September 4, 2017

What We Learned This Summer...

It is time yet again for Emily Freeman's quarterly link-up on What We Learned, and it's still my favorite! It gives me opportunity to reflect back over a few months at a time and process more fully what God is teaching me! (I'd love for you to join in, too!) The last few months held a lot of Hard and Heavy --but aren't those the seasons that teach us the most? We'll mix in some Light and Lovely, too! 

Here we go:

12 Random Things I Have Learned this summer... 

This is the 2017 Summer (June - August) edition

So - here's the deal... much of what we learned this summer is still settling in deep. So I will keep to my normal list style - but I will say this... it seemed we had two main highlights in June, July offered up two battles with darkness, and August once again gifted us two more highlights... within those events, we learned many things.  Here are just some of the lessons learned:

JUNE is full of Romance and Rest... it's the official beginning of Summer and oh how we love it! It normally means an increase in spending time outside and with longer daylight hours and slower nights unfolding! What's not to love about June, right?

1. I learned that when you love a girlie from before she could talk and have walked with her through every stage of life so far, watching her walk down the aisle stirs up All the Feels

This girlie... she has been my own girlies' bestie since before they could walk!  They have grown up side by side and we have been honored to love her all along the way! Our families vacationed together every summer... we celebrated holidays and birthdays and everyday normal days, too!  

Her Mama and I? We have helped each other through the good times and the hard, because raising little's into grown up's who we love and who still love us --well, it really does take a village... and it really CAN happen!

We love you, Hols! 

2. I (re)learned that a little quiet escape to the sea with My Honey is a GIFT and is Oh So NECESSARY, too! 

Even if it is predicted to POUR RAIN the whole time! (Hello, Oregon coast!)  

We booked the room we love --the one that opens up to the sand and sea, and we cracked the patio door to hear the waves and rain and we read the books, and stared at the ocean, and prayed our silent prayers, and talked about all the things and about nothing... and we bundled up and layered up and braved the rain a couple of times, too! But mostly - no matter what we were doing --we remembered to intentionally practice BEING, both together and on our own, side by side!

JULY usually unfurls with the waving of our flag and celebrating freedom, however this year for our family - July reminded us just how much we depend on each other and how freedom isn't free!

2. I learned on June 30th that when your father, who has not gone to a doctor for --let's see, how old am I? --yeah - when HE agrees to go to the ER, something is wrong! 

But the deal is, no one really could figure OUT what was wrong?

3. I learned to LOVE Facebook Messenger - as it was immediate in keeping long distance family up to date in what was going on and what was being said... we were all on the same page, in real time, even though we were all in different cities! 

As I said, we still don't really know what is/was happening. Dad had exploratory surgery and what they thought they saw in the CAT scan wasn't really there... they continued the same treatment post-op that they were doing (with no success) pre-op and finally after many times of Dad wanting to just give up and go home (whatever that may mean) --they decided maybe nutrition would help!  He began to regain strength and hope... 

We were so well cared for --prayed for, and fed during this time!  Friends and family sent cards, and meals, and gave grace... and we felt held and blessed. 

After the hospital stay - which seemed to go on and on, they sent Dad to a rehab place (which was a whole different kind of fresh hel -- uh, hot mess!)

4. I learned that as much as I always love those Johnson's, this album? Yes and Amen! And on repeat, whenever I needed to lay down and just cry for a little bit! 

I tried listening other things - but this album had my heart and it became an anthem! It's so good!

I'm happy to report that Dad has been home for over a month now... we are walking (despite the smoky air due to wildfires all around us!) twice a week and he is walking with no assistance and continues to regain strength and hope.  However, many of the same symptoms are returning and he has other battles he is facing, so continued prayers for healing and wisdom is MUCH appreciated!

5. I learned when it rains, it pours, and while ultimately Death has lost its' sting --man it still hurts on this side of heaven! In an instant, out of nowhere, we lost our brother, Dave, in a motorcycle accident...

See? Two battles with dark sadness in July!  Our beloved sister Heather called early in the morning to tell us her husband had passed away.  He was 37... an amazing husband, father, son, friend... a skilled motorcyclist and adventurer and so full of life.  He left behind our sister, and their two young boys and it makes no sense. But Death rarely does.  

So while my Dad was still in the hospital and my side of the family was gathering in close, my Honey's side of the family gathered in closer... loving and lifting up our sister --and I can't even tell you how Grace and Glory met together in the middle of her grief. 

Honestly... I have never seen such tangible Grace... such intentionality when it came to Staying Present through every blow, all with her boys by her side. They went through this as a family and are shoulder to shoulder even now... as a whole lot of "new" things and all the firsts without Dave unfold.

And it breaks my heart and heals it all at the same time... because oh how I see Jesus right in the midst of them!

6. I learned how to long for Patio Time without pouting or complaing (much!) 

You guys! Y'all know how I love my patio life... how I long for the Spring/Summer/Fall of sitting on the patio next to the garden, soaking in slow and sipping on coffee and reading all the things!  

This Spring/Summer has been the worst as far as air quality around here!  I have never battled allergies until this year, and to make it worse - between the triple digit heatwaves and the wildfires literally surrounding us on all sides, we have been mostly grounded to the indoors this year! (But - Amen and Hallelujah for Air Conditioning!) 

Still - my garden suffered greatly, as did my reading plans!  

I am just praying that somehow, the air will clear and we will enjoy an extended Fall --with blue skies and plenty of time spent outside... 

7. I learned - again and again - how important traditions and friendships are... even when your heart is broken and you have nothing really to say! 

Again this year, my Honey and I met up with four of our favorite humans and attended the Jazz in the Valley music festival!  It was tempting to cancel... July was rough and we were so broken and worn out. But this is something we have been doing every year for --I've lost count!  Music is so healing and bonding and just sitting with our friends, holding hands and tapping our feet, drinking in the music and the togetherness --the we're-here-for-you-ness... it did what it always does: Refreshes our souls and strengthens our ties! (Plus - Hello Ellensburg Pasta Company and that amazing Balsamic Steak and Gorgonzola dish! Oh My!)

Enter AUGUST... 

August was gentle and kind to us... giving us space and time to remember how to breathe again!

8. I learned that the Circle of Life is a real thing and everyone loves to celebrate a coming baby! 

I had intended on helping to plan a Baby Shower for my girlie and I was working with one of her besties in mid-June.  We had picked the date... found the location... talked for a few minutes about theme and games... and then July happened and I couldn't even deal.  I had zero creativity or ability to plan. I barely showed up for my own life --which was in constant crisis mode the WHOLE MONTH long.  

The baby shower was the first weekend in August and THANK THE LORD for amazing friends and family who just pitched right in and helped to pull of an amazing, gorgeous Baby Shower for Lil Miss.  I can take no credit for the amazingness of it! What a joy and and a gift to see it all fall together the way it did and to watch friends and family so thoroughly love on and support my girlie!

Listen - her pregnancy was unplanned and the whole thing not exactly ideal --not the way we had hoped and prayed and dreamt it would be... but to see our tribe love and lift her up, with only love and only grace and only hope.  Maybe it was the raw condition of my heart, but it just about undid me in all the best ways!

9. I learned that Puppy Sitting is a great way to practice being Papa and Mimi... (and is one of several ways I practiced some MUCH NEEDED Self Care!)

How can this not be Self-Care? Just look at that Corgi Smile!

A few other revisited/relearned Self-Care practices:

Patio Time:


Taking care of what you put in your body:

10. I learned to just simply say "Yes and Thank You!" when friends invite you to join them at the Beach!

Yeah - that family that we used to go to the beach with every summer when the kids were little? Yeah... they still do that, and they have a big ol' house rented but it was just the two of them for the last few days and they invited us to join them and we hesitated for half a second!

What a gift! Those long term, covenant friendships... with people who become both friends AND family... they are a life-line and God-send every. single. time.

11. I learned that God has been requiring me to prepare loosely and plan abundantly for a long time now when it comes to speaking.

I remember way back in the day, when I first began to give a devotional or do any kind of public speaking. I would plan out every word, write it down, type it out, and then practice it for days.  I loved doing it that way.  In those days, the Lord would give me a topic and all the details with weeks to spare so I had plenty of time to go over it (and over it and over it) before the big event.

It's been years, however, since He allowed me to prepare like that! Oh there are times that I would go Old School and think I was pulling a fast one on Him, only to have Him change my entire message the day before.  So I have learned over the years to simply trust Him.  To lean in, pray and wait, and to listen for His leading.  Usually, I can hear it a day or two before the event. This used to stress me out and cause me to want to argue with His wisdom, but I have learned to love the process. I never want to be 'lazy' in preparation... but I also don't want to have it all so polished that there is no room for Him to interrupt my plans with plans of His own!

I spoke a couple of weeks ago at church and we dug in to Expectation and what the Lord has been teaching me the past few months about it. (That'll be a post, too... so stay tuned!)

And Lastly, #12...
12. I learned how to step up to the Challenge to Re-do a Room without buying a thing! #shopyourhouse

We had started to change up our girlies' room last Winter. My Honey cleaned it out and we sort of shoved all her stuff to one side and he set up 'shop' so he could have a little office space for church work at home! (We don't own a building -yet.) But it was make-do and nothing fancy and that was fine for him... but then the reality of the soon to be arrival of our Lil Miss and how we would be helping to take care of her and we decided we needed to finish the room make-over but our budget was exactly ZERO dollars!

A neighbor gave us a crib with all the bedding and literally everything else was either buried in the room already, or taken from other places around the house!

We did it in two days and while I'm not in love with the 'office' side --mostly because of the lack of desk(s) and because my husband likes to TAPE things on the WALL... as in - all over the wall, people!??! What in the actual world?

Still - here's the 'Office': 

And here is the Nursery:

And this text from our girlie last week:

"She could come at any time!" is my favorite part! We did a little photo shoot of her Baby Bump yesterday and so now I am praying that 'any time' is NOW!!!

Totes Adorbs, right? Hurry up and get here, Lil' Miss! 
We are waiting for you!

What about you? What did YOU learn this summer? New recipes, new Apps, new shoes, new ideas? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

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

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

Lori Schumaker for #MomentsofHope

Kelly Balarie for #RaRaLinkUp

Barbie Swihart for #Glimpsesofhisbeauty



  1. Oh friend, your summer was filled with heavy and hard. Your #8 is something I've been thinking about as I read your post. Little Mss Evelyn Rose is this incredible gift who brings more hope then we could imagine. Life out of death, light out if darkness, etc! Can't wait for her to come! Love you what I learned ousts. I might have to write a summer what I learned post!

    1. Still. Waiting. ;) I will keep you posted! (And I see you wrote a Summer post, too --so I am off to read it!)

  2. an abundant summer in so many heart-wrenching ways!

    1. Amen... good and hard ways! Thanks so much for stopping by, Sue! xoxo

  3. Love your lessons and your pictures! I think the thing I have learned is that a backyard swing is a necessary item. The tree that ours was tied to died and we had to cut it down. I used to go out when I needed a mental break to just sit and absorb the beauty of the world around me! I think we all need those little time out places to rest our souls!

    1. Yes! We got rid of our porch swing and have yet to replace it and I feel your pain! Who knew how powerful and centering a little swinging softly back and forth could be for our souls?

  4. Wow— so much going on for you this summer! Thanks for sharing the tough times and the celebrations... excited for the new addition! God is faithful :) Stopping by from #RaRalinkup

    1. Thanks so much, Laura! While I am usually wordy --blogging this summer has been - shall we say, shelved. I had a lot of words saved up! ;) God IS faithful... and so much better than we think! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Oh how I love the lists, the photos, the sentiments, and best of all YOU. Your summer of 2017 sounds a lot like my summer of 2002. HARD THINGS. But, they shape us and make our leaning stronger and our clinging tighter -- to the One who calls us His own. xo

    1. Amen and Amen... (and thank you --for I know you prayed me through!)

      Side Note: Please tell me you have listened to this new song: So Will I...


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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