I was not ready for summer break to come to an end and the start of a new school year this morning. But I guess that means summer was a success.

Honestly, I feel like this was one of the best summers that we have had in a while. All four kids were in a pretty healthy place. It was so good to see them work toward their own self improvement, whether that was physically, creatively or relationally.

For me, it was the summer of “yes.”

This was the first summer in 10 years that I wasn’t trying to juggle my work schedule with trying to be a fun mom and also taking care of things around our home. I’ve always been blessed with a very flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home. But in the past, when we wanted to do something fun on a summer day, I often found myself saying things like “give me a few hours,” “maybe later,” or “let’s plan that for Friday.” I would get up super early to start my work around 6 a.m. so I could be done by lunchtime.

This summer, I was free for the first time in a while to just say, “yes.”

Can I have my friends come over for a bonfire tonight? “Yes.”

Can we go to the city for the day? “Yes.”

Could you drive me to visit my grandparents in another state? “Yes.”

Not only did I get to be truly present and have fun with each of our kids, but I also got to pursue some of my own interests. I thought maybe I would clean and organize my entire house this summer. I envisioned having a garage sale and cleaning out closets. I even thought I would have time to really get serious about booking photo shoots and finding other ways to work from home. None of those things really happened because my life was just so full enjoying all that was going on in our home.

Here are a few highlights:

I started the summer hosting a watercolor painting group on Monday nights. I planned out different painting tutorials and tied each one to a Bible verse. About seven women came each week, and it was a different group every time. I loved connecting with these ladies and helping them express themselves creatively.

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I got to help plan a retreat and in the process got to know some new friends. As I described in an earlier blog post, I led the women in a creative project, which was fun to prepare. The retreat theme of “encounter” has been a constant reminder to help me stay focused on being present this summer.

I also have been doing yoga for the first time this summer. There’s a studio not far from where I live that does “Holy Yoga.” The instructor incorporates scripture and prayer into yoga, creating an incredible environment to relax and focus on that week’s verse as you take time to breathe and stretch.

Some of my other craft adventures this summer included acrylic paint pouring, “hot mess” painting and, of course, painting a picnic table!

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I got to help Andrew with some creative video projects, as well. We started the summer telling the story of my friend, Joy, and her journey with skin cancer. I helped him film a music video and we also worked on a short film together. Thanks to all of our amazing friends and family who came to support us, our film won the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row.

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We started the summer visiting some awesome baseball fields with Matt’s travel baseball team. He decided this would be his farewell tour, so it was bittersweet to see him having so much fun playing baseball and also knowing this would be his last season.

He grew so much this summer in taking responsibility for his health and goals. He worked as much as possible at his part-time job, saving a lot of money and also buying some things he wanted. He also joined a gym and got up early most days to go work out. He spent a long weekend visiting his grandparents so he could learn to golf. And he and his sister both went to summer camp for a week.

He decided he wanted to pierce his ears. I came home after being gone for the retreat to find out he had enlisted his sister to buy an ear piercing kit and do the job for him! I think he looks great with earrings. 🙂

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Alayna spent most of her summer preparing for the cheer season. She made the varsity cheer team as a sophomore, which was impressive. When she wasn’t at cheer practice, she also took tumbling. She spent a lot of time with friends hanging out downtown or bouncing from house to house.

Jayda had a great summer that included gymnastics 10.5 hours a week and hanging out with her friends. She also was in a musical, The Lion King, Jr. and spent her first full week away at summer camp. The girls and I had a special day going to the city together, and we also drove to southern Illinois together to visit family.

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We didn’t have any big vacations, but we did get to go to a friend’s lakehouse for a weekend with our growth group. We had a blast hanging out in the pool and the lake, playing card games and coloring in coloring books for hours while we all grew relationally.

I have one more week with Andrew before we take him to college. I’m hoping we can do a few fun things together with just the two of us. Then, I will start to think about what’s next. I’ve been getting a little antsy after nearly three months without working. But I’m trying to be patient and just wait for the next right thing.

A friend sent me this verse this morning, and it’s something I’m holding onto from Psalm 91:4:

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

I hope that’s an encouragement to you, as well, as you head into whatever is next for you this fall! What was the best part of your summer? I would love to hear! Leave me a comment!

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