Summer offers us a little more time, doesn't it? Time to focus on something other than daily homeschooling tasks, time to prepare for the upcoming school year, and hopefully, time to reflect on what brings us rest and refreshment.
I'm not so good at the rest and refreshment thing, but the past seven years have been the most difficult of my life, and I think I'm finally - finally - learning that rest and refreshment are a worthy pursuit.
These days, I'm planning my soul food. Planning, pursuing, going after it like a ravished traveler on a long and barren road. I just feel a little weatherbeaten, and I need long gulps of fresh air and words of life. Every day. Every darn day.
I know it's difficult to give yourself that license when there is just so much to DO, but mom, you are in this motherhood thing for the long haul and it's probably going to get harder before it gets easier. Pace yourself. Please.
There's that other thing that has tugged at me for years and years: that verse that tells us that God's yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I remember driving my big van somewhere by myself one summer afternoon, crying and begging God for a way out of this stunning sense of being overwhelmed all the time. Through my tears, I yelled out angrily, "This sure doesn't feel like an easy yoke! If this is a light burden, I must be the most pathetic woman in the world!"
It doesn't matter how many children I had at the time or whether I was in the throes of morning sickness yet again or if I was maintaining this site or whatever. Your life with fewer children or some in school or any number of variables can feel just as overwhelming to you and the yoke and burden can feel like a weight that's dragging you to the bottom of the ocean.
How do we get past this? Too often my solution was to put my hope in something I could do. If I only had the right schedule, terrifically trained children, household help. If only I could get a vacation for two straight weeks by myself in a completely quiet house with no need for food prep or clean up. If only.
But shifting my hope to something other than Jesus is never the answer, and after years - decades - of putting my hope in tools rather than the toolmaker, He pulled the rug out from underneath us and showed us that our pitiful attempts at saving ourselves were doing the opposite of what we had hoped: they brought bondage, burden, and a very, very heavy yoke.
In times of struggle, we need to take a hard look at the variables and ask ourselves if we can change anything.
Not because we think changing our circumstances is the ultimate answer, not because we're placing our hope in anything other than Jesus, but because simplifying and stopping to feed our soul opens us up to opportunity. Time and place and presence to just be with God in moments that are intentional and fuel us with living water.
Time + intentionality + rest. Don't put your hope in that formula, but use it as a tool to open yourself up to soul food from the only One who gives us everything we need.
How will you feed your soul this year?