a million milesTitle: A Million Miles In A Thousand Years

Author: Donald Miller

Date Started: July 20, 2014   Date Finished: July 26, 2014

Number of pages: 272   Total for 2014: 12,825

What It’s About: This is a memoir about how Donald Miller learned to lived a better story. As he tells of writing the screenplay for “Blue Like Jazz” he discovers the basics of telling a good story…and then becomes determined to live a better story with his own life. I really loved this book.

Why I Read It: I actually thought I already had read it. I’ve read several of his books. But when this was assigned for my Spiritual Formation Group at UDTS, I realized it’s one I had missed. (Basically, I read it for school!)

psalms for worshipTitle: Biblical Psalms In Christian Worship

Author: John D. Witvliet

Date Started: July 16, 2014   Date Finished: July 19, 2014

Number of Pages:189    Total for 2014: 12,653

What it’s About: The collection of Psalms in the middle of our Bibles! Why they are there, what they are, how they should be faithfully handled by congregations and how to start reading and praying them in your congregation in order to promote prayer and Biblical literacy. Peppered throughout the book are several reflections on Psalms from theologians throughout history.

Why I Read It: So I could write my first paper for seminary!

Summer 2014

July 17, 2014
iphone June 455

Our sweet friend, Leslie, gave us this book after we lost Sam. It made me cry and cry, of course!

It’s been quite a summer, really.

Six weeks ago today, we said goodbye to our sweet Sam. It’s still sad when I think about that day. Or when I still reach down to pet the top of his head when I’m sitting at the table. Or when I think about getting home to let him out. Or when I’m left with a piece of sandwich I can’t finish. We do still miss him, but like grief usually does, it gets better every day. In the place where we buried him, Jason has created a beautiful garden with flowers and a bird bath.

The week we lost Sam, we took time slowly. We worked few hours and spent lots of time at home. Jonas was with us (and his friend, Chris, who is part of our family).

But since then, time has gone very quickly and there have been a lot of things going on. Vacation Bible School, a family camping trip with Jeff and Stefanie to the Turkey Run Area (Indiana), the High School Mission Trip to New Jersey, the Middle School Mission Trip to Paducah, KY, various adventure weekends for Jason, a trip to backpack in Medicine Bow, Wyoming for Jason, a trip to Biloxi with his mother for Jonas, time spent with much loved friends and family, and several evenings spent in our kayaks on local bodies of water.

camping familyIt’s been a bit of a blur! A really fun blur. A blur filled with knowledge of God’s goodness in our lives. But a blur, for sure! When this summer is over, Jason and I will have spent more nights apart than together in the June-August window. I still have my 2 week school intensive and he still has a trip to the Boundary Waters. We will spend our 12th anniversary 400 miles away from each other as it will happen during my time at UDTS.

During the high school mission trip, my first University of Dubuque Theological Seminary “class” started. It was an online orientation (no credit, of course) to help us get used to using the online system and give us a chance to meet our classmates, I’m enjoying it very much. Also, this summer, I’ve been dealing with financial aid, buying books and preparing to do my first August intensive. I’ll take three classes in August: Theological Research (1 credit), Foundations of Christian Worship (3 credits) and I’ll meet daily with a Spiritual Formation Group (1 credit). Yesterday, I got my first pre-load assignments for both my Worship and Spiritual Formation classes. Because I’ll kayak beckyonly have two weeks on campus, the August and January sessions will require a two week pre-load and a two week post-load, meaning that class actually starts before I leave and continues even after I get back. The assignments this very first time include a lot of reading, a 5-7 page paper, some journaling and some memorization.

I’m anxious, excited, and terrified. But ready or not, it’s time to get busy. I realize that for the next four years, life will always include homework, papers, books, memorization, critical thinking, bibliographies, lectures, exams, discussion and everything else that goes along with a Masters degree. I also hope it will be full of deep conversation, deep understanding and interaction with Scripture and theologians, ancient and modern, and deep relationships with my classmates near and far.

A lot will happen in the next four years, just as a lot has happened in the previous four years.

But for now, I’m sipping a second cup of coffee, looking out at a beautiful day, and getting ready to crack open a brand new book!


babylonTitle: By The Rivers of Babylon: A Blueprint For The Church In Exile

Author: Robert P. Hoch

Date Started: July 12, 2014    Date Finished: July 16, 2014

Number of Pages: 160  Total for 2014: 12,464

What It’s About: In the (American Mainline or Evangelical) Church, we say a lot about exile. Often, however, we are discussing a historical event or a spiritual state. Rarely does the Church talk about the actual exile that is experienced in the world today and even more rarely does the Church exist intentionally in exile alongside those who are experiencing it. In this book, the author tells the stories of the places he visited to be with those in exile and to ask questions about the Church, her worship and those who are living beyond the margins. What if we were able to identify with the poor, rather than offering charity to the poor? What if we built our churches and took peacemaking walks and interacted with our neighbors in areas where violence, drugs and prostitution are common? What would happen if we took the words and the example of Jesus seriously and intentionally lived a life that rejected the things that he rejected and embraced the things he embraced? What if rather than requiring others to worship in ways and places we find worthy or comfortable, we looked for ways to join the chorus already being raised beyond our suburban borders? The author pushes us to consider these questions and others in this challenging text.

Why I Read It: This is one of the required books for one of my August classes at UDTS (Foundations for Christian Worship). The author is my professor. I decided to read it first so I would know more about him.


summer rentalTitle: Summer Rental

Author: Mary Kay Andrews

Date Started: July 4, 2014   Date Finished: July 15, 2014

Number of Pages: 416  Total for 2014: 12,304

What It’s About: Ellis, Dorie and Julia agree to take a vacation together during the month of August. They rent a house on the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina. It turns out that each of them have arrived on the heels of major life upheavals. When they are joined by Madison, a mysterious stranger with issues of her own, they are poised for a whole pile of interesting.

Why I Read It: Book Club!

Blog Post

July 9, 2014

mission trips 011My internal dialogue:

I haven’t blogged in a super long time….but look at all of those books I’ve read so far this year! I’m not blogging because I’m spending so much time reading! Well, actually, I’m not blogging because I just haven’t done it. I told myself that I would write more often this summer as a way to get myself ready for all of the writing that’s coming up for UDTS. I should have made myself write a blog entry every day in July. But I didn’t and it’s already July 9 so it’s too late to start that now. I mean, it is my blog and there really aren’t rules like that. If I wanted to start writing every day in July today, I could do that. I mean, who’s going to bust me? The WordPress police? It would be cool to share my blog address in my new seminary moodle online profile, but if anyone clicks on it, they’ll just figure out really fast that I blog every book I read. Um…that’s going to get pretty interesting once I start only reading books for school. But really, I should write a post on my site that tells people how we are doing or what we are doing or if we still have all of our limbs or something. All of our limbs? Really, Becky? I’m pretty sure someone losing an appendage would have made the blog…but wait! We literally lost a limb in the big wind/rain/monsoon storm on  Monday night. A huge tree limb in our back yard became firewood. Mercy, I’m tired. I love those mission trips, but those middle schoolers were exhausting. I think I’m going to lay down with my latest book club book instead…

Sensible ShoesTitle: Sensible Shoes: A Story About The Spiritual Journey

Author: Sharon Garlough Brown

Date Started: June 29, 2014    Date Finished: July 5, 2014

Number of Pages: 353   Total for 2014: 11,888

What It’s About: Four women, all from different walks of life, ages, and stories meet while taking a class at a retreat center in Michigan. Together and apart, they discover truths about themselves and truths about God as they face the lies they had just become so used to believing. All women are reluctant to begin their journey for different reasons, but all find friendship, hope and a new start in their faith journeys.

Why I Read It: Pam Guthrie lent it to me and encouraged me to read it. I enjoyed it for two reasons: 1. It’s a good story. 2. It was much more reflective of the faith I practice than most books about Christianity and faith usually are (as in, most books in this genre are written from an Evangelical perspective, which I can understand and glean from, but with which I don’t generally identify.).

Because I Said SoTitle: Because I Said So! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down To Its Kids

Author: Ken Jennings

Date Started: June 22, 2014    Date Finished: June 28, 2014

Number of Pages: 258   Total for 2014: 11,535

What It’s About: Remember Ken Jennings who won Jeopardy for like a million days in a row? This is his book! He takes a variety of myths and warnings that parents always tell their children (“Your face will freeze like that!” “Don’t run with scissors!” “Don’t swallow your gum. It will stay in your stomach for seven years.”) and does the research and then determines if there’s any truth behind the words.

Why I Read It: I’m a nerd like that.

Where I Read It: I read this book during our high school mission trip to the Jersey Shore and it was perfect for this experience. It’s broken up into a section for each saying and it does not require one to have long spans of time or long spans of attention.

sophieTitle: Sophie’s Heart

Author: Lori Wick

Date Started: June 3, 2014   Date Finished: June 15, 2014

Number of Pages: 432   Total for 2014: 11,277

What It’s About: Czechoslovakian immigrant Sophie, a brilliant translator of three languages in her former life, becomes the housekeeper and nanny of a man who recently lost his wife in a tragic accident. As she learns to love his children and becomes a part of the family and as he learns to trust an appreciate her, the whole family begins to heal.

Why I Read It: Book Club!

think like a freakTitle: Think Like A Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer To Retrain Your Brain

Authors: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Date Started: June 7, 2014  Date Finished: June 14, 2014

Number of Pages: 288   Total for 2014: 10,845

What It’s About: Levitt and Dubner are masters at turning conventional wisdom on its ear and this book does not disappoint! How do you think like they do? This book has lots of advice on how to look at things from a different angle. Steps to achieving this include thinking like a child, becoming knowledgeable about how incentives work and reconsidering the role of quitting and/or failure in a successful life.

Why I Read It: I love books by these freaks.