Create an intentional summer the easy way – some of my favorite summer posts on life, memories, traditions, and experiences

Summer time is my favorite time. Summer is easy if we let it be easy. Spend much time on Pinterest and you will feel like you must create amazing systems, schedules, and creative experiences. But just let all that roll by you and embrace the beauty of a simple summer.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite summer posts over the last several years. Here’s links for a few of them.

We Only Have 18 Summers

“I’ve said it before – Lord willing, we only get 18 summers with our children. That’s it. 18 summers.

I do believe that living intentionally allows us to move from stage to stage with a deeper sense of satisfaction. There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing we chose to live fully in the moments. Doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but we can at least look back with fewer regrets over how we spent our time.”

Summer is for simple moments

Summer doesn’t have to be complicated with filled with expensive bucket list items.

Summer is for taking back time.
Summer is for championing for our families and friends. For cheering and celebrating life.
Summer is for friends. Summer is for simply investing in life-giving relationships.
Summer is for simple moments.
Summer is for slowing down and simply being.
Like all of life, summer is a gift.

Mission Mondays – A Summer Tradition

Sometimes summer can turn into a time of “all about us”. We become so focused on creating a summer to remember for our kids, we fail to remember one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is create hearts of compassion that care more about others than themselves.

Blackberry Moments (P.S. This was one of my very first blog posts when my blog turned from simply a family yearbook to an intentional ministry. While the writing has changed over time, the heart of this post remains one of my all time favorites.)

“To grab the moments, we must be available. Life needs to be a little less complicated, a little less distracted, a little less busy. Buffers of time must exist in order to capture the moments that sometimes crop up unexpectedly, without warning.

We have one chance to paint a beautiful life. Lord willing, the day will come when we have more time on our hands than we know how to fill. Our houses will be quieted. Our homes will look the same way at 7 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm. Because there will be no block towers built, no army scenes created, no pillow forts constructed, and no sword fights fought.”

Don’t Blink, Then I Blinked

#dontblink – a common hashtag when celebrating graduations, birthdays, a new school year, or a life change.

#theniblinked -it’s like a sudden realization that time actually does move at a pace that is frighteningly slow in real time yet megafast in the replay.

One day we are wiping smashed peas off chubby cheeks, then we seem to blink as we watch that same child wiping milk from our new grandbaby’s mouth.

Each blink is a gift full of opportunity. How do we blink through life without missing a moment?

What if we never stopped playing?

I have to work to play. Work comes easy. Play – not so much.

My kids want me in the pool with them. On the basketball court. Not on the sidelines.

I’ve come to a new conclusion on play. Play is important no matter our age. In fact, maybe play is even more important for grown ups than it is for kids.

Maybe if we played more, we’d snap less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d grumble less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d let the little things go with ease.

Maybe if we played more, we’d sleep sounder.

Maybe if we played more, we’d laugh harder and linger longer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d listen closer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d love more intensely.

Maybe if we played more, we’d rekindle what’s dwindled.

How Not To Waste A Life

I’m living my life fully spent. I’m not saving an ounce for the future because I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Each day I’m falling into bed exhausted with nothing left to give, yet sleeping with complete peace knowing I’m exerting every ounce exactly where He has me right now.

It’s a different kind of exhaustion, the kind that comes not from overcommitting or trying to do everything placed before me. It’s the kind of exhaustion from living fully right here.

I’m trading in being a saver of life so I can savor life.


Ok- so creating this post for you today was more for me than I realized. That is typically how God works in me through my writing. I sit down wanting to minister to you and serve you. But when I’m done, I feel God has given me an incredible gift. I stopped after 7 posts.

I don’t intend you to sit and read them all in one sitting. Save today’s post and read one or two a day. Let the Lord move you in the direction of intentional simplicity. Living life to the fullest. Life is a beautiful journey. Each moment is unique and will never exist again in the same exact way. Embrace and live.

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve created a tool to help you simply sit with Jesus. There’s a sweet joy in letting go of the frantic pace of life for 10 sweet minutes to sit at His feet. I tend to be more like Martha than Mary, working more than sitting. Jesus loved Mary’s offering.God is inviting you to simply sit at His feet. You don’t need a book, or a group, or an extra night carved out of your schedule. You simply need an email address.

When you order Illuminate, it will arrive quietly into your inbox. It will patiently wait on you. And when you listen, God will speak to you. I’ve prayed for your time with Him as you allow Illuminate to help you to focus your heart and mind simply on God, the lover of your soul.

It’s $10. It’s yours forever. It would make a sweet gift to someone the Lord brings to your mind who could use some encouragement and reminders of who loves them with a reckless love. Click the picture for more information.

audio devotional





8 Simple Ways to Get Life Back on Track

I’m not going to lie. Winter in Nebraska was hard for our family.

The winter seasons of our lives usher in discouragement and doubt, creating a sense of urgency to change everything and quick.

In the never-ending winter, I was tempted to make drastic changes, yet I knew it wasn’t wise.

Instead of making drastic changes that I might regret when the shining sun offers actual warmth, I decided to make slight course corrections.

Sometimes getting life back on track is merely looking at the small disciplines we’ve relaxed on and intentionally creating a plan to bring them back to life.

I found that over the winter I ever so slightly let go of disciplines and organization methods that have always helped my life feel less chaotic.

An intentional life doesn’t happen by chance. An intentional life is created and cultivated. It is nurtured and pruned. It is assessed and re-worked when needed.

If you find yourself lacking in motivation or energy, or stressed that you never have enough time, or feeling you struggle to bring things to completion well, you may find this post helpful in giving you a gentle nudge to try a few slight changes that may have a significant impact.

Here are a few things I have in place to keep my life running smoothly. When life runs smoothly, I have more time to invest in what matters most.

Clear the clutter

When you are surrounded by “stuff”, it’s actually hard to think clearly.

My boys do their school work on desks in their rooms. Each morning I have them make their beds and create a clean and clear work space so they can stay focused. They claim the mess doesn’t bother them, but I see a difference in the pace and quality of work when they have little around to distract.

I try to maintain a clutter free house as much as possible. When mail enters the house, I stand over the trash can and quickly discard what isn’t needed and file away what is important.

We have specified times of the day where everyone goes through the house putting away anything they’ve taken out that needs to find its home.

I purge drawers and closets once a season.

When I buy a new clothing item, I remove at least one item (if not more) from the closet.

As I go through my closet, I donate anything I haven’t worn in the last year no matter how much I think I love it.

Plan what matters

In our family, dinner matters. Almost every night we sit together as a family for dinner. It’s distraction free time where we all reconnect after long days. We share what is happening in our independent worlds, we discuss topics that matter in the world, and we laugh.

Memories are created around the table. If dinner is important, I need to plan for it. 

Over time, I let go of the planning. We still sat together, but I found myself frantically figuring out dinner too close to time to eat. This only created stress for me.

I bought a large calendar dry erase board to hang in our pantry. I took 30 minutes over the weekend and planned out 3 weeks of menus, writing them on the dry erase board.

This one tiny shift offered me breathing room every single afternoon when I wrapped up school with the kids. It gave my brain space and actual physical minutes. I used that time in the late afternoons to sit on the couch and read or do absolutely nothing at all. I found the boys would join me with a book or conversation.

I loved planning more than a week at a time. It means I don’t have to think about it each weekend. I no longer hear “what’s for dinner?” Pretty much loving that.

Schedule time for exercise

I don’t love to exercise at all; yet, I realize I’m happier and healthier when I get plenty of intense exercise.

At the same time I planned my dinner menus, I wrote in actual times I would go to the gym. And I actually stuck to it!

When we exercise, our bodies release happy hormones and decrease our stress hormones. The hardest step for me in exercising is the first step. The one that actually gets me out the door.

Something about writing out my intentions held me accountable to them. The very fact I exercised and cooked healthy meals at home brought me more joy than I realized it would. When mama is happy, well, everyone else seems to be as well.

Take a social media break

Another slight course correction I made was getting off of social media. It’s amazing how much time a quick scroll here and there takes up in a day. Or how much of my brain space it occupies. I reclaimed physical minutes and hours to my day.

Because of this redeemed time and mental clarity, I was able to become much more intentional with my boys. I felt no need to rush away from time sitting with them. I listened more clearly and noticed things I’ve been missing.

Remove one habit that takes up time yet offers little benefit

For some this might be watching tv. Some reports say the average adult watches 5 hours of tv a day. Imagine gaining even just one hour a day, but five can be life changing. It could give you the time to pursue that new business or hobby you’ve been dreaming about.

For some this could be removing social media apps from your phone.

For some it’s playing games on your phone or computer.

Use a timer for daily duties

One of my boys began taking longer to do tasks that shouldn’t have taken so long. I realized he needed defined boundaries and limits to function productively. He needed a goal to work towards and visuals to guide him.

We scheduled out his daily tasks, placing them in prioritized order and setting time limits on each one. I instructed him to set the timer for each task based on the time we determined was appropriate. When the buzzer beeped, he was to stop the task and move to the next. We scheduled in time at the end of the day to go back and tie up any loose ends. Turns out he hasn’t needed that extra scheduled time because working with a goal and action plan moved him forward to completion. He gained hours of his life back each day by this one slight change.

This proved invaluable to his time management skills. It also solved his tendency to procrastinate. It eliminated his stress. It freed him.

Schedule in what you feel is missing

Is your prayer life lacking? Set an alarm for a specified time each day. When the alarm sounds, stop and pray. For each person this will look slightly different. For some it’s stopping right where you are and praying a 30 second prayer. For others, it’s going to a quiet room and kneeling for 5, 10, or 20 minutes. The point is simply to go a step beyond where you currently are in your prayer life.

Do you need to spend more time reading your Bible? Set your alarm to wake you 10 minutes earlier. Don’t hit snooze. Get out of bed, leave your phone where it is, pick up your Bible and read. This one habit will change your life forever. Guaranteed.

Do you want to spend more time with your kids? Write it on your calendar. Set an alarm to remind you. You will be surprised what a 10 minute game or 5 minutes reading aloud will do.

If it’s important to you, schedule it in. We tend to do the things we write out. Sometimes it only takes the slightest correction, a small sacrifice of time.

Reward yourself

At the end of the week, reward yourself for creating a new discipline that helped your life either run more smoothly or offered more richness or joy to your days because you did the things which matter most to you.

I’m longing for spring. Yet I find that God grows me most in my winter seasons. When the season of life draws us in more than we prefer, we have an opportunity to turn our gaze back to Him. At the same time, when we find those small, subtle shifts which make life flow a little more smoothly, the pain of the season lessens its intensity.

If you would like to read more posts like this one on breaking bad habits and creating a disciplined life, check these out:

Do You Want God’s Best This Year?

Three Ways To Begin Loving God More, and It Won’t Happen Overnight


Very soon, I’ll be releasing illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. For the person who wants to grow in their discipline of spending time with God each day, this is a great step towards that. It’s 14 days of audio devotions centered around God’s character, prayerfully crafted to bless your soul.