Don't Waste Your Summer...

When I was in junior high and high school, I often remember the challenge our Youth Pastor and the teachers at my Christian school would lay out before us..."Don't waste your summer!"  Often they had some ideas in mind for us about missions trips, service projects, Bible studies and an intentional effort to overcome a 3 month stretch of laziness.  I always loved the end of the school year, not only because I was sick of school at that point, but because having the summer ahead of me felt like a blank slate full of possibiliites.  So I usually thought about their challenge and some summers, I really lived up to it and others just got full of responsibilities and commitments. 

One summer in particular was hugely memorable for me.  I look back on it now and can't believe that I did what I did.  I can't believe it because going into it, I had one giant goal sitting before me that really seemed impossible.  I was very involved in sports growing up and intensely competitive.  Some of our basketball coaches decided that they wanted to push us to really hone our skills over the summer, so they came up with something called the 10,000 club.  3 months of summer and a challenge to shoot and record 10,000 shots.  We had a spreadsheet that broke it down for us in catagories, lay-ups, jump shots, free throws, 3 pointers, etc.  But it was up to us to do it and record it, honestly.  We couldn't just throw some shots up there and say we did 50, we had to keep track so they could keep track of our shooting percentages.  Crazy!  But, you know what??  I did it!  It was very hard to stay diligent and on top of it, but I had the accountability of my coaches and teammates, the support of my parents and my own competitive juices that kept me outside for an entire summer, shooting baskets.  My Dad was my biggest cheerleader and he even had a 1/2 court slab of cement poured in our back yard, to give me a better place to shoot.  There were days when I got right out there in the morning and got my shots in, but there were lots of days when I had 400 shots to take and no motivation whatsoever.  It was a good lesson in perseverence, but it also brought huge dividends to our team.  All of my friends did it with me and we all finished.  And from that summer on, we saw huge results in our game.  We went on to break and set school records; we won our conference for the first time in the history of our school and we won our district on the road to the state championship.  I ended my high school playing days with some awards I never thought I would have achieved and some records directly reflective of my shooting abilities.  And while some of it came with years of playing and talents God gave us, I attribute lots of it to hard work and a summer of shooting 10,000 baskets.  I'm still kind of proud of myself when I think about that.  That was one of my first "big" goals as a teenager and I surprised myself by accomplishing it. 

Which leads me to the point of this post.  Have you thought about your summer yet?  It's June 1st today and most of us have about 3 months before the rigors of a fall schedule fall into place again.  Last year I committed myself to just being in the Word more and memorizing some scripture.  I spent most of the summer marinating in Proverbs and memorized most of chapter 2.  It was wonderful and totally worth it.  But this year, I hadn't really given much thought to my "goals."  Most of this season in my life just seems to be about survival with some element of joy :) But last night, our friend Jason threw a tweet out that made me stop and think.  He posted this about his plan to read through the entire Bible, in chronological order, in 3 months.  Upon first read I thought, that's crazy!  So much reading, but I admired it too and I was challenged by the fact that he did it last year and said it made him crave the Word like never before.  That resonated with me.  So I read his post, signed on the website that provides the free plan and gave it a few minutes of time before I talked myself out of it.  But I laid in bed and thought about it more and then woke up thinking about it too. 

Typically, the type A in me would get all wrapped up in the logistics, think I can't do it because I won't have time to read it and study it...But, this time I'm not going there.  This time I'm going to give myself permission not to take notes, not to get so caught up in the details, but to just read.  To read it like the love letter that it is.  In the order that all the events most likely happened.  There is free software that will create the plan for us, you can sign on and it will deliver the daily reading schedule to you everyday.  I even downloaded the free app for my phone so that when I'm on the go, I can still stay on track.  There is no test at the end, no paper to write, no outline to create.  You can read ahead, stay on track or catch up if you get behind.  Travis and I are going to do this together, which thrills me.  This will be good for me and my relationship with the Lord, but it's also going to be good for my marriage, good for my parenting, good for my friendships, etc.  It's pretty hard to make a case for NOT setting aside time this summer for a goal much more worthy of my time than shooting 10,000 baskets.  And this time, I know the rewards will be greater than games won and awards given.  This has eternal implications on the line and daily rewards for the people I interact with most.  I'm going to copy and paste the instructions for getting started below...Wondering if you'd like to join us too??  My user name is mrsarmstrong2003 and I'll post Trav's when I know it.

One of the easiest ways to do this with the technology that is at our disposal is through

Reading plan instructions:

1.Go to

2.Click on “explore reading plans” (or click the banner above)

3.Scroll down to Chronological and hit the link under it “start this plan”

4.If you don’t have a YouVersion account click the “sign up now” on the right side of the page or if you do have an account sign in.

5.After creating a username and password, check your email for the confirmation email. Once signed in to YouVersion.

6.On the top click on “reading plans”

7.The chronological plan should pop up. Under it click plan overview.

8.Scroll down to “your start date, your end date” and click edit dates.

9.Make your start date June 1, 2011 and your end date August 31, 2011 and then hit save.

10.Now your plan is all set up! Go back to the top and click view today’s reading to see what the reading is for each day.

11.Find me and become my friend on YouVersion my username is: mrsarmstrong2003

Trust me when I tell you that you can do this and it will make a huge impact on your life. The Bible isn't an old book, "It is living and active. Sharper than any double‑edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

Reading the whole thing like this will give us a big picture view of what God has done for us and will impact us to the deepest parts of our soul.  I can't wait!  It's not going to come easy, it will require my time and some sacrifice but I can't think of much else that is as worthy this summer.
So, are you in?! If so, leave a comment and let me know you're in!  I think we can get a group started on and hold each other accountable.  Don't waste your summer!!

Feel free to pass this idea around and let's see how many people we can get to join us too!


Megan said...

Hey Steph! I am doing this too. I can't get your user name to work. Mine is mbrumms. Happy reading!

Michelle Simpson Photos said...

Your basketball experience is so inspiring! Thanks for posting something like this to give me a little push!

Nick, Lindsey, and Anniston Kennedy said...

Hi Stephanie! I'm so excited that you shared this. I woke up this morning excited to dig into my reading today! I couldn't figure out how to add you a normal way, so I kind of did it my own way. I went to the Community tab to recent activity. Once I was there, I used ctrl+f and just searched for your user id in the feed. Once it found it, I was able to click on your name and then follow you! Thanks again for sharing this wonderful plan! I'm super excited about it! :)

God Bless!

Amber said...

Ah, 10000 club! We'll have to vouch for each other someday when our kids wont believe we ever really did that!! :)