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I’m up earlier than my body wants to be.

If I’m going to tap keys, it has to be done in the wee hours. Otherwise, I’m consumed.

There’s a soft pink glow emanating from the back mountain, and it’s making me glad I pushed through the cobwebs.

Last night, as I took in a few sentences from a bedside book, the thought occurred to me that it might be nice to give you a peak into what I’m perusing this summer.

It’s always neat to know what others are taking in, and it’s always fun to find some new gem or some timely encouragement through the recommendation of another. I for one, have been lifted up, and urged onward, and admonished, and changed, and touched deeply by the simple sharing of a book list, or a study habit, or trusted rhythm from some fine friend somewhere.

Remember Monday? How we said that “what goes in, comes out”? The following are filling me up. A few of them may do the same for you.

But friends, feel free to gather your own wonderful resources. For years, I felt like I didn’t have the know-how, or smarts, or trendiness to choose even my own reading lists. I felt as if I always needed to turn to others for all that. And like I said before, I have been so helped by the recommendations of friends. But please understand that you have the capacity to peruse shelves and pick something spectacluar, too. Something that you may end up recommending to others that will bless their socks off. You also have the Spirit to guide you in gathering up knowledge and growing in the things of life and God.

So, consider mine, and then cue up your own sweet list. Enjoy!

Present over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist.

“I have left behind some ways of living that I once believed were necessary and right that I now know were toxic and damaging – among them pushing, proving, over-working, ignoring my body and my spirit, trusting my ability to hustle more than God’s ability to heal.”

This book reads my mail, presses my buttons, and speaks my language. I’m still in the early chapters, but it’s been a balm to my soul.

Grit, by Angela Duckworth

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

This book has revealed to me my number one weakness since grade school: my lack of gritty perseverance. I start well and then fail to finish. Reading this is undoing some of that.

Culitvate, published by Cageless Birds

“Identity is discovered by the voice we listen to.”

The back of the book says, “Cultivate is an invitation. It is a call to rhythms of contemplation, creativity and transformation.” And I can affirm that this blurb is correct. This book has touched me in the deep. I ease my way through it, with no hurriedness.

Jesus: A Pilgrimmage, by James Martin, SJ

“We find ourselves touched by a scripture reading, moved to tears by a friend’s comforting words during a confusing time, or befuddled by joy at a glimpse of autumn leaves shining in the late afternoon sun. And we think, ‘Why am I feeling these feelings of longing, gratitude, wonder?’ This is God beginning a conversation.”

I’ve been slowly, very slowly, going through this book for years. I read it as I culminate my quiet times. Usually just a few paragraphs each. It has taken me straight to the feet of Jesus. It’s a travel-log, faith-increaser, encourager.

The C.S. Lewis Bible, NRSV

“He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” (Quoted from The Weight of Glory)

This is simply a New Revised Standard Version Bible, with the writings of C.S. Lewis peppered throughout in pertinent places. I use this Bible for my own personal reading and study times. I’m currently in Matthew and Proverbs. It got me back into the swing of sitting with God in the early hours, after a season of dryness in that area. I cherish my time with it.

Looking for Lovely, by Annie F. Downs

“I’ve spent a significant time over the last few years looking for lovely, actively pursuing it, trying to find it around every corner and ever hoping it’s just right there, because I do love beautiful things. But mostly I just don’t want to quit anymore.”

This is a Bible study that pairs well with Grit. Right now, I’m learning about perseverance. Again, I go through this one slowly, no rushing it.

Poetry Teatime Companion, edited by Julie Bogart and Nancy Graham

“It is not an overstatement to say that Poetry Teatime has been the single most enjoyable, consistent homeschool activity of our lives. All the ways it has shaped our family connection, our love of language, and our appreciation for quality writing cannot be quantified.”

Yes. The kids and I have poetry time in the mornings after Bible Study. Sometimes we have it in the late afternoon with tea. This will continue even after the kids go outside the home for their education. It has blessed us immensely. Sometimes we don’t understand  the lines, and that’s okay. We journey through it together. It’s made our minds sharper and our hearts wider.

Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright

“Behind her came Julian, rattling and clanking. He always clanked when he ran, being prudently equipped on any outing with a camera, field glasses, a collecting case (and sometimes a canteen and lunchbox), all hung around his neck on straps. ‘Because you never know,’ he said.”

This is the sequel to Gone-Away Lake. I read this one aloud to all three kids as they ready themselves for sleep each night. It’s easy, thrilling, intriguing. Reading to them every evening also offers us a nice routine to wind down with. I look forward to it all day.

Our 24 Family Ways, by Clay Clarkson

“How are family values really transmitted from one generation to the next? The hand-off will occur when your children say to their children, ‘In our family, we…..’ and a value for work or self control or devotion is passed along.”

We use this guide during our family Bible Study times in the mornings. We sit at the dining room table during breakfast and have lively discussions about how to love each other and the world, about how to value people, about God and his ways. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s always worth the effort.



What’s turning your engine this summer?

Feel free to fill me in by sharing a comment. If not, I hope your day is fine, friends. Blessings to each of you.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Stephanie Mann

    Present over Perfect is on my reading list this summer as well thanks to Ami Frye. It is also reading and speaking to every part of my being. My green highlighter appears on so many of the pages along with post it notes and pencil. One of my favorite green blobs is, “You were made by hand with great love by God of the universe, and he planted deep inside of you a set of loves and dreams and idiosyncrasies, and you can ignore them as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling. Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough, they will go silent, and that’s the real tragedy.” That paragraph along side the chapter on Disappointing People. Oh, My!!!
    My summer bible study is Beth Moore’s new one Entrusted which also has my name and number.
    Visible Learning for Literacy is my current book to grow professionally.
    So thankful one of my top five strengths is Learning.

  2. Jessie Rowland

    Oh to get lost in a book! Reading is one of my favorite things but like most stay at home mom’s it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. We enjoy reading as a family before bed and the boys enjoy Jesus Calling the best. I love the nuggets of truth they take away each night. My heart swells with joy as they eagerly listen and apply. Some of my personal favorites are Brennan Manning, Lysa TerKeurst, Priscilla Shirer and Karen Kingsbury.

    One of my all time favorite quotes –
    “Christianity doesn’t deny the reality of suffering and evil…Our hope… is not based on the idea that we are going to free of pain and suffering. Rather, it is based on the conviction that we will triumph over suffering.” Brennan Manning

  3. Lacey Thompson

    MeeMaw and I were just discussing this past week our ( mine and yours’ ) reading times together when you were growing up! Remember “Little Women” and some weird story about a key? And me falling asleep many many times mid sentence to a Berenstain Bear Book or A Little Golden Book? I didn’t know then just how much I would cherish those times now…Keep up the good work Sugar!

  4. Kate

    I love getting comments from you. And I love thinking about our reading times. They were on my mind this week, actually. I do remember Little Women and the weird key book, now that you mention it. What was that? And alllllll the Berenstain Bear books – scattered all over my floor! Thank you so much for reading to me, even if you did fall asleep mid-sentence sometimes. It’s made a world of difference! Love you, Mama. Can’t wait to see you soon!

  5. Kate

    Such a great quote, and such awesome authors. I haven’t read much of Manning or Kingsbury! Need to!!! Blessings to you! – Kate

  6. Kate

    You have such a great reading list going!!! Love it!!! You’re awesome Stephanie. Would love to have lunch soon! – Kate

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