Game On, Summer.

  It's summertime... what will you do with it?

    Ready, set, go. Today was the first day of summer! And time's ticking away. I've never been one who particularly likes the confines of time. I'm a laid-back free spirit, easy-going and go-with-the-flow. Sometimes, that can be wonderful. Because sometimes, I'm kinda like a free, singing bird. But, it can also be a bad thing. Sometimes, I lose track of time and forget to plan ahead.

   As Frank Sinatra crooned, "Summahtime... and the livin' is easy" - we love the "easy-breeziness" of summer. Yet, I've realized something as summers pass and I am older (and hopefully a little bit wiser.) For far too many years in my past than I'd like to admit, the balminess of summer nights turned swiftly into crisp autumn days, and I would suddenly wake up one morning to see golden leaves falling outside my window and pumpkins on display at the grocery store. And suddenly I'd realize, summer is gone and my heart is filled with a tinge of regret. 

    If I am truly honest with myself, perhaps the fly-by summers I've experienced in my life have less to do with lack of planning or procrastination - and more to do with my discontentment. Truthfully, something about summertime air always carries with it a certain happiness and perfection. As the cool spring breeze turns to a balmy summer wind - certain "ideals" come along with it. And in my hopeless romantic's mind, if I did not have the perfect situation come summer (and this applies to any season of life, really) then I'd think, "forget it." You see, for my perfect summer - I need to have a bank account full of money to fund my ideal tropical summer vacation, and then of course I'll need a budget for my dream wardrobe and must-have beauty products for the summer. I'll need planned beach trips and girls nights out. An ideal summer would also include romance, right? So, the perfect tanned and handsome man needs to be in my life, right? Or maybe marriage and a family  - that may be the perfect set-up for summer - a couple kids and the SUV to take on park outings and camping trips. As summer approaches each year, my comparing and selfish heart start working - these types of thoughts begin flowing - and all of the sudden, my focus is on me, me, me... what I don't have. What I want. Self-pity begins creeping in. Being purposeful just went out the window, along with contentment and finding any joy in my faith and the Lord. And I'm stranded in feeling bummed out as I spend the "going through the motions" summer comparing my life with those around me and not taking opportunities to serve others or grow in my faith.

    Friends, I am being totally honest with you here. Comparison and discontentment with what I have - these struggles have held me back in past summers. But you know what? That's not going to happen this year. No ma'm. I remember when I was 15, I got to visit some of the islands in Greece. I watched from a cruise ship deck how a group of girls jumped off a high cliff on the isle of Mykynos, straight into the dark blue water of the sea. I wanted to do it too. This year, I am going to jump off the cliff of my fear and into deep and beautiful "waters" of summer - regardless of my circumstances. Even if life isn't just as I would imagine. Because, maybe - it's even better.

   Darling friend, your situation may be different than mine. And, maybe I'm the only who who feels this way....but perhaps you do too, in your own way. So instead of just wishing away summer in discontentment, will you take on a challenge with me? I started a list today. Appropriately, on the first day of summer. Will you write one with me? A list that helps you embrace summer, just as God has given it to us this year. With it's flaws and things that lack. And just maybe... in an effort to embrace this season in a new way, we will find just how beautiful it can be - just how beautiful contentment where we are can be. 

  My list? It includes things like,

  • Make homemade sweet tea.
  • Find a homeless person and give them a care package (see my Pinterest "good ideas" board for this one) 
  • Go to the beach and look for seashells.
  • Spend a whole afternoon laying in the sun in a hammock.
  • Send a card to a friend who lives near me, just because.
  • Pray for friend's missions trips faithfully.
  • Make summer fabric bunting to hang in my window.
  • Take a friend out for coffee and pay for her.
  • Do something that scares me.
  • Watch old black and white movies.
  • Start a project I've been procrastinating.
... and a whole lot of others dreams, too. 

photo in honor of my dear friend, Rae 

    Maybe you can't take that fabulous summer vacation you were hoping to afford. But perhaps you can take the initiative to plan a simple picnic at the park with friends. Maybe you can't go to that tropical destination, but maybe just a day-trip to the local river, stream, beach, or ocean can be special. Maybe you don't have a handsome man to go on summer evening dates with, but maybe spending this summer investing in special young girls in your life or hanging out with your mom will be lifelong relationships you build. Perhaps you don't have a baby to pack up and take to the pool, but maybe you can offer to babysit for a friend who needs a day off. 

   Will you join me in striving to give rather than get this summer? To serve rather than be pampered? To embrace God's will for our lives this summer rather than mourning over the failure of our own agenda.

    The season will change soon enough, dear. Soon than you think, we'll be ordering Pumpkin Spice Lattes (with extra whip!) at Starbucks and cheering for our favorite football teams. Soon, the summer breeze will blow away. And what will you have to show for summer? I want to... for one of the first times in my life ... really embrace this summer. Because, after all - we only have one wild and precious life to live. Will you step up to the plate with me? (Where are these sports references coming from? I'm just gonna go with it...) Let's make this our best summer yet. 

     My dear reader, may you rise up singin' on your summer mornings.
 And the rest of the day, may you spread your wings and take the sky. 
You know why? 'Cause you're loved by God.

This is your summer - what are you going to do with it?

Breathe a little deeper tonight.

Make some iced coffee and add a little extra sugar. 

Slip out to your front porch and watch the sunset from your porch swing.

Put an old record in the player and crank it up,

or just YouTube some good old Ella Fitzgerald (I can't get enough of this one- "Black Coffee")

It's the longest night of the year. Embrace it.
I made a celebratory pitcher of sweet passion iced tea.
{recipe I use here}

Game on, summer.



{summer verse}

"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 

-1 Timothy 6:6