What I'm Into (December 2016 / January 2017 Edition)

What I'm Reading:

Fiction:

Best chick lit: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I devoured this book in just a couple days. It's fast, entertaining, and would make a great beach read. 

Book I'm still thinking about:  This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. This book is about a couple's decision to raise their little boy as a girl. It's beautiful, challenging, and thought-provoking. I'll be talking about and recommending this book a lot this year. 

Strangest book:  Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst.

Most delightful book:  The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. 

Book you won't be able to put down:  Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. Its ending still gets me! 

Most important book:  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This book follows two related families for generations. As it does, it wrestles with the ongoing impact of slavery and systemic racism. It's heavy but compelling. 

Best romance:  Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks. I loved Nicholas Sparks' early books. I have not loved his more recent books as much.. Until this one, which I really enjoyed. 

Nonfiction books:

I read 3 nonfiction books in December and January. Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most by Amy Julia Becker, Building a Youth Ministry that Builds Disciples: A Small Book About a Big Idea by Duffy Robbins (full review coming soon), and Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D. L. Mayfield.

Kid's Books:

We continue to read LOTS with Hope. This month our favorites were Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman (a great book about being who you are), Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty (a book that reassures every child they're beautiful), Splat the Cat (Hope is really enjoying this series), This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne (super cute, super fun) and Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi (a whimsical telling of the Christmas story. Its illustrations are just as delightful as the book itself!) 

Things I Love:

Finding Neverland Dec 2016

Finding Neverland: We scored tickets to this show through Hot Tix. It was wonderful! 

Decorating With Daddy 2016

Decorating the tree with Hope: Hope was so excited about unwrapping each ornament and hanging it on the tree. I was equally excited to tell her the story of each of those ornaments. Ever since, when someone new walks into the house, Hope has taken them to the Christmas tree and shown them her favorite ornaments. There have also been days when we've found Hope on the floor, just contentedly gazing at the tree. 

Shedd Dec 2016

Visiting the Aquarium: We went to the Shedd before Doug's company party. We had a great time! Hope especially enjoyed watching the Beluga whales, which captivated her. 

Sudanese Welcome Pack Dec. 2016

Delivering a Welcome Pack: We got a last minute request to deliver a Welcome Pack to a refugee family from Sudan. After dropping off all the items, we shared a prayer together. We prayed in English; They prayed in Arabic, confident that God speaks both. 

Snow Angel Dec 2016

Playing in the Snow! We got snow in December but haven't had any since. Thankfully, we enjoyed it while we had it, teaching Hope to make snow angels and to sled. 

Dishes With Daddy Dec 2016

Doing dishes: Hope loves to help Daddy with dishes after dinner. May it always be so! 

Shopping With Dad Dec 2016

Breakfast with Dad.

Illuminations 2016

Morton Arboretum's Illuminations, which we took Mom and Dad to for Mom's birthday. 

Advent Stories Dec. 2016

Advent Stories: Throughout Advent, we read a Christmas book a day to Hope. It was a delightful tradition that we all looked forward to! 

Grandpa's Dec 2016

Visiting Great Grandpa: We loved getting to visit Great Grandpa at Christmas. 

Christmas Eve 2016

Christmas Eve! 

Christmas Day Preacher 2016

Preaching on Christmas Day.

College Breakfast Dec 2016

Reconnecting with Faith's college students at our breakfast the day after Christmas. It's always so fun to hear what God is doing in their lives! 

Doseum Dec 2016

Shopping at the Doseum in San Antonio: Two days after Christmas, we flew to San Antonio for vacation. Our first stop was the Doseum, a fantastic children's museum that even included a small town where kids could go grocery shopping, run a food truck, drive, go on a trip, and take their pets to the vet. 

San Antonio Zoo Dec 0216

Seeing Hope's love for animals: We spent a day at the San Antonio zoo, where Hope fell in love with the goats. 

Gingerbread House Christmas 2016

Making (but not eating) gingerbread houses. 

Painting At Children's Museum Jan 2017

Painting. Hope really loves all things art-related right now. So much so that when we go to the children's museum, the first place we head now is the art room. 

Winter Wonderfest Jan 2017

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier: We spent a day here after Christmas. They had a great section of inflatables specifically for toddlers. We had to DRAG Hope out because she was having so much fun! 

Unleashing Edits

Editing Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders. Okay... So maybe I don't love editing, but I do love the book, which I'm crazy proud of. It releases in April but you can pre-order it now. 

Hope With Word Puzzles Jan 2017

Puzzles. Hope LOVES doing puzzles, especially these word puzzles from Aunt Pat and Uncle Larry.  

Winter Retreat 2017

The Winter Retreat. So exhausting but so very good. 

What I'm Into Button (1)

Today I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I'm into. You can join the conversation here.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling.

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