Sunday, September 02, 2018

What I Learned This Summer (2018 Edition)

(Part of an art piece done by Big D's AP Studio Art Class)

Summer has officially ended.  W and Big D are both at their respective colleges.  My honey came back from the states right as I was finishing my second week of school here in West Africa.  The summer for us began with Big D's graduation in Germany.  Then Big D and I headed to the states for a summer of traveling and transitioning for him.  Our meandering took us all over the midwest and gave us a chance to reconnect with family and friends.  At the end of July, my honey joined us for the rest of our travels.

Here a few of the lessons I learned....

Most of all...

1. I Needed This Summer

When Big D and I landed in the states on June 17th, I had been away from the states for over two years.  I was overdue to be back and to spend time with family and friends.  Long drives with Big D made space for great conversations as he transitioned to life in the states and attending college in the Fall.  Morning runs on Iowa roads and Indiana streets created time to think and process what God was teaching me.  Time by the pool in Texas gave me time to journal, reflect, and map out what I want my fall to look like.



But most of all, I needed to reconnect with family and friends that I hadn't seen in two years.  We enjoyed July 4th in Iowa where we spent time with immediate and extended family as and watched some amazing fireworks.  I shopped with my roommate from college in Missouri, went on hikes with my sister in Indiana, and did a day trip to Waco with two good friends in Texas.  Then in August, our family of four was together for a few weeks which allowed us to help W find a wedding dress for upcoming wedding in May 2019.  


Throughout the summer, I loved hearing the stories of how God is working in each person and place.  For some, it was about struggles and hard things.  For others, it was the joys of weddings and new beginnings.

Which leads to #2

2. Connection Takes Intentionality

Someday I would love to take a road trip where each day we get up and decide where we want to go and what we want to do.  This summer was not that time.  I am thankful that we were able to plan ahead to see so many of our friends at times that hopefully were good for them.  Being in Iowa for the 4th meant time with extended family plus giving Big D a glimpse into a favorite part of my childhood.  Planning ahead to have a day just us gave my friends and I time to have a day to talk, laugh, and enjoy each other as we drove back and forth to Waco.  

Intentionality not only takes planning but being present in the moment.  It means trying to come into other peoples' lives and being there with them and listening to their stories.  Sometimes this is easy and other times it can feel out of my comfort zone.  Intentionality often meant engaging when I wanted to retreat.   But it also meant knowing when I needed to rest so that I was my better self with my hosts.  

I am thankful for all the family and friends who let us be a part of their lives this summer.  

3. I Can Travel Internationally by Myself

After two months in the states, it was time for me to head back to West Africa.  My honey would take Big D to college while W headed off to her college in the opposite direction

I have lived overseas for 10 years and in that time, I have never traveled alone.  I was either with my husband or one or both of my kids.  This time I was on my own with two separate itineraries.  It was an adventure of rescheduling, my luggage not making it twice, and running through the Amsterdam airport and barely making my last flight.  

I did it.  By the grace of God, I did it.  The best part was that I felt God with me each step of the way.   When I thought I wasn't going to make my next flight (at least two different times), I had a peace and calm that could have only come from God.  

In the middle of the craziness of "Will I make my next flight?", I had 24 hour layover in Switzerland.   I spent the layover with dear friends that I had worked with in Central Asia.  This was a truly a gift- a gift of connection, understanding, and remembering.

4. How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth

Okay I might not be there yet, but I truly enjoyed going through an online course where the main content was from the book, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worthby Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.  The course demonstrated how knowing the historical or literary content of a passage will aid my understanding of the different books of the bible.  It also gave me tools and guidelines to follow as I dive into different parts of the bible.  

I will be referencing my notes in the years to come as I look at the bible through different lenses.  My biggest take away was this quote: "A text cannot mean what it could never have meant for its original readers/hearers."  Yes, we will be applying the biblical principles to a new time and place but the original intent will be the same.  

So what did you learn this summer?  What are you looking forward to this fall?  Check out what other bloggers have learned this summer over at Emily P. Freeman's Blog

Blessings, TJ

3 comments:

anna said...

So I came to the Emily P. Freeman post last night solely to see if you had added to it. Tried again today and was delighted to find your addition: it was just as gratifying as I expected . . . love "hearing" your wise insight. Funny to see your mention of traveling alone, as this summer I almost ended up having to come back after Peter, due to a VIsa issue. In only 4 years of marriage, I have grown oddly dependent on him, and was terrified of the prospect of flying solo. Your mention was encouraging :-)
Your #2 point was especially meaningful to me, as I wrote down a goal (privately) for my summer in the US of taking the time to BE WITH the friends and family I was with, without an agenda. I felt inept, when it came down to it, as if I hadn't succeeded. But maybe, I pray, the "intention" was worth something? Anyhow, thank you for sharing.

Lindsey said...

Hi TJ! As someone who lives in the Midwest while most of my family and friends are in Florida, I so related to many of your thoughts about the value of those times of connection. (Though admittedly, our distance is easier to overcome than yours!)

Also, "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" is a book my former pastor used to ALWAYS recommend--and I still have never read it. I think it's time to bump it up my list.

Loved your list! Happy fall! --Lindsey

Linda Stoll said...

Welcome back! You've been missed, TJ.

Thank you for sharing your adventures, your travels, your thoughts and learnings in the process of reconnecting with those you love.

And the Magnolia Table sign made me smile. I'm paging through Joanna's cookbook these days. Luscious.