Thursday, August 28, 2014

Library Update of Sorts

I cannot quit the library. 

I am obsessed with it, and all I want to do is open packages of people's favorite books and then put them on pretty shelves in our pretty space. Ashton laughs at me because I am practically giddy with excitement whenever a box of books gets dropped off. Even if I don't know who they are from because they just come from Amazon with nary a note or name to be found. 

Ashton, in fact, was the one who informed me the best way of thanking every one for these anonymous books is to write a giant THANK YOU on "my blog-thing or whatever it's called."

On that note, does anyone know how to get an 18-year-old to boy to tell you all about his heart and have long chats over family dinners? Anyone? Please and thank-you.Recently (yesterday), I roped Jayci into helping me start putting actual library pockets in the back of books, and then I'll have to start doing things like alphabetizing and coming-up-with-a-system. These things are decidedly not my strong suit. Wish me luck!
With all the color and imagination and shelves slowly filling up with books, I am hopeful this will add up to a space that neighbors and mentors and kiddos can use for reading and studying, enjoying the feeling of finding themselves lost in a good book. 
If all goes well, we should be able to open the library doors in the next few weeks. We still need more books, especially children's books and older young-adult books (approx. high school age). Again, any duplicate books will be put into "tiny libraries" in both our yard, as well as a few other yards across the neighborhood, so send me your favorites without worrying we might have them already. 

Thus far, my very scientific methods have led to the discovery that every person's favorite book of all time is Charlotte's Web. Good choice, people. 
Don't want to, or can't, send books? You can still help! Sign up to come take a shift at the library: help stock shelves, read to kids, or alphabetize! Then I won't have to keep singing the alphabet over-and-over while Jayci bosses me around.
I've been begging Adam to let me buy that turquoise cart from Ikea for forever, and now I finally had a reason. Library cart!

And just in case you need proof of the ways you all are making my childhood dreams come true: a book from way back, which I wrote an ISBN number in, for library-playing purposes. I made my sisters check-out books and read them, knowing they would thank -me one day. I'm still waiting, but whatever. 

Tell me: what book (or books) simply MUST find a place on the shelves in the Blueprint library? 


*Semi-related: I've decided to do a series on some of my favorite/must-have books in each category at the library. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Until we are tired

Some mornings I wake up earlier than my children. Although this happens only rarely, if I'm honest. Most days, I wonder why is my alarm going off? before I switch it to off and close my eyes. I typically settle back into sleep just as my children come and stand creepily beside my bed or yell at me from the other room. Which, I realize, means I should just have just gotten up with my alarm, seeing as I don't gain any extra sleep anyways. My college roommate used to tell me: monkeys learn the third time. So I wonder what that means for me in this particular situation, repeated far more than three times? Don't answer that.
We have finally somehow managed to fall into some sort of rhythm and routine after the craziness of summertime. Things like laundry and editing and starting a library seem more manageable in the light of long-days-of-kindergarten for Jayci, and three-day-a-week preschool for Caden. Of course, our particular rhythm still moves quite quickly and involves many children and such. But we are grateful for date nights and family walks on the Beltline, and our newest household member remembering to take the trash to the street every single week (a feat which proves nearly impossible for us typically). 
I've still been spending lots of time reading headlines and articles. And realizing that possibly, we have reached our capacity for listening to Ferguson. It's beyond our ability to watch Michael Brown laid to rest on the very day he should be starting college. We, after all, are human. But for the boys who huddle around our dining room table to watch videos, Ferguson cannot be deemed done. Because they still worry about their skin color, and one remarks mid-conversation: I hope I am not killed one day for being black. For them, the reality marches unrelenting. As a result, neither can I turn away. While I write about mentoring, Adam sits in a courthouse with one of our boys. They agree to release him on an ankle monitor, for the low-low price of more dollars per month than they can afford. We recognize how systems fuel the anger, while focusing our hearts on loving the individuals affected by them.
Truthfully, I prefer writing about things that make people send me emails and comments that say some version of the following: Dear Becca. You guys are amazing and God bless you for what you do, you are making a real difference. I could never do what you do. The end. Because approaching things like race makes people wary, and sometimes defensive. And I've realized I do not handle criticism well (I am still a people-pleaser/conflict-avoider to the deepest parts of me). That said, I feel led to keep pointing you guys to ways you can educate yourself, to voices you can listen to who have things to say about race and about Jesus that are moving and stretching my heart. 
Michael Brown's Unremarkable Humanity - The Atlantic
White Christians: It's Time to Stand in Solidarity With Your Black Brothers and Sisters - Christena Cleveland for Christianity Today
For Weary Friends - Austin Channing Brown
It's Time to Listen - Leonce Crump for Christianity Today
My friend Amy works with boys in inner-city Chicago and shared these links last week on her facebook page. Also, she calls herself "A Hope Dealer to the dope dealers" which I only wish we had thought of first. 
In Chicago's war zones, the tragedy extends beyond the kids who die - Chicago Reader
Girl gang members overlooked by traditional prevention efforts  - Chicago Bureau
Last week, Caden has his routine six month cardiology check-up. He does this every six months, regardless of how much energy he has (which is all-of-the-energy, all-of-the-time). The doctor was a little surprised by how much the pressure gradient (between his pulmonary valve and right ventricle) had gone up in just six months. His right ventricle has also gone from mildly dilated, to moderate dilation (meaning it's enlarged as a result of the pressure). All of that to say, his doctor said he is currently doing great and his heart function looks good; however, he may need surgery sooner than we had hoped, possibly within the next year. 

Adam feels optimistic, of course, and I do too I suppose. I mean, this next surgery will not be as major as his first surgery, and CHOA (where he will have surgery) has an excellent-amazing team of cardiothoracic surgeons. But it's still open-heart surgery on a little boy who we have fallen even more in love with these past three years. I've been a little bit of a mess since the appointment, but mostly just deep down in the depths of my momma-heart. We will keep you all posted on what they say at his next appointment, but I would love to have you all keep Caden's heart in your prayers. We are hoping to wait as long as possible for surgery, so they can put in a larger valve, which will then last him longer before he will need additional surgery. 
Could you not just die at how adorable this is? Sigh. Translation: Caden is the best brother ever and he is sweet and generous to me because he is the best brother to me

Also, one more link since I like laughing: Going Back To School: The 70s vs. Today 

Friday, August 22, 2014

When we are moved to action

"It is in community that we come to see God in the other. It is in community that we see our own emptiness filled up. It is community that calls me beyond the pinched horizons of my own life, my own country, my own race, and gives me the gifts I do not have within me." - Joan Chittister

Quite easily, I could turn reading articles and following twitter-feeds about #Ferguson into a full-time job. The noise surrounding the whole thing has become, well, noisy. Not to mention overwhelming and capable of freezing-me-forever in a stasis of waiting until I know all the facts. Until the verdict and sentence, until the next shooting, or until the protests stop, until the noise dies down. At some point, however, both our faith in a God who cares, and our love for our fellow human beings must lead us to action. Because like it or not, those of us who profess and follow Jesus are the Church. Regardless of where we plant ourselves on Sunday mornings (or evenings, or Saturday nights), or where we fall on the spectrum of debate surrounding this particular shooting in this particular neighborhood.

If there is one truth that cannot be ignored in this whole thing, it is this: significant issues and pain surrounding race still exist in our country. People hurt on both sides of the equation, and we must find ourselves willing to raise our voices for and with a hurting world.

On the Thursday following the shooting and after protesting had grown tumultuous, Capt. Ron Johnson made a comment after being tasked with calming the crowds. He said: I am not afraid to walk with them.

And I wonder what would happen if the Church took the same stance. Not necessarily to literally walk with the protestors, not necessarily to fly to Ferguson, to riot, or march (though maybe that). But to seek out the young black males who look a whole lot like Michael Brown, and walk unafraid alongside them. Because we are the Church, and I am afraid that if we do not act, we will lose our credibility in a world that desperately needs real answers. Not more services, not bigger screens and louder songs, not new sanctuaries or more programs. But Jesus: the good news of the Gospel that gets lived out by actually walking alongside the fatherless. Alongside the widows, the orphans, the oppressed.

Strangely enough, something happens to us in this walking. We are changed by knowing people, by hearing their stories, by passing them the salt and pepper across the table. By watching movies together, and riding in cars with music blaring and windows down. By taking public transportation side-by-side, and picking out our favorite flavors of chips and fruit in the grocery store. By going to baseball games, and walking the dog. By changing tires, and by washing dishes. The seemingly mundane physical acts of an actual relationship work something mysterious in our hearts.

I know it from experience. From high school years driving downtown only reluctantly, doors securely locked. Fears overcome only in the knowing of actual people with actual names. Because not too long ago, we found ourselves sitting exactly where some of you maybe sit today. Newly married, with a cute house and adorable puppy. We had fun and ate cheap Mexican food once a week. We were highly (possibly overly) involved in a wonderful church as leaders and nursery-workers, making decent money, working fulfilling jobs and living the dream. And yet. We couldn’t quite shake the nagging suspicion that perhaps God had something more, something bigger (or smaller) for us, for all His followers. Then we ended up at Camp Grace (mostly because of happenstance, and an uncanny ability for flexibility), and volunteering at the Dream Center, where we decided to mentor a few very special young men. Our lives slowly became more entwined with theirs: with their schools and their families, and the homes the city razed in favor of an empty field next to the Georgia Dome. We watched them move and move again. And then we moved in too.

After all that, we have finally figured it out. Except for the fact that figuring it out has mostly meant realizing we cannot figure it out at all. We’ve discovered, however simply, that following and believing Jesus will always lead eventually into something more, provided our willingness to say yes at each step along the way.

We’ve also learned a thing or two about the upside-down Kingdom of God. In which the first will be last, and rich equals poor and you must lose your life to find it. And yes it leans hard, and sometimes scary. But at the end of all the unraveling and searching, we find ourselves mostly at a place of great peace and joy. Because we love where we live, we love our neighbors, and we love all the kiddos who show up on our front porch. Because if we hadn't followed Jesus in this particular way, and chosen to walk alongside some pretty amazing boys, we would not know. We wouldn't understand, and maybe we wouldn't even care. And caring, it turns out, is both a gift and a burden birthed from entwining your life with people who are not just like you.

What if, I can’t help but wonder, every single family at even just one church in Atlanta came along-side every single Michael Brown in our neighborhood? Beyond that, what if the Church as a whole agreed to walk with the young men and women who live in towns like Ferguson. And Atlanta and Chicago and Dallas and Los Angeles. Not to "save" them, or even to stop them from ending up the next Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown; but just maybe to save ourselves from falling into the prejudices that linger uneasily in our own hearts.

We don’t want you to leave thinking that I am saying all of these things simply because we need more mentors. We don’t need more mentors; we need more people who believe Jesus. More people who believe His words, His heart for justice, and His unique love for the poor and marginalized. We need more people who want more of Him, and who want to find themselves wherever He is. Who are not afraid to walk with them, to listen and to speak up, and to build relationships built on a mutual respect for the Christ who calls both the Samaritan and the thief his neighbor.

So, it comes down then to this: we want you to be a part of mentoring because we BELIEVE what Christ says. In the wake of relentless news stories and plenty of insistent voices surrounding inequities and pain, we think it’s time for Christ-followers to take seriously His commands to love the poor, to care for the fatherless, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And we think it grieves the heart of God to see any of His beloved children gunned down regardless of circumstance. We believe the wounded world is waiting for a people who say they follow Jesus to look differently. To risk walking through tear gas, and to grapple with hard questions of justice, particularly from the viewpoint of the oppressed. To stop denying there is a divide, and to get to work building a footpath across it. We believe Jesus cares deeply about economic inequality and racial injustice, and we want to be a part of what God’s heart is about. Period.

We call ourselves a movement of Christ-followers who believe that God is present in the darkest corners of our city because we have met Him there. And we would love for you to meet Him there too.

*Note: The last thing I want anyone to think is that mentoring, for us, means anything remotely close to a bunch of white folks helping a bunch of black kids see the error of their ways so they will be more like us. Instead, we hold it to be an inadequate word for describing a beautiful, mutually transforming relationship that has the ability to change things. Because authentic relationships transform the way we see the world far more readily than reading an article or retweeting a headline. And so even if you don't want to or cannot mentor necessarily, you must find ways to diversify your life. The Kingdom of Heaven will certainly not look a whole lot like you, so why should your walk with Jesus here on Earth? Create a reconciliation circle. Choose a school for your kids where they sit under teachers of color, and learn alongside people whose skin-tones span the rainbow. Attend a church where you worship with people who don't mirror you so much as they stretch and challenge and reflect Jesus to you in ways you have never considered before. Whatever it is, do something. The time presses for us to move towards the kind of unity as a family of believers that reflects here on earth a coming Kingdom in which every tear will be wiped away. 

If you want to be committed to racial justice, you must do more than read a book at home alone. You must do more than add people of color to your social media lists. You must do more than attend an MLK service or a Ferguson vigil. These are good things. You will benefit from them. But buying our books and reading our blogs and sharing our posts were never intended to BE your journey. These things are to aid you in a much larger commitment to justice and reconciliation in the world. –Austin Channing Brown

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Awareness and activism and the feeling of pain

I sat in the pew and sang for Jesus on Sunday. I sang because I needed Him so desperately to shine His hope and to remind me of His coming Kingdom. I stared at the back of our boys' heads, and winked every time they turned around to look, trying to push out of my mind the things they might be worrying or thinking about while they sat and listened to Pastor Leonce's words. I resolved to put together a round-table next week sometime, a safe place for our boys to tell us how they feel about all this, a place to discuss, and to let strong and loving adults both listen and speak truth in response. But in reality, I don't have many answers. So I keep listening. 

Because that's the thing about pain: it demands to be felt. And so I feel it, and I let them feel it; and in feeling pain together, we encounter Jesus. 
John Green
In his sermon Sunday night, Pastor Leonce reminded us to keep reading and learning and becoming aware. But he also cautioned us that awareness should lead us eventually to activism. To a place, as Christians especially, where we act to bring about justice and peace. The bringing of the Kingdom requires movement, both in our hearts and with our hands. 

So for now, I'm sharing some of the more powerful things I've read and listened to regarding Mike Brown and Ferguson and the ongoing protests. As always, I never share things simply because I agree with them but because they make me think hard and examine my heart. I hope and pray you will do the same. For now, awareness. Soon: activism and what you can do.

I have really appreciated and been blown away by all of you: your response to my last post, your love for our family and for the boys. And by the ways you continue to carry us and bring us to the cross. Thank-you for that, and I hope we can keep fighting for the Kingdom Come alongside one another. 
You are the one they are waiting for. Because Dr. King is not coming. . . . 
The gospel has implications for how we live and how we fight for justice. And if you don't believe that, you don't believe the gospel. . . .
Renovation church response to Ferguson

People who are hurting need to be affirmed in their hurt; people who are angry need to be affirmed in their anger. Let me say it like this: I needed that as much as he needed that. We kept each other from harm's way and from doing something that we would need not to do....
Ferguson Pastor: This Is Not a Race Issue, This Is a Human Issue

Far from being offended by its own actions, instead white America- Christians included- remain offended by black bodies. This is what killed Trayvon and Renisha and Jordon and Eric and Michael. How dare black bodies resist the white will. How dare they fight back when a stranger chases. How dare they knock at 4am. How dare they not turn down the music when told. How dare they sell some cigarettes. How dare they walk in the middle of the street. How utterly offensive for black bodies to disobey whiteness.
Black Bodies, White Souls - Austin Channing Brown
When we say it’s about race, we’re not claiming that the person(s) of color involved are or were completely without fault. . . . we are not holding you personally responsible . . . we are not saying it's exclusively about race . . . 
This is what we mean when we say it's about race (to the white person who just doesn't see it)

I'm tired of worrying about my daughter and other black children of friends of mine, afraid that the world might be no different when they go out into it as teenagers and young adults -- because their teenage- and young-adult-years aren't that far away anymore. I'm tired of worrying that America might view our children as expendable.
Affected - Chookooloonks

However, for those who are Jesus followers, we have an important role in all this– one that we cannot reject and still call ourselves Jesus followers. We have been called to be “ministers of reconciliation” to the world– people who reject power and privilege in order to live lives that reconcile people, reform broken systems, and make the world a little more just.
Why we are still unwilling to admit to systematic racism in America

Be That Other White Person. The one who, in the face of White apathy towards Black pain, acts counter to your culture and stands in solidarity with people whose neighborhoods might not look like yours. Put yourself in their shoes and see how absolutely insane this situation is, and then act accordingly. Don’t let this happen unchallenged.
First they came for black people, and I did not speak out - Matt Stauffer

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90,” Epstein told The Nation, as two officers walked her to a police van. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.” - Hedy Epstein, 90-year-old Holocaust Survivor arrested during protests in Ferguson
If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they're working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men. Throughout the country, police officers are capturing, imprisoning, and killing black males at a ridiculous clip, waging a very literal war on people like Michael Brown.
America is not for black people - The Concourse

I want to tell you about the quiver of fear in a cop's voice when he gets home from swing shift at 2am, hangs his duty belt over the closet door, climbs into bed with his wife and whispers, words coming out in a shudder, “I almost shot someone tonight... I thought I was going to have to shoot him...”
A white cop, a black kid, and a crime - Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Friday, August 15, 2014

Reframing

On the morning Caden made his entrance into the world, I learned the words “congenital heart defect” for the first time. In all likelihood, I would have no idea what “multiple sclerosis” means, except that my mom has it.

The issues that most profoundly impact us typically overlap our lives in significant ways. It’s hard to know how we really feel about homosexuality until our brother comes out. We might not be sure what we think exactly about childhood cancer treatments, except in some vague way, until we find ourselves shaving our son’s head because his pillow piles high with hair every night.

In his book, Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne says that the “great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.” Because knowing people changes things somehow.

In our three years of living here, we’ve had three different young black males living with us for varying periods of time. Currently, the eighteen-year-old high school graduate making our house his home puts together his lunch and heads to bed by 8pm every night. He plays lego enthusiastically with my children, explaining carefully to them that partna means friend. He takes out our trash and cleans his bathroom far more diligently than we clean ours. He leaves the house before we wake up, riding public transportation for nearly two hours to get to work. Every day when he gets home, he changes quickly before heading to practice basketball at the park.

Two nights ago ago, he walked in sweaty during dinner. He ate the wings Adam made, even though he doesn’t really liked baked wings as much as fried ones. We tucked our kids into bed (multiple times actually, because they cannot quite get the hang of “bed-time” apparently), and scrubbed the table and counters clean. We all crowd in the kitchen, clattering dishes and pouring wine. And he asked us if we had heard about Mike Brown and Ferguson. I nod, and hesitantly ask him how he feels about the whole thing. His head bowed low and eyes trained on his phone screen, he watches videos and news clips while he answers: “If they did something like this to little Z (his brother), oh boy I’d be public enemy number one.” We talk a little bit about revenge and justice, but mostly I am silent because I just don’t know how to answer his very real fears and anger. I pray grace and tell him we would be on his side, obviously. He tells us later he doesn’t believe that we would join the protests and risk getting tear-gassed, and I search myself a little to figure out if he’s right.
He heads to bed early like he does every night, and we sit on the couch editing pictures and watching White Collar, while I search my newsfeed to figure out what I should think about the whole thing. The silence deafens, and I wonder why no voices raise in protest and solidarity. Perhaps everyone else finds their tongues as twisted as I do.

Or maybe, I think, it’s because our lives remain impenetrable by it all. And so we write about Robin Williams and suicide instead, because we know him (or think we do from his movies at least). We have encountered depression and suicide. We write because we have sat where he did, nearing the end of our rope, unable to find our stumbling way out of the dark.

But few of us, particularly those of us with white skin, have walked where Mike Brown did. We watch the news and see war zones that feel distant, separate from the safety of our own lives and neighborhoods. We forget, perhaps, that Christ came for the most broken and that we find Him most assuredly in the very neighbors we walk the furthest circle around.

The story never unfolds as simple as it seems, and neither police officers nor young black males can be stacked neatly into a box. Because I know police officers, and they serve well. They love their cities and their beats; they bring home heavy hearts and rummage through their children’s drawers looking for the right size t-shirt for the boy he had to pull from his mother’s arms. But they have responded, perhaps, one-too-many-times to calls of armed black men. And it gets difficult to distinguish the unarmed in a whirl of fear and anger.

I also know young black males: the ones who are armed and, far-more-often, those who are not. They sit on my swing and run to the corner store to bring me back a diet coke. Their skin varying shades of chocolate brown, they cry out to be heard and seen. They hear the newscasters mention that Mike Brown did not deserve to die; after-all, he was headed to college on Monday. But what, they wonder, if he wasn’t? Would he have deserved to die then?
They call us from prison and ask us to come to their hearing. They walk in the door and tell us about getting pepper-sprayed on the bus their first week of high-school, while we all eat leftover pieces of Caden’s Lego Cake.

And we lose sight of the Kingdom in the midst of tanks and rubber bullets. The Kingdom that calls us to hammer swords into plowshares. To feel sweat run down our necks while we hammer. While we work hard and actively towards peace, where we use our own hands to bind the wounds and our own donkeys to carry the wounded.

One of our pastors and friends sits on our couch, he and Adam quietly play Clash of Clans while we watch the news. And I ask him what to say to Ashton. We’re white, I point out. And I’m not sure my voice counts here. But he mostly shakes his head, and we talk about how the media frames thing; how the police frame things; how the world frames things. It’s an issue of framing he tells us while we look at #iftheygunnedmedown on our twitter feed.

We pull up to the Wendy’s drive-through and both boys hop out to use the bathroom, I tell them I’ll pick them up on the other side. I order our spicy chicken sandwiches and kids meals while Caden and Jayci chorus from the back seat not to forget to order French fries and a toy. When I pull up to the window, the boys walk out the door. They approach the car and I see the Wendy’s employees give each other wary looks. When one pulls out her phone and asks if I'm ok, I laugh awkwardly and tell her: oh they’re with me. Oh ok she laughs, I thought they was about to rob you or something. The boys shake their heads and I try to lighten the mood, despite the unsettled feeling that has lodged itself in the pit of my stomach.

Clearly, we need re-framing.

It's hard though. Too many injustices and hurts and sickness and needs pile up, and we cannot possibly care about or speak out for them all, right? Seeing beyond the world’s frames to the Kingdom view requires work, and usually gets messy. And so we sit, unsure our voices matter or if we really even believe it enough to speak up. We don't know them, and our own lives remain impacted little by a system that seems unavoidable and maybe necessary.

But our silence does not equal our safety. Because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And our own hearts and lives miss encountering the Kingdom of God when we hide behind the idea that we do not belong to one another. So I pray today that those who love Jesus will lead the charge for freedom and grace. That we will willingly enter into hard places and complicated issues, for the sake of the Gospel and for the love of a Jesus who affirms the worth and dignity of every single person, regardless of the color of their skin or where they are headed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

For when I like some things

I wrote a letter to Jayci on her first day of kindergarten last week, and so far the number of details I've been able to cajole out of her regarding her new class are: I like everything. So at least that's good. Here's the thing I realize about wisdom and writing words to remind myself that Jayci growing up and walking in new hallways doesn't spell catastrophe: it doesn't make it less hard. The time spins wild and fast and suddenly both of my babies headed to school today (although to be fair, Caden's is mostly just day-care). And that carries both joy and regret. Because I think it's nearly impossible not to feel wistful (or completely verklempt if you're me), at the cheeks that thin from baby-round to toddler-oval shape. It goes quickly, and knowing I cannot enjoy or savor every single moment only makes it that much harder to let go. I'm afraid I've missed something, made a terrible mistake (or seventeen), or responded incorrectly. Hint: I have done all of those things, and it's ok. Because grace.

Anyways, all that to say, I'm feeling both a little sad and a whole lot happy for ALONE time. Tomorrow, I'm even getting my hair-did. True.

For now, some of the reading things from around the inter webs that I've enjoyed over the past week or two.
Poverty -
The Big Rest
When Parenting Feels Like a Fool's Errand

I liked everything I saw on Facebook for 2 days, here's what it did to me
Why Poor Schools Cant Win at Standardized Testing
How Support Raising Keeps Parachurch Ministries White

Your Work Matters
Cripple
In which God is transforming the world: on hope, Iraq, and everything else
The Deadly Truth About Wild Obedience
Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt

"Police will say that the victim is a documented gang member, but that doesn't necessarily mean the shooting was gang-related. Gangs are not basketball teams with rosters. The lines are blurry."What we talk about when we talk about violence in Chicago
Before I check in on with my reading list and all-of-the-books I read at the beach, y'all need to watch this. Seriously, just do it. And then help me figure out how I can convince him to join our book club too.

I read a large number of books at the beach this time. Guys, let me remind you I am a freakishly-fast reader. Seriously. Also, please keep in mind that I perhaps already shared a few of these with you when I FIRST got back from the beach, but I cannot stop this train right now to go check and avoid overlap. So my apologies. Also, FYI: these are affiliate links, which simply means if you buy the book using my link, I get a (very small) percentage, which I can use to buy MORE BOOKS (for myself and therefore also for the library: win-win)
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
We Need New Names
The Secret Keeper
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (currently reading this one nice-and-slow, because I'm loving it).
Adam's hair is impressive, right?
For everyone who has already send me some books, thank-you! Seriously, there are few things that make me feel happier than opening up a package from sweet friends (many of whom I haven't even actually met), with beautiful books for the kiddos. I'm so excited about it, and for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about: The library 
Also, this happened (Adam's little sister got engaged - hooray!)
These boys came in (mainly for snacking purposes) after school, and found my children watching Wall-E. They joined, and immediately all fell dead-asleep on the couch. I loved it.

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