Standing at the kitchen sink, with my 14-year-old son at the counter across from me, I washed the pots and pans from breakfast. Asher was finishing up his morning Bible reading when his dad walked in. My husband was mid-sentence before I could hear him over the running water, but the smile on his fresh-shaven face told me that he was continuing the conversation we’d started late last night. Apparently the 1947 Lincoln Continental he is currently restoring was originally owned by the famous fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli.
As the two sat together at the kitchen counter, golden morning light poured in through the window behind them. An ever-so-slight movement from the dense trees that line our backyard caught my eye. I stood still for a moment, with my hands beneath the hot sudsy water as my husband continued to gush excitedly. Scanning the horizon, I found a doe nibbling on the tall grass just beyond our property line. And I was there for it. I was there for it all. The breakfast and the dishes, the Bible reading and conversation, my husband’s joy, and the beauty just outside.
Later that morning, Matt took me for a ride in that old convertible Lincoln, and the wind blew my hair into a whirl of a mess. But the way my husband smiled at me when he parked in the drive and looked me over, I was sure not one of Madame Schiaparelli’s famous designs that could have made me lovelier in his eyes at that moment. And again, I was there for it.
Sometimes I’m somewhere else entirely. Distracted not devoted. Engaged with those I “like”, ignoring those I love. Yes, I’m talking about social media, but more than that… I’m talking about my phone and the way I’m always holding onto it.
Holding my phone sometimes stops me from holding the moment. Even when I’m trying to capture it with a picture, I can miss it. Truly miss it.
When I’m not intentionally looking up, my eyes are just naturally cast down — my emotions drop down too, and my shoulders roll forward. I bend forward over my phone until it gives me a neck ache or worse — a heartache. But during this holy hiatus each year, my eyes are lifted up, seeing the people around me and the golden morning light and the deer. The dishes got done too, instead of piling up in the sink as I roll through reels and scroll through Facebook. And I’ve been walking… daily.
My body, mind, and emotions are stronger. Healthier. Vitamin D from the sun and the presence of the Son worked in tandem to lift my spirits and stabilize my mood. I noticed the budding trees and smiling daffodils in my yard. Yes, I was there for all of it!
This year during my 40 Day Social Media Fast, I didn’t just enjoy my people, long walks and country drives, gardening, and great-gobs of times in God’s Word. Though I did enjoy all of that! I also enjoyed reading some amazing books! My Bible, of course, but also books that helped me apply God’s Word to my own real-life! And so, today, as I prepare to dip my toe into the deep waters of the online space once again, I thought I’d share the ten books I read (or gave to loved ones) during my social media sabbatical.
The 40 Day Social Media Fast — Yes I wrote it, but I revisit this book every time I step away from social media. Laid out in 40 easy-to-read chapters, The 40 Day Social Media Fast reminds us why looking up is so stinkin’ important! If you are inspired to take a social media sabbatical yourself, this is a great place to start!
The Bible & The Bible Recap — In addition to my own Bible reading plan, I made a plan to read the Bible with my youngest son, Asher. Though he buzzed through the New Testament on his own last year, the Old Testament has proven a little more difficult, so I bought him Tara-Leigh Cobble’s The Bible Recap. Typically we read one chapter a day together over breakfast. Some days we read more. Other times he quietly opens it up and reads it by himself. Then every few days or so we allow Tara-Leigh to sum it all up for us.
Asher has the leather-bound edition pictured below, but there is also a less expensive hardcover version that is equally awesome. And you can find all this wonderful content on The Bible Recap Podcast!
While I love my morning routine with my husband and our youngest son these days, we’ve actually been going through a very stressful season in our family. Without sharing details, I’ll simply say that sometimes God, in His kindness, sends just the right books to speak into my very personal struggles. Here are a couple that have ministered to me very personally during this difficult season.
Waymaker — Ann Voskamp has done it again! She has laid her own life-struggles down in narrative form in a way that feels like my own story… though our lives look nothing alike! This beautiful book made it’s way into my life at the perfect time, when I needed to know that Christ can make a way through my hardships… while making a way for me to know and be fully known by Him in the process.
Waymaker is a gem of a book. Pure and applicable poetic prose.
Hope in the Dark — A dear friend sent me this book by Craig Groeschel only a few weeks ago. The moment it arrived I lit a fire in the hearth, sat down, and started to read. As I consumed the first few chapters I wept. When it was time for me to pick the boys up from school I put the book down on the coffee table and walked away.
Later that afternoon, I saw my husband walking to his office with Hope in the Dark in his hand. I asked him what he was doing with my book and he replied simply, “I read the title and I need it.”
No Turning Back — After reading the foreword and introduction of Rashawn Copeland’s latest book aloud to my family, Asher asked if he could take it up to his room. I simply smiled and said yes. As he took the first few steps in one big stride I called after him, “See if you can find my endorsement in the opening pages!”
Less than a minute later he was down again with a huge smile, having read:
“Not long ago my teenage son, Asher, and I read through Rashawn’s first book, Start Where You Are, together. It was so good! The only thing we didn’t like about it was that it came to an end. But now we have another book to dive into together. The longer I live, the more I want to finish the Christian race well and hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ Rashawn Copeland’s latest book, No Turning Back, offers practical and personal encouragement to faithfully live the Christian life, teaching us to daily stay on the path and focus on the prize, Jesus. Whether you are 13, 48, or 102, Rashawn helps us keep our eyes on the prize! Amid life’s hardships, struggles, and even death, his words will refresh your soul and spur you on to finish well. And perhaps, like me, you’ll find that Rashawn is the man you want speaking into your teenagers’ lives as well.”
Becoming A King — Speaking of inviting good and Godly men to speak into our son’s lives, here’s another that I highly recommend for young adults! My eighteen year old son is wrapping up his last couple of high school courses this spring. He also just finished Morgan Snyder’s new book, Becoming A King, along with the video curriculum in a small group setting.
Snyder asks the question, What does power and responsibility look like for Christian men in our world today? Then offers men a guide to becoming one to whom God can entrust his kingdom. In Becoming a King, men of all ages:
Reconstruct their understanding of masculinity and who God truly intended them to be
Learn to become a man of unshakable strength and courage
Reclaim their identity, integrity, and purpose
As an aside, there are a few people I would buy a book simply to read their foreword. John Eldredge is one of them, and he sets the stage for Becoming A King beautifully.
Redeeming Your Time — I probably should have listed Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor immediately after I shared The 40 Day Social Media Fast, because fasting from social media helps me to redeem at least FORTY DAYS OF MY LIFE each year. However, this book does more than offer a break from distractions, it helps us to break free for good (and for God!)
When we recognize that Christ is not only our example for successful time management but also our reason for it… everything in life starts finding its proper place. Distractions stop owning our days, allowing us to grow in devotion to the One who does!
The 7-Minute Productivity Solution — Doubling down on this topic of productivity during my social media fast this year was paramount, and The 7-Minute Solution by John Brandon was the practical help I needed to prepare for life beyond my fasting days. Check out this subtitle: How to Manage Your Schedule, Overcome Distractions, and Achieve the Results You Want.
Today is day 41 of my 40 Day Social Media Fast, and I am happy to cautiously transition back online, though I will wait until after Easter. When I return I will do so with better boundaries in place and a clearer understanding of how to better manage my schedule so that I might be more productive.
The Creator in You — While I do not have little ones at home any more (becasue babies don’t keep) I do still appreciate a beautifully crafted children’s book, and The Creator in You fits the bill. Whether you are a parent or a grandparent, an aunt or neighbor to children, or simply serve in the children’s ministry at your local church, this book by Jordan Raynor is sure to delight and inspire the next generation to discover how God created them in His image, both creative and hard working!
AWAKE — This next book is currently sitting on my beside table, just begging to be read! I have a couple of chapters in the Waymaker book by Ann Voskamp to finish first. However, as I wrap up my fasting days I am going to keep feasting on good books. It’s easy to be “too busy” for reading literature when you’re spending your hours reading all the little comments left on all the little posts. I don’t want to forego rich and edifying books in lieu of mini-messages on Facebook and Instagram.
That’s fluff instead of filler, and all the fluff lulls me to sleep!
As Anjuli puts it: “I want to be awake. I don’t want to nervously navigate my life one to-do list, email, and espresso shot at a time. When my life comes to a slow halt, I want to know I savored the small moments and watched the sky change color. I want to know I didn’t rush through life but received it. I want to know I came to peace with my weaknesses, loved people fearlessly, and walked with God faithfully. I hope I gave in to the audacious belief that I was loved and, miraculously, even liked.”
During my personal 40 Day Social Media fast I was fully awake! And I long to continue to be wide-eyed and available to this life; “Paying attention to what matters most in a world that’s pulling you apart” as the subtitle encourages.
The Master Craftsman — And now, finally, for those of you who love a good storybook, particularly a historical novel with a little bit of a modern day treasure hunt thrown in for good measure… Kelli Stuart’s new novel is sure to delight you. Kelli’s books are always beautifully written, engaging stories you won’t want to put down… but they are also clean and wholesome. When I leave them out, I always find someone else in my home reading them — and I’m never concerned about the content.
I’m actually tucking The Master Craftsman into my middle son’s Easter basket!
OK, that may have been more than ten books, but I did a lot of reading (and book-gifting) during these 40 Days.
I hope that you were blessed by some of my recommendations and maybe even linked over and added a couple to your Amazon cart. Of course, if you thought to yourself, “I’d love to read, but I simply don’t have the time…” maybe the book you need to start with is The 40 Day Social Media Fast, so that you can reclaim your distracted life and devote yourself to the people, the golden morning hours, the friendships, the neighborhood walks, and the reading that you want to do!