What I Learned in July

What I Learned in July

  

Beary representing ‘Murica!
  
July is the jewel of Summer and begins with fireworks and seemingly endless long sunlight days and languid lightening bug summer nights.  

Unbelievably, July is now at an end, and for us, the end of summer break. The end of July has collapsed into muggy, humid and insufferable days here in Kentucky. #LordHaveMercy #sorryJuly

So, I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman and friends sharing what I’ve learned this July.

1.  4th of July fireworks  in a rainstorm still    sparks joy!

Soggy viewing of Nashville’s fireworks!
 

Although less than optimal conditions, we joined the crush of humanity down on Broadway and watched the 30 plus minutes of fireworks and, had a blast!  I’m learning to let go of outcomes, (thanks Emily P. Freeman via Simply Tuesday) and it’s freeing!

2.  Empty Nest is a Real Thing!

So many shades of gray in bath mats!

Dorm shopping is not for the faint of heart (so many choices, so many price points) and we accomplished it in one week’s time. I’m so excited for this new chapter but totally unprepared for the rush of emotions that hit me in the middle of an aisle at Target where I had to hold back tears.   

As a stepmom, I came in the middle of my stepdaughter’s childhood, but these last seven years have sped by and I realized how many of her major developmental milestones I’ve witnessed. 

My only advice to parents trudging through 4th grade homework, arguing over teeth brushing and showers, and attending endless school assembly programs is enjoy it now.  This time passes too quickly.  Such a cliche but so much truth. 

Embrace the drudgery and exhaustion because one day you might have a breakdown in Target’s storage section. 

3. I’m late to the podcast party!

 

A partial list of what’s up on my podcast app. Not shown are Hopeologie and The Influence Network!
   
Many of you already know about podcasts, but for those who do not, podcasts are simply audio recordings of interviews/discussions on any topic/person.  Like how do ocean currents work?  Helen Hunt’s storytelling process, why reading aloud to your kids matters, etc.  They are free (!) and informative besides entertaining!

Somehow I thought the only way one could listen to podcasts were via a desktop computer. But no, iTunes (and other podcast apps) allow one to download the podcast onto your iPhone where you can listen as you go! Yay!

I listen to podcasts when I go for a walk, a long drive or household chores. I especially love finding interviews of favorite authors or bloggers and their insights. 

4. Water is necessary for life. (My husband is a Rockstar)

The beginning of the dig…

We lost water pressure to our house and after checking with neighbors realized we had a leak somewhere on our property. Not so much fun considering our house sits way back from the road and smack dab in the middle of muggy July.  So, after a few miserable days without water we found the break in the line near an outside field faucet, and my  husband began digging.   

That’s alot of digging!!

The culprit…tree roots. And, after a quick trip to the plumber’s supply store, my rockstar husband fixed it for $9!  I’ve never been so happy to take a shower in my own house or flush a toilet!  

5. Madeleine L’Engle is a Kindred Spirit.  

 

So good and timely!
 

I kept seeing this book pop up on Emily P. Freeman’s blog and social media and finally broke down and ordered it as the local library didn’t have a copy. 

I’m so glad I bought my own because I’ve underlined and written on every page. This book came to me at the right time…a book for your soul, for the writer and for the follower of Jesus. I’m such a huge fan of her books but now I’m even more fascinated by her life and insights into writing and God. 

6.  This Quote.  

-Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve seen this quote countless times but when I recently posted it to my social media, it took off and resonated with others as well.   Here’s what I posted with my hand lettering quote:

How many times have you compared yourself against someone else?  You’re robbing yourself of joy, you know that, right?  We each have different talents and gifts and that’s a good thing!! Celebrate your ordinariness and smallness (remember nothing impresses God) and thank Him for what He has given you!

The above insight is a synthesis of life events, Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday (releasing in 2 weeks!) and my sweet Mama!

What did you learn in July?  Comment below!!

 

Five Minute Friday | Free

Five Minute Friday | Free

  

Free. My earliest memory was squealing with delight when piled into our family paneled station wagon, the gas attendant (does anyone remember those?) would peer into the station wagon, count how many kids he spied, dig deep into his pockets and hand my dad 4 wrapped pieces of bubble gum. Bubble gum!!! And it was FREE because there was no way our parents would buy us 2 cent bubble gum at the store no matter how badly we pestered them.

In 7th grade, free took on a different meaning when in the middle of President Reagan’s inaugural address he announced the Iranian hostages were freed!  Free!  We celebrated because our prayers had been answered!

And nowadays the kid in me squeals with delight whenever I enter a restaurant or business and on front door are posted the magical words “Free Wi Fi”.  

As a follower of Jesus I am free in Him.  It’s way more joyful than free bubble gum and it’s even more liberating than when the Iranian hostages were freed. And while free wi fi is valuable to me in my everyday life, the free I am in Jesus far exceeds The reach and capacity of the Internet.  Now to live it!

Thoughtful Thursdays | A Time to Prune

Thoughtful Thursdays | A Time to Prune

  
As a Southern girl, I first really fell in love with crepe myrtles after I moved to Atlanta. Besides the bright magenta floral blooms against dark green foliage,  I crushed on how Atlanta crepe myrtles didn’t grow willy nilly; instead, homeowners (or their yard guys) painstakingly pruned their crepe myrtles to be controlled, structured bases with blooms bursting atop.

When we bought our present home five years ago, I was excited that we had a crepe myrtle in the front of the house.  Over the years , my excitement’s lessened as I witnessed my crepe myrtle would be seemingly OK and then, all of a sudden Out. Of. Control. I couldn’t just prune once, pruning had to happen every year. 

So, today, just as our crepe myrtle begins to bloom, I couldn’t take it anymore and grabbed the pruning shears.  And I didn’t take any before pictures. But here’s the carnage…

  
After an hour of pruning, it got me to thinking. 

Dead Wood Exists Along with New Growth

  

As I tackled dear ol’ crepe myrtle, I noticed how many dead branches were amongst the new growth.   Some dead branches were easy to cull while  others required the shears.   Up close, I couldn’t believe how much dead wood was in my tree!

And so it is in my life. Dead wood exists along new growth and I have to really look closely to see where the dead wood is and get rid of it. Never easy and never fun, but so necessary to make room for new growth. 

Not All New Growth is Beneficial

New little shoots on the crepe myrtle take energy away from the main growth. Some new leaves were easier to get rid of than the new growth with blooms. But, stepping back to see the whole tree, I could tell that for the health of the tree certain blooming limbs had to be pruned. 

This is the trickiest part of pruning in my own life because I love to see new growth blooming. But, if it’s taking energy away from the whole of my life, it’s time to prune back so what I do have energy to create can bloom even more!

Pruning Triggers More Beauty and Growth

Although time consuming, pruning the crepe myrtle provided a quick pay off of accomplishment and beauty.  

So wish I’d taken a Before photo!

 In my own life pruning takes much longer and the payoff to see the resulting beauty and growth sometimes delayed but always more growth and beauty!
 

 

An improved and more beautiful view to enjoy!
 

So, what about you?  How did you spot and prune the dead wood, new growth in your life during your pruning season so new beauty and greater growth could happen? Comment to continue the conversation!

Tuesday Tips | Simply Tuesday

Tuesday Tips | Simply Tuesday

Found my bench to sit, rest and listen.

Happy Tuesday y’all!  I’ve been here, there and yonder this summer exploring, adventuring and making memories with my family.  But for a few weeks, I’ll be home and back here writing. And reading. 

I’m humbled and super excited to be a part of Emily P. Freeman’s new book launch Simply Tuesday:  Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World which releases August 18th!!!  I’m almost finished reading the advance copy and y’all…it’s so good.  I’m devouring yet savoring her thoughtful words at the same time. Emily brilliantly writes about the small and ordinary of life, how these moments are part of His kingdom and where Jesus meets us.   I’ll be bringing y’all a review once I’ve finished reading and absorbing all food for my soul. 

So many pages in my book are highlighted and marked up.

Until the book review…you can preorder Simply Tuesday (which just happens to be #1 new release in Christian Spiritual Growth!) on  Amazon for $7.85. That’s 48% off the cover price of $14!!  Order now and your future self will thank you!

Every Tuesday, I join Emily P. Freeman  and friends celebrating the small, quiet, simple pleasures of Tuesdays. You can join us to, simply by using the hashtag #ItsSimplyTuesday on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.   Just tag your everyday Tuesday goings on and join the community who notices the joys of smallness Tuesdays bring. 

Here’s mine for today:

 
After so many days of afternoon pop up showers I simply enjoyed watching the sunlight and shadows sweep over my neighbor’s farm this morning. 

What’s your #ItsSimplyTuesday moment? I’d love to hear!  Share in the comments below!

  

Five Minute Friday | Hope

Five Minute Friday | Hope

  

  

Foggy mornings at my house stop me in my tracks. I gaze at the otherworldliness the fog creates and I rest.  The familiar landmarks have been transformed and I marvel at the new perspective  in front of me. 

Hope is like the fog. Subtle, elusive, and otherworldly. Hope transforms the familiar landmarks of my life, my heart, my soul and creates a new perspective. I can rest in Hope.  

My wishful desires will not transform me. Only the true Hope…the Hope that doesn’t disappoint, that is steadfast. 

This Hope is otherworldly, because It is unseen.  That’s why morning fog stops me in my tracks. It’s as if God shows me…Hope is here, temporarily visible changing my perspective for the day.  

Where do you see Hope?  How is Hope shaping your perspective today?