By Lindsay Hufford
Every May our family eagerly awaits the opening of a small local lake, making the Saturday before Memorial Day a holiday for us. The lake lies just two miles from our home, and it’s the backdrop of some of my favorite summer memories. My heart flutters as we drive down the winding, tree-lined road and pull into view of the water for the first time every summer. We haul our gear—kayaks, floats, sand toys, and enough food to feed an army—down the grassy hill and settle in a spot under one of the tall oaks that gives us protection from the sun.
I’ve always felt connected to God in nature. I spent a significant portion of my childhood running through the woods and streams with time and space to explore. The diversity and complexity of the natural world pointed to evidence of a Creator in my young mind. Even as I was still grappling with the more complicated concepts of God, I never doubted his hands formed the world.
God created the world as a physical demonstration of his glory. Psalm 19:1 reminds us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV).
As a child, it was easy for me to look at the clouds rolling overhead on a summer day and embrace God’s love in giving us this beautiful world as our home. Now that I’m grown and a busy mom, I can go a whole day and miss the incredible beauty God has placed right in my path. I need to be intentional about slowing down and appreciating the gift of this world as deadlines, to-do lists, meal plans, and appointments all fight for my time.
The lake is a place where I can embrace wonder again. Without the distractions of my daily responsibilities, my eyes are wide open to the everyday miracles of the created world.
I marvel at the strength and bravery my children gain each summer. I have nursed them on the grassy beach and watched them take wobbly steps at the lake’s edge. I’ve looked on as floats became water wings and then as with bare arms, they swam underwater for the first time. I watched as they nervously clung to low branches on a tall pine made for climbing. Now my oldest two children laugh as they confidently paddle kayaks across the lake’s deepest reaches.
Our family celebrates the first fish caught each year, watching the sun make rainbows on the pattern of shiny scales. Hand in hand, we walk to a little pond to watch tadpoles in various phases of metamorphosis. We name the variety of birds and insects that make the reeds and bushes surrounding the lake their home. Our voices hush as a pair of sandhill cranes and their newly hatched baby slowly make their way through a field. The sun dips below the horizon as the light fades in vibrant oranges and pinks, the sign to our sun-warmed and exercise-exhausted bodies to head home.
Families playing, swimming, fishing, and watching wildlife and sunsets are all normal summer activities we can take for granted. By slowing down and recognizing the gift in each of these seemingly ordinary moments, we are acknowledging the goodness of God, his constant presence, and his gift of creation. When we take the time to slow down as a family, we open avenues of conversation with our children about our great God’s unparalleled creativity and love. When we take time to embrace wonder, it leads us to worship God for who he is and all he has done.
Let’s all slow down and be open to wonder as we go into summer. Let the laundry wait and instead walk barefoot in the grass on humid evenings. Watch ants on the sidewalk. Smell wildflowers and let the sun warm your face. Experience all God has for you in this beautiful world and give thanks for these tiny graces that make up our days.
Lindsay is a happy wife and homeschooling mom to three kids. Whether she is reading, running, gardening, teaching, cooking, dancing, writing, or chasing hens, she counts it all as joy. Lindsay writes about this beautiful life at searchforthesimple.com.
Photograph © Bethany Beams, used with permission