Summer seems to have a different pace. Even for those whose work hours don’t change, the extended daylight in the evenings means more downtime for both play and rest. We grill hotdogs and toast s’mores with friends, watch fireworks displays, spend more time outdoors, and visit family, near and far. Now that the Fourth of July has passed, it’s mid-summer, y’all. MID. SUMMER.
If you’re in search of a summer read, an inspiring podcast, or an album for your upcoming road trip, here are a few suggestions. These are the things I’m loving this summer. Perhaps you’ll enjoy them too!
Podcast: In Mud Stories with Jacque Watkins, Jay and Katherine Wolf talk about the massive stroke that Katherine suffered in 2008 at the age of 26. In the midst of pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles, everything “normal” came to a screeching halt as Katherine fought to stay alive. The Wolfs discuss her rehabilitation, learning once again how to talk, eat, walk and live life to the fullest as a now-disabled mama. I fought back tears as the host read a poignant passage from their book Hope Heals. This episode is one that’ll stick with you.
TV: After a quick break from sports after the NBA finals, I’ve nicely settled into Wimbledon (did Djokovic really lose in the third round?!?). But, let’s be real, I’m most looking forward to watching the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. I can’t wait to see Michael Phelps’s quest for gold in his fifth Olympic appearance. My favorite events are swimming, gymnastics, football (“soccer”) and track and field (known as “athletics”). Whatever your favorites are, you’re sure to get a rush from Rio.
Product: I’ve been drinking LaCroix like it’s going out of style. It’s simply sparkling water with no calories, sodium, or artificial flavors. It’s also incredibly trendy, with online fan pages and twitter hashtags (#LiveLaCroix). Right now, I have the cran-raspberry flavor in my fridge, but coconut is one of my favorites. It’s summer in a can, folks.
Music: There’s always something fresh hitting iTunes, but, to be honest, I’ve been favoring podcasts to music lately. That being said, these songs are on my summer worship playlist: Thy Will by Hillary Scott, Fierce by Jesus Culture, and Heroes by Amanda Cook. In regard to albums, Bethel Church’s We Will Not Be Shaken and Hillsong’s Empires have seen a solid rotation as well.
Devotional: I’ve been on the lookout for a short daily devotional for summer since my small group Bible study meets only during the school year. “The Songs of Jesus” by Timothy Keller fits the bill. It’s been an encouragement to me, and I plan to keep this on my nightstand throughout the year. Each day’s entry includes a passage from the Psalms at the top, followed by Keller’s commentary and a written prayer.
Book: A friend recently recommended Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Even though I lean extroverted, I’m fascinated with cultural/sociological research and have heard good things about Cain’s TED talk. Last week I went to my local bookstore to preview the book, and I was particularly taken with the chapter “The Myth of Charismatic Leadership.” Cain interviews writer and ordained Presbyterian minister Adam S. McHugh on the preference for extroverted leadership in the evangelical church, the high value placed on communication in programs and activities, and how the beneficial skills of quieter, more contemplative types (and quieter spiritual practices), can be overlooked. There’s a lot of “meat” to this interview, and I can’t wait to dive into the book more this weekend.
App: I used Airbnb for the first time this summer to book a rental near Yellowstone National Park. It was nice to be able to communicate with the host and re-read driving directions from the app on my phone. I loved my Airbnb experience, and I’ll definitely use the service (and its app!) in the future.
What are you loving this summer? Let’s curate a list in the comment section! Perhaps we’ll all discover something new to enjoy this second half of summer.
Lindsay Blackburn is an ordinary Montana girl who loves life and its many wild and crazy adventures. She works full time as the women’s and children’s ministry assistant at her church and enjoys hosting parties and teaching crafts as a side job. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in education. In addition to being an occasional writer, she’s a bookworm, fitness junkie, traveler, foodie, and theology nerd. You can follow her on twitter @ellesbee.