What I'm Into (June / July, 2016 Edition)

What I'm Reading:

Fiction:

If there's one thing summer is NOT for me, it's relaxing. Summer is the season of mission trips... Which means life is chaotic and full. Nevertheless, I read 9 fiction books during the last two months.   

Best beach reads:  A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe and First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Best window into another culture:  Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Quirkiest, most delightful read:  The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Most disappointing:  Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. I'd heard so many good things about this book. It just did not live up to my expectations of it. The writing was beautiful, but in the end, I failed to care about the characters.

Forgettable:  The Island House by Nancy Thayer

Best mystery: The Obsession by Nora Roberts. Could not put it down.   

Most thought-provoking:  The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Non-fiction:

I also read four non-fiction books during June & July: Broken Hallelujahs: Learning to Grieve the Big and Small Losses of Life by Beth Allen Slevcove (Excellent, full review coming soon); A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter by Michael Card (I had no idea Michael Card was also an author. This was also excellent. Full review coming soon); A Different Beautiful: Discovering and Celebrating Beauty in Places You Never Expected by Courtney Westlake (Full review here); And Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive by Thom S Rainer (Full review here).

Kid's Books:

We continue to read LOTS with Hope. This month our favorites were One, Two, Three! by Sandra Boynton (with an ending especially for introverts); Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio (Adorable and with such a good message!); Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim (So clever. I chuckled all the way through this one!); Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward (What can I say. We like books with cats.)

Things I Love:

Grandma In Peoria June 2016

Grandma's who come to Peoria to watch their granddaughters so that mama can speak: I spoke about The Jesus Gap to a full room of pastors and lay leaders at the South Central Illinois ELCA's Synod Assembly. It was such a pleasure to do so! If you'd like to have me speak at your event, please contact me! 

Starved Rock, June 2016

Hiking at Starved Rock: We've been trying to get to Starved Rock all spring. We finally made it there by attaching it to my speaking gig in Peoria. We stayed at a nearby indoor water park which worked really well for our family. Hope did great hiking! 

Sunset Pool With Dad June 2016

The pool: It's the ONLY thing redeeming about 90 degree days. Thankfully we only live a few blocks from our neighborhood pool.   

Restaurant Progressive June 2016

Summer FLY! During the summer, our high school youth ministry takes on a bit of a different flavor. We meet only monthly - once for a social event (seen above) and twice for discussions (this year about the future of the church). 

Syrian Welcome Pack June 2016

Welcome Pack Deliveries: It's always so fun to deliver a welcome pack to a newly arrived refugee family but this one - to a Syrian family - was especially poignant after seeing so much news coverage about this people group. 

Navy Pier Children's Museum

The Children's Museum at Navy Pier: It was SO good and offered such a great variety of activities for kids Hope's age. Plus, we got a discount because of our DuPage Children's Museum Membership! 

End Of Breastfeeding

Nursing: What I didn't love this summer was nursing for the last time before leaving for our Peacemaking Trip (see the tears rolling down my face?) What I did love was the nursing journey Hope and I took together. 

Pinkie Kisses

The Peacemaking Trip: Our border trip to San Diego and Tijuana with the Global Immigration Project was FABULOUS. My expectations were high and yet it exceeded them. The trip was thought-provoking and life-changing for many on our team as we dove deeply into immigration issues and the question, "What does it mean for us to be a peacemaker?"  

Lights At The Children's Museum June 2016

The lightbox at the DuPage Children's Museum: It's Hope's current favorite. I continue to be amazed by this 14-month old's dexterity. 

Zoo July 2016

Zoo Days: Between the heat and travel, we haven't gotten to the zoo as much as I would have liked this summer but we have delighted in the time we have gotten there! 

4th Of July Paraede

The 4th of July Parade: There are many things I love about our town. The 4th of July Parade (and corresponding festivities) are some of them.  

Kamari's July 2016

Visiting the Kamari's: In July, we flew to Canada to visit the Kamari's during their homestay from Rwanda. It was SO good to see them and to add another country to the growing list of places where we've seen this guys (Now Rwanda, the US, and Canada!) 

Road From Ap Juy 2016

Roads from Auntie Pat: She made this adorable little map for Hope to play cars on. Hope is loving it! 

14th Anniversary

Celebrating 14 years of marriage! We went to our usual anniversary place, Morton's Steakhouse. It did not disappoint. 

Raising Readers 2 July 2016

Reading: The girl LOVES books. We've officially declared her first word to be book. There are some days when, no joke, we must read 60 books. 

Butterscotch Budino

Introducing Hope to the finer things in life, like Butterscotch Budinos at Fire & Wine. 

Milwaukee Student Leaders July 2016

The Milwaukee Mission Trip, which was such an important experience for those who participated in it. I'm still processing my thoughts on this trip but I was so GRATEFUL for our adult and student leaders! 

Grandpa's Tractor July 2016

Visiting Perry: While mama was leading the Milwaukee Mission trip, daddy took Hope to see the family in Jacksonville. They even got to ride Grandpa's tractor in Perry.   

Minneapolis Bound July 2016

Sweet good-byes: I was only back for two days from the Milwaukee Mission Trip before I headed to Minneapolis for my work with Arbor Research Group. The work exhilarates me but it was sure hard to leave the girl (and Doug!)    

Arbor At Minnehaha July 2016

My team from Arbor Research Group: Such fun to work with these guys! (Not to mention, I think we did some really good work for our client. Let us know if we can do some of that work for you as well!) 

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), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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