Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 15th April 2014

Featured #TellHisStory Writer: Patricia Hunter (And a Giveaway!)

#TellHisStory Storytellers Series


Story has the power to change the world, one paragraph at a time. I share this space, once a week, with some great storytellers I’ve met during my years of writing. This week’s featured storyteller is my dear friend Patricia Hunter, who is also a terrific photographer.

Be sure to come back Wednesday to link your own stories or photos with us in the #TellHisStory community.

Cultivating an Eye for Life’s Mercies

No doubt my neighbors think I’m quirky.

With a basket – that holds two cameras, an extra lens or two, and a towel or blanket to sit on – in one hand and a bottle of water or Gatorade in the other, I wander the same five acres on Pollywog Creek several times a week.  I’m often still in my pj’s – the pant legs tucked into socks and with or without wearing shoes. (It’s one of my favorite photography tips.) A straw hat that’s held in place by leather straps under my chin and a bright pink battery-operated fan that hangs around my neck simply serve to both embarrass my children and support my neighbor’s suspicions.

Of course my neighbors wonder what I’m up to. Our five acres look much like theirs. Some of us live in concrete block houses, some in trailers. None of us have eye-catching manicured lawns or picturesque gardens. One neighbor’s shed, close to our fence, is surrounded by junk piles and supported at one corner by an old broken toilet. Not lovely at all.

If you look past the pasture across the road where Mr. Arolloga keeps his cows you’d see dozens and dozens of trailer homes rented by migrant farm workers in an area that somewhat resembles a third-world country.

Our pasture fence is rusty and sagging, especially where more than one driver – under the influence, speeding, or both – missed a turn, crossed the ditch along the road and snapped the top barb-wire as their vehicle plowed into the pasture, leaving fence posts on the ground and our fence in need of repair.

Long-needle pines, scrub oaks, live oaks, and wild grapefruit, as well as tangled thickets of grapevine, rosary pea, palmetto bushes, rusty lyonia, beautyberry and potato vines run along the steep bank of the creek – which in the dry season in little more than a trickle.

In the rainy season, the creek often overflows its bank and the pond fills, spreading past the trunks of the cypress trees that circle it, often completely covering the tops of the cypress knees that otherwise make exploring the water’s edge a challenge.

Except for the tall live oak draped with tendrils of Spanish moss and the azaleas that burst with a gazillion pink blossoms in the spring under the scrub oaks that line the circular drive, there doesn’t appear to be much here to inspire photography day after day, year after year.

If it weren’t for that day nearly eight years ago, when I bent down close to the ground and clicked the shutter on a cheap digital point-and-shoot camera, capturing a macro of a weed – an ordinary tassel flower — I might still believe there’s nothing inspiring here, too. But when I upload that tassel flower image on the computer, I’m stunned by its delicate beauty and it takes my breath away.

tassel weed

John Piper shares a story about his English Lit professor whose description of a tree he’d seen while walking to class made you wonder why you had been so blind all your life. His professor would say that “Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as a new heartand he would plead that his students would “stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.”

Not the majestic and magnificent – the ordinary.


God used an ordinary flowering weed, captured by an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera that I didn’t even know how to focus, to open my new Christ-bought eyes to the strange glory of ordinary things right here under my feet on Pollywog Creek.


I’ve been cultivating an eye for life’s mercies and smitten with a quest for capturing beauty in ordinary places since.

I’d love to know if you have experienced new eyes, too, or discovered the glory of ordinary things. Isn’t it amazing?


Patricia Hunter is a freelance writer and “wannabe psalmist with a camera.” She ghostwrites for two subscription magazines and has recently joined the team of contributing writers for a soon-to-be published print magazine in SW Florida. Patricia and her husband Louis have been married for 38 years and have 4 grown children and 8 grandchildren. You can follow Patricia at her blog Pollywog Creek, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.  (Jennifer, I don’t have a decent headshot (something I need to correct) – can you just use the book cover?)

Book Giveaway

Patricia Hunter has collaborated with Robbi Cary to produce this beautiful book, entitled No Matter What, It’s a God Day When – Finding Blessings in Difficult Days. The book offers stunning photographs of God’s creation alongside a heartwarming message of truth. You will find your faith strengthened and your gaze refocused on Christ in all kinds of circumstances. This is an uplifting, heartwarming, and inspiring gift to help you, your family, and your friends thrive in tough days.
Let us know in the comments if you would like a copy. Consider answering Patricia’s question: “Have you experienced new eyes, too, or discovered the glory of ordinary things?” (Winners will be notified by Friday afternoon.)

For more information on ordering the book, please visit the book page by clicking here.

  • Oh joy joy…two sweet ladies right in one place,,, when I started counting along with Ann… I too picked up a camera and took at least one picture a day of something of beauty around me…looking through a lens opened my eyes to all God’s gifts around me. Not long after that …I came upon your blog…Patricia… Your breathtaking pictures added to my eyes and heart even wider. I would love a copy of this wonderful book!!!

    • You are so sweet, Ro. I’m so very grateful to God for putting a camera in my hands.

  • Marty

    Photography is near and dear to my heart…loved this post!

  • No matter what, it’s a good day when…Jennifer Lee tapes a page from my story into her #tellhisstory book of “God at work in the lives of His children.” Oh, how He loves you and me!

  • BillVriesema

    Wonderful post! God’s world does take on a new splendor when seen through the lens. Thank you Patricia, for sharing your view through your lens!

    • Thank you, Bill. Amen! What a gift a camera has been for me. There’s so much more of this story to tell, too. And don’t you just love the Body of Christ and how God puts a camera (or a pen or a voice or……) and then plants us in different places that others might “see”, as well? I LOVE your photography. You inspire me to find beauty in places that I don’t or can’t. God is good.

  • I’ve been a fan of Patricia’s work since I first found her blog. Love this!

    • Oh, Shelly…you are too sweet. Thank you so much for your encouragement. You and your beautiful words are a gift.

  • Pure loveliness, Patricia. I love the way you see!

    • I love the way you see, too, Kris. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me to be “wholly” His!

  • Constance Ann Morrison

    Yes, God has given me new eyes! As I walk outside, I pay more attention now to the small beauties at my feet or the grand glories overhead instead of being so focused on the journey’s end.

    • Amen, Constance! You see, too! It took a camera for me to “see.” Isn’t God good to meet us where we are?

  • Sharon O

    Yes. the beauty is all around us even in the dark, grey Oregon days, the rain is a mystical ‘cleansing’ and then the sun returns and we see the beauty in a different setting.

    • This is so true, Sharon….and one of the photos in the book show the rain on our pond. What an amazing God, our God!!!

  • Barb Nichols

    I recently opened my eyes to the beauty of a red scar running deep and long, to bruises in multiple shades of purple, and to shallow breaths that meant my daughter’s new heart valve from an ugly pig was giving her life. The dark was interuppted by the glow and beep of monitors, not your usual nightlight of comfort. But in that dark, life came amidst the pain and it was beautiful.

    • Oh, Barb! God bless you. Oh, how you have seen a glimpse of beauty in the hard. (((((HUGS)))))

  • Karrilee Aggett

    While the actual images here are breathtaking – my favorite one is your description of yourself – searching for beauty! I did a short series last summer titled Hunters of Beauty, Finders of Grace – I think I will have to re-awaken that this summer… I have been lazy and only carrying my iphone with me as of late and this has inspired me to grab my ‘real’ camera and go hunting! I’d love the book because, well – Gorgeous! And also – we all could use reminders of what to focus on and what there really is to see!

    • Hi Karrilee – and thank you. “Hunter of Beauty, Finders of Grace” – I love that. I told Jennifer that I tried to take a selfie – with the hat, pink fan, and my pj’s tucked into socks…but I’m just not coordinated enough to do that. =)

  • SimplyDarlene

    Miss P!

    It’s not just how you capture His magnificence, but how you tell it beauty. A necklace fan, a toilet, and potato vine…

    Yes ma’am, I’d like to be entered in the book give-away. And I think you already know, but I look for the simple, ordinary blessings via word and deed and photograph too…

    • Why, thank you, Miss Darlene, my friend. You are quite gifted in finding the ordinary splendor – with you awesome photography skills and your gifted way with words.

  • Kelly Greer

    When I stand in the midst of his creation, I can’t help but be in awe! Especially his children, my grandchildren. Isn’t it something what others consider useless, are really God’s marvelous works and most resilient.

    • Ahhhhhh…..yes, grandchildren. I think they are photo magnets. I can hardly stand to be around them unless I have a camera in my hand, too. I’ve never been good at portrait photography, but I do love capturing my children and grandchildren’s personality as they play. And I love putting one of my older cameras in their hands and encouraging them to wander about with me. What joy!

  • Deb DesMarteau

    Similar to your description of your morning photography meanderings, I have so enjoyed this morning’s meander of my own via Jennifer’s blog link from Facebook to Patricia’s blog postings of photography

  • Miranda Roskamp

    I’d be interested in the book! I am a hobbiest photographer that strives to find Gods beauty in all of my surroundings so this book would help me to cultivate my current eye and perspectives

    • Hi Miranda – I’m so grateful God put a camera in my hands, and for digital photography that allows for my large learning curve. Can you imagine trying to learn photography while paying for film and developing? I digress, but it is a gift.

      • Miranda Roskamp

        How crazy ezpensive my hobby would be if not for being placed by God in this timing for digital!! Lol. Happy Easter!!!!

  • Pam Cason

    Yes, the ordinary speaks to me, too, now more than ever. I love and enjoy the beauty HE creates just for us.

    • Hi Pam – and yes! And one of the insights that my wanderings has reveled is that there is infinitely more beauty than we will ever be able to enjoy because we never see it – the wildflowers that bloom in fields no human eye ever sees, but they rise to the sun giving glory to the Father.

  • Terry C

    Yes, the ordinary beauty of God’s creations, to stop and dwell on the simple beauty of the world, of people, words, life. We all need to slow down and enjoy of the beautiful gifts he has given us. 🙂

    • For me, it wasn’t so much the slowing down as it was the looking down. There’s so much more to this story – but the truth is that for a variety of reasons, I couldn’t see beauty anywhere. I’m so grateful God gave me a camera.

  • Jeanne Damoff

    I love your photos, dear Patricia, and I love your heart even more. The way you see gives others a glimpse of the beauty inside you as well as the beauty of Pollywog Creek. Thank you. Love you.

    • I love you, Jeanne. It’s only grace. I know you know that. You are such a gift to me.

  • Oh my goodness! Patricia, you and I are kindred spirits! I was truly laughing out loud reading… I am often found running out to grab photos in my jammies (shoes and/or socks optional)… and I often wonder if my neighbors have taken some interesting photos of me! My photographic journey started very similarly (just over a year ago) with a point and shoot digital camera and a macro setting my son had to show me how to use. Oh the breathtaking world it opened for my eyes! The detail in every flower, and sparkling dew-drops on the grass – God’s glory captured in little tiny bits. When I got laid off this past fall I decided to start a blog to share some of my photos and pieces of my heart and called it “Captured Bits of Beauty”. Oh how I would love to visit Pollywog Creek someday! I just know my heart would be at home there. 🙂

    • Hi, Julie! “Captured Bits of Beauty” sounds perfectly delightful. I don’t ever go out barefooted, but shoes can make too much noise if you’re trying to sneak up on something. I can walk much more quietly if I’m just wearing a thick pair (or two) of socks. Ballet shoes are also good for being quiet. Photographic opportunities present themselves much more often if I’m not making noise as I wander.

  • Thanks for taking out into your acres and to the creek with you, Patricia.

    I am learning, as Ann calls it, “the art of subtraction”. Yes, it may look strange to the onlookers, but to those of us staring into the ordinary to capture beauty, strangely enough our eyes are opened to see the glory.

    • Amen, Rebekah! I’m sure I’m much older than you are, so I use the “eccentric old lady” excuse sometimes when I know I must like odd. =)

  • lindalouise

    Forgive me for being so late to come visit Patricia. I’ve been away from the laptop this week. I so enjoyed this. I felt a little like I was walking with you through the places that are your everyday paradise. I have long admired your art – your pictures and words – and most of all your sweet spirit.
    I will be ordering this book. I think it will make a lovely gift for those near and dear to my heart. I am so thrilled for you. Your work is going to bring such joy to so many. You teach us to have eyes to see.

    • Love you so, sweet Linda. I do hope you enjoy the book. We hope it will be the beginning of a series. We learned so much in the process of writing, editing, designing (all with a team of professionals), that next time, we hope it won’t be as long and as difficult from start to finish. God is good!

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