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.

gonegirlTitle: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Date Started: May 22, 2014    Date Finished: June 1, 2014

Number of Pages: 432    Total for 2014: 10,557

What It’s About: On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Elliott Dunne disappears from her home on the Mississippi River in her husband’s hometown in Missouri. Number one suspect? Husband Nick Dunne…only, he knows the truth is out there somewhere and seeks desperately to find it. A story told in both of their voices unfolds into a fantastic novel.

Why I Read It: It got good buzz–and that’s well deserved. It’s a very well-written book with a great plot and great characters.

Samson The Faithful

June 2, 2014

399819_10150494028011993_1921053131_nTwelve years ago, on this very date (June 2), an almost-family of three (still two Durhams and a Berdine, as the wedding was still two months away) drove way out into the countryside and brought home two six-week old golden retriever puppies. One of those puppies would not live past her second birthday. Lila’s death marked one of the first very sad moments in the life of our new family.

The other puppy would grow into a funny, handsome, loyal, very good dog who would give us and our guests lots of fodder for dinner table conversation, lots of reasons to giggle and lots of reasons to love life a little more.


Of all the things Sam is, however, faithful describes him best of all. When I am home, even in these last days, he is by my side. When I get up in the morning, he gets up too. When I go to bed at night, he follows behind me and lays down by my bedside. When I go from room to room, cleaning or getting ready to go, he follows me around until he finally gets tired of my constant room switching and lays down in the hallway at the center of the house where he can monitor my activity no matter which way I go. When I watch TV or read a book, he lies down at my feet. When I eat, he stands by hopefully (unless Jason’s eating too–he knows his odds of getting a treat are much greater if he stands by Jason in that case). When I take a shower, he takes a guard position outside the bathroom door. Often, to get him to go outside, I have to go outside too just so he’ll be convinced to stay there long enough to do what he needs to do.

I wish I could say I’ve been as faithful to him. I keep insisting on leaving him behind as I go to work. to Zumba, to the store, out with friends, on mission trips and vacations…I always make sure he’ll be cared for while we’re gone–his list of family and friends is long and wonderful, but I always have another place to go.

Unfazed, however, no matter how long I’m gone–one week, one afternoon, one minute–when I return there is he is, waiting for me so he can greet me, tail wagging, and be by my side again.

1460239_10151751307016993_1563665155_nHe’s a dog, but he’s not just a dog.

He’s been in our family for twelve years today. This Thursday (June 5), we will take him to his vet for the last time and I will stay by his side and say goodbye.

When you get a dog, you don’t hope he’ll outlive you. There’s always the realization that one day, hopefully many years down the road, the time will come to say goodbye. It’s been almost four weeks since we first took Sam to the vet to have his mouth checked out. So many of you have expressed your sorrow and care to us countless times. Sometimes, it seems a little embarrassing for this to be such a drawn-out experience or to be sharing it and updating about it and “making” you express sympathy and concern.

Yet, I know that your care comes not only from our friendship, for which I am grateful, but also because many of you have loved dogs and cats and goldfish and turtles and parakeets and even snakes that you’ve lost and missed or that you dread losing and missing one day. Thank you for both your friendship and your empathy. And thank you for indulging a final blog entry about our very good, faithful dog.




NeverPrayAgainTitle: Never Pray Again: Lift Your Head, Unfold Your Hands and Get To Work

Authors: Two Friars and A Fool (Aric Clark, Doug Hagler and Nick Larsen)

Date Started: April 30, 2014   Date Finished: May 23, 2014

Number of Pages: 160  Total for 2014: 10,125

What It’s About: True to form, the Friars and the Fool challenge and cause discomfort in a way that will completely ruin your steady, sure hold on what you believe if you allow God some space to work through their words. This book, for me, addressed a restlessness I regularly feel as a follower of Jesus: Why are we talking about this stuff, or bowing our heads and praying about this stuff, when we can be doing something about all this stuff? What is the alternative to praying? To the authors, the answer is doing the work God has for the church. Chapters titled Praise! Heal! Beg! Confess! and others challenge the reader to practice faith and live out bold calling.

Why I Read It: The authors are cool cats. And they’ve been working on this book forever so I’ve been waiting for it.