(Heather Patridge) Hi friends!  It is time to wind down our summer reading challenge, Control the Scroll. As I explained in the launch post, I began this challenge when I realized how much of my day is eaten up by mindless screen time.

I am loving the concept of grabbing a book before I scroll through my phone, and it is a practice I hope to continue.  There were often times during the challenge where reaching for a book was easy, especially when the book was a page turner.  At other times, grabbing the book took a large act of willpower.  Of course, I sometimes cheated, but even still, I am not looking at my phone nearly as much as I previously was.

It helped to always have a pile of books to reach from because sometimes I started a book that just didn’t work for me. Having another one to grab helped me to not have any downtime between books.  Keeping a running book list and making weekly library runs was crucial for this challenge, as I like to have an actual book rather than an e-reader device.

What about you, Holly?  How has it been going?

(Holly Mackle) Heather, I am so grateful for your idea, and for the awareness its brought me about some unhealthy patterns I can slip into so easily. It’s the same for me–not every day has been perfect–but when I cheat and grab my phone before a book now I am far more aware of making that choice. I have LOVED the books I’ve read, and they’ve brought a lot of joy to this summer.

For me, it’s been super helpful to have suggestions from friends as I can be overwhelmed by a bookstore or a library. And it’s a lot of fun to get to tell a friend how much I enjoyed their suggestion.

Christina, how have you found the challenge?

(Christina) This has been a fun challenge! I often find myself scrolling through my phone while I’m waiting somewhere) at the doctor, at the kid’s sports practice, etc), this summer I’ve brought a book with me instead. I do read a lot to begin with, so I’ve used this challenge to get me reading a variety of books rather than my usual go-to. Because I’m a writer, I often read theology or Christian living books but this summer, I’ve picked up a biography, a literary fiction book from the 1930’s, a French fiction book, and even a few mysteries. I loved it! It reminded me how much I love mysteries which was a joy to rediscover.

Heather, has your view of your phone changed?

(Heather) I hate to admit it, but my phone has almost become an extra appendage on my body. It is what I grab to do most of my daily tasks, and I was not consciously aware of just how much I use it throughout the day. Although I still needed my phone during this challenge, I was able to use it much more thoughtfully and it truly brought so much simplicity to my day. Of course, my phone isn’t bad in and of itself, but the entire world does not need to be at my fingertips every second.

I loved the example this challenge gave my children as I modeled this in front of them. I even caught myself reading quotes from some of my books to them while they colored or played Legos. Even though I knew they probably didn’t understand everything I was reading, it still mattered. I was consciously showing them a love for books, and in doing so, I was helping shift our family’s culture towards one that enjoys this together.

(Holly) I know exactly what you mean–I want so badly for my children to see me spending time doing things that are good for the whole me. I want them to see me spending time with Jesus, honoring their daddy, enjoying time with friends, working hard, reading for pleasure–you could name any number of good things–and I don’t want their childhood memories of me to have this tiny little black rectangle in front of my face. At the same time, I don’t want to be legalistic about this very helpful device, but I long to be intentional with it and model self-control for my girls. I pray that this challenge has helped to break a cycle for me.

Christina, has this challenge altered the way you see your phone? Or do you think you’ll view it differently after this reading challenge?

(Christina) This challenge showed me that I don’t need to pick up my phone in those moments of waiting (like at the doctor’s office) and other times when I am prone to scroll through my feeds. I found more joy in reading during those times. It was more satisfying and filling—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Thank you, Heather and Holly for initiating and helping facilitate this challenge for us.

How about you? How did the summer reading challenge impact you? We’d love to hear! Share in the comments below.