Friday, July 31, 2015

What I Learned: July

It's the end of July (what? where did June go?), so I'm linking up with Emily Freeman's What We Learned in July post. It's a useful way to help me remember things - trivial, profound, or somewhere in-between - that I've encountered over the month, and it's fun to share them with you all.

1. I can read books in German. 

This realization came as I was browsing through bookstores throughout Germany. As a result, I brought 22 books home with me. Some are classics, like Anne Frank's Diary or Bonhoeffer's Life Together, which I want to read in the original language. Others are books that I'd never heard of before, but looked fascinating. Being able to read books in another language has drastically expanded this book-lover's world.

2. It is important to me to seek out and serve those that aren't from my social echelon or background.

After working with refugees for a month, I have realized that I don't want to stop. It has always been important to me to serve my friends and family, but now I want to deliberately look outside my circles and seek places to serve. This could involve refugees, the elderly, children, or whatever. I want to give to people who have nothing to give back. After all, I have been given so much, and to whom much is given, much is expected.

3. I don't do my own convictions a favor by refusing to listen to those who hold an opposite viewpoint.

This isn't a new lesson, but it's one I've been revisiting in the past few weeks. If I can't handle some pushback from the other side, it probably means that my convictions are more flimsy than I'd like to admit. On the flip side, it is hard for me to respect someone who relentlessly pushes their own ideas without giving me the chance to express my own. 

4. It never hurts to say thank you.

People are serving us all the time, making sure our small worlds run smoothly. Waiters, cashiers, security officers, flight attendants, janitors, and so many other people would be sorely missed if they stopped doing their jobs, but we rarely think to stop and say thanks. Just because their work is commonplace does not mean they should not be thanked. In fact, the fact that they faithfully keep things running behind the scenes means we owe them all the more thanks. On my flights to and from Germany, I left simple thank-you notes on my seat. I happened to still be there when one of the flight attendants from my flight home (which had a lot of unexpected complications) saw the note, and her face absolutely lit up as she thanked me. It makes a difference, folks.


  1. You stated #3 perfectly. A concept I am trying to model and teach to my children in this ever changing world. My son will be going to boarding school in Germany this fall. Hopefully someday he will be able to read books in German also. Blessings.

    1. TJ, I hope your son enjoys Germany! I lived there for years growing up and it was a blast. If he enjoys children's "chapter books" tell him to check out Erich Kästner's "Emil und die Dektive" - it's a German classic and absolutely delightful for all ages.