Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Love/Hate of Summer

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

Remember the days when you could sit in a lounge chair in the sun, reading a book and sipping on iced tea on a warm summer day? Me neither. It seems like five lifetimes ago that I enjoyed such things.

While fond memories of summer, enjoying the outdoors, popsicles, sunshine, and sandy beaches all still quicken our hearts, the season becomes a more stressful dichotomy for those of us raising atypical kids. Most people do not understand how torn we feel about a season that is much like a warm, blissful weekend that never ends. 

There is a part of our spirit that lightens as we consider not having to stay on top of the stress of academics and homework. The pressure of school peers and IEPs are on hold for now. It's okay if everybody sleeps just a couple of minutes later in the morning and stays up an hour later at night. Parks, picnics, bubbles, and beach balls all bring delightful change to the usual demands of our family schedule.

But that's too often where it seems to end.

Summer is a time of incredible pressure for parents like us. If your kids are anything like mine, the lack of structure sends the dysregulation into overdrive. Sleepless nights increase. Meltdowns multiply with a diet that includes a few too many strange foods and perhaps a bit too much processed sugar. 

It's all us! There is no break while the kids are in school unless, of course, you were fortunate enough to qualify for Extended School Year (ESY) or have them in summer school. But even those hours are too few and abbreviated. 

The demands are high and the days are long. We need to get them in for their annual visits to specialists and get them registered for special camps. This is prime time for scheduling surgeries for our kiddos.

Social demands abound for all of us in the summer months. Trying to prepare our kids for reunions, and weddings, and graduations is no small task. You can bet there will be hurtful remarks from extended family or ignorant friends. These settings just lend themselves to that.

Is it any wonder the school year suddenly looks so attractive?

These are the days I have learned to cling to 1 Corinthians 14:33. While Paul's words are written in regards to orderly worship within the church, they reveal God's character. I am so grateful, relieved, and hopeful that He can make order out of my chaos! And He reveals in this passage that His bias is towards creating routine and structure.

God endorses establishing boundaries in my family's summer schedule. I learned over the years that those boundaries actually brought our family freedom. Having a rhythm that we stuck to more often than not helped us to control our hours rather than our hours controlling us. This day was library day and that day was time at our local accessible playground each week. I created chore charts and stuck to bedtime expectations. We have had to shorten visits or politely say "no" to some invitations we knew would create problems for our family. While we may have felt short-term disappointment at not living the same way everyone else does during these summer months, long-term it gave us great relief and helped us to enjoy the season much more.

Although it can seem daunting, God is on our side. The One who ordains order will help us get a handle on our summer if we surrender our expectations and align ourselves in agreement with Him.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
- Proverbs 19:21, ESV -

Take heart, my friend!

PRAY WITH ME: Lord, while summer should typically be so delightful, it so often overwhelms me as a parent. Calm my flustered heart and mind. Direct my steps. Make order out of our chaos so we can enjoy Your blessings in this season.

~ Barb Dittrich

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