One of the ways I purposely work on appreciating the beautiful but so-very-ordinary stuff of real life and regular days is by keeping track of what I’m learning.

It’s simple and yet also meaningful, a practical way to practice the ministry of paying attention.

Summer is my least favorite of all the seasons (don’t hate me for saying that, please… it’s just. so. dang. hot.). But as I pulled this post together, I was reminded that every season shows up with something to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% ready for Fall’s arrival. Partially because this summer has been incredibly busy and emotionally draining… and also because I long for the day when I can walk from my front door to my car door without sweating.

But even in the crazy and the ordinary, there were lessons learned…

10 helpful (and somewhat ridiculous) things I learned this summer:

Ten Things I Learned This Summer:


1. The fifth season of Parenthood is still the absolute worst.

I completely missed the Parenthood boat, I’ll admit it. I remember Twitter blowing up during the very last episode and wondering why everyone seemed so upset and emotional and invested.

Later that summer, I watched every single episode. And yeah, I was upset and emotional and invested by that final episode. The Bravermans feel like family, and if you’ve watched Parenthood you know exactly what I mean.

This summer I watched every episode again with my roommate, who had never seen the show. And the whole time, I couldn’t help but think “season 5 is coming.” And then it came and it was just as awful as the first time. Amazing story lines, great acting… but UGH to season 5.

2. Sam Jaeger and his wife are in a movie together on Netflix.

While we’re talking about Parenthood, let me just admit I absolutely did a Google search on other shows/movies Sam Jaeger has starred in. Because, it’s Sam Jaeger.

Lo and behold, he wrote, starred in, and directed a movie — and his wife plays the other lead! It’s cute, has a good storyline, and it’s clean (which, let’s be honest, most romantic comedies are not). If you’re looking for a new movie, check out Take Me Home.

4 cute - and free - bookmarks

3. Making bookmarks isn’t that difficult.

Every month(ish), I send out a newsletter to all email subscribers. Hands down, it’s my favorite thing to write. (Should I say that out loud here? I don’t know. But I’m saying it anyways.) I fill it chock-full with behind-the-screens updates, in-process thoughts that often aren’t shared elsewhere, good reads from around the Internet, and exclusive freebies.

Based on their feedback from a super informal survey of which freebies they’d love to receive in the future, I discovered that my subscriber-friends are bookmark-loving people. (I fully support this.) So I set about designing bookmarks… beginning with asking Google questions like “what is the pixel size of a bookmark?” And y’all, it turns out that bookmarks aren’t hard to make! I offered 4 designs exclusively to subscribers, but the ones pictured above are available to anyone here. (If you know anything about graphic design — or you’re willing to teach yourself — give it a shot! I really enjoyed making them.) (You can become an email subscriber here, if you’d like.)

4. Music moves me in ways nothing else does.

Okay, so I guess I already knew this. But I’m listing it here because I was reminded of this truth all over again this summer, thanks to one particular CD.

Every Mile Mattered by Nichole Nordeman is absolutely amazing. The lyrics, y’all. Oh my word. As a writer, I’ve received messages from readers saying that I’ve put their heart into words or somehow written exactly what they’re feeling and/or needed to hear. That’s such a compliment and I don’t take it lightly. But can I just turn that around and say Nichole has written out my heart through song lyric? If you haven’t listened to this CD, just go ahead and click out of this list and go listen. #Priorities

St Anne's Church

5. Going back to Israel makes me want to cry and laugh and dance and clap with joy.

It’s official: I’m going back to Israel in 2018. And this time? I’m taking several friends along with me. Want to come? For real, you’re invited. (As long as you promise not to make fun of me when I cry/laugh/dance/clap my way all around one of my very favorite places in the world.) If you’re interested in learning more, just click here.

6. Doing the next right thing could change your life.

Two years ago, I opened up a blank page and wrote 2,000 words. It felt like breaking wide open, like an offering poured out. Also, it felt crazy. But I wrote because He made Himself more than clear: to do anything else would be flat out disobedience.

Those 2,000 words became the introduction to a book that has been read literally around the world. But on August 19, 2015… those 2,000 words were simply the next right thing, one small step of obedience.

Two years later, I still hear from complete strangers on the other side of the world saying “this book is changing my life.” And the most honest reply I can give is this: It changed mine too. To God alone be the glory.

So. I don’t know what your next right thing is… but I think you should take a step in the direction of obedience

(Even If Not is a story about letting go and learning that He was always holding on. It’s a rescue story. It’s a love story. It’s a letter to all of the broken hopefuls. You can learn more by about the book here, if you’d like.)

Even If Not by Kaitlyn Bouchillon... such an inspiring read!

7. Going to the chiropractor isn’t scary.

So, real talk, the idea of going to the chiropractor has scared me for years. I’ve been worried of “what could go wrong” based on horror stories that probably aren’t even true. But still, I’ve been scared to go.

For many years, I’ve suffered from neck and shoulder pain. To be perfectly honest, I’ve grown so accustomed to always feeling pain that for the most part, I don’t think about it until it suddenly worsens. However, in June my lower back tightened to the point that I literally couldn’t walk without extreme pain. Thus, a visit to the chiropractor and an electrotherapy session.

Absolutely 0% of it was scary, and now I’m upset with myself for waiting years to get over my fear and get help. Please consider this a Public Service Announcement, should you happen to suffer from back/shoulder/neck pain: Go to a chiropractor. They know what they’re doing, they’re not going to “break your back,” and although it will take several visits, it will be worth the time and the cost.

8. Alabama lists your weight on your driver’s license.

I’ve written out my thoughts on this particular “fun” fact three times now, but each attempt feels entirely too sassy and sarcastic. And so I’m just going to say this and move along:

What the heck, Alabama? Why is this a thing? It is not okay and I don’t like it one bit.

9. Summer tastes like strawberries + vanilla ice cream.

Summer also tastes like watermelon, but I think we all already knew that. What foods taste like summer to you?

10. Yellow watermelon exists and it’s delicious.

yellow watermelon

Speaking of watermelon… am I the last one to discover that yellow watermelon is a real thing? You best believe I immediately put it in my grocery cart. I found it to be a little bit sweeter than “normal” watermelon.

If I had to draw a deeper meaning from this experience, I’d say that sometimes something looks different and doesn’t make much sense with all you previously knew, but different doesn’t equal bad. In fact, sometimes different might be sweet.

But no one asked me to make more of watermelon than it is, so I’ll just say yellow watermelon is delicious and you should try it.

(For two years now, I’ve joined Emily Freeman as we’ve written and shared our “What I Learned” lists. For more fun facts + inspiration, visit Emily’s corner of the Internet or click here to look through any of my previous “What I Learned” blog posts. This link will take you to the list of what I learned last summer.)