Seven Things I Learned this Summer

June-August 2019

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ll know that Emily P. Freeman is my soul guru. Her mission is to create a place for our souls to breath, and I didn’t even know that was something I needed until I started listening to her podcast and reading her books/blog. But it so so is. One thing she suggests doing is reflecting at the transition from one season to the next… looking at what was life giving and what was life draining, what I’ve learned, what I want to focus on as we move into the coming season. To that end, I give you Seven Things I’ve Learned this Summer.

One. Planning a dinner queue is legitimately life changing.

I first heard about a dinner queue on Kendra Adachi’s podcast, and it sounded like a simple way to get organized, so I decided to give it a try. I asked the hubby and kids for input, made a list of 15 meals we’d be happy to have throughout the summer, and then used that list for my weekly meal planning. I know this sounds so simple, but it really is so amazing! Instead of choosing from all the recipes in all the books and all the Pinterest pages in all the world, I was choosing from FIFTEEN recipes/meals that we’d already all agreed we’d like. As someone who plans meals for six people in four generations, this little tip is nothing short of life changing. I’m already so excited to write out my Fall Dinner Queue. Also, this recipe for IP Butter Chicken will be on all the queues for all the seasons for all time. You’re welcome.

Two. Setting boundaries is so much harder than it sounds.

I’m a recovering people pleaser who previously had zero concept of how to set boundaries. The mere idea of disappointing someone would give me physical anxiety. Through a lot of soul work and counseling, I’m (very) slowly learning how to set boundaries that are healthy for me. But holy buckets, it’s so hard.

Here are three things I’ve learned:

one) This is my working definition of the word boundary- the distance at which I can love both you and myself simultaneously. 

two) If I focus on what’s mine to do, it makes it easier to set a healthy boundary. For example, it’s not mine to own other people’s emotions. 

three) Setting a boundary is for me, not against you. And telling people exactly that helps. 

Three. Grief goes on.

It’s been 243 days since my Papa passed away, since I held his hand as Jesus opened up his arms to welcome him in. Here are some things I’ve learned in the last 243 days: 
~ I still miss him every day, even 8 months after he left us. And I bet I’ll still miss him in 8 years. 
~ I welcome any time people ask me how I’m doing and allow me to talk about how it still is hard.
~ It makes some people uncomfortable sometimes when I bring up my dead grandpa, even if it’s just to talk about something funny or sweet. 
~ There is no timeline for grief. Most days I’m fine, and some days I cry like he left us yesterday. And that’s okay.
~ Sometimes it still seems hard to believe that he’s gone. He would have loved hearing about the books I’ve been reading and my new classes and how my kids are growing and the hilarious things they say and it seems so strange that I can’t share those things with him. I’m not sure that will ever go away. 

Four. I love theater.

It was the summer of Rent, Les Mis, and The Music Man. I would see a theater show once a week if I could.

Five. I need more sleep. But I don’t wanna.

Hey Google, why am I so tired? 
Hey Google, how do you fight anxiety?
Hey Google, why does my body hold extra weight?
Hey Google, how can I reduce stress?
Hey Google, how can I get up earlier?
Hey Google, why do I forget all the things?
Hey Google, how can I boost my immunity during cold season?

Hey April, get some sleep.

I know, you know, we all know that sleep is the answer to just about any question. And yet, I fight it. Can I get an amen from my fellow mama friends who are up at least an hour after everyone goes to sleep just to have a little peace and quiet all to herself. 

And I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the same thing the husband tells me almost weekly- go to sleep earlier, and then get up earlier. But there are two kinds of people in the world- early birds and night owls and I fall firmly into the latter category. It’s science. I read an article that says as you get older your circadian rhythm tends to adjust and you get up earlier and earlier. So I figure I’ll become a morning person about the time I turn 147. In the meantime, I’ll be over here caffeinating, thanks.

Six. Sometimes there’s no “right” answer.

Two books have changed my life: The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman and The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. Remember how I’m a people pleaser? As you can imagine (or as you can straight up understand on a deeply personal level if you’re a people pleaser yourself), this makes decision making difficult. The bigger the decision, the harder it is. And deciding to go to Thailand for two weeks without your family is a big decision. 

I’ve had worldwide missions on my heart since I was a teenager, but for one reason or another, I’ve never been able to go. Our awesome church plans Mission Experiences every year, and every year I’ve looked longingly at my hubby, and every year he (wisely) has said it’s not time. Until this year. I had the green light to gather the info and make the call. You would have thought I was trying to decide which of my arms to chop off with how much I was agonizing over the decision, except the arm decision would have been easier. (Left, duh. I’m right handed.)

After stressing for way more time than I should have, I remembered that God wants to help, and that I’ve been given some great resources to help with my decision making. 
From The Best Yes, I have these questions to ask myself: Could this fit physically, financially, spiritually, and emotionally? In light of my past experience and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing for me to do? Is my goal to honor Jesus with this decision? Do I trust God with the outcome?
And from The Next Right Thing, this question: Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?

By using the answers to these questions as a filter (this could fit, I desire to use my gifts and time to help others, I trust God in this place, and the only reason I would say no is because I’m afraid), talking with trusted friends, and praying my heart out, I decided to apply for the Thailand team and was accepted. Pray for me.

Shameless plug: A friend recently told me that people like to be involved in something big like a trip to Thailand, but they don’t always want to go. However, they may be interested in contributing financially to be a part of the team. If that’s you, here’s the link where you can help support me!

Seven. Vulnerability leads to connection.

I love to be an encourager. Being an enneagram two puts me in a unique position to meet people where they are, see a need, and call them up. To that end, I tend to keep my social media presence pretty positive. Not always light, but encouraging. I show cute photos of my kids and dog and share how great my husband is and share funny and/or encouraging quotes. And people say they appreciate the things I share. But on July 12, my 16th wedding anniversary, I shared a different kind of post. My prayer was that it would still be encouraging, but it wasn’t light. It was real. I shared the realities of what 16 years of marriage had looked like for us, and what I’d learned. 
I received more feedback and messages about that post than ever before. Friends sharing the realities of their own marriages, some thanking me for being honest, some reaching out for help. That post led to real conversation, real connection. And I almost didn’t click “post.” Had I posted what I wanted to, something about how much I love my husband and how the last 16 years have had ups and downs, but I love him more now than ever, it would have been true. But no one would have cared. No one would have reached out to me and said, “Your marriage seems perfect, will you help me with my broken one?” But by being vulnerable and showing my own brokenness, friends felt empowered to share theirs.

My 2019 Fall Focus:

  • Intentional time with my sweet babes as we begin our fifth homeschooling year.
  • Paying attention to my surroundings, my emotions, my life energy scale, my heart as I care for my soul.
  • Writing every day.
  • Preparing my heart and home for the holidays, our first without Paps.

What did you learn this summer? What are you focusing on this fall?

2 thoughts on “Seven Things I Learned this Summer

    • He’s close to the brokenhearted, and this last year has given me that firsthand experience. When everything started to crumble a year ago, I remember telling a friend that I was good- I could live my whole life without needing to experience that kind of intimacy with God if it meant so much pain. Now I see how naive and ungrateful that must have sounded. His extra dispensation of grace and mercy during this season has been the greatest gift.


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