3 Things for Mom to Seek Out this Summer

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3 Things for Mom to Seek Out this Summer

As I sit and watch the flurry of social media posts of moms sharing ideas for fun summer activities with their littles, I have to say I’m a bit jealous. I loved summers with my boys.  My calendar always had a smiley face on the last day of school and a “frownie” face on the day it started again.  Summer was special. But, this year my youngest is graduating from high school and my oldest just finished his junior year of college.  So, I’ve arrived at a point where I don’t have to plan for summers anymore – that time is behind me. And as much as I love the season I am in and see all the blessings that it brings, I will always miss that time.  And I will always remember that summer was a really important time that I used to slow down and reset.  The rhythm of the school year is relentless just by its very nature – there is nothing that we can do to change that.  We simply have to learn to manage that pace well and fiercely protect our families from the potential ill effects of it.  So, from very early in my boys’ lives I always knew that they needed summer to take some deep breaths.  And needed summer to take some deep breaths. So, I want to encourage you this summer to seek some important things inside yourself that I know helped me with that regeneration each year and I hope it will work for you, too. This summer I encourage you to seek the mundane.  We live in a world right now that consistently tells women that a quiet life is a meaningless life.   That instead you need a book, a blog, and a business if you want to find purpose.  And, of course, there is nothing wrong with any of those things – those are great things! But if a desire for a platform and a presence is driving you and defining you beyond the purpose right in front of you – your role as a mom – then I challenge you to rethink this pursuit. Culture keeps telling us to stand up and fight for our significance as women. To march, to rail against, to shout that we matter.  But I want to tell you that in the quiet steadiness of this mundane ministry of loving and raising your children, you will find the most significant thing you will ever do. Remember that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world, ladies.  You are raising citizens.  You are raising influencers.  You are raising leaders.  You are raising future husbands and wives and mothers and fathers.  You are raising people whose hearts will seek God’s heart and change the world because of that connection. You are already significant.  Even if no one ever talks about it on Facebook.  Even if no one outside your circle of friends knows your name.  You already matter.  You don’t need to shout. It is a monotonous routine of feeding, rocking, playing, training, napping, changing, and then feeding, rocking, playing, training, napping, and changing all over again and again – and then add to that for many of us, trying to manage a job.  Well, this monotonous life can be exhausting and blurry and it can feel unproductive.  A mom life is sometimes terribly inconvenient.  And very often sticky.  It’s not a glamourous life.  It’s a quiet life.  It’s often a hidden life.  But God sees the hidden even when the rest of the world does not.  And the work He does with quiet hidden lives has ripple effects farther than our eyes can see.  Senior year is coming for you. Know that along the way you will begin to see glimpses of this God-seeking, world-transforming human you are producing even when the pace of the progress toward this monumental accomplishment seems haltingly, frustratingly slow.  Trust how far His eye can see when your sight consistently fails you, and seek the mundane. There is magnificence in it. And this summer I encourage you to seek margin.  I think a lack of margin is one of the most insidiously harmful things facing families today because we seem to equate busyness with value and status.  We think busy people must be important people.  It’s easy to believe the lie that a full schedule and a hurried pace is an honorable pursuit.  But in reality, all that a consistently, endlessly busy schedule really does is rob us of white space in our calendars and in our minds and in our hearts.  Valuable, life-giving white space. In our roles as moms, margin allows us the mental capacity to be organized, to be pro-active, to be intentional, and to be prepared.  And I don’t know about you, but when I am organized, I am calm. When I feel prepared for what I know is ahead of me, my whole mood and my whole outlook changes.  And when I am prepared for what I do know is coming, I’m even a lot better mentally equipped to handle the surprises. Because life as a mom, as you know, is full of those.   If I’m scrambling and trying to play catch-up all the time, I’m stressed.  And when I’m stressed, I’m irritable and impatient.  Factors that obviously negatively affect my parenting.  The really good news is that margin is exceptionally effective in reducing stress! The other equally significant outcome of margin in my life as a mom is in the time it gives back to me – time that I can spend with my kids. One of the things I loved the most about summer when my kids were young was the time with them that I could steal back – time that their schooling robbed me of.  Because another lie that I refuse to believe is the lie of quality time.  I do not believe there is any such thing as quality time except that which is accidentally, miraculously caught in the midst of quantity. Significant relationships require significant amounts of time.  Time is how we show each other how much we mean to each other.  Our kids need as much of it as we can give them – this is how they will know how much we value them.  And there are huge dividends to that investment of time that will pay off later. I promise you it works this way. My kids still want to spend time with me now because I earned this privilege through time with them then. So, this summer, I hope you will seek margin – steal back as much white space as you can to give you peace, and calm, and time. And finally, this summer I encourage you to seek mystery.  Our culture tells us to shout our significance and to pack our schedules. And our culture tells us to reach for the stars, live our best life, and go for our dreams.  And, I would like to encourage you to do none of that.  I would like to encourage you – at least to consider it, at least for this summer – to stop dreaming.  I’ll pause for just a second so you can be aghast if you need to.  Here’s what I mean.  This idea of dreaming is pervasive in the culture of women.  It fits right into the ideas of “we have to be bigger, better, beyond” what we already are and that we have to muscle our way to the top of the value pile.  And unfortunately, it’s becoming pervasive even in the culture of Christian women – women who should already know exactly who defines their value! And while sometimes this encouragement to dream is in a perfectly reasonable context, more often than is healthy or helpful, all this dreaming ahead to the future is causing us to wish away the right now. And that’s tragic to me.  Because in the right now is where we are told to abide.  To abide with God and to be ok with the mystery of where He will take us. God – our infinite, all-knowing, faithful, intending only good for us, perfectly loving us God – knows where He will take us.  He knows how He made us and what He made us for.  And He knows the right timing for all of those gifts and exactly how He wants them to be used.  For our good and for His glory. His glory.  Not mine.  Because that’s the thing about my dreams.  More often than I would like to admit – In fact, most of the time, they are about my glory.  Not His. And what I think is good for me. Without much of a consideration of what He knows is good for me.  When I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn, I was in the midst of some big dreams.  I had just begun a doctoral program in education, and I had plans to go all the way to the top.  I was going to write books, write legislation, write grants, write curriculum, write my own press releases.  And they were going to be awesome! I was going to be somebody. And somehow, He spared me from myself. Because when I was willing to lay down the dreams of my own aims to be something and decided just to abide, He gave me everything instead.  He gave me a less distracted, more full life with my boys. He gave me friends who became my family. He gave me rooms full of moms to share my journey with. He knew all the things I couldn’t have found if I had only been looking at my future ahead.  He knew that I wouldn’t have found the things He had right in front of me throughout these years, the things in my right now. But mostly He gave me Himself – because in laying down my dreams for myself and seeking the mystery of where He wanted to take me, I got to abide with Him and learn to deeply trust Him – a heart response that has served me so well.  In abiding I got to stay one step right behind Him – moving only when He moved.  Only in the direction He moved in. And I ended up right “here.”  Using every gift I always knew He had given me.  Living out every passion He had ever put inside of me.  His intentions are good.  His timing is perfect.  So, all I really gave up was my own stubborn insistence on having it my way. And every day I still know I made the right choice.  Because I got His dreams for me instead.  And they were so much better. So, this summer I encourage you to seek mystery – be ok with not knowing, but fully trusting in,  oh the places you will go when you just abide. In the mundane I pray you will find the deep meaning your life already has. In margin I pray you will find a calm heart and a peaceful home and precious hours with your kids who are moving closer and closer to senior year. In mystery I pray you will find your security in His good and perfect plan for you and not in your own frail dreams. And after a summer of seeking, I pray you will return in August refreshed and ready to begin again.

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