10 Reasons to Smile–A Photo Essay

I heard someone once say that “art is a way of seeing.” I think learning how to pay attention is an art, too. There is so much remarkable beauty all around us, inside, outside all around, particularly here in the “upper lefthand corner” of the United States where I live. My bi-monthly newsletter talks about the ‘miraculous to mundane’ parts of our days, because that’s where we live. Here’s what I saw when I was looking.

I never tire of this view from our upstairs deck, the way the trees frame the clouds and the horizon. Even when I’m standing at the kitchen sink there’s a far away scene to fill my soul.


The other day I purposefully took a crazy long way home from the grocery store (talk about mundane). But this made up for it, a tree-lined winding drive right off one our main highways. I literally stopped in the middle of the road and snapped this photo. Wouldn’t you?


My friend Kimberlee and I were walking on a path around a lake in Seattle last week and stopped to photograph these mushrooms. One of the locals pointed out they’re s u p e r poisonous, like don’t even touch them poisonous unless you wash your hands afterwards. But they look like there should be gnomes or fairies hiding right next to them, don’t you think?


This is beautyberry in my front yard after last week’s rain. Aptly named, yes? I love the purple against the green.


These fuschia blossoms land on the stairs below the basket hanging on our deck. They looked like resting ballerinas to me. Sometimes there is remarkable, delicate beauty right at our feet.


The colors in our backyard this time of year always catch me by surprise. The russet colored tree that’s aflame with reddish orange is a Japanese Stewartia. It blooms with white flowers in the summer, another happy surprise.


I took this photo the other morning on my walk. I was captivated by the way the light shone between the trees, like Jesus might be coming right through the sky.

P_20181011_134337This is Greenlake in Seattle,which should be called Golden Pond, yes? Look at the mirrored reflection on the surface of the water. It looks like a painting.


I remember a line in Laura Barkat’s book, God in the Yard–Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us, “smallness permits attention.”  I’m also reminded of a phrase from Seamus Heaney when I look at this photo about the “diamond absolutes.” Can you see the diamonds?

One more miracle in the middle of the mundane. I was walking through the Wal-Mart parking lot yesterday and looked up at this supernatural sight–a lake in the air? A feather in the sky? Only God. Only God.


I’m so grateful every day for the beautiful place where I get to live. I’m grateful, too, for the way God has tuned my eyes to pay attention to miracles–big or small–from lakes to fuschia blossoms.

May He grant you one or two moments of glorious ‘aha!’s in your day today.

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10 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Smile–A Photo Essay

  1. Susan

    Creation calls back glory to God. You describe it well in word and image. A perfect hand made card for us.

  2. Lidia Hu

    Beautiful beauty of God’s creation. Thank you for sharing these godly moments.

    1. Jody Lee Collins Post author

      Oh, Lidia, that is high praise, my friend, from someone who takes exquisite photos of God’s great outdoors. Thank you!

  3. Sandra Heska King

    I love these so much, Jody.

    My niece was about 4 when she was following my husband through the woods,, “What is this?” Dennis turned and looked, said, “It’s a toadstool. It’s inedible.” He resumed walking, and then heard, “It doesn’t taste very good.”

    I’ll have to show her the mushroom photo. 🙂

    And yes, that sky is something else!

    1. Jody Lee Collins Post author

      “It doesn’t taste very good”? oh, my!

      Sandy, thank you for your kind words here–I appreciate your trained eye, friend.

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    We’ve had at least several different mushrooms growing in our yard within the last month or so. And though I admired them, I didn’t think to take pictures! Thank you, Jody, for helping me to see, appreciate, and savor even more of our Father’s handiwork–right under our feet, just as you say. Also, though I’m always looking at the clouds, I’ve NEVER seen a formation like the one you captured on film–right above WalMart, no less. Glorious!! And only God, indeed. Thank you for a beautiful, inspiring photo essay, Jody!

  5. L.L. Barkat

    That sky photo is crazy marvelous! 🙂

    Thanks for showing us some beauty today, Jody.

    1. Jody Lee Collins Post author

      Isn’t that amazing? Someone on Facebook said, “I feel like we’re supposed to leave everything behind and follow it.” I’m inclined to agree. (and thank you for teaching me how to see.)

  6. Laurie Klein

    Ah, the toadstools, the Stewardia, the Beautyberry! That glimpse to forever . . . so akin to wiping away frost with the side of a fist from an everyday pane. An aerial thin place. Extraordinary.

    To God’s handiwork (and its quiet gifts)!

    1. Jody Lee Collins Post author

      Laurie your descriptions add even more beauty to these photos, especially the idea of an ‘aerial thin place.’ Thank you, too, for showing us how to see the beauty in God’s great world.


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