Summer Reflections

Seems like my boys got out of school just yesterday. While it went so very fast, we had a great summer!

When asked recently if they were bored and ready to go back to school, both my boys quickly said, “No!” When I asked them why, they began talking about their memories from this summer.

They remembered Bible camp, art classes and road trips. They remembered making extra money working for others and hanging out with friends. They talked about exercising together, swimming, camping, our family reunion, our garden, and going to the library and garage sales. They loved PF Chang’s (see picture), hot dog Mondays (you’d be amazed at what tastes good on a hot dog) and eating at Weenie King.

I’m glad they have those memories. But what’s even more important is that someday they understand that through them while these memories were being created, I learned several significant lessons.

What did my boys teach me this summer?

  1. Just enough sometimes is okay. At the beginning of summer, I decided to do just the bare minimum with blogging and other projects. This approach allowed for more time with my boys. Doing just enough in one area allowed me to do more than enough in another.
  2. Responsibility sometimes means losing control. With my youngest entering middle school this year, we focused more on teaching responsibility. Through some tough days, I learned that I needed to give up controlling them in order for them to truly learn responsibility.
  3. Interaction forces application. During the school year, most of my days are spent alone. Summertime means being with my boys most of the time. All that I read, study and learn during my alone times are forced into application. Patience. Flexibility. Compromise. Preferring. Time to apply and prove my own learning completed during the school year.
  4. The best memories exist in ordinary moments. Sure, we had out-of-the-ordinary moments this summer, but the moments that resonate the most are ones made during ordinary living. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Exercising. Practicing sports. Reading. Gardening. Yard work. When my boys were learning to be men, these are the memories that I treasure most in my heart.

Is all of this part of “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6)? Before now, this scripture meant teaching scripture and the importance of spending time with God and His Word. It also meant teaching the value of prayer and fellowship. And while all of these are true, I realize now that my view of this scripture has been limited.

Now I see that training a child “in the way that he should go” also means showing how Jesus impacts my life. It means making sure they know He truly directs my steps. It means that though my imperfections often shine all too clearly, His forgiveness and grace constantly shine in my weaknesses.

Someday, when my boys remember our summers together, I want them to know that in their summer memories, live lessons God taught me through them. I want them to understand the Holy Spirit’s working in my life, so they can know how He wants to work in their lives too.

Weekend Reflections – Making Memories

Up until this past weekend, my family and I have gone camping with other families when we go. This time, though, it was just the four of us. My boys were forced to redefine what camping meant to them. Before, camping meant spending time with friends generally their age. It meant more than being just with the people with whom they live and spend their daily lives.

When they found out this trip would be “just the four of us,” both boys seemed at a loss of what we would do to fill the time. In other words, they were certain it would be boring. When I saw their disappointment and the anticipation and excitement drain from their eyes, a determination rose up in me to show them how to choose to make a disappointing situation become a memorable experience.

Sugar

I don’t like it. I don’t eat much of it usually. Yet, so many of life’s pleasures have it. At some point, I simply came to terms with the idea that letting my kids have s’mores with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and chewy chocolate chip cookies wasn’t being a bad mom. It’s creating a memory that will span generations. Besides, it’s not like we have them for breakfast. (Okay, maybe cookies once, but that’s it.) The point is that having treats like this goes a long way in making the trip memorable for my family simply because it was special and not something they normally get.

Fire

Making popcorn over a campfire in a coffee can. Cooking almost all our meals over the fire. Watching things melt. Yes, we probably sometimes broke the rule to not play with fire, but at least it was contained. All campers are captivated by this element around which all campsites center. As we sat there at various times during the day and every evening, we constantly ended up“fanning the flames” of connection in our family in some way. (Check out 1 Timothy 1:3-7 for added emphasis on the importance of family connection.)We remembered a lot of fun times, we joked, we talked about when my husband and I were kids, and we even talked about books and movies. And at some point we got to words that might not have ever been said in the company of others or even at the dinner table at home. Family words spoken in the dark as we watched the fire.

Movement

We spent a lot of time just sitting and relaxing or reading, but a large part of this trip was about activity. Most of this activity necessitated family interaction. Corn hole. Bike rides. Walks. Swimming. We competed with each other, and we even trash talked some. Movement together as a family leads to compromise, conflict resolution, preferring and encouraging. At home, we can find separate corners of the house when irritations arise. While camping, there’s no real getting away from one another. Camping can promote much-needed interaction as a family, especially in the absence of electronics (which I highly recommend, by the way).

Disappointing to Memorable

Seems silly to bring sugar, fire and movement together in a post reflecting on my weekend, but as I think about this past weekend and what we did to create memories, I realize that these three elements really came together to allow us to be fully present as individuals in a family unit. They helped create an atmosphere that allowed each one of us to enjoy every moment together.

Which brings me full circle to turning disappointing into memorable. The elements that seem essential for that recipe include being fully present, doing something special, creating the right atmosphere, moving together and preferring one another. Sure, there are tons of ways to create memories as a family, but don’t they all really contain the same ingredients? What ingredients am I missing?

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