Things I Learned this Fall (2017)

When it comes to lessons, it does me good to take stock of what I am learning at the end of each season. I keep a list of random lessons in my commonplace book - some big, small, funny, serious, and some quirky. Then, I gather them together along with a community of writers over at Emily P. Freeman's place.

Right at the close of autumn and before we head into December, seems a real good time for What I Learned this Fall (2017).

1.Waiting in line may actually be good for you and your family.

I recently made a reluctant trek to Silobration, that once-a-year weekend at the Magnolia Silos in Waco filled with music and a vendor fair. It was a sweet-tea, Texas road trip with both my two daughters and my sister.

One big lesson while we were there was one Mike and I had learned many years ago taking our motley crew of Whippersnappers to Disneyland. That lesson, always good for a refresher, is that waiting in line can be good for your soul.

That lesson seemed worth repeating now as waiting is a theme of Advent, that bright season just around the corner. One of the secrets of good waiting (I think there is bad waiting too.), is that we do it together. Togetherness is another theme of Advent - that time in history when God reminded us in a most real way that He is with us. We are in this life together, us and God.

I wrote more about waiting in line here. It is one of my recurring list posts I call Favorite Finds. You'll find I've done much of my Chrismas shopping from the Silo vendors I met there. You might, too.

2.We are a little moleskin family.

One Sunday in church recently, Ryan whispered to me to notice we were a little moleskin family. During the preaching, I looked down the row across my own notebook pages to Mike and Ryan and noticed that sure enough, we were each busy scribbling in open moleskin journals.

That was quirky, funny and very us, but what happened later made me pause and ponder. We gathered in circles and prayed for the person to our right. The man next to me, a brand new acquaintance, noticed the very same thing and prayed a sweet prayer of thankfulness for our little moleskin family.

I don't know why I needed to notice that twice in one morning; maybe we like being students, maybe our minds wander easily and we need the discipline of taking notes, maybe we are just a doodly family, maybe to remind us to keep laying hold of our writing hearts.

3.My newest Texas town discovery is Maypearl.

Every single time I go home to Texas, a state I lived in for almost 15 years and have visited every year I have lived in Oregon, I discover a new little town I have never heard of.

There are plenty of towns I have heard of before: Cut and Shoot, Dime Box, Kermit, and Elmo, but there is always a new discovery to be made.

A few years ago, we discovered Kyle, Texas and sent our own Kyle pictures of the water tower with his very own name emblazoned across it.

This year, my find was Maypearl, Texas.

I was driving south on Interstate 35 from Flowermound, toward Waco, on my way to Round Top to have my first piece of pie at Royers Pie Haven (you've got to go there for a slice of Trash Pie and meet Tara) and then on to Magnolia to see my folks.

It turns out, Maypearl was the name of the daughter of a railroad man. To me, it sounds like the perfect name for a new grandbaby or character in a book I'd like to write one day.

Maypearl stood on the threshold of her clapboard house shading her eyes with the hand where she wore her wedding band, and with the other hand, smoothing her linen apron fluttering in the wind like her heart.

4.You can vox yourself.

I was looking for a way to capture my thoughts when I do not have pen and paper and wondered aloud to my friend, Katie, if you can Vox yourself? We both laughed.

Though I heard about it a year ago, Voxing is relatively new to me. Voxer is a way to have ongoing conversations with your friends and fellow dreamers at all hours of the day or night. There may be minutes or even days between the messages which suit being mamas, friends or collaborators between time zones quite well.

I had been brainstorming with Katie about a project we might do together when I discovered I can indeed vox my very own self, and keep a running record of ideas percolating in my head full of dreams.

5.There's a word for that familiar smell after a rain.

You know that sweet, earthy smell after a rain? Did you know there is a word for that scent?

Petrichor. Actually, it refers to the natural oils released before the rain, though we speak of it afterward. I wonder if paying more attention, I might get that whiff before the rain?

I've always admired Noah for believing God about the coming flood enough to build a boat before it ever rained on this earth. If he was paying attention, and I think he was, Noah must have been the first to experience petrichor.

6.Christmas lights shining brightly on November 1st do not take away from celebrating Thanksgiving.

For years we never seemed to get Christmas lights up on the house for Christmas. My family did not do it when I was growing up and there was just too much else to do. Then, the Whippersnappers started whining about it, next campaigning for it, and even willing to help.

So Mike and I did it reluctantly, and always at the last minute on the windiest, coldest day of the year in the pouring rain, and barely finishing before dark thirty. I usually had to run to Target or the hardware store for a new strand or two that I swear worked the year before. It made me cranky.

Last year, we finally hired a friend of my neighbor to put them up the first week of December and return to take them down just after Epiphany. It was a first world delight. Even my grown kids love twinkly lights. I just didn't realize how much joy would bubble up in me coming home to the little twinkles.

This year, my neighbor, Linda, called to suggest having our lights put up on the same day, making life easy for our guy. She asked what I thought of doing it in early November before his busy season. We could just get them up and not turn them on until after Thanksgiving. That was the plan, anyway.

My youngest daughter is getting married right after Christmas this year, making me just crazy enough to say, "Yes!" a little too loud.

When she chose her wedding date, I had startled my family by declaring there would be a few wild no's around Christmastime to save my sanity and remain a kindhearted human. I decided back in July to say no to Christmas cards, our annual gift exchange between cousins and hanging ornaments on the tree.

We all decided the Christmas lights were keepers.

I came home late from work on Nov 1st to our house all aglow with clear lights standing soldier straight along the roofline. I slowed down as I pulled into our driveway, a wide smile on my freckled face.

It turns out, putting up those Christmas lights early took nothing from Thanksgiving.

My joyful grin remained with me all through the Thanksgiving meal and in these last days of November as I write this to you.

In fact, both my twinkly eyes and that little row of happy lights will remain right on through December and all the way to Epiphany reminding me of the Christmas star.

Of course, we don't need Christmas lights to shine, we have a light from the inside, but I like the tangible reminder.

I had a Resident Assistant back in college that called me "Christmas Eyes". My prayer is that if she ran into me today, she would still call me that and it would have nothing to do with the Christmas lights on my house.

If you like taking stock of lessons, you might want to take a look at Things I Learned this Fall (2016).

Now, I'd like to hear from you. What did you learn this fall?