They were popping up at every turn… little gifts in disguise.

It was Saturday afternoon and I had unfinished work… the last thing I wanted to do was go for a hike.

The day was gray.  The only thing that got me out of my chair was knowing I needed to get my body moving.  Small reason… but it was enough.

I tied on my walking shoes and off we went.

You know how I love nature… but I wasn’t into it.

And then I spied a little nest of mushrooms.


A lovely surprise was waiting for me on my hike... so much to be thankful for. -


And then there were more…


White mushrooms popping up as gifts in disguise on the woodland floor -


White ones with flat tops and frilly skirts.


Flat white mushroom with a frilly skirt -- a gift in disguise waiting for me -


Yellow ones… the cutest little buttons with little prickly looking flesh.


Cute button mushrooms with prickers -- a little gift in disguise -


And rusty ones all glommed together. It was like an explosion of sextuplets everywhere.


So thankful for this discovery of mushrooms on my hike -


The longer we hiked through the woods the more we saw.

My eyes were peeled.

I couldn’t wait to find more… and more varieties.


Ruffly mushrooms ... unexpected gifts in disguise -


It was as if I were on a treasure hunt.

If someone came across us admiring the fun guys of the woods, they would ask if the mushrooms were poisonous.

We had no idea, but we chatted with the fellow traveler and ran our fingers through their canine companion’s thick fur… and they moved on and we followed shortly.

We hiked up and over the wooded dunes in search of more discoveries.

More mushrooms…


Bright orange buttons popping up from the leaf litter... a beautiful and unexpected gift -


And fascinating giant lichens.


Giant lichens are amazing gifts in disguise -


And tiny lichens lined up like soldiers awaiting orders on fallen trees.


Lovely lichen line up on a fall tree -


Each step… each sighting… each discovery… was a gift.

My worries slid away.

Time became timeless.

My trudging steps were expectant and light.

Though the sky was dim my world became bright.

All because of the little gifts of the woodland.

And ultimately the loving gifts of the Creator.


I'm so thankful for spying woodland mushroom and their beauty -


Sprinkled through our days are lovely gifts in disguise.

Are we so focused on our goals, destinations, troubles, or ourselves to even notice?

In our early married years, whenever we took a trip out of town, Tim would point out Red Tail Hawks, Kestrels, and other birds of prey as we drove.  At first, my eyes weren’t seeing these magnificent creatures.  With time, I started seeing them on our travels, and even in our neighborhood.  Today, I am often the first to point out a sighting.

I had to train my eyes to see the hawks, the falcons, the eagles, and even turkey vultures–eagle wannabes.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a bird of prey.

These woodland gifts in disguise… they came with training, too.


Lovely little surprises waiting for me on the woodland floor ... little gifts in disguise -


Hiking through the woods for exercise with my mind on just getting it done, I might or might not have noticed the mushrooms.

Except for those rare days when I’m just out there for the exercise, my hikes are not about staying on the trail and clicking off the miles.  For the most part, they are about the experience, the little gifts in disguise, and the treasures I’ll find along the way.

On Saturday’s hike, I was off the trail, down the hill a bit, snapping photos of a group of mushrooms, when a dad and his boys were walking the trail when I heard one of the little boys say, “What’s that old woman doing over there?”  (!!!!!!!!)  And then he said to my husband who was standing just off the edge of the trail patiently waiting, “You know you’re supposed to stay on the trail!”

Maybe that’s good training for kids so they don’t get lost or run around without regard, stepping on woodland treasures.  But as far as life is concerned… traveling the trail with blinders is like driving through a flat desert.  Our goal in life should not be to “get through” today.  But to see and experience every hill and valley, every flower, lichen, or mushroom.


Pretty white lichen on the fall limbs... so thankful for all these gifts of beauty -


We have gifts sprinkled throughout our days… a broken branch hanging low… just waiting for me to pick to fill an ironstone teapot with a bouquet of colorful fall leaves.  Maybe you approach a doorway with your arms laden and out of nowhere a stranger runs up and opens a door for you.  Maybe your little neighbor suddenly hugs you and tells you he loves you. Maybe you perform a small task at work that lightens a co-worker’s load ever so slightly, but in the midst, you discover a new joy. Maybe you take a friend’s kids for a few hours to bless her and find yourself being blessed. Or maybe it’s as mundane as dusting the furniture only to turn around and see the sun magnifying the grain of the wood and suddenly you see fresh beauty.


So many little gifts in disguise were waiting for me on my hike -


Each day there are more gifts waiting for us than we can ever count… yet how many days do we crawl into bed at night and miss all or most?

How about we make a pact to practice seeing these amazing gifts in our day… and giving thanks for each and every single one?

We don’t have to wait until the end of the day to count them up.

Let’s make it a habit to see, experience, and be thankful.

Maybe you already do it well.  What’s your secret?

My hike was full of discovery… but if I only appreciated the experience but didn’t appreciate the Giver… I missed the fullness.

It’s the heart of gratitude that completes the giving… because in receiving… then the gift is fully given and joy is released fully into our spirits.

“Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the great things as well. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

This quote from Bonhoeffer is sobering.  Have we not received more from the hand of God because we are like children who take the cookie offered and run off to play without saying thanks?

Let’s be people who say, “Thanks!” often, in our hearts and through our actions.

What little gifts in disguise came across your “path” today?


Practicing Thankfulness takes practice and open eyes. What a great story about choosing to see so many ways to practice thankfulness -

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  1. Lisa says

    Thank you taking us along on your woodland treasure hunt and for the reminder to be thankful.

  2. jemma says

    Lovely post and such perfect truths we find when we really “look.”
    How blessed you are to have such a magnificent forest to walk through.
    I am at my best when I am with nature.
    Blessings for a beautiful day and weekend ahead!

  3. Oh, thank you so much for this beautiful post. I felt like I was walking right along with you.
    I love Red Tail Hawks. We have a few here in the desert.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts.
    Have a great week.

    • Thank you so much, Meegan! It’s a little divergent from the usual “home” posts and I hoped it would be okay with everyone.
      All the best for an extraordinary weekend!

  4. Susie says

    What a wonderful reminder about the important things in life. Your photos are lovely and your story…clever and heartwarming. It’s such a joy to share this blogging journey with you. Have a blessed day!! XOXO Susie from Chelsea Project

    • Susie… you are so sweet!! Thanks for being such a light and blessing! {{hugs}}

  5. Paula says

    Beautiful. We do miss so much when we don’t pay attention. 🙂

    • Thank you Paula! We really do miss a lot in our busyness.
      All the best for an extraordinary weekend!

  6. Kim says

    Diane, I had to laugh, because my hubby used to point out the birds, too. We all just kind of went, “oh” and moved on. As time as gone on, we all realize and appreciate their beauty and like you notice them every day as they circle overhead. The beauty is there if you look! 🙂

    • You’re right Kim! There’s so much beauty around us… and I know you live in a seaside town of incredible beauty (like me) and there are people who never notice. It’s so sad.
      Thanks for popping over, sweet friend! Hope you have a wonderful end to your week!

  7. Linda says

    Such a wonderful post. We all need reminding to be thankful for the small things! Love this.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Linda, and for your warm words!! Funny how we get so caught up in doing that we miss the gifts before us.

  8. Diane what a delightful post this was. To my eyes and to my ears. I so enjoyed looking at your wonderful photography. And the words that accompanied it are very thought provoking because life is just slipping by as we stand still. I learned this in a big way once I picked up a camera. Ironically, because I started to see much more thru a lens than I had ever noticed before. I am thankful to you for taking us on this trip to the woods.

    • Oh, Mary… you just made my day! Thank you! I love that having a camera improved your eyesight. 😉
      You know… having that camera in hand almost gives me a reason to keep my eyes peeled for those gifts in nature. Now if I could translate that a little better to some other areas of my life. {wink}
      All the best for a wonderful weekend!

  9. Thanks so much for sharing! “Take a walk” was one of the things on my list of things to do to live a more grateful life so I’m linking back to your post as an example.

    • It’s really amazing how those walks change not only my mood but my heart. Thanks for the nod Ann. I’ll pop over to check out your post.
      All the best for an extraordinary day!

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