Gratitude Friday: The Blessing of Summer (and it’s not what you think)…

We wrapped up our first day at the waterpark this week. Because it was our first day, we stayed longer than usual. However, I applied sunscreen to us all as if we were staying half the time we ended up staying.

All the pale people in our house are currently redder than anything else.

Hashtag mom fail.

I blame friends.

The first 90 minutes it was just the three of us. Saffron doing the obstacle course over and over and over again. Skillet swimming underwater, seeing how far he could go. This was the point when I should have reapplied BUT our dear across-the-street neighbors came to meet us for some playtime.

So I missed the first deadline.

Then we saw my daughter’s (and hopefully my son’s) kindergarten teacher who is so very the sweetest person in the entire world. She and I chatted and caught up on our summer and Saffron’s school year. Before I knew it, 20 minutes had passed.

We’d now been there for almost two and a half hours and I’d just applied round two of sunscreen.

Then I visited with my neighbor, road a water slide or two with Skillet, and let Saffron and her friend go to the Lazy River by themselves for the first time. After we’d come back to the pool from the slides, Skillet came running over, “Momma, I made a friend!” Which is pretty typical of him. He can make friends with most anyone. This time it was an adorable little girl, spunky, well-manned, and adventurous. Those two raced all over the place doing everything they were not supposed to do.

Skillet’s newest bestie’s mom came over to chat. And just like before, twenty minutes passed in a flash. I know all about her career, her daughter’s education, their recent move, their new house, the closest grocery store, and how often they come to the waterpark.

By the time I go around to sunscreen round 3, I could already see red checks forming.


Typically, we don’t go to the waterpark two days in a row but after today, we might have to wait until the end of next week.

Sunburns are never a good thing but time spent with some pretty great people, that makes the itching on my chest almost worth it.

Summer Vintage Nest

When we got home last weekend, after the car was emptied, I headed out to the grocery store. Three weeks away from home means we had some mustard and homemade turkey stock in the freezer. Certainly, nothing to make a meal.

I had so much stuff, I opted for a cashier checkout this time. Once it was my turn to have my groceries rung up, I took my earbuds out and paused my podcast. The cashier said hello and I responded and asked him how he was doing. We ended up talking about his indigestion, college football, and every person he knew who’d attended my husband’s university. As I took the receipt from him, he looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks for talking to me.”

Talking with him wasn’t a chore and it wasn’t a bother but it was a deliberate choice. One I do my best to make every time I have the option. But honestly? He blessed me with his thanks. Most of the time, I have no way of knowing if attempting to have a conversation with someone is doing either of us any good. I was so grateful for his thanks.

Pearl Summer Nest

One more story and then I promise to bring this home. We’re having a situation in our neighborhood with our HOA.

And by “we” I mean one side of an issue and by “our HOA” I mean the other side of an issue.

As it seems lots of HOA situations go, it’s gotten a bit out of hand. The amount of time I spend staring at my computer screen reading the latest dramatic details with my mouth completely open? Ridiculous.

I suspect this is like every HOA joke you’ve ever heard. People have dug in their heels, twisting rules to fit their purposes, using aggressive language, and are literally threatening legal action.

It’s entirely absurd.

And it’s gotten to this point because a few homeowners needed repairs made to the outside brick fence of the neighborhood. Seeing as that brick fence lines their property, they have every right to except our HOA to maintain and fix the wall.

So we had to have a meeting to discuss and before we realize what’s happening, we’ve taken sides, drawn battle lines, and started firing shots at one another. Proving once again the point Robert Frost made in Mending Wall, good fences do not make good neighbors.

To combat the combatting, a group of us decided to have an ice cream social Sunday night. We’re hosting because we are Front Yard People and several active members live down our quiet cul-de-sac street.

Plus, Dr. Band hung our fancy string lights from our big shade tree and we’re ready to use them.

Ice cream and cornhole and bug spray. Food brings people together and in a world where we are free to type any ole thing from behind the safety of our screens, people getting together is needed more than ever.

Center Vintage Nest

Okay, so I promised to bring this whole thing home, and here it is…

…People are not the obstruction to the blessing. People are the blessing.

Getting to play at the waterpark is such a fun blessing. Visiting with neighbors and teachers and new best friends, they are the bigger blessing.

Purchasing enough groceries for a small army conveniently and inexpensively is absolutely a blessing. BUT showing honor to a fellow human created in the image of God, that is the Christ-focused blessing.

Living in a nice neighborhood with an HOA and brick walls and cul-de-sacs is an American Dream privilege and luxury. Reminds me every time I drive in that we live a life of abundance, even though we are a one-income, tight-budget family.  It is most definitely a blessing.

But the true blessing of this neighborhood (and I’ve lived in lots) is how we come together to take care of one another, listen, serve, and throw footballs in the middle of the street. The people, our neighbors, they are the blessing. They are not a group of crazy folks with pitchforks. We simply have to decide to see them as just that, neighbors, and love them authentically.

People are the blessing, Y’all. Not the obstruction to the blessing.

And our sunscreen soaked, ice cream refreshed, running through sprinklers summer seems like a good time to remind ourselves of that.

People are the Blessing

Frequently, I need a reminder of that. People are the blessing. The Builders, email subscribers, received this last summer but it felt like a good time to offer it again. If you’re like me and possibly should read that saying multiple times a day, like everytime I walk through the living room, then grab this printable and hang it up where you can see it!

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