Summers in full time student ministry are unique. In theory we have some free time without our regular weekly schedule. In reality there are camps (both to speak at and Big Oak's annual GO Camp, which is a huge endeavor), there are weddings to officiate and attend, former students home for the summer to spend time with (here is a group of some favorites celebrating Emmy & Cristian's marriage while they were visiting from Argentina),
and a week of the fair (Sean sets up the Stagecoach's mobile stage and coordinates two concerts a day with the intent of sharing Christ to thousands of people attending the county fair. I'm pretty sure it's also his excuse to mix beats as a d.j.).
Summer is hands down my favorite season. I'm pretty sure God gave me a June birthday because He knew strawberries, bright sun, time for creativity and projects, bare feet, windows rolled down and country music cranked up, would forever define me.
I determined to make this summer a make-the-most of every moment kind of summer for my kids. I don't believe in needing to travel or have a big budget for the type of summers I enjoy anyway.
It was a sweet spot for me with my kids after having the older two at school full time. We took many bike rides (I ran with Haley in the jogging stroller to meet my goal of 200 miles by August first- combining fun with personal goals... it worked.) Our favorite ride was to the little Dutch Bakery in our town for morning donuts (although I don't recommend running after that), to the library, and ending up at the park.
My dad was on a roll with projects and we helped (but mostly just enjoyed) his three story tree house (with sandbox on the bottom) and a sandbox he built for us in our yard.
The benefit of Sean speaking at camps is occasionally we get to go too. The kids' favorite week is Camp Shiloh (no, not named after me no matter how I tried to convince my kids otherwise) because they get to hike, eat cafeteria food with students, and canoe. It's usually rainy, muddy, and cold but I have a feeling those won't be their memories seeing as blue lips and muddy feet don't faze them.
This year Darla and Hudson woke up early to have a "big kid hike" followed by hot chocolate by themselves in the cafeteria. I was giddy for them as they raced off on adventures.
I personally like Camp Firwood because you can't beat a water trampoline. We also go later in summer when I can wear a swimsuit instead of a sweatshirt.
There were days with the sprinkler under the trampoline, days of picking berries, bright mornings at the river that turned into lunch and afternoons, "rest time" that included blankets in the shade with good books, a constant stream of children between neighbors, foster kids, and cousins. Lemonade and otter pops were our afternoon staples.
As I worked hard to make it memorable for my kids, the Lord gave me plenty of His own gifts as sweet as the copious amounts of blackberry cobbler we consumed.
To kick off the summer, my sister and brother-in-law moved home from California. Best gift.
That alone would have made me feel sunnier but we also had an actual sunny summer in the northwest. That meant many early mornings on the patio with hot coffee, a Bible, journal, and the sun rising in the quiet- my God given fuel.
For my birthday my mom and sister went all out creating a fantastic writing nook for me. I didn't have much time for writing beyond my morning journaling (but I needed to save something fun for fall anyway).
I was, however, able to get away for a life changing weekend in Spokane to do some interviews with family members about adoption (with is worth at least a dozen blog posts in itself) while staying with some of my best friends from the past two decades. It ensured I will have plenty to write as our fall schedule kicks in. The entire weekend was a gift as I was refreshed, challenged, encouraged, and probably cried too much. I also had a six hour car ride each way to listen to music I chose. In a family of six that's a gift in itself.
Another close friend from high school came up to Lynden with her kids for a few days of quality time. We returned the favor the next month on our trip to Vancouver/Portland. If it wasn't enough to have good talks with her on her deck as our kids splashed in the pool, I then got to see my best friend from middle school...for the first time in sixteen years.
That's another story that someday may be told... for now I'll sum it up as one of the sweetest, well timed gifts I could have received in six intense hours (with a sixteen year summary). Some things don't change as much as we think they do. Again I probably cried to much... but healing can do that to a person.
A best middle school friend, one from high school, and we only had to cross the Columbia River to have dinner with my closest college friend who also happened to be the best roommate possible. The time was too short but when she gave each of the kids rides on her horse it made it the most memorable stop on our trip.
Then while our kids partied more than slumbered with cousins in the attic, I slipped my hands around hot coffee thick with whipping cream while I debriefed with my cousin in her sprawling farmhouse overlooking Portland. By that time I'm not sure my eyes were even still open, but even as I was fatigued, I was filled.
I'm never ready for fall. Jeans feel restrictive and jackets cumbersome after sundresses and flip flops. I'm spoiled with fun kids but it makes it hard to kiss them goodbye and miss out on six hours of their day. This fall actually isn't so bad. Maybe I say that because I'm currently in shorts and my iced coffee is within reach. Maybe I say it because I know I soaked up every generous gift the Lord poured out and made use of the stretched out days. That's a good summer.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...