So Far this Summer (it ain't over yet)

Let me start by assuring you in my outside voice, SUMMER IS NOT OVER!


There is still time to read that book, count those clouds, sleep under the stars, let watermelon drip down your chin, go to a concert in the park or take a trip to the beach.

I would say we are right smack in the middle of summertime. As we come near to the end of July, the time has arrived to take stock of what we have learned so far this summer. I am writing together with friends over at Emily P. Freeman's blog and sharing it with you. That way we can learn together.

Here are three simple things I learned this summer, so far. Remember, it ain't over yet!
Each one has a recommended book in case you want to read along in the sunshine.

1.The secret to Manly Men.

Have you ever wondered just what goes into making a boy into a man, not the Hollywood style of boys will be boys, just look the other way, wink-wink, but a real-life rugged man of sacrifice, faith, honor and character?

Odds are you have a brother, a boyfriend, a husband, a son or a son-in-law or you will one or more someday. You will want to know the secret to Manly Men.

It must involve manly men things right? But what are those things that make a man?

Here's my manly man doing manly man stuff, chopping wood on the land with his trusty hound and smiling at me.

In the Conlin family, we have a new man in training. You might know him as the Blueberry because his eyes are the color of Oregon blueberries, but his given name is Crosby and he is now fifteen months old, beginning to look more like boy than baby.

If you think we can't possibly start now, its too soon, he's too young, first take a look at this photo.

Crosby's wasn't walking yet in this photo as seen by him sitting on the table between his daddy and Papa, but clearly he was already watching, listening and learning from the men around him what it means to be a boy and become a man.

Last year, Mike called together all the guys in our family, from ages one to fifty-one, to meet together regularly around buffalo wings or pizza and read a book called Mansfield's Book of Manly Men, a book about what it means to be masculine, about everyday men and real heroes to look up to.

So this Papa, two sons, one son-in-law and one grandson, learned together four manly maxims,

  1. Manly men do manly things.
  2. Manly men tend their fields.
  3. Manly men build manly men.
  4. Manly men live to the glory of God.

Here are our Manly Men at a Portland Trailblazers game.

The manly men met whenever it worked for everyone and Mike's attitude was you're always welcome having read the chapter or not. We just called the time Manly Men for short and Crosby was included when he wasn't napping or his mama was at work.

Here is Crosby today making muscles (grrrr) and watching his daddy mow the backyard, something the girls in our family do almost as often as the manly men.

Author Stephen Mansfield says,

"Masculinity is not something given to you,
but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor."

Of honor, he says,

"Honor is a temper of the heart, a quality of spirit, a cast of the soul that refuses the oppressive, the petty, and the unclean in order to reach instead to what God has intended: nobility, abundance and strength."

This book isn't just for men, but for the women who love them too. I read it and thought it had insights for us and our daughters.

I said these lessons were small, but it turns out that one is BIG.

2.Summer is for the sea.

That seems like an obvious statement, but I found out just a single trip to the coast can fill your soul for the summer.

It does the heart good to squish your toes in the sand, walk in the surf, watch the kites whip in the wind, breath the salty air and bring home some found things from the sea, all with your family or a friend. See what happened when I went to Cannon Beach.

I hope you can get to the coast near you before the days grow short, but the sea is always in season, so don't be discouraged if you can't get there. Do the next best thing.

Pick up Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg,

fill up the wading pool in your backyard and go page-by-page anytime you like without leaving home,
just like Sweet Pea and her mama did.

3.My new favorite devotional.

Do you have a favorite devotional, that one quick-read boost to your spirit that you think about all day, long after reading?

I didn't know it at the time that I spotted it on a thrift store bookshelf, but as soon as I got it home I realized on the first page I had found my new, very favorite, like coffee ice cream in the summertime, devotional.

Listen to Your Life by Frederick Buchner.

I adore his way of looking and loving and listening to ordinary life,

"Taking your children to school and kissing your wife goodbye, eating lunch with a friend. Trying to do a decent day's work. Hearing the rain patter against the window. There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him, but all the more fascinatingly because of that, all the more compellingly and hauntingly . . ."

If you don't know Frederick Beuchner, you're in for a summer treat. If you know and love him, then you'll be in heaven.

Devotionals are a great soul-keeping habit to create in everyday life. Often from these little reads, is the path to discovering other authors. And the cherry on top is that they make the perfect, personal, finishing touches for gifts I like to give.

My long standing favorites have been any one of these,

My Utmost for His Highest

Streams in the Desert

Reflections for Ragamuffins

Morning and Evening

I can read these classics over and over, trade with my daughters, read again and still they feel fresh, like the first time around.

I just realized, this is my one year anniversary of these "Things I Learned" posts.


If you want to celebrate with me, take
a quick peek back to one year ago, here are Things I learned in July.

What have you learned this summer?

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(These are books I truly love offered to you in affiliate links.)