2017 Reading Challenge Update III

I am currently participating in the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. Throughout the year, I am hoping to do monthly(-ish) updates on my progress. This is update THREE for the year so far. I got a little behind this month as we have been spending our nights preparing the nursery and doing other baby-related things. However, I can still count on my trusty audiobooks when picking up a book feels a bit hard.

2017 Reading Challenge
A book recommended by a librarian:
A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
A book of letters: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
An audiobook: Prodigal God by Tim Keller (Completed in February; 3/5 stars)
A book by a person of color: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly 
A book with one of the four seasons in the title: My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir
A book that is a story within a story:
A book with multiple authors:
An espionage thriller:
A book with a cat on the cover: A Man Called Over by Fredrick Backman (Completed in March;  4/5 stars)
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read (horror): The Teacher by Katerina Diamond
A book by or about a person who has a disability: El Deafo by Cece Bell
A book involving travel:
A book with a subtitle: Banished: Surviving my years in Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain (Completed in February; 3/5 stars)
A book that's published in 2017: Are you Sleeping by Kathleen Barber 
A book involving a mythical creature:
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile:
A book about food: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (Completed in January; 4/5 stars)
A book with career advice:
A book from a nonhuman perspective:
A steampunk novel:
A book with a red spine: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Completed in January; 2/5 stars)
A book set in the wilderness: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Completed in February; 3/5 stars)
A book you loved as a child: Chasing Rebird by Sharon Creech
A book by an author from a country you've never visited:
A book with a title that's a character's name:
A novel set during wartime:
A book with an unreliable narrator: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
A book with pictures: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (In Progress)
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Completed in February; 5/5 stars)
A book about an interesting woman: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult (In Progress)
A book set in two different time periods:
A book with a month or day of the week in the title: Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (Completed in March; 3.5 stars)
A book set in a hotel:
A book written by someone you admire: Adnan's Story by Rabia Chadry 
A book that's becoming a movie in 2017: All the Bright Places (Completed in January; 2/5 stars)
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Completed in January; 4/5 stars)
The first book in a series you haven't read before: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead 
A book you bought on a trip:

A book recommended by an author you love: Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, recommended by Jodi Picoult
A bestseller from 2016:
A book with a family-member term in the title:
A book that takes place over a character's life span:
A book about an immigrant or refugee:
A book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of:
A book with an eccentric character:
A book that's more than 800 pages:
A book you got from a used book sale:
A book that's been mentioned in another book:
A book about a difficult topic: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (In Progress)
A book based on mythology:

Books read in 2017: 10
Progress towards reading goal for the year: 10/50 (20%)

I am still looking for recommendations for some of the prompts! You all have given me some great ones so far (and I'm still deciding which books to choose for a few of the prompts). I would love more recommendations!

Would you consider joining me for the challenge? It's not too late! Get a printout of the challenge HERE

P.S. You can always find my reviews by following along with me on Goodreads.


Sage Turns 4!

Today this little blog is officially four years old! When I first started writing in March, 2013 I set out to create a space of personal vulnerability, particularly in my walk with Christ. I was saved in 2012 and baptized in June, 2013 which means this blog has been there throughout the majority of my walk as a Christian. That also means it has been with me through a move across the country, and engagement, nearly three years of a marriage, and now pregnancy. It has been amazing to see the ways I have grown and the ways in which our life has changed since starting Sage in 2013.

I am so thankful to all of you that have been faithful readers since day one. I have cultivated some of the most amazing relationships through this blog and I will be forever grateful for that. For those that joined me somewhere along the way in the last four years, I am so grateful for you as well. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Sage! Happy birthday, Sage!


School Segregation: The Problem We Still All Live With

I have been looking forward to sharing today's post with you all for some time. Frances, who you will meet shortly, and I recently became friends when we joined a group of women, Black and white, together online to start talking about race. During these discussions, the topic of modern day school segregation came up and I immediately realized how little I knew about the topic. Frances shared some resources with us and I immediately became aware of my own naivete. I'm going to take a wild guess and assume I am not alone in this. For that reason, I have asked Frances to join us today to share a bit about the topic and her personal experience with it. 

Frances Crusoe is a mom of two living in the south. She is a recovering Christian, a graduate student, a sometimes writer, a coffee snob, podcast junkie and an advocate for social justice and women's rights. You can usually find her on Instagram or Twitter chatting about everything from race to politics and the state of the church.

When someone mentions a pivotal time in history like school segregation, for many, it may conjure up images of the racially charged 50s and 60s Civil Rights era. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case that racially segregated schools were in violation of the 14th Amendment. Schools were forced integrate much to the dismay of  white parents. Schools were mandated by court order to integrate, forcing black and white children to be educated together.

Forced segregation during those times had serious effects on the quality of education that black children were given in contrast to white students. Housing discrimination practices called redlining created all black neighborhoods for generations because banks denied loans based on race and refused to give loans to black families looking to move to areas where white families lived. Black families were confined to overcrowded sections of cities across the country and it became a way of life that was not questioned or challenged for fear of retaliation. Segregated neighborhoods meant segregated schools. While schools were separate, they were far from equal because black schools were overcrowded, underfunded and had more unqualified teachers than white schools.
At 6 years old, Ruby Bridges, became the first Black child to attend an integrated public elementary school in the south. After being met by angry white parents who hurled racial slurs and objects at the child, Ruby had to be escorted to school by federal agents. Parents refused to allow their children to be in the same classroom as Ruby and teachers refused to teach her. Ruby sat alone in an empty classroom for an entire school year with just one teacher, Barbara Henry, who took up the charge to educate  young Ruby.

Elizabeth Ann Eckford was a 15 year old Black teenager who was one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of black high school students who were the first to integrate Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas in 1957. Black children were being bussed from their neighborhoods to attend white schools. Just like young Ruby Bridges, the Little Rock Nine were met by angry white parents with picket signs and armed national guard soldiers. Although it has been 60 years since the Little Rock Nine integrated Central High school, the issues of school segregation and the idea of separate but equal are still alive and well.

Despite the resistance, integrating schools actually helped shrink the achievement gap between black and white students. Black schools had traditionally received less funding, less access to technology and had less qualified teachers. By integrating schools, Black students now had equal access to resources that had always been readily supplied to white schools. Academically, Black students who attended integrated schools were now on par with white students. However, by the 1980’s, integration efforts as a whole started to reverse. Longstanding resistance to desegregation by white families resulted in white flight, gerrymandering election and school districts zones and the increased appeal of private schools. As white families moved out of cities and school districts were rezoned, Black and white students were once again funnelled back into racially divided schools.

Growing up in Mississippi in the 1980s, I was vividly aware that there was a distinct racial divide in my own hometown. Most Black people lived one side of town and white people lived on the other. Our neighborhoods, churches, parks, schools and even funeral homes were all racially separate. Schools could be easily classified as either a white school or Black school. It was not until school children entered the seventh and eighth grade and were all housed in one junior high school together did both most Black and white children sit in the same classroom together.

Historically, there had always been two high schools in my city, one Black and one white. It wasn’t until 1991 that the school board voted to combine the two high schools combined into one.  By the time I matriculated to high school in 1995, many of my white classmates were withdrawn from public school system and enrolled in private schools. Other families moved further outside the city limits where county schools that were majority white schools. For the white families that could not afford to either move to another school district or pay private school tuition, they had no other option but to send their children to the newly combined high school. In response, white parents had a high school racial task force created. This helped to ensure that there would both both Black and white student representation in the various high school activities such as homecoming court and the coveted drum major role. Every year, students had to vote on a Black and white homecoming king, queen and court, prom king and queen and drum major. This practice of “separate but equal” went on for a decade, finally being abolished at the request of the students who felt that they deserved a chance to really function as one high school body, not a racially divided one.  

Fast forward to the present day and the fight against school segregation is still happening. Our neighborhoods are just as segregated today as they were decades ago so our schools continue to suffer the repercussions. White families voluntarily self segregate into majority white neighborhoods and communities. Those that do choose to live in racially mixed neighborhoods in many instances opt out of sending their children to neighborhood schools, in favor of private or charter schools, never fully investing into their neighborhoods. Discriminatory housing practices that continue to create and maintain racially segregated neighborhoods are still happening and school districts are still fighting courts to force desegregation in schools. Often times, Black and brown students who live in racially segregated neighborhoods have to deal with poverty, lack of jobs, crime (typically as a result of lack of jobs) and over policing (because of racial bias and crime rates). This reality is happening to these minority students all while attending underfunded and underperforming schools that do not prepare them for or even provide the minimum course requirements for college admissions. If these obstacles were not enough, these same students are more than like to be funnelled through the school to prison pipeline due to being given harsher punishment for school infractions than their white counterparts.

The issue of school segregation is an issue that can be easily ignored by those who voluntarily live in racially segregated communities. While every parent wants nothing but the best for their children, education included, not every child is afforded equal access to a quality education which is a fundamental right. For many, the plight of underserved school districts across the country will never affect them, therefore, there is no inherent motivation to fight for those who are being affected. Yet for the families who have dealt with the ramifications of generations of racial inequality in our neighborhoods and schools, through no fault of our own except being born black, we continue to fight and advocate for the very resources that have always been made available to our white counterparts.

Frances and I would love if to hear your thoughts on the topic of school segregation. Please dialogue with us in the comments below! Also, I HIGHLY recommend listening to this NPR episode if you want to learn more. 


On My "First" Due Date

We would have had a baby this month had my first pregnancy not ended in a miscarriage. In another week or so, we would be holding a precious little life in our arms. We would be heading home from the hospital, introducing our new addition to our friends and family, and beginning our life as three. We would be changing diapers, losing sleep, and probably trying not to murder our needy animals.

I'm not going to lie and say that this month has been easy because it hasn't. I won't tell you that my heart doesn't ache every time I see someone post a photo of their fresh March babe on social media, because it does. There is an emptiness that won't be filled-- not by my current pregnancy and not by future pregnancies. There will always be loss. We will never get that first baby back.

As much as I have seen God move in the months since our miscarriage (and I mean MOVE), I still grieve. Even while I look forward to this baby, I wonder what our first would have been like. Sometimes I feel like this isn't giving God the glory, but that would be a lie because God grieves with us. He loved that first baby as much as we did, and he will love our current child just the same.

So, that's where I am at this month. Eagerly awaiting the arrival of our earth-side babe this June while grieving the loss of the one that might have been there with us this month. It's messy and hard but also filled with hope, gratefulness, and joy.


Sage Synopsis v. 10

//T H O U G H T S 

What is going on with this crazy weather? It's almost like something is happening to the planet... Anyways, it was seriously a high of 72 yesterday and tomorrow we are supposed to get a few inches of snow. What is this nonsense?! 

I really enjoyed celebrating International Women's Day this year. Although I wasn't able to participate in A Day Without A Woman, I felt like I still kicked some major ass on Wednesday. I was able to give a Grand Rounds presentation in a male-dominated department in on campus which was really empowering. I hope, as women, we continue to empower one another, even if that empowerment looks different for each of us. 

//P O P U L A R  L A T E L Y

Betsy joined us last week to talk a bit about Judaism. It was really nice to have a different voice on the blog and I was really encouraged by some of the dialogue it started in the comments section. 

On Monday I shared 6 must-see documentaries that I discovered last weekend at the True/False Film Festival. I am still having all sorts of feels from last weekend. I'm so thankful for some of the hard conversations that these films have started with our friends. 

//G O O D  R E A D S

Our missional community leaders at church just started going through Gospel Fluency together and it has been really good for me. I have been thinking a lot more about how I speak truth into the lives of others and how my conversations do or do not point to Christ. I am a problem-solver by nature so I'm trying to be conscious of just speaking truth and pointing people to Jesus rather than trying to offer solutions. I highly recommend this book!

Don't Tell Me What Strong Looks Like. Talk about badass women. Kelly Roberts talks a bit about what it's like to be a runner that might not look like the "typical" runner and how she found a way to embrace her own strength in the midst of that.

//A U D I B L E S 

If you loved Serial and you're into politics, you love The 45th. It's all about the Trump Administration and what is happening in the White House.

A friend recently suggested the podcast With Friends Like These to me and I love it. Since the election I have had this lingering feeling that I don't have enough diverse political opinions in my life. This podcast brings in guests from liberal and conservative backgrounds to talk about politics, social justice, and the like. It brings together a diverse group of voices that we might not otherwise hear in our current bubbles.

//I N S P I R E 

//B L O G G E R  L O V E 

When You Don't Know What to Say by The Lady Okie. In this post, Amanda writes a letter to her friend who recently had a miscarriage. I cannot even tell you how meaningful it would have been to have more friends say these words to me after my own miscarriage.

Avoiding Racial Conversations In Interracial Relationships Isn’t An Option In Trump’s America. This was an important read about a topic that I don't often think a lot about. In the next few months I'll have a great guest post on the topic of interracial relationships. I hope you'll come back and read!


3 Reasons to Run in the Kansas City Marathon Series

I know none of you will be surprised when I say I already have a race planned for after Baby B gets here. I'll be participating in the Kansas City Marathon Series 10K on October 21st and this is my attempt to get you to join me! Here are 3 reasons why you should consider running in the Kansas City Marathon series this October:

1. They partner with great charities. 
The Kansas City Marathon Series has a number of official charity partners so that you can run for a cause. They have partnered with organizations such as World Vision, KC Pet Project, and Team Fidelis. Learn more HERE.

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2. The Kansas City scenery. 
I'm a huge fan of Kansas City. The race course takes you past a ton of KC's best attractions and neighborhood (although this obviously ranges depending on the distance you choose) including the WWI Memorial, Country Club Plaza, Nelson Atkins Museum, and Westport.

3. The weather. 
I am NOT a fan of Midwest weather, however, there couldn't be a better time of year to participate in a race in the Midwest if you're going to. The historical average high for October 21 is 66 degrees, can you have more perfect fall running weather?!

Check out the below recap video of the 2016 race:

I hope to see you there. Please don't hesitate to ask me any questions you might have about the race or Kansas City! Don't forget to use code “BIBRAVE17” for 15% off! Below are the remaining price increases for the 10K:

$45 – May 1 
$50 – September 1 
$60 – Packet Pickup


6 (More) Must-See Documentaries

If you've been a reader of Sage for a while, you know I'm a huge fan of documentaries. Each year, Matt and I attend the True/False Film Festival here in Columbia, Missouri. This was our fourth year attending and it was another great one. In 2015 I posted four of my favorite films and got a really positive response from all of you, so I thought I would share my favorites from this year!

There was an overarching theme of social justice this year with a particular focus on racism and police brutality. Lucky for all of you, many of these will be available in theaters and on Netflix in the near future.

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1. Step. I basically ugly-cried throughout this entire screening. I'm not kidding. Step is about a Baltimore step team started by a group of young ladies in the sixth grade. The documentary follows their senior year, which is also during the time of Freddie Gray's death. It details what life is like for young black women in Baltimore and the remarkable strength these women demonstrate as they work towards their big step competition and college in the face of poverty, violence, and pain. This one will be coming to theaters this summer as it was recently picked up by Fox Searchlight! Brace yourself.

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2. Whose Streets? This one hit home as it documents the 2014 events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson is about an hour and a half from where we live and we remember these events clearly. In many ways, Ferguson was the catalyst for many of the social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter, that we have seen in recent years. The film takes you deep into the community as they band together in a fight for justice.

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3. The Force. The Force follows the Oakland Police Department through the federally mandated reform program, including their successes and failures. This film gives a really interesting and intimate look into the issues of police brutality and misconduct. The style of this documentary will captivate you just as much as the content.

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4. The Grown-Ups. This one was also a tearjerker. The film follows a group of students with Down's Syndrome as they learn various skills related to independent living skills while at the same time navigating overbearing parents and legal limitations on their rights. The film raises provocative questions about love and autonomy while also making you fall in love with each subject. This film will challenge you.

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5. I Am Not Your Negro. This film celebrates the writings of James Baldwin. It explores issues related to race and class through the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Medgar Evers. I was amazed at how Baldwin tied in various cinematic references to demonstrate how deep-seated racism is in our country. The filmmaker did an amazing job of tying Baldwin's writings to recent events such as the shootings of young black men. This is an Oscar-nominated film and definitely worth watching. You might be able to find a showing near you HERE.

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6. Strong Island. This film is very personal for the director, Yance Ford, as it explores the circumstances surrounding his brother's murder. You will immediately feel like you are a part of this family, like the loss of Yance's brother was the loss of your own family member. It will inspire anger and heartache in you as you realize how racism contributed to an unspeakable injustice: his brother's murderer walking free.

I hope that you will consider checking out a few of these films, or at least adding them to your "to-watch" list. They will challenge what you think you know about the world in the best way possible!