A big thank you to Emily Freeman for inspiring me to write about what I learned this summer. She is one of my favorite authors, a truly authentic and deep person, and a member of the writing group I am a part of.
I have to say that despite some terribly difficult circumstances, this has been one of the best summers of my life. This is monumental because not only do I continue to struggle deeply with my health, I am still fighting for the custody of my children…and nothing is moving forward in either situation. Yet I can truly say that this summer has been full of learning, growth, and joy.
In keeping with my promise of honesty here, parts of this summer have been awful and I’ve had a lot of depression and times of despair. There is no such thing as a perfect life, no matter how it looks on social media.
Here are some snippets of what I learned this summer.
At the beginning of the summer I took away most technology from my kids. No tablets, no ipods, limited tv and wii time. I just knew that we would have better quality time without the distraction of technology. I tried to limit my own use of it as well, because it is an area of struggle for me. I definitely could spend much more face to face time with my kids. I’ve been highly inspired by Rachel over at Hands Free Mama. However, I tend to go from one extreme to the next…all or nothing. My kids missed taking pictures to post on Instagram. They missed competing with each other on games. Mostly, I realized that sometimes my quiet time is playing calming games on my phone or doing crossword puzzles. Why then would I take away calming or educational activities from them? Instead I am working to find a balance.
Given the name of my blog, I am obviously a huge fan of living the small moments. This summer I practiced even more intentional small moment living. The girls are growing up too quickly. This year I’ve noticed little fingers and toes that are still small. Last remnants of baby fat. Questions that are becoming more detailed requiring deeper answers, and pre-teen emotions. I’ve watched them learn to swim and become more imaginative in their play. I’ve paid attention to the sky, cloud patterns, hot summer evening sunsets, storms rolling in and out. I’ve laid in bed and listened to rain and thunderstorms. After moving to a top floor apartment, I have taken time to enjoy coffee and a book on the deck.
Rest is something that I’ve had to work on since I had a series of strokes in the summer of 2012. I regained strength over the next two years, and then was hospitalized with a severe, nearly fatal infection, in October of 2015. I had to learn to rest all over again. This summer I started to practice the spiritual discipline of rest. I used to feel incredibly guilty for what I considered to be laziness. Practicing restfulness and giving myself space to heal physically and mentally is my most important act of self care. I still am tempted to always be doing something, but I have been telling myself it is okay to relax.
Church has never been a particular interest of mine. God is in me and all around me, and I always felt confined within church buildings; held in by rules and expectations. After 2 1/2 years of nudging, I gave in to a neighbor’s request to attend a church he leads in his family’s apartment. The church serves the international community of the colleges in our city and God is doing mighty things in this group. The sense of community, intimacy, and discipleship is more than I ever could have imagined. I didn’t realize until I began attending that God desires me to be around others as we serve Him together.
What have you learned this summer? I plan to expand on these topics over the fall, and I would love for you to join me!