Reading Together: How Communities of Readers Can Transform the World

reading-togetherBooks are one of the most powerful tools in the world.

Books change the world by offering a new perspective.

Books inspire people to step out and take risks.

Books allow people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, increasing a reader’s capacity for empathy.

Books explain, they instruct, they motivate.

Books offer another way forward, and get people talking.

Most of my favorite books inspire me towards action. And they are always ones I want to talk about with someone else. (more…)

How to Make Personalized Back-to-School Photos

Families around the country have been snapping pictures of their kids on the first day of school for years. 90% of these photos seem to happen on the home’s front stoop.

In our family, it’s no different. Fifteen minutes before departure time, we line the kids up and snap pictures of their sweet faces in front of our door.

How to Make (easy) Amazing Back-to-School Photos

Each year, I like to add a little extra information to help me remember what they were into (and what they weren’t). For fun I even sometimes make one for my husband who is a PhD student ;). 

To create these great memories, I use the free online editing tool- PicMonkey.

1. I upload the photo by going to “edit” and then “computer.”

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2. After choosing the photo I want to edit, I’m ready to add some text. (more…)

What I’m Into {August 2016}

What I'm Into August 2016

Tomorrow is the beginning of a fresh school year.

This is a big year for us.

By 8:15a, all 4 kids will be out the door, headed to their learning spaces for the day. What in the world?! I knew this day would come someday. I dreaaaaamed of this day while changing diapers and cleaning mess (after mess after mess) and juggling playdates and tantrums and feeling the toll of pure exhaustion. I just didn’t know it was going to come so soon! While the oldest three will be in elementary school all day, the youngest Malloy will be attending an early childhood program where she will be able to extrovert to her hearts content.

What all this means is when I leave the house in the morning, it’s more or less going to look exactly the same way when I get home from work. Hallelujah! This means less cleaning and tidying when I get home, and more sitting on the couch snuggling, talking, and reading books at night.

Of course, this transition will mean more emotions, more feels, more neediness at night from kids who have been without their momma all day. So, now that I think about it, you should probably ask me again in 3 weeks how excited I am about this transition. (more…)

The Family Reading List {Summer 2016}

The Family Reading List

Welcome to the Family Reading List!

Each month I’ll be sharing a list of recommended books for kids. This carefully curated list will come straight from our bookshelves and will answer the question I get asked all the time- What are my kids reading and loving? I’ll not only feature one book from each kid’s list per month, but I’ll also give a short list of other books we highly recommend. Some of these books will be ones the kids read on their own. Others will be ones we listen to in the car or read aloud at night before bed.

I’m circling the kids into this series of fun monthly posts, and they’re already excited about sharing their recommendations. Who knows, they may even show up in some video recommendations in the future!

And of course, please feel free to leave book recommendations in the comments! We often find our next books to read through the recommendations of other families.

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What I’m Reading {Summer 2016}

What I'm Reading (summer)

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

Matthew Desmond

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.

 

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What I’m Into {July 2016}

What I'm Into July 2016

When I reflect back on this past month, I think “What I’m Into” can be summed up by one thing:

Gilmore Girls.

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.

June/July Highlights

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

Articles

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.

Mom Tiger Will Finally Lose Her S** on New Episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood// Please excuse the cursing in this post, and don’t let that stop you from reading this start to finish. I laughed. so. hard. And breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I was not alone in this battle.

25 Books to Read when you feel like the world is falling apart// Great recommendations on this list.

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.”

Books I’m Reading

Evicted.  The Sin of Certainty. The Gifts of Imperfection. Daring Greatly.

Podcasts

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 Rah was 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 Pershey about 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!

My June/July Posts

Raising Globally-Minded Kids (without traveling around the world)

Stitch Fix #2: Summer Lovin’ 

The Kingdom Work of Being a Dad

Wonderland (A Coloring Book Review)

What are you loving this month?? 

{And as always, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. 🙂 }

Raising Globally-Minded Kids (without traveling around the world)

Raising Globally-Minded Kids

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.

give your child the worldIn 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

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!

Stitch Fix #2: Summer Lovin’

In April I took the plunge into the Stitch Fix world and had an overall positive experience. I was surprised how much I liked it, and how the clothes fit my petite frame so well! I kept a perfect pair of jeans and a super cute dress – both of which I wear often.

This month I received Stitch Fix #2. Here’s what was in my box:

OneMarket Toree Maxi Dress

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Abdella Stone Layering Necklace

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Papermoon Wayland Racerback Top

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Market & Spruce Colibri Polka Dot Print Top

polka dot

 

Kut from the Kloth Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean

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What I loved:

 

The Boyfriend Jean.DSC_5886

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.

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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!

The necklace.DSC_5888

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 topDSC_5886

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.

The dress.

DSC_5900Ick. 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!

 

 

The Sin of Certainty {a book review}

sin-of-certainty

The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs is one of the best books I’ve read this summer. Enns communicates a message many evangelicals need to hear.

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.

In my reading routine, after I finish a particularly good book, I scour the notes section in the back. I’ve found the footnotes of my favorite chapters of a book provide great recommendations for my reading list. If you need a hint on my favorite chapter, I’ll tell you that I’ve added Thoughts in Solitude, The Inner Voice of Love, Stages of Faith, and a re-read of The Bible Tells Me So. 🙂

To read more about Pete, you can visit his blog: http://www.peteenns.com.

And to read more about my relationship with doubt, check out the following days in my 31 Days of Soul Shaping series:

Day 19: Doubt: The Big, Bad Wolf of Faith?

Day 20: The Beginning of My Doubt

Day 21: The Turning Point

Day 22: Questions Aren’t Just for Kids

 

Thanks to Pete and his team for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!