Saturday, June 29, 2013

Finding Direction for the Summer Months

It's early morning here as I type. I am sitting at the kitchen table looking out into the morning mist, and the birds are carrying on their chatter. A few feet from me are my kids all bundled up under heaps of blankets and quilts. We spent our second night, the kids and I, camping out on our deck.

It's an annual summer tradition: Mom and kids bundle up for the night, open air camping with the comforts of home. Jon's not a camper, but since he was away these last two nights I took the opportunity for a slumber party with my kids. Typically I sleep just great outside, but I wasn't as fortunate this year. The first night was foggy, the marine layer looming heavy, and back pain kept me up much of the night. I must have woken up a dozen times or more, each time looking around to make sure everyone was covered and sleeping soundly, and by morning time I felt stiff and exhausted. So when my kids begged for a second night out, I agreed to it reluctantly.

Last night was special, though, not only because I slept more soundly, but because the stars were out overhead, twinkling through the big palm tree above. My kids were less hyper about the idea of sleeping outside, so our conversation was calm and sweet. The Big Dipper was clear as could be. I have never seen this constellation before from California, thinking it could only be seen in the north. We even saw a couple shooting stars (or meteors? whatever.) streaming through the sky. It all felt magical, summer vacation at its best.

It has been a full week, much fuller than I would have expected. Summer break needs to be packed with good times and happy childhood memories. On the other hand, I also feel that endless play and fun for the kids (which, might I add, takes planning and work on my part) is not all that good either. We all need structure for the day, a plan to use our time productively. There are so many things I want my kids to learn in life, and if I am not careful to weave instruction and opportunity for character building into the day, I fear that the years will go by and my opportunity will be missed. I have been mom long enough to know that the things I want to do with my kids, the things I want to teach them, take much more time than expected and planned. In addition, the summer months are my opportunity to do the various projects that could not be tackled during the school year. Let me tell you that there are many such projects! Not only are there endless household projects, but I have desires to reach out to people and families beyond the walls of my home.

So, yes, the week has been full. I've had plans and objectives for each day. We have worked, we have learned, we have visited, and we have played.

(Jacob and Olivia have just woken up, their mattress has deflated, proving that my patch-up job using plumbing goo failed. Jacob's hair is huge, blocking my view of Olivia, but I can tell he is cupping her face and stroking her cheek to greet her good morning. How did I deserve such cuteness?)

I have entered the day searching sometimes, searching for purpose beyond my lists and plans. I have sat down with my Bible asking God for help and direction. My heart has been heavy with responsibility, a desire to go beyond the doing of good things to being what I ought to be. Plans fail, frustrations happen, disagreements and miscommunication are constant, the battle for souls rage. I need to be different in the midst of it all. I need to be firmly devoted to God, His Kingdom first in my mind.

And it is hard. I prayed for direction one morning, for help beyond the here and the now. And my Bible has stayed open on the counter or my desk with this passage for me to read and reread:

"Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!"
Ps. 105:1-2

Sometimes I need to hear the basics all over again. I have a feeling if I keep this verse as the foundational goal as I proceed through the day, everything else will fall into place. Give thanks, call on the Lord; talk about Him, sing to Him, recount His wondrous deeds.


The above was written this morning, before the day swept me away. It was a good day, swim lessons for the younger two here at our house, then afternoon play with a couple girl friends and their kids. With the house put back in order now and my Sunday prep near complete, I have a few minutes to add some of the week's pictures.

Tuesday lunch with Jon at our favorite local taco spot...

Swim. The back yard and pool are like extra rooms.

This girl is a non-stop swing builder!
This mom has to try them now and then...

One of the several projects I have in progress: Refinishing some old chairs for the school room. Jon is finishing up the wall-to-wall book shelves in that room and our goal is to have that space all set to go  by summer's end. The boys helped me sand and prep, and I primed one afternoon while watching the kids swim.

We've done yard work every day. We have trimmed and weeded, loaded cut branches, turned the soil for new seeds, and added some colorful plants. Our vegetable garden is starting to produce. So far we've had plenty of herbs, some sugar snap peas and a few tomatoes, and the first zucchinis and green peppers are nearly ready. There's some ugly empty area in one corner of our yard where we have some watermelon beginning to grow, and hopefully some butternut squash and pumpkin plants will be appearing soon. I figure these large creeping plants will fill the space better than dry emptiness, and it will be fun for my kids when they produce in their right seasons.

We also have a little out-building that has a shower and sauna, but it has been used as storage space since our move. We cleared it out, swept, and scrubbed it clean from ceiling to floor. Now it's ready for Jon to fix the plumbing and for me to paint. I've got plans for a fun shower curtain, hooks, and some storage baskets for towels and goggles/flippers. That space will be great when we come back from the beach: No more sandy bodies trotting through the house!

And when the work is finished, more swimming!

The kids and I took a walk on the pier to see the sun set before our first night of outdoor sleeping. The marine layer rolled in between the time it took to leave our house and get there, so there was no sun set to be seen. Still, it made a fun little outing.
Watching the surfers. My little boys are learning their stokes, hoping that some day I will let them out to surf with the big kids.
First night..
Jack was up early with me making pancakes.

Andrews mouth hurts, poor guy. He has a new orthodontic expander, the top one to be added this coming week. He's a trooper, and I know someday he'll be thankful we didn't let his crowed teeth come in through the roof of his mouth!
Morning time conversation...

We spent some time at the beach, too. I'm not typically one to draw attention to my feet, but I snapped a picture of the little anklet Olivia made us using a thin strand of seaweed.

Olivia moves up to the Jr./Sr. High group tomorrow. She is excited, and a tad bit nervous. I look at those high school boys and wonder how it can be she's in the same group now. They are good boys, but this mom is a tad bit nervous too. It just seems strange she would be with the teenagers now. She and I are going to have some pretty good conversations this summer, at least I hope they are conversation and not just one-way dialogue! Just one of the many important things on the to-do list of summer living...



  1. I am filled with joy as I look at these photos, and read about your family. Your home, with all it's projects, your location, with nature nearby, your sweet children, growing and learning all make me smile. And I agree 100% about the "basics." Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Laurie! It encourages me that you find joy in this little place. Thanks for your kind words.


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