For many readers, summer is the time to put a dent in the reading list. The pace of life is a bit slower, and who doesn’t love the opportunity to sit on the beach or lay in a hammock, enjoying the beautiful weather while taking in a good book?
This summer wasn’t really like that for me. I spent most of my days inside working. And my weekends were spent out and about with the family sans books.
Weirdly enough, TV-watching played a big part in my night-time routine, crowding out my normal reading rhythm. Between American Ninja Warrior, the Olympics, and re-watching Gilmore Girls, I found myself not having energy to read more than a chapter before lights out each night. BUT. But. but. In spite of Netflix trying to ruin my life, I did manage to get through a few books that I highly recommend.
Evicted is a book that our city is reading and discussing this fall; author Matthew Desmond is an alum of the UW. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked this one up, but it didn’t take me long to get hooked into the stories of Scott and Arleen and several other families whose lives have been deeply affected by the ever-present reality of eviction. Desmond is a master storyteller- he helps readers to see the heartbreaking and surprisingly complex situations that many of these families who have been evicted have gone through. I don’t think I’ll ever think about poverty and housing the same. My recommendation, if you pick up this book, be sure to read through the About This Project portion at the end. Reading about how Matthew did the research, and also his ideas for helping to solve the housing crisis in America, is well worth the read.
When I reflect back on this past month, I think “What I’m Into” can be summed up by one thing:
I’m in total fan girl mode. In order to be all caught up with my re-watch by the Gilmore Girl long-awaited-final-series-releasse, I need to watch 4 episodes a week. In case you’re considering a rewatch and want to start NOW, you’ll need to watch 9-10 episodes a week. I always knew my math degree would come in handy :).
But of course, a post about how much I love Gilmore Girls would be too much, so onto the other parts of my life.
Extended Family. We live far from family and can feel the lonely that comes with that during certain seasons. One great thing about summer is the stretch of time to pack up in the van and head south. This summer was extra special because we all convened on my parents’ house. Believe it or not, this is the first time I met my youngest nephew (and it had been a long time since I’d seen the others!). This trip really couldn’t have gone smoother. The kids got along great. We had fun being tourists in a place we used to call home. We talked a ton and ate too much.
Major league baseball. I grew up going to a baseball game each summer and up until this point, the kids had only gone to minor league games. When I found out that the Brewers were playing the Cardinals on St. Louis terf, it was the perfect time to go. Although the game almost got rained out, we had a blast. For the record, the Cardinals won!
Tree Ciimbing. All summer the kids have raced to the tall climbing trees before their daily camp. If you look at the very top of the picture, you’ll see my two oldest kids. Each day they stretch themselves and climb a little bit higher. I think there’s some kind of spiritual journey lesson in that. I’m really proud of them for being brave and adventurous.
Olbrich Gardens. I’m not really an outdoorsy person, but this place is magical to me. I love walking around and taking in all the beauty. Every since I was a small girl, I have loved willow trees. I would often daydream about reading under my own willow tree someday. I haven’t gotten one yet, but I’m still holding out hope. In the meantime, I can just come here whenever I want! The one above is a version of the willow called “scarlet curls”- oh la la!
Ideas for Women’s Ministry// Amy Simpson pushes women’s ministry outside of the box and encourages leaders to think harder about they whys behind the what… and then have the courage to do something different.
10 Ways to Soulfully Slow Down// “If I’m going to understand the meaning of delight, the joy of savoring the goodness all around me, and if I’m going to discover what it means to enjoy God, I have to slow down. I have to create space and room for delight, for celebration, for my soul to find rest and exhale. To let out a long sigh of relief and find a safe place to come out of hiding, free from incessant doing, and fill up once again.”
The Road Back to You … life through the Enneagram has been so fun for me to listen to on my drive to and from work. The Enneagram has played a special part in my faith journey, and I’m loving the opportunity to learn about the different numbers through the interviews they’re doing. I’ve listened to the interviews with Shauna Niequest and Mike McHargue, and have a new appreciation for 7s and 9s. I can’t wait to hear more!
I’m coming back around to Seminary Dropout again and have been moved to tears with some of the last episodes. This one with Soong-Chan Rahwas a much needed listen for me. It reminded me that lament is a vital spiritual practice. And success-centered triumphalism is not what I want my life to be about. I forget that a lot.
Also, the episode with Jessica Kelley was a good one. I hadn’t heard of her before this, but after this interview, I immediately emailed the publisher and asked for a review copy of her book. I’ll be digging in and sharing my thoughts this fall.
My last favorite was an interview with Katherine Willis Persheyabout spiritual practices on The Simple Show (episode 26). If I could find space to read for a few days straight, I’m pretty sure I’d gather up the books she’s written and find myself a place of solitude. She has a new book about marriage coming out soon that I’ll also start to dig into soon. Review coming this fall!
Tonight Ada snuggled up to me on the couch, took a deep breath and said, “Mom, I’ve been trying to figure out the right time to tell you ….. when I get a little older, I want to travel to another country and tell people about God.”
This simple sentence was not only exceedingly adorable (why was she trying to find the right time to tell me? what did she expect I would say?), but it also made me a very proud momma. Will Ada really ever travel to another country to tell people about Jesus? Eh, who knows?! Am I concerned that she feels like she needs to go to a different country to tell people about Jesus when people right here need to know about Jesus too? Not yet :).
For right now, I’m just glad she loves Jesus and also has some sort of global awareness. Being globally-minded is a deep value of both Jake and I, one that we desire to pass on to our kids.
To be quite frank, in this season of our life, helping our kids to be globally-minded takes very little effort on our part. All we have to do is send our kids to school each morning. The local public school is fondly nicknamed “The Little United Nations” because of the diversity of nations represented by the students. We totally lucked out.
But before we had the opportunity to get to know and love people from all parts of the globe on a regular basis, we spent a lot of time teaching the kids about the world… from home.
In her new book, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, author Jamie Martin shares her family’s love for books, travel, and learning about the world. She not only gives us a glimpse into her family’s rhythms and strategies for raising kids who think and love globally, but she has done the hard work of creating a list of great books to read to our kids.
How the Book is Organized
Each chapter lists books covering a different part of the world. The reading lists are well-organized according to age-level (ages 4-6, 6-8, 8-10, and 10-12). With each book suggestion, Jamie gives a couple sentence summary, as well as highlighting some of the book’s special features. As I looked through list after list, I was so impressed and slightly irked that she didn’t write this book sooner (it would have saved me a lot of time in those early years when I would stay up until midnight, searching long and wide for the perfect “next books”)!
My plan is to start working through the book, chapter by chapter, requesting the books from our library and writing our thoughts in the margin. As we read the books together, I hope to be intentional about finding places on the map together, talking about which of our friends are from there, as well as reflecting on how the book depicts a life similar to ours as well as different from ours. Plus, I’ve been really wanting to pull out my *Study the World* Pinterest board to do some fun multi-cultural activities! I think some of these would be great supplements to these books.
This book goes down into my very small list of books that every family must own. Grab a copy and start your family on a journey around the world right from home!
Thanks to booklook bloggers for sending me this review copy in exchange for my honest review!
This month I received Stitch Fix #2. Here’s what was in my box:
OneMarket Toree Maxi Dress
Abdella Stone Layering Necklace
Papermoon Wayland Racerback Top
Market & Spruce Colibri Polka Dot Print Top
Kut from the Kloth Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean
What I loved:
The Boyfriend Jean.
I wasn’t sure about the boyfriend jean style. I’m not a big fan of super baggy pants (generally super baggy doesnt look awesome on short people, but instead makes us look shorter, if that’s even possible). BUT, after a little research on the boyfriend jean, I decided that this guy has a place in my closet :). I wouldn’t want another pair, but I think the jean will serve my style needs well. The length is great, they aren’t TOO baggy, and if I really want to, I can just leave the legs rolled down because I think it looks totally fine!
The Polka Dot Print Top.
I love, love, love, the length. I’m a fan of polka dots, and my wardrobe can certainly benefit from a bit of navy. I think I’d like to pair it with some navy leggings at some point for a comfy around the house casual outfit. I can also dress it up with the jeans I received from Stitch Fix #1 (in the picture) and wear them to work!
I’m not a huge gold fan, but I liked the turquoise necklace. However, I just don’t have a whole lot to wear with this necklace. Since it was meant to go with the racerback top that I decided not to keep, I figured I should probably return the necklace too.
What I didn’t love:
The racerback top
This top was a little too big, and the cut seemed a bit crooked at the bottom (which was probably intentional but it would have driven me crazy). Plus, the top background color of the shirt didn’t look great with my fair skin tone. Back to Stitch Fix it went.
Ick. The color totally washed me out. The dress was much too long (even though it was a petite version!). On a positive note, I decided to give a maxi dress/skirt a try at the store the next time I shopped. I originally thought a maxi skirt was a giant fashion mistake because of my height, but I don’t think it made me look any shorter!
What I’m doing now to help make my next Stitch Fix even better:
In my style profile, I had said that I only wanted petite-fit bottoms and not petite-fit tops. After receiving this fix, I went in and changed it to include petite tops as well. Hopefully that will give me better luck!
My next fix won’t be until October (I’m scheduling them for 4x per year- once for each season), so I’ll be sure to update my Pinterest style board with fall styles I love, as well as make sure that I tell my styler what I’m looking for. This time around I didn’t give her any requests beyond my Pinterest board because I didnt really have anything in mind. However, I LOVE fall and winter clothes, so I’m more excited about particular pieces to ask for!
If you’d like to give it a try, feel free to use my referral link— for each person who schedules a fix, I get a $25 credit!
We must be willing to move beyond certainty in our faith, because certainty isn’t really the point of faith at all.
For many of us, certainty is the center of our faith. We’ve been taught that the goal of our religious lives is to “know God”, by which we mean (whether consciously or unconsciously) believing the right doctrines and holding the right views.
Our pursuit to know God is evaluated by whether or not we end up with the right answer. Or at least that’s how we evaluate others.
But what if faith isn’t about right answers and right doctrines?What if faith is ultimately about trusting God?
Pete begins his book with the story of his “faith” crashing down, intriguingly while watching a Disney movie on a plane 30,000 feet in the air. One might think a Bible professor’s faith would need to be unravelled by something more grandiose than a Disney movie, right? Not so much.
From my own experience and reading about similar experiences of others, the crash, the wall, the dark night of the soul (whatever you want to call it) often comes in unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s when reading a book. Other times watching a movie. Perhaps it happens in a conversation or in a class. Maybe we’re watching TV. Or we receive some shocking news.
Here’s the thing about our faith- it’s not something we can necessarily control.
Throughout his book, Pete interweaves his story with what he’s learned about letting go of certainty so that he can fully trust. Letting go of certainty doesn’t mean dismissing thinking or logic, or ceasing to pursue answers. Letting go of certainty means trusting God with our lives. It means keeping an open hand with our beliefs, embracing the mysteries, and leaning in even when our brains might not be able to make sense.
“This book is about thinking differently about faith, a faith that is not so much defined by what we believe but in whom we trust. In fact, in this book I argue that we have misunderstood faith a what word rather than a who word- as primarily beliefs about rather than primarily as trust in.”
Because Pete is an intellectual, he gets the tension that this all might bring to some of us. And it’s because he’s an intellectual that many of us who identify as such should give him a hearing.
Interestingly, Pete’s hope for this book isn’t just for those who are going through a faith crisis or is submerged to their eyeballs in doubt, but he’s trying to start a bigger conversation about how faith is viewed and communicated in the evangelical church.
“When we think of ‘strong faith’ as something that should be free of uncertainty or crises, I believe we have gotten wrong an important part of who God is and how the Christian life really works. This is about how we might address that problem.”
Finally, Pete ends the book with wisdom about what to do when a tidal wave of doubt comes crashing upon you. If you’re in the midst of some tall waves, I highly recommend skipping to chapter 7 first.
I think the only point I’d disagree with Pete on is the title- the sin of certainty. While I get the idea behind it, I actually think that those who are siting in certainty are not wrong or sinning. I think their faith has some distance to go. From my limited understanding of faith formation, it seems as if certainty is a necessary first step in faith. The sin isn’t in being there. If there’s any sin involved, I think it would be in one’s unwillingness to take the next step when God extends the invitation.
I recommend picking up this book, grabbing some friends, and starting a conversation. Pete’s writing style is down-to-earth, incredible readable, and funny. His gift for teaching shines through the pages. You won’t be disappointed.
Yesterday afternoon, Jake packed the kids and headed south on a trip to his mom and dad’s house for a little summer adventure. They’ll spend most of their week wandering in the woods and swimming until their toes and fingers are pruny. These are the dream days of summer. (more…)
Each day, girls read a one-page devotional designed to help them see that beauty starts on the inside, and that God created them to love Him, themselves, and one another.
How It’s Set Up
Each week is themed around a different aspect of beauty- fashion, creativity, fitness, serving others. One Brave Girl (Gracie, Hope, or Glory) introduces the theme at the beginning of the week along with 15 devotions following the theme. Each Brave Girl has their own personality and own style- a super girly girl, an athletic type, and a girl who loves to create. (more…)
A couple months ago we introduced the kids to Alice In Wonderland (2010). I’m not sure I had ever watched it, and I must admit, parts of it were a bit creepy. The kids mostly liked it, but their attention waned at the end.
So, just a couple weeks ago we decided to give ‘ol Alice another try and this time we watched the Disney animated version and the kids LOVED it. Since then, they have started to plan our 2016 Family Halloween Costume (slight obsession in the making??).
So it seemed very fitting when this guy showed up at my door:
Given that we love to color together AND we love Alice in Wonderland, Wonderland has been a total win for us!
The coloring book doubles as a little story, which I think is a fun idea. You read a little, color a lot, read a little, color a lot.
The pages are beautiful, the drawings are interesting to color, and I haven’t been able to pick a favorite page because I love them all. Seriously.
We’re starting to dream about warm summer days, long stretches of afternoon with nothing we HAVE to do. When school is out, we’re all like– FREEDOM!!!!!
Well, except me. I’ll be working. 🙂
But because half of my heart is still at home all day, and because Jake is so awesome as to let me speak into the summer schedule, here are some of the fun (and helpful) things we’ll be doing this summer:
We will play outside. Explore. Ride bikes. Dig in dirt. Play basketball. Swing. Chalk. Picnic. Maybe work a little on our Park Challenge (visiting every park in our city). Anything that involves being outside of our cute and cozy apartment and basking in the warm summer sunshine. The kids are doing local camps this summer, which will give them a little bit of freedom and structure outside as well. (more…)