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As summer draws to a close, and our own family inches closer to a seasonal shift of our own, my mind and soul have been quiet. My focus has been more on nesting and less on peripheral activities or external stimuli. Still, I’ve found it helpful—or rather, necessary—to occasionally emerge from my cocoon to absorb all that is going on around me. This periodic resurfacing has led to some intriguing lessons and insights for me this August.

1. The ‘Let Down Effect’ is a real thing.

I often get sick after a big event or completion of a project. (When I was a student and then a teacher, I almost always came down with something during the first week of summer.) According to this article, this is a common phenomenon. Apparently, when we are under a great deal of stress, our bodies release a number of chemicals that mobilize our immune systems against illness. But when the stressful period ends, our immune systems become less vigilant about weeding out invaders and we become more susceptible to illness. If you often experience this, the article offers some good tips for counteracting the problem.

2. It’s not unusual to have an audiobook style that is different from your traditional reading style.

I have found that the books I prefer to listen to on audio are often titles I would never choose to read on Kindle or in print, and vice versa. For instance, I love listening to celebrity memoirs and the occasional YA or Middle Grade novel, while I almost never attempt serious literary fiction or in-depth spiritual books in audio form (though I do enjoy these types of books when I read them with my eyes). I loved this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy that addresses the ins and outs of finding your audiobook style. Most of these tips were not new to me, but I appreciated knowing that I’m not the only one who employs these tactics.

3. I prefer being pregnant in the summer.

The weather has been brutally hot in Austin this month, but much to everyone’s surprise, I am so glad to be pregnant now and not during the throes of winter. For one thing, it’s pretty easy to dress my bump in summer tanks and dresses (I don’t even want to think about having to find jeans and sweaters that would fit my double-sized preggo belly!), and since I generally run cold, it’s been kind of nice to feel hot when everyone else is (Luke loves that our bodies are finally running at the same temperature). It hasn’t been too difficult to keep our daily activities and outings limited to air conditioned spaces, and—best of all—I’ve been able to spend plenty of time swimming, which wouldn’t be happening if it were colder. I’m normally not much of a pool person, but lately the pool is literally the only place where I feel some relief from my pregnancy aches and pains, so we’ve been making daily trips to our community pool. Charleston couldn’t be happier!

4. MSG is not the evil additive I’d assumed it to be.

A month ago, I couldn’t have defined MSG for you, but I definitely assumed it was something to be avoided. However, this post from one of my favorite food bloggers shed light on what MSG is and what it isn’t. MSG, or monosodium glutamate, combines sodium with glutamate, an amino acid that can be found in everyday foods like tomatoes, asparagus, and even breast milk. The glutamic acid in MSG is made by fermenting starches, but there is no chemical difference between the glutamic acid in MSG and that in natural foods. MSG has two-thirds less sodium than table salt, and despite many reports from people claiming to be allergic to MSG, the FDA has never been able to confirm that MSG causes any of the generally reported side effects.

5. In the church, we often let people off the hook from their sin in the name of celebrating their authenticity.

I learned SO MUCH from this conversation between Chrystal Evans Hurst and Bible teacher Whitney Capps. In it, Whitney pointed out that many church-goers have gotten into the habit of hiding behind our brokenness. We feel as though confessing our sins to fellow believers is enough, but we are really just seeking affirmation instead of accountability. And because our culture places such a high value on authenticity and transparency, we quickly forgive one another—even praising the confessor for being real—without expecting or encouraging true repentance. I know I personally have been guilty of displaying my brokenness without any intention of making changes, and I’ve for sure allowed fellow believers to do the same.

6. God brings the right people into our lives just when we need them most.

I have many wonderful friends, but lately I’ve been feeling like a lone ranger in two areas that are soon to be a reality for me: that of twin mom (starting next month) and a homeschooler (beginning next year). Over the last couple of months, God has been so gracious to bring moms from both of these experiences into my personal sphere. I’ve been able to have my questions answered and feel much less alone in these new paths I will be treading. I love when God demonstrates such impeccable timing!

7. “The cool thing about fear is that it gives us a chance to be courageous.

This was one of my favorite quotes from one of the best podcast interviews I’ve heard in a long time. (I’ll be sharing some of my other takeaways in an upcoming post!) I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of fear lately related to my pregnancy and the well-being of the twins once they are born, so it’s been helpful to reframe this fear as an opportunity to demonstrate courage. I’ve also been able to talk to Charleston about how fearful circumstances allow him to implement his “Super Hero power” of being brave.

8. Seeing my child experience social rejection is one of the most painful things I’ve gone through as a parent.

A few weeks ago, Charleston had one of the hardest days of his young lifetime. At the library that morning, we ran into two little friends he regularly plays with in the gym childcare room, but in this new setting, they ignored him and went off to play on their own. Charleston didn’t take it well. Then, that afternoon, we had some friends over for a playdate, and the oldest boy (who recently began Kindergarten and is now very much a BIG KID) was more interested in exploring our toys than engaging with Charleston. Charleston responded to the rejection by getting a piece of paper to draw his friend a heart, something he often does when he’s feeling sad or hurt. But his friend refused to accept the heart and went on ignoring Charleston’s attempts at playing together. My sweet boy kept his tears at bay until our friends left, but the second they walked out the door, he began to sob, “my friend didn’t want my heart. Does that mean he doesn’t love me?” At that point my own heart was shattered. Thankfully, we had a playdate scheduled the next morning with some MOPS friends who are great playmates for Charleston. Watching him bond with his pal Harper completely redeemed the previous day’s heartbreaking experiences and reminded us both that you don’t need everyone to be your friend, you just need a few friends who really love you and will stand by you when times are tough.

I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman to share what we learned this summer. As always, I’m thankful to Emily for introducing me to this reflective practice, and I am honored by the chance to join her community of like-minded writers as we look back at what we’ve learned at the end of each season.

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