Have you ever arrived to August, looked back at the rhythm of your days, and wondered, “What did I actually do this summer?”
When I look at that question I find myself shooting out some real, some impressive, and some sad answers: I slept in everyday I wasn’t working. I hosted a Bible study. I binge-watched Scandal. I swam. I wrote, but not as much as I wanted to.
When finals week approached me early last month, I knew one thing: I wanted to practice working without distractions and resting without shame.
I want to sit down at my writing chair when I’ve penciled it in on my calendar and leave my phone out of sight. I want to go to work and be fully present with the kiddos I have a chance to invest in. I want to prep for college in a less frantic way that my creative soul tends to allow. But I also want to CHILL OUT. I want to sit on the front porch and read, make time to pour into others, watch movies, and take the occasional afternoon nap without feeling this draining, heavy guilt over all the things I could be accomplishing. In summary? I want to do everything I must do with discipline and everything I have been dreaming of doing with persistence when it would be easier to just watch Netflix.
Balance is a tricky thing. There isn’t a secret to it. I won’t accomplish all my goals exactly as I first imagined. Honestly, I’m not interested in balance — I am interested in an abundant life. I know that I have to begin with some goals. At the cusp of summer, a good friend and I sat down with our planners, Bibles, and journals and went crazy. These goals are not meant to be written in stone, but rather to know the general direction of how I want to schedule my time and splurge with my fringe hours.
I am starting here. Join me?
When I get to August, what words do I want to describe these months?
You might be craving rest. As you proactively remember that your identity and victory is in Christ alone, you are able to breath afresh and go into Autumn energized. You might have had an amazing, refreshing spring and you need to go into summer being poured out through service. Your words might be: loved, laughter, joy, rich, light, dance, sunshine, thrive.
e x a m p l e :
My word is bloom. Bloom means “to flourish or thrive, to be in or achieve a state of healthful beauty and vigor, to glow with warmth.” I felt like it summed up so many of my dreams and plans: being confident in my writing not because of me, but because of Him, buying flowers, exercising and eating well, a face radiant because of time spent with God, growing right where I am.
I also considered playing with these phrases: invest, worship over worry, fly, building the kingdom, honesty, writing, freedom, praise hands.
What are your ideas that seem too big, too simple, too weird?
MAKE TIME FOR THEM. And not only time, but make the space to listen to those ideas. We often say no to dreams because they seem like too much work or we wonder what people might think — what would you do if you weren’t so afraid?
e x a m p l e :
I want to write a book proposal this summer. Every part of me was squirming in my seat as I wrote that down on my list of goals. Who am I to write a book? To actually be read by someone other than myself? I don’t know where to begin. But I ultimately knew that writing this book proposal has been something I know God is calling me to regardless of where it goes, something that has been increasingly stirring up in me since September of 2016, and that it was only fear keeping me from going after it.
Take your wild dreams and brainstorm attainable steps.
Once you have considered these wild, beautiful dreams that have been planted in your heart, you’ve got to create step one. Because as soon as you get discouraged, it is likely you will quit sooner if you haven’t broken this amazing thing down into daily habits or weekly ideals.
e x a m p l e :
- Writing a book proposal isn’t a simple task. Instead of focusing on everything that would entail, I scheduled writing times away from my house to (1) help me to keep that time sacred and (2) to get me away from the distractions of home where so many quicker projects are within my reach. This isn’t the only step that is necessary in order for me to reach my goal, but it was a significant step that helped me invest in my wild dream so that when the free time presents itself I don’t shrink in fear but walk forward with my plans.
- I want to live healthier this summer than I have the past few months. I have thought out exercises, wrote down the classes I want to attend, thanked God that avocados are good for the human body, and will allow for one ice cream sandwich or Dr. Pepper a week (basically, I’m keeping my eyes on foods that nourish and sizes that are reasonable, but will allow for a meal with queso because I’ve got to live my life).
Make it your own.
Make a fun bucket list of summer wishes. Ask someone (or many someones!) to keep you accountable. Make a hashtag. Create a playlist to play to keep you dancing and worshiping as you work.
e x a m p l e :
My hashtag is #summertobloom!
I have asked for prayer and accountability from brothers and sisters in Christ.
I have made a loose, fun bucket list, but I’m keeping it simple this year compared to ones in the past. The shorter the list, the more I am apt to really dig into what DID make the list.
I’m slowly but surely building playlists for running, writing, and riding in the car.
This is for you even if your schedule doesn’t change with the school year.
God designed this season, and I believe there is something new for you in it. I believe there is a reason it is light later in the evening, that you bump into new people in the community at the pool, that people are sitting outside instead of always being in. These beautiful little details of summer are opportunities, and they don’t go unseen. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box even though your schedule hasn’t given you the freedom to mix it up as naturally!
His plans are bigger and smaller and holier than our own. You can’t guarantee that your summer aim will be your summer understatement — it’s not a magic formula, it is a way to see the direction you’re heading. Midstream you might be led to take ten goals off of your list for one aim that will take more of your emotional and physical energy. We weren’t made to be productive machines, we are disciples walking in step with the Spirit.
God, keep us faithful in the little things, expectant for Your movements. We want to live these days You’ve given us on purpose — keep us disciplined, yet rested. Help us to be bold, to see mundane ways as opportunities for Your goodness to be shown. Keep us rejoicing in all things. And God, even if we reach the end of this summer and we are completely heartbroken and burnt out, but an abundance of Your glory spilled out along the way? That’s all we want. Just lead the way.
[P.S. Want to dig deeper into being intentional with your precious days this summer? Follow Jess Connolly and sign up for her newsletter to receive the Summer To Thrive guide! I have found her ideas SO helpful and life-giving in my own planning.]