9 Things I Learned in July

photo by Philip Howard.flickr.creative commons One of my favorite things about last month on the blog turned out to be doing a link-up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky about things I learned in June (I guess that’s something else I learned). It was fun to share some things about my month which might not ordinarily come up in this space, and to get to know some of you better as well. This just might have to be a tradition.

In addition to this post, I’m also over at Tyler Braun’s blog (as of yesterday) writing about church, worship and unity. Here is an excerpt of that post.

“It seems to me, looking back on my life so far, that those seasons filled with beauty which seems to cause a physical ache, are temporal mostly because my humanness cannot quite stand before the sustained wonder. These times are like Moses watching God’s back as He passes by: a glimpse of something utterly perfect, from a distance, which still leaves faces glowing and hearts full of awe.

Since that church, and that season, I have been a part of many different kinds of faith communities. I have peered into the finer points of theological differences, sung many kinds of songs and eaten many donuts. In some ways, I have always looked for that church of my childhood, longing to recreate how it felt to fellowship with God and others in a place where the veil was thin.”

You can read the rest here.

Without further ado, here are (some of) the things I learned in July.

1. I think on auto-pilot sometimes.

This month, God challenged my thinking in several areas (the result has been partially realized in my Single-Minded Mondays series). As He revealed some of the lies that I was believing and the ways those lies were shaping my life, I was shocked. It is so easy to think that I have a certain area down. I’m learning about what it means to truly take every thought captive and hold it up to what God really says, instead of letting my brain run on cruise control.

photo by inf3ktion.flickr.creative commons

2. Other people want friends as much as I do, and are actively looking for them.

I went to a yard sale this month, and the woman having the sale came up and started chatting with me. I quickly found out that she had four children under the age of twelve, and that she and her family had recently moved to the area. We talked animatedly for a while and then she said something which stopped me in my tracks: “would you like to have coffee sometime?” In a world where saying that you’d like to have more friends often feels like a slap in the face to the ones you already have, or a pitiful admission that you don’t have any, this is a very brave thing. We exchanged information, and I’m excited to get to know her better.

3. A duet on the piano with a new friend in her 80’s.

It had been a long time since I’d touched a piano. When I arrived, I had no notion of doing any such thing. I have a dear friend whose sister was in town (her younger sister, they are both in their 80’s), she invited me and my family to come over. Almost as soon as introductions were complete, my new friend asked me to join her at the piano. We started with a simple explanation of the keyboard (which seemed fuzzily familiar from my three years of lessons, abandoned in favor of having long fingernails), then we progressed to learning a four-part duet. As it became clear that the only way out was through, I put my mind to learning the piece. At the end of the visit, we brought the rest of the group into the living room and played it together, almost without mistakes. Who would have thought?

4. Sometimes, I am what is standing in my way (or God’s way)

It’s easy to think that if my circumstances were different, or if I had better resources, then I could do what I’d like to be doing, or what I think I should be doing. To quote Inception: “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” It is amazing how often I set up roadblocks that are of no consequence to God, and try to tell Him that He can’t do things, which is ridiculous. He is patient with me.

5. The Penderwicks are just as good the second time around

When I was young, I loved to read Edward Eager’s books. I read Half Magic and Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden over and over again. I loved the sort of stories which were about ordinary children to whom extraordinary things happened. That is what I love about The Penderwicks (and the two sequels). They are books that could have been written 50 years ago, but they weren’t. In 50 years, I think that they will still delight the young, and the young at heart, who read them. If you fall into one of these categories and think you might enjoy a series about four sisters, their professor father (who is constantly speaking Latin) and a wonderful dog named Hound, you may want to pick these up.

6. Spontaneity, contrary to my worst fears, does not always end in tears, or disaster. 

I was pleasantly surprised by a last-minute plan this month, and will try to be more open to experiences of the kind in the future. Baby steps.

photo by Gene Hunt.flickr.creative commons

7. People will still get excited about a little tiny prince, even in our whiz-bang culture

It is always wonderful to see people coming together in unity over something. This is what I love about sports, and church, and food. I enjoyed the instant connection, if only for a day or two, which could be had by saying to a stranger (or a friend): “Any news on the baby?”

8. Spinach chips are delicious (and very easy to make)

I was invited to a get-together at the beginning of the month and tasked with bringing something that I had pinned and then made from Pinterest. Another thing that I learned in this process is that I pin a lot of things which I would never make, but would like someone to make for me. But then I found this recipe for spinach chips which had looked interesting. A friend had brought kale chips to a party I’d had a few months ago, and they were delicious. Within half an hour, I had some crispy and delicious morsels which we couldn’t stop eating (made of spinach!). Leafy greens, for me, will never be the same.

9. The intriguing definition of “combobulate”

Recently, I spent the afternoon with some good friends. He is an engineer, and she and I are both English people. Somehow, we got to talking about this word, and it’s antonym, “discombobulate.” We discovered that the definition was actually quite interesting:

“To put together in a somewhat mysterious manner. To bring something out of a state of confusion or disarray. To manufacture by some unusual or novel means.”

Now, it is one of my favorite words to describe God and how He works in the world.

Now, inquiring minds want to know: what did you learn in July?