August 16, 2016

What We Learned This Summer...

I know... I know!
It's only mid-August...

   (--ha! "Only!" Summer just FLEW by, right?)

I have stepped a bit away from this chair this summer - posting a little less frequently, and battling to enter in to Rest, but when I saw it was time already for Emily Freeman's link-up on What We Learned, I had to sit myself down and reflect back over this summer and remind myself of what we've been learning! 

So often, we won't fully process the lessons until we slow to remember what they were! 

12 Random Things That I Have Learned...

1. I (re)learned how much I love living in a small town...

Seriously, I live in the same small town that I was born and raised... I, in fact, never left.  I remember being in high school and everyone clamoring to make plans that would get them OUT of this town... (#Igottagetoutofthisplace) Meanwhile, as I applied for colleges and leaned in to possibilities, I battled feelings of nostalgia before I ever drove away so ended up staying put for all of my days. I have lived in only two zip codes, and at a total of five addresses. (And all those classmates? Yeah... they are moving back!)

But what I LOVE about my town is all of the community events throughout the year - and a huge portion of those happen during our gorgeous summer months!  From our Farmer's Market's and residential Fruit Stands, to free Friday Night Outdoor Concerts and Vintiques Cruisin' down the Avenue, to Downtown Lunchtime gatherings, Thursday night shows, Food Truck Rally's, Sunday night movies in the park, and folk life festivals! Not to mention activities all around in the vineyards and orchards and nature trails all across our Valley.

I know that there tons of events in larger cities... but there is something special about a small town gathering where the community comes out and supports local businesses and local artists and you can't help but run into friends and everywhere you go is a place that someone knows your name!

I love my city and what God has planned for her.
Seriously - what's not to love?

2. I learned that I will just never, ever, EVER get over the beauty of Hydrangeas! 

Oh My Goodness, y'all! They are my favorite flower and for YEARS my little plants in the garden (one 'regular' and one 'lace cap' - because clearly, I am technically not a gardener!) have just barely coughed up blooms here and there... 


I had blooms for months! 

Gah! They are SO PRETTY! I loved that one bush (is that what you call it?) gave me such a variety of colors!
Blues, Purples, Pinks... oh my! I know there are several possible meanings of hydrangea's but you won't be surprised to know that my favorite is Gratefulness! Yeah. That.
3. I learned that every year, I grab on to one or two new recipes that become my Go-To salads on a hot summer day!

This was that recipe: Pineapple Cucumber Lime Salad!

Oh my stars - so simple, so fresh, SO GOOD!  I found it on Pinterest and it has accompanied me to every summer potluck since then!

4. I (re)learned that Summer Portrait Sessions are SO MUCH FUN!

I was honored to snap some family portraits for a friend when their newest edition arrived! It just so happened to be during the Lavender Festival Days, so --you know, Win-Win!

I also had the joy of shooting an engagement session with a young couple from our church! We are doing a bit of pre-marriage counseling with them and my Honey will be officiating in the Fall!

5. I learned that when God puts an URGENCY to something He asks you to do, you just do it --you know, like Nike!

I had been playing around with the idea of taking a few of my series from this blog and putting them into book form.  Self-publishing is more of an option and I have several friends who have gone that route. I have a book that I KNOW God has asked me to do... for years... that I have been dragging my feet on, so when He whispered LOUD in my ear that NOW is the time to release one of the series in a wider venue, I thought I would take my time to talk myself out of it. Like usual

Only He was super bossy about it --as in, like it was almost an emergency!  He actually put a crazy short time frame around it and that is when I realized I had run out of leisure time to do it 'right' and instead, reformatted it a bit and uploaded it to Amazon as an e-book.  

Now, by 'right' I mean - self-published in a format that I can offer paperbacks.  We'll get there, I'm pretty sure! But for whatever reason (or --more accurately probably - whomever) it had to be done in less than two weeks!

So my first ever e-book is available now on Amazon and you can grab it for under $5.00  It's a 31 Day Month long Devotional titled, 31 Days of Resting in Him: It's easier/harder than you think!

6. I (re)learned that as much as I have learned to lean in to the Silence and Listen, I MUCH prefer it when God is chatty and when He shows me stuff!

Y'all know how God has been practicing patience with me and has been teaching me again and again to be OK with not having anything tangible to show for my time. Well, He was teaching me this, for the most part, by being oh so quiet and not really showing me anything at all.

Sure - I have been noticing gifts and all kinds of lovely but I tend to go in seasons of seeing spiritually... of experiencing visions during worship and or prayer, and part of this season of quiet has included very few visions. As in... almost none.  I wasn't panicked because I know He speaks to me in pictures and I knew it was not over, but He was teaching me a new way to see... to hear... and now, apparently - He is teaching me (us) a new way to breathe, as well!

I wrote a post that really dug into what he showed me in an experience, a vision, and a dream! You can read that post, and learn a new way to breathe, by clicking HERE.

7. I learned that I'm in love with Dragonflies - for more reasons than I thought!

I wrote all about how these three came to my garden on a very hard, very intense day - and how they ministered to me for hours! (And then I ran inside to learn more about what Dragonflies mean!) You can read that post HERE.

8. I (re)learned how much I am ALL IN when it comes to the Olympics!

Sleep? Who needs sleep? I forget how ALL IN I get every few years but then it's Opening Ceremony and I can't quit watching and My Honey is all, "So... I'll see ya in about two weeks!?" and I'm all, "Shhh - the REFUGEE TEAM!!!" (", in other words, babe... yeah. And... sorry!")

But there is only so much swimming and gymnastics I can take... and without cable, this house is limited to only ONE channel and NBC, y'all... they like to make us WAIT! I don't think I have had a full nights sleep since opening ceremonies and... well, closing ceremonies is soon, right? 
(Right?!  Please say yes!)

Plus, honestly... this won the Internet:
Aly Raisman's Parents Deserve an Olympic Medal.

9. I learned that we ALL have benches that need to be moved!

One of the benefits of planting a church and of being on staff, is that you get to invite some of your favorite people to come and preach!  Kathy Bricel is one of my dearest friends and Oh how I WISH that everyone had a friend like Kathy!  

We invited her to speak at Dad's House and she brought such a powerful word about benches in our lives that may be giving the enemy access to our lives. It was incredible. If you can find the time, I encourage you to watch the whole thing!

At the end of the message, she leads us in Listening Prayer (--that is sort of her passion!) and she asked us to ask the Lord, "God, is there a bench preventing me from entering in?" and immediately (graciously - because, well --see number 6!) I heard Him answer, "Your 'I can't' thoughts."

Next she asked us to pray and ask Him what the danger is in not moving the bench.  Again, immediately He replied, "The danger of not moving your "I can't" bench is that You Won't."

That impacted me so much and reminded me of what I know to be true - but often times still forget... that there is power in our words and thoughts and we are a Kingdom people called to Decree and Declare!  So good!

10. I learned that playing Stir Crazy can be fun... and it can quite possible make you (wait for it...) Stir Crazy!

We had one final Council meeting before officially presenting our new Council of Elders to our church but rather than being all business, all the time - we decided to play a game instead!

Stir Crazy is a Foodie's dream... it's sort of like being in an episode of Chopped. Well, not really - but you have an assigned list of ingredients and everyone brings an item or two from the list. Then you break up in to Teams (Salt and Pepper, because of course, right?)  Next you spin for a chance to pick ingredients --sometimes you get to pick, but sometimes the opposing team gets to choose for you!

When all the ingredients have been divided up and claimed, the teams all make a plan as to what they are going to make with their ingredients! Each team must make an Appetizer, an Entree, and a Dessert! 

It helps TREMENDOUSLY if you have a couple of foodies in the group!

Also - this is where it gets crazy... you have 90 minutes to make ALL of the food and you are ALL working at the same time in the same kitchen! Cray, cray!

But when the timer goes off (-ish!)... this is what we ended up with - and every thing was seriously amazing!

Team Salt menu:
Appetizer: Melon Panzanella served with
Pan-fried Marscapone Gnocchi w/ a Red Wine Reduction
Entree: Chicken Scampi
Dessert: Tiramisu

Team Pepper menu:
Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms with Pork Olives Parmesan Spices and Walnuts
Entree: Roma Tomato and Sausage Penne
Dessert: Torta Di Frutta with Fresh Berries Purée and Sauteed Nectarines
and Pears with Homemade Whipped Cream

As long as you have a host with a well stocked kitchen (both pantry and gadgets!) then this game is super fun!  We played the Italian edition, but there is also a Mexican edition or an Oriental edition!                                  

11. I learned that I adore a Backyard Art Exhibit on a Summer Night!

Seriously... she's my favorite!                                         

My girlie and I had an opportunity to attend a backyard Art Exhibit and oh my goodness, it was perfection!  

The artist is a local gal who has been coming to our church for just a few weeks. She is getting ready to return to Redding, CA to begin her second year of Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry (BSSM). 

The Lord told her earlier this year to make art all summer long and then host an Exhibit and Silent Auction to help her raise tuition funds!

She and a team of friends and family put on this amazing event... gorgeous backyard (What's better than a shady lush yard with comfy seating on a summer evening strung about with twinkle lights?) and delicious snacks and drinks, paired with wonderful pieces of art.

The whole evening was a great success and we were thrilled to be able to hang out and relax... bid and visit and eventually come home with a few one of a kind works of art that we will enjoy and we know helped a friend reach a goal and unwrap a dream!

Sometimes (read: most times) saying yes can be risky... but oh my, how He partners with our Yes and He makes wonder spill out all over!

And, last but not least, speaking of Art...

12. I learned that even when I am OH SO BUSY, I NEED to make time for Art because it feeds my soul!

It doesn't really matter if it is decorating a room, inviting friends over to paint, writing down words, worshiping at church with a brush in my hand, or following a YouTube tutorial... I am my best self when I have made time to play!

I'm guessing this is true for you as well!

Whew! That was a lot! 
And see? I didn't think I had learned much!

What about you? What have YOU learned this summer?

As usual for this post, I am Linking up with EMILY FREEMAN

P.S.  I'm also inking up with these lovely writers:

Kelly Chripczuk  for #SmallWonders 

Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday

Kelly Balarie for #RaRaLinkUp

Lori Schumaker for #MomentsofHope

Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory

I'm serious! What did you learn in the last month or two? New apps, new recipes, new books, deeper truths? Fill me in! I'd love to hear!


  1. Karrilee, I love, love reading your words of what you've learned this summer. So much goodness and beauty! I'll check out your book too. How exciting! (I need to learn how you did that.) You are a blessing my friend, and so are your words! Much love!

    1. Julie, thank you sweet friend! Honestly - I would have much preferred to self-publish in a paperback book option but I felt such an urgency on this one that I went the ebook route - which is very simple and doesn't cost anything out of pocket! Love you too and hope your summer has been filled with much goodness and beauty as well! xoxo

  2. Summer has gone way too fast. I need to try that pineapple salad. Pineapples are my fave. Oh and the Olympics...I can't seem to get enough ether. And the self-publishing so so crazy! I still can't get over people calling me an author. Yes I must make time to create too! Led you sweet friend!

    1. I agree that summer flew by! We didn't even really get a vacation this year and you can just IMAGINE how I am not loving that. The pineapple salad is so fresh and easy - let me know if you try it! I 'led' you too, my friend! ;) xoxo

  3. Sounds like (and looks like) you had a full and fun summer. God is good! Thanks for sharing! Blessings to you and yours!

    1. It was full and fun... and fast! Thanks so much for stopping by, Mari-Anna!

  4. Oh, yay for you self-publishing. I'm getting ready to head down that road myself soon and feeling all the worry about not knowing how to do it "right." I'm thinking a short time-frame might help me avoid a lot of hemming and hawing and general perfectionism!

    1. The short time frame helped a lot... but there are a few things I will do differently next time1 I put it off for so long I think God knew he had to get bossy with me for me to do it! Hopefully - next time I won't wait so long!

  5. YAH~~~ for self-publshing - going to check out your book! I'll be publishing one this fall as well! :)
    And YAH for Hydrangeas - YES! Me too!

    1. Oh how I miss my hydrangeas, but they did keep me company through most of the summer so I can't complain! Yay for your coming book! I know I will do a few things differently next time, but it was a great learning experience and it's my own fault that it was a sort of rush job! God had been pushing me to do it for some time, but I kept putting it off! So when push came to shove... well - He was doing all the pushing and shoving! Thanks so much for stopping by, Sarah!

  6. There is just so much to love here... I wish there was a 'heart' icon on my like my smart phone to add here so this will have to do...<3 <3 <3 this post and excited for all the ways He met you this summer and filled you up. Oh, and YaY! for the book!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Dawn! I will take all the <3 <3 <3 you throw at me! It was a good summer - but it went by way to quickly! Then again... here comes Fall and that is my favorite! Blessings right back to you, friend!

  7. I love getting the opportunity to enjoy your words and photography together! This was such blessing! Thanks, Karrilee! You are such a treasure!
    Blessings and smiles,

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! I always worry that these monthly(ish) posts are too long - with too many words, and too many photo's... but I can't help myself! It's one of the best ways to look back and see how God has been with us every step of the way! (But man... wait for the photo's in the next post! Swoon!)


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

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