how summer changes the writing (and the living)

It’s been June for seventeen days and this is only my fifth post of the month.

The kids are home now and I have missed writing the weekend blessings, the extended thinking time and the writing time and staring out the window time. I hesitate to even say that because I know many writers don’t even have the school year to count on. You work full time at another job and write at night or you homeschool your kids and write from under your bed.


I don’t know how you do it.

I love the flexibility of my job, but working from home during the school year looks different than working from home in the summer. I have missed the somewhat dependable daily routine.

I read this post the other day by Ellen Painter Dollar – I Have a Kid Hangover (But Manage to Write Anyway) – I laughed at the truth of it, glad she gave this fog a name.

work 2

She talked about Donald Miller, how he schedules his time so he can write until 5 pm every day. If I were him, I would probably do the same thing. Of course! Why not? But that kind of time isn’t always possible for everyone.

Her mention of him reminded me of another post he wrote once where he mentioned he was spending some time on Bainbridge Island to transition from his previous book to his next book. It was just a passing comment in a thoughtful post about productivity.

But that comment stuck with me. I thought about how I transition from one book to the next. Ready for it?

I go to bed at night and wake up the next morning. 

It’s life-changing.

Even though my writing time isn’t particularly spacious or romantic, with the ending of school, I have lost the time I had.

But I have gained something, too. I have gained the mid-day bingo, the fireflies at dusk, the snuggles on the couch with a movie again tonight. I have gained my nieces coming over to play at 8 in the morning and hours of listening to them create little worlds with their dolls.

It’s true, I have also gained more chaos in the house and a few more headaches, a shortened temper and a reminder of my graceless-ness when we’ve been cooped up in the house too long together on a rainy day.

But those reminders aren’t always bad. They re-introduce me to my smallness, my limits, my need for help and God and coffee.

I have remembered how much work can be done in the dark morning hours, how time can slow when you pause to savor it, and how productivity isn’t as important as I sometimes think.

It can be easy for me to live with a fractured soul – the kind that pulls in ten thousand directions, the kind that insists I compete, do more, and live up until finally I crash down.

It’s no way to live.

Then why does it feel so normal?june

This week I want to throw myself into the lives of my children in ways I haven’t done in a long time. It feels wrong to say that, as if I’ve been neglecting them. I don’t think I have been, but while they’re in school during the year it’s different. They are gone during the day and when they come home, we have all these agendas.

June comes empty handed, her grin wide across her suntanned face.

As schedules shift, so must our souls. And as my soul takes a deep breath in, I remember how it could be like this all the time if I wanted it to be. Not the schedule part, but the centered part. There is a strong stillness deep within me, the place where God lives. He is not pulled in ten thousand directions and in him, neither am I.

And so we welcome June because we must, because to press on as we have been doing hurts too much.

Instead of fighting the change in schedule, I want to let summertime be my sacred companion.

Dear June, we’re so glad you’ve come.


  1. says

    when i was transitioning from school days to summer days,
    i wasn’t blogging. i can imagine how difficult this will be
    but applaud your choices.

    one day you will have all the time in the world to write
    but no children laughing, squealing, and pouncing in the

  2. says

    Beautiful reflection . . . The times and seasons and opportunities will always be in flux, but remembering whose children we are helps us to stay centered and focused through it all.

  3. Tammy LeGlue says

    This post makes me smile, and reminds me I am not alone. I am a mom who works from home, and writes on the side. While I can’t fill the hours of the school days with writing, summer has taken much of my productive writing time. This schedule shift is always an adjustment, and I admit, I was less ready for it this year than in times past, but God is good. He has given me this opportunity to pour His love into my children’s lives, and He has shown me time and again that He the author of time, so when He really wants me to be productive in writing, He can bend time to His will. Have a blessed summer!

  4. says

    Yes, yes, and yes, to all of it. Going through the exact same thing over here, though I do still have our babysitter come a few hours a week so I can get some uninterrupted writing/working time. I’ve been feeling the same thing, this desire to pour in to my kids the way I haven’t in a long time… Posts can be written by me, or they can be written by someone else, but no one else can be my kids’ mother.

    May you eat a popsicle today, my friend… :)

  5. says

    thank you for your words this morning. you write my heart and I am one of those mamas who homeschool and although I don’t write from under my bed, I do scratch out words while standing in the kitchen.
    and this…
    June comes empty handed, her grin wide across her suntanned face…
    is my most favorite line…
    thank-full for your encouragement to just breathe.

  6. says

    This is the jump start my summer writing, more of a reminder that it doesn’t have to be the same as when I was writing in college. I may not have the same long breaks or my favorite coffee shops, but it just means a transition not the end.

  7. Emily @ Random Recycling says

    I love this post. I feel like I’m in a similar funny place because I just had a baby and about to leave for our family vacation but I do miss writing on my blog. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that all the schedules will come back again all too soon so enjoy the time now.

  8. says

    Yes, Yes & Yes again! You have just written what I have been dealing with this summer! I have LOVED spending time focused on my kids & savoring every moment with them. But, I also had this dream that I would spend more time writing. It hasn’t happened yet & my posts have been sporadic at best but, the fun & the memories have been incredible with many more to come. Thanks for this!

  9. Kat Lee says

    Oh, soooo good Emily. Our kids are about the same ages, aren’t they? Now that they are older, summer is just full of potential fun for all of us. No chasing a toddler or worrying about naptimes. I want to embrace this carefree (mostly) season of childhood with them. Thanks for your words.

    Also? Do I see a hair twirler?

  10. says

    “…my need for help, and God, and coffee.”
    Love it!
    Go to bed and get up and it’s a new day with new adjustments to make-managing mind and life. Come Holy Spirit, fill me again!
    Honestly. All the younger moms hear us ‘further along moms’ say it all the time, so I wont tell you how quickly it seems to have gone because I remember how long it feels when you are in it, but making this adjustment daily-is so worth it-and I will also tell you when the nest is empty the daily need for readjustment does not subside. #alwaysawoman


  11. says

    My parents have taken our boys to Guatemala for 10 days, and I’m back at the writing full-time-ish.

    What you said about transitioning from one book to another: I’m having a hard time. I’m working on two at once (an editorial letter for one coming at the end of the month and drafting another). The new book phase has always been a hard one for me, and this one has been especially scary. It’s been promised to my editor before it’s been written — something I’ve never done before. And the whole creating something out of nothing has always felt huge, but this time around, the stakes feel higher. There’s also the possibility I have no idea what a plot is.

    Pray for me?

  12. says

    I’m right there with you and feel the exact same way! I do need to “lessen up” on my computer working time which can be flexible and your words really helped me see it’s OK if I miss a post every so often…our children are most important! Thanks Emily and have many joy-filled time with them this summer!

  13. says

    this is so encouraging emily
    as my little one woke up today (her older sisters all driving themselves here, there & yonder) and mentioned the possibility of boredom today, i reminded her that today was a work day for me. having taken off the weekend…i had to get back to the computer.
    i’ve felt this struggle for the last couple weeks & already feeling like a bit of a failure in both camps.
    i love when i read something you’ve written & realize, i’m not alone

  14. says

    Those pictures speak a thousand words. I feel it, too. Swim team splashes us into June and then it’s July and time for championships before we can even catch our breaths. I’m trying to hang on to June because I know July and August go by just as quickly. May you find peace, rest, and great amounts of fun in your summer schedule or non- schedule.

  15. says

    I have to agree with you that when your kids are under feet it definitely makes a difference in the amount of stuff that can get done. I homeschool my kids, but have found that now that they are not doing “their independent school work” I don’t have have as much time to work on my blogging stuff either. Plus lately we’ve had issues with Internet usage (which I’m praying that come Thursday that we will be starting the process to change that.)

  16. says

    I love these lines and the beautiful truth they speak: “June comes empty handed, her grin wide across her suntanned face. As schedules shift, so must our souls. ”

    Your words wear a sweet smile that settles over my soul. Thank you.

    Deb Weaver

  17. says

    Beautiful! You have summed up most of 2013 for me…and I appreciate the grace to just let things be what they are right now. And that look on your face in the second picture? Priceless! I’ve had a few of those days during our child rearing days too. Thanks for being real.

  18. says

    “A Kid Hangover?” Yes! That’s it!

    This is the cloud I seem to be stumbling around in, not sure what to task to tackle next–and never actually tackling anything because someone has just tackled their sister–or me.

    I feel like I was just given the final nudge I needed to put the tasks aside for while. Thanks, Emily.

  19. says

    Grateful for your honesty Emily. 😉
    We haven’t been blessed with children. Yet…God is reminding me…to breathe…to ponder…to gaze on Him. More. Sometimes it’s hard to quiet the lies of productivity and busyness. I join you in making summertime by sacred companion.

  20. says

    Thank you for this. School finished and I started my own business all at the same time, so life has felt a little crazy the last two weeks. I especially want to enjoy this summer with my kids before the youngest starts kindergarten and I move into a different parenting stage. The extra noise and mess isn’t so welcome but the reading books together and moments where I am cuddled and loved within an inch of my life – they are pretty awesome.

  21. says

    I love that summertime is your sacred companion with all that goes with it. The chaos, the smiles, the wet feet, damp towels, and constant snacking that kids do. How beautiful to enjoy it, and to be present in it.

  22. says

    You nailed it: Home with non-school-aged kids is summertime all the time. Sounds blissful, but for a writer it’s a bit stressful. Here’s to the oldest starting kindergarten in the fall!

    PS, And that leaves me wondering, were your kids in school when you started writing Grace for the Good Girl?

    • says

      My kids were in school 2 days a week when I wrote the proposal for Good Girl. So I worked on it Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 until 12:30 like clockwork. And early mornings. And sometimes late nights, too.

      Then when I wrote the book, my son was in preschool 3 days a week so that was when I did my writing.

      It was a miracle that book was ever finished.

  23. says

    Yes. Yes! YES!!!!

    I was getting ready to write a similar post for my blog, but maybe I can just cut and paste yours.


    p.s. It actually liberates me when other bloggers confess this. Thank you for being authentic and transparent.

  24. says

    Thank you, Emily. This is a lovely post.
    Currently, I work full time and blog three times a week (without fail), work on my book, and try to live, too. This is a season, but someone told me something once that I always remember whenever I find myself wanting to give an excuse: if you can’t write now, you never will be able to.
    Writing makes me come alive, and I don’t think that will change. By removing the guilt of “not writing” I’m giving myself grace and freedom to get out there and write!

  25. says

    Emily, this is such an incredible post! My writing schedule has changed in huge ways because of our move into our first home (yay!) in the last three weeks. I’m weeks behind on email, and even more weeks behind in writing. I love how you said you want June to be your sacred companion, how life doesn’t have to be fractured. That is exactly how I feel! Great thoughts to ponder. Will be sharing this with everyone I know!

  26. Annemarie Vinci says

    Yes, I can completely relate though I have had two kids home during the school year and two in school, now it is 4 home all day during the Summer. Why am I so “afraid” to slow down and enjoy the moments, forget the “mess”, the work for a while and, I’m slowly learning…Thank you for this post.

  27. says

    Guilty – homeschool mom here. I had 30 days to write my manuscript last year. Literally lived in my closet…..on the floor nestled between hangers on each side. Such a refreshing post, I too want to savor each moment with my kiddos in ways I haven’t been able to in a long time. Blessings to you for sharing.

  28. says

    So beautifully said Emily! Thanks for sharing this with us today. I want to strive to find that center. The lack of distracting and feeling pulled in a million directions. Summer is a gift, isn’t it?

  29. says

    Ahh. You touched that little part of my soul that can barely mutter, “Me too.”

    Love you Emily, love the grace you extend to yourself and how it teaches us to, too.


    Welcoming June.

  30. says

    I love the heart of this, Emily. I’m feeling that pull back to the centered place too. School ends here this week, so our July is your June, and I am looking forward to it with arms wide open. Loved this.

  31. Joan Marie says

    Emily, I just love you…love your heart, your transparency, your humor, your style…Enjoy your June =) and know that you are in my heart and prayers as you head into your ‘adventure of life’ for this season…
    This year has been transitional for me…and when June rolled around after a spring of ‘no dance lessons culminating in recitals, no homeschool culminating in graduation, no eager anticipation and packing with my daughter for Project Serve’… I have felt QUITE awkwardly out of sync…Your posts assist me in ‘re-centering’ and finding that quiet stillness that my soul aches for in the midst of the ‘different mode’… yes, the other hectic scheduled part seems so familiar, so normal…but my soul aches for the still peacefulness in HIM…
    I appreciate your expressions in words…Thank you for bringing us ‘chatting at the sky’… <3

  32. says

    It’s so nice to hear someone verbalize what I’ve been experiencing . . . and know I’m not the only one experiencing it. I’ve been struggling to find time to write. Schedule’s so different, but having my kids home is so sweet! Cherishing it above all else.

  33. says

    Oh my goodness! I love your expression on your face in the picture. I am facing the exact same thing. I’ve sent my kids to two different churches for Vacation Bible School, mostly because they love it, but partly so I can get some writing done. Love my boys, though, and am grateful for my time with them. Press on!

  34. says

    Apparently I’ve been writing like it’s summer for about five years. I guess that’s what kids at home all the time will do. I am not one of those people who can be prolific with kids at home all the time. Though my big kids went from homeschool to public school one and a half years ago, the youngest starts in August. He’s been with me all the time {and so has his neighbor friend and the constant chatter and sandwich making and snack fixing.}

    But come August, I get to write. Like, for real, write. And I’m excited and also terrified {and wondering if I should instead get a real job that pays me money or utilizes all of that graduate schooling and career experience.}

  35. says

    well i always have my 2 yr old to dance around when it comes to finding time to write~ but the dynamics totally change when all 4 are home. i’m thinking of establishing “me time” during baby’s naptime.. me time means time for everyone to have a little peace and quiet in their rooms, but yeah, mainly me time means MOM!! = ))

    love this quote too i have on a print here at home – “Many people have said to me, “What a pity you had such a big family to raise. Think of the novels and the short stories and the poems you never had the time to write because of that.” And I looked at my children and I said, “These are my poems. These are my short stories.” – Olga Masters. reminds me to keep what’s important, important. as you put so well here, finding that balance, that center is what holds it all together!

    another great, REAL post that hits us right where we’re at!! here in canada the kids are in school till the end of this month, isn’t that crazy. that’s why canadians say they’re smarter than americans.. longer school season. ha! as an american i just smile and nod. ; ))

  36. Sara says

    Hi Emily–just a couple of thoughts–I remember when my six were young and it was crazy and I knew
    “this, too, shall pass” — and–the changes in my summer this year–I left home (a small farm around Sacramento, where we grow our food, raise chickens for meat and eggs, milk 2 cows, make cheese and yogurt, butcher our own beef in the kitchen) for the summer to be with my husband, his best friend and 2 of our sons in Nome, Alaska to dredge for gold! Every little thing has to be shipped or flown in, and it’s quite a difference to have to buy all our food! We left our grown daughters in charge of the farm, with some help from very good friends. Our sons? In Hawaii on a construction job! Here it is literally light 24 hours a day. And it is the first
    time I have felt rested in years. I can even walk a couple miles to the beach and collect treasure: sea smoothed glass. I didn’t really want to come, but Scott wanted me to–and I knew God would take care of the details. I am loving this change of pace. Blessings abound!

  37. says

    I loved this, thank you for writing to me today. Your words instantly went on a sticky note where I can see them, “there is a strong stillness deep within me, the place where God lives.” I love, love, love your posts and this one is a favorite. Your honesty and authenticity in Him shines through your writing. It is so, very, very, rich and lovely. Happy June, Emily!

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