Well this summer has flown by without a lot of time to write. We have had some amazing experiences. I could almost say it’s been the best summer of my life so far. (And let me just say that summer in the States is way better than winter.)
Here are a few of the highlights from the last two months:
We took a trip to Joplin to see several sets of family friends.
We visited the Nelson-Atkins art museum and the World War I memorial in Kansas City. I love being a Kansas Citian and I love sharing these things with my children.
We traveled up to Belle Plaine, Iowa, to visit family for the 4th of July. I caught up with family I hadn’t seen in years, visited the church where my parents (and several aunts and uncles) got married, and visited the graves of family members all the way back to the first Czech immigrant. Plus I saw my first fireworks show in 7 years.
My husband and I went on an anniversary trip to Eureka Springs, where we toured the town, including two breathtaking church buildings. We also visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which has some amazing architecture in addition to the art.
I met up with three Velvet Ashes writers for lunch right here in Kansas City.
My sister and her adorable baby boy came into town again. Swoon!
We caught up with old friends, new friends, and family in Rolla, Missouri, and Searcy, Arkansas. We also went to a college reunion.
We finished the summer with a family vacation at Camp Takodah.
When we got back from that, my parents threw me a surprise family birthday party, my first birthday in America in 7 years. It’s been a wonderful summer, and I will be sad to leave my parents’ home again.
Life has been so full I haven’t had a lot of time to read, but I’ve been able to squeeze in a little bit of reading. These four books are wonderful.
Darling: A Woman’s Guide to Godly Sexuality by Aanna Greer. The friend who told me this is the book she wishes she would have had as a newlywed (and who gives it to engaged college students) was right: this is a fully comprehensive book that honors God’s purposes for marriage without being uptight or insecure. Aanna fully embraces the joys of sex within marriage. Lots of practical advice you don’t find many Christian sex resources. Often you get one or the other – delight in sex without God’s boundaries, or a respect for God’s boundaries without the joy or the practical advice.
Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich. A 92-year-old writes about the ridiculousness of our health and longevity ambitions. Written by someone without an eternal perspective — how much more applicable are these words to those who believe these bodies are not the end of the story!
Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer. Bauer is a favorite writer, speaker, and thinker of mine. In fact I think I’ve listened to her discussion What I’ve Learned From the High School Years half a dozen times already. I wasn’t planning on reading this new book of hers because 1) I’m already homeschooling 2) I’d heard a bunch of interviews with her about this book and figured nothing would be new. But I walked into a brick-and-mortar bookstore in America and saw the book. I was in tears by the second page of the introduction. I needed her words badly, so I bought the book and read it.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss. I did not grow up on this Seuss title, but came across it this summer at my sister-in-law’s house. It’s good for kids, sure, but like any good children’s book, it becomes even more true the older you get. Good for grown-ups too.
BLOG POSTS FOR INTERNATIONAL WORKERS
You’re Doing it Wrong by Anisha Hopkinson. So funny! Also, true.
Risk Myths by Anna E. Hampton. This page is a treasure trove of resources for cross-cultural workers. Hampton has written a book on the subject but still offers a wealth of wisdom on her website. She’s one of those rare people who seamlessly blends head and heart. She’s well-researched while being compassionate. I highly recommend her entire site, but this page is a good place to start.
Shame or Courage: Leaving the Field for the Sake of a Child by Michèle Phoenix. Empathetic and discerning, as is all of Michèle’s work.
Where I Ought to Have Been Born by Karen Huber. Discusses Till We Have Faces, for any Lewis lovers out there.
On Welcoming the Third Culture Kid by Marilyn Gardner.
BLOG POSTS ON PRIVILEGE & RACE
Repenting for Healthcare Inequality: A Christian Response by Marilyn Gardner.
Are White Christians Retraumatizing People for the Sake of Diversity by Kaitlin Curtice. It’s at least worth asking the question.
I Am Not a Racist — and other things I wish I knew were true by Jerry Jones. So proud of Jerry for writing this.
MISCELLANEOUS BLOG POSTS ON CHRISTIANITY
The Sentence I Thought I’d Never Write by Rebecca Reynolds (whose new book is out, and I pre-ordered my copy, so I get to take it back to Cambodia even though it’s already sold out in a few places!). You should follow Reynolds on FB and on her blog. She’s thoughtful, thorough, nuanced, and waaaayy smarter than me (she’s a logic teacher for crying out loud). But when I learned she had also been a pastor’s wife, I suddenly realized why I connected so much with her writing.
But Could a God Like That Be Good also by Rebecca Reynolds.
Authoritarianism: just some things I want to say by Kay Bruner. Explains a whole lot of wrong things I’ve seen in my life.
The Bible is Literature for the Resistance by Rachel Held Evans. Worth a read even if you’re not on all the same theological pages as the author (I know I’m not). Still, an excellent perspective.
“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”
This passage from II Samuel 14:14 was read during a communion talk, of all things. But it grabbed my attention and didn’t let go. We have a God who does not just sweep life away; He devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. (As a side note, this is one of the reasons I love the New Living Translation and have for the last 10 years. I have not found another translation that makes God’s Word come alive so well.)
“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people [in Ephesus], who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.”
A seemingly insignificant verse at the very beginning of a favorite book (and the beginning of a sermon series this summer). But I noticed both/and aspect of “chosen” and “faithful.” It reminded me of Tanya Crossman’s most recent TCK article on A Life Overseas. We belong to God because God says so, and then we learn to live like we’re in God’s Kingdom.
Living Hope by Brian Johnson and Phil Wickham. The first time I heard this song in church, I got goosebumps when we got to “roaring lion.” I never get tired of the gospel story, do you? “Then came the morning that sealed the promise Your buried body began to breathe Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion Declared the grave has no claim on me.”
Center My Life by Austin Stone Worship. “Turn my eyes away from searching for lesser glory.” Hit me hard. That’s what all our searching is, isn’t? For LESSER glory. It’s not that we’re not seeking glory, it’s that we get sidetracked from the real glory.
Love So Great by Hillsong. “Not to us but to your name, we lift up all praise.” From a well-known psalm, but a singable way to say it.
No Other Name by Hillsong. “Seated on high the undefeated one.”
TELEVISION & FILM
I Can Only Imagine. I didn’t expect to like this movie since the song had never appealed much to me (don’t know why, since it was always so popular). But Christian movies are definitely getting better. This one and The Case for Christ from earlier this year both focus on the narrative rather than preaching. And their narratives are good.
John Adams HBO series. Adams is my husband’s favorite Founding Father. We didn’t finish this series, but as a family we started it (previewing it first so we could skip needed scenes). We’re starting two years of studying American history in school, so this felt an appropriate introductory family activity.
Crazy Rich Asians. I laughed so hard at this movie. It’s funny even if you don’t “get” the Asian cultural and lifestyle references. But if you do get them, it’s even funnier.