Guest Blogger- Brooke French

Dog Days of Summer

Ya’ll, Am I the only one struggling with the last weeks of summer?  The heat is blazing, the pool and ocean feel more like bath water, work is still buzzing along and the kids are mildly irritable due to the lack of routine.  Honestly, I am also a little sad that summer is almost over too.  Is it just me?  Surely, I hope not.  I know I like structure, but I was really planning on a restful, renewing and fun filled summer.
You know the type of summer I am talking about.. beautiful scenery, relaxing beach reads, kids frolicking in the sand, laughing joyfully at each others’ jokes.  Husbands and wives taking late evening strolls by the beach, discussing their hopes and dreams, all the while lovingly gazing in each other’s eyes.  And let us not forget the balance of school readiness and extracurricular activities to boast about when the kids get asked.. Did you go anywhere this summer?  What did you do? Any fun camps? What neat experiences did you have this summer?  Oh the writing prompts, they will be prepared for when they return to school.
Insert  Kids are snappy, staying up late, and chaotic, at best, in their thinking and relating to everyone. There is a lot of repeating from mom- “clean up the mess, please don’t climb on that, please give me 5 minutes, no- I do not want to start a craft project 5 minutes before we are out the door, oh you need to upload another video to another mildly inappropriate song, oh wait- you’re bored!”  Mom and Dad are exhausted because- the kids.  They stay up late too with the kids, but they still have to wake up in the morning because jobs.  Money is literally being sprayed out the window between groceries, camps, and fun excursions.  And you know that amazing summer vacation that you dreamed about in May; well, it turned into a little field trip because traveling with kids, is a field trip.  All the while, the school readiness is about as crisp as those cute, unopened teaching workbooks you bought from Amazon. Bless…
IMG_5305Please know that they were fighting prior, during and after this picture was taken. They were also angry about how fast the ice cream was melting. 
Who is with me?  Please tell me I am not alone!
Then after all this exhaustion and spiraling, I tend to let guilt and shame creep in. I create a list in my head of the “shoulds” and “could haves”. I should have read 20 minutes everyday with my children, we should have had more fun this summer, we could havetaken more selfies at all our fun excursions (Costco & Target) and posted it on IG because #bestsummerever.  So then, shame reminds me that I lost my patience daily, I locked myself in the bathroom sometimes two to three times daily just to get PEACE and I spent way too much time on social media. Social media encourages me to not only feel guilty and bad about my own parenting choices, it also allows me to compare my #bummersummer with everyone else’s beautiful vacations, happy days and smiling faces.  Read–worst idea EVER!
It is silly really because the day to day stuff is real life.  Somewhere along the way, we have let the world tell us that our lives have to be big, powerful and extravagant to mean something.  We think our daily lives with our children, family & friends need to be full of powerful and impactful moments.
Can I just preach for a minute…?  That is not real life.  I am constantly telling my daughter that her Disney shows, Netflix movies and Youtube videos are not real life.  I want her to know that a real boyfriend doesn’t have to choose between you and the other cute girl in a funny 30 minute episode.  She needs to know that real, true friendships encourage and lift each other up .
I think that is what our Heavenly Father wants us to know today.  Ladies, that idea we have in our head of summer, back to school or of a perfect home.. is not real life.  God cups our sweet, beautiful, tired faces in His hands and says -“My sweet, sweet child, why are you working so hard to cultivate unrealistic expectations? That is not the life I have created for you”.  The real life for us is in the tears when we mess up.  It is in the grace we give ourselves after we yell again. Real life is found in the frowny faces and whiney, homebound days.  Our God wants to be invited into the details of our days.  We learn how to love and extend grace in those dog days of summer.  God is in the details of our daily lives. He sees our messy houses, our bank accounts, our dreams, and our love for our family and Him.  His love never changes! There is nothing we can do to make Him love us less and nothing we can do to make Him love us more.
Consumed unmet longings
Rest in that today and in the coming weeks.  Let’s let go of what we think should be and truly embrace what is.  There are gifts here in real life planted for us from Our Heavenly Father.  Let us not miss those gifts, being stuck on what’s missing.IMG_5336

To read more from today's guest blogger, Brooke French, please visit her blog here.