FreerangeFriday: Intentional Summer

by Lilly Lewin
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By Lilly Lewin

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 THE MESSAGE

Depending upon where you live, School has been out for over a month, or if you are in the UK you are just ending classes. In many places in the USA, school just got out in mid June. Regardless of when your summer began, you can consider what you want the next few weeks to look like and feel like.

What will you need to do to actually feel refreshed by September,
rather than more used up or burned out?

What do you need this summer? As a family? As a person? It seems “life after Covid” got really hectic again, and after being on hold for months, we all have jumped back into “reality” in full force.

What if we all just need to stop and take a breath?

Having a Summer that heals will take being intentional.
To be intentional is to think ahead.
To actually take the time to consider what you might want the summer to look like.
So, before we rush in and fill up the calendar with more and more activities ask:

What do you really need? What do you really want this summer to be?

What do you need as a family, and as a person?
Do you need more fun? Do you need to remember how to play, or do you need to plan time to rest; time for exploring and adventure; time in nature?
Or maybe you need less social media, or less streaming; less complaining; more time with friends;
Or more music, art, or exercise that is fun?
Just not more work!

How to Start:
1. Take the time to pray and think about this on your own.
2. Then talk with your partner or a friend for perspective.
3. Take time to consider what you want for your summer as a couple or as a family. Then have a meeting with your whole household, let your kids get involved in the process and ultimately in the planning of the summer ahead.
You might have everyone write down how they are feeling. Are they feeling excited about the weeks ahead? Are they feeling exhausted after the school year or the last few months of work/activities? Talk about where y’all really are.

Then ask the fun questions….
What would help you enjoy this summer more?
What things have you dreamed about having time to do but you haven’t had the chance?
You might need more than one time of sharing/planning. Give people time to think about their summer to look like, feel like, and what they don’t want too!
Share three to five things that you’d really like to do this summer… heck you can even have examples in photos you print out for visual learners!
Everything from sleeping late, to movie nights, to making s’mores, or playing mini golf, hiking in the woods, no phone nights, silent Saturdays, making cookies on a regular basis or playing a board game.
It could be baseball, or actually going to a special concert, or film. Each person will have a different list…Could everyone have a chance to experience what fun and refreshment means to them?

Here are some ideas:

Picnic Practice….my friend Anya Almgren plans a picnic each week. She does this on her own, but you could do this with your family, your partner, even with other families or friends. Pick a different park or place to go each week this summer. You can get everyone involved in the packing of the lunch or dinner or plan a different place to pick up carryout according to your time, energy and budget.
Let kids pick the food …have serval places in mind and a back up plan in case of rain. Indoor picnics can be fun too! Consider all the conversations that Jesus had around tables and along the way…so picnics!

Praying the Neighborhood: Be intentional about walking your dog. One of my spiritual practices is to pray for my neighbors and neighborhood as I walk my dog each day. Notice what’s going on, say hello to neighbors you see. Introduce yourself if you don’t know the people you meet. Ask Jesus to show you the needs around you. A deeper practice might include making cookies, or muffins for your neighbors as a way to begin to get to know them. You cannot love your neighbor well if you don’t really know them!

Wonder Walks…Christine Sine has a practice of doing a wonder walk everyday. She allows Jesus to surprise her with sights and sounds, the beauty along the way. What do you notice as you take a walk? Think about all the senses. What are the colors that spark your attention? What are the sounds you hear? The wind always reminds me of the Holy Spirit. I ask Jesus to fill me with more of His spirit as I walk. Take time to notice the flowers, birds, trees, even weeds can be beautiful. A deeper dive might be to learn about the kinds of flowers, birds, etc that grow around your neighborhood or to plant something and watch it grow. Gardening is a great spiritual practice! And something that can be done with all ages. Watch the sunset, sunrise or gaze at the stars together and talk about the wonder of God’s creation!

Family Field Trips:
Learn the history of faith in your town. Visit the oldest church or a church that worships in a different flavor than your tradition.
Do a food pilgrimage…Eat a different restaurant experiencing the food of different cultures. You might choose several over the course of the summer.
Go to an Art Museum: Let everyone choose their favorite painting or work of art and talk about it.

Create a Rest Space at home: Set aside an evening or afternoon each week to be “phone/device free” . Plan ahead and create a comfortable space where everyone can rest, read, play quietly. Talk about it before and after to so each person knows what to expect. You might start with 15 or 30 minutes of quiet and then build it into an hour or two to an entire evening or afternoon. What do you notice?
Allow this to be a time of refreshment.

Enjoy your summer! Let Jesus teach you his unforced rhythms of grace!

“We must believe we are worthy of rest. We don’t have to earn it. It is our birthright. It is one of our most ancient and primal needs.” Rev. Tricia Hersey The Nap Minister in Rest is Resistance

There is nothing more important than what we are attending to.
There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away to.
We Wait on you Lord God.
Your time is the right time.
We wait for You to make Your word clear to us.
We know that in time
and in the spirit of deep listening
and in quiet stillness
Your way will be clear. AMEN ( based on a prayer by Thomas Merton)

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If you need help being more intentional this summer, you can kick start your practices by downloading THE GIFT of SACRED SUMMER . Includes practices that take five minutes and deep dives too…Gift of Silence, Rest, Play, Etc. For Individuals, family and small groups as well as a church kit here.

Maybe you need to take a break from normal life and refill your cup with the wonder of God. Join me on pilgrimage to Iona. THIS August 28-Sept. 4th. Finding Your Thinplace Retreat Pilgrimage.

First Posted on Youthfront Family Blog

©lillylewin and

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