Summer’s charm is full of warmth, sleeping in, tanned skin by the water (not IN the water – there is a very big difference there for me!). With no homework to help with and no bedtime to patrol, days seem to float by carelessly. I find myself looking forward to these warm summer months more and more, not just because the sun and heat give way to some pain relief, but because of the lesson I am reminded of each summer.
There’s something about summer, isn’t there? Something that makes us all want to bust out of our home and into the sun to be with friends and family. We are filled with this urging desire to brave the heat to savor picnics, festivals and county fairs (oh fairs – my all time FAVORITE!). We tend to slow down in summer and take the time to make memories with the ones we love. But why do we only seem to put in that time during the summer months?
Summer for me, thanks to the garden, is my busiest time. It is filled with canning, canning and more canning and nothing makes me happier than hearing the ping of a jar filled with hard work sealing tight! (Someone should really make that sound available as an alarm tone – talk about waking up to a smile every morning!) There is just something about getting your hands down in that dirt and harvesting produce that YOUR family grew. But it doesn’t stop there – we then preserve that bounty in jars for a little bit of summer during the cold winter months. Some days we have canned over 150 jars of yummyness in ONE DAY! And guess what? I love every minute of it.
So why do I love summer if I it causes me to work that hard? Because God teaches me in these months that slow and simple are where I need to be. I am reminded where my priorities lie and where my heart should be – resting in Him. Of course we still have work that needs to be done, but we are not meant to be strung out from self-induced stress, worry for tomorrow, and over-commitments. God didn’t create us to be able to handle all that. He even asks of us “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27. Nope – but sadly I still try. I still stress and I still worry and I STILL over-commit myself. But as the sun heads for the west, and the summer heat of the day starts to fade away, I am reminded. I am reminded there is a way that God has given me that washes all away in a single second. It’s called a backroad.
Windows down, kicking up dust behind our already dirty truck – it starts there. Add some country music from our carefully chosen playlist and the green, hilly countryside, and I am there. I am in that God-ordained state of REST. The stress of today, of tomorrow melt away and I find myself mesmerized by the beauty He has created in a mere 7 days. Calves play, creeks overflow, even a snake slithers across the road. Pastures with fresh cut hay are being neatly stacked on wagons made of wood, pulled by rusty tractors. And I stop to hear it – the quiet, the stillness of my own heart in the midst of such an array of simplicity. Slow and simple. And in that moment I realize… true perspective, true peace, true rest. I had to detour out of my stressful, busy life to be able to really see it.
One of my favorite country songs says it best: (Ok bear with me on this. I am going to quote a country song and you’re just gonna have to deal with it).
Up on that tractor, things might be faster in the world but big wheels roll it slow.
Helps you see what’s important, what really does matter – Up on that tractor.
Did you catch it? When I am slow, when I slow down and can’t go 90-to-nothing, it’s so simple. My heart has a chance to get back in rhythm with my Savior. “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” Mark 12:33 I am to give my all to my God, not to my commitments. I am to love on people, ALL people, and not forget that He loved me first. The things I should be putting more time and energy into come clear – those wheels rolled it slow enough for me to see it in all its simplicity.
I want you to think back to your favorite childhood memory. No, REALLY – stop and think. What memory stands out? Is it cooking with your Grandma, watching the cars go by on a front porch with your Dad, driving in the car with your family singing at the top of your lungs? Or maybe it was learning to make pies with your Mom, running in the sprinkler with your best friend, climbing peach trees with your brother. Do you see it? What do they all have in common? Odds are you can label your favorite childhood memory as a slow and simple one. It tends to be those slow and simple times that are burned into our hearts, to recall at a moments notice. All while we spend endless time, energy and money to force that flame to burn that moment onto our children’s timeline. Guess what? It doesn’t always work that way. My parents took us to Disney one year and all I can remember is stopping at road-side parks, eating sandwiches, and playing on the playground equipment with my brother and sister. When we are slow and have our priorities in line, memories are made in those soft, effortless simple moments.
Thanks to the summer sun and green blanketed countryside, I am able to refocus on Him first and my family second. All else fades away… and I am where I need to be – resting in Him. Slowly and simply.
But don’t worry – I will still have a jar of salsa with your name on it.
Do you have a slow and simple way that helps you refocus? Can you share it with me? I would love to hear how God moves you!
If it’s through backroads, I gotcha covered – we can borrow my husband’s truck.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2