What are all those summer lists doing to you?

You know it's not really even summer yet, technically. Right? We've been "done" with formal schooling for a month now so it seems like we had a jump on things and the ball should've been rolling, but I've done zero summering so far. I have lists ready and goals all set to go, but there have been a few major events that had to be taken care of first.

For instance, our daughter graduated from homeschool and we hosted a big party on her behalf. Cue all the sympathy, because 1) I'm done teaching my first child, 2) I'm peopled-out, and 3) I'm done teaching my first child.

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Of course I'm not really done—I have years of wisdom left to give her. And, truth be told, she's been mostly teaching herself for a few years now. But this milestone is an exhausting mix of we did it! and now what?  and did we do it right?  Add to that the fact that our home has been full of people for the last month and you get one exhausted little introvert.

All the goodness piles up and I'm buried somewhere deep.

So the summer lists have yet to be broached, the camping trip hasn't even been planned, and I know it's only the beginning of June but I also know that time can whip your neck right around and all you have is a reminiscing, a vague remembrance that it was summer once.

This is a year of milestones for our family, a year of setting up remembrances and looking back over all the goodness God has shown us. Our daughter turned 18 and graduated. I turned 40. Next week we'll celebrate 20 years of marriage. God is good to give us memory, and since there is so much I've forgotten I'm sure there's also so much I never noticed in the first place.

What did we do with the time? How do we notice the gift of years?

And then I see the lists. What to Read this Summer, What to Cook, Where to Go, What to Wear... I love the lists and I want to tackle the lists and I have lists of my own but really?

All the summer lists need to be a buffet, not a strict diet. We need help remembering and marking the milestones, but we can lose the Everest-sized expectations.

I can see that there are great things to do and read and eat. I can hope that summer is a time to gather in some of the goodness, but "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.” and yet, we're not.

We're busy and disappointed and hot, sweaty and sticky, and the summer lists might be making us grumpy.

Maybe you don't even get a change of pace for the summer. Maybe while everyone is talking about vacations and camps and school-free days with their kids, you're still plugging away like you were in November. Only it's hot.

Here's what we can do about summer lists, before the summer lists undo us. We can choose our own adventure. We can mark a milestone. We can remember all the goodness summer offers and plan for more, and we can relax in our present circumstances. If our eyes are open, we're not going to miss anything.

And if you still need a list to feel like you've accomplished "summer", here you go:

  • eat fresh strawberries (grow them, buy them, get them from your neighbor)
  • bring in fresh flowers (grow them, buy them, get them from your neighbor)
  • take a nap in the shade
  • open the windows early
  • barbecue your dinner
  • swim
  • read ONE good book

Not everyone is tackling lists this summer. All hands up for sampling the goodness of the season, no strings (or lists) attached.

 

 

 

 

This is a safe place for tension

It used to feel like all I needed from life was balance: enough of this and enough of that, and everything would work out fine. If I planned everything out just right and balanced the sleep and the work and the diet and the checkbook, things would magically fall into place and everyone would be happy—my ultimate goal. Can't everyone just be happy?

I never really found this mystical balanceI keep finding, instead, that there are seasons that are hard, seasons that are easier, and the best days are the ones in which you get a glimpse of what God's doing (always in hindsight). The best days are a mix of tension and grace, and you learn to pair up what's true with what's pure and lovely, to take them all together.

Tension is the pull between what I want and what I need (the two are usually different). Tension is the struggle between telling you what I think and seasoning my words with grace; between getting enough rest and shirking responsibility; between salad and french fries.

Tension is the riff amongst people who love each other but want different things. It forces us to work things out, to set ourselves aside, to see another point of view.

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We are in a child-raising season and we are realizing that wow, this is a long, hard task and tension is inevitable. We dig down deep into the dailyness of it and forget to come up, look around, look ahead. We forget to pace ourselves sometimes and we just plain burn out, and the only remedy I've found for that kind of parental weariness is light-heartedness, thanksgiving, and a realization that part of the tension is coming from our own growth, as parents.

All relationships require tension.

Think about everything easy and clean and harmonious but falling, nothing held tight. There are no decisions without tension, no music, no art, no satisfaction. There is no life without tension because the struggle to survive keeps us alive, Christ giving each breath and the need for air forcing our lungs open again.

In terms of relationships, a prolonged lack of tension might only be a putting-off, a sweeping under the rug, because you're a sinner and you live with sinners and you're raising them and working with them and loving them imperfectly, every day.

I'm not saying easy relationships are fake. I would say I have a pretty easy relationship with my husband, but just the other day he said  I like it when you disagree with me, because it helps me articulate what I really think. That's tension at its finest.

My thoughts trigger my flesh—that part of me fueled by rebellion against God and a desire to rule my own Self—and without any tension coming against me, I tend towards selfishness and a narcissism such as is common to man.

So praise the Lord for thoughts coming against my own, for counter-balance, for strife and conflict and the pull of someone else's needs combatting my own lethargic pull to the couch. Praise Him for giving us each our own minds and encouraging us to strive to be of one mind.

Tension holds us together.

It doesn't answer every tough question.

Believing that a little tension is ok reminds us that sometimes the hard questions are more important than the easy answers we want to throw down, so keep asking them. Keep pulling the string tight against easy faith, falling lightly, whispering ease and comfort. Pull everything up tight now and then and wonder about your own easy answers you give yourself. Maybe you hide tough issues all for the sake of harmony?

Let's not forget that love is safe enough to handle some conflict.

Let's not forget that conflict is what made Love available to us in the first place.

The life deep-down

Green is the color of poetic words about change and new life and growth. I always look forward to spring, but I'm learning to be poetic about the brown of winter, the blue of frost, the grey-for-days sky of mid-November. jacob-7

We rode our bikes through the forest yesterday - just my husband and I.  All the kids were at practices or watching games and it was just us, grey like the November coming but budding fresh green inside as we burned legs up the gravel road.

We fried muscle tissue we hadn't felt for awhile, muscles untouched by our regular runs or even the weight room. Muscles we forgot about.

The green of the forest was a surprise in this drought. We wait for rain and I wait for green again, for crunchy grass to resurrect; but in the forest the green holds, ferns verdant on the hill under the old trees and mossy infants holding tight.

The creek-bed was dry as dust but all that green - you know it means deep down, where roots reach for a hold, there is water. There is life. There is something to quench the bosky hillside and hold the green out for hope.

Lately I wonder about the future, about how my time will fill when the nest is empty and the hours must be redirected.

Deep-down-running, we have life beyond dry seasons and busy seasons and chase-the-kids-everywhere seasons. A married life, rich and rooted in deep wells, makes it through long summers, enjoys the greying, always proves the green of life.

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This post is part of Five Minute Friday, where we write freely for five on the given prompt. This week's prompt is GREEN.