I love the change of pace that summer brings. Routine and structure suddenly gives way to flexibility and relaxation.
The pinnacle of this change of pace for me comes with the most anticipated stretch of time of the season….vacation.
Vacation is a time of rest, rejuvenation, adventure, and exploration. We leave behind the scenery of home for a backdrop that stimulates the senses with something new. Whether you like it to be quiet & restful, or adventurous & exciting, vacation is always a chance to trade in the monotony of everyday life for something different.
I love a break in pattern or routine. For me, it is exciting. And I think that changing the way we worship while on vacation is a great way to awaken our passion for Christ. For us, and for our kids. It takes the routine out of the equation and helps praise and thanksgiving really flow from the heart.
Here are 5 ways that you can incorporate worship into your time away from home:
1. Talk about Elohim, our God the Creator. As your family looks across a new landscape, discuss our great and glorious God that has created it all. From the change in skyline to the array of creatures that inhabit the earth- Elohim has made each one.
2. Do a family bible study or quiet time at sunrise or sunset. Taking this time in a different setting may make it exciting and new.
3. Pray for the community that you are visiting. Pray as a family that the town experiences an out-pour of new believers seeking to follow Jesus with everything they have. (I truly believe that one of the best things that we can do for our kids’ faith is to let them see us pray with the power and authority of Jesus Christ in expectation of big things.)
4. Do a little research and find a church nearby. Vacation can be a great opportunity to listen to a speaker that may share from a different perspective. There are some great churches across the nation and abroad sharing Truth in a powerful way.
5. Use your time in the car (or plane, bus, or ship) to sing praises to God as a family. Talk to each other. Read together.
As we break the patterns of life at home to rejuvenate in a new surrounding, I pray that God will also breathe new life into our time with Him.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12)
“I can do this.” “We’ve got this.” “I’ve got these kids under control.” Ever heard any of those? Ever said any of those? I am always amazed at the moms I run into that say those very things; thinking they themselves can do this whole parenting thing alone. Parenting in total isolation.
I learned very early on, through the counsel of my very wise mentor, that Todd and I cannot do this parenting thing “alone.” We need a village, a mom posse, or what I’ve come to call my “12.”
In Matthew 4 we see the story unfold as Jesus calls his disciples. His 12.
One definition of disciple I found was one who embraces or assists. He was looking for men who would embrace and assist him on his earthly ministry.
Now, I’m sure we would all agree that he didn’t “need” his 12. He could have fulfilled all God called him to do on this earth by himself. Yet, he called out 12 men to help assist him, to learn from him, to continue his mission, and to pray for him. He didn’t do it alone.
There are many pictures of this throughout scripture. In Genesis 12, we see Abraham leaving to go to Canaan WITH his family. In Acts 13, we see Paul, Barnabas and John Mark sent by the Holy Spirit to Cypruss.
And then there is my favorite example of this value for “12″ which is found in Exodus chapter 17. Moses has commanded Joshua to go fight the army of Amalek. Moses, Aaron, and Hur would go and pray. Moses would hold the rod of God up. When he held the rod up, God gave them victory. As you could imagine Moses’ hands became tired, so Aaron and Hur would hold his hands up for him. What a beautiful example of the importance of surrounding yourself with “12.”
Now maybe your saying, “I don’t have a 12″. I bet if you look around you could spot a few that could be part of your team. Maybe it’s a grandmother. Maybe your church body, a pastor’s wife, or a mom who is a little farther ahead in her mothering journey. They are out there. Prayerfully seek them out. 12 people who won’t always tell you what you want to hear, but be willing to speak the truth in love if necessary.
One of my 12 has a son that has been battling her on this whole Instagram thing. She feels very strongly as to why she won’t allow him to have an account. She has reached out to her 12 to help hold her hands up during this long battle.
Part of my 12 is a group of moms who meet around my table every Thursday to walk through this motherhood journey together. Another portion is a library full of Christ centered books. And my church is a huge part of my 12.
The bible says in Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.”
We need counsel in our motherhood journey. I don’t think any of us can say “we got this!” Find you a mom posse. Find your very own “12″.
I read a blog a while back by The Family Unplugged. The title of the post was After. The author discussed how so many parents talk about their life beginning AFTER their kids leave the house. So many parents act as if their kids are a burden rather than a blessing. As I read the article, I thought, how horrible! Why would someone have children if they don’t want to have kids around?!
Then I thought about my own actions. When looking and talking about the big picture, my son is a treasure and I want to cherish each moment. But in the everyday, what message do I send to him?
How do I act when he is interrupting me as I cook, or clean, or try to get one of the other things on my long to do list completed? How do I behave when I just cleaned the floors and there is a big spill? How do I come across when he is sick and I have to miss out on something to stay at home with him?
For the first week of summer vacation, my son spent the week with my husband’s family out of state. My husband was also away for work. My house was quiet. And I mean really quiet. Every woman’s dream, right?
I cleaned. I organized. I decorated. I spent time with friends. I read a couple of books. But then what?
I missed the noise. I missed the interruptions.
Don’t get me wrong, it was great to have some quiet time. It was nice to get things done. But I prefer life with my family.
I realized that in another 9 years, my son will most likely be leaving the nest for good. He will not be there to interrupt me as I clean or try to get things done. He will not be there to describe to me in every detail the latest basketball game. He will not be there with me giggling as we race the clock to clean up a spill. He will not be all snuggled up with me watching a movie when he doesn’t feel well.
What a blessing that I get to enjoy those moments now. And what a gift The Lord has given me in allowing me to be his mom.
If years from now you had the opportunity to look back over your life and do things over again, what would you do differently?
In thinking about this question, many scenarios ran through my mind.I am a saver by nature.That means I am married to a spender. When my husband gets a gift card, he plans a trip to spend it right away.I, however, have gift cards in my wallet from months ago.I save them like sacred treasures and use them at just the right moment, just the right occasion, or when I need them most.I am the same way with other things I consider to be “sacred little treasures” like my wedding china.It rests on a cabinet untouched, unused, like a historical document under glass at the Smithsonian.Or the really cute paper plates (PAPER PLATES! Seriously?) and matching napkins that are waiting for a worthy occasion. And there are the adorable outfits that hang in my children’s closets they will outgrow long before they outwear them.
In Emilie Barnes’ devotion If I Had It All To Do Over she states, “I would have cleaned less, and listened more.I would never have insisted that the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been done.I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.I would have eaten popcorn in the living room and worried less about ashes in the fireplace.I would have taken time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.I would have burned the good candles before they melted while being stored.I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.”
Matthew 6:23 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
We are instructed to focus on today. Today is all that is promised.
Regardless of our stage of life, we all look back and realize in hindsight what we would do differently.There will always be scenarios where we could have if we would have. We cannot go back and recapture lost opportunities but we can take advantage of each day and live it to the fullest…while its still called today.
One of my most cherished & saved summer memories is my momma’s sweet tea. She would put tea bags and sugar in a one-gallon jug of boiled water & let it ‘steep’ all day long in the warm summer sun. Oh, how we loved that sun tea…and how rich it was.
This summer, I want to make memories…but, even more, I want to save them. I want to be intentional in my parenting, thoughtful in my plans, and graceful in my ways. I’m doing this by helping my children ‘steep’ in the scriptures.
This week, we have created a ‘save a memory’ box for each child…my son & my daughter. The “memories” we’d like to save are scriptures. Each week, we are committed to memorizing one verse of scripture. I am praying that the Lord will somehow connect the scripture with our memories for that week…and I know He will. I am also praying that as we concentrate on the scripture, that it will ‘steep’ in our hearts & richly bless us. I’m excited about having extra time to spend with my children in the Word, but most of my excitement is in anticipation of ‘how’ the Lord will bless us & teach us this season.
When I proposed this summer project to my children, they were giddy with excitement!
You see, you do not have to enroll your child in the most elaborate or extensive training camp. You do not have to purchase a fancy summer curriculum. You do not have to spend hours on Pinterest or other social media sites to find ways to dazzle them.
All they want is YOU. Your time. Your energy. Your focus. They want a memory. One that steeps & gains richness with time…just like the summer sun tea that my momma used to make.
What memories will you be making this summer? Will they be memories worth saving?