Five-ish Things I Learned This Summer

Welcome to my inaugural post of things I’ve learned. I’m joining Emily Freeman’s community this month, sharing a few things I’ve learned in the last couple of months.

Here it goes my list of five---ish things I learned in the summer of 2016:

1. I’ve caught the poetry bug. I’ve always had a touch of it.  I’ve written poems over the years on and off, but began a journal a couple of months ago using poems as my prompts. 

I was inspired to begin the journal after reading a book/memoir/apologetic by Waco,Texas writer, and poet, Megan Willome called The Joy of Poetry. I credit this little book for helping me unlock a writing block that had plagued me for some time. I collect poems from the Internet or find them the old school way in books or magazines. It’s amazing to me how poems unlock my memories---things I would have never thought of had I not read a particular poem. Who would have thought poetry could pick apart your brain? I’m thinking that reading poetry---and writing about it----is good brain exercise like doing a crossword or playing Sudoku. 

Poetry [is] like a fingerling potato, growing quietly
in a dark space. Dig it up, saute it in a little olive
oil, give it a chance.
~ Megan Willome, The Joy of Poetry

2. I’ve loved trees for always. I was reading in a local magazine about the how largest of each variety in the state have been measured, marked, listed as Champions. Last winter the giant deodar cedar at White County Court House went down in a storm. It was on the Champion list, the largest tree of its variety in the state of Arkansas, We ran upon the champion Black Gum on a trail on the property of the Crystal Bridges Museum back in June. There’s another in Batesville’s city park, a Chinkapin Oak. That’s what the plaque says. I had never heard of a Chinkapin. When I looked it up, I discovered the forest service spelled the name incorrectly. It’s Chinquapin, people!!! Oh well… 

Here’s a picture I made of another large oak up in the middle of the Ozarks that I had to hug. I don’t know if it’s been measured, but it’s a champion in my book. I'm not sure of the oak variety, but I don’t think I don’t think it’s a Chinkapin.

3.    I’ve always loved the Bible, even as a teenager. I love all of it but have recently have come to identify my favorite parts in several categories:

Favorite Old Testament Book:  Jeremiah
The book of Jeremiah is not chronological and can be confusing for a read through, but it is relevant. The Weeping Prophet is one of my heroes. He did what God asked him to do even when it was difficult. His passion for God was deep. He inspires me.  I pray God will raise up Jeremiah's in our day, and that’ll we listen to them. Eugene Peterson’s book, Running with the Horses, is one of my favorite reads on Jeremiah's life. I read it at least once a year. 

Favorite Psalm:  Psalm 13O
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness...”  Enough said.

Favorite Gospel:  Mark
The Gospel of John would come in a close second of the four, but I love the action packed pace of Mark. There is some conjecture that Mark wrote the book as he recorded stories told to him by Peter. So while I’m sharing favorites, I might as well state it plainly, Peter is my favorite apostle. 

Favorite Epistle: Hebrews
I’ve been studying the book of Hebrews on and off for about four years now. I’m especially keen on Chapter 12. This book underlines and puts exclamation points on the preeminence of the New Covenant. It takes a lot of soaking in Hebrews before it sinks in. Like Jeremiah, Hebrews is relevant in our day. (Hello, the Bible is relevant!) It is a sobering call to perseverance in the faith; its words are an anchor for uncertain times. I finished up another study of Hebrews in July, and my pastor preached through a series through the book as well. I'm still drinking from its well, but this summer, the book has been particularly filling, opening my mind and heart to new understanding, and bolstering my faith.

4.  The first week in June, some friends and I took a tour of P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm. The beautiful farm sits on a ridge above the Arkansas River Valley.  We were welcomed into Allen’s beautifully decorated home and his gardens---vegetable, rose, and flower---after making a reservation and paying the pricey admission ticket. His aunt served us warm cookies fresh out of the oven and later, his staff served chicken salad and homemade pie for lunch before we headed over to the chicken house. We were told that Heritage poultry varieties are one of Allen’s passions. I could see why after I saw them. The Heritage breeds are really pretty, especially the roosters strutting their stuff around all the girls.  Before our June trip to Allen’s farm, I had been clueless that chickens could be so beautiful. 

5. If you would like to read some new insights on perspective God gave me while looking down from and conversely, up to the tops of mountains, you can read here (seeing growth by looking back) and here (clarity). 

There was so much to learn while Jeff and I were on our trip to Switzerland in July----how to properly greet people, how to ride the trains, how to pack a light backpack, to appreciate well-made chocolate and local cheese. I'll admit, those last two took no effort.

We learned that one of Switzerland’s greatest resources is water. Every town has places to get cold mountain water that’s potable. Hiking and altitude required us to drink often. When we were low on water, there always was a place to fill up. No need to buy water. It’s the cheapest thing in Switzerland by far.

Another thing that I already knew, but is now confirmed: I will never base jump. We crawled down the side of a mountain in Murren, Switzerland to watch the jumpers, some in squirrel suits, disappear off the side of the mountain. I don’t know if they pray before they jump, but they should.

What have you learned this summer? Have you determined your favorites in the Bible? Do you love poetry or trees or chickens? Have you decided where you stand in regards to base jumping?


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