Thursday, May 28, 2015

6 ways to refresh your soul this summer!

“One more day until summer vacation!” announced my children this morning. Alyson, a third grade teacher, and the kids have been counting down the days for a few weeks now. Tomorrow afternoon that vision will become reality. Their souls seem refreshed already!

No matter how lovely a school you attend or how much you enjoy your work, the best routines can start to feel more like ruts without the occasional break. This is true in our spiritual lives as well. Let me suggest six ways you can refresh the soul this summer with simple changes in your spiritual routine.
  1. Eat breakfast with Jesus – For many of us, breakfasts during the school year are hectic affairs. In the summer, however, our mornings slow down. Seize the opportunity by enjoying a cup of coffee on the back porch with your Bible before heading to work or the pool. Reading just one chapter a day would easily get you through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  2. Start a thankfulness journal / chart – Nothing rejuvenates the spirit quite like thankfulness. Practice thankfulness by recording at least one thing for which you are grateful each day. At the Sandlin house we keep track of what we are grateful for on a calendar on the refrigerator.
  3. Take a real day off – Summer vacations are nice, but sometimes we fill our vacations with so much activity that we long to return to work just to slow down the pace! The Bible teaches us that God often does his best work in us when we truly slow down and spend time alone with him. Try taking a day or half a day totally off. Leave your electronic gadgets behind. Take a walk. Take a nap. Leave yourself open to the presence God that sometimes can only be found when the calendar remains empty.
  4. Eat together – Few things connect us to one another like a shared meal. There’s a reason Jesus left us the Lord’s Supper as an enduring reminder of his presence among us! Eat more meals with other people. Force your teenagers to eat with the grownups (they’ll thank you later!). Invite a new friend from Sunday School to share a burger together. Cross the street and invite a neighbor over for lunch. Don’t be surprised when chips and hotdogs serve as appetizers to the kingdom of God.
  5. Go to church – I know that it’s easy to skip church when you are on vacation, but don’t! Vacations are an excellent time to drop into a sister congregation’s worship service. When I’m on vacation, I especially like visiting churches in other traditions. I’m always fascinated by what is different and almost always encouraged by the many, many things that remain the same. Going to church on vacation reminds me that the kingdom of God is much, much bigger than my one particular congregation. 
  6. Have fun! – Somewhere along the line, we got the really bad idea that fun and faith don’t go together. That’s a lie straight from hell. God is the one who invented play! Just look at how even the animals love to play. Laughter, creativity, joy – all of these result from play and are gifts from God’s hand. So whether it’s at the pool, over dominoes, with a guitar, or on hike, have fun! You’ll not only feel better, you might just discover the joy of the Lord in the midst of the fun.
Whatever you do this summer, I pray you’ll discover the refreshing presence of the Lord.


The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul – Psalm 23:1-3a

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Good Reads from the Internet: This week’s good reads come from the same source. Author Amy Julia Becker authors the blog “Thin Places” for Christianity today. She writes about Faith, Family, and Disability. I’ve enjoyed her writing. The posts below each call us to take a break in the profoundest of ways.
  1. Want a Better Devotional Life? Buy a Bird Feeder
  2. What Slowing Down Teaches You that Rushing Never Will
  3. The Serious Pleasure of Summer Reading