Gratitude Friday: The Slow, Unscheduled Magic …

Not sure about y’all but we have exactly three days of school left in this year and then, summer begins.

And all the people said AMEN.

This might be our biggest summer EVER since we will be visiting Disney for the first time. We’ve been planning this trip for two years. Two years of asking for Disney gift cards for Christmas presents, two years of bugging cousin Kimber for all her expertise, two years of socking away loose change to make this thing “magical.”

Although, I hear Disney magic is impossible to escape.

I’m counting on that.

Other than Disney, we’ll spend some time at home with our family, playing at the local water park, eating homemade ice cream with our neighbors, and doing the drive-all-over-the-Metroplex-for-summer-friends thing.

The Slow, Unscheduled Summer Magic

Monumentally Unbusy…

Last summer was possibly my favorite summer of my entire life. One, because I don’t remember much of my own childhood summers (I’m old) and two, I had so much fun with the kids. They are old enough to play together well, independent enough to grab their own snack, brave enough to try new things, and patient enough to drive an hour for playdates with friends.

In our family, and to the complete surprise of my 28-year-old self, I find myself to be the monumentally unbusy Mom. My kids have never attended a summer camp of any kind. Only been to VBS twice. Wouldn’t know a single thing about weeks with grandparents or having to be dressed before 9 am.

My children are suffering through a very ordinary childhood.

And as the world and our culture get busier and busier and we continue to exchange stress as our most valuable currency, I am incredibly grateful for that calling God has placed on my role as mom.

Bright Grateful Nest

Pleasant Places…

To be honest, the praise (fault?) for much of our under-scheduled existence sits at the feet of being a one-income family. When God called me home from my career, whatever dreams we might have had about big family vacations or weeks of dance camps were left behind. We simply don’t have the margin for those kinds of luxuries.

But as the years go on, I find myself more and more grateful for the restraints of a tight budget. Scripture says God places our boundary lines in pleasant places and He has shown me just how much abundance there is to find within those boundaries.

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” ~Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)

Left to my own nature (and walking in complete disobedience), I would still be working, still be striving, still be earning, still be spending money like the federal government (my husband’s favorite analogy).

And it makes me tired thinking about it.

Orange Nest

Maybe you are in the same spot we are…

Living on a tight budget, with no extra funds for all those camps and trips and saving loose change/Christmas presents/birthday gifts over several years to afford one big vacation.

Maybe you feel as if your kids might be missing out on a magical childhood?

Maybe you feel as if your boundary lines are more like barbwire fencing?

Maybe barbwire fencing with a bit of an electrical current running through it that zaps you back to reality occasionally?

And maybe you’re tired of feeling like not enough.

That is a lie, friend.

I’m not saying kids were better off riding in the back window of the family Oldsmobile with zero seatbelts, no iPads, no DVDs, no organic filtered spring water in BPA free recyclable containers.

Seatbelts save lives.

And movies on long road trips save sanity.

I’m not even saying camps and trips and hitting every VBS in a five-mile radius is BAD. And I am certainly not implying saving up for big vacations is bad.

The BAD is believing the lie that we are not enough. That the life God has given us is not enough. That our children have to attend this camp or get that tutoring or pass this test or spend their summers being entertained every minute.

That is a lie.

(Should we take a moment and reflect on what our kids would be like if we were able to do all that?)

(Veruca Salt comes to mind.)

(Boundaries in pleasant places, friend.)

Wooden Grateful Nest

Shifting Our Focus…

When we allow ourselves to focus on what we could do or should do or wish to in providing to our kids we forget to be grateful for all that has already been provided to us. 

Movies on the couch with bowls of cheap microwaved Movie Theatre butter popcorn.

Running through the sprinkler in the front yard.

Brightly colored popsicles under shade trees.

Brown paper bag puppets.

Forts of blankets and kitchen table chairs.

Library stories and books for some quiet reading time.

The half-off day at a thrift store.

Castles created out of junk in the recycle bin.

God has already given us an abundant life.

The Message version of Psalms 16:5-6 says, My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice! You set me up with a house and yard. And then you made me your heir!”

Our boundary lines are our home and our community. We are strategically placed in that exact spot and it is our abundance to be there!

Our one-income, saving quarters, running through sprinklers life is abundant.

Not the squeaking by on credit, caffeine, overflowing calendars, and unfulfilling callings of our culture.

Farmhouse Grateful Nest

I say, let’s take back our summers…

See our boundaries, our tight-budgets and thrift store treasures, as gifts from a good, good Father.

Slow down, unschedule. Lay our “if only’s” and “wish we could’s” down and chose gratitude for our pleasant places.

We can save for the big, making sure to honor God and steward well the funds He provides, but we get to decide not to miss the abundance around us right this minute.

Simple, slow, unscheduled, sticky-faced, sunscreen-coated summer.

And I believe, when we do that, trade getting it all in for gratitude within our pleasant boundaries, the magic we don’t want our kids to miss out on, suddenly appears.

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