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.

16 thoughts on “Summer Reflections

  1. Wow, Kari, it's great to see that you learned so much – and I loved the lessons you learned! Especially the first two – I think a lot of disciplined people have a hard time learning those lessons. And they're so important. I've seen a lot of moms who never learn your second point and then when their kids go to college, they don't know how to manage their own lives. Don't you just love summer? My two college kids just went back to school last week – I miss them already.

    • One of the main goals of parenting is to teach our kids to be adults who can make good decisions. It's also one of the hardest jobs because we want to protect them too. But, protecting too much is a detriment, and if we think of everything we do as parents in terms of how it will affect them as grown children, I think that gives a balanced perspective. That is, if we balance it with enjoying them at every age too. Yes, I love summer! My boys go back to school next week. I love the school year too. Both bring much-needed changes in routines.

      • I think I have over the years not done enough letting go. I enjoy doing for others and that includes my kids more than anyone. I know it is so important to not fish for them but to teach them to be fishermen. Something I must still work on. I could do so much better at this. I think if I would consider my hands tied behind my back whenever I have a chance to help my kids it would be good. That way I would be more about instructing them how to do it; watching them do it and there to help over the rough spots.

        • That's a terrific way to put it. Having our hands tied but being available for advice. I also have felt lately that I need to be better at listening and do more of that than speaking. I think our kids need to process their thoughts too, and that means I have to be a better listener. (Slow to speak, quick to listen.)

  2. I think how we model our beliefs really does the teaching for us. We can say all we want about different things but it is how you respond to life that they watch and learn and hold on too. I think that training occurs as you come along side them and help them through life’s struggles and they along side you watching how you handle issues. Their trust for God grows as they see you trust. My parents kept things from me… mostly the hardships and the ugly. I think it would have helped me to have been trusted with whatever they were going through. We have got to be willing to be vulnerable in front of our kids; to trust them with your take on life as you struggle through it. To shield them from the bad and the ugly just makes it tough on them some day to deal with it. They also do not get to see the richness of your soul unless you bare it to them…
    I am sure they are learning from you Kari.

    • Being vulnerable in front of our kids as well as in front of others (such as our Christian family) is how the body of Christ is supposed to function. Both struggles and victories are shared by the body, no matter how much we try to act like parts that can exist individually. I think we forget that our kids are a part of the same body of Christ that we are. The more real that becomes to me, the more I am aware of my impact on them even beyond being their mom.

  3. I am already an emptynester, but the grandchildren and neighbor kids will be in school soon. I know from experience my daughter and grandchildren learned more from how I have overcome things in life than all my words. It is true that our actions speak very loudly, with family and in the world.

    Thanks Kari for sharing your life, your struggles, your victories, and to your family thanks for sharing you with all of us! ENjoy this last week before life changes again! hope you had a good birthday.

    • As I just said to Mark, slow to speak and quick to listen. Then, let my actions to more of the speaking than my mouth. I did have a good birthday. Kind of a rough start, but it all worked out okay!

      • I echo Mary's "thanks to your family for sharing you" When my son was in the ARMY it was as if we all were in a sense… as families what one does effects the others and when you say thanks to one then you are really thanking them all for all are part of the one.

        • This is actually kind of an unfamiliar concept for me in that I am not really attached to my family (the one I grew up with), except for my mom. But, I have been determined to make that be different for my own family, and your comments show me that this is happening. In other words, the legacy is changing for the better. My husband and kids really do play a HUGE rule in who I am and what I do, and I am also so very thankful for that! This was an unexpected blessing today. Thank you!

  4. Great post Kari! I always say that God gave me my 3 children with the exact personalities that they have so that God would humble me and help me grow into a better Christ follower. I certainly have learned a lot about myself through my children, as they have taught me what it really means to have (or not have) the Fruits of the Spirit evident in my life. I too have always thought of Proverbs 22:6 as the same way you have. Until reading your post today. It's great to read a scripture for the millionth time and then get a new revelation. Thanks again for a great post!

    • I'm not saying that people HAVE to have children (in fact, many who do should not), but I do believe that having children allows us to see more of God's truths than we would otherwise. I more fully understand His love, forgiveness grace and mercy because of how I give those to my children. The more my kids grow, and especially now that they are nearing adulthood, I realize how much my example of following Christ impacts them. My character is so much more important than the words I say, and this helps keep me motivated toward continued becoming more and more like Christ every day.

    • Point #2 is very difficult for me, and I fail a lot at it. I am once again realizing the power of small changes made over time adding up to a big difference. So glad you are aware of this so much earlier than I was with my boys.

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