It’s that time of year again. I’m beginning to see pictures of kids and young adults heading back to school. How does the summer go by so quickly? Morgan heads back to Pittsburgh in just over a week, and it feels like she just got home! Oh, how these girls are going to miss her (Mom and Dad, too)!
Isn’t it amazing how fast our kids grow, how quickly the seasons change, and how each year of our lives seems to be shorter and shorter?
Sometimes, I feel as though I must have slept through a week because I just can’t believe it’s gone already.
It’s time like that’s when I most need to remind myself that it’s okay to slow down and enjoy life without rushing through each day to get everything done and move onto the next. It’s taken me a long time to come to that realization, but I’ve been feeling better, sleeping better, laughing easier, smiling more, and enjoying life to the fullest since taking on this attitude.
Many of you know that I’ve been the director of an all-volunteer week-long girls summer camp for the past fifteen years. I was almost at the point where I was ready to give it up despite how much I and my girls love it. Those other volunteers and the campers are like family to us. I can’t imagine not seeing them every year, but I was just worn out. For years, my oldest, Rebecca, has been telling me to take on one or two of the teen counselors as an assistant for an hour or two each day. The first couple years I did this, it was pretty successful, so this year, I scheduled one girl for 90 minutes in the morning and another for 90 minutes in the afternoon. I couldn’t believe how well that went! The girls felt special and got to see the inner workings of the camp from a whole different point of view, and I was finished my work each evening by 8:30 and had time to sit by the campfire and visit wtih my team and our campers.
Having help at camp made me think about what a difference that would make for me the rest of the year. There’s a prayer by St. Teresa of Avila that perfectly sums up what I was feeling:
I know that you are constantly beside me, yet I am usually so busy that I ignore you. If you want me to remain so busy, please force me to think about and love you even in the midst of such hectic activity. If you do not want me so busy, please release me from it, showing others how they can take over my responsibilities. Amen.St. Teresa of Avila
So, another change I made this year was to ask two long-time team members to be my Assistant Camp Directors. Why did I never do that before? Each day, we had an impromptu meeting to discuss all that was happening at camp, and it felt so nice to bounce ideas off each other (by the way ladies, that’s going to be in the schedule next year). By the time I got home after the last day of camp, one of them had already put together the end-of-camp evaluation and was ready to send it out and start taking notes for 2022. In the past 10 days, we’ve easily accomplished what it would have taken me hours to do in between writing, researching, book signings, and everything else I do, and since we’ve all been at camp for so many years and have a combined knowledge, the tasks go much quicker than when I was doing them on my own. I found that I actually gained back time in my day and really look forward to checking in with my assistant directors on a regular basis.
That time gained has made me realize just how important it is not to jam so much into those tiny spaces of time we call days. We’re not meant to do that–to fill every second of every day with one task or another. We’re not meant to go through life like the Bullet Train or the Concorde, whipping around bends, zooming across time zones, and hurtling toward the next stop at break-neck speed. We are meant to take time to rest. “In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3).
This past weekend, I spent all of Saturday morning working on things around the house. My repacked camp bin needed to go up into the second floor of the shed. The house needed to be vacuumed. I was craving freshly baked cookies! I completed all of my chores knowing that there were at least fifty other things I could be accomplishing while Ken was out crabbing and the girls were at work. Rather than work all afternoon until it was time to head to church, I stretched out on the sofa in our sunroom, with both dogs lying on the cold tile floor beside me, and took up the book I was almost finished reading. I may have even dozed off for a little while with the afternoon sun streaming into the room, the house deserted except for me and my furry girls. After a busy week of camp and a busy week of catching up from camp, I could empathize with Jesus and his disciples. “The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while'” (Mark 6:30).
My vow going forward is to look for ways each day to find a little more time to enjoy things I like to do and a little more time to pray. I’m putting together to-do lists without overdoing the amount of things on the lists! I am planning ahead so that I’m not crunched for time. I’ve turned off notifications on my laptop and phone so that I can work without interruption. I’m taking five minutes each day to clear my desk so that things don’t pile up on me. I’m not going to make myself feel guilty if I don’t accomplish 110 things in a day! I’m going to get that walk or other exercise into my early mornings or evenings so that I feel good about myself. I’m going to add a few minutes to my morning prayer time so that the Lord doesn’t feel like He is just another check mark on the list.
The summer may be coming to a close, and my baby may be heading off sooner than I want her to, but I’m going to find a way to slow things down, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day. Even God rested after he had accomplished his work “On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3). Twice. The fact that God rested after His work was complete was written not once but twice in that passage. God placed an emphasis on His time spent at rest. I need to do the same–place an emphasis on the need, no the mandate, to rest after I’ve accomplished my work. After all, why should I place myself and my menial tasks on a higher level than the Almighty?
Be sure to catch me next at:
August 28 – Book signing – St. Mary’s Crab Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-4:00PM
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).