The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

Ahhh, summertime. A time of relaxing, sleeping in, hanging out, taking it easy. A time when schedules go out the window and obligations are at a minimum. A time when a sandwich and fruit easily passes for a meal and kids need nothing more than a backyard and a few friends to keep them happy.

Sounds divine. Especially when your husband is a teacher, and he gets summers off too. Yep, just the six of us, kicking back and enjoying life.

Only the total opposite of that.

As a mom with kids in school and hubby "in school" and obligations to certain things that tend to run with the school year, summer begins to beckon me about mid-February. Spring break is that teasing taste of the long days of summer that wait just around the corner, and Spring Fever sets in big time. The countdown until the last day of school begins, and we all look longingly at the date on the calendar that signals freedom from all the stress.

But this year (and last year, too, to be honest), summer has been a big disappointment. It's not that it hasn't been good. It's that it has been filled with as much or more stress and busyness as the school year. Here we are, staring at August on the calendar, and I'm feeling a little cheated.

We've been blessed with mission trips, VBS, a vacation (with one more to go), extra jobs which equal extra income (you know, just in case our septic tank were to have issues), a great week at camp for the big kids, swimming lessons for Lukey, and a coming out party of sorts for Designs for Hope. So many "good things" have filled our time.

But those good things come at a price. I fear they've cost us some precious memories and some much needed rejuvenation. I think much of it could have been salvaged had we approached some of these events with a different attitude and I wonder if some of it could have been avoided by saying the dreaded "no."

I've come face to face with the differences in our culture in America and those in other parts of the world, such as Africa or Latin America, several times over the past few weeks. Now I'm reading a book about a man growing up in India and hearing all the ways in which his culture affected his whole life, and it makes me wonder. Are we all slaves to this hurried, stressed-out, make a buck, climb the ladder, get it together or get outta dodge society?

Stress is a word that is so frequently brought up in our lives, and we are now barraged with ways to deal with that stress so that it doesn't kill us, to the point of being stressed about fitting in all of our stress-relievers. Ridiculous. As a self-proclaimed Type A perfectionist, all this stress is about to get the better of me. Really. I'm going bald. And that is stressful!

In the midst of the chaos that characterizes my life and my mind all too much, I feel like the Lord is bringing some things to the surface. He is shining his bright, sometimes harsh, spotlight on some areas in which I need to change. A few things I need to do include:

1. Keeping my perspective eternal. One of the questions I frequently ask myself, and my children, is "Will this matter when we're in heaven?" And sometimes, "Will this matter tomorrow?" Often, the answer is "not at all." I haven't been asking myself that enough lately.
2. Remembering who I aim to please. This is huge for me. HUGE. HUGE. And I think this is the root of so many of the mistakes we make in our culture. I am so darn worried about what people think of me, sometimes I think I'll drown in all the unmet expectations. I am ashamed to admit that this thought has been known to roll through my mind all too often as I look around at my disheveled house: What if I were to die today and people were to come in and see the way I left this house? Okay, I usually try to laugh at myself and blow it off, but I think many of us live our lives that way.

I'm always late. People will think I'm unreliable.

Our yard is a wreck. What do the neighbors think?

My kids acted atrociously tonight at that restaurant. Hope nobody we know was there.

We are all about impressing and pleasing and catering to all the wrong people. How about we just give and receive a little grace for a change? And only worry about pleasing God?

3.  Okay, I totally had a #3, but ironically, I've been so busy in the two days since starting this post, I can't remember what else I was going to do to reduce stress in my life. Ahhh, isn't that how life goes?

I think it had something to do with lessening the guilt around our house. I am constantly pouring guilt out onto myself, and then it spills over onto my children. The things I'm wanting them to do, such as being grateful for their food and making healthy choices, are typically good things. But often I resort to the familiar tactic of guilting them into these behaviors and choices. We all know guilt is a lousy motivator and a fabulous discourager. It does nothing but increase our stress as we feel ourselves failing to measure up.

So, in an effort to chill out, we're headed to the beach. Nothing spells relaxation like packing for a family of six to go out of town for a week. It's basically been like a day at the spa, except for all the cooking and cleaning and piles of clothes and the to-do list a mile long. See, this stress-free lifestyle is a breeze.

While we're there, I will attempt to dig my toes in the sand, encourage my kids, not worry about the little things, and press closer into Jesus, who came, died, and rose again to give us the abundant life, not the stressed-out life. As believers, it's time to stop allowing the thief to steal the peace that is ours for the taking.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10


  1. I like this blog so much. I have liked it so much that I have saved it to my bookmarks.


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