My Summer Away: What I Was Into

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I already told you on Monday that June was a hard month. So I spent most of my time NOT reading. I sat on a couch with a heating pad and watched Austenland about fifteen times. You think I’m kidding.  Listen, if you need a happy romance, if you’re sick or sad and you need to watch something that actually makes you forget that the world is a hard place, this is your movie. Cute, funny, light-hearted, full of Jane Austen-isms, and it has Keri Russell (who, in my humble opinion, can do no wrong). I watched it two weekends ago with my girlfriends, in our pajamas, while we ate an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids. And, I’m telling you, I still loved it.


Summer Reads

When I left for our trip, I picked up Oryx and Crake, a post-apocalyptic novel by Margaret Atwood (whose books I love). I’d read Oryx and Crake before (like, ten years ago) and loved it. But I only recently discovered that the novel is part of a series. So I intended to reread it and then jump into the other two books in the series this summer. But, time got away from me. They’re still on my to-check-out-from-the-library list. (Also, just found out that HBO is working on a series that follows these books so I’d better get going on reading the rest.)

I went from fiction to reading a spiritual formation book that hasn’t yet been released but that was incredibly nourishing and formative for me in the month immediately following my miscarriage. Tara M. Owens is a beautiful writer who is a kindred soul. She is a spiritual director and deep thinker and her book, Embracing the Body (Which doesn’t release until March this coming year. So long to wait!) is challenging and restorative and wise. I have pages of notes from it. When it does come out, I’ll remind you. Till then, pre order here.

When I got to my mother-in-law’s house, she had a copy of Diana Gabaldon’s newest gem waiting for me. (Yay!) All 800-something pages of her latest novel in the Outlander series was super fun. The Outlander books are not my typical reads. I think of them as chocolate milkshakes and cheeseburgers. A sometimes-read. All in moderation, friends. The Outlander books are full of adventure and romance (warning: they can get pretty spicy) and history and weird time travel. Plus, Jamie and Claire might be my favorite fictional couple ever. (I know, that’s a pretty big claim.) And, yes, I’m watching the series on Starz.

After the Gabaldon book, I moved on to another book that comes out in October. Amy Julia Becker’s new book Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most is a collection of thoughtful essays about the conversations she’s had with her children about the big stuff of life: death, Jesus, pain, friendship, prayer. I loved Amy Julia’s previous book, A Good and Perfect Gift, and feel like I have much to learn from her about mothering and being intentional in my children’s spiritual lives. (This is another book in which I took copious notes.) As a result of reading this book, I’ve added a short family devotional/prayer time to our bedtime routines and I’ve already been able to have deeper, more meaningful conversations with my kids as a result (even if Brooksie thanks God for toilets and dirty diapers every night when he prays). We’ve been reading through Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, which is just enough for a five minute family prayer time, and which has led to some honest kid/parent conversations that we wouldn’t have had otherwise..

After we returned home from our trip, I was feeling some parenting anxiety, as usually happens when our kids enter a new phase of behavioral challenges. This round of challenges had me once again feeling short-tempered and anxious. So Chris and I tag-teamed it and covered two of the books that have been on my parenting reading list for several years. He read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will TalkMy Moms Group was already reading this one and I was able to jump in for a couple of discussions. And Chris shared all his highlights with me. I still need to read it, but the great thing about my husband reading it is that at least the concepts are leaking into my daily life, even if I haven’t gotten to it yet.

At the same time I read Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids. This is another one that I’d read bits and pieces of in the past. My church read through it a couple of years ago so it’s one of those books that other parents are constantly referring to. I thought it had some helpful and fresh ideas, despite my moments of being under-impressed with the writing. My favorite idea from the book is that every child needs a circle of trusted adults in their lives (around five…who aren’t their parents!) to help instill faith. We should be intentional to give our children a community of loving adults to help guide them toward knowing and loving Jesus. I love that concept and saw, during my time in Young Life, how significant those non-parental relationships are in kids’ lives.

I just finished up Tsh Oxenreider’s Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World this week. Hers is the first of a big pile of books I have sitting on my desk, all of them about intentional simplicity, spaciousness, quietness, and rest. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I’ve enjoyed Tsh’s easy writing style and how she’s able to make simplicity something that feels attainable, not just for the radical types. She’s been making me think.

And, throughout the summer, I’ve been reading Macrina Wiederkehr’s beautiful devotional Abide: Keeping Vigil With the Word of God. It is not easy to find a devotional that my cynical inner-critic can get through. I have a low-tolerance for cheesiness, Christianese, or fill-in-the-blanks. But this one is gorgeous, rooted in scripture, and convicting. I’m a fan.


Other Stuff

Besides watching Austenland and the first five episodes of Outlander, I have been pretty quiet on the movie/TV front. (So lame, I know.) I did make sure to watch all eight episodes of Jen Hatmaker’s HGTV house renovation series. And I went with girlfriends to see Boyhood this past Monday night and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s one of those movies that forces you to go into your kids rooms while they’re sleeping and stroke their hair.

My friend Liz made me an amazing Google Doc of all the premiere dates of all the shows this fall. I have New Girl scheduled in my calendar. Nashville, too.

We loved The Lego Movie at our house and every school morning, we’ve been waking the boys up to “Everything Is Awesome.” Listen, if you want to start the day out right, wake up to “Everything Is Awesome.” Trust me.


What about you? What have you been listening to, watching, reading? Do you have any opinions on the books I read this summer? Let’s chat, you guys.



(Linking up with Leigh Kramer for her What I’m Into series.





  • Ginger Daniel

    I’m having one of those pride and prejudice days here. I’m sorry about your miscarriage, truly sorry. I just picked up Abide myself…and the other books sound yummy. Peace to you

  • I LOVED Austenland. So sweet and funny (did you read the book? I may actually like the movie better, shocking).
    I can’t wait for Tara’s book. Her words are always so nourishing.
    And New Girl, all the yes to New Girl.
    Thanks for this little peek into your life, friend.

  • Farah

    Hey, you. Miscarriage is the strangest grief, ghostly but intensely embodied. I’m very sorry you experienced it, though I’m glad you had the space and time to feel your way into and through it. That said, we were waking our kids up by alternating “Everything is Awesome” with “Happy” for more weeks straight than I care to admit. If only it worked as well at the end of the day…

  • Ali

    I’m going through chemo and God has taught me thankful gratefulness through One Thousand Gifts – life changing. Oh … and I read Found. xx

  • I’m jealous you got an ARC of Embracing the Body! Still waiting to start the newest Outlander book. Library books keep coming in instead but I am most anxious to read the latest on Jamie and Claire. Also very much looking forward to the wedding episode this week!