Another Summer in the books: Ten Things I Learned in the Summer of '17

Sunset behind Mendocino, CA

Last year I posted the "five-ish things I learned" over the summer. That was a fun to share and to look back on. As the sun begins to set on this summer, I thought I'd share again some new things I discovered/learned/experienced in the summer of 2017. 

1. There have been advances in water balloon design!

Annie started a tradition for Father's Day several years ago that involves a water balloon fight. This year the prep was so much easier because she paid a bit more and bought the Fill O'Matic balloons. You can fill a gaggle of balloons at once and they tie themselves!! That makes them worth every extra penny. I must give a full review, however, and say the some of the bands that seal them came off in mid-flight as they sailed toward their intended target. Despite that, they are an overall good trade-off for several minutes of fun and laughter.

No one was completely soaked so we posed for a family photo afterward. This is a shot of the Moores and peeps in real life.

2. Gardens grow with limited light, it's true. But then there is a limited harvest.

We love the pine grove in the backyard. It sits south of the back porch which is great for shade most of the day. Unfortunately, the shade has been a detriment to the garden that Jeff planted out back this year. We prepared the soil and gave it plenty of attention, but we didn't get that much produce. A garden needs light. (There's a metaphor there for eternal living, but I won't go to preaching today.) Still, we harvested a few things. The girls helped harvest when they could. They loved pulling turnips out of the soil. Liv was out there post-bath in her gowntail.

3. My standard for calling bream big has increased.

Jared and Jessica picked me and Jeff up one beautiful summer evening to go pond fishing. We got onto some bream beds and brought in the biggest bream I've ever seen. Most of them could be held with a thumb in their mouth. That's huge!! We threw them back because it was a weeknight and no one was up for scaling fish. It was fun though and I want to go back. They are fighters and fun to catch.

(I was tempted to crop out my face in the picture above (something my grandmother did in pics she didn't like---actually she scratched out her face) because it was an impromptu fishing trip and I didn't do my hair, but those fish!!)

4. I fell in love with the Buffalo National River again by seeing it through the eyes of my grands!

My sister and I got to take some of our girls to the Buffalo River for a canoe trip. We've been on it many, many times since we were girls. It was Naomi and Olivia's first time to float. The Buffalo is Arkansas' treasure. I love the incredible sense of peace I feel when I glide through that clear water between those majestic rock bluffs. The girls did great! We had a picnic and survived a pop-up summer storm.  

5. I had my first ride in a hot air balloon.

Jeff and I and our long time friends and neighbors, Keith and Susan spent a few days in Glen Ellen California on vacation. We got up way before dawn one morning and drove over to the Napa Valley for a hot air balloon ride. I've been surprised by the number of people who've told me they could never do that for fear of heights---or just for plain old fear--but I loved it! When the burner is not being pulled, the ride is so peaceful. I would do it again in heartbeat. My dream ride would be to float over the beautiful chateaus in the Loire Valley in France. That dream will most likely stay just that--a dream---but who knows?

6. Jeff and I stayed in a hipster hotel for the first time on our Cali vacay!

The two of us spent a few days hiking and exploring along the famous curvy Highway One along the Pacific coast of California. We stopped at Timber Cove and stayed in the renovated hotel that sits high on a bluff overlooking the blue waters of the Pacific. The funky hipster vibe was everywhere at Timber Cove. It definitely wasn't your run of the mill hotel. We played vinyl on a record player in our room which was fun, but we will probably keep using Bluetooth at home.

7. I'm a tree person---really I am. I always kind of knew I might be, but now I am sure.

I love trees. I hate when I see people cutting old trees. I can't imagine what the forests of California must have been like before the logging industry came in?? 

Jeff and I hiked one sunny day under giant redwoods, some of them 2,000 years old. I couldn't help thinking how those seeds grew up while Jesus walked the earth. The canopy along the hiking trail in Mendocino State Park became a sanctuary of praise----not for the creation though it inspired--- but my praise was for the Creator whose imagination astounds me, and whose heart is to delight his people with a  magnificent tree or with a sunset, a flower, or the song of a bird. These gifts make me love Him more.

We also saw a giant eucalyptus tree standing guard behind a fort that was once a Russian outpost for their fur trade. I don't know how long it has stood there watching the sea come and go. I had to give it a hug just because that is what I do.

This one is called The Grandmother

8. I'm going to be a mom again...

but only because Luke is engaged. I love my "in-law kids!" That's how Naomi and Olivia describe my relationship to their dad, Caleb and Aunt Jessica. Alicia will join our family sometime next year. We love her already. She's a beauty---inside and out. 

9. My Dad had to start fighting Multiple Myeloma again.

We learned early in the summer that it was necessary for my Dad to start a new protocol for relapsed myeloma. They found it early. By God's grace, there is a new immunotherapy drug on the market so they set him up for a new treatment schedule. We've hung out quite a bit this summer during the long infusions and other doctor appointments. Even I as I march through my fifties, I am still learning from my Dad---and my Mom too. Dad always says the one thing that took him off guard was not being prepared for getting old. I've taken that to heart and tried to follow the instruction in the Bible to number my days. It's easy to remember to do that when you are in the cancer center often.

10. A book I read this summer that I can't stop thinking about!

I was reading a blog recently where the author shared what she was learning from a book by Andy Crouch called Strong and Weak. The tagline is "Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing."  Her words about "hidden vulnerability" peaked my interest so I downloaded it onto my Kindle. Now, weeks later, it's the book I can't stop thinking about. The word risk on the front cover might be enough for some people to pass, but this is a smart book. It got me to thinking about the principles of life that Jesus taught and how they play out in my life, family, and in the culture in which I live. Highly recommended.

"To flourish is to be fully alive, and when we read or hear those words something in us wakes up, sits up a bit straighter, leans ever so slightly forward. To be fully alive would connect us not just to our own proper human purpose but to the very heights and depths of divine glory. To live fully, in these transitory lives on this fragile earth, in such a way that we somehow participate in the glory of God—that would be flourishing. And that is what we are meant to do."

"Flourishing requires us to embrace both authority and vulnerability, both capacity and frailty—even, at least in this broken world, both life and death."

So there you have my list. It was good summer and it passed quickly. Usually, I'm hungry for fall but the hot days of summer in Arkansas happened while we were away. The temperature gauge hasn't even hit 100 this year. Cooler and wetter than normal weather has made the fields and mountains so beautifully green. I'm planning on enjoying the lush landscape for a couple more weeks, but I'm looking forward to the Indian Summer that's sure to come. It's just around the corner.


  1. I read Strong and Weak earlier this year, and just seeing the cover makes me want to dig it out an re-read. It truly is a masterful piece of thinking.
    And my kids and I concluded that the water balloon technology was developed by a guy with really sore fingers from using the old kind.
    Also -- most things truly are better when seen through the eyes of grandchildren!


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