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Inspired by Emily Freeman, I spend time at the end of each month taking stock of what I’ve been learning. It’s mostly trivial things, but some of it is deep, and the simple act of making these lists helps keep me sane. It reminds me that time is moving forward, but also keeps me from feeling as though it’s slipping by unnoticed.

As life-giving as this process is for me, I’ll be honest and admit that it can also prompt some anxiety: my inner perfectionist wants to capture EVERYTHING I have learned, and that’s obviously not possible. (Not to mention the fact that this blog isn’t just for me, but for my readers too, and you all do not need to be subjected to the intricacies of my thought process each month). Despite this anxiety, these lists—though abbreviated—are beneficial for me to write, and hopefully entertaining/enlightening/thought-provoking for you, too.

And with that brilliant introduction, here’s a look at a FEW of the things I learned this July.

1. The word bloggable is in the dictionary.

Since I know you’re wondering, the exact definition is “suitable or sufficiently interesting as a topic for a blog.” I’m not sure what I love most about this: that it’s a real word, or that I discovered it when searching for a synonym for thought-provoking. Either way, I obviously found it a bloggable enough to make this month’s list. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

2. I love going to church on Saturday evenings.

Our church recently made the switch from having four Sunday services to having two on Saturday evenings and two on Sunday morning. Our family decided to make the jump, and though our decision was motivated by a desire to “help out” by opening up coveted Sunday-morning seats, we’ve actually been loving the change. We rarely had plans on Saturdays anyway, so having church gives us an activity to look forward to at the end of the day, and it is really nice to have Sundays free to rest up for the week! 

3. TOMS (the shoe company) comes from the word tomorrow.

The name stems from the idea that the company sells a pair today and gives away a pair tomorrow. They were initially called “tomorrow’s shoes,” but the name was too long for the tag on the shoes so it was shortened to TOMS. I’ve never been a fan of the distinctive slipper-style TOMS shoe, but I do have some TOMS wedges that I love. I enjoyed this Tim Ferriss interview with TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie.

4. Dress shopping is hard on my self esteem.

I spent a bulk of my weekends this month shopping for a bridesmaid dress for my sister-in-law’s wedding. My search for THE dress led to the discovery that formal dreses are sized very differently than other clothing. When I tried on my first dress, I began with my usual size—and could hardly slide it over my hips, let alone zip it up. I sized up, then had to size up again and yet again. . . and by the time I found one that fit, I’d learned that when it comes to bridesmaid dresses, my dress size is FIVE sizes larger than my usual (jean) size. No vanity sizing here! Way to go, bridal industry, for making women feel even more insecure about putting our bodies on display. 

5. Malls have gotten lame!

Thanks to the bridesmaid dress shopping (see #4) I spent more than my usual amount of time in malls this month. (My usual amount being zero time.) My goodness, have malls changed! Let’s start with the weird clothing: do people—real people—actually wear the styles shown on mannequins? Who on earth thinks a neon velvet crop top is cute? (<– Also, I realize that comment is probably totally revealing my age/lack of fashion sense.) Bizarre trends aside, malls—or at least those I visited—are in a pretty sorry state. Stores are dingy; merchandise is haphazard, worn, and poorly stocked; customer service is practically nonexistant. I’m beginning to understand why American malls are closing right and left, and why I myself buy most of my clothes at Target or online.

6. My husband really does NOT talk a lot.

This fact is not new to anyone who has met Luke. But now we have proof! Luke sent me the below image of the audio waveform from a call he had with a coworker (Luke’s contribution is the top line). Apparently this balance is fairly typical for his calls. His commentary: “I don’t think I pull my weight very well…” It’s true that he’s a man of few words, but when he DOES talk, those words are golden. And now I’m dying to see an audio waveform transcription of some our household conversations! 

7. Grace says it’s okay not to be okay. Truth says it’s not okay to stay that way.

This was my favorite takeaway from our pastor’s sermon a few weeks ago. We’ve all heard that Jesus was the embodiment of both grace and truth, and that we should be too; but I’ve always had a hard time understanding what that meant, or how it could be applied. This explanation summed it up in a way that makes so much sense to me.

8. Having a set nap time is really nice.

We’ve gone 2.5 years without an official naptime for Charleston. From birth he hasn’t been a great sleeper, and his naps have been sporadic at best, and often nonexistent. For whatever reason, that changed a few weeks ago. I realized that I was waiting until too late in the day to put him down, so we started a new routine: I would start nursing (yes, he still needs to be nursed to sleep) at 11:30, getting him in his crib, asleep, by noon. This seems to be his sweet spot: now he naps for at least one hour, and sometimes two or even three hours. The timing is awkward since it means we all eat lunch pretty late, but it’s amazing to have a predictable routine and to know that I will have some time to myself each day. The extra sleep has done wonders for his mood, too. It’s a win all around!

9. Nathan Hale was only 21 when he died.

How is this not a widely-known fact? His youth certainly adds gravitas to his “I have but one life to lose” proclamation! 

10. Having a toddler has done wonders for my prayer life. 

Actually, motherhood in general has enhanced my faith in a huge way: I learned from the very beginning that birthing a child ushers in all manner of anxieties that are totally out of my control and must be given to God. Toddlerhood has taken this faith to a whole new level. All day long I find myself praying—for patience to outlast the tantrums, for wisdom in navigating new challenges, and for the courage to press forward when anxiety over my child’s wellbeing threatens to consume me. I truly feel that every hour of every day is spent “living on a prayer.”

11. It is LEGAL to challenge someone to a duel in Canada.

According to this article, a proposed Canadian legislation will repeal several outdated provisions to the Criminal Code, among them a ban on challenging someone to a duel. I doubt dueling will now become a big problem in Canada, but I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this . . . .

12. Count my blessings!

This month has been a hard one for many in my circle. I learned that a friend who is only thirty had a heart condition requiring immediate heart surgery (thankfully, it looks like she’s going to be okay). A couple very close to me decided to end their marriage. Two acquaintances from high school and college passed away. These tragedies have prompted sadness in my soul, and have reminded me not to take any of my blessings for granted. I have an amazing husband, a healthy body, an incredible child, friends and family who love me, a wonderful home. Too often I become so consumed by life’s stresses and my own personal hangups that I neglect to give thanks for the good things. The hardships of those I love are reminding me to treasure the good, because nothing in this world is promised, and every good thing truly is a gift not to be wasted.

I’d love to know something (or things!) that you learned this month. Leave a comment to share your biggest July takeaway.

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