What I Learned This Summer

In early August, we packed up the family minivan and headed north.

After stopping at Wall Drug (if you’ve ever driven through South Dakota, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about), we continued west through the Badlands and the Black Hills, swung by Mount Rushmore, trekked around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and then headed east across North Dakota to visit the dear ones we affectionately refer to as “The Northern Flowers.”

Wall Drug

About 2,400 miles later, we arrived safely back in Kansas. And it was only then that the belt that drives the air conditioner, alternator and water pump in our 2004 vehicle decided to snap in half. (See how a major annoyance suddenly morphs into a praise report? It’s all about perspective, even when you’re without AC and it’s 95 degrees outside.)

If I ever hear a sudden thudding noise under the hood of my car again, I’ll know it’s probably the serpentine belt breaking. Thankfully, that’s not the only lesson I learned this summer. Here are a few more:

• There are books about a child-age Amelia Bedelia.

I made this discovery at the public library in Ida Grove, Iowa, and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. Little Amelia is cute and as just as charmingly clueless as grown-up Amelia, but somehow, her kind of shtick just seems funnier coming from an adult.

Remember when Amelia drew the drapes and dressed the chicken and ran home in the middle of a baseball game? Maybe I’m just old school, but in my book, kid fiction doesn’t get any better than that.

Geographic Center of North America• It is extremely windy at the geographic center of North America.

While we were on vacation, we stopped in Rugby, N.D., for a photo on our way to visit the town where Randy spent his younger years. And yes, the monument is as impressive as it looks.

• When it comes to the temperature of water in a swimming pool, a difference of 6 degrees is astronomical.

Last winter, our neighbor took out two large trees in her backyard that cast a wide swath of shade on our pool. We wondered whether the subsequent loss of privacy would bother us, but removing those trees was the best thing she could have done for our swimming enjoyment.

Eighty degrees in the shade is freezing; 86 degrees in the sun is heavenly.

• A burden shared is a burden lifted.

Several weeks ago, in a series of lengthy texts, I brought a loved one up to speed about a situation that had been weighing me down for months. I don’t know why I waited so long to do this—maybe it was the distance, the busyness of our schedules, or the emotional effort it required. As we texted back and forth, though, something remarkable happened.

The weight that I had been carrying somehow grew lighter.

Now I know. There’s strength that comes when you share the load—with someone who loves you, someone who can help or someone else with skin in the same game.

 When impending change threatens to wreak havoc on my emotional equilibrium, praying for friends who are walking harder paths helps.

(Whereas constantly reminding myself how much I dislike change does not.)

• Lists are a great summer blogging strategy.

I didn’t intend to be so busy this summer. It was good and necessary busyness, but it didn’t leave much time for writing. Rather than take a blogging sabbatical, I put together several list posts—recounting biblical blessings, what I learned this spring, insights from the wilderness, what I wish someone would have told me when I was struggling as a mom—that kind of thing.

Turns out, this was just what I needed to keep things going here and still have plenty of time to handle the unexpected and enjoy a few lazy days in the pool with my girls.

• My happiness does not depend on someone else’s mood.

(And all the mothers of daughters everywhere said “amen.”)

• Cicada killer wasps are a thing.

In case you’ve never witnessed one, let’s just say these flying death machines—which can rival hummingbirds in size—are fascinating in theory but horrible in person. The female wasps sting their victims, then carry the paralyzed (though not yet dead) cicadas away—normally to an underground borrow—where they lay eggs in the cicadas’ bodies. (You can guess the dreadful rest or read more here.)

That’s all fine and dandy unless it happens in my yard, where—instead of going the usual borrow-in-the-ground route—the wasp decides to turn the spaces between the boards on my deck into a borrow. And yes, watching one of these creatures hover protectively over the 10 cicadas that she has deposited on my deck is just as disgusting, creepy and scary as it sounds.

So what did you learn this summer?

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Crystal Storms at Intentional Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Leah Adams at the Loft, Lyli Dunbar at ThoughtProvokingThursday, Crystal Twaddell at FreshMarketFriday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.

33 Responses to What I Learned This Summer

  1. Aimee Imbeau says:

    I love how you focus on the good – well, maybe not the cicada killer wasps 🙁 I love cicadas! I always enjoy reading your posts, Lois! Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth. BTW – I love the ‘windy’ pic of you! So beautiful!

  2. Amazing travels and adventures:) A burden shared is a burden lifted…what a truth to how perfectly God has designed friendships and relationships this side of heaven!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Crystal, it turned out to be a much fuller summer than I expected, but in some very good ways! And yes, God’s design–and provision–of friendships is perfect, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. Leah Adams says:

    A wonderful post, Lois! I love the variety you included…and yes, a difference in temperature of 6 degrees can be life-changing! I swim for exercise and the water temp in one of the pools in which I swim is kept at 82 degrees, while the water in the other is 85-86 degrees. I much prefer the 82 degrees. Thank you for joining us at The Loft this week. Have a lovely weekend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I can see how cooler water would be better when you are swimming laps, Leah. The part I don’t like when the temp is closer to 80 is the initial getting-wet phase. Brrrr!! Once I’m wet, though, I’m good! Thanks so much for stopping by this week!

  4. Sounds like a productive summer! I watched my girls swim and that’s about it 🙂

  5. Joanne Viola says:

    This may be the weirdest comment you have received but I have to thank you for this post. What you shared about cicada killer wasps was the answer or confirmation I had needed. We have had a hole being dug and redug over the summer by the edge of our patio. We thought it was chipmunks which have been in abundance this year. But the other day, I saw what I thought was a dragonfly sort of wasp go into the hole. When I shared about it with my husband, he thought I was wrong. I cannot wait to show him your post & then what I discovered in doing a google search so we can address this problem. Thank you! We never know how our posts may be used but know that yours truly was used in a most needed way today! Blessings!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I love that my little bit about those horrible wasps turned the light bulb on for you, Joanne! Thanks for telling me that … it made my day! And best of luck to you as you work on getting rid of them! 🙂

  6. Ahhh, Lois. You learned some valuable lessons this summer! I felt like my first real chance to breathe this summer was last week, in Tennessee. Our summer felt crazy-busy to me.

    Our road trip added nearly 4300 miles to our vehicle. It was a fun trip, filled with visiting new places and seeing friends and family.

    Let’s see . . . lessons I learned this summer:
    1. When driving on the freeway, the best chance of getting a clear shot of a passing farm is to set your camera to sports/action mode. You might get a clear shot!
    2. Do not make plans for the first week after returning from vacation or a conference. You’ll need that week to catch up on all the life-stuff that didn’t stop while you were gone.
    3. Spending time with the Lord is especially important during the summer, when kids tend to push boundaries a little harder, because they have time to think about how to best do this. 🙂

    Loved your post, my friend!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      That’s great advice about taking pictures of passing farms, Jeanne. I started noticing quaint little roadside churches on our trip, and of course it was usually too late to do anything about it by the time I thought about taking a picture! We actually stopped at one or two, but I’ll have to remember the sports/action mode for the future. And I totally agree about spending time with the Lord in the summer … as much as I would have liked to sleep in as late as my girls did, I tried to get up and take care of business before they woke up. I could definitely tell when I missed a day (and so could my girls, I’m sure)! 🙂 And wow … 4,300 miles is a LOT! I’m glad you had a fun trip!

  7. Jerralea says:

    I’m a big fan of list posts! And I’m not such a fan for blogging sabbaticals, although I understand the need for them. I miss everyone when they are gone!

    Can I just say “EWWW” about the killer cicada wasps?

  8. Carlie says:

    What a fun post to read, yet it boasts some profound truths. Always enjoy your mix of wit and wisdom. Blessings to you!

  9. Hi Lois,
    I’m so glad you kept the blog going over the summer! It seemed so many take a sabbatical and sometimes they never return and the community feels the loss, so I’m glad you planned ahead — love that. 🙂 And I love what you shared about the shade tree over your pool — what you think might be a loss turned out to be lovely! So grateful for friends that we can share the details of our lives with and feel refreshed in the process. So much goodness in this post!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Valerie, I can’t tell you how many times I told my husband how happy I was that the trees were gone! Before, the pool temp never got much higher than 80 even after weeks of 100-degree weather. And that is COLD!! I’m glad I kept the blog going too … I would miss all this too much if I took a break! Thanks for your kind words today!

  10. Debby says:

    Your photo of Wall Drug stopped me, bringing back memories of our stop there LONG before they erected the sign as nice as they one you show 😉 We were on a very long road trip from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to WA state. We weren’t planning to stop at Wall Drug but after seeing their signs for 300 miles we had to satisfy our curiosity.

    Love reading the round-up posts. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Good morning, Debby! Those Wall Drug signs do make you want to stop, don’t they? I wonder how many there are. We stopped there briefly a couple of years ago, but this time, we stayed overnight in a nearby town and then spent a couple of hours in Wall the next morning (mostly for the benefit of my older daughter, who is especially fond of touristy gift shops). It was fun, but I think I much prefer natural attractions like the Badlands and Devil’s Tower!

  11. I just love these recap posts! Thanks for all the encouragement you packed into yours!

  12. Trudy says:

    I love the picture of you and your husband, Lois. Also all the things you learned. I have never heard of the cicada killing wasp. It was interesting to see what they look like and to read more info on them. But I can see why you wouldn’t want one on your deck! Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I didn’t have room for this in the post, Trudy, but my favorite part of the wasp story was that when I came inside after first encountering the wasp and told Lilly about what was happening, she knew exactly what it was. Apparently, she had read about the wasps in an insect book my dad gave her several years ago! The fact that my 14-year-old daughter knew so much about these fascinating insects made this mama strangely proud! I hope you have a good last day of August, my friend!

  13. Can I say how much I’m loving getting to know you through your lists posts! Loving. It. Also, I do the love whole burden shared thought. My serious reminder for the day. The rest brought a smile.
    Hugs and blessings, friend!!!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m happy to contribute your serious reminder for the day, Christine. 🙂 I’m finding I really enjoy these “what I learned” posts too, and of course I have you to thank for inspiring me to try one!

  14. OH my word. Laughed so hard at several of your quips and lessons here. Amen, Lois!!

  15. Liz says:

    What a great summer wrap up! I wish I’d learned as much as you this summer…. Blessings on fresh beginnings!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Liz. I did a “what I learned” post for the first time in June (about spring) and enjoyed it so much I figured I’d continue the tradition. I was surprised to see the lessons pile up too! Now we’ll see what the fall has to offer … 🙂

  16. Linda Stoll says:

    I travel vicariously through you and other blogging friends, Lois.

    And yes, I love the lists. Just plain fun …

    And let’s hear it for sharing the load with those who care. You have reached out to me with a generous grace this week, and all I can do is say thank you.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re welcome, Linda. I’ve peeked back at the comments on your post and it warms my heart to see 2 Cor. 1:3-4 being played out there (and to believe that your words are also speaking to many who might not feel able to comment right now). Many blessings, my friend.

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