What I Learned This Summer

**Today I’m linking up with Emily Freeman’s post called “Let’s Share What We Learned this Summer.”  Be sure click the linkup to find some other great posts on this topic too.** 

Here’s a list of seven things I learned this summer:

  1. “PRAY BIG, WORRY SMALL, TRUST GOD” – The end of July I signed a new nanny contract which won’t start until January 2018. While this opportunity excited me, it also meant I had to somehow find other work from September-December. But I had stepped out in faith and taken this new nanny job because I had peace God would somehow provide for me in the intervening months. About two weeks after I signed the contract (and before I had found work for the fall), I read the quote from above on an (in)courage blog post. This quote definitely resonated with where I was at and so I latched onto it. I made it my phone wallpaper, my computer lockscreen, and put it up on the quote board by my desk. It reminded me not to worry (I tend to do that a lot) and to pray more (I tend not to do that as much) and also to trust God through it all!
  2. OWN YOUR DECISIONS – As I ended my Editing Certificate Program in June and approached the end of my nannyshare job coming up in August, I knew I had to make some potentially life-altering decisions.  Frankly, I was putting them off because I felt intimidated by the “bigness” of it all and the possibility to make the “wrong” decision.  In the midst of this, I found Lysa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes : Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, on my bookshelf that a friend had given me back in January. I decided that now might be a good time to dig into this book. And boy was it ever! While reading it, I became more at peace and gained a more godly perspective about my upcoming decisions. Especially after finding this quote: “There is no perfect decision – only the perfectly surrendered decision to press through our fears and know God is working in us to bring about good through us.” Reading this took a lot of the pressure off as I realized God could (and would!) use even the “imperfect” decisions I might make, especially as I surrendered them into His hands.
  3.  Family Time = Good Times – My parents rented a cabin up in the North Cascade Mountains for a weekend in the middle of June and invited my brothers’ families and me to come along. We had some trouble nailing down a weekend that worked for all of us and at first I worried over that. Then, once we finalized the weekend, I worried about the family dynamics with all of us as we were out of our normal element and all together for a longer period of time (13 people total). How would we keep everyone busy and happy and on the same page in regards to daily activities/outings? How could we make sure everyone pitched in and nobody felt overburdened by either the preparations beforehand or at the cabin? But I learned I shouldn’t have worried so much! It turned out to be a great time, a special time, and a fun time for everyone. God reminded me afterwards that my worries over it all were once again unfounded.
  4. GOD ALWAYS COMES THROUGH (THOUGH NOT ALWAYS IN OUR TIMING OR HOW WE MIGHT EXPECT) – At the end of June, one of my new roommates got pretty sick and so my other roommate and I were scrambling to provide care for her in the first little while. We each took some  time off work to be with her or asked others to come over when we couldn’t be home. It was so encouraging and faith-building to see it all work out in the end.  Our employers were understanding of the need for time off, our friends and family stepped up to help out, and her friends offered assistance as well. Again, after worrying over it all (do you sense a theme here yet?!), I was humbled to look back at the end and see how God had provided for her during this difficult time.
  5. AN “UNDERWHELMED SCHEDULE” MEANS AN “OVERWHELMED SOUL” – Back in July, I found a couple more gems from the book, The Best Yes: “Never is a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul” and “The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our souls.  So, this isn’t just about finding time. This is about honoring God with the time we have.” These two quotes reassured and reminded me about why I chose to take a month or so (it turned out to be all summer!) off of looking for editing work and to give up some ministry commitments for the fall.  I needed to give my soul time to breathe and to have time to reconnect with myself and with God. After reading these quotes, it was as if God was reaffirming me about a decision that might have seemed counter-intuitive to some.
  6. LOVING GOD MEANS LOVING OTHERS WELL –  At the end of July I went to a mini family reunion in Boise. Some of my relatives (many of them, actually) I hadn’t seen in several years. It was a great time to reconnect but, after the first few events of the weekend, I realized I was more concerned with how others were perceiving me than about how I could love and bless them. After going to my uncle’s church on Sunday morning, I was even more convicted of this attitude. The pastor talked about the parable of The Sower and the Seed and reminded us that we never know how our actions and words might affect those we come in contact with or what type of soil they may fall on. I was grateful God once again tugged on my heart-strings in an area where I tend to continually struggle.
  7. GOD USUALLY BRINGS OTHERS INTO YOUR LIFE SIMPLY FOR A SEASON (SO MAKE THE MOST OF THE TIME YOU HAVE WITH THEM) – Goodbyes are always hard for me and I had to say a difficult one at the end of August to a one of my nannyshare families that I had been with for three years. It was amazing to realize my nanny kiddos had changed from an 18-month old toddler to a four and a half-year-old little boy and from a young six-year-old to a much older nine-year-old! Nanny work also means you become immersed in the family’s life and become a little part of it for a while.  On my last day, this family gave me the sweetest card where the parents said so many nice things about how much they appreciated me taking care of their kids. And the two boys also said this: “Bethany, you are a great friend. You help me take my naps and get to sleep. You feed me sandwiches and good food.  You take us on the best adventures.  I love you – N. (4 1/2)” and “Dear Bethany, I like how you are flexable, how you make things happen, and how you calm things down.  Sincerely, A. (9)”  Awhhh!! I knew I had done my best to show God’s love to this family (though not always perfectly) and it was rewarding to hear this from them.

What I Learned This Spring

**Today I’m linking up with Emily Freeman’s post called “Let’s Share What We Learned this Spring.”  Be sure click the linkup to find some other great posts on this topic too.** 

Here’s a list of seven things I learned this spring:

  1. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO TRUST THAT THROUGH CHANGE GOD WILL BRING YOU SOMETHING EVEN BETTER – My roommate got married this spring and so I had to look for a new living situation.  We’d been roommates for almost five years and it had been such an ideal situation for fellowship, growth, laughter and hospitality.  So I was not looking forward to having to make a change in that area.  While I knew in my head it would all work out, in my heart I had my doubts.  But what did I end up with in the end? Not just another apartment to rent but a HOUSE to live in once again (with a sunny patio, space for a garden and grassy yard).  Not just another great roommate but TWO fun gals to live with.  This all just reminded me that, as much as I may resist change at times, things usually turn out even better in the end!
  2. GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT (ESPECIALLY IF YOU CAN WAIT PATIENTLY) – Before we ended up with our new rental house, my roommates and I had to wait a week and a half before their Open House. In the meantime, there were not really any other good prospects showing up and our deadline to move was quickly approaching,  Trusting God during that time was hard but it was also a growing time for me.  I realized I could worry and fret or I could trust that God was in control and knew just what we needed.  Eventually, it all worked out even without me ending up having to bite my nails too much.
  3.  WHAT GOES AROUND USUALLY COMES AROUND (AND I MEAN THIS ONLY IN A GOOD WAY) – My move taught me another lesson this spring. I was a little worried that my pool of guy friends to help on moving day was pretty scarce. But I had previously been generous with my time to help other friends with their moves.  This time around they returned the favor (and even brought their husbands along to help too!).  God providing for me in this way was such an unexpected blessing.  And other people stepped up who I had taken the time to allow into my life and to be a part of theirs too.  I felt so blessed and humbled by the turnout (and on one of the rainiest Saturdays of the season to boot!)
  4. SOMETIMES LIFE TAKES A DIFFERENT DIRECTION THAN PLANNED SO YOU NEED TO STOP AND RE-EVALUATE – Someone recommended I take an online developmental editing course this winter.  They thought it would be doable in addition to the Editing class I was already in.  I agreed at first but also didn’t plan on having to house hunt and move during the last half of the online class. So I didn’t end up finishing all coursework for that.  I had to make a decision about two-thirds of the way through to stop doing any of the reading or assignments. At the time it felt a bit like I was giving up but in the end it was the right decision. After all, I am the only one who truly knows my limits and how much I can really handle.
  5. TAKE TIME ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS TO REMEMBER THE BLESSINGS GOD HAS GIVEN YOU – If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know my littlest nephew is very special to our family.  My sister-in-law had a hard pregnancy with him but then he ended up being born exactly on his due date (our own little miracle)! I was bummed this year as I didn’t think I’d get to celebrate his 1st birthday at all because of prior commitments elsewhere.  But it turned out I got to see him after all for a short while, give him a present from me, and celebrate his life with everyone.  Such a blessing for me and a sweet reminder of God’s grace!
  6. BAD HABITS SLOWLY CREEP UP ON YOU AND EVENTUALLY THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES –  I hadn’t had “time” (or made time is more like it) to exercise much over the past year.  And then I tweaked my back after all the heavy lifting from my move, etc.  It was very painful for over a week and I began to get worried it wasn’t going to get better on its own.  But I also realized my lack of exercise had finally caught up with me.  So I started stretching it out with some daily yoga and going on some walks.  Surprisingly this helped it heal much quicker than I had anticipated but I wasn’t about to let it happen again either.  I tagged onto a new healthy eating plan with my sister-in-law and then just this weekend was able to go on my first short run after letting my back rest up awhile.  It feels good to be making some better progress in this area once again.
  7. GOOD FRIENDSHIPS REQUIRE YOU TO BE INTENTIONAL –As a result of some common themes among those of us in my church small group, we started a new book study from the (in)courage community.  We’re using a devotional called “Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement.” On my end, I’ve realized I spend LESS quality time with one of my new roommates than I did when we were simply friends.  Our work schedules are different and we have different days off.  Also, when we are home together it seems we both have our own agendas to follow. So I miss her although I see her now every day! I’m realizing that in order to actually sit down and talk about our lives together like we used to do will require some more intentionality on both our parts.