My son, Jack, is counting down the sleepies until summer vacation. I smile at his childish anticipation, but I too need to anticipate—to plan and prepare for vacation. I need to prepare to worship God for His good gifts, I need to prepare to fight sin, I need to prepare to serve others, I need to prepare good food and fun memories, and I need to prepare for reentry.
For the men who read this blog (or whose wife or mother drags you to the computer to read a post) you need to prepare to lead. My dad has just concluded a three part series on leadership and vacations that is must reading for both men and women. If you truly want a vacation worth counting down the sleepies for, check it out.
And finally, I’ll leave you with some thoughts from the young fathers in our family. In jest, my husband and brothers-in-law once posted their top five suggestions for dads of young children on vacation:
1. Play 18 holes of golf, not 36.
2. If you have children, don’t use the last of the milk for your third late-night bowl of Lucky Charms.
3. Offer to watch the children during the afternoon nap.
4. If you’re going to take a toddler on the jet-ski, try to keep the speed under 50 mph.
5. Consider giving your wife the remote control during the 5:00-6:00 a.m. slot.
Guys, I think we can do better this year. How about the girls watch the kids during afternoon nap and you take the other shifts?
Only 44 more sleepies.
My sisters and I were blessed to grow up in a neighborhood with lots of kids. Summer days started out with “free swim” at the local pool from 9-10 and ended some twelve hours later with a big nighttime game of “Capture the Flag.”
Mom was happy for us to enjoy our summer playtime. But she also insisted that every day, from 12-3 pm, we come inside and do something productive. And at least one of those three hours had to be spent reading.
When I think of summer goals for my kids—and especially my eight-year-old Andrew—reading is at the top of my list. So I’ve decided to continue with a plan his second grade teacher has implemented all year: DEAR (or Drop Everything And Read) time. No doubt many of you with kids in school are familiar with this practice. After recess, each kid in the class finds a place and spends time with a good book.
We’re going to have DEAR time at home this summer. I’ll let the boys each pick their own special place in the house to read. Even though Liam and Owen can still only do picture books, I don’t think it’s too early to train them in a habit of reading. To further encourage them, I’m going to do my own Book It program with some kind of prize at the end of each month for reading an assigned number of days.
And who knows, I might just grab a book myself and join them in some summer DEAR time.
The idea of planning for a productive summer may not sound all that appealing. It could even be overwhelming to some. But it need not be. Planning ensures that we make progress, even if we don’t accomplish everything in our plan. Again, from Shopping for Time:
“If you develop a plan to change in one area, you will be surprised at the dramatic difference it will make. If the only action you pursue is to wake up early and seek God, no corner of your life will go untouched. If you simply reach out to one non-Christian neighbor, you will experience joy that lasts for eternity. Remember this: even if you only change in one area, you will be doing more than if you hadn’t sat down to plan at all.”
If we take a few minutes now to develop a simple plan for the next three months, imagine what eternal potential summer may hold!
Sellers of deck furniture and lemonade try to entice us with images of a long, lazy summer. And while summer can be a restful season to the glory of God, we must not give into laziness. Ephesians 5:15-16 is an exhortation to a different kind of summer: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Our comments on this verse in our book Shopping for Time have application to summer:
“We are to walk with the utmost accuracy, with extreme care…We are not to trudge blindly or routinely through [summer]. We shouldn’t just let [summer] happen and try to deal with the results, be what they may. We should not allow one day to flow simply into the next, being concerned only with the present moment. No, we must look around. We must develop keen eyes. We must examine our lives. We must evaluate our present manner of living and consider how to prepare for the future. We must walk circumspectly through each and every day.”
So how can we make the best use of summertime? We must,
“approach [the summer] the same way we go after bargains. We need to discern the best opportunities [summer] has to offer. Then we must seize these opportunities and make them our highest priorities. Every [summer] day presents us with countless options for how to spend our time. However, only some are truly great deals. Only a few things are really important.”
Let’s enjoy God’s gift of rest this summer in the form of lemonade on a deck chair, but let’s also live carefully and wisely, making the best use of summertime. Ask yourself, what are the one or two really important things God would have me do this summer?
Thanks to all of you who’ve already submitted entries for our summer contest—keep ‘em coming! In the meantime, I tried this new Epicurious recipe for berry crisp yesterday and if you can measure its yumminess by how many helpings my husband’s had in twenty-four hours, then it is quite delicious. Best of all, it is really easy. Oh, and per some of the comments I doubled the topping which is definitely the way to go.
Mixed Berry Crisp
The frozen berries aren’t thawed before you use them, so this dessert is super fast.
Servings: Makes 6 servings.
2 12-ounce packages frozen mixed berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries; about 6 cups), unthawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine berries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour and lemon juice in large bowl; toss to blend well. Transfer berry mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Combine remaining 3/4 cup flour, oats, brown sugar, spices and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping holds together in small moist clumps. Sprinkle over berry mixture.
Bake crisp until berry mixture bubbles thickly and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.