Monday, July 15, 2013

SAVING SUMMER: Regrouping

God is not a God of disorder but a God of peace...
~ 1 Corinthians 14:33, NOG ~ 

Chaos.  This overwhelming feeling of disorganization and lack of structure can definitely tip our scales in the direction of stress.  Summer is a break from the structure and relative predictability of the school year.  Yet, it can feel like so much more.  Too often it can feel like we are driving at 100 miles per hour with no windshield, repeatedly lifting our hands and arms to deflect what comes flying at us.

Many families are blessed to have good structure around their ESY (Extended School Year), great caregivers and respite, or fabulous inclusion programs to plug into for a Summer rhythm that is all its own.  Some of our kids with chronic challenges can avail themselves of team sports or ongoing day camps that provide some stability to the Summer months.

Yet, so many of us are afraid to confess the months that are typically the best time of year for the rest of the world, are really the most difficult for us.  When our caregiver is off some weeks on vacation or not as available in the Summer, it can make juggling our entire family blindingly chaotic.  When we are running for camp or sports check ups in addition to regular treatment, it stirs up the emotions we feel towards our child's diagnosis.  When those necessary surgeries are scheduled so our children don't miss any school days, those weeks are focused on little else than recovery.  When the temperature, the food, the activities, and the company are all different than usual, it can most certainly contribute to agitating our children, sometimes even subtly. 

With this discouragement smacking us down during a season that is delightful to others by contrast, it is easy to lose sight of who we are as people, what defines us, where we are headed, and to whom we belong.  That loss of grounding, of identity, can only add to our overall sense of overwhelm.  That is why it is essential that we take another important step in saving our Summer -- regrouping.
  
Here are some ways we parents might take a deep breath, "pull the car over to the side of the road" for a bit, and reexamine where we're going so that the remainder of the Summer ends up being fruitful:
  1. Keep getting up as early as you would for the school year.  While not all of us are morning people, this will afford you some quiet time before the demands of your day kick in.
  2. Get some exercise outside to clear your head.  Perhaps with those moments you have in the morning, you might go for a walk, ride a bike or go swimming.  Study after study shows the benefits of physical exercise, not only physically, but mentally as well.
  3. Do some personal writing.  Take some time to examine what your greatest hopes are for your child.  Think about what defines you personally and as a family.  Ponder how the remainder of this Summer might fit into those goals and what is important to you.  If things are not going so well during these months, try to gain perspective by realizing this is only a small part of the big picture.  Years from now, you will likely be able to look back on these days and say, "I can't believe God got us through that!"
  4. Read God's word and pray.  When the kids are home and the pressure is turned up, this may mean that you have to read and pray in "bite-sized pieces."  A brief devotional reading every day is enough to keep you connected to your Creator.  The benefit in this is that you will keep your ear trained on hearing his voice, and you will more easily be able to remember who you are in Christ.  Knowing His promises, His love and how He provides for us is tremendous comfort to calm us in life's stressful seasons.
  5. Decide what you will do to make the most of the time that remains.  The school supplies are already on the store shelves for this next school year.  There is still time left to create some memorable moments as a family.  Get your calendar out now and pick some specific dates to do some specific things you cherish.  Whether it be a craft project, a visit to a special place or even enjoying a favorite food together, be sure to leave this Summer with some fond treasures that you can look back on in the years ahead.
Summer may not be perfect in our world, but it can still be redeemed.  When we are able to regroup, we can breathe a sigh of relief and redefine what a good Summer looks like for ourselves and those we love.

PRAY:  Oh, Lord, help me make the most of every moment.  I get so frazzled.  Help me to find quiet moments to gain clarity of heart and mind.  Thank You for the reassurance that you can make order out of my chaos, because You are a God of order.

Photo Image Courtesy of 123RF

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