Let me share with you how God abundantly showered me with a good and unexpected gift this week. It was the gift I most needed in this particular season: an unhurried and free schedule. He gifted me the kind of week that summer dreams are made of.

Now, let me share with you how this summer has been progressing up to now and what my week was supposed to look like, and I think you’ll understand why I’m overjoyed with such a gift.

My ideal summer vacation would be filled with unhurried days, hours working in my garden, occasional field trips with my kids, planning a few play dates with friends, and scheduling some road trips on weekends. As our summer unfolded, this is what I envisioned.

Then, as I always seem to do, I started scheduling.

Some of the scheduling was necessary. For instance, my kids needed swimming lessons. My oldest son needed to start drivers-ed classes. They all needed doctor and dentist check-ups. These are the normal items of Mom to-do lists.

Of course, even in summer, I work part-time. I enjoy my work, but with my kids out of school, balancing my husband’s and my work schedules becomes a little hectic and gives us less time together.

Sometimes we need a reason to slow down.

Also, as an Enneagram 2, when I would slow down for a few minutes, I would begin thinking of all the people we haven’t seen lately. I’d find myself making lists in my head of the people I need to check in with, the people I need to schedule play dates with, and the get-togethers I promised would happen that I haven’t yet pulled together. In some ways, being a people person is a blessing. The problem is, once I’ve started contacting people, I don’t leave myself enough time for slow-living, summer days with my children.

Without rest and sufficient down-time, coupled with having four boys in the house keeping the noise level at a constant and sometimes ferocious roar, my stress barometer has been climbing. Without question, I know I have been irritable, consistently feeling like an unkind and exhausted version of the self I once knew. (For you Enneagram fans, 2’s go to 8 in stress. I have definitely been camping out in 8 land!)

To top the building stress off, I was scheduled for jury duty this week, followed by an extremely busy weekend. As I frantically tried to do laundry, clean the kitchen, and prepare for a week away, I had absolutely no grace for the antics of my children, who were not at all on their best behavior yesterday.

Then, last evening, I remembered to call and check in for jury duty and was surprised to hear the words announcing on the other end of the line: “Your services are not needed for the week of June 29.”

Ahh…what a relief.

In preparation for jury duty, I took off work and scheduled no appointments or get-togethers this week. Now, with jury duty cancelled, I realized that I was officially on vacation.

As the news sunk in, I thanked God that He knew exactly what I needed. Apparently, it took scheduling jury duty for me to get a break. A break I didn’t (or wouldn’t) schedule for myself. Now, I am intentionally choosing to set these days apart for things I have wanted to do, but just haven’t had the time to make a priority.

Additionally, I noticed as my schedule cleared that when I wasn’t stretched beyond my bandwidth, I felt myself able to offer more grace again to my children.

I physically felt the relief in my body. That’s saying something.

What about you, friend? As you check in on your own soul-care, how much are you accounting for a hurried and full pace of life? Which of those scheduled items can you let go of this summer to give yourself more bandwidth? I hope the Lord opens up good gifts in the form of rest and slow-living opportunities for you, too.

Yes, I preach soul-care, but I will humbly admit that I often struggle to practice it myself. I’m also self-aware enough to know that I have not yet learned my lesson. Overscheduling will continue to be a struggle for me as I find confidence in knowing “what is mine to do,” as Suzanne Stabile often says. Still, while I’m learning my lessons, I’m thankful for a God who steps in to give me opportunities I couldn’t give myself. It is a luxury I won’t take for granted.

Pause, Renew, Next!