Summer!!!! I just love all of the seasons. And even though I am not the greatest fan of heat, I can't help but love summer!
Being a homeschooling mom, summer means a break in schooling and lesson planning (although my teacher brain is always looking for learning opportunities in anything we do!) And, now that my family has completed assessment testing, I feel like I can take a breath - for a minute anyway!
Still, even with reprieve in academic duties, summer can carry its own share of craziness, depending on the "season" of life that you are in.
In my present season, I have joined so many others who have found their "open-slated" summer calendar to be quickly filled with sports activities and summer camps, vacation bible school and swimming lessons, family trips, college trips, etc. Halfway through this period of dog days, I now stare at the calendar in amazement, wondering why those open slots have all but disappeared. And now that my children are older, this common question has become more of a sadly accepted statement.
Things were quite different years ago. My summer was focused around little ones, pregnancy and my homestead. Even though our location caused us to travel a bit for groceries, Mass, and well, just about anything, my craziness was limited to my familiar surroundings and a fairly consistent hum-drum of life. I can clearly remember questioning friends with older children whose summers had become so busy that I considered myself lucky to reach them by phone. "I'll never do that," I vowed.
Well, that vow bit the dust once my oldest reached 13. She and her sister were accepted into an Honors Band Camp and then news reached us of an awesome Nuncamp opportunity for the following week. Add to that a week of VBS, our annual trip to West Virginia, zoo and beach trips, volunteer opportunities and a couple of birthday and family parties, and voilà! My summer had vanished. Understandably, a new respect and understanding for my old friends had developed. Still, I have never forgotten that vow I had made years ago.
Recently, summer has become more of a teeter-totter balancing act. Determined to regain some of those free slots from time gone by, my family has worked harder to find that acceptable symmetry between activities with family, activities away from family, and prayer time. Did you notice how I listed prayer third? This is because it is an aspect that we are presently working on. Prayer - putting God first - should never be last!
So, how in the world do we go about putting prayer in its proper place on the summer priority list? Well, to use a familiar phrase, "It requires a game plan." And I mean this literally.
The most effective schedules work around a game plan, so why should my summer schedule be any different? Sitting down to observe how to input God into our family schedule so that He is not placed on the back burner should be a must-do.
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Begin your "prayer implementation plan" with ideas that fit easily into your schedule and build up to include some more concrete and even challenging options.
Some ideas might be:
- pray before your day takes off - either as individuals or as a family
- make the effort for family meal times during which you can pray together (yes, even if you are out to eat!)
- attend Mass and Confession as often as possible
- pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet during road trips
- listen and/or sing to spiritual and sacred music while driving around (there's nothing like being in a car filled with kids' voices singing praise!)
- visit Jesus in perpetual adoration
- set up times to visit local shrines
- look for opportunities to work on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy: visiting nursing homes, food banks, etc.
- watch a movie on a saint's life: i.e. The Reluctant Saint, Therese, Padre Pio - Miracle Man, Clare and Francis
- Make some crafts or Lego creations around a faith theme (Hint Hint: You can follow www.catholicconundrum.com's weekly Lego & Craft challenge and submit your creations for their gallery for others to see!)
These are just some of the many ways to help us make sure that Christ is made a priority in our summer planning. I am positive that you can come up with an innumerable amount of ideas that would be a perfect fit for your own domestic church.
Whatever you choose, God will be pleased. He gave you this season of summer and He gave you this season of life. What will you do with this time with which He has gifted you?
Copyright 2016 Christina Nagy
About the Author
Christina Nagy is a freelance writer and blogger at www.catholicconundrum.com. She is also the creator of the Catholic Conundrum YouTube channel for kids and teens, which offers fun, faithfully Catholic content. She endeavors to bring the joy and beauty of the Catholic faith to others by sharing her experience in caring for her domestic church of 6, homeschooling, caregiving, ministry and business, and hopes to inspire others to pursue their God-given potential on their path to holiness.