It’s Summer, and we all know there is a different rhythm to ministry this time of year. Even though school is out, camp season is in full swing. While our organization doesn’t necessarily run a camp, we do get involved in helping to run the parents’ group of a local camp. There are also plenty of outdoor activities and festivals to build awareness of our work. Regardless of the exact shape of any ministry’s Summer routine, the needs of ministry participants still press in while family is tugging at us to come away for that much-needed seasonal break. June, July and August can mean joy for others, yet it can actually possess a frantic pace for those of us in disability ministry.
What are YOU doing to make sure you don’t get swept up in the demands this time of year? All of us need that time to fill our tank in the months where the sun shines a little brighter, the sky looks a little bluer, and the breezes blow a little warmer. These months fill us for the darker, cooler, trapped-inside days that press on us at other seasons of the year.
Allow me to share with you some of the deliberate things I do to make Summer different for myself and my family. Hopefully, it will spark some ideas in you:
- I intentionally turn my reading from professional, spiritual books to novels. I love authors like Jodi Piccoult who are a quick, engaging read. Being able to devour a book in a short amount of time makes me feel the gratification of a speedy accomplishment. I also love history or historic fiction. Knowing tales of the past makes me feel like a more well-rounded person.
- Gardening is a must. I love the beauty of well-tended flowers and the satisfaction of eating vegetables that I’ve grown myself. I once read in a book entitled MINISTRY BURNOUT by John A. Sanford, that we in ministry work so much on the intangible things of life that we need a hobby with tangible results to refill our tanks. Digging in the dirt surely provides that for me.
- Another tangible hobby that refreshes me in the Summer months is artwork. I love to do everything from painting to photography to various crafts. The wonderful part is that I can involve my kids in the fun. It is terrific to look back on a year and think, We created that together!
- Connecting with God in nature is another must. Being outside and carving out time to watch all of creation shout glory to our God deeply fills my soul. Water and woods are some of life’s “Thin Places” for me, those places described by the Celts as locations where Heaven is a bit closer to Earth. The racket of birds calling back and forth to one another as they bounce and flutter from tree to bush to perch is music to my ears. These moments are essential to my relationship with the Lord.
- Every Summer I have a rummage sale. How can this fill my tank? While it is a ton of work, I feel the deep gratification of off-loading more “stuff” that we don’t need. My house is a bit emptier and cleaner for the effort. And I feel grateful that the cash I earn blesses my husband by adding to our annual income.
These are just a few of my intentional pursuits each Summer. They keep me from running myself ragged as I try to carry out God’s work amidst being pulled from first communion party to graduation party to wedding to family reunion.
How are YOU filling your tank this Summer? We would love to hear!