When You Want To See Him All Year Long

 **Giveaway Update**
Many thanks to all who commented here, on Facebook, and via email!  The three random winners from the drawing are "Tinuviel," "Dustin and Shannon," and "Nellie S."  Congratulations!!  Send your mailing address to Courtney {at} Growing Is Beautiful {dot} com and I will get your calendar in the mail right after Christmas.

And if you didn't win this time around?  I hope you'll still count us friends and keep your eyes wide open to the God who's ever near and ever full of Grace.  May the year ahead be more full of Him than any you've known before.

There's no denying that there's more of God than we can wrap ourselves around.  But all of us, we've been given eyes to see Him if we'll only choose to open them wide, let Him blind us with Beauty and Glory and God in even the most ordinary of days.

There are a million places to see Him, find Him, know He's near--and we've each been given our own unique eyes through which to seek His face.  No, we'll never see Him fully until that day we're finally Home and Whole and on our faces at His feet--but what if we all shared what we've seen, let everyone else peer through the eyes we've been given?

Wouldn't it fill the whole world with the One Who can deliver us all?

God, He's not been hard to find these last months of a life.  I've seen Him in hard days and dark nights, in the wounding and the wondering.  But I've seen Him, too, in the healing and the mending, in the Love and the Grace and the Hope that just won't quit.  Yes, He's been near and strong and oh-so-glorious every month, every day, every hour of this year.

But these eyes He's given me?  There's one place I see Him that pours Joy straight into the marrow.  And I capture tiny pieces of His Glory with the eyes of a camera and all I want is to turn around and show the whole world--Look!  Do you see Him?  Isn't He the most beautiful, glorious, life-giving One you've ever seen?

Oh, won't you let me show you what I see?

I stand in the cold sun of a January day, stare long at branches stripped of green and find God right there at the center of it all--the dogwood's branches bathed in light and life, God guarding Hope in the sacred depths of Winter's silence.

I wander through a grove of witch hazel trees on a February afternoon, blooms dripping straight from the barren places, and God whispers this truth--that sometimes the Beauty and the Glory and the God are found precisely because frozen winds sweep everything else away.

Then March dawns with rain and storm but a promise of Spring--and I kneel on the wet ground to see crocuses heralding the earth's rebirth, mouths opened wide to praise the One Who holds us all together.

April finally comes and I'm stopped short in the middle of the path, one branch of a cherry tree swooping down to meet me where I am, this one cluster of blooms filling me with longing for the face of the One I love--the One Who always meets me where I am.

And it's the month of May that finds me soaking in the warmth of the late Spring sun and I'm circling all the magnolia trees at least a dozen times because I can't get enough of beauty bursting out of cocoons, God delivering life from all these tiny wombs.

I'm lost in the maze of an arboretum one morning in June when I find all these hydrangea blooms darting in and out of the shadows, echoing His whisper, "Come and find Me."  So I seek and I find and I can't stop clicking the shutter because I don't want to forget the sound of His calling.

Then July comes rushing in with a welcome breath of warmth and I'm up before dawn to catch all the roses opening up to the day's first light.  Now I'm face to face with God awakening the whole garden with His Light and I can hardly bear to go back home.

It's August when I meander through rows of dahlias and I've a whole camera full of their beauty--but it's the one stem I bring home and settle in a glass that captures me most.  I snap a photo right there in the kitchen window and I'm beside myself with gratitude for a God so near in my tiny corner of the great big world.

Autumn's arrival isn't yet here, but September enters and the dogwood leaves start whispering of what's to come, bright green changing unexpectedly to glorious pink.  And who wants to dread the end of summer when God's busy painting the earth into a masterpiece?

It's October when I hear the Koto No Ito leaves playing the lilting song of Hope--because they've always known what I've only just learned through all the years of grieving:  Hope means laying it all down in the dark and waiting patiently, expectantly for the One Who Redeems to come and build the ashes into beauty.

Then November finds me traipsing through dead grass that's taller than me, braving spider webs bigger than any I've seen.  Because I've caught a glimpse of God across this field and I won't stop until I'm close enough to touch the Nyssa sylvatica trees all in a row, their leaves burnt orange with every last drop of Autumn's sun.

And maybe December slips in quietly while the earth marches right to Winter's edge--but my eyes are fixed on Him and I'm peering in the shadows, bending right down to the ground until I see the way He's studded even the tiniest of leaves with Winter's finest gems.

Yes, there's more God in this world than I'll ever see with my own eyes--but what I've already seen?  It's enough to fill every last one of my days with Beauty and Glory and Him.

Tomorrow, that fifteenth day of December, will mark my 30th birthday.  And what better way to celebrate the beginning of a new decade of life than by giving away tiny pieces of the God Who's enough to satisfy us all?

I've taken these twelve photographs here and turned them into a calendar--designed and printed through Shutterfly--and I have three copies I'd love to give away, share my eyes for a bit and remind you to look for Him all year long.  If you wouldn't mind leaving a comment and letting me see through your eyes, too?  Tell me a place or a piece of this life where you see God most?

**Entries will be accepted until midnight Pacific time, December 21, 2011.**
**Three winners will be randomly selected after that date.**


  1. hi Courtney,

    wonderful pictures! you've got such a range of beautiful colors--from the delicate green of the may magnolia cocoons, and pale pink of the september dogwood leaves, to the rich red of the august dahlias, and burnt orange of the november nyssa selvatica leaves. & you capture, not just the colors, but also the textures: i can almost feel the "furry" bit of the magnolia cocoon.

    i also found the accompanying text deeply encouraging. when things are hard, it is such a temptation to more or less consciously anesthetize oneself--to "snap shut to grace" (as Ann V. puts it) and turn away from hope. i'm accordingly so thankful that, in spite of all the "hard days and dark nights", and "wounding and wondering", you are so *alive*, and that our Lord is blessing you with healing and mending.

    regarding your question about where I see God most: perhaps it's wherever (in church, in a prayer group, working together at a soup kitchen, in the blogosphere) there's a tangible sense of God drawing us all nearer to Him in love.

    last but by no means least, **HAPPY BIRTHDAY**! may it be filled to the brim with joy...


  2. What a marvelous gift these images are! Thank you for generously sharing them (and your thoughts) here and going above and beyond to give away what are surely stunning calendars.

    My heart and prayers go out to you in the woundedness, but it has blessed me to journey with you this last bit of the way.

    Most blessed, happy, joy-filled birthday to you, dear one. May the decade ahead be one of healing and glad-making (Ps. 90:14-15).

    (You are almost exactly a decade behind me. I'll be 40 in January, if the Lord doesn't come back first.)

  3. ME!! i'd love to win a calendar!!! oh my goodness, courtney!! these are *beautiful* - you have such a gift...with words, with photography - each one enhanced by your heart for Him.

    i love you, dear friend.

  4. This is so unbelievably beautiful.

    THANK YOU. Wow... :)

  5. Enter me in!!! I see God in nature... and his beauty in the photos you take!!

  6. I want in on the drawing! =) They're beautiful, Courtney!

  7. We have your handy work strategically displayed in our kitchen so it's one of the first things we see everyday...could certainly use more Courtney points to God work. ;)

  8. I would like to sign up for your calendar giveaway. Your pictures are a beautiful reminder of our God's creativity and love for us. Thanks.


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