thanked God for hearing my prayers, for giving me peace, and reassuring me of his faithfulness.

I can assure you, life is good, despite stress and struggles, and nature will gladly testify to this truth, over and over again.  And I will continue to do the same, learning more about life with every hike I take.

5. Instagram fun! Share a photo you took shared on Instagram this week and tell us what you love about it.


  1. Wow lady! That is quite a week! Either of the first two would be doozies but both of them...WOW! Sending you a virtual hug!

    I often find that when I'm broken, I'm growing closer to Jesus. I have been reminded often lately of the Refiner's's not a pleasant place, but the result is amazing!

    Thanks for sharing your insight and your hike! (popping over from Kat's linkup)

  2. Great pictures, it's amazing what nature can teach us!

  3. So much on your plate and the best thing is you found your own personal peace in it all. I think I need my own hike sooner than later. Beautiful photos.

  4. Wow, that's a lot of stuff to deal with in a week. The first one alone is traumatic! I enjoyed your lessons. I'm the same way about needing to get outside and in pretty surroundings to clear my head. Just helps me to stop hyper-focusing on the negative and see the bigger picture.

  5. I absolutely love how you pull the broken tree/still growing message together. I really feel like it resonates with me and gave me pause. Thank you for that moment.

  6. I love these lessons, especially the first one. Beautiful.

    Also, is this maybe why the boyfriend vanished? Because your religious affiliations render the two of you incompatible now?


Say what you need to say...