The Word for Summer Reading

The Word for Summer Reading

Aahh. Summer reading. If you love those words and have already been considering your own selections for this summer’s beach or lakeside, camp site or back deck reads, then join the club and let’s do some more thinking about what we can enjoy this summer.

When I think about summer reading, I first think of light-hearted novels, books for easy picking up and putting down. Books to take us somewhere else through a journey of the imagination, an entre into another life. I think of escape as I let go of the pressures and pace of everyday life and venture into another’s story.

And then, when I think about summer reading, I get practical and look at my life. Three boys and a summer of activity. Even our summer getaways usually provide only snatches of time, at best, for sitting with a book and getting away from it all. So, I’ve re-crafted my idea of summer reading over the last few years and it has evolved as I’ve thought at the same time about spiritual life in the summertime.

Often in the summer we take a break from Bible study, church groups, and classes. Sometimes it seems that can unintentionally translate into taking a break from God as well. We’re not in the Word as much, we’re not talking with others about the Bible and spiritual life, and as a result, we may pray less, walk with Jesus less. I didn’t like that, and I didn’t want it to be true for my kids, either. We have more flexible time in the summer; shouldn’t we turn to God?

A couple summers ago I came up with another kind of  “summer reading and meeting God plan” for my kids and myself. Because I work at home and have a lighter workload for the summer, this fits us well. We keep big stacks of library books at home throughout the summer months and the kids spend a half-hour reading in their beds when they first wake up. As we have breakfast together we read from Meet the Bible (http://www NULL.christianbook and talk about the Scripture reading for the day. Then we take our Psalter Hymnal and sing three songs together. I am no vocalist and because my boys are just learning most of these hymns, it’s an amateur worship time at best, but we do make a joyful noise. Even my boys can’t help but marvel at how often a randomly chosen hymn includes lines from the very passage we read, or celebrates the theme of that Scripture.

Last summer we drove to the Grand Canyon and took my mom along. In planning for the long hours in the car it seemed good to use some of that time for God’s Word. We began each day’s car travel, again, with Meet the Bible (http://www NULL.christianbook, talking together, and praying. Having my mom along added sharing from another generation. It was good time.

My word to you for summer reading is, stay in the Word! Challenge yourself to pick up the Bible as often as you do any other book this summer. Carry Scripture with you in your mind through your day. Meditate on a few verses as you go about your activities. Take these  verses on a walk with a friend. Read through a book of the Bible, or a portion of  a book, two or three times over the summer with your spouse. Set a reading plan with a friend and meet now and then to talk about what you’re each reading on your own. And then pray it. Talk to God and listen to the Spirit speak in you.

When it comes to family time (and also for any of you who eat regularly), please, please see this post from Ann Voskamp (http://www NULL.aholyexperience Thank you, dear sister, for living this tradition with your family and helping so many who grew up with nothing of the sort. Food. The Bread of life. Living water. Yes! May we not go hungry this summer for lack of partaking in the true Bread.

And may the escape we find, the easing of the pressures of life, come from time with our God, who imagines us into all he wills for us, and then takes us there.

I will leave you with a a short list of other summer reading suggestions, and then I’d love to hear yours.

What Good Is God?:  In Search of a Faith That Matters (http://http://www NULL.christianbook by Philip Yancey.  I’ve recently been writing end-of-chapter reflection questions for a paperback version of this book to be released in a few months (it’s now in hardback at a great price). For armchair travel, you’ll find nothing better. It focuses on Yancey’s travels around the nation and world, and I don’t know of anyone who has entered into more unusual situations and provided more profound insights.

The Shack (http://www NULL.christianbook by William P. Young. I finally read this one last fall and I agree that it is a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress and an important book for all of us. I really liked it. Get through the first 50 or so pages and the rest of the book is much different and easier on the emotions.

Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer (http://store NULL.renovare NULL.aspx) by Richard Foster. This came out over the last year and is a small book and an easy read. It’s wonderful and will help you enter more fully into this life of being with God throughout your days. Reading anything by Foster this summer would be a great choice.

The Mitford Series (http://www NULL.christianbook by Jan Karon. These wonderful books fit well into lighthearted summer reading. The characters will become good and dear friends and Father Tim will minister to you along the way.

Take a moment and tell us what you plan to read this summer, or what you’d recommend to all of us!





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  1. braveskimom (http://www NULL.braveskimom
    Jun 4, 2012

    Great post! You had me with reading…I love to read and try to find as much time in summer to indulge in a siesta with a book. It gets easier as the kids get older and they take the same time.

    Meet the Bible is such a wonderful resource. I just read the three entires on the Beatitudes last week and I found the expositions so meaningful. I haven’t read The Shack yet, but my father, who is a very picky reader, continues to recommend it. Finally, the Jan Karon Mitford books are perfect for summer! Great recommendations!


    • Brenda
      Jun 4, 2012

      Thanks, Kristen. I appreciate your thoughts on the Beatitudes. Spending the summer in just those verses, or maybe in the whole Sermon on the Mount of Matthew chapters 5-7 would be as summer well spent, or we could say, well read.

      I just got an email on “The Shack” and a reader who hated it and felt it to be blasphemous toward God. I didn’t feel that way but took the characters more as fictional and inadequate, yet just fictional, representations of God as part of a story that contains some important truths. Still, we all come at reading as different people and what moves one may not move another, or may move in an opposite way. That’s okay. It’s good to talk about it and, always, turn back to the one true source, the Bible.

  2. Linda Tang (http://www NULL.lindawriteson
    Jun 5, 2012

    Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski, is a wonderful resource of devotions for K thru high-schoolers based on stories from the Old Testament that point us to salvation and Jesus’ love for us through His grace. Great opportunity for discussions with your kids.

    It’s also fun to do word studies with your children and look up/read the corresponding verses (i.e., prayer, fear, peace), character studies and or character traits on various people of the Bible.

    Also for Kids: God’s Names, Sally Michael (attributes of God in lessons about the names of God); Big Truths for Little Kids, Susan and Richie Hunt (Teaching your children to live for God); 365 Great Bible Stories, Carine Mackenzie (The Good news of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation).

    Adults: You Lost Me, David Kinnaman (why young Christians are leaving the Church); The Peacemaker, Ken Sande (a biblical guide to resolving personal conflict); The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller; The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer ( helping believers in their desire to walk with God) and Spiritual Leadership, (principles of excellence for every believer) by J. Oswald Sanders….just to name a few!

    • Brenda
      Jun 6, 2012

      Thanks, for these, Linda. I have not heard of these resources for kids. Thank you! And for the adult books. So many good topics.

  3. Linda Tang (http://www NULL.lindawriteson
    Jun 6, 2012

    Many of them are from the BSF Recommended Reading List…solid books.

  4. Linda Tang (http://www NULL.lindawriteson
    Jun 6, 2012

    Many of them are from the BSF Recommended Reading List…solid books.

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