Summer is about enjoying things and have some down time. We will have plenty of that, but the learning and preparing never stops. I still have the same responsibilities this week as I did last week. Just because "school" is out....they don't stop! As a matter of fact, for some reason I feel more rushed and pulled in many directions. Guess what? I LOVE it! I love the fact that learning never stops. I love the fact that just because we officially put away the "normal" books (or computer program in Adriana's case) we don't just stop everything. The kids DO have much more time to enjoy being kids, but for this mom....breaks don't really happen. That's ok. I wouldn't have it any other way. Summer is all about PLANNING for the next year. It's about stopping to see what worked really well, what was alright, and what flopped. It's about looking DEEPLY at weaknesses and strengths and searching for ways to develop BOTH. It's about finding inspiration. It's about recharging batteries. It's about organizing, reorganizing, and then organizing some more. The end of the school year starts the beginning of the new year. Researching curriculum and making choices dominate thoughts. Planning the budget to cover the costs is crucial. Preparing a budget to allow for extra summer activities which leads to menu planning to make sure we stay on track. It's an ongoing cycle. I feel like I live life as the character of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". One thing leads to another and they are all dependent on each other. Can't afford to drop one ball because they will all crash.
Organizing? Did I mention organizing? That is a HUGE part of summer for me. I need the clearing out of the clutter that happens during the normal school year to prepare for another one. Each year gets more complicated and requires even more simplicity. This year I will be fully teaching three different grades----not just playing "school" with Bradlee. Kindergarten, High School, and 4th grade! Wow----where did the time go? In addition, I'm also blessed beyond words to be providing childcare for a very special little one. Our hearts have been preparing for this new adventure for months! As daunting of a task as it all seems at times, I truly CANNOT wait. I may be overly stressed right now in preparing and planning, but I consider it a blessing. I may be pulling my hair out and second guessing every choice I make. I may be swimming in a sea of busy bags, workboxes, and every type of hands on manipulative as I prepare for Bradlee's "real" school. It's all WORTH it! It's worth it every time I see my kids learning something! Knowing that by the time this year ends we will have jumped in with both feet trusting God is priceless. Along for the joyful ride will be a precious little one that we can't wait to arrive!
Yes, we will be spending LOTS of time playing this summer. You will find us at Sholem on the water slides (ok....I will be on the lazy river!) more days than not, beginning next week. The boys will be tracking in dirt, rocks, and bugs on a daily basis. I vacuum twice a day most days and my carpet still is atrocious----BOYS!!!! Popsicles and sunscreen will be a daily staple. Park visits and camps are a must. Reading clubs and reading, reading, and more reading for all of us (except maybe Kevin!) Summer will be fun and laughter will be abundant. Short family vacations will sneak their way in and be celebrated and appreciated. Camping trips will highlight our family time together. Date nights with Kevin will be a priority (especially trips to our favorite spots on campus now that the majority of students are gone!) Summer is priceless.
Summer is most especially my life-line. Summer is when I have a bit more time to put myself back on the list. It's when I can focus EXTENSIVELY on my own needs. I'm already back exercising (slow start, but moving forward every day!) and making better food choices. FINALLY starting to see slight results! It's when I get to spend a bit of time doing things I enjoy----most especially scrapbooking and now sewing.
Most importantly it's when I get to work on "me" emotionally and spiritually. Sure, it happens all year long, but summer is when I can take more time and not feel so guilty about it. It's when God and I can spend a little more time with a little less chaos going on. He doesn't have to work so hard for me to be able to hear Him. It's when I get most excited about Him doing BIG works in my heart. He doesn't have to compete as much for my focus!
So far, things are shaping up to be a "fruitful" summer in regards for opportunities to serve and grow in Christ. I'm a bit overwhelmed right now getting it all organized and balanced, but I'm more than thrilled with everything involved.
- VBS---volunteering in director capacity with a super amazing friend again this year as we head up Treetop Treats. VBS at such a large church takes MANY hours of prep, but we love every second of it. Being involved last year is what really gave me the opportunity to form some really bonding friendships. This year is more involved for us because we have decided to go "all in" with decorating. Lots of hours of prep work ahead, but we will be smiling and laughing the whole way. I'm sure we will run into obstacles like always, but God has always worked out all of the kinks (even if we have had to re-color our hair to cover the grays when it's over with!)
- Sunday school---this week is promotion Sunday so we will get a whole new group of littles! I can't wait to meet our new sweet faces and spend the next year loving them and teaching them about how much Jesus loves them!
- Dresses---back at the first of the year when I decided to STOP being intimidated by the sewing machine, I never dreamed how much it would soothe my heart to sew. I made my first dresses and gave them to our granddaughters. Little did I know what kind of chain reaction that would start. A sweet friend that Adriana and I are loving getting to know is leading a group of college students on a mission trip to Ghana. I told her I would make a "COUPLE" of dresses for her to take. That "couple" has grown tremendously. I knew that God was calling me to not just "half-way" participate. At last count, between what is already completed and what I have cut out but not sewn, I will be able to send well over 50 dresses. THIS is my huge ongoing summer project this year.
- SHMILY (30 days of Prayer for Husbands)---this is the 3rd year I've participated and I'm VERY excited to see what God has in store for us. Because of the amazing growth we've been experiencing together, I can hardly sit still waiting to see how God will use us during this time. Women all around the world are joining in and spending the month of June praying specifically for our husbands. We follow along with Stormie Omartian's book: The Power of a Praying Wife. You can also follow along here to read Amy's blogs that go along with each day. They have always been powerful and thought-provoking.
- Blogging for Books---I'm still reviewing books for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers. I am currently reading "Love & War: Finding Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage" by John & Stasi Eldredge. So far, the book has been AMAZING! As soon as I finish this one, I will dive right into whatever they offer me next.
- Bible in 90 Days Challenge---Having completed the challenge twice now has left me wanting more. I've been wanting to go even deeper. I've told several people how this challenge was the number one help in getting me through the earliest stages of Dad's death. It changed me immensely. Beginning July 11th, the next round will begin and you can sign up to participate at http://www.momstoolbox.com/blog/. This time instead of just reading, I will be serving as a mentor/group leader. I am VERY much looking forward to "meeting" a new group of women that I would never meet in my normal life. I LOVE the community that blogging and the "online world" provides. I'm already praying for these women. I don't know who will be placed in my group at this point, but God already knows! I don't know what obstacles they will face or what is going on in their lives, but God knows and He is already preparing my heart for them.
- Online Bible Study Group---I'm joining in with the Good Morning Girls Bible study and summer reading club. http://www.goodmorninggirls.org/ I received my book today and I can't tell you how excited I am to get started. I'm about a week behind the other ladies, but I will catch up quickly. Their comments from the previous few days has me on overdrive! I can't want to dive in. The book is "The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ's Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children" by Sally Clarkson. Just the first TWO sentences on the back cover have already grasped my heart. "Because Motherhood Isn't Just a Job. It's a Calling." Oh how I need to be constantly reminded of those words. Nothing hurts a mother's heart more than to be told we are wasting our time or gifts or that our ministry doesn't matter. I look forward to having my cup filled again and those wet-blanket voices silenced.
- Other Reading: I read 4-5 novels a week for "fun" during the summer. It's what I enjoy that provides relaxation at the end of the day, most especially now that we don't have traditional TV or cable and have a "technology curfew" that we try to uphold. On top of that reading and the other books I've already mentioned, I'm still working through Crazy Love, Radical, Praying for Purpose for Women, REAL Moms...Real Jesus, Growing Grateful Kids, The Well Trained Mind, The Well-Versed Family, and The Busy Homeschool Guide to Romance (balancing roles of mother, teacher, and wife!). Yes, this summer is going to be AMAZING!!!!!!