It’s a whopping ninety-five degrees outside so it feels a bit silly to go ahead and write a “what I learned this summer” post, but the list is getting long and Emily has extended the invitation. I’ll be totally honest: summer is my least favorite of them all. It used to be tied with fall (#1) but has dropped down in its ranking (except for when it’s time for the Olympics AKA right now and then it inches up a bit).

I’m crossing my fingers that some day soon we’ll be waving goodbye to heat and humidity and hello to changing leaves. In the mean time, I want to share with you a short list of things I’ve learned this summer. My absolute favorite new drink, the Netflix series that makes me cry happy tears, how shopping is actually paying for my iced coffee habits, and more!

What I learned this summer...

1. Pineapple juice over crushed ice is delicious.

This doesn’t even need an explanation. Just try it. You can thank me later.

2. Christy Nockels: Glorious in the Mundane podcast

Listening to a podcast or two is a daily occurrence for me. This new one from Christy is quickly becoming one of my favorites. (If you would be so kind as to share in the comments what podcasts you listen to, that would be fab.)

3. Lettering is my new favorite.

By no means am I the best or even really slightly talented at lettering. But I really, really enjoy it. For years I’ve Insta-followed dozens of creatives who hand letter paper, canvas and household items and this summer I decided to give it a go. Not for a project or a printable or anything, really. Just to create for the sake of creating. I’ve shared a few things here and there on Instagram and from the looks of it, I’m going to keep lettering random things for approximately forever.

It's no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

hope #handlettering

faithful #handlettering

4. Going home is always a good choice.

Surprising your parents by randomly showing up is even better.

5. Watching someone do what they were made to do makes me cry.

Prime example: Chef’s Table on Netflix. Oh my word.

Full disclosure: I happily watch each episode while eating popcorn. I’ll never make any of the food, but seeing other people learn to come alive and live into their story makes me want to do the same.

6. Beauty is waiting to be found, hidden in plain sight in the middle of our ordinary lives.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: I started to become bored with my own life. Nothing was bad, it all just felt so regular. I issued myself a challenge in July to find the beautiful in the middle of the ordinary happening all around me — I called it #beautifulordinarynow.

Beauty is waiting to be found, hidden in plain sight in the middle of our ordinary lives.

Nothing about my life changed. Everything that was ordinary remained exactly that. But when I went on a beauty-hunt, the ordinary began to look extraordinary in completely regular ways.

7. You can make money while you shop.

So, listen. Post-grad life means budgeting. I keep track of every penny (um, not kidding) and am perfectly okay with cutting back on this or that so I can have an iced coffee budget (I’m not kidding about that either).

I recently discovered a few apps that literally give you money for shopping. I’ve opted for Starbucks gift cards and iced coffee has never tasted better. My two absolute favorites, in case you want to check them out, are ShopKick and Ibotta.

ShopKick: This app rewards you with ‘kicks’ for purchasing or scanning specific items at major stores like WalMart, Target, Publix and many more. You even get points, or kicks, just for walking in the store. The kicks are redeemable for gift cards. I always pick Starbucks (duh), but you can pick from dozens of places like Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Target, WalMart and iTunes. (No joke, it barely takes any time for kicks to add up from walking in stores and if you have a minute to kill, you can quickly find an item to scan for extra kicks.)


Ibotta: This app rewards you for what you purchase. Although you can use it for larger purchases or for dining out, I use it solely for grocery items. Just buy whatever you’re going to buy and then open the app when you get home. Check off everything within the app that you purchased at the store, take a picture of your receipt for verification, and they load money into your account. You can choose whether you want to pick a gift card or withdraw the cash via PayPal. I’m not kidding you, I make money every time I purchase regular stuff like milk, eggs, bread, and produce. If you want to check Ibotta out, I’d love if you would use my link! If you do, you’ll receive an extra $10 when you redeem your first rebate (and I will receive $5, p.s.).

8. Happiness and grief hold hands.

For almost a year I’ve been living a story that I can’t write out, can’t share or tell because it isn’t mine alone. And for almost a year, I’ve been learning all over again to trust in the dark what I know to be true in the light. I’m holding happiness in one hand and grief in the other, and I’m finding that they go together, can live together, and laugh and cry together.

9. I no longer need Back to School supplies but hello, I want it all.

This is the second time in my entire life that I’ve watched all of the Back to School supplies magically appear on store shelves and haven’t purchased one single thing. This is a show of great restraint, to be sure. Also, it makes me sad. I flip between missing the classroom atmosphere and thanking Jesus that homework is no longer a part of my life, but then the school supplies comes out and I just want to buy it all.

Here. See these pretty things? Point proven.

Sadie Robertson Back to School Collection from DaySpring

DaySpring has a new Sadie Robertson Back to School Collection full of Cute School Things, but I’m pretty darn sure I could use each of those four items every single day of the year. There’s a heck of a lot more to the collection, but these four happen to be my favorites. I don’t technically need any Cute School Things, but maybe you do — so how about a giveaway?!

For reference, these are the four items shown above:

Live Original – 18-Month Agenda
Live Original – Gold Bar Necklace
Fearless – Mini-Tablet Pouch
Hold On Tight – Travel Mug

And here is where you enter the giveaway (good luck!):

Sadie Robertson Back to School items

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