Ahh, summer is such a carefree time, late nights, family vacations, fun in the sun, and outdoor activities! I am one that loves the long, dog days of summer! When I used to teach kindergarten, summer was the best because I was home with the kids and had the opportunity to start and finish projects that had long awaited my attention during the school year. Now that I work in ministry, summer is a juggling act. All of the fun stuff still happens in the summer at the same time I am trying to make plans for the upcoming year in ministry, while continuing to keep things running smoothly with weekly activities. I find myself coming and going, not really shining in either of my two worlds, work or family life. Summer happens in a blink of an eye. Just about the time I have soaked in some sun and escaped to enjoy my family vacation, it’s time to return to the fast track. Every year when school starts, I step on what I have termed as the “swirl and spin” of the school year. Each week starts and finishes at record speed. Finally Friday arrives and we are lured into thinking we are headed into the weekend where we can lay low and enjoy some down time, but these days not even the weekend is low key. There are activities, sport events, football games, and holidays that constantly keep us busy. Even when we intentionally try to scale back on the schedule, it is like swimming up stream. This is the culture in our society today! It’s go, go, go! The world screams that we must be productive, that we can’t possibly miss any “fun” activity that comes our way.
So how do we keep our focus on God when activities ramp up during the school year? How do we slow down and spend time with God, so that we can actually hear what it even is that He wants us to be doing with our time in this season of life? We can keep our focus on God in the swirl and spin of life when we implement these three key strategies. The first strategy is to daily be still with God. For me, it’s my quiet time, where I read God’s word, journal my thoughts, and spend some time praying and listening to God. Several years ago, I read this great book by Gordon McDonald, “Building below the Waterline.” In the book, Gordon outlines in one of his chapters, how we can journal with intention. Everyday, we can answer the following questions…What is the State of my Soul? What is a key scripture that speaks to me in my reading time? As I meditate on that verse, what is God saying to me personally? What are my attitudes, themes in life, thoughts, or concerns? At strategic points during the year, he takes a get way day and looks back to reflect with God on the things he has written in his journal that reveal what God is speaking to Him in each season of life. Several years back, I implemented this method and have found it to be a useful tool in evaluating what I need to focus on in each season of life.
The second strategy is to exercise and take good care of the body that God has given you. My favorite thing to do is to run or walk, especially outside if I can, so that I can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Some of my best “ah-ha moments” have happened to me while I am exercising. For some reason, my mind calms down and opens up to the possibilities in life. Finally, the third strategy to implement to avoid the swirl and spin is to “be in the moment” and count your blessings. It is so easy to get caught in all of the things that need to be done sometimes that we miss the moments that happen in our day-to-day life. When we stop to write down our gifts from God each day, it helps us to remember all of the everyday miracles and blessings. Then when we look back at all of the blessings, we can begin to see that God really is working all things together for good.
Next week, the school year begins again. It holds all of the anticipation, excitement, and unknowns about what is in store for the upcoming school year. My encouragement to you is that as you step on the fast track, you focus on God to guide your steps. Spend time with Him everyday, take time to care well for the body He has given you, and be in the moment so you don’t miss God’s blessings in your life! I am praying for you and for your families! Go and make it a GREAT Year!