A Few of My Favorite Things

July sizzles in like a firecracker, smelling of coconut sunscreen and leaving the creamy taste of homemade ice cream on your tongue. Flags pop up everywhere; smoke from cookouts, bonfires, and sparklers softens the landscape to a dreamy mist. This is the season of the hot dog in its full glory, of icy beverages, of late nights and lightning bugs and sandcastles. If you blink, you could miss a million beautiful surprises from the hand of a good Father. Awaken to the dazzling days of summertime.

Some July gifts to point you toward

Patriotic Post: What True Freedom Means by Holley Gerth

Hairdressers in RVs, snarky Facebook posts, and Galatians make for a soul-satisfying approach to July 4th celebrations. Holley has a way of infusing hard truth with lifegiving beauty, and I never tire of it. My second-favorite line in the piece was this: “When we stop loving, we give up our freedom.” I’ll let you try to figure out which one I loved most. (Hint: it made me giggle.)

Love at the Border: Welcome Kits from Border Perspective

My stomach twisted into knots when I first read about the hostile conditions kids found themselves in last week. No soap. No toothbrushes. No sense of worth. Then I found this phenomenal program bent on bringing dignity to the least of these. Border Perspective is a movement of believers intent on being the hands and feet of Jesus. Think of the welcome kits like little Christmas shoeboxes for families in crisis. Assembly instructions are on the website, and packing parties would be such a grace-saturated and timely excuse for a get-together with friends, family, or small group members. Christmas in July, indeed.

Educational Resource: The Gospel Coalition

Of course I’d heard of The Gospel Coalition before. But did I have any inkling about the extent of their empire? Not in the least. I was going to focus only on the tons of conference content they’ve made available—for free. Because that in itself is amazing and would take weeks to wade through (hello, breakouts at women’s conferences!). But as I browsed the wealth of great stuff throughout their website, I figured the entire thing was worth mentioning. The blog posts, book reviews, podcasts, online courses, and interviews with gospel powerhouses… it’s all a taste of the abundance of heaven.

For Bookworms: The Reading Challenge by Tim Challies

Beach reads are named thus for a reason, and this is their time to shine. July is the perfect opportunity to polish off a number of good books. I’d recommend adapting Challies’ list (you can pick one according to your reading pace—he’s created plans for light readers, avid readers, committed readers, and obsessed readers) to span from summer to summer. Then stroll on over to amazon.com or your local library to stock up on brain food for those long, languorous days in the sun.

Tripping Post: What Everybody Ought to Know About Vacation by Emily Freeman

Whether you hope to get the heck out of dodge or enjoy a staycay at some point during the sweltering weeks ahead, read this first. The fabulous Emily offers soul care tips for vacation season. (GENIUS.) This post will breathe some life back into the planning process and stretch it out so you actually enjoy it. Her advice in #3 is pure gold, I tell you. May your adventuring be gentle and sweet this summer, friends. Bon voyage!

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