7 Summertime Soul Care Rhythms: Cultivating an Inner Summer Stillness
- Soul Care vs. Self-Care
- 7 Summertime Soul Care Rhythms
- An Invitation to Spiritual Formation
Whenever I think of summer, the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of lawnmowers instantly hits my senses.
I hear waves crashing into the shore and smell saltwater mixed with sunscreen.
I hear laughter and taste the sweetness of an ice cream cone.
I hear school bells ringing and teachers waving to school kids as lockers and backpacks are emptied for the last time.
This is what I feel and envision when I think of sweet summertime.
But what a lot of us (myself included) don’t always remember about summertime is the rush of things that seem to happen all at once.
Kids are released out into the wild for an entire summer while most parents still have to go to work.
Graduation parties and ceremonies are planned and summer birthdays sneak up on us.
Vacations and playdates are scheduled on a continuous loop as a way to grab as much of the sunshine as possible.
I don’t know about you, but May and June for me this year were packed to the max. It was all a bundle of very good things; connecting with friends and family and exploring new places.
But I felt a little… drained.
While I’m always grateful to it for finally arriving, summertime is usually a very busy, chaotic time of the year. And it can be hard to stick to our routines and rhythms when kids’ schedules are changing, travel plans are made, and open dates on the calendar quickly fade.
During the busy, crazy seasons of life, I believe one of the best ways to survive is to continue to prioritize rhythms and practices that feed our souls. These practices that we engage in to tend to the soul are sometimes referred to as “soul care” practices.
Soul Care vs. Self-Care
Everyone has their own definition and meaning of soul care and of self-care. But as I understand it, self-care is taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. For you, self-care might look like going to get your hair done or going for a run.
Soul care on the other hand is the intentional act of caring for your soul and your spiritual wellbeing. In my opinion, soul care is the foundation of taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. So, in a sense, soul care is actually the basis for self-care.
The Spirit of God lives within us all, and soul care is the act of tending to our inner being — the most sacred space where the Spirit dwells. And we tend to our inner being by spending time with the Creator and carrying out rhythms and practices that make us aware of His presence with us.
I think 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 is a beautiful way to describe what soul care and tending to our inner being does,
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (NIV)
As we spend time caring for our souls and spiritual wellbeing through contemplating or spending time with the Spirit, we are slowly transformed into His image.
We are able to find a certain stillness amidst the chaos of summertime that we might not have otherwise found. Soul care penetrates deeper than the physical world of self-care and works alongside the Holy Spirit to unravel, heal, and make whole our inner selves.
7 Summertime Soul Care Rhythms
I know that a lot, if not most of us, run out of time in the summer, and stillness ends up being a far-off dream. But I believe stillness to be a heart posture, not just a state of being physically still. I believe that we can cultivate an inner stillness in any season of life that has nothing to do with our outside circumstances.
Stillness and peace don’t always mean finding long, uninterrupted chunks of time to sit and be silent. Stillness can look like spending 15 minutes in the presence of God as you learn to take Him with you throughout your busy day.
So, today, I’m going to give you 7 summertime soul care rhythms that can help you tend to your inner being and keep you grounded in the Spirit amidst the busyness and chaos of this summer season.
1. Create a Summertime Breath Prayer
Breath prayer is a wonderful Christian spiritual practice that anyone can engage with at any time and anywhere. It’s perfect for the working mom who is trying to juggle all things career, kids, and summertime. It’s perfect for the stay-at-home mom who is running the household and barely has time for herself.
It’s perfect for the single woman, the married woman, the college woman, the empty nester, and the list goes on and on and on. Ergo: breath prayer can be great for everyone!
It’s a really simple, powerful way to behold God with you in the everyday. I wrote a ‘how to’ guide on breath prayer in a different blog post, and you can check that out here if you want to read more in-depth about this practice.
But, essentially, breathe prayer is when you pick out a short phrase or Bible verse and repeat the first half of the phrase or verse in your mind as you inhale, and then you repeat the second half of the phrase or verse as you exhale. Breath prayers are supposed to sync up to the natural rhythm of your breath, making them super easy for anyone to practice!
If you are someone who is finding it hard to spend uninterrupted time with God, then breath prayer is the perfect way to stay connected with God throughout your day as a way to care for your soul and ground yourself in His presence. Take a moment to name what you’re longing for in this season of your life — a desire you want to lay before the Lord — and turn it into a summertime breath prayer.
If you need help grabbing hold of a summertime breath prayer, maybe mine will speak to your soul:
Breathe in: “Your grace…
Breathe out: “…is sufficient.”
2. Spend Time in God’s Word
Even if it’s 10 minutes, those 10 minutes in God’s Word have the power to set the tone for the rest of your day. God’s Word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), is God-breathed, and useful for teaching and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Engaging with God through His Word is how deep faith roots grow and expand. The Bible is where God’s recorded promises are kept about Himself and about us as His people. His truth is meant to ground us as we allow Him to tend to our inner life through His Word.
If you’re on the go this summer and don’t have the time to sit down and spend 30 minutes to an hour in the Word, then I have some practical solutions for you!
If you have a smartphone, you can download the Holy Bible app on your phone, pick a passage, and then hit that play button! The app can actually read the Bible passage to you out loud. So if you’re traveling in the car or washing the dishes, you can have God’s Word playing in the background as a way to tend to your inner being and spend time in God’s presence.
The app also offers digital Bible plans that you can choose from that center around a specific topic.
Another great method for engaging with God through His Word is a Bible reading method called Lectio Divina. This is a more contemplative Bible reading method and you can read more about how to practice it here.
One final practical way to get into God’s Word is by using the Lectio360 app for smartphones. This app has morning and evening audio meditations and Bible readings, so you can access God’s Word anywhere you are just by simply hitting the play button!
*Bonus: you can also check out this free tending booklet from Mariel Davenport to help you tend the Word of God to your soul this summer!
3. Meet With a Spiritual Director
For me, personally, spiritual direction has been such a positive way to tend to my inner life with the Holy Spirit and bring stillness to my soul. A spiritual director acts as a spiritual companion or guide whose goal is to facilitate a safe space for you to encounter the living God.
In their book, Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls, Gary W. Moon, and David G. Benner agree that soul care is an important part of spiritual direction,
“The species of which spiritual direction is one important representation is soul care. The English phrase “care of souls” has its origins in the Latin cura animarum. While cura is most commonly translated “care”, it actually contains the idea of both care and cure. Care refers to actions designed to support the well-being of something or someone. Cure refers to actions designed to restore well-being that has been lost.”
A spiritual director is there to offer wisdom and discernment on your spiritual journey, process life with you through the lens of the Spirit, and continuously point back to Jesus as they teach you how to listen for His sweet voice.
I know that taking time out of your busy summer schedule to meet with a spiritual director might sound nearly impossible, but a spiritual direction session normally only lasts about an hour, and they’re typically only once a month.
If you want to know more about spiritual direction and how to find a spiritual director, check out my beginner’s guide to spiritual direction here.
4. Take a Daily or Weekly Stillness Walk
When life gets overwhelming and summer gets crazy busy, it can be helpful to put yourself in timeout and take a walk. Getting outside and connecting with God through nature is a wonderful way to disconnect from the noise and connect with the Holy Spirit and yourself.
Pick a time of day where you can slip away for 20-30 minutes a few times a week and take a walk around your neighborhood, or maybe choose a nearby trail. Your soul is sure to thank you for the solitude and silence that await you on a stillness walk.
As you walk, feel free to pray or reflect on how you’ve seen God move throughout your life lately and praise Him for it. Or, simply be present to the moment, quiet your mind, and allow the Lord to tend to your soul as you walk to the rhythm of your own breath.
5. Create Your Own Summertime Spiritual Retreat
I haven’t done this yet, but I so desperately want to! I’ve heard stories from friends who have scheduled their own half or full-day spiritual retreat and I think this is such a great way to cultivate stillness amidst the busyness of summertime.
The friend that comes to my mind immediately is Kari Bartkus, a writer, and spiritual director. She conducted her own at-home spiritual retreat and you can hear about her experience here. Kari shares that her retreat stemmed from a personal desire to schedule some extended time with God.
She shares that her retreat consisted of a Walmart visit, a yoga session at home, Bible reading, some joy reading, eating lunch with Jesus, and then doing a little bit of creating.
The point of creating your own spiritual retreat is naming what your soul is longing for or needing most, and then listening for the Spirit as He leads your time together. Do you need to go into a store alone and linger a while without the kids? Do you need to move your body and connect with God through that movement?
Creating your own summertime spiritual retreat is about connecting with God in whatever you are doing. It’s about being present to His presence as you journey in solitude with whatever you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you towards. This is such a restful, refreshing practice and a lovely way to practice summertime soul care.
6. Build a Summertime Worship Playlist
I believe that the Holy Spirit meets us in the rhythm of a melody. If you don’t have a lot of time this summer to slow down, building your own summertime worship playlist is a simple way to behold God with you wherever you go. You could even listen and worship on your stillness walk!
I’ll go a little further and suggest scheduling a mini worship session at home. You could do this early in the morning before the kids wake up, or right before you go to bed. Choose a song from your summertime worship playlist and extend your hands in worship to God.
He will meet you in those surrendered moments, caring and tending for your soul as you worship Him through music.
If you’re not sure how to craft your own summertime worship playlist, start with a few of your favorite songs and then slowly build it from there. Or, you can check out my worship playlist here on Spotify.
7. Read or Memorize a Psalm
I personally find the Psalms to be very relatable and relevant to what I face in my life today. There are Psalms of praise, lament, questioning, longing, and worship. They offer immense comfort that we are invited to continually rest in.
You could choose one Psalm to continually go back to throughout the summertime, and even memorize it if you feel led to. Or, you could memorize just a few verses of the one you choose and pull them to the forefront of your mind when you need to recenter yourself.
Another option would be to venture your way through the Psalms, reading and resting in one Psalm a day.
If you’re not sure what Psalm to choose, Psalm 1 and Psalm 23 are both short Psalms – 6 verses each – and would be great for memorizing and meditating on.
I recently picked up a new daily devotional by Dane Ortlund titled, “In the Lord, I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions Through the Psalms“. All 150 Psalms are recorded and then there’s a little devotional reading and commentary to read from Dane Ortlund. I have really enjoyed it!
An Invitation to Spiritual Formation
While summertime can be a very busy time of the year for most of us, let’s not forget that God invites us to rest in Him. Even when everything around us is loud and distracting, we can choose to be intentional about creating an inner stillness that surpasses our circumstances.
This inner stillness, this practice of caring for our souls, can only be done by spending time with the Holy Spirit.
So, while summertime is a busy time, it can also be a time of steady, slow transformation and spiritual formation.
It can be a time of learning to listen for God’s voice amidst the noise as we prioritize time in His sweet presence.
It can be a time of grounding and growth.
I pray that these 7 summertime soul care rhythms would inspire you to meet God right where you are friend. Right in the middle of all the beautiful chaos of summer.