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.

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