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Jake Frost looks to recalibrate his family's expectations — and his own — for how their summer vacation will be spent.

A paper chain hangs in our dining room, resplendent in primary-color, construction-paper glory. 

It is the focus of great attention, for each link marks one day until the end of the school year. 

And the paper chain is growing short! Summer is on the way! 




Our family is excited, but exhausted.  

It seems summer often comes on us in this frazzled, holding-on-by-a-tattered-fray state. 

Science fair took its toll. As did basketball and volleyball and the play. We’ve long been in the thick of clubs and councils and lessons.  

All good, but all demanding time, energy — and driving. 

But now, they’re all wrapping-up!  

We’re mostly running on fumes at this point, but we might just have enough left in the tank to make it over the finish line. 

And alongside the end-of-the-year fatigue a new enthusiasm is bubbling up: summer is coming!  




Soon will be the days of sunshine, sleeping in, picnics, trips to the lake, dinner cooked on the grill, fresh corn from roadside farm stands, hours outdoors with no schedules.  

Well, as things seem to be shaping up, that last bit about “no schedules” may be more wishful thinking than actual reality. Maybe we could aim for “with reduced schedules.”  

Because even though the school year isn’t even done yet, our summer already seems to be filling up with a new spate of activities: camps, classes, lessons, and appointments. 

Like nature itself, our calendar seems to abhor a vacuum.  

Again, they are all good things, but my imagination craves a mystical summer of freedom, endless empty days of sunshine and open air, and the kind of barefoot bliss read about in old children’s books. 

To end the school year only to embark on a new round of registrations and organized events and drop-offs and pick-ups seems so ... “un-magical.” 




Enter the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a rich and powerful commander of the king of Syria’s hosts — Naaman was a “great man” (2 Kings 5:1). But he contracted leprosy, for which there was no cure. He heard of Elisha in Israel and journeyed to meet the holy man, seeking a miracle. 

Elisha told Naaman he could have his miracle if he would only ... do something simple, small, and ordinary: wash himself seven times in the Jordan River.  

Naaman scoffed. He had expected Elisha to do something wondrous. Naaman was looking for the prophet to wave his arms, call out to the heavens, and lay his hands on the afflicted flesh. Naaman wanted dramatic pageantry culminating in a spectacular flash of divine power.  

Instead, he was told to go dip himself in the Jordan.  

Had he not just come from Damascus, with its famous rivers that were so much greater than the little Jordan? 

But Naaman’s servant told him: if the prophet had commanded you to do something great, you would do it. Just because what you’ve been given to do is something ordinary, why is that a reason not to do it?  

Why not try to do what you’ve been asked to do and see where it leads? 

So Naaman does, and he is healed — completely transformed, so that he comes out of the Jordan with skin like that “of a little child” (2 Kings 5:14). 




And we learn that there is transforming grace in the ordinary, just as much as there sometimes is in the extraordinary.  

After all, the same God Who made the awesome, cloud-scraping pinnacles of the alps also made ... Indiana. 

The fields of Iowa are every bit the work of His hands as are the golden sands of Hawaii. 

Or whatever exotic location fires your imagination.  

And just as much as the mystic, exciting adventures we might dream of as catalysts to forever change our plain, work-a-day lives, the power of transformation is right before us in the humdrum we sometimes wish to escape. 

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming. And our lives can and will transform — in fact, they are changing every day.  

How much more, and better, might they change if we grab the graces abounding all around all the time along the way! 

So before the last link finally comes off our paperchain, I’m trying to recalibrate my mental gears to maximize the coming summer in what each day offers, whether it’s a Tom-Sawyer day lolling under a shady tree, a Robinson-Crusoe day swimming in a deep blue sea, or a normal-Dad day at home!  


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Copyright 2024 Jake Frost
Images: Canva