What the Summer Days are Teaching Me

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Today, as the kids played in the warm sunshine out back in the yard, I remembered how much I love summer. And then I recalled all my growing up years under an Arkansas summer sun.

There were popsicle days and creek exploring afternoons. There was honey suckle dripping on the tip of our tongues and strawberry nibbling.  I vividly remember the dandelion blowing, dirt digging, frog catching moments and the times when the afternoon storms would blow in and we’d dance around the yard in the rain and “take a shower” in the waterfall that flowed from the eaves.

I used to begrudge my momma for having us play outside so much in the hot sun. We’d sit in the shade and make tents and forts from old sheets and me and my little brother were sure we were languishing out there in the heat. But, now that I’m grown and I’ve got these kids, I see how good it was for me to have to use my imagination and just play.

I love summer because there’s something about those shade trees out back and the way those white fuzzy tufts from the cottonwood trees float around all easy like through the air, that gives me some sort of permission to just slow down and enjoy this life.

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I need that. Because I often feel this pressure to get lots of things done. And I get this stern face and an irritable disposition when I feel overwhelmed by all the to-dos.

And I find myself walking around with a sense of guilt, most of the time, that I’m not doing enough or being enough to help the world. But, I look at these kids of mine outside, mixing up mud pies and I know that this, this is what I want to be doing. I want to give them a good childhood. A safe place where they can just think about catching caterpillars and building teepees.

Time for carefree things like running barefoot and spraying each other with the water hose. And I want to carve out time to teach them important life lessons like how to be patient when their little brother takes their toys. Or how to share when it’s not quite their turn on the bike. And how to look out for each other’s needs. To be a comforter when sister is having an emotional breakdown and to celebrate when someone loses a tooth or wipes their bottom all by themselves (finally) or takes off for the first time without the training wheels.

These things seem insignificant when I read the headlines and there’s people who hate and hurt each other and there are kids who get kidnapped and trafficked and there are children who won’t get any food today and there are injustices suffered all over the world.

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But, I have to remind myself that God knows I’m just one person and He gave me this family. What I’m doing is no small thing–it’s important for me to take care of them. Someday they’ll grow up and maybe when they’ve learned to take care of each other, then they’ll be good at reaching out and tending to the world around them, too.

This is no easy street, to care for the people right in front of us.

So, I keep teaching myself to not stress so much and give my loved ones the gift of my presence and I keep praying for the world and looking for little things I can do to help.

And in doing this, my heart, I tell you, is full right up to the brim. I’m filled up with purpose and joy and love for God and all His creatures.

I’ve been praying for God to teach me how to live and help me process life in healthy, beneficial ways. He’s listening to my prayers, and using these summer days to minister to me.

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