Refocusing for Summer Rhythm 

It’s halfway through the year! With the changing of the seasons into summer I felt the need to open back up the Bible study I wrote,  “Refocused: fixing your eyes on Jesus for the year ahead.” 

In this post, I’ll share how the Lord has prompted me to Refocus and find the best summer rhythm for our family in these four areas:

God and Me

Marriage

Motherhood

Home

The study will help you focus on God’s best plan for you in the season ahead. You can get a copy here.


God and Me 

Come away with Me

My summers are always extremely different than the other three seasons of the year. Before I had kids I was a teacher and that meant long hours laying out by the pool during the summer. Then my kids were babies and toddlers, which meant chasing them around the pool. Now that my kids are independent swimmers it means laying by the side of the pool and jumping in for some fun periodically.

Summer is absolutely 100% my favorite season. As it was approaching I felt the Lord gently telling me it was the season for me to rest. To rest from so much blogging, so much social media, so much preparing messages to share with others. I felt his Holy jealousy for me luring me away for  intimacy just for him and I. Much like Israel in the book of Hosea, He wants more of us for just Himself, because He desires our hearts totally sold out for Him.

I felt His luring and followed.

““Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I jumped off social media for the last few weeks. This is the second summer in a row I’ve retreated to a quiet place. Last summer I practiced “Basking” in God’s presence and shying away from social media. 

So, for my summer rhythm with God, I’ve been stepping outside for some outloud prayer on my back porch in the early morning. 

I’ve been reading a paperback copy of The The Messsge Bible. 

I’m back in Genesis, reading my favorite story from the beginning. It’s so good! I bought this paperback copy so I could toss it in my pool bag when I’m headed out the door to the pool.

Marriage 

Finances

There’s nothing like being on the same page in marriage. One area that causes so much tension and conflict in many marriages is finances. Over ten years ago, Nick and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Unversity course at our church. It gave us a firm foundation for handling our finances and we started a journey to get out of debt. 

Fast forward ten years: when we went into full time ministry and our salary was reduced to half what we were currently making six years ago, we went into survival mode. It took a while, but we adjusted to our new income, and God is always so faithful to give us what we need, with extra blessings abounding.

A few months ago, we decided it was time to buckle down again and get serious about our student loan debt. Once again, the Lord has helped us get the “snowball” rolling pretty quickly. Plus it feels so good for us to be so motivated together as a couple in our finances. We just want to be faithful with His money. He’s shown himself so faithful to us.

Motherhood 

Fun.

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me that her word for the year was “fun.” Not super-spiritual, but don’t be fooled,  it’s in the Bible.

“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15 

The wisest man in the Bible, Solomon, wrote that near the end of his life. Mind you, he said it in the context of also honoring and obeying  the Lord. Good news, though – you can do both!

Our kids are ages 7 and 9 this summer, and we are having oh so much fun! I want them to remember their mom playing with them throughout their childhood, especially during summer. So I’ve been doing just that. Being off social media has helped me be present to seize the opportunity to do this and to make awesome memories with them in the month of June!

Home 

Cleaning one room a day 

In our summer rhythm with no homeschool (well a tiny bit of homeschool) we’ve been successful at cleaning one room a day. The first week of summer I had a scrubbed clean house by Sunday. It felt amazing. The kids have a checklist on a dry erase board in the kitchen to complete every morning. There is a “daily” chore and a “scrubby” or “room of the day chore”  so we are maintaining spaces but also getting one room scrubbed a day. This is huge for me. I have always struggled to keep house, but now that my kids are getting bigger I’m determined to break this cycle and the Lord is so good to help!

June Reflections 

God has been freeing me from being on a “Christian hamster wheel.” The world says, “what’s next,” go faster! Produce!

But Jesus says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 

So I’m practicing remaining. 

I challenge you to do the same the month of a July. Really practice Jesus’ presence. Give Him thanks for those around you. Enjoy their presence. Read his Word like it’s the newest love story. Pray like He’s your best friend.

Let Him set your summer rhythm.

-Amy


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All Good Things are WILD and FREE

It’s Sunday again, time to reflect and reset with intention for the week ahead.  I am so excited about what the Lord has shown me regarding this change he has been stirring in my heart and in my home.  More specifically, in my mothering and homeschooling.  It’s time for me to get a little more “granola” (as my sister in law put it). People, we are letting go of our to-do lists for the spring schooling semester and running

WILD and FREE!

  

Maybe it’s because it’s the anniversary week marking two years to the date we left for the wildest adventure of our lives, to Africa to adopt our daughter, Sharon.  I stepped on the airplane scared to death of what lay ahead, with our two little children by our side, going to a foreign third world country, half way around the globe.  (I had never been anywhere but the US and Canada).  What was supposed to be a six week journey turned into a three month roller coaster ride that left me holding on to the hem of Jesus’ robe one minute and basking in the wild emotions of throwing caution to the wind the next.  My husband and two biological kids left after a month and I stayed by myself for the last two months, waiting, praying and fighting through paperwork to bring her home.  All the while, loosing my life for the sake of the life God sent us there to save, while becoming what I refer to now as a

Jesus Hippie.

Everything was out of my control anyway.  The only way I could survive was to chill out,  and take our evening walks to the shack up the dusty orange dirt road for our evening coke and nuts. (And jump on the back of motorcycle taxis with no helmet for wild rides weaving in and out of traffic). Finally, when I came home, I was culture shocked once more.  The streets really did seem like gold, smooth and wide, instead of dirt and bumpy.  I’ve spent the last two years figuring out how to fit my new transformation of “Jesus Hippie” into my old life.

Homeschooling has been quite the challenge, especially this year.  Before all this Jesus hippie mentality, I was a teacher, many moons ago.  I know what is supposed to be learned in the local public school system in every grade.  My job was to remediate children and get them “back on grade level” as soon as possible.  So, praise God that he equipped me to adopt and homeschool a child who is “behind” from  being neglected, right?  Well, in some respects, yes.  At an intellectual level, it has benefited my daughter Sharon in many ways.  But on a heart level, not so much.  I have this festering urgency to get her reading and computing simple addition and subtraction before she graduates from kindergarten.  Unfortunately, this urgency has created what I call:

SCAREY MOM TEACHER MONSTER.  (Please don’t judge).

“Sit down!  I told you to do the next problem!   I’m trying to help Sharon!”

and my personal favorite:

“That’s it, I can’t take it!  You are going to school next year!!!”

So I finally have had several “come to Jesus” meetings, tearfully repenting and asking him what in the world to do.  Of course, he is faithful y’all.  Springing up all around me, and emerging through his Spirit in me is  this desire to throw our to do lists out the binders and go

WILD AND FREE!

I’ve been trying to do this structured teacher thing long enough, and it isn’t working.  I can’t wait to tell you how faithful God was the one day I put this to the test:

I told my oldest, Sam, about this new philosophy.  I told him I wasn’t going to be stressed to “get it all done.”  Instead, we were going to relax and enjoy the nice weather, be flexible, and just do a little schoolwork here and there.  And do you know what he did?  Before we left to go to the gym (so this momma whose husband has been out of town more days than in town this month and just needed a little break) he got out his workbooks and did two subjects!

So, we went to the gym and I felt rejuvenated and strong.  Sam needed to practice golf, so we went to the golf course, and this “wild and free,” “the world is your classroom,” philosophy became even more appealing. I sat back and ENJOYED these precious children. Sam soared with confidence as he practiced this gift God has given him, and the girls found a ladybug.  Sharon is still learning her environment here in America, and this experience was phenomenal for her.  She brought the ladybug home and talks to it like it is her baby. (She has given it an eight o’clock bedtime:).The girls ran all over the hills and climbed trees and did a photo shoot of one another!  It was magical.

 

 

 

We came home and had lunch.  When we were good and satisfied, each of them snuggled me one at a time and read to me while the others did their computer work or independent workbooks.  Sam was outside playing with his neighborhood friends by 3:30 when they got home from school.  Arabella, my middle child, was done with all her work and outside by 4:00.  Sharon worked very hard, with a good attitude.  She still had two subjects left at 4:30, but I could tell she needed a break.  I let her go on outside to play then, with a nudge from the Lord to let the checklist go.

We ended the school week with a smile, an awesome day, and most of our work done, praise Jesus!

And here comes the amazing part: On Saturday morning, with NO PROMPTING, Sharon opened her workbooks to do her last two subjects that she had not gotten around to the day before!  WILD AND FREE was working, and it was blowing my mind!

I started dreaming big about adventures to enjoy with my kids in the months to come, to really honor the Lord in discipling these precious souls in ways I have wanted to, but not gotten around to because of “the lists.”

Here are my discipling dreams/goals in the future months:

  1. Teach each of them how to keep a personal prayer journal, pouring out their hearts to the Lord everyday.
  2. Cultivate their God-given gifts.  Sam has been writing sermons and worship songs, and I want him to focus in on that.  The girls love to dance as worship, and to paint.  I want to enjoy these and encourage them to work on them.
  3. I want to teach Sam how to navigate his “big boy” bible and really start using it.

Here are my WILD AND FREE dreams/goals for the future months:

  1. I want to go outside with them everyday.
  2. I want to go before the Lord every morning, ask him for guidance with our schedule, and ask him to help us accomplish his plans for our day, not mine.  I want to nurture their hearts and their minds.
  3. I want to view the world as our classroom and let His Spirit interject the lessons he has for them to learn

And the fun one:  My dreams/goals for their life experiences the next few months:

  1. Go on walks in the woods behind our house, find and clear a hang out spot there.
  2. Get them some “hunting and trapping” equipment for catching tad poles and bugs.
  3. Just have fun with them!  Wild and free fun    

I am looking forward to this spring season with anticipation of what the Lord will do with this new outlook and homeschooling philosophy.

What does your Sunday Reset button look like this week?  Take time to reflect in prayer and ask God what he would have you do different.  His mercies are new every morning, but they feel especially new Monday mornings!!!

Live a REFOCUSED life for Life Himself!

Sunday night RESET button

There’s a place in my house where I stand around, a lot.  If you have kids you can probably guess where that is…yes, the kitchen.  Nobody ever told me how much kids eat.  They didn’t have to because I remember how much I ate too.  And I remember my mom always being in the kitchen.

What I don’t remember, is my mom standing around in the kitchen scrolling through her iPhone.  Oh wait, that’s because they didn’t have those back then!

You see, my guilty pleasure from all this hard, constant work in the kitchen are the few minutes in between tasks that I stand there, at my kitchen counter scrolling though my phone.  It’s mindless scrolling, really.  It isn’t for a purpose, and what I am looking at isn’t harmless, but really?  Standing at my counter, scrolling through a phone is not the life giving kind of thing I want to be spending minutes of my hours on earth doing.

Many moons ago, when I was in college training to be a teacher, I took this behavior management class.  And the thing I remember most about changing a person’s behavior was giving that person a REPLACEMENT behavior.  If you don’t replace the negative behavior (the one you want to get rid of) with a replacement behavior (a more positive behavior to replace the old one) then that person is not very likely to change at all.

So on this very ordinary eve of a new week in the wings, I present to you: My Sunday Night Reset:


I am committing to no more standing around scrolling.  I have this box of lots of index cards with scripture written on them that I have placed on my counter.  This week I am going to be spending time grabbing these cards and reviewing these verses instead of moving my finger along the screen of that phone.

I am just wondering, what is an area in your life you would like to hit the “Reset” button on this week?

Does anyone else find themselves scrolling mindlessly through their phone and want to stop?  What replacement behavior would work for you?

His mercies are new every morning!  But they especially feel new on Mondays 🙂

I am looking forward to jumping into John Chapter 5 tomorrow.  I hope you are too!