The Four P’s of Summer

It’s summer! While this fact comes with many good and wonderful things for us to enjoy, (For example: cookouts, camping trips, beach trips, vacation) it also comes with just as many things that can be incredibly overwhelming (For example: cookouts, camping trips, beach trips, vacation.)

Everywhere I turn there are people in my life who are approaching meltdown status due to an overloaded summer schedule.

One friend, who is a teacher and mom of two small children, is already counting the priceless days she has with her kids before she goes back to school. With two overseas trips in her schedule these special days will be over before she knows it, and this knowledge ways heavy on her heart.

Another friend shared with me that she is booked solid every Monday from now until September. Mondays are the one day of the week that her family has to themselves, and she wonders how she will ever be able keep the pace of their hectic summer schedule.

Summer stress is definitely running rampant, so what are we to do? I can’t claim to know all the answers, but I do think I’ve narrowed in on four important actions that will help each of us make it to fall with our heads and hearts intact.

No. 1: Pray

I don’t mean to sound trite or overly spiritual on this one. Prayer is something we all talk about, a lot of the time; it’s something we all know we should be doing. But I know, firsthand, that when life gets busy, prayer is often the first thing to go.

When summer stress creeps in like the tide, invite God in through prayer. Ask Him for wisdom, peace, and perspective. Ask Him to be a part of your day, your schedule, your activities. Ask Him to be at the center of it all.

No. 2: Plan

Grab your calendar, your husband, your family, and together begin to make a plan for summer. Put everything on the table. Look at everything you have to do, need to do, want to do, and be realistic. What can you reasonable and realistically do this summer? What can wait for another time, another season?

Once your plan is set, do your best to stay in the present. Enjoy what’s happening now. And when your plans go array (because they will go array) ask yourself this question: Are you controlling your plans or are your plans controlling you? Because summer days are fleeting and they are meant for joy. Don’t rob yourself of the joy by falling prey to your plans. Choose a plan that works for you and your family. Search for what brings life, avoid that which burdens.

No. 3: Protect

We all know the importance of sunscreen. SPF is vital if we don’t want to end up getting burned. But how often, in the midst of summer stress, do we take the same precaution for our hearts? Hectic schedules can burn our hearts faster than noonday sun can burn our unprotected skin. Our hearts need protection too.

To protect your heart from the soul burning effects of a crazy summer schedule take time to nurture your heart with the things you love the most.

A walk around the block in the cool of the day

An ice cream cone on a hot afternoon

Catching fireflies with your kids

Campfire smore’s and ghost stories

Reading in a hammock

Toes in the sand

Whether it’s big or small find a way each day to take care of your heart. I know it may seem like you don’t have time, but even five minutes can make the difference between a heart that is healthy and alive and a heart that is parched and depleted.

Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and don’t let your heart get burned.

No. 4: Praise

No matter how hectic, frantic, or stressed you feel in the midst of your summer activities seek to keep praise and thanksgiving on your mind, on your heart, on your tongue. I know this message isn’t new and I know it isn’t easy, but I also know it’s worth it.

Even in the eye of the storm, let the eyes of your heart see that He is good. And for His goodness, give thanks.

I’ve seen, in my own life, the difference praise and thanksgiving can make and it is the best stress fighter there is.  Summer comes with so much to be thankful for. Don’t miss it. Hunt for beauty. Hunt for joy. Hunt for reasons to praise.

Pray, plan, protect, praise and enjoy the gift that is summer.

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