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Tim and Tasha Levert

Tim and Tasha have been in youth ministry since 1992, though they look much younger. They both earned PhDs - Tim in adolescent spiritual formation and Tasha in marriage and family counseling - but please don't call them "doctor;" they prefer to be called "Grandmaster T" and "Skinny Lady," respectively. Tasha is a writer, speaker, worship leader, and counselor. Tasha does online counseling through BroomTreeCounseling.com Tim is the Pastor with Students at the Vineyard Church of New Orleans. They have three beautiful daughters and a dog named Gumbo.

We love summer. Summer means camp, VBS, pool parties, service projects, and our favorite rhythm—staying up late and sleeping in. Our schedules couldn’t be more full, and if we’re not careful, our busyness will leave us feeling empty as a couple and as a family. We could feel super-connected with our students yet feel profoundly disconnected from the relationships that matter most.

And, like you, we’re a ministry couple—that means we don’t have a lot of cash. Our wealthier friends can afford to take a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe, eat like kings, rent jet skis, and go parasailing. We can afford to cram our family of five into our three-person tent, eat mallow dogs around the church’s fire pit, and use leftover youth-group passes for mini-golf and glow bowling.


But we chose this life! And we love it. So instead of lamenting about our missed Lake Tahoe experiences, we’ve taken the same energy that helps us fuel our youth ministry and created some free-or-cheap adventures that help us stay connected as a couple and as a family.

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Here are our top five summertime ideas for families:
1. Go get cheap ice cream. Most fast-food restaurants offer a summer deal that’s less than a buck a cone.
2. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids to unravel. If your kids are old enough, let them create one for you, too!
3. Play backyard games. Our top choices include corn hole, bolo toss, hide-and-go-seek (also a great indoor game), and our family favorite—kickball (though Tasha is notorious for cheating).
4. Have a family fun night. We love board-game marathons, cooking together, and when everyone piles into our bed in their pajamas for a movie.
5. Start geocaching. Since we started geocaching this Spring, our family has found more than 50 caches in our area. And if you’re not sure you want to make the investment in a GPS unit, check out all the free smartphone apps to get you started.

Here are our top five summertime ideas for couples:
1. Take a trip to a nearby big city. You don’t have to spend the night, though that does have its advantages…
2. Check out local festivals and free concerts in your area. Fourth of July is prime time!
3. Do something “off the beaten path.” Hike in a local park, walk around a junk store (or antique store, if you can tell them apart), or find a place to lie on a blanket and watch for shooting stars and meteors.
4. Make a couple’s bucket list. Our list has some “Tim” stuff, some “Tasha” stuff, and some “Tim and Tasha” stuff. If you can, make the list while you’re on a patio somewhere.
5. Revisit the old standby and go on a picnic. If you find a secluded place, who knows what might happen?

What you do is unimportant—just make sure you’re doing something together. And as you make your own family and/or couple list, we’d love to hear what you came up with! (Even if it starts with overbuying passes for mini-golf or glow bowling.)

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