What I Learned This Summer

I’m coming to appreciate the value in recording what I learn. For years I’ve done this in my journal, and it’s always encouraging to look back and see how God is continuing the sanctification process in my life, and how He is enabling me to follow my passion {given by Himself} to never stop learning. I thought it might be fun to share these tidbits with you. Who knows? You might find a “me too” somewhere in here. So, without further ado, here are some of the things I learned this summer:

  • 1. Trees live in community for hundreds of years, sending resources to each other, and even “grieving” when a fellow tree is cut down.  

Have you ever wondered why, after you cut down a tree, new green shoots continually come from the stump area for years after the cut-down? It’s because the root systems are all connected underground. Trees send resources to each other, and when one tree is cut down, they know it, and they continue sending sugar and nutrients to the stump for up to hundreds of years. They just can’t let each other go {wow.} The only way to prevent shoots from coming back up is to dig up the entire root system. Which is literally impossible, considering that root systems grow and intertwine for miles. A shoot will pop up somewhere. Amazing. Lots of spiritual parallels here that I’ve been mulling over. Side note: You really should read The Hidden Life of Trees

Trees at sunset on our farm
  • 2. Certain car corporations have recently begun preventing the sale of their vehicles across USA and Canadian borders.

Not just new vehicles, either. Even third-owned used vehicles. It’s much too long and complicated of a story to write here, but take it from us and just don’t do it. Not a Honda. Not a Chrysler. Not (fill in the blank).  Some lessons are learned very, very well….and this is one of them.

  • 3. Shame and guilt are two very different things, but we often confuse the two or don’t fully understand them.

I love Brene Brown’s books. I devour them, actually. She’s not a believer, but she’s a brilliant shame researcher, and I believe that God has gifted her. All truth is God’s truth, and she very practically articulates the human plight like no other author I’ve read. When I read her books, it’s like “152 insights into my soul.” Dots connect, things from my childhood make sense as they relate to my adult self, and so on. Lot of aha moments and by the time I finish a book of hers, it’s scribbled and underlined and written up with all kinds of ink colors.  Thanks to her books, I’ve learned how to recognize shame in certain areas, and am learning how to build shame resilience in those areas. Side note: You really should read Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection

  • 4. You can be a dog loather for most of your life, but the appearance of a malnourished puppy at your farm will convert you in a milli-second.

Yeah, so this puppy showed up on our farm, dumped off by its owners at the age of 4 months old (ish). She arrived the weekend before my birthday, whining and looking up at me with big eyes. And she needed food. Ask my family, and they will tell you how much I love to feed people…and animals. Anything. I just love the “feeding” part (and all the other parts, too) of hospitality. So I fed. And by the middle of that day, she was led….into our fence. And by the end of the day, she was named Willow. And I learned that sometimes when you pray for support for your mission, God sends a puppy. Because He knows you need to learn more about His compassion for His created beings. And because He knows your children will squeal with delight all summer long, and you’ll shake your head in disbelief at how quickly you were converted to the dog side. Never say never.

  • 5. Doughnuts can be baked, not just deep fried.

For years I thought that homemade doughnuts had to be deep fried. I just didn’t want to go there. So imagine my delight when a friend posted her delicious homemade doughnuts on Facebook, and I was like “Wait, what? They’re baked? And they don’t take all day to make? I’m in.” Amazon somehow knew what I had learned, and promptly delivered two doughnut pans to my door, around the same time my friend texted the recipes for doughnuts and glaze. How timely!

  • 6. The collarbone is the longest growing bone in the body.

Our daughter broke her collarbone this summer after falling off the top bunk bed in her sleep. She was at camp, so that means we got the dreaded 5 am phone call that no parent every wants to get when their child is at camp. But our daughter is brave and resilient, and after getting a sling and pain meds, she was back at camp in time for breakfast. She never missed a beat. And I learned that the collarbone takes longer than any other bone in the body to become fully grown. It grows until one turns 20. Which is why, despite the skepticism of a tearful mother looking at scary x-rays of dislodged bones, the surgeon did not perform surgery.

  • 7. You can build an inuksuk out of sand, not just stones.

We’re pretty used to stone inuksuk creations along the highway in Canada. But until this summer, I’d never considered that they could be made from sand. You have to use sun-hardened sand that is baked on top of soft sand….and you can slip your hand underneath and lift up pieces of sand. Stacked on top of one another, they make this beautiful Canadian symbol. We enjoyed the making of these recently when we went back to visit the island in Nova Scotia where we lived and ministered for four years.

  • 8. Scented hand soap creates strong, permanent memories.

Recently after washing my hands at a public place, I held my fingers up for my husband to smell. “Where does this take you back to?” I asked. “Yarmouth hospital” he said instantly. And yes, indeed, I had just washed my hands with the same hand soap as the hospital in Canada where we spent much of our first year of marriage. It continually amazes me what small and seemingly insignificant things can induce flashbacks and force you to re-live traumatic experiences. My advice to you here? Beware the hand soap. Use only unscented or use only a scent that you won’t mind having a permanent connection to for the rest of your life.

  • 9. I’m not a normal mom. 

Ok, I’ll explain. This summer my oldest turned 11. Eleven. E-l-e-v-e-n. And while I am normal in the fact that I can’t believe I have a child that age, I’m abnormal because I don’t wish him to be a baby again. I am truly enjoying every age as they grow. Maybe when he goes to college this will change. But for now, I’m an abnormal mom who didn’t really enjoy the baby and little days because of before mentioned trauma and my subsequent broken health. So I’m not too nostalgic about those days.  Any other abnormal moms out there? Speak now or forever keep it a secret. We already know we aren’t alone.

  • 10.  Passion for the Gospel is addictive and pervasive.

I didn’t grow up hearing or knowing that the Gospel was powerful in every day life. I didn’t know that about grace, either. But as an adult I’m learning how to live and speak those things to my children as they grow up. I’m so thankful. Every year it seems I go deeper and farther into understanding how the Gospel is and can be woven through everything. It takes understanding it myself, and it takes stopping and thinking before responding. One phrase “Remember the Gospel,” when whispered to myself, is amazingly transformational in every area of life. I’m still devouring the Word, podcasts, books that are Gospel focused, and I’m loving every word that enters my heart. The Gospel was given to transform us daily, not to be left behind at the moment of salvation or treated like another childhood Bible story. And when searched and sought, the  Gospel only becomes more precious and more sought after. It’s an addiction…..the good kind.

What did you learn this summer?


A Kindred Spirit

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About Leah {Embracing Grace}

Leah Highfill accepted Christ as her Saviour and became a child of God at the age of 18. Originally from the USA, she and her husband moved to the mission field of Canada in 2005, where she served in full time ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years. During their tenure there, they became dual citizens. Leah and her family recently returned to NC and are currently enjoying a much needed sabbatical for the year of 2015. She homeschools her children {Small Son is 9 and Tiny Daughter is 7} and teaches private piano lessons on the side. She can be found reading, writing/blogging, playing the piano and violin, or ice skating. A friend to ministry wives everywhere, Leah has a passion to inspire hope and to encourage women in their walk with God. Her first book, Expecting Grace, was published in 2013. Expecting Grace is the story of Leah's experience and survival of a life threatening pregnancy, and of many medical and financial miracles along the way. Her second book is currently in process. Join her grace-filled journey right here at Embracing Grace!