Quite a few people have asked me over the last few months if we have any big plans for summer. I was sitting in a dentist’s chair last week and she asked me about summer plans, and when I said no, not really, she looked truly puzzled and like she maybe felt a little sorry for me. Any big summer plans? Fun trips scheduled? I had hoped to make a checklist on our kitchen chalkboard for our summer goals, but really we don’t have much on the agenda and I think that’s the point. I feel a bit small and a bit simple but these are our big summer plans: being home, watching things grow. Having time together. Swimming at my parent’s neighborhood pool or in a river nearby. Hiking, camping. Catching fireflies. Trying out the pop-up camper in our backyard, then taking it out on the road. Enjoying the afternoon storms. Watching tomatoes ripen on the vine, swiss chard push up from seed. Reading together. Yarn, pulling through fingers. Quieting. Regrouping for a new school year. Letting there be long stretches of unplanned day, enough time for some boredom even. Don’t such fascinating discoveries and creativities come out of a little boredom? Also, the not-as-fun essentials of some medical appointments for the kids, learning about some changes we will have to make in our schooling with phoebe, working on house projects that are neglected during the busyness of school.
A homeschooling family of six on one income makes for tight years (financially) especially with the special dietary and medical expenses we face. Truth is, we are happy to make the sacrifice to be together and enjoy these little years and raise our brood. It is the main reason I homeschool: time together. It is costly in the sense that we do have great limitations, but I do so hope and believe we can still make great memories together with our family even with our simple summer of no plans. (Of course, don’t misunderstand me. We are so imperfect and the proximity can often cause us to grate on one another.)
Brandon is working some Saturdays to help pay for the new AC unit we will have to soon buy, so it was a bit glum this weekend without him. Then he called on his way home Saturday and said he wanted to put up the pop-up camper and have the kids sleep in it for the first time. It was stormy and cool and the perfect evening to do so, and the kids had such a blast. I opted to sleep inside with baby wren which was a bit of a treat for me, too (a quiet house!)
I read the other day that the word Sabbath literally means “to stop,” and so we try to plan some time into our weekend where we cease. Where the work sits untended, the laundry stays in the basket and wrinkles, and we allow ourselves to just be. To rest and to even be a little bored and agitated with the slowness of the pace and “unproductivity” of the day. It reveals to me how much I mix my sense of accomplishment with my sense of worth, how much I need to produce in order to feel worthwhile. The permission to rest is so wise and kind of God, and I have to tell my soul and my God over and over in those moments of tension (when I fight rest) that He is our provider and the One who carries us, not our own work and effort. When we “sabbath,” or cease from working, we fast from reliance on our own strength + work. We remind our soul that we are dependent on a good and faithful Provider. We say to the world that our confidence comes from whose we are, not the work of our own hands. Maybe summer could be sort of like the sabbath of the seasons?
Anyway, I feel a bit ramble-y and scattered but hopefully you are encouraged, as I am, to rest a bit and enjoy the slow and even boring/mundane parts of summer instead of needing it to be big and flashy and busy. May you find in your limitations a wise and kind boundary set by your God. I have thought often of Psalm 16:6, which in my earlier meditations of it always seemed sweet to me when my boundaries/limits were easy. But it is a hard thing to thank God for (limits/boundaries) when they are difficult and truly limiting. It presses us to cast our eyes beyond what is temporal to the delightful inheritance that is being kept for us.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord,
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:5-8 esv
Ps. Refrigerator pickles recipe pictured above from Allison Little on Instagram, and they are truly the best pickles I’ve ever had.