The following is my monthly column for The Clinton Chronicle in Clinton, South Carolina:
Summer cometh once again. Many people are planning a family trip, Vacation Bible School, and pool fun. But before long, if not careful, it’s easy for families to fall into a summer slump. The good intentions of projects we hoped to get done, the books we planned to read, or the family bonding time we envisioned might slip through our fingers.
June is a
good time to take inventory. Almost six months have passed since the New Year
tolled and we confidently made resolutions. The holidays seem like eons away
from these hot days. Children and teenagers may fall into a rut of
accomplishing nothing and vegging out on television and video games.
that the Lord would teach us to number our days carefully so that we may
develop wisdom in our hearts. (See Psalm 90:12.) Even in the lazy days of
summer, let’s not become sloths. We can model for our children how to use our
time productively. Here are four ways we can live intentionally this summer.
Evaluate and organize.
Do a midyear
assessment. Are we still on track for any of the goals we set in January?
Realistically, what do we hope to accomplish in the second half of the year?
When the heat drives us indoors, we can spend time tidying our lives. Pick a project. Maybe the digital pictures need to be sorted, filed, and saved several times. Make a big stack of clothes to give away.
spiritual goals for the remainder of the year. Each summer I evaluate what I
hope to accomplish at church in the fall as well as what writing projects need
Connect with your church.
church’s schedule may be toned down in the summer, don’t let your connection
with the Body of Christ wane. The Bible says Sunday is the Lord’s Day — it
belongs to Him. Prioritize worshiping with your church family on Sunday when
you are in town. Don’t forget to give financially to your fellowship. Summer
tends to be the hardest time for a church’s income. Look for ways to serve in
your church during the hot summer days. Substitute Sunday School teachers or
small group leaders may be needed as families take vacations.
get to know people in your church. Plan to go out to eat together on Sundays.
Invite a senior adult or widow in your church over for a meal. Host a short-term
prayer group or Bible study in your home. Linger after the worship service and
Take one-on-one trips.
My wife and
I schedule same-gender trips with our children one-on-one during the summer. We
try to make the get-aways fun without spending tons of money. One summer, my
14-year-old and I kayaked on the French Broad River in Asheville, N.C., through
the Biltmore Estate. Another year we went to the National Whitewater Center in
Charlotte for some fun.
intentionally use the trips to discuss any pressing issues confronting our
children. When my son was 11, we had the “birds and the bees” discussion on our
overnight trip, using James Dobson’s Preparing
for Adolescence. We try to talk with them about things that matter without
making the time too heavy or pushy. It’s one of the few moments during our year
that we can leisurely spend time together with no real agenda other than
Don’t forget to play.
Someone said the family that prays together stays together. But it’s also true that the family that plays together stays together. Without the routine of school, ball practice, and music rehearsals, summer provides margin for families. During the school year, parents have to be responsible for keeping our kids on task for all of those engagements. So for the summer, let’s be responsible for making sure our family plays!
points of interest to visit. For years we took several Saturdays each summer to
find waterfalls in upstate South Carolina. They provide cool refreshment on hot
afternoons. Have “no electronic nights” when you play board games and charades
or tell stories.
together, cook out, eat watermelon, and stay up late chasing fireflies. When
our children are adults, they won’t remember much about our work and
responsibilities. They will remember times when we played together as a family.
Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.