For the Mom Who is Longing For a Rhythm to Receive the Ministry of Summer

I finish my spicy pickles, the juice now running unobstructed across my empty paper plate. I feel the breeze as I take a sip of my limoncello La Croix (best flavor ever). I put my bare feet up on the wicker loveseat, the full span of which I’ve claimed shamelessly, and take in the backyard, finally ready for summer. Damp towels line the railing of the deck. Crumbs from the breakfast my rising college sophomore grilled outside with his friends dot the table. The end of school is just two days away. Summer’s call is so close that my family can taste its reward for their diligence all these months.

Yet, I feel torn.

Summer’s arrival feuds with my routine, one that still follows the school year rhythm despite my freedom from its bells. With school-aged children, we swing from morning alarms and early bedtimes to requests for sleepovers and late-night pool parties, and I have a hard time catching up to the seasonal pendulum. It’s a joy to have them all home, but it’s hard to plan the real-life things that don’t stop when schools close their doors.

Said simply, I guess I feel torn between the unstructured and unstructured. Truthfully, I suppose I always have. Summer just exposes this struggle.

Summer brings an invitation that other seasons don’t. Remember those days of riding bikes with no hands and picking wildflowers by the road? Summer offers us that same slow healing now, here, in these very days, in these very weeks. Its arrival opens our calendars and creates space in our minds, stretching our view beyond the blinders of packed schedules. Our hearts find room to notice and linger. Our breath and pace slow as we inhale the sweeter air and taste its sticky fruit.

At the same time, the barrage of more laundry and the request for more snacks (oh, if you could hear the volume of my household when they’re all in the kitchen) feels like a quickening, not a slowing. The season of slowing also prompts a ramp-up. My heart rate increases as I stave off the demands of three boys (and their wonderful yet hungry friend groups) while wiggling around my deadlines.

On any given summer day, depending on the state of my house and my heart, I struggle to piece together a rhythm that honors the work and the musts while also balancing my desire to savor the playful popsicle days and soul-replenishing slowing. The absence of routine means figuring out when to play and when to work, and maybe also holding space to tend my soul along the way.

So, as we begin this season, I’m inviting you to join me in seeking the slowness of summer to experience its blessing. Let’s breathe it in together. This summer, may we give ourselves space to move fluidly between the work, the play, and the soul care. Some pauses may come naturally on some days and feel hard on others. Let’s press into and make space for each, knowing that God is in each of them, waiting to minister to us:

Mindful pauses for the work.

Natural windows of productivity tuck themselves inside the wax and wane of our summer days. In my own family, each stage has found a unique rhythm for the must’s. In the days of littles, my boys woke up fully embracing the new day before I’d finished my coffee, and those days begged for their own creativity to get the must’s accomplished, as three boys required my full attention for years. Naptime became an anchor for my to-do list. Yet now, as our fully teenagered house sleeps long in the mornings, the respite of naptime shifted to mornings (which is fine because I wake so much earlier these days. Which is not to say that I am old. Ahem.), and chores are shared so the fun can begin. Each stage brings its own intrinsic offering to get the must’s done while holding space for the rest of summer’s magic.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23 NLT).

Intentional pauses for the play.

Once the musts are slotted, our minds are freer to step into the serendipity of summer. Maybe summer bucket lists of family fun are your thing, and maybe they’re not. No matter your penchant for planning or not planning, the beauty of summer is that our schedules are open! Pool time berry picking, and downtown street fairs beckon. When my three were small, one of our favorite things was to choose one day a week to go on an adventure with my dear friend and her children (like the time my middle son hiked three miles in socks because he forgot his shoes). Now that our kids are older and we’re in a season where summer jobs and friends occupy greater slices of their days, we choose one night a week for a family golf outing or go to the taco place we all love. Simple family play time keeps us connected, one of summer’s most sacred offerings.

“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, NLT).

Sacred pauses for the soul.

We minister constantly to those around us, and we do that best when we first invite God to minister to us. So, in addition to holding space for the musts and play, we must also actively seek space for our souls. What would you cherish as a rhythm just for your soul this summer? What activity or place would serve as a “be still” moment to help you to meet God? Jesus always whispers to my spirit more powerfully in solitude, even if it’s just a quiet moment on my deck. What would your version of this sort of pause look like? Spend some time reflecting on what makes your heart come alive, and then be creative about making time once a week for whatever that is. This extra pause is where the restorative ministry of summer’s soul-mending takes root. Solitary pauses heal and restore us before the calendar begins filling again.

“And He said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest'” (Exodus 33:14, ESV).

We know that the magic of summer is found inside its moments of slowing down. Like a handful of wildflowers, we can fill our pockets with summer, taking in the delicate beauty that is all at once lovely and fleeting. Not only can we find its magic, but we can also hold space to create it. To discover the gifts that wait in summer’s slower pace and softer places, we can seek creative ways to enjoy our mindful work, preserve intentional play and embrace Jesus’ invitation to simply be. He is waiting to meet us in summer’s invitation – He is calling to our parched souls.

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah,” (Psalm 143:5-6 ESV).

Share this post:

Sign up for Family Life updates!

Get weekly updates from Family Christian on all things Family Life!

Additional Family Life Articles