Perspective, Time

Gift: Unwrapping the Gifts of Summer—A Retrospective

Purple flowers in morning

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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A quick note: Ellen Gray, you won Jill Kemerer’s book from last week’s blog post! Congratulations! Jill will contact you to get the book to you!

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Every summer it happens.

I determine this will be the summer where we learn to rest, to enjoy and to take the days slow.

But there’s something about having two active, need-to-stay-busy boys that makes this dream a little bit impossible. At least my vision of this dream.

This was the summer when I didn’t sign them up for a bunch of swimming lessons. We didn’t do Vacation Bible School (attending or serving). We didn’t sign up for a bunch of summer camps.

Summer gift hibiscus

Though we didn’t have a ton of outside commitments, somehow this summer seemed to zip past at light speed. It may have had something to do with hubby’s traveling in April until the end of May. He arrived home, and we were already into summer break.

Both boys picked a couple camps they wanted to attend, and both took place in June. Then it was time to pack and fly to Hawaii to spend time with hubby’s family. Two busy weeks there, filled with cousins’ time, visiting sites on Oahu, and a mini-trip to Kauai. And then it was time to hop on another jet and fly through the night back home to Colorado.

Summer gift Hawaiian morning

Summer gifts cousin time

Summer gift airport sunset

The school-supply ads came out right after we got back. Edmund complained. “Mom! We have a month before school starts. Why are they already selling supplies?” Try explaining that to a ten-year-old who just wants to play all day?

School supplies

There was the uniform sale for buying school uniforms at a discounted price. And then there was the running around to prepare everything just before school began.

Where was the rest in this summer? 

What if I looked for the rest in the wrong places? What if my dream of long days doing nothing wasn’t God’s dream for our family?

Summer gifts boys Apple Camp

What if unwrapping the gift came in hiking an amazing trail on Kauai that left me breathless—both for the beauty and the strenuousness of it?

What if rest came in spending time with people who know us and like us anyway? What if rest came in conversations shared with our boys, with family, and with friends?

Summer Gift strawberries

Treasured friends

I suspect my vision of unwrapping the gift of summer was a little off from God’s vision for us. He gave me the gift of walking with amazing friends early in the morning, capturing glimpses of His beauty in the everyday-ness of our path.

Summer gift pink zinnias

My boys headed back to school the middle of August. And, yes, their summer break is gone. I admit, we could have spent it differently. I didn’t do a great job unwrapping each day as the gift it was.

My tendency is to get caught up in all that presses in on me to be done. To get ahead of the daily demands so that I can rest . . . somewhere in the after-they’re-done time. But you know what? Those demands never stop coming. I can get ahead of today’s demands and be swamped by tomorrow’s.

Summer gift Colorado sunset

As I’ve thought about unwrapping the gift of summer, I’m realizing I need to discover the secret to unwrapping the gift of each day.

Each day of the year holds beauty, holds glimpses of God’s glory, and moments of rest.

I just need to slow down enough to both see them and savor them.Even if only for a moment or two. Learning to see each day as the gifts they are is what brings peace to my soul.

What about you? What gifts did you find in your summer? How are you intentional about unwrapping the gifts in each day?

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16 thoughts on “Gift: Unwrapping the Gifts of Summer—A Retrospective”

    1. Andrew, you make me smile. And, I suspect there are lots more hearts around than I usually look for. I think I’ll be a little more purposeful in looking for those. 😉 Praying for you today, friend.

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  1. You are right Jeanne, summer’s visit this year seemed really short. Then again seems every season has been shortened. And your conclusion that we must savor each day as the gift it brings is spot on. You have two beautiful little boys growing up learning about life with their own struggles and rewards~ another gift to enjoy and savor. Love Andrew’s comment about the strawberries~ so many little gifts when we open eyes to see. See how He loves us!

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    1. Yes, Mom. There is lots of learning going on in our house right now. 🙂 The boys? Hubby? Me? We’re learning what doing life together in this season looks like. And learning to savor each moment in the transitions and in the smooth times, and in the rough times, will be the gift.

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  2. Jeanne, being here and reading your beautiful post was a “moment of rest”. I often crave long stretches of stillness, but motherhood affords us mostly moments. And I’m finally finding the power in pondering these mini respites and allowing them to replace the desire in my heart for more. His Presence makes the “moments of rest” enough. I need to remember this as we head into the busy season.
    Blessings to you and yours ~ Wendy

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    1. Wendy, you’re right. Motherhood mostly affords us moments, rather than hours, for being still. And I love your choosing to be content with the moments offered, rather than craving the moments you don’t get. I suspect we’ll be better moms (and wives, and friends and employees) when we can embrace that truth. And yes, Jesus’ presence in those moments makes them enough. Thank you so much for that reminder. I needed that. 🙂

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      1. Jeanne, learning to live with only snippets of creative down time was the hardest thing for me to adjust to when our children finally arrived. But I find I do better work because of it. Ideas can brew in background of my mind as I’m busy parenting. I suspect you know exactly what I mean. 😉

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  3. Love this! In some ways, my summer went as planned (having a baby!) and in many ways, didn’t go at all as planned (see: having a baby!) My favorite week was right before Elle was born. Frank took it off and we spent time as a family of 3, doing what Bea loves. We did the same thing the week before Bea arrived and they are some precious memories. (Will have to remember to have those sweet staycation weeks when Elle is older, too!)

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    1. Oh, Annie, I love that tradition of doing things you love as you are, before a new one makes a presence in your family. I’m glad you have such sweet memories of those times. You can share them with Bea in pictures later, and she’ll ask, “Where was Elle?” 🙂

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  4. Jeanne, thank you for the sweet reminder to slow down and savor time. I’ve been looking forward to the writer’s conference all year … I want to slow down and soak it all in … savor each moment, even if I’m scared or tired. 🙂

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    1. Shelli, I’m thrilled you’re attending this year! I am so eager to finally meet you and give you a hug. And, as a warning, it’s going to feel crazy there sometimes, so if it does, get away and be still. This is a GOOD thing. 🙂 I hope you’re able to soak in lots! I know you will, because that’s who you are. 🙂

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  5. We have such a similar heart. I always long for the same thing, but my kids are social and active. I am learning to be thankful for those times too. Love the pictures- cousin time is so special 🙂

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    1. My guys are social and active too. 🙂 And they sleep best when the boy-energy for the day is expended before we put them to bed. 🙂 Cousin time is priceless. Especially because some of their cousins are launching into the world and won’t be around as much anymore. 😦

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  6. Oh, I totally relate to your words, Jeanne. I’m such a do-before-rest kind of girl. I like to have the house clean, the laundry done, and everything in it’s place BEFORE I settle down to rest. Is it any wonder rest rarely comes – unless of course, I prioritize it. And when I do, I agree, it’s glorious what God reveals when we stop and savor. And I’m grateful that He reminds me just how necessary that is. Thanks, friend.

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