the loch, lake of glass, & sky pond

Summer is nearly here, and it’s got me dreaming of spending time in the mountains and getting out to adventure. While COVID-19 continues to leave us in uncertainty of what’s to come in these warm weather months, my hope is that we’ll still be able to make the most of our summer days. And to help inspire that a little in myself, and maybe in you too, I’m here to share about my favorite hike from last summer, and possibly my favorite hike I’ve done to date: Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Please bear with me, we did this hike eight months ago, so I did my best to remember as much detail as possible. But if the details aren’t your thing, feel free to scroll through for some pictures of this beautiful hike.

This hike made it to the top of my hiking bucket list when I saw a friend post some pictures of it the summer before last. As a difficult 9 miler, it felt a bit out of my league since I still consider us very novice hikers, but it gave us something to work towards. After getting a few hikes under our belts over last summer, I felt prepared enough to give it a try, and the timing worked out perfectly in every way.

We waited until the end of the summer to give it a go because 1) like I said I wanted to work our way up to it and 2) Adam was training for a marathon throughout the summer, so we wanted to wait until he ran it at the beginning of September so we didn’t hinder his training. So a week after he completed his 26.2 miles, we set out for the mountains.

As a reminder, we live about an hour and a half away from the Estes Park entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) so it’s extremely accessible to us as a day trip (plus we have a free annual military pass to national parks, so that helps too). We left our house early in the morning so we could get to the park before it got too busy, but we also knew that we had some more flexibility than we did earlier in the summer because it wasn’t peak season anymore. Thankfully, the Park and Ride lot on Bear Lake Road had plenty of spots when we arrived at 7:30am. We gathered up our stuff, took the shuttle to the Glacier Gorge trailhead, and set out on our way (probably starting the hike around 8:15ish). The forecast for the day was seemingly perfect – chilly in the morning, but sunshine, blue skies, and a high of upper 70s were projected for the day. We layered up, and we were able to shed them when it warmed up, and then put some back on the higher we went in elevation. It never got too hot or too cold, it was just right.

The first leg of the hike is to Alberta Falls, which we’ve hiked to a few times previously. It’s a popular hike in the park and it leads to a 30 foot waterfall. I’m guessing with the time of year, and by starting just a little early, the trail wasn’t too crowded like it has been in the past for us. We made it to the falls by 9am, took a quick rest to enjoy the always-spectacular views, Adam made friends with a chipmunk, and then we continued on into new territory for us.

After Alberta Falls, I remember the trail became rather steep, and there were a handful of switchbacks. Adam has much better endurance than I do, but thankfully we’ve found a good rhythm on our hikes where we each go at our own pace. Usually I fall a little behind, because I try to listen to my body and rest when I need it (and I stop to take pictures and stare at the views), but Adam always stops and lets me catch up along the way. As we slowly trekked up the switchbacks I was admiring the gorge full of these tall slender trees.

By about 10:30am we made it to The Loch – the first of three lakes we’d come across on this hike. You can walk right up to the shoreline of one side of the lake, so we took some time to admire the surroundings of trees and mountains and glaciers. As we continued our way around the lake, we stumbled upon a small harem of elk on the trail. It wasn’t until I was a few feet away from one that I looked up from the path and noticed them. Thankfully we were at a spot in the trail that had a small detour so we could safely keep our distance. They weren’t threatening in any way, but soon after we came upon them we were pretty sure we heard a bugle in the distance and we weren’t about to wait around to see who else would join them.

We moved on from The Loch, and made our way through some meadowy terrain towards Timberline Falls. Based on reviews I read on AllTrails we knew that we’d have to do a bit of scrambling to get past the Falls, but it was uncertain if it would be too icy or not. We got a little nervous shortly after we left The Loch when we ran into some people on their descent who said the rocks at the Falls were too icy and they had to head back. We decided to keep going, hoping that as the day progressed the ice would melt, but I also tried to adjust my expectations in case the Falls were as far as we got. In hindsight, if the hike ended at Timberline Falls, it still would have been a great hike – well worth our time. But the end goal was still to go further, so I was holding out hope.

We started to approach the Falls around 11:30am, and when they came into view we saw a small crowd of people getting backed up at the base. I became hopeful when I saw many people slowly scrambling up the rocks to the right of the Falls. After we made our way up one of the steeper parts of the whole hike we got to the base, caught our breath, waited for the path to clear out a little, and made the decision to give it a go. Enough people were making it up the wet rocks that we were comfortable giving it a try. With caution, it was a very doable 100 ft climb for us.

When we reached the top, I turned around to see a stunning view of The Loch well below us. And then I turned and saw the stunning Lake of Glass in front of us. We were literally surrounded by beauty. Lake of Glass was actually my favorite of the three lakes, because of the vantage points we got as we made our way around it. I do remember one point that it was a little unclear where the trail was leading around the lake because we had to climb up some large boulders to follow along, but we stuck to the edge of the water to make our way around. Along the way we met a rather photogenic Marmot. The animals in RMNP often seem to be used to people being around so he came up pretty close to us and Adam had a great photo op (clearly he enjoys making friends with all the animals), but I also remember one point that it looked like the marmot was going to pounce on him so I made him back away just in case.

We moved on from Lake of Glass at about 12pm and traveled along the small stretch before Sky Pond, which was a picture straight out of a fairy tale. I was in heaven.

We finally made it to Sky Pond at about 12:10pm, which was nearly 11,000 feet in elevation. There were only a few other people that we came across, so we found a boulder to sit down and rest and admire the views of the lake and the cliffs that surrounded it. I remember feeling so accomplished. It was definitely a strenuous hike up, but every bit of the fatigue was made up for by the surroundings along the way. I also remember noticing two little specks moving up one of the glaciers far above the lake – there were people that were going to far greater extremes than us. I was humbled by 1) how little experience we have in the great outdoors and 2) how small we are in comparison to these beautiful mountains (a fairly common humility that comes upon me when we hike). But I was also so grateful to experience what we were doing, and excited for the potential of adventure in the future – though I don’t see myself ever having the desire to hike up a glacier. I think it was fairly windy up at Sky Pond, so we actually didn’t stay put for too long. Plus we didn’t want to risk running into any afternoon storms. So we turned back and started the descent back down the way we came.

It was like a treat to revisit all of the beautiful views we just passed. We took our time, knowing that descending is pretty tough on both of our knees, and the 1700+ feet of elevation we already trekked up was starting to show its wear on us. After taking a long lunch break in a meadowy area next to The Loch, we noticed some clouds rolling in, so we started to pick up the pace to get ahead of any possible rain. Plus I really had to go to the bathroom so I was cruising on the home stretch since we felt close enough to try to make it to a bathroom.

Thankfully we made it to the trailhead without a drop of rain, despite the very cloudy sky, and I made it safely to a bathroom. But man, I was T-I-R-E-D. This was definitely the most challenging hike I’ve done to date, but I was so satisfied at the end. The hike I had been dreaming of for a year ended up going perfectly. I still look at the pictures from this hike and smile. It was a challenge. It was a dream. And it deepened my love for the mountains even more.

While the pictures are gorgeous, they never do these Rockies any justice. So if you haven’t already, I highly recommend adding this to your own bucket list. If you have a comfortable amount of hiking experience under your belt, it is definitely strenuous at times, but manageable. And so, so worth it.


I hope you enjoyed trekking along with us on this hike from last year! Now that I’ve spent this time reminiscing, I’m aching to get out for some new adventures, so I really hope that I’ll be able to share about more hikes that we are able to do this year. Hiking is still such a new hobby for me, but it’s one that I hope I can continue to experience for all the years to come.

So tell me, what’s your favorite hike you’ve ever done? I’m always open to adding more ideas to my hiking bucket list, so let me know in the comments!

Until next time friends,

stop completing. start living.

Have you been tuning into John Krasinski’s web series, Some Good News? If you haven’t, there are few things that I would recommend more as a source of joy and hope in these times of change. And if you have, then you likely understand and share the appreciation I have for it.

In the recent graduation themed episode, my appreciation expanded beyond the usual sentiments because it led me to some introspection that I feel compelled to share. Despite my own college graduation dating back 7 years now, the charges made to this year’s graduates spurred me on and challenged me to evaluate my own life.

Apart from the (what feels like) routine reminder for me to step out of my comfort zones and reject my fear of failure, the most significant words I heard came from Jon Stewart’s commencement conversation with a young grad. In response to the question “now what?” Jon pointed out that after graduation, you enter into a world where no one is grading you anymore. So his advice was:

“Stop completing things,
and start living them.”

These words struck a deep chord for me. Because I realized how much I have lived my life to be graded or measured. As an enneagram 1, I want to measure up. I want to meet and exceed standards. I like the satisfaction of completing things. In hindsight I think that played a big role in my success in school. But it wasn’t until I heard Jon’s words that I considered how I have been unconsciously seeking new standards to measure myself by ever since I received my diploma. I’ve bounced from one measurement to the next, creating confusion and overwhelm regarding how I’m supposed to be living my life. I’ve measured myself in my job status, my job type, my job performance, my fitness level, my weight, my appearance, my ability to achieve goals, my social life – just to name a few. And I can guess that if I asked a handful of people how they try to measure up, they may hold to a variety of other categories. There are so many ways that we could measure or grade ourselves. But there’s two significant problems when we do. One, it can lead us to a life of comparison, which sets us up for a constant cycle of pride and insecurity as we consider ourselves ahead or behind others (which can also be extremely detrimental to how we relate to others). And two, it leads us to find our worth and value as a person in how we measure up to constantly fluctuating, vague standards. Talk about an exhausting identity rollercoaster ride that leaves you feeling defeated or unsure of who you are by the end.

So what if we ditched the need to measure up? What if we silenced the pressure to meet the mark? I certainly don’t mean we should give up trying at things or challenging ourselves. What I mean is doing what Jon Stewart suggested – stop completing things, and start living them.

Stop treating life like we are working for a grade at the end of it. Stop doing things just to say we did them. Stop turning life into a task, because it’s so much more complex than finished products and checked boxes. And rather than struggle to figure out HOW to measure up, we can be freed up to believe that it’s not about measuring up at all. We’ve all been leveled at the foot of the cross. The work has already been finished.

So let’s get out there and go for it.

Stop completing things. Stop doing things just to check them off. Instead, enjoy them. Make the most of them. Fail at them, and try again at them. Find inspiration from them. Learn from them. Suck all the goodness you can out of them. Live them.

I hope that this resonates with at least someone, and I hope I’m at least making some kind of sense. I’m definitely still processing through this, because it’s challenging a way of thinking that I didn’t even fully realize I had. But in light of what this post is all about, I’m sharing the incompleteness. I don’t have it all figured out. In fact, everything I share on this blog I try to share not from the position of an expert, but from the perspective of a fellow traveler on this journey of life. So let’s all get out there and go for it. Together.

Until next time,

8 methods for healthier phone usage

Oh, smart phones. Such a convenience for information, inspiration, and (more importantly than ever) connection, but also such a time sucker if you’re not careful. I honestly could get a little red in the face if I confess how much time I waste scrolling on my phone. I’ve learned that if I’m not very careful and intentional, I can easily fall into scrolling habits that hold me back from spending my time doing things I actually need, or even want, to do.

Of course, there are times that I really enjoy scrolling through Instagram and feel inspired and spurred on in life, but I can also quickly fall into thinking about the life I want to live more than I actually do it. So for the last couple years, I’ve experimented with a few different ways to set boundaries for myself in order to “break up with my phone” and live more intentionally. After a few recent habit changes, I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of the methods I’ve tried, and found freedom in. Because while I’m not the wagering kind, I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one who is dissatisfied with her phone usage.

I think a key thing to consider is that it all comes down to balance, and just like in every area of life, that balance is going to look a little different for each of us. How I fit these habits into my life is likely different than how you need to set boundaries for yourself. So I encourage you to take a look through the suggestions, and experiment with them to figure out what works for YOU.

And I believe an important place to start in figuring that out is to identify where you struggle with your phone use – that way you can better determine what methods might address your specific needs. This is where an assessment of your usage can be really helpful. Either the Digital Wellbeing feature for Android users like me, or the Screentime feature for iPhone users, can be really helpful in revealing your habits. You might just be surprised to see how much time you spend on your phone, or on specific apps. I know how easy it is for me to think that a quick scroll to catch up on Instagram only lasts about 5 minutes, but when I see that my average use in a day is anywhere between 1-3 hours, I get a little uncomfortable. Too often I feel like I don’t have enough time in the day. Too often I get upset with myself for not getting more done. Too often I think of all the projects I’ve dreamed of working on for years, that I never find the time to touch. And seeing this data helps shed some light on why. So I encourage you to take a peek at your own stats to see if, and where, you might need to set some boundaries.

So without further ado, if you happen to find that sitting on the couch scrolling doesn’t fit the picture of how you want to live your life, then here are 8 methods for detaching from your phone and establishing better usage habits.

1. Limit Notifications

This is a method that I’ve been pretty strict on ever since receiving my first smart phone back in college. I pretty much turn off all notifications on my phone with the exception of texts and phone calls. Having regular notifications from countless apps can not only interrupt your day, but it can also add stress if you let them pile up and build your attachment to your phone through that instant gratification. So, to eliminate that, I turn off the notifications for an app as soon it’s downloaded onto my phone.

There are a select few apps that I allow a form of notifications to come in, but I still keep stricter boundaries with them than probably most would. For example, I used to get notifications for email, but a few months ago I switched it to where only a notification dot shows up on the app on my home screen, so rather than getting push notifications for each email, I can check my inbox when I choose to, or when I have the time to. Another example is Facebook messenger. My most common form of messages in it are in group chat format. And while they’re convenient, group chats tend to escalate my stress level quickly, so I decided that the messages can show up on my phone, but I have no sound to go with them so I don’t hear a constant dinging.

By limiting notifications, I don’t feel the tug to pick up my phone every time I receive some sort of engagement on any kind of app. I simplify the noise in my life, and in doing so I can have more control in how I spend my time engaging with my phone, rather than having constant interruptions or something else controlling my attention.

2. Use a Fit Bit or Smart Watch as a Way to Detach

When I first got a FitBit a couple years ago, I was nervous that the ability to receive text and call notifications on my wrist would cause me to become more attached to my phone, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite. Because I could receive notifications on my watch, I could more easily leave my phone somewhere and not feel like I needed to carry it with me around the house in case someone randomly messaged me. If I do get a text, I can check my wrist to determine if it’s something I need to, or want to, respond to right away, or if it can wait, all without even touching my phone. This is definitely one that you have to know yourself with though. If you find that getting the notifications on your wrist leads to more attachment, then this may not be the method for you. Also, if you don’t already have a watch that links to your phone, I’m not pushing you to spend more money to get one just for this purpose, but if you do already have one or decide to get one, it could be a benefit.

3. No Phone Before Jesus

I implemented this boundary quite awhile back for multiple reasons. One, I wanted to keep my priorities straight, especially at the start of my day. Two, how much time I spent scrolling on my phone before I even got out of bed in the mornings was quickly getting out of hand. And three, I would sometimes find that what I consumed before I got out of bed set the temperature for my day. The biggest example I have of this would be in checking my Timehop and being reminded of a memory or feeling I have about something or someone that left me unsettled. If that’s what I saw first thing in my day, it had the potential to start my day in a funk. So with all of these in mind, I typically don’t allow myself to check any form of social media before I have my quiet time in the morning and center myself with Jesus. That is a much better, more fulfilling way to set the temperature for my day. Regardless of if spending time with Jesus is a priority for you in the morning or not, figure out what things you want to help set the temperature for your day, and remind yourself to do those things BEFORE you allow yourself to scroll.

4. Set Your Phone Across the Room (or in Another Room) at Night

For similar reasons to what I mentioned in number 3, I very recently started the practice of leaving my phone on my dresser while I sleep at night, instead of next to my bedside. In doing so, I’m much less tempted to roll back over when my alarm goes off and scroll for a few minutes to “let myself wake up” – yes that’s an actual argument I’ve made to myself in my head. Anyone else do that? I also started doing this to prevent me from hitting snooze once or twice each morning, which I have had a tendency of doing for as long as I can remember. This is definitely a habit I am going to continue using for now, because in all actuality, I have no reason to keep my phone right beside me while I’m sleeping. And it’s allowed me to wake up more peacefully by taking a minute to “come to” and then rise out of bed to get going. Thankfully my husband usually wakes up before me, or at the same time as me, so if I let my alarm go on for a minute or two it doesn’t bother him, so keep that in mind if you want to give this one a try.

5. Use Your Phone’s Settings to Set Actual Boundaries

Like I mentioned before, depending on what kind of phone you have, these exact settings may differ, but whether you use Digital Wellbeing or Screentime, you should not only be able to see your usage, but also manage your usage. Since Google released Digital Wellbeing, I’ve tried out a few different settings. I use Wind Down to turn my phone to grayscale at 10pm (through 7am) as a cue to get off of it if I’m still scrolling at that time. I’ve also used Focus Mode on my Scroll Free Days (see #6) to hold me accountable to staying off of distracting apps by blocking them for a certain day or time period. At this point I haven’t used the Timer setting to limit how much time I allow myself on an app in a day, but that’s a possible option too. Using any of these boundaries is helpful in adding a little bit more accountability to my choices in how much time I’m using my phone. And while it’s easy to bypass the settings by selecting “turn off for now” or “take a break” to give yourself five more minutes, it at least puts more responsibility on you to choose whether or not you’re going to stick to your boundaries, rather than lackadaisically continuing on.

6. Delete or Hide Apps

To take my Focus Mode an extra step further, sometimes it’s helpful to hide those same time wasting apps from the main screen of my phone to make them all the more inconvenient to click on. Or, if I need to get even more drastic (like I’ll explain in #8) I’ve even deleted those apps off of my phone for periods of time to remove the temptation altogether. This method used to sound a little extreme to me, but when I finally gave it a try, it was pretty effective. And in all actuality, it takes less than a minute to re-download those apps and log back in. You typically don’t lose anything in doing so.

7. Scroll Free Days

In the last year, I’ve often made a monthly goal that I would have one scroll free day a week. I say “scroll free” instead of “phone free” because I still respond to texts or talk on the phone – mindless scrolling is my main concern. I either have a set day each week (I used to do it on Mondays), or I would pick a day based on what was going on in the day (i.e. a day where I needed to be focused and productive, or a day where I really needed some Sabbath and a break from constant connection), to utilize the Focus Mode setting and block my most time sucking apps. In my case, that’s primarily Instagram, but also Timehop, Pinterest, and Sudoku (note: I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone – I just access it via my internet app so I add another layer of inconvenience to it – but if I’m blocking those other apps, I hold myself accountable to staying off of Facebook as well). By giving myself an entire day’s break from those time suckers, I have a greater chunk of time to focus my attention on other things and ensure that I’ll be productive elsewhere.

8. Scroll Free Weekends/Weeks

When I know I’m needing a bit more of a drastic detox, I need a bit longer of a time out. I’ve done 1, maybe 2, scroll free weeks where I actually delete some of those time sucking apps off of my phone (or just hide them from my main screen so they are out of sight) to stay off of them for an extended period of time. Most recently, I did this over a 3 day weekend at the start of April – mainly because I noticed that my phone consumption was getting a bit excessive and I needed a time out. The freedom I found from doing this led me to practice this every weekend since because it led to greater satisfaction in how I spent my time. The key in any scroll free day, weekend, week, or any period of time, is being sure to replace the time you spend on your phone with activities that are purposeful or bring you joy. It’s no help if I just replace that time with binging more Survivor on Hulu (which admittedly does still happen sometimes). So I have been very intentional about using the excess time to tackle a project. Sometimes that means doing something I’ve been needing to get done out of necessity, but often I’ve been trying to take that time to do something I WANT to get done in an attempt to better indulge my time. This has been an incredibly freeing practice and one that I think everyone should try, simply to see what they learn from it.


And there you have it! 8 methods for detaching from, and having better boundaries with, your phone. Now I wish I could say that any of these are a cure all for overconsumption, but the truth is, it’s a constant teeter-tauter for me. Sometimes I can stick with the “high” I get from detaching, and carry on good & healthy habits for awhile. Other times, it’s all too easy to fall back into old habits, even when I “know better.” But rather than beat myself up over it, I am better able to determine when I need to put some stricter boundaries in place and I pull out one or two (or more) of these methods from my toolbox to get myself back on track again. Intentional living never happens on accident. So sometimes when we fall off track of the ways we want to be living, we need a reset. And that’s ok. In fact, I think that’s good.

So how about you friends? Do you use any intentional methods to set boundaries for yourself with your phone? If so, what do you do? Or, do you feel like maybe you need to give one of these methods a try? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

Until next time,

the little things // vol. 6

Well friends, somehow we’ve managed to survive another month of quarantine, and it’s slowly starting to feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is growing larger. I don’t know how it is where you live, but in Wyoming we are making steps to test out re-opening the state starting May 1st! But rather than talk about the coronavirus (because I’m sure we’re all pretty tired of doing that), I’m here to wrap up this abnormal month with another addition of The Little Things – an ongoing series where I share some simple things that have been impacting my life in big ways. Because it’s the little things in life that add up to make the greatest of impacts. I have received some of my best recommendations from blogs, podcasts, or friends, so I want to be a pal and pass along some things making my life just a little bit better lately, in case you might find some value in them too. And in light of all of the craziness we’ve been undergoing, now more than ever we could all use some extra life-giving intention in our lives. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying during the month of April:

My Favorite Primer: Tula’s Face Filter

I’ve been an avid user of Tula’s skincare products for about a year and a half now, and even as I’ve attempted to veer away to try out a few different brands, I find myself coming back again and again. I didn’t realize just how much I loved this specific product until I ran out of it and couldn’t replace it right away because they were sold out. I finally got my hands on it again when they restocked recently, and have been happy to have it back. I wear very, very minimal make up – and would even prefer to go make-up-less most days, but my face often needs a little something extra to blend my skin tone more nicely. Enter in the Face Filter. It’s a blurring and moisturizing primer, so while it technically serves as make-up, it’s kind to my skin while giving it some extra, even glow. It’s fairly lightweight and can be worn alone, but sometimes I will still add on some foundation over it if I’m needing some extra coverage. If you’ve never tried out Tula before, you can get 20% off your first purchase here.

An Uplifting & Relatable Podcast: The Within Her Podcast

When it comes to my taste in podcasts, I tend to enjoy ones that give a peek into the lives of everyday people for the chance to learn more about how they manage their priorities and choose to be obedient to God in their own unique settings. One of my more recent finds with this format has been the Within Her podcast, and so far I’ve really enjoyed the topics that Kaci has covered with her guests, as well as the intentionality she has in the questions she brings up. As I’ve started from the beginning (which was just back in October) some of my favorite episodes have been How to Get Stronger Physically, Mentally & Spiritually with Jen Diaz; Choosing Obedience Over Fear in Seasons of Waiting with Evie Rupp; Motherhood, Body Image & How God Redeems in Unexpected Ways with Natalie Borton; and Getting Organized & The Power of Sharing Your Story with Mika Perry. If any of those topics, or that kind of podcast format, appeals to you, I’d definitely recommend giving it a listen.

A Daily Devotional: Take It Too Far by Jess Connolly

If you’ve been reading along here for any amount of time, it’s likely you’ve heard me rave about anything that Jess Connolly seems to be involved with. From her book writing, to her current Made Up Morning Show, to her podcast, she’s been a truth speaker in my life for years now. My favorite part is that in everything she puts out into the world, I grow to love her more because she points me to Jesus more. The latest recommendation I have of hers is her most recent book Take It Too Far: Abundant Life, Boundless Love, Unending Grace. It’s a book of 100 topical devotionals centered on putting an end to playing it safe in our faith and taking the attributes of God further in our lives. Each day includes a Bible verse, a reflection from Jess, and a charge to take it too far in your own life today. I don’t always enjoy the quick formats of devotionals like this, but I have been spurred on in a variety of ways through topics that I hadn’t considered. Just the other day I came across these words that I’ve started to speak over my days:

I’d highly recommend this read for some daily doses of truth and encouragement to take your own faith too far.

A Freeing Habit: Leaving My Phone Across the Room While I Sleep

This was a habit I honestly avoided for a long time, simply because me and my snooze button have been good friends since I started using an alarm clock as a kid. But in an attempt to reinforce the elimination of my bad habit of scrolling on my phone before even getting out of bed in the morning, I decided to finally give it a try this month. And I’m pleased to say it has been effective and surprisingly life giving. Since I’m not hitting snooze at the first sign of life from my phone, I seem to feel the grace to take a moment to wake up slowly and then get out of bed to start my day (it’s helpful that my husband usually wakes up before me, or at the same time, so my alarm doesn’t annoy him). It’s just been that extra boost of motivation to kick start my morning routine. And the habit of scrolling in bed feels long gone since I don’t have the chance to even debate the choice. This kind of habit is just one method I’ve utilized in my life to build better boundaries with my phone, and I’ll actually be sharing more about all of the ones I’ve tried in a post next week, so be on the look out for that!

Something We Could All Always Use More Of: Fresh Air

I love this time of year in general for this purpose, but amidst all the quarantining that basically the whole world has been doing the past two months, now, more than ever, I am snatching up opportunities to take in the fresh air and get outside (or bring the outside in). I’ve been taking the pups out more consistently for walks, and now that we’re finally starting to get some warmer weather in Cheyenne, I’ve been opening the windows on nice days to get some air flow in the house. It’s even been nice enough some days to sit out on our back patio for my morning quiet time or to do some work in the afternoon. It feels incredibly life-giving to breathe in the fresh air and soak up some Vitamin D. So if you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to spend some extra time outside when the weather allows. I can almost guarantee that it’ll bring an extra boost to your day.


And there you have it! Five little things that have been helping me through this pandemic, and making a big impact in my life this month. I hope if you give any of these things a try that they add value to your life and make a big impact for you too. You’ll have to let me know if you end up trying any of them OR if any of them are already little things in your own life!

Until next time friends,

p.s. For previous recommendations from The Little Things series, check out vol. 1vol. 2vol. 3vol. 4, vol. 5

Note: this is NOT a sponsored post. All links are to products that I have personally used and truly enjoy, and I just want to share the love. I do not make any profit from these links, with the exception of the referral link for Tula in which case you can get 20% off your first order, and I get some credit towards my next purchase.

spring goals refresh

While goal setting can feel daunting to some, the more I’ve done it and the more I’ve honed in on the best approach to it that works for me, the more I’ve found it to be not just effective, but enjoyable. And the most significant piece of that is treating my goals with grace and being willing to adjust. I’m sure there are plenty of people that would advise you to set firm goals and hustle hard towards them until you achieve them, no matter what. And while that’s inspiring advice, I’ve learned that to safeguard myself from my perfectionist tendencies, I need to approach goals with a bit more flexibility. That’s where the seasonal goal refresh in my Powersheets comes in handy. Each quarter I take the time to assess where my heart and life are at, check in on how I’m progressing on my goals, and determine whether or not the same goals still matter to me. In doing so, I have the chance to either renew my commitment to what I set out to do at the start of the year, or refresh my goals to better fit where I am at. Because on January 1st I had no idea what the year would bring, let alone the first three months (side eyeing you, coronavirus). So it’s important to check in and grant myself the freedom to adjust.

And that’s exactly what I did this weekend. But this go around I tried an additional method to guide my refresh. At the start of the year, a common tactic in uncovering your goals is to consider how you want to feel at the end of the year, and then letting that guide the goals and action steps you set to help get you there. While this method has been helpful, I tend to get a little overwhelmed with big picture thinking, and so as my goal refresh approached I considered how much I enjoy taking a year season by season, embracing the unique qualities of each one. And so I decided to break it down a little further and consider how I want to feel during this spring season, as well as at the end of it, and let my intentions be shaped by that.

Through this method of reflection, as well as the routine life audit that I get to do with the Powersheets process, I recognized some threads, and those threads then lead to a few adjustments to my goals for at least the next three months. I thought it would be fun to share a peek into that, so here are a few things I uncovered:

  • The best descriptor for what I want to feel in this season is FRESH. I want to feel full of fresh air (think spending time outdoors or having the windows open) and I want to feel refreshed – ready to take on the days the Lord gives me.
  • I recognized that I tend to save the best for last when it comes to my time (most specifically when it comes to recreation). And as a result, I often procrastinate on the things that I really want to do because other “necessities” get put first. And while keeping up with necessary tasks has importance, I don’t want my obligations to always overrule every other aspect of my life. Through this realization, the word INDULGE came to mind in regards to my time.
  • On the flip side, I also have a tendency to put off some of the not-so-fun-but-necessary tasks because I don’t really enjoy them (i.e. yard work). And the longer I put them off, the more they tend to loom over me and add stress to my mind because I’m consistently reminded of how I need to do them. So when I finally get it all done, I feel so much better and I can enjoy the outcomes. I want to be fueled by the outcomes of these kinds of tasks to motivate me to complete them more quickly and get them out of the way.
  • The biggest roadblock I let get in the way of all three of these things: scrolling on my phone. This isn’t news to me, but it’s certainly a necessary constant reminder because of how much time I ashamedly waste on my device. While there are ways that I can healthily consume quality content on my phone, there are many ways that I can improve my habits.

With each of these things fresh on my mind, I gave myself the freedom to make some adjustments to the goals I initially set in January in order to better align them with where I am right now, in this current season. So here are my updated 2020 goals as I dive deeper into Spring:

  1. Treat Blogging Like It’s My Job. This one remains the same, especially because I certainly haven’t achieved it yet, and it’s important to me.
  2. Practice Intuitive Health. This goal is primarily the same in motivation and substance, but I decided to change up my wording based on what’s been a theme in this area of my life lately. I want to do what makes my body FEEL good, and that can differ from day to day. Now that I have a lot more awareness of methods I enjoy, I want to tap into those resources (or gain new insights) in order to best take care of my body so that I can care more about health than I do about my appearance.
  3. Break Free of My Phone. No changes here, because as I mentioned above, it’s necessary.
  4. Re-Simplify & Refresh. I added to this goal by including my desired outcome within it. I want to freshen up my approach to minimal living because I know it helps release that looming stress I talked about, and it can help me live more like I want to: fresh, abundant, & full.
  5. Take Extra Good Care of Our Dogs. Another one that remains the same, because it’s still a priority I’m focusing on.
  6. Read 12 Books in 12 Months. No changes here. I’ve completed 2 books so far this year, so I’m in some ways behind my book-a-month track, but I’m confident that I can utilize my time well to continue on with this.
  7. Indulge My Time (rather than saving the best for last). This is a new goal and it’s basically because of the exact reasons I shared above. I want to do the things I want to do – the life-giving, soul filling things that I truly enjoy – rather than putting them off like I’ve been doing for awhile.
  8. Grow in Faith Based Community. This is also a goal that went through a bit of a metamorphosis. And that was primarily influenced by the desire to grow more spiritually in our marriage, as well as the desire to find more of our place within our church community (whenever we’re able to start gathering again).

And there you have it. After honing in on what’s mattering more to me in this season, I was able to make a few adjustments to the goals that are guiding my intentions throughout this year. It’s likely that there will be more shifts in another 3 months, and that’s ok. My goals get to serve me, not the other way around.

Whether you’re a “goals person” or not, I’d highly encourage you to take even just 30 minutes one day this week to reflect on the coming season. Ask yourself how you want to feel at the end of this season. Ask yourself how you want to feel during this season. And then consider the ways that you can make those feelings happen. I can almost guarantee it’ll lead you to want to take action on at least something. Besides, we all have plenty of time on our hands right now, right? 😉

Until next time friends,

the little things // vol. 5

Hi there friends! Amidst these times of uncertainty and chaos, I’m bringing you another installment of The Little Things – an ongoing series where I share some simple things that have been impacting my life in big ways. Because it’s the little things in life that add up to make the greatest of impacts. I have received some of my best recommendations from blogs, podcasts, or friends, so I want to be a pal and pass along some things making my life just a little bit better lately, in case you might find some value in them too. Here’s what’s been making a difference in March:

A feel good video that will surely brighten your day: Some Good News

If you haven’t already seen John Krasinski’s viral contribution to the current state of things, this is an absolute must see. And if you have seen it already, it’s probably worth another watch. We could all use some uplifting and positive news to increase our hope and joy amidst a season full of so many unknowns. I cried tears of joy numerous times my first watch through – it’s just that good.

A “morning show” that’s worth your time: The Made Up Morning Show

Jess Connolly continues to prove to be one of my favorite people to glean wisdom from as her and her sister, Katie Walters, have been hosting an Instagram Live every morning, Monday through Thursday, called the Made Up Morning Show. They spend 30-60 minutes chatting about a variety of topics, but also focusing on tips for joy and strength in this season of turmoil, while being the down to earth, goofy sisters that they are. It feels just like having an encouraging chat with close friends. Plus they do daily giveaways, and who doesn’t like that? It’s been a must watch for me, and I haven’t missed an ‘episode’ yet. It seems like they are going to continue with it for the foreseeable future, so you can either tune in live at 10am EST or rewatch the saved video within 24 hours over on Jess’s instagram. I’ve been enjoying it either while I’m getting ready for the day, or with a cup of coffee on the couch.

A chill album to listen to: Vacancy by Will Reagan

Will Reagan became a fast favorite of mine a few years ago when I was turned on to his music through his participation in United Pursuit (an indie-folk worship collective). Their album, Tell All My Friends, continues to be one of my top picks, so when I recently realized that Will came out with a new album last summer, I instantly listened to it over and over again (& wondered how I didn’t know about it sooner!). It’s less meditative worship than Tell All My Friends, and lyrically seems a bit more like a processing of life. Musically it sounds a bit more experimental than its predecessor, but it’s still incredibly calming to have playing in the background at home.

My current can’t miss TV show: Survivor Winners at War

Apart from This Is Us and A Million Little Things (who else caught the season finales last week??), the show I most anticipate each week right now has got to be the latest season of Survivor. While we’re well into it at this point, it continues to bring me incredible thrill and excitement every week (& sometimes massive frustration when some of my picks are voted out). The nostalgia of all these great players together amidst some great game play makes for fantastic entertainment each week. If the recent cancellation of sports has been bumming you out and you need something else to watch, this show can definitely offer you the competitive edge you might be seeking.

A recent read: Move for Joy by Kasey Shuler

This book has preached to my soul practically everything I’ve been needing in regards to my fitness journey. It’s been incredibly helpful for my ever-evolving journey to pursue health in a way that glorifies God. Kacey dives deep into the variety of motivators we might have in regards to fitness and then tries to connect them with more lasting motivators to help us truly enjoy moving our bodies. I will say, there were a lot of typos and grammatical errors in my copy that were a bit distracting at times, but there were so many nuggets of gold throughout the book that I still would highly recommend it. If you are looking for some freedom and joy in your health and wellness journey, then definitely check this book out.


And that’s all for now, friends! Five little things that have been making a big impact in my life this month. I hope if you give any of these things a try that they add value to your life and make a big impact for you too. You’ll have to let me know if you end up trying any of them OR if any of them are already little things in your own life!

Until next time,

p.s. For previous recommendations from The Little Things series, check out vol. 1vol. 2vol. 3, vol. 4

coffee date // vol. 3

Well hey friend, it’s been a little while since we’ve caught up so I’m thrilled that we were able to carve out some time for a coffee date today. When we last did this, I was on the cusp of a new season of life [read more here], so it’s only natural that the first question that rolls off your tongue as we cozy up is regarding that.

You ask what I’ve been up to and how I’m enjoying staying at home right now. And while it’s truly been good, it also has felt slightly complicated. In the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t felt like I’ve been up to much, and yet I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. I’ve spent the last few months figuring out new routines so I can continue to be productive and live my days intentionally, especially when it comes to blogging – which I’ll get to in a minute – but I still feel like I’m finding my footing with it, and figuring out the most successful rhythms. I’ve been trying to capitalize on this time and space that I’ve got by taking the best possible care of myself and setting up a good structure to build off of in whatever season is to come next. But I can’t help but feel that everything I’m doing is very basic, because I was maintaining many of the same areas of life while I was still working. And I’d be lying if I said that being unemployed hasn’t rocked my identity a bit. But I keep finding myself overly grateful for the extra time to invest more into these valuable areas of life. I’ve had the space to figure things out amidst the changes, to process all that is happening in my life, and to prepare for whatever might be next. And the timing of it all has proven to be graciously not-so-coincidental.

You see, I recently recognized that we’re in the midst of a limbo season, and it primarily hinges on our timeline with the Air Force. In short, we were due to move on to our next base this fall, but there’s now a good probability that we could be extended here longer and would then expect to move next summer. But, in true military fashion, we don’t have a definitive answer one way or the other yet. And even if we’ve been told that the odds are high that we will be staying put a little longer, I’ve learned to not let myself believe that something is certain with the Air Force until we have it in writing, or until it actually happens. So that leaves us still waiting on a final answer.

I’m not necessarily stressed about the outcome – there are positives to each option for us, so I don’t think I’ll be disappointed either way. But what I have been finding to be a bit more weighty is that every other life decision feels like it is on hold while we wait. Our travel plans, our involvement in our church and other activities, home improvement ideas, my employment status, purchasing a new car, and just overall decisions for our family – they all feel dependent on when we will be moving. Because there is a big difference between moving in seven months, and moving in fifteen. And so at this point I’m coping by not making any further big decisions until we know the answer to that. Hence, our limbo season.

But we seem to be doing okay with it. We’re hoping to know more by the end of the month (maybe…), but until then, I’m trying to just lean into the tension of the in-between by taking whatever next right steps I can. I might not know the exact destination or timeline we’re headed towards, but that doesn’t mean I should stop living.

And one way I’ve been trying to lean in is by figuring out my blog. You might remember that as a result of my strong sense of calling to invest into this space, one of my 2020 goals is to treat blogging like it’s my job – AKA I’m trying to take it seriously, devote time and attention to it, and give myself some structure to work on it. And I’m still very much figuring this out. I came out the gate in January full speed ahead with pumping out two posts a week, which was my goal, but as I continued that pace into February, I felt myself burning out quickly by the middle of the month. While some things were going well, it was evident that other things weren’t working on the back end, so that led me to reassess my tactics. And in doing so, I came to the epiphany that it is okay for my blog to be a work in progress. It is okay for me to experiment with different tactics until I land on what works best for me. While I benefit from resources and wisdom from successful bloggers, I’m accepting that I can pave my own path and write my own story – especially because my measure of success is likely a bit different than the norm.

So I’ve recently felt a bit freed up to figure out what works for ME. And in doing so I have given myself permission to embrace experimentation; to allow myself to trial and error; to let go of my fear of failure because the only way I’m going to figure out what works for me is to actually put things to work. I recently read the quote “Be brave enough to suck at something new.” And while blogging in itself isn’t entirely new to me, growing it into what I want it to be is. And so it is okay for me to flail and get scrappy and get a bit roughed up if in the end it leads to me knowing exactly how I want to continue with it. The only person that is demanding anything of me and my blog right now, is me. So it’s time I take the pressure off and allow myself to figure out how I can sustainably enjoy it. And oh, let me tell ya, what a sense of relief that’s been.

As we continue to chat and sip on our coffees, I exhaust the topics of my life, and start asking about you. I want to hear all about what you’ve been up to lately. What’s been bringing you joy? What’s been hard? It’s always so rejuvenating for me to connect over the realness of life, and I’m so glad to have a friend like you to do that with.

We finish our drinks, wrap up our conversation, and give each other a big hug, agreeing (like we always do) that we really should do this more often.

Until next time friend,

the little things // vol. 4

As we end off another month, I’m here to share another installment of The Little Things – an ongoing series where I share some simple things that have been impacting my life in big ways. Because it’s the little things in life that add up to make the greatest of impacts. I have received some of my best recommendations from blogs, podcasts, or friends, so I want to be a pal and pass along some things I’m loving with you all, in case you might find some value in them too. Here’s what’s I’ve been enjoying in February:

The newest addition to my skincare routine: Primally Pure Cleansing Oil

Back in December my face hit an exceptionally high dry spell. I think it was due to a perfect storm of our typical dry climate, the cold weather, and possibly an overuse of some of my skin care products. As I worked to revive my skin, I tried a few different tactics, but one in particular was Primally Pure’s Cleansing Oil. I have done oil cleansing in the past with coconut oil, but strayed away from the habit awhile back (if you’re unfamiliar with oil cleansing, you can read more about it here). I had recently heard numerous recommendations of this specific product, and my overly dry face was desperate enough for some rejuvenation that I ordered the dry skin blend. After two months of use I can officially say that it has become a new staple in my skin care routine. My skin feels much cleaner, softer, and hydrated when I use this in combination with a handful of other products. It feels like I’m giving myself a small spa treatment each night when I use it. It smells lovely and is made with all natural, organic ingredients. If you’re interested in giving it, or any of Primally Pure’s products, a try you can get 10% off your first order here (and I’ll end up getting a little bit of store credit as well).

A tried & true healthy habit: Starting my day with a full glass of water

Along the same lines of combatting dryness, this habit has been benefitting me in a variety of ways. Ever since we moved to Cheyenne over two years ago, the elevation and drier climate have increased my body’s susceptibility to dehydration, so I’ve been working to maintain a high water intake ever since. One way I do that is by starting off my day with a full glass of water before I do anything else. Before a cup of coffee (which I’m actually taking a step back from), before I eat anything, before I settle in for my morning quiet time, I drink a full glass of water. There are what feels like endless benefits to drinking enough water each day (I myself have seen it improve my skin, hair, digestion, energy, mental clarity and more), but most people are drinking far less than the suggested amount. So I’ve found that a helpful way to ensure I kickstart my intake is getting a full glass in before anything else. I’d suggest giving it a try to see what it can do for you.

My all time favorite candle: Yankee Candle’s Pink Sands

As the days slowly become longer and the sun is shining a little bit brighter, I’ve been getting my first waves of spring fever. Even though winter will still be around for a bit here in Wyoming, my mental state is shifting, so I’m preparing myself for warmer days ahead. One way I’ve been doing that is by setting the mood in my house with one of my all time favorite candles: Pink Sands. While I typically opt for Bath & Body Work’s candles, this one has been a favorite of both me and my husband for at least ten years, and it still holds strong. Between it’s satisfying scent and the nostalgia I have for it, it helps foster some warm weather feels, which I’m all about right now.

An encouraging podcast episode: What to Do When You Doubt You Have What It Takes (She Podcast)

I very recently was introduced to Jordan Dooley on Instagram, and quickly found the She Podcast in lieu of that. I’ve only listened to a couple episodes so far, but this episode in particular was a huge dose of encouragement for me as of late. It’s fairly short but it packs a punch. I’ve listened to it twice through already, and I found myself taking notes of a few things she shared. I’d highly recommend it if you are in any way struggling with some self doubt.

My 2020 Planner: Get To Work Book

I’ve been following Elise Cripe online for 5-6 years now and I’ve witnessed the creation of her planner business, but I didn’t take the plunge and purchase one until this year. I’ve learned that I’m a bit of a planner snob and when I was in the market for a new one for 2020, I took another peek at the Get To Work Book and realized that it checked all the boxes for my preferences. It’s minimal, simple, sturdy, and has plenty of space for making notes in the margins. Plus there are extra pages for project planning and goal setting. I’ll be honest that I was hesitant at first with the price tag, but it’s proved to be a quality planner that I’ve loved so far, and it’s supporting the small business of a pretty awesome gal. If you haven’t gotten a planner yet for this year, the Jan 2020-Dec 2020 Get To Work Book is currently on sale so now is a great time to snatch one up.

Honorable Mention: Pilates…again

I know I shared this last month, but pilates through The Balanced Life has continued to be an incredibly life-giving practice for me, and they have an offer right now that is too good not to share. They just announced a FREE online 5-day Pilates challenge designed to build strength and reduce stress in just 15 minutes per day. If you’ve been considering giving pilates a try, or if you are looking for simple, quick & effective workouts to fit into your busy life, NOW is a fantastic time to check out The Balanced Life. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. You can find out more details and sign up here.


And there you have it – five (well, technically six) little things that have been making a big impact in my life this month. I hope if you give any of these things a try that they add value to your life and make a big impact for you too. You’ll have to let me know if you end up trying any of them OR if any of them are already little things in your own life!

Until next time friends,

P.S. For previous recommendations from The Little Things series, check out vol. 1vol. 2, vol. 3

the one practice that has benefitted my faith & my mental health most

A few days ago I filled up the last page of another prayer journal. As I did, I looked back to the first page, back to September 12th – almost exactly five months ago. I scanned over the words I wrote to God when I asked Him to meet me within the pages of this journal. I had asked with anticipation for Him to lead me and guide me through whatever would come my way. Little did I know what those five months would hold. I considered how much has changed since I wrote that prayer on the first page. And then I considered how much of that change was processed and recorded within the pages that followed. The processing of decisions about our future, the downward spiral of the gym I worked for, the uncertainty of my next steps after job loss, finding and settling into new routines, further establishing our sense of community where we live – all of this and much, much more were processed at length. And while the processing wasn’t always pretty, and the outcomes of some situations weren’t always tied up with a neat bow, I was still able to fill the last lines of this journal with thanksgiving towards God for the way He has helped me through it all. I was able to say with certainty and with joy that the Lord is faithful.

While journaling my prayers has become a life altering habit in my faith and life, there’s a specific practice within it that has been the ultimate game changer for me. It’s what prayer journaling allows me the space to do. It’s what led me from the first page to the last page of this journal with an ever increasing trust in the Lord, despite a rollercoaster of circumstances. And it’s what has ultimately allowed about the greatest transformation in my heart. What I want to share about with you today is the concept of getting real with God.

What do I mean by that? Well, I mean sharing your whole and complete self with God. I mean opening up and letting Him into the lightest and brightest, as well as the deepest and darkest crevices of your soul. I mean putting it all out on the table – mess and all. I believe that prayer is a gift we’ve been given as a means to communicate with our Father and Creator, Redeemer and Savior. And if we don’t utilize it, we are the ones missing out. If all we do is say fluffy or repetitive or extravagant or forced words that we don’t even really mean, then are we actually communicating? Or, if all we do is have surface level conversations with God, constantly asking Him for things, but we hide our real hurts or wicked thoughts, are we really allowing God to change our hearts?

So I’ve learned to bare it all out there and confess who I am, exactly as I am. I say learned, because it’s often not easy. I don’t enjoy being vulnerable. As an enneagram 1, I don’t like facing my mistakes. I don’t like revealing the messy sides of me. I’d much rather talk about the neat and tidy parts of life. But I started to accept that if I can’t bring my full, whole self before God, who loves me unconditionally and more than anyone else, then I’m never going to be able to share my full, whole self with anyone. We used to attend a church that often said, “Bring the mess, Jesus can handle it.” And while we didn’t stick around that church long for unrelated reasons, that idea has stuck with me. If anyone can handle the worst parts of me, it’s Jesus. And so there is no safer place for me to be real. He already knows my heart and my thoughts anyways – and more deeply than I do at that. He’s not shocked by my sins and secrets. And He already went to the cross on behalf of them. So why not lay them before Him and ask Him to help me deal with them, rather than be consumed with worry that I’m going to be found out?

So I do that by being raw and honest with God when we chat. Sometimes that means I’m overjoyed and full of gratitude, so I pour out my thanksgiving and praise. But other times I boil over in anger, I cry out in sorrow, I dump out my overwhelm, I own up to my failures, I wrestle with my disappointment, I confess my fears, I demand change in what I deem unjust situations, I ask Him “why?”, I beg for miracles. Most emotions humans are capable of, I’ve probably hashed out with God at some point. And if you look back through that list, you can probably guess that it doesn’t always look pretty.

But the more I’ve opened up about the real stuff, the more He has cleared out the crud and transformed my heart. And the more He’s done that, the more I’ve seen His gentleness, and faithfulness, and patience, and grace. I’ve gotten to experience God’s love and mercy for me amidst my harshest moments. And as a result, my faith has grown exponentially as I’ve experienced what feels like His miracle work in my life. There is no specific method to it. There are no magic words to say. There’s no right or wrong strategy. It’s just me laying myself bare and coming before the throne of my Savior and King to seek His guidance.

I firmly believe that by inviting God in, He more easily brings deep change in my heart and life, because I’m no longer resisting. It has given me an incredibly fresh and real meaning to Jesus as my Wonderful Counselor. Because there have been times that I’ve walked away from journaling feeling like I just came straight out of a therapy session.

It’s through this practice and allowing the Holy Spirit to really have His way with me that I’ve realized how much I have a fear of failure. I’ve had my eyes opened to how much of an idol I’ve made of comfort in my life. I’ve recognized my shortcomings in communicating in my marriage and found ways to strengthen it. I’ve found hope and direction in the face of unknown. I’ve gained better understanding of other people in my life, and I’ve definitely gained better understanding of myself. I’ve had the opportunity to see God pull all of the loose threads together in so many situations to complete the fuller picture. I’ve also had the opportunity of finding peace while the threads are all still loose.

By offering up the junk and the mess and the mire within me, God has taken it and used it to teach me, grow me, change me, transform me, and ultimately bring me into His freedom. He knows that there are times I’ve needed gentle correction, and other times that have required a not-so-subtle kick in the pants. Of course there are messy feelings and words that come out that aren’t so honoring to God, but by giving it all over to Him, I have a safe place to sort through them, rather than let them bubble over in even greater sin, and possibly making it worse. By acknowledging that my heart isn’t always in the place it’s “supposed” to be, I’m able to give God the room to mold it and shape it to make it new. THIS is how I become more like Jesus – not by striving to obtain a certain character trait through practice (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). But by handing over the deepest, darkest parts of myself and letting God do His redeeming work – letting Him get to be the hero that He is. Sometimes that means He eradicates the tough stuff, and sometimes that means He shines through it.

So however you pray, I urge you to be completely and wholly honest with God. Give Him it all. Each and every emotion. Each and every light and heavy thought. Each and every shortcoming and failure. I promise you, He wants to hear from you. He wants to shine light in those dark corners you’ve been working so hard to hide – not to embarrass you or to hurt you, but to set you free. It might still feel uncomfortable to be exposed, but there is no safer place than in the shadow of God’s wings. He is the most wonderful counselor I’ve ever known. I hope you can know Him as that too.

What about you? How do you best connect with God? Do you feel like you could get a little more real with Him when you talk to Him? Or have you experienced His work in your heart because of a time you were real with Him? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Until next time,

ute trail

As we’ve made our way into February and are inching ever so slightly closer to warmer weather, I’m finding myself feeling my first waves of spring fever. Of course, I’m realistic about the fact that we’re still very much in winter here in Wyoming, especially as there’s a light snow falling outside as I type this. But a girl’s allowed to dream about warmer days ahead…or behind, I suppose. Because today I’m sharing about another one of our summer hikes from last year. This one ended up being a doozy, mainly because it didn’t go quite as we anticipated, but we still enjoyed our time in the fresh air and mountains, and I certainly learned a few good lessons along the way.

Back in July I was eager to get back into Rocky Mountain National Park for some outdoor adventures. We live about an hour and a half from the Estes Park entrance, so we’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring different areas of the park while we’ve lived in Cheyenne, and it has become one of my favorite places, with still so much left for us to see. My end goal for the season was to hike up to Sky Pond (which spoiler alert, we did do, and Iim excited to share more about it), but I wanted to work our way up to it since it was a bit of a longer hike, and I was still willing to admit that we’re novices in this hobby, so on this particular day I planned for something more moderate.

At the time, I had just discovered AllTrails, so I picked out a couple options for us, knowing that parking would probably determine our fate. The initial trail I had in mind was actually a portion of the Sky Pond hike, but with the trailhead being in one of the most popular areas of the park and it being peak season, our 7:30am arrival time was too late to get parking – even in the shuttle lot. Thankfully I had another hike in a different area of the park saved in my AllTrails app, so we headed towards Trail Ridge Road for Ute Trail, but considering the starting point was along the side of this heavily traveled highway, we knew that parking was going to be minimal. We crossed our fingers, enjoyed the always spectacular views as we made our way up the winding road, and thankfully found some side road parking a short walk away from the trailhead.

Based on my AllTrails app and the reviews I saw, this would be a 5.6 mile in-and-out hike. We started at 11,430 ft elevation, with the expectation that we’d decline for a bit in the middle of the hike before reaching the end point where we’d turn around and work our way back up. The down, then up format was different than what we were used to, but we were willing to give it a go for the sake of a fun experience.

Since we started the hike so high up and it was still early in the day, the weather was chillier and windier than we had planned for, but we thankfully had enough layers to manage. The weather stayed pretty clear throughout our time though, and it warmed up significantly the lower in elevation we went.

We made our way across Tombstone Ridge for about 2 miles. There was a handful of people along the trail with us, but it wasn’t too crowded. It was a different experience for us to be hiking so high up in the alpine tundra surrounded by seemingly endless mountains, so I was soaking in the views. We reached the point where the descent began (Timberline Pass) and started making our way down the rocky trail. I became slightly concerned that no one else seemed to be following along this path, but I assumed they didn’t plan on going as far as we did, and chose to trust the map as we continued down a steep decline, with no switchbacks in sight.

Along the way, I continued to check the map and the GPS on my phone, and as we appeared to be approaching the end point of the trail we expected to reach some sort of view point or an obvious sign that it was time to turn around. But as we hit the mile marker, that point never arrived. We chose to keep going a bit further, because surely we had to be close to some sort of destination, but the further we made our way down the mountain, the more we thought about how we had to climb our way back up it. We probably ended up going an extra half mile, and then finally stopped for lunch and to rest for a bit. From previous hikes we’ve learned that while descending can be faster and easier on the lungs, it takes a toll on our knees. Considering we just descended about 2,000 ft in the span of a mile, both of us were hurting. We considered our options as we ate, and acknowledged that the Ute Trail as a whole actually continues down into Beaver Meadows, and that perhaps the trail we were following in AllTrails was meant to be just a portion of it. While we loved the idea of finishing the trail out and not having to go back up the mountain, we only had one car, and it was parked up at the top. Our only way out was back up, so going any further seemed a bit illogical, despite not having reached any particular destination.

We slowly scrambled our way back up the trail, now feeling the struggle in our lungs, on top of our already aching knees. I definitely had a harder time than Adam (I’ll credit his marathon training for helping his lung capacity…& of course he’s just naturally stronger than me too), so I frequently stopped to rest. It got to the point where I’d step up a few rocks and have to stop. Then I’d take another few steps, and have to stop again. It was a big slice of humble pie. I mean, I worked at a gym for goodness sake and I was in the best shape of my life – this shouldn’t have been so hard. But the nice thing about hiking is that we spend a lot of time in silence, and I had plenty of time to consider that to get better at anything it takes practice – even hiking. So I kept trudging along, taking my time and listening to my body, stopping when I needed to. And when I stopped, I took the moment to look out at the mountains surrounding us and be reminded of why I enjoy hiking in the first place: to be humbled by God’s creation. I was definitely humbled on this day – just differently than I normally am. But as we finally reached the edge of Timberline Pass and our path leveled out as we started back across Tombstone Ridge, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Plus those alpine views sure didn’t lose their splendor.

By the time we reached our car, we were exhausted and agreed that this was a tough one, but it was still a good one. It was a learning experience on many counts. I learned that AllTrails is a helpful tool, but since anyone can contribute information to it, everyone’s input doesn’t always match up accurately, so do some extra research when going somewhere new. I was reminded that the only way to get better at hiking is to just go out and hike. I learned that going up, then down is much more preferable than going down, then up. And lastly, don’t forget to pack some toilet paper 😉

If we were to do this hike again, I’d either keep it shorter and simpler, and just hike the 2 miles along Tombstone Ridge and then head back to the trailhead (the views along the way are plenty worth it). OR I’d take two cars, parking one down in Beaver Meadows and one at the top of the trailhead, so we could experience the full Ute Trail. I’d also probably start at the bottom, but that might just be preference. Regardless, I stand behind my mantra that any day I spend in the mountains is a good day.

Have you ever gone for a hike that didn’t go quite as you planned? Join me in sharing and tell me about it in the comments below!

Until next time,