In which I am paying attention


(What? You mean not everyone bargains with their tinies for a Smiling Picture with a terrifying Monster Face Picture?)


We went to the woods. We do it because we want to live more deliberately. (Right, Mr. Thoreau?)

It is a bit inconvenient to go to the woods with tinies. But it’s worth it.

We do small excursions to places nearby. As they get older, we’ll go further and longer.

“If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It’s a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it’s even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it’s a lot more fun.” – Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods


As Mary Oliver wrote so beautifully,

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”




This is me telling you – I saw beautiful things here.

And it feels like home somehow. I was astonished.

I’m trying to pay more attention to my life.


(My talented mother-in-law snapped all of these photos near the Chilliwack River on the entrance path to the old railway tunnels.)

local, photos, poetry
  • BrennaDA

    Sarah, such beautiful glimpses into your world. I’ve noticed you have mentioned that book before and I have been intrigued. I probably should just go ahead and read it, but how does one do this in a city? We are smack dab in the 3rd largest US city and I want my kids to grow up with that wonder and to learn to pay attention (we have three about a year younger than yours) but it’s much harder here. They are good people watchers, for sure. And my 5 year old is actually able to talk a bit about architecture, but I want her world to be full of seeing wildflowers, not trash in alleys…..

  • Annie Barnett

    The other night my six year old begged me for stories from my childhood that she’s never heard, and I had to dig farther back than I usually do, and I remembered a whole world in the woods that I can’t stop thinking about now. These quotes and these words were a perfect companion for my little heart meanderings this day, Sarah. Thank you for the invitation.

  • Mary1912

    I think that when I experienced nature, it is when I fell in love with God.

  • Joy Lenton

    Beautiful images and thoughts as always, Sarah. To take and make that space for experiencing the environment together as a family is a great idea to prevent days getting swallowed up in the mundane yet not especially appreciated or enjoyed. Breathe. Exhale. Breathe again.. let go and let memories be built in the mind. Today is meant to be savoured and treasured as we live wonderstruck by His provision, goodness and grace. Go girl! :)xx

  • Emily Fisher Rutledge

    I’m staring a Lenten study today with my youth that focuses on spiritual practices. The first is noticing… that paying attention is the core of the spiritual life… way to bring it home for me, friend!

  • Tara M. Owens

    I love the David Whyte line: “Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity”. I live in such stunning natural beauty that I often forget and don’t go outside. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Jenn

    Beautiful. And that one of Anne with you? Wow she looks so grown up!

  • Alysa Bajenaru, RD

    “I’m trying to pay more attention to my life.” – Me too, and I’m getting better at it all the time. Feels good.

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    Such a wonderful reminder to be more present and aware of the beauty around me!!! Thanks for that!

  • Robert J. Gerryts

    There is so much to see past where the pavement ends.

  • Leanne Penny

    Outdoor wonder always strikes tunes me in too. This morning I awoke to find our brown, Oklahoma scrub yard blanketed in wet, slushy snow. I stared out the window, my face pressed to the glass like a child’s.

    It felt like newness, beauty, a baptism covering life in fresh birth…. Yes, I want to pay more attention, but I also need a change. Contentment and wonder, but forward motion…

  • Charlotte

    I’ve never been into going to the woods, but I might be if I lived in Canada.

  • T.

    This is so lovely and it is what I miss most here … The ability to disappear into God’s craftsmanship and just breathe- so important.

  • Lina

    sigh…home…It’s been too long since I have been home in the Valley

  • Krista

    We SO do that! Just look at the header on my blog… ;) The nicer one went in the Christmas card, but I like this one best!
    We do need to be better about getting outside. Mama is too lazy. I think I’d find God more there too… as my pastor so nicely helped me see that I’m a naturalist when it comes to connecting with Him. Maybe that’s why I’ve struggled so much these past few years (or at least part of it). My husband could care less about nature…

  • Erin Burke

    I love that Mary Oliver quote.
    We’ve been talking about getting outside more too, mostly going on regular walks. We holed ourselves up in our house during our cold and wet winter, but with Spring almost here I want to make a habit of getting out in creation.