The Summer Struggle is Real

Who is excited about summer now that school is out?

I have been apprehensive about summer vacation ever since...well, last summer.

Last summer was pretty much awful.

I never wanted to be that parent that dreaded having her kids home for the summer...but, if I'm honest, I am that parent. It's not that I don't love my kids, I do. It's not that I don't like to be around them, I do...(well, most of the time). It's not that I think my kids are an inconvenience, they're certainly not. It's just that the transition of school to no school---one season meshing into the next---is always a rough adjustment and between all the activities, play and the general spontaneity feel of summer, the transition phase seems to last all season long.

The summer struggle is a very real least in my family.

As we approached the end of the school year I just kept thinking about how awful last summer was. I was a new adoptive mom...a new mom to a teenager...a new mom times three. I went from three kids to six overnight and last summer was our first one together, and it was brutal.

I had ached for the summer season and longed for its sunshine adventure and simplicity, hoping for a time to build connection as a new family, deepen bonds and have fun.

But, it wasn't fun at all.

The whole summer I struggled with the overwhelming demands of life. It was impossible to juggle all of the things on my plate; adjusting as a new mom to six was suffocating, the ups and downs of a still-new life in ministry were taxing and investing in my marriage throughout the changes was laborious. I wrestled between what it looked like to take care of myself (so I could keep my sanity), and escaping...and I failed pretty miserably at it all.

The result was a literal breakdown. As summer neared to the end I collapsed in more than one way and was left raw, exposed...and so very worn.

Like I said...summer's struggle last year was not fun and definitely not something I would like to repeat, but it's the only summer I know with six kids so the apprehension leading into the season this year was a struggle.

A very real struggle.

I wish it wasn't so. I wanted to look forward to it, I wanted to be at a place where I had fun with my kids more often than I felt taxed by them...but, I wasn't there. And this morning as I watched the kids board the bus for one final day at school, memories of last summer came to mind and I was I going to do this again?

I hopped in my car and as I drove into town I tried to surrender my fears about the summer and embrace it instead. It was here, whether I liked it or not. It would have its own difficulties, whether I liked it or not.

And then, by God's grace, I was struck with a simple revelation that brought about peace...

This summer would be different.

Maybe not easier, but different.

I wasn't the same person I was last summer...and neither were they. It may have felt like just yesterday, but a whole year had gone by and a whole new part of life had grown. We had endured that season and come out on the other side, changed.

The simple revelation of who we had been and where we are now, was stark. I found myself rejoicing about the difference. We were far from perfect and a lot of things in life were still very challenging, but at that moment I could see the progress that had happened. The progress that wouldn't have happened if we didn't experience last summer.

That moment, as I was driving, was a mark to measure by, a place where I could see the fruit of the labor that we endured and feel grateful for the process that it took to get there.

This summer wasn't going to be the same because we weren't the same, and that simple fact was enough to disarm my apprehension. I could stare at the summer ahead, at all the things it would entail, and embrace it with joy...even though the reality of the difficulty was still present.

Because those very broken places that had caused my dread were the very places that had birthed new life in my my children, in my family and in my today.

The process wasn't easy, but the progress was worth it.

Today I was given a tangible view of the measure of work that had been done. A gift of insight to mark the progress of the bigger picture at play...the story that was continually unfolding.

And there was still so much I couldn't see.

My dread was sustained by Jesus, the overcomer of even the hardest seasons. And today, this moment in the car, was a gift of his faithfulness.

It caused me to embrace the summer ahead. Not in expectation for an easier season, but in reality of the difference this season would hold. The promise of the fruit the labor would produce.

No doubt it will still be hard...I still had six kids---another teenager this year, and ministry was always changing. We would always be transitioning as a family, but no season looked the same and each of its difficulties didn't change the reality of my savior who was faithful at work in them.

Instead of fearing what could be, I could have peace in what would be.

There's purpose in all of these hard places, whether it's summer-school-vacation or not. So, though the summer struggle is's not a thing to dread. Rather, it's a thing to embrace.

Because hope is not found in the circumstance of the day or the season. Hope is found in the Savior who holds us secure in them...and brings life through them.

This summer very well may be harder than last year, but I can enter into it with hope and have assurance of the work my savior will do in it and through it. His faithfulness springs up the ability to embrace it and greet it with joy.

And today, this gift of measure that was given to me can serve as an anchor to hold me in the full force heat of the summer struggle. A reminder that I can trust the process of this season too, even now, no matter what today may hold.

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@ kristina.m.ward


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