My dream for summer is sunshine, rest, and lazy days (or at least a more relaxed schedule). I crave extra time to connect with family and friends and neighbors, to travel, to invest in the things that matter to me most.
But too often my summer dreams fall short of reality. Faced with more free time and the idea that I have all day to get things done . . . I get nothing done. When I release myself from the schedule required in the fall, winter & spring, I also tend to release the habits and routines that help me to thrive.
2 weeks into summer, surely I am not the only one already sliding into this trap?
Maybe summer brings a drastic change in routine for you. Or perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom with small children, and the only change summer brings is heat. Or you have a job that doesn’t change or flex when summer rolls around.
Whether or not the season changes our weekly routines, we can ask:
How can I thrive this summer?
I’m focusing on 5 things as my prescription for thriving this summer.
#1 Make space, find quiet
During the year, I fight hard for quiet moments with God–time to read God’s Word, time to pray, time to sit and listen and be still. Often there is more time and space in summer, but because I’m not fighting for it, I miss it. For me, the key is to find quiet and space first thing, when possible.
My summers offer the freedom of sleeping in past my normal 6:30AM wake up. But I’ve found life works better for me when I wake up before my day, rather than being woken up into it. I’ll set the alarm for a little later, but I’m still going to set it. And I want the first thing on my list (when possible) to be a date with Jesus and peace and quiet, hopefully on my back porch with my coffee, journal, Bible, and maybe a good book.
#2 Have a plan
One of the best parts of being involved in EquipHer, besides getting to study the Bible with other women, is knowing exactly what I want to do in my time with Jesus. Summers offer more freedom, which I love. But I’ve learned that if I show up to my time in the Bible not knowing what to do . . . I end up not doing anything. So I know I need a plan.
Were there any portions of the EquipHer studies you did this year you were unable to finish, that you could go back and spend more time on? Is there a book of the Bible you’ve been curious about, that you could read through paragraph by paragraph over the summer?
A few things I’ve tried in past summers: Read and pray through the Psalms, a Psalm a day. Read through the book of Proverbs, a chapter (or half chapter) at a time, thinking about wisdom. Choose a gospel to read through over the summer, looking at how Jesus lived and interacted with people (This would mesh nicely with the EquipHer study this summer, covering the gospel of Mark.)
#3 Read good books
Summer is the best reading season, and I’m always on the lookout for great beachy reads and chunky paperbacks I can take with me to the pool or read on a blanket in the front yard while the kids play. But I also try to choose a few non-fiction books to feed my soul, Christian Living, or spiritual memoirs. I’d recommend anything by Ann Voskamp or Shauna Neiquist, and the best book I read this spring was Deidra Riggs’ ONE: Unity in a Divided World. I’m in the middle of Falling Free by Shannan Martin, a beautifully written story blending encouragement and challenge.
#4 Get outside
Winter in Nebraska finds me fantasizing about the summer, freedom to be out in the sun, to feel a warm breeze on my face, to exercise somewhere besides looking at a screen. But it’s easy to let the summer blaze by without taking advantage of any of these things, even though I know how genuinely good they are for my soul. This summer, I want long walks, eating on the back porch, grilling out, enjoying Nebraska’s “Good Life.”
#5 Invite others in
I’ve learned that one of the keys to my own feeling of happiness and fulfillment is connectedness with family, friends, and neighbors. What a delight to move out of the season for pulling straight into our garages and closing our homes up tight, when our main interaction with our neighbors is bundled up waves while scooping snow.
This summer, I want to live with open doors and a full table. Summer offers freedom to make a new friend, deepen an existing friendship, or reconnect with those you rarely see during the year. You don’t have to throw a party every week, but is there someone you’ve wished you could get to know or connect with on a deeper level? Pick up the phone, throw some burgers and dogs on the grill, and forget about the pressure to scrub your house from top to bottom. You’ll be glad you did.
Before we know it, cool breezes will be blowing and the leaves will begin to turn. What are you going to do to thrive this summer?
Find more from Renee at her blog, More Than Eyes Can See.