Tuesday, September 8, 2020

things I learned over the summer

 I'm taking my cue today from author and founder of Hope Writers, Emily P. Freeman and sharing some things I learned over the summer months. I love looking back on things like this and look forward to writing this post at the end of every season or so. I may end up doing this monthly, but I can at least aim for quarterly for now.

(Also, I hope to include never before published pictures that I took, so I'll caption each one.)

What seems hard for some is not hard for others. I have witnessed this truth before, but I was able to witness it again when my favorite teacher of the Bible effortlessly and beautifully taught one Wednesday night on the book of Song of Solomon. And yes, I snuck this picture of her Bible before I left her house that night. My best friend Missy and I went to Barbee's house one night to listen to her teach so she could have an "audience" as she taught on Facebook Live. 

I have also been on the other side of that, when finding out that writing was hard for my friend when it's so easy for me. I love this about people, how different we all are and finding out how God made each one of us. Imagine the world and how boring it would be if we were all just alike! I love our differences. I think that with age comes a new appreciation of certain things, so this is one such example for me. 

I love to study spiritual gifts and learning what each of my friends have as their top gifts. If I'm being truthful and you would humor me upon my soap box for just a moment, not enough places of worship offer this to the people who attend worship each week. I think that this is a class that should be taught every year and that a test should be administered for those who are interested to find out what gifts people have—because some people are not serving where their spiritual gifting is strong. (For example, if someone has the gift of teaching and they're not using it, they're missing out on a huge opportunity!) Our gifts change sometimes, too, as we become more mature in our relationship with the Lord, He will sharpen certain supernatural gifts within us. I know that sounds weird, but hopefully you understand the point I'm trying to make here. Moving on, now.

I love looking back on memories that actually mean something to me personally. I was cleaning out some things in June and came back across this little plaque my grandmother gave me as a young girl. On the back of this she wrote, "Always love", which is so precious and different than "Love always". That could preach if I were to sit on that phrase for a few minutes. Maybe her message wasn't intentional at the time, but what a treasure it is for me today. 

Someone will be mad at me for posting this picture, I'm sure, but oh well. I already knew this, but I will reiterate it for this blog post. Our sons (and your daughters and your sons) are resilient. I have been convicted over having one too many pity parties regarding the time we're living in and what it means for them. Things have looked different, sure, but they've been fine and they will all be just fine. We've had lots of people in and out in these months of being mostly at home, and I'm okay with this. We've had extra people at our kitchen and dining room tables, and we've been privy to lots of good conversation. I remember the night I took this picture—there were moments of talking, playing games and laughter. I've learned to be okay with simpler things the past few months, and again, I am okay with this.

We still love this deck as much as the day we did when it was finished and we've missed it throughout the hotter months. Because of where we live, it's unbearable to sit outside with the humidity during much of June, July and August. We've missed being out here and look forward to the cooler, less buggy nights that are coming. I'm about to say something here and I don't want you to get mad at me for this—but over the summer, Todd and I have enjoyed a glass of wine together most nights. We blame most of this on Phil Rosenthal and his series on Netflix we watched over the summer, Somebody Feed Phil. Todd likes red wine, but I prefer white wine or Rose`. It makes us sleep like the dead and it relaxes my hubby, which he is always in need of because he has a hard time unwinding.

No matter the season, I love for my home to feel warm, inviting and cozy. To accomplish this, I love to "shop my house" and move things around to freshen things up. There is a lady whose blog I follow and whose books I read (stop making fun of me, Missy) that calls herself The Nester and talks about this often. I used to think that in order to achieve a warm, inviting and cozy home that I had to buy things or that it had to be within a certain season. I've learned with age how untrue that is, though. What makes a home are the people within its walls, so I pray often that the Lord Himself would fill our home with peace and that people would feel His presence when they enter. I believe that He answers that prayer often within our peace-filled haven that I love to call home. 

Other tangible ways of achieving this goal are things I do all the time that are simple: I use ambient lighting to warm up spaces, like this lamp in the corner of my kitchen; I use fresh and faux flowers all over to brighten things up; I often have music playing on the little Google mini Nest that my kind husband bought me last fall (and I use my Spotify abilities to follow and/or create playlists for the seasons of the year); I light candles that smell like each season; I have blankets readily available because we keep our home like the frozen tundra. I keep things fairly clean and dust with a feather duster every two days or so, I keep the floors pretty vacuumed (hello, dogs), I keep surfaces as free as clutter as my family allows and I keep countertops clean by spraying them down and cleaning with Mrs. Meyer's scents of the seasons. 

Now at this moment, everything is dusty and there is enough hair on the couches and floor to make two other German Shepherds. Don't look too closely at anything in my house or you'll see that my intention here is not perfection, but just good enough. Everywhere you look, you will see evidence of life, though, which is what I actually prefer. My style is well-loved and lived-in with huge portions of cozy minimalist thrown in the mix.

(These are all things I learned from Myquillyn Smith's books, one of which is coming out next week and available for pre-order on your favorite retailing websites. Her latest book is called Welcome Home and if you pre-order the book, you gain free access to her Academy of Home classes. You should check it out for yourself.)

I learned that I can do hard things. (This last picture in the three above was Drew's lunch one day.) I am a bread and carb-loving kind of girl. Give me all the pasta, bread and potatoes and I am happy. Over the summer I gave all of that up and tried also to eat as gluten free as possible. I'm not perfect at this and I have days that I cheat and fall off the bandwagon, but I always pick myself back up and start over the next day. I've lost weight, sure, but I feel a hundred percent better than I did when I first began. My goal isn't to be a certain size or shape or to be about the amount of weight I'm losing—it's to be healthy and to eat as cleanly as possible. We have so much food from the earth that is so delicious and nutritious, so I try to eat that way when I'm able. That being said, if you invite me over and you feed me pasta, I will eat the dinner you made. 

I'm basing my new lifestyle on 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

Some things will never change: my husband is a daredevil who loves to steal my breath. He climbed all the way up to the tip top of our house a few weeks ago and repaired something. Meanwhile, Noah stood at the bottom of this ladder and told me to go inside when he heard my breathing change.

I am a lot of things: wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt, friend, child of God and daughter of the Most High King. One thing I've never considered myself is a writer. But I am a writer. I have been since I was very young—I fell in love with reading in the first grade, at a mere six or seven years old; shortly after that, I fell in love with the art of writing, both actual handwriting and writing with words. Over all the year since then, I've filled tens of (hundreds?) journals with poems, short stories, ideas for books, and I've written an actual children's book that people want to publish (it's expensive!), studies and guides for young girls and women, blog posts, guest blog posts, articles for magazines and newsletters that used to be in print and co-authored my first Bible study on the book of Hosea. This was me a couple of weeks ago starting my journey as a co-author on book of the Bible number two (to be announced at a later date) and I've learned that I can do this. I've known that I can write, because when something flows as easily as words do for me, I know that such a talent is God-given and natural. But I've learned that though I'm not qualified as a schooled writer, I'm equipped by the Almighty God.

He keeps on giving me times to rely upon Him more; in writing, in getting outside of my comfort zone with speaking and singing, in trusting Him solely.

As long as He allows me such opportunities, I'll continue to show up for Him to use me.

That's a scary thing for me to confess on here, but I'll use you for accountability while I've got you. Missy and I were talking about this the other day, how we need to just keep showing up for opportunities. I don't know that I ever feel as close to God as I do in the moments when I'm nervous and in continual prayer for something. I'll never be natural at this keep showing up gig—the introverted side of me wants to just hunker down and stay home and cooped up by myself. Truth is, though, that is now how I am called to live. 

Well, that was longer than I thought it'd be and more fun to write that I'd hoped. Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. 


  1. I love your thoughts and comments on making a house a home.

  2. Thank you, Tanya! That's a subject that has always been near and dear to my heart. I found Courtney from Women Living Well years ago in a post about making your home a haven, and to this day I still implement all her ideas. These cooler mornings and evenings keep inspiring me! I am so ready for fall weather now that it's fall in my home. Ha!


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