Summer Break – The Grown-Up Version!

“School’s… out 🎸 for 🎸 summer!”

Are you singing along? I remember chanting this line in my head (with absolutely no idea who Alice Cooper was) during the end of my school days, dreaming of 90 degree afternoons at the pool and late nights in the backyard, playing flashlight tag and being eaten alive by mosquitos.

Every year as May rolls around, I feel an unexpected anticipation, a feeling that something’s coming around the corner. When I finally put my finger on it, I realize that somehow, somewhere, I am still internally waiting for summer break.

But alas, I’m a grown-up! Perhaps I’m still experiencing this summer longing because I am only a “sophomore in real life”––that is, two years out of college––and the seasonal nature of school is still built into my biological clock. And while I absolutely love my full-time job, there is a sobering realization that summer breaks are no more. (Enjoy it while it lasts, kids!)

All that being said, there are still SO many fun ways to celebrate summer, even if you work 9-5 during the weekdays. Here are a few tips that can help you get back into the swing of those fun summer nights:

1. Get Outside

Summer weather is my favorite! I know it’s hot and humid, but the early mornings and evening/nighttime hours are often the perfect  temperature to me. And guess what you’re not doing during these times? Working!

Wake up 30 minutes earlier and take a walk before work, or plan a game of frisbee with your friends after dinner. Do not go straight home and watch Netflix until you go to sleep––enjoy that extended daylight!

Take a walk with a friend!

2. Do Summer Reading

Your mom is probably not going to pay you a dollar for every chapter book you finish, but that shouldn’t stop you from going to the library or your favorite bookstore! If you’ve fallen out of the habit of reading, let the new season be a reason to kick you back into gear.

If you don’t know where to start, check out the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog, or listen to this episode of one of my new favorite podcasts, “10 Things to Tell You” with Laura Tremaine. Last but not least, you could check out one, two or three of the blog articles from another cool website, rachelsinclair.net :).

3. Listen to Country Music

I love strawberry cake all year round, but for some reason it tastes even better around Easter. In the same way, country music just feels like it’s made for the summer! Make a playlist, listen to it at work if you can, and by all means, go enjoy the country concerts that come to your city.

Last year Lady Antebellum headlined the free 4th of July concert in downtown Nashville. Was it crazy? Yes. Hot? Yes. Was I there? YES! We were exhausted at the end of the night, but it was so worth it!

4. Eat Fun Fruit

If you know me or have listened to the podcast episode with my mother, the professional food style/recipe developer, you know that I am more of an… uhh… “experimental” cook in the kitchen 😉. In the summer, I love to purchase and toss together different combinations of fresh fruit!

I call this one the “Barney Salad,” featuring kiwi and grapes! Now isn’t this more fun than a plastic Dole cup of pineapple?

5. Start a Puzzle

Time to pull out those nerd glasses! 🤓 I looooove me a fun puzzle, and summer is a good time to start one.

Puzzles are a fun activity where friends, family, roommates and really anyone can contribute, so long as they understand the right method for putting a puzzle together. (Sift through the puzzle pieces in 2-3 containers, build the outside first, and DO NOT lay all the pieces flat on the table at once. Obviously!)

6. Hang with Friends

Don’t get me wrong, I hope you are hanging out with friends during the fall through spring as well! But in summer, there is so much to do. You have farmer’s markets, movie nights, pool days, cook outs, weekend trips and more. Don’t lose that sense of freedom just because you work during the day!

A quick weekend trip to Columbia, Tenn. to see my dear friend Annie!

I realize this list does not contain mind-blowing revelations about fun activities, but that’s because I want to share things from my life that are doable, practical and truly joyful. So find what you love about summer, grab some friends and go have fun!


 

Hello, friends! I’m back with more reflections from my Hawaii, a time when I learned things like…

  • The Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters.
  • A pineapple at the grocery store only costs $0.79, but a Fuji apple is $2-3. (Plot twist, Mainlanders! How ‘bout them apples?)
  • How to surf and hula.
  • There is such thing as a “banjolele,” aka a banjo-ukulele. (Santa, please take note.)

Aside from learning these fun factoids and newfound talents, I also discovered a lot about who God is and His relationship with creation. Like any good Baptist, I tried to condense my thoughts into 3 main points, but they truly fit into 4 steps. So stay with me to the end!

THOUGHT #1: I get to know God.

It doesn’t take a ton of these views to realize that the world we live in is so much bigger than ourselves. I remember standing on the shore of a black sand beach after a rainfall, watching waves crash into rocks and feeling the extremely powerful pull of the undertow as the water returned to the sea. Facing the forces of nature is incredibly humbling. From breathtaking views on a mountaintop to a colorful coral reef habitat under the sea, I was in awe of creation and the One who created it.

I get to know the God who made this?! I kept thinking. The One who raised this mountain 13,000 feet high and gave this gray fish neon fins? THIS is the same God who gives me strength and courage? Who calls me his friend?

THOUGHT #2: Other people don’t know God.

As I marvelled at THOUGHT #1, I was saddened when I thought about all of the people who do not know the one, true God who is so dear to me. One day we visited an ancient temple built by King Kamehameha in the early 1800s. I was surprised to read that the temple was still a place of worship where some native Hawaiians come to practice their religion. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that people have placed necklaces and food on the ancient structure as an offering. Other locals, instead of worshiping ancient deities, revere nature itself in a spiritual, transcendental type of worship.

 

I thought of Acts 17 when Paul preached in the Greek Areopagus in Athens, a city filled with idolatry. He first acknowledged that the people were very religious, and he specifically recognized their altar “to the unknown god.” Then he said,

“So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. ‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…’” (23-24).

That’s what I wanted to tell people. I know the God who made this, and He’s incredible! This leads to THOUGHT #3…

THOUGHT #3: God wants a relationship with those who don’t know Him.

If you continue reading Acts 17, Paul says that God made people “that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (27).

He’s not far from us! Isn’t that wonderfully comforting?

1 Timothy 2:4-5 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

We have one God and one Savior. God wants people to find Him through Christ. The Gospel is called the “good news” for a reason! And that’s not the end of the story.

THOUGHT #4: I get to tell people about the true God and His Son, Jesus!

Have you ever tried to convince someone to watch your favorite TV show or listen to your favorite band? (Next time you see me, ask me why I love Survivor or Lady Antebellum.) It’s not hard to get excited about something or someone you love!

In the same way, believers in Christ should be bursting with excitement to tell others about our amazing God. The Bible says we are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What does that mean? We get to help reconcile people to God by telling them the good news of Jesus.

So there’s my 4-step process of what God taught me in Hawaii. I hope that this week you will open your eyes and look for what the Lord is showing YOU in your life!


 

 

Does anyone want to come over and watch a 6-hour slideshow? No?

Well darn! That’s about how long it would take to show all of the pictures from my family’s recent trip to Hawaii. In short, it was everything I hoped for and more and fascinatingly different.

When I pictured Hawaii, I always imagined an aqua blue ocean, cloudless blue sky and billowy palm trees swaying in the breeze. And that’s true!

But Hawaii is so much more than perfect beaches. In fact, we stayed on the Big Island, where part of the terrain is volcanic rock. You’re driving through this landscape and thinking, Am I on another planet?  We even got to visit Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. (The Sinclairs are living on the edge, people!)

One of my favorite places was the Pololū Valley. We hiked down a steep trail of mud and finally reached the black sand beach at the bottom. It was gorgeous! The waves were incredibly powerful, crashing against the rocks like they wanted to knock down the island. On the other side of the shore was the ever-calm Pololū River, which wandered into a valley, surrounded by lush fields and grazing cattle. The two contrasting environments in such close proximity was fascinating to me.

Another impressive aspect of Hawaii’s natural beauty is its plants and animals. On the rainy side of the island, you can find wild avocado trees, mango trees, palm trees, coffee bean trees, and more. The flowers come in all shapes, gargantuan sizes, and colors so bright that look like they came out of a Sharpie highlighter. I felt like I was a character in a Dr. Seuss book or Carmen Cortez in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams.

As for the animals, forget watching out for deer! Hawaii has wild horses, donkeys, and cutest of all… goats. (Sidenote: check out the picture of my brother, Andrew, with the 17 cats of A Bay. Yes, he’s talking to the cat lady who takes them to the vet and feeds them. They have an official FB page here.)

In an effort to keep your attention, I’ve decided to list the events of rest of the trip in six words or less.

  • Macadamia nuts good. SPAM flavor bad.
  • “Rachel falls at the falls.”
  • America’s steepest road. Sketchy van, oneway.
  • View from above was worth it.
  • Hawaiian royalty: Queen Anela, King Kona.
  • Helicopter ride was incredible beyond words.
  • We hula’ed at a luau.
  • (Most) local Hawaiian food was delicious.
  • Surfing was fun and surprisingly easy.
  • Diamondhead hike was tough but rewarding.

Click through the slideshow below to view corresponding pictures. If you STILL want to hear more, let me know so I can pull out the projector and the popcorn machine. Also, look out for the next blog, “What God Taught Me In Hawaii,” coming soon to a social media site near you!