There are no trips planned this summer. No suitcases to pack. No plane ticket in hand or standing in long lines waiting to get through security (that last part I’m not sad about). For the first time in twelve years (minus 2020, which doesn’t really count), I’m not getting on a plane this summer.
For this traveling girl, that thought makes me a little sad. I love the thrill of a plane leaving the ground, of landing in random cities, of traveling to old and new places alike, of spending time with people I get to see only once a year.
And yet, I’m asking the Lord to make me content with this stay-at-home summer. I’m praying that I won’t begrudgingly look at the summer ahead as “just” being at home, but rather that I would view this time at home as a gift and a sanctuary.
Recently, I’ve been collecting quotes about home and homemaking on Pinterest, and two of them stood out as I thought about how I want to craft my summer.
The first says:
It takes great artistry to create a home where people will want to talk to each other; where they will want to linger over dinner; where they will want to snuggle up with a quilt and a book on a rainy day instead of escaping to the shopping mall. It takes skill and sensitivity to design ways to buoy, comfort, and strengthen the people we love. ~Linda Burton
The second says:
A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world’s perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded. Far more than we know, do the strength and beauty of our lives depend upon the home in which we dwell. ~J.R. Milles
These have long been my goals for my home and all who enter it, but I want to embrace them even more fully this summer. Too often, we view our homes as pit stops rather than retreats, and our busy lives whirl through them rather than seeking rest in them.
But sometimes God gives us seasons of slowing down—and sometimes we need to intentionally choose such seasons—to remind ourselves of what the sanctuary of home can bring us.
Such a season brings opportunities to take care of our homes and make them even more welcoming places.
For example, the first job I tackled this summer vacation was cleaning and waxing my hardwood floors in both sets of living rooms. Before you get too impressed, let me just note that I’ve successfully avoided this job the last couple summers because it seemed like too much work.
But as I physically moved all the furniture out of each room, swept away the dust bunnies and dog hair that had accumulated in the forgotten spots, and mopped wax across the floors to make them shine again, I felt the joy that comes from taking care of a thing. By investing time into cleaning and restoring the gift of this 110-year old house, I’m showing it love and respect, and also creating a cozier environment for all who enter it.
Our lives need these seasons to restore peace and order to our homes. The school year, as a teacher, is a constant wheel of motion where cleaning is kept to a bare minimum. But as I reach summer, I hope to take the time to invest back into this sanctuary of a home.
This season also brings the ability to sit with friends and family, lingering over a satisfying meal, talking deep, and laughing long about all we share in common.
I hope and pray for many such occasions in the coming weeks, for I love nothing better than when someone I love walks through my front door, kicks off their shoes, and curls up on the couch for a good conversation. When we crowd in the kitchen as the last few dishes finish cooking, when we gather around the coffee table to play another hilarious game, or when we sit in the backyard under string lights as evening comes, my heart feels content and full with purpose.
These are the times that I know my home is being used as I desire it to be—as that “resting-place” where “the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow.” Our souls were meant for fellowship and communion, and this is best shared in our homes where the love is rich, the understanding deep, and the tea kettle always ready to boil.
Finally, this season brings time for contemplation, through Scripture reading, prayer, reading good books, journaling, and taking slow walks.
My mind over the past few months has been constantly busy. Adjusting to the slower rhythm of summer always takes me some time (and a little bit of depression, if I’m honest). But as a reader, a writer, and a daughter of God, I need this time of deep thought and slow living again so as to learn what God would have me learn. So as live more fully into the purposes he would have me live. So as to think thoughts I can’t find when my life is on autopilot.
Home is the most beautiful place to see that happen, and as I cultivate the summer routine and shift into a different set of goals, I need to be grateful for this haven instead of viewing it as a place of entrapment. I pray that my eyes would be opened to new beauty this summer each morning when I wake, each time I walk through the neighborhood with Daisy, each time I sit down on the couch to lose myself in a book or in my writing.
These are gifts, and I must not forget how much I long for these times when I’m anxiously flying through the school year. This is what my summer vacation looks like, and my tired soul desperately needs it.
There will be no trips this summer. No plane trips, that is. But I’m praying that the trips through the familiar—through the home, the neighborhood, the church, the town that I love dearly—would be just as satisfying and dear to me as all those other vacations have been.
May God be glorified this summer.
Picture gleaned from Pinterest.