Knee Deep in Seminary

Seminary has already changed my mind about many things (the death penalty, meditation, body image, the importance of podcasts, etc.) even so, I still don’t drink coffee. I do not believe seminary is for everyone; sometimes I wonder if I belong here. But everyone, Christians especially, should do whatever they can to purse theological education (even if this looks like reading a chapter of a borrowed book during nap time.)

I thought you might like to glance at what books caught my attention during my first semester of seminary. Maybe you’ll find something to add to your shelf in 2018.

These five books have been the most impactful to me in 2017. In no particular order:

Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith

I enjoyed this book because it covered a broad range of issues relevant to anyone. It’s a good introduction to the conflict between evangelical Christianity and the environment, women, race, peoples of other faiths, and members of the LGBTQ community. This text also highlights the importance of corporate and individual confession and lament. (Each chapter is brief, so I encourage you to pick up other books that dive deeper into the individual points.)

Waking Up White

Speaking of diving deeper, this author rushes in with full force and reveals how she has been shaped by an American system that favors the white community over any other ethnic group. Many of her childhood and college memories resonated with me and my personal experiences as a white person. This book is important in beginning to understand racial reconciliation.

Divided By Faith

If you’re curious about the macro perspective of the evangelical church’s response to racial reconciliation, this is a fascinating read. This book is written as a result of a research project. I feel this text is a must read for anyone who works in the local church, whether you’re the front door volunteer or the senior pastor.

Body & Soul: Human Nature & the Crisis in Ethics

You’ll have to trust me if you decide to pick this up. The first few chapters are heavy with academic language/vocabulary, but they are extremely important to truly understand the debate of personhood, abortion, IVF treatments, and cloning, which are discussed in the second half of the book. This book deepened my faith immensely.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life

(This book was one of my favorite Christmas presents in 2016, but I finished reading it last January so I happily thought to include it in this list.) Maybe you did not grow up in the church, or perhaps you are most familiar with a non-liturgical Christian community, either way – – this book is incredible. Written by a female Anglican priest (hello!), she points out how everyday routines can become expressions of worship/prayer to God. Beautiful book. Easy, easy read. Buy two copies, you’ll want to share.

I didn’t get a chance to read many books in 2017 (quality over quantity?), but if you’re interested in seeing a complete list, click here to visit my year in books.

Do you have any book suggestions for 2018?

Beginning Again

October has kept us on the edge of our seats. (Trying not to use the “busy” excuse?)

As of this month, Aaron has enlisted in the United States Army National Guard. He’ll be leaving for bootcamp on November 13th. He’ll be training in South Carolina and Georgia until early June 2018. Fortunately, he’ll get to come home for Christmas! After this chunk of training his commitment is only a weekend a month on base, as it’s the National Guard. This will allow him, by God’s grace, to continue his education to eventually go active duty as a chaplain in the future.

If you’ve kept track, this is the second time Aaron has enlisted in the National Guard and tried to go to bootcamp. The first time, this time last year, his request was denied. He needed to be home. The Lord knew that well. Isn’t funny how He uses (seemingly) bad news to help us? That season of our lives was full of blessings in disguise. What we at one point considered dead and gone, the Lord was not finished with!

I will stay behind in Massachusetts and continue to work and go to class. I’m not excited to say goodbye, but I’m so happy to watch Aaron pursue one of his biggest dreams. (Also, I was sad to see the beard go, but isn’t he handsome!?)

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I wasn’t able to go with him to see him swear in, but his recruiter was gracious and took some pictures.

I would have liked to show you a little timeline of photos. But I haven’t yet scanned all the pictures taken over the years of Aaron in various military uniforms. (Yes, we are major fans of disposable film cameras.) Even in college Aaron would graciously allow me to support him. Whether it was taking me to the Air Force ROTC Dining Out in 2013 or sending me letters with pictures of a new uniform – we’ve come a long way. I’m very proud of him.

All that to say, we are savoring these last couple of weeks of “normal”. The next six to eight months will be new and undoubtedly challenging, but life goes on and we’ll adjust. It’s looking like he’ll be in tech school near Savannah, Georgia – so if you have any suggestions as to what to see and eat, let me know! I’m going to try to visit.

We are so thankful for your prayers. God keeps proving Himself faithful and powerful. As I’ve said recently (and will continue to say!) – these are truly the best days.

 

Celebrating Us

Our “wedding” day was one of the best days. Of course, the day wasn’t without frustration or confusion, and there were some things that got left out, but those things didn’t matter in the end. I remember going to bed that night with no regrets. Win!

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The process of planning a wedding is simultaneously amazing and awful. Our first ideas for this day were the exact opposite of what it evolved into. There was one point where I wanted to throw the entire idea of a ceremony and reception out the window. But I came to my senses with a fresh perspective. Thankfully, it turned into something more funky and original – a reflection of Aaron and I. In no particular order, here are four of my favorite details about that day.
Something Old
If you know me at all, I love second hand items. I found my dress at a tiny consignment shop in Minnesota and had it altered (aka chopped off) to show my fun shoes! The dress was exactly what I had hoped it would be: simple and fun to dance in! I went out of my comfort zone a tad and chose a dress with a deep back. Turned out to be a smart choice. It was not only extremely pretty, but practical since it kept me cool on a hot day!
I found the vintage sarees on Etsy for roughly ten dollars each. (Sarees are about 15 feet of gorgeous, soft fabric.) We used them for backdrops, table decor, and cushions. It was a beautiful pop of color. On that note, my bridesmaids wore such beautiful kurtas! They looked lovely. I’m so happy to have thought of this since it was the MOST comfortable thing they could have possibly worn that day. Lovely, comfy, and elegant.
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Something New
I kept the flowers very simple for a variety of reasons. First, I wasn’t keen on holding a bouquet just for a few moments as we said our vows. Secondly, they weren’t going to last super long, to even to the next day. I chose 10 foot greenery garlands that had bayleaf and rosemary. I also ordered about 5 dozen garden roses. The roses were beautiful accents on the garlands and smelled amazing together!
I ordered flowers from FiftyFlowers.com. We were really impressed with the delivery (since we only ordered them a week or two beforehand!) and they arrived in such wonderful condition. They have a huge selection and great customer service; I’d order from them again!
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Something Yummy
We celebrated our marriage with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. I searched and searched for a restaurant or business that would adhere to a custom menu – a menu I knew would be a hit with guests. Some gave me ridiculous quotes at 20K when I asked for my Lucky Charms and waffles. I picked my jaw up off the floor and considered my options. Eventually I was victorious with the Red Skiff, a local brunch spot in Rockport. I was so happy when someone told me “I smelled bacon and I knew I was in the right place.”
Guests munched on bacon, sausage, mini quiches, fresh fruit, and cheese. We also had a virgin mimosas, a coffee bar, and a cereal bar! To top it off, we had waffles with all the toppings!
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Something Blue
Aaron and his groomsmen stole the show. Not only are these young men so incredibly patient with a bossy bride, but they are not afraid of the dance floor. I’ve gone to way too many events where the men line the walls. No fun! I loved watching Aaron and his boys dance. And of course, I loved dancing with them to the beat of Bollywood, Latin, and everything inbetween.
I remember a party a few years ago where Aaron and I came with different people, but danced together to a Katy Perry song. In that moment, as friends, I recall having so much fun with him. We laughed and laughed. It was like we were the only two people in the room and no one else mattered. I am so happy that we’re here and we have friends who LOVE to get down and move their hips.
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It was weird and wonderful to see all of our worlds colliding. I wish there were more excuses to gather together than just weddings and funerals. We are so blessed to have people in our lives that pray with us, answer our questions, and cheer us on. It was so incredible to have our Maryland/Alaska, college, and church friends with family on that day. (I hear rumors that some of you may have started some new friendships thanks to that day.)
A very memorable day in the books. Thank you for celebrating with us, near or far!
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Messy hair and big smiles. No other way to end that day.
VenueRockport Community House DJ – Seth McKinney PhotographerSteven Schultz Dress – Consignment ShoesSteve Madden  RentalsBoston Rustic Wedding Rentals FlowersFiftyFlowers.com Catering – Red Skiff ProgramsSLCreative Designs on Etsy GuestbookArtifact Uprising BalloonsHomeStyleDivas on Etsy