Summer has barely started and many of us are already worried that the hinges are going to fall right off of life in the coming days. You might be fighting a sense of panic as routines are shifting or even non-existent.
External transitions between seasons can create internal chaos.
Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and with the others in your family. After all, “God is merciful and gracious,” with us, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 86:15). Give yourselves some time to adjust, and to regroup when mistakes and missteps happen. For many of us, it will take a week or more to find a reasonable summer rhythm.
Let’s take our summer struggles, hopes, and expectations straight to the shoulders of the One who can carry them.
Romans 8:18, 24-27
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
To be sure, your situation with disability sets you up for certain challenges. The phrase “school’s out!” packs a whole lot more meaning for a family with disabilities than it does for an average family. Whatever the details of your life look like, don’t lose heart. Our Sovereign God has good and perfect gifts to give you and your family, no matter the season, and especially within your hearts.
First, you’ll need to recognize and admit you have needs and expectations related to summer.
How would you define “Satisfying Summer?”
Let me suggest you start here. Before the end of this first weekend (or two), sit down alone, with your spouse, or as a family, and put a couple of personal and family goals and expectations into perspective.
Write down one or two “MUST DO” action items that will virtually guarantee you some satisfaction with your summer, when all is said and done.
You might think about it this way: What do you and your family need most in order to achieve at least a “4 out of 5-star rating” on summer by the time September rolls around?
Example: If you ask my husband, he might say that taking at least one nap nearly every weekend could make it a 4-star summer for him!
Notice, he isn’t likely to say a nap every day or every weekend. He’s a pragmatic and undemanding man with a huge servant’s heart. It would be hard enough for him to ask for, let alone take, that much-needed time for a kind of rest that really does go a long way toward helping him regenerate. (I could use some naps too. But napping isn’t necessarily my premium soul fuel like it is for him.)
Announcement: You can’t do all the things. Our lists of ideas about what makes a great summer tend to grow rather than shrink as the weeks go by. We see ourselves getting further and further behind on some imagined checklist. Determine what matters most to your own family and give yourself a pep talk about sticking to that. Don’t succumb to the pressure of comparing your family activities and accomplishment or pacing to some other family’s life.
No matter what else happens, experiencing a certain degree of completeness in these very focused goal areas could make a significant difference in the quality of this season and your relationships. So, make sure you devote attention (mental and emotional energy) and intention (plans) that will move you toward these things.
Here’s a quick list of other foundational steps you can take to tap your family’s potential for a delightful summer:
- Make some fun memories by yourself, with your spouse, and with your family.
- Catch your kids having fun, practicing godly self-advocacy, and making efforts to cooperate with the family team. Cheer them on in these three areas that are so important in families impacted by disability.
- Hold plans loosely. Trust God will redeem, restore, or repurpose what unfolded differently.
- Be intentional and strategic about fueling your soul. You have God’s permission to set some reasonable and respectful boundaries.
- Keep re-aligning your mind and heart with the Holy Spirit. Both in short bursts and sometimes more leisurely rest points to slow down and look up.
- Pay attention to what fuels your spouse and children’s souls. Cooperate with their needs in supportive, godly ways.
- At the end of the summer — and every time you start getting discouraged about the way your summer is unfolding — review the “MUST DO” focus goals you listed in June. Praise God for progress and ask Him to help you regroup or reset if you’ve lost sight of His over-arching vision for you and your family.
Friends, a satisfying and God glorifying summer is possible! Our lives are stretched beyond belief, yet nothing is too complicated for God.
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver advocate and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Along with her husband Larry, Lisa co-founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit interdenominational organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa serves caregiving families as an ordained pastoral counselor and certified Christian temperament therapist with memberships in the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling and International Ministerial Fellowship. Lisa and Larry have three grown daughters. Their youngest, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome, lives at home with them in Minnesota.