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Have you felt the Mom-pressure to structure your children’s summer so greatly that you end up feeling ragged come September?

If you work full-time, are you tempted to cram in everything-under-the-sun while you’re on vacation only to return to work completely exhausted?

Recently, I read an online article singing the praises of an unstructured summer.  Throw out the ‘Bucket List’ and allow your children to run free, as free as the wind blows!  This was so appealing to me that I saved the story and returned to it time and again in preparation for summer.

Once school was done for the year, my plan to ‘throw out the Bucket List’ was enacted.  On the first day that we were all home together as a family, it began well.  A little sleeping in, a little lingering over coffee…we had the whole day ahead of us to do whatever, whenever.

Yeah, well, shortly following that picture-perfect summer start, the zombie-screen faces emerged.  Regardless of where the phones are hidden, they find them.  One child turned on the TV (First thing in the morning!  Without permission!) and started zoning out.  Another began yelling and the bickering ensued.  Wait, what?  THIS was not part of the beautiful unstructured summer I was going for!  By the time my husband returned from work that day, I had constructed a list of vacation spots that I would be visiting ALONE this summer.  Definitely not what I had originally pictured in my mind.

Would our entire summer be filled with bickering kids and an aggravated mother, busily devising escape plans?  This sounded worse than being cooped up during the winter.  I knew I needed to seek the Lord’s wisdom for our situation.  

When things seem upside-down at your house, or maybe you feel ‘off’ or always-irritated, do you continue on or do you seek the Lord?  It amazes me how He provides answers during quiet times of prayer, while reading in Scripture, in listening to a sermon, or through a friend’s thoughtful words.  We must humble ourselves to hear the Lord, though, because otherwise we will be too busy looking around for others to blame for our frustrations and our burdens.

God showed me that I was being really self-centered.  I’m sure you already figured that out as it’s easy to have crystal-clear vision when you’re on the outside looking in.  But, when you’re in the thick of a problem, your eyesight gets pretty fogged up.  In my quest for the perfect unstructured summer, I was making my family miserable.  It isn’t a busy schedule, or an unstructured schedule, that is the answer to a glorious summer.  So, what is?…because I want one!

Since this particular summer has just begun, I’m not sure how it will turn out.  But, I do know that if I believe, and obey, this exhortation in Ephesians, that abundant and eternal fruit will result:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit

— Ephesians 5: 18

And what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?  What will that look like in our lives?  In our homes?  On the job?

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

— Ephesians 5: 16, 22-23

This summer (and every day) we must put aside our selfish desires and agendas.  In emptying ourselves, we may then be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.  Instead of a quick-temper, He gives me His long-temper (longsuffering, patience).  Instead of a sharp tongue, He empowers me to answer with a kind and gentle word.  

While an unstructured summer still sounds like fun to me (we just need to figure out how that looks for our family), a Holy-Spirit filled summer sounds even better.  And a Holy-Spirit life is even better yet.  

Would you seek the Lord each day with me and see how, through His great power, you can…

love with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love,
have joy in the midst of suffering,
be filled with peace that passes all understanding,
suffer long with others,
show kindness in words and actions,
be good to all,
be faithful to the Lord and others,
have gentleness, and
exercise self-control in all areas of life.

Happy Summer!  Love, Wendy






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