**Today I’m linking up with Emily Freeman’s post called “Let’s Share What We Learned this Summer.” Be sure to go to the linkup to find some other great posts about this topic too.**
Here is a list of seven things I learned over the summer:
- IT TAKES COURAGE TO SAY NO – At the end of May, I ended up reading and totally resonating with the following quote from a blog post called The Courage of No: “But two days later, I called her with my “yes.” I did so for three reasons: I was honored that she asked. I didn’t want to let her down. And I didn’t have the courage to say “no” to a good thing. I almost immediately regretted my decision. I had yet to learn this truth: Sometimes you have to say “no” to the good, in order to save room for the great.“ This post also went on to give a great list of six ways to do this well. I really feel this knowledge helped me to frame what I wanted my summer to look like from the get-go.
- SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE – Last summer ended up being jam-packed with prepping for my mission trip to Costa Rica (see related posts), actually going on the trip, and then planning follow-up events within the church. Whew! So this spring, I stated that I was going to have a “low-key, laid-back summer.” This included not being in charge of planning any group outings, limiting my weekday events, and purposefully planning some “down time” within my weekends. No big summer trips were allowed either and so I just stayed close to home with a few weekend road trips here and there. Guess what? It ended up being quite lovely and just what I needed!
- HOLD YOUR PLANS OUT WITH OPEN HANDS – This summer I did end up saying “Yes” to co-leading a 6-week community group within my church on Monday nights in June and July. This involved reading beforehand the 64-page handbook and also the facilitator’s guide, prepping for and leading some of the weekly sessions and also doing 60-90 minutes of required reading each week. While all this extra work didn’t quite fit in to my self-titled “low-key, laid-back summer,” it did end up being something which proved to have a great impact on me. I am so glad I chose to do the Journeys of Faith study series this summer (see related posts). Through all this, I saw how even your best-laid plans still need to be held before God with open hands in order for Him to add to and take away from them as He sees fit.
- IF POSSIBLE, PUT IN SOME CALM BEFORE THE STORM – In mid-June, I applied for and was accepted to the continuing education Certificate in Editing program at the University of Washington. It runs October through June and consists of one evening class each week as well as one Saturday class each month. My decision to have a “low-key, laid-back summer” was based partly on the knowledge that, starting in the fall, my year will be pretty busy with classes and schoolwork, in addition to working my full-time job. I knew if I continued at the pace I was going last spring, I would start my studies in the fall with my energy reserves depleted. Now, after 3 months spent reversing this trend, I do feel much calmer, more centered and more peaceful. Mission Accomplished!
- GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE, ESPECIALLY WITH SELF-IMPOSED DEADLINES – After attending the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference last May, I decided to start editing and adding to a novel I had written several years back. An editor I met with at the conference had liked the novel I pitched to her but also said I needed to almost double its length – ouch! I also knew by this point that I wanted to apply for the UW Certificate in Editing program starting this October. Therefore, I gave myself a deadline to have all of the work on my novel done by the end of September. Needless to say, I am not as far along by now as I would have hoped but I have also realized I am the only one putting the pressure on with my self-imposed deadline and so have learned to give myself grace in the process. I’m hoping this realization can spill over into other parts of my life as well.
- YOU MAY NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU ASK – Recently, I agonized over whether or not to ask for a raise at work (see related posts here and here). I hate talking about the money side of things and also feel I have never really learned good negotiation tactics for the business world. There was also the fact that I was worried it might hurt my Christian witness with my employers if I appeared greedy or ungrateful. However, after talking it over with some trusted people, asking for prayer in this area, and listening for God’s leading in it all I finally decided to go ahead with it. The negotiations ended up going smoothly and I got the raise. Through it all, I felt God showing me I simply need to ask for things (from my employers, from loved ones, from God) instead of worrying over them so much beforehand; not asking for something just because I am afraid of the answer is not right. This was a big lesson for me to learn. Now to start applying it in other areas of my life as well!
- DON’T PLACE CONDITIONS ON WHAT YOU WANT – As a result of my raise, I have started to dream about what I could do with the extra income I will be getting. One thing I have recently desired is to start saving for a down payment on a condo. The rent in Seattle is getting pretty steep and I’ve heard some people actually now pay less for a mortgage than they did in rent. But after a trip back to my hometown this last weekend, I started to think about possibly buying something over there instead. However, I’d always said I may move back there someday but only after I had a family and not as a single person. Now I feel putting this kind of condition on my living situation places a lot of undue pressure on myself. Regardless of the outcome in my possible future condo purchase, I’m starting to question the wisdom of limiting myself in such way in any area.