Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
1. Begin each day doing something you love.
Is it reading? Is it running or exercising? Is it painting or taking a walk with a friend? You are made to love certain things. Your Father designed you to see Him, experience Him, in ways no one else can. Beginning your day doing something you were made to love is looking for God. It's recognizing your identity as the clay of the Potter who has designed you.
Don't turn away from what you love, thinking what you love to do is unimportant or selfish to pursue. You are delighted in, and God delights in seeing His children find Him in the unique way He has gifted them to see and experience His presence.
2. Don't think about yourself so much.
With school over and a different kind of pace now being established, it is tempting to go into "control" mode and want to put the whole family on a schedule to reclaim some order you feel has been lost.
Control mode might look like this: Tell the kids they may not even think about exiting their rooms in the morning until they've made their beds (something that was never done during the school year, by the way). Make sure an hour or more of reading happens every day so all that hard-won literacy doesn't float out the window. Make every person, on the first day of vacation, go through their beloved stuffed animals and figure out which ones to part with--and while you're at it, get a garbage bag and get rid of all that extra stuff in their closet. . . (Not that this happened in my family, last week, at all.)
Structure is good. Discussing and setting up expectations for behavior and habits for the summer is good. (And I think reading and cleaning closets are always good!) But creating rules due to fear that long-stretched out blocks of time will create havoc instead of foster creativity is turning our back on a gift. Time away from schedule and routine can grant deeper rest, bring restoration and a whole lot of fun as we set out into the wide open unknown of a single day.
3. Celebrate the "I don't know what to do" comment
This is the comment parents hear a few times every ten minutes of the first day of summer vacation. Brainstorm with your kids all the possibilities of what to do with their day, but let them sit in the discomfort of wide open space and time. Don't give in. Don't try to fix the problem.
Revisit suggestion #1: Your children, just like you, are made to love to do certain things. Providing opportunities for your kids to discover what they love to do doesn't mean it is your job to figure out what those things are. Listen. Observe. Study. Notice what brings delight to their hearts. Pray. Help them notice what they love to do, too. But don't worry about not knowing for sure what they love. He does. And as we each follow Him, He is not going to hold back on revealing more of Himself in us, and in our kids.
4. Trust that God is here
Our Father, who adores us, is with us, right now. We don't have to wait for Him to show up in a certain situation. He is with us this summer vacation.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you (John 14:15-17).
Do you love Him? Do you see Him? This moment? . . He is in it.
Trust that God will show you more of Him as you seek Him. Trust that He will give you ears to hear Him. A mind open to Him, a heart soft and ready to receive Him. Ask that He pour Himself even more into you.
That's what I'm doing now. Listening. And He will help me see Him. And He will help me trust Him and obey.
I bet we can add to this post, girls. What are your ideas about ways to not get overwhelmed this summer? What are your thoughts on these ideas? What new ones can we add? Let's keep it going.