Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go.
It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures.
We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family.
I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one of our summer adventures!
We enjoyed the outdoors and tried new adventures.
We savored lazy summer mornings.
My husband and I helped out my in-laws’ family restaurant; this took me back to our days of being engaged where we worked together.
We started a small group in our home for young adults. They keep us young and teach us a lot.
I served at our church youth camp and youth conference.
This summer was good for my soul. It was incredible for our family.
And now we say goodbye to summer.
School is back in session, and my full-time job outside our home begins again.
As I reflect on this season, I remember how opposite I felt when school let out a few months before. I was exhausted, burned-out, and lonely.
I went into the last school year with my own set of expectations; which is never a good idea. I had high hopes for myself and others. Most of which I didn’t even realize.
I thought because last year was my second year at the same job I’d have more things figured out, but I still had quite a bit of learning to do.
I expected my eighth-grader to have a smoother year than his past two in middle school. But, he had similar academic challenges and struggled with responsibility. I wasn’t prepared for his group of friends shrinking and seeing him on the outside of his friend group.
I was entirely caught off guard when my third grader, who never has a rough day at school, began having quite a few rough days at home. His time at home became filled with emotional outbursts, sadness, and anxiety. I couldn’t comprehend how our bright and sweet boy was growing sad and stressed.
I was ill-equipped to handle my daughter going into school crying because she didn’t like her hair, her uniform, or the fact that her best friend yesterday wasn’t speaking to her this week. She was in kindergarten.
Maybe it’s my age, perhaps its selective memory, but I don’t remember middle school, third grade, or kindergarten being this difficult! We did survive the 2018-19 school year, and all grew in many ways. But I welcomed summer break like never before.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1
There was also the challenge of carving out time with my husband amidst our opposite schedules. I had to accept the heartache of dwindling relationships with friends and family without understanding why.
What I did know was: I didn’t feel like I was enough, in any area of my life, and that felt awful!
It was at the end of “my rope” that God began to refresh me with His Word, with friendships that were growing, with sweet time early in the morning sitting at His feet.
And I mean early.
Groggily, I’d peek at my phone to check the time. Most mornings, I’d pray/beg the Lord to let me sleep a little longer. After tossing and turning I’d realize that wasn’t an option. I’d head out to the living room and find my cozy spot on the couch. I’d open my bible or devotion book and wait for the Lord to reveal something.
I’d long for Him to remind me:
· I am not alone.
· Your plans are good, even if I don’t feel like they are.
· I can keep going.
Most days throughout the past school year, I did start my day in my bible. I listened to worship music on my way to work. I enjoyed sweet conversations with my kids (most of the time). I was grateful for the many blessings in my life. But I still felt this heaviness and sadness that weighed me down. I became so physically exhausted; I ended up going to my doctor. I found out I have something wrong with my thyroid, nothing serious at this time, but it is something to watch.
I also realized I had something wrong, spiritually. I was going through the motions and not being filled with Jesus. I was trying, in my strength and my set of expectations to take care of everything/everyone in this season. I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.
I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.
I began changing my thinking and reminding myself:
o God is always with me, ‘I’m never alone. Deut 31:8
o I trust Your good plans for my family and me. Jer 29:11
o I don’t have to keep going in my strength; I can persevere with Jesus. Phil 4:13
I also began realizing Jesus wanted me to know Him as my friend. I sang many times in church, “I’m a friend of God.” I never fully grasped this. If I hadn’t felt so isolated this past year, I would’ve missed out on knowing my Savior in a new way.
There are times now when I’m hurt, upset, or scared that I stop and pray instead of picking up the phone to call a friend. God has also shown me the importance of having friends in my life to ask to pray and speak into my life.
He’s challenged me to make time for intentional moments with friends. I need to be surrounded by women who have the freedom to speak truth into my life during this season. Because of my busy schedule working full-time, I don’t have as many friendships as other seasons. But I do have deeper friendships during this season. One of the sweetest times since being back at work is the lunch breaks I’ve scheduled with friends. They have been life-giving to me. I’ve learned I’m not alone and to extend the benefit of the doubt; we are all walking through something.
One reason I felt so alone is that I was focusing on my difficulties and believing no-one else was struggling. That’s not true, this is a fallen world filled with broken people, and we all need Jesus.
I’ve sensed God refreshing me this summer. He is reviving me with His Word. Jesus has brought reconciliation to strained relationships, which are stronger than before. He is renewing my relationships with my kids and leading me as I meet them in their seasons. He’s restoring our marriage as we navigate this busy season. I feel like I’ve been through a renovation this past year. I see “new” rising in many areas of my life. Newness I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t walked a lonely road of being overwhelmed for a season.
Jesus continues to meet me in my expectations, emotions, stubbornness, and weaknesses. And He will meet you too. I’m thankful for this crazy, challenging, blessed life and the undeserving grace of Jesus that gets me through.