Summer Sacrifices–Establishing a New Normal

Welcome  Indulge me a few minutes.  Titling this post “summer sacrifices” is probably a bit dramatic, but drama makes for good titles, right?  And, at our house, it feels like sacrifices are being made.  That’s okay, though, because sacrifices help us learn about what makes a real priority in our life.  So today we are going to talk about the sacrifices being made this summer as we shift from two full-time, steady incomes to one dependable income and the dream that blogging and writing will lead to income!  Our recipe is low-carb and healthy, but it won’t feel like a sacrifice with some juicy grilled chicken and a tabbouleh salad.  Note-I may receive a small compensation from advertisers and affiliates found in this post.  For additional information, please see my terms and disclosure page.

Hawksbill Crag 2017
One of my summer hikes in Arkansas.

Food for Thought  As a teacher, summers have some tradition in our household.  Sleeping in, long walks, spending time doing things we enjoy, lots of time at the pool, and going on adventures have been the norm.  After all, I worked hard ten months out of the year, surely I had earned the luxury of relaxation.  Teachers have few perks, this was mine.  But this summer was meant to be different.  I’m not a teacher anymore, so I’m not on summer break, now am I?  I had to start hustling for my new gig and my side hustle–yard sales to get rid of all of my teaching stuff and make a little extra money.  The sales required several weeks of prep work, but it was worth it!  It was a blessing for our family that my sales in June and July brought in nearly $900!  This paid for school supplies and clothes for our daughter this month, as well as our adventure to Arkansas.

When I decided I was going to start blogging and writing for my next career, it was clear some things would need to be changed.  There is no doubt that our family had to make practical decisions going from two incomes to just one (hopefully for a short time) and part of that was giving up some of our favorite summer activities.  When budgets are tight, focus should remain on faith and family, and putting needs before wants.  Some things about the summer did not change.   I can still sleep in, if I choose, and I do enjoy blogging and writing.  I also have got to go on some adventures this summer, although they were more economical and closer to home.  But here’s what has changed:  My daughter and I don’t spend hundreds of dollars over the summer going to the pool, zoo, or botanical gardens.  There are less lunches out, movies, and runs to Hobby Lobby to start a new craft project.  I spend hours working nearly every day, writing for the blog, preparing recipes, or researching and studying for my devotionals.  There’s not as much time for long walks or playing or crafting or television viewing.  So, here we are at the end of the summer and my child goes back to school tomorrow.  How did the sacrifices go?  Well, I’m less tan at the end of the summer than ever before and I’m not logging as many miles on my fitness tracker as I had hoped.  Our family never did make it to the zoo or botanical gardens this summer.  I’ve had my swimsuit on only twice this summer, which is sad, because I love to swim.  But did we still make some great family memories?  Absolutely!  I hiked in Arkansas on two occasions, once with my husband and once with my daughter.  I spent time with friends I haven’t seen in years.  I’m calmer and more happy than I have personally been in years.  My family has grown closer to each other and closer to God, and that is no sacrifice!  My daughter spent about four weeks, total, at her grandparents and had adventures with them, like getting a behind-the-scenes tour with some conservation rangers and attending an old-fashioned, small-town Fourth of July celebration.  She had a week at horse camp, went to a baseball game, and had play-dates with friends.  Did we do less than usual, maybe, but were we deprived? Not at all.

We learned some valuable lessons along the way, too.  I think it is important for our children to learn, and adults to remember, that when we can’t have everything we want, find the best and make the most of what we can, have, and do.  Our family will still treasure the memories we made this summer, even if they were different than what was planned or wanted.  Our family can start a new school year saying “We had a good summer!”

Today’s Scriptures  For today’s devotional, I encourage you to read Hebrews chapter 12.  It’s best when read in its full context, but I’m going to highlight some key verses from this chapter.  Sometimes sacrifices and hardships are means of God’s discipline for His children.  Maybe God knew I was taking material possessions for granted and I needed a lesson to help me learn about what’s truly valuable.  What lessons of God’s love and discipline can you learn from Hebrews chapter 12?

12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

12:7 “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father?”

12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…”

Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken
Low carb dinner of grilled chicken and a tabbouleh salad made with bulgur and cucumber.

Today’s Recipe  My husband is diabetic, so I am always looking for ways to make delicious food for him and our family, without him feeling like he’s making sacrifices in taste and fulfillment.  Honestly, some days and weeks we do better at following his plan than others, but we are always striving for progress.  The goal at meal times is for good, nutritious protein, small amounts of high-quality carbs, and plenty of fruits and non-starchy vegetables.  This summer meal is perfect for enjoying out on our deck, guilt-free.

Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken and Tabbouleh Salad

  • For chicken
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 tsp EACH salt and pepper
  • Place chicken thighs in gallon-size zip-top bag.  In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients; pour on chicken in bag.  Place bag of chicken in shallow bowl and refrigerate 24 hours.  When ready to cook, prepare grill according to it’s needs.  I’m a charcoal griller, so that means I light my charcoal about 90 minutes out from when I want to eat, since it takes about an hour to get the coal the way I want them.  When grill is ready, cook chicken about 8-12 minutes per side, depending on their thickness, but boneless thighs are usually not too thick, which makes them great for grilling.
  • For Salad
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup medium-grain bulgur
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp EACH dried oregano, basil, and thyme
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp EACH salt and pepper
  • Bring water to low boil in small saucepan.  Add bulgur, place lid on pan, and remove from heat.  Allow bulgur to stand 15 minutes.  In large bowl, place bulgur, vegetables, and herbs.  Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and add to salad, tossing to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Note-traditional tabbouleh has chopped tomato in it instead of bell pepper.  Feel free to substitute in 1 whole tomato, chopped, in place of the bell pepper.
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