Small Talk

Every day, one of Amy Julia Becker’s children says something that prompts her to think about life in a new way. “Mom, does Santa love me?” William asks, after his mother explains the meaning of Christmas… In a chat with her dad about the children who died in the Sandy Hook shootings, Penny asks, “Did they go to heaven?”… “You was a jerk, Mommy?” asks Marilee one morning in the car.

These conversations deepen Amy Julia’s relationships with her children, but they also refine her understanding of what she believes and what God is doing in her own life.

In Small Talk, Amy Julia draws from the wisdom and curiosity of those young voices to reflect on beauty and kindness, tragedy and disability, prayer and miracles. As she moves through the basic questions her kids posed when they were very young to the more intellectual questions of later childhood she invites us to learn from our own day-to-day conversations with the children in our lives. This eloquent parenting memoir is about the big questions little hearts ask, the thoughts their words provoke, and the laughter and soul-searching their honesty brings– to adult and child alike.

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“Amy Julia Becker gets to the heart of our most valuable moments with our children – the ones in which we laugh, cry, and marvel at the unexpected revelation of truth and joy in our everyday lives. Small Talk reveals how talking with our children about the most important things in life actually ends up growing us up just as much, if not more, than them.”

Gabe and Rebecca Lyons

Cofounders of Q and authors of The Next Christians and Freefall to Fly, respectively

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“Becker’s Small Talk offers spiritual lessons without being simplistic. In fact, what I might like best about the book is the insistent need to defend the holy beauty of materiality and the idea that we can find God in the kitchen as well as the cloister. Becker does this, not by waxing eloquent for pages about ethereal ideas, but by embedding theological truth in the sights and sounds of the everyday.”

Jen Pollock Michel

Englewood Review of Books

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“Amy Julia Becker’s latest book, Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most contains rich, liberating words for parents who need to know they aren’t alone, and for everyone who wants to receive love and laughter through the little ones in their lives… I really love how the illuminating, brilliant words of her Small Talk – add up to the biggest, most beautiful, eternal things.”

Ann Voskamp

Author, One Thousand Gifts

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“Becker has penned a memoir to encourage and support others traveling the same path. She conveys great truths with brevity and poignancy. Using words that are seemingly simple, Becker crafts a narrative that is simply elegant.”

Ellen Mandeville

Breakpoint

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Small Talk is a gift to parents who long to connect with their children about the joys and everyday rituals that sustain us, as well as about the griefs that capsize our hearts. Amy Julia Becker is an astute observer; she watches and names how, along with her children, she is maturing and coming to understand the world and her place in it. Thoughtful, wise, and engaging, Becker’s work inspires me to live with intention and keep alert to the presence of God. Highly recommended.”

Jennifer Grant

Author of Love You More, MOMumental, Disquiet Time, and Wholehearted Living

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“Amy Julia Becker does big things in Small Talk, delighting and challenging readers with stories of conversations with her kids’ and the thoughts on life, love, and God that follow. Small Talk is a must-read for anyone who’s ever learned about the bigness of life from the smallest of folks’ or anyone who wants to.”

Caryn Rivadeneira

Author of Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed about God’s Abundanceand host of Midday Connection on Moody Radio

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| Click here for more Praise and Reviews |

Happiness 1

Banner Discussion Guide

Chapter 1: Birth
John 3:1-11
1. Do you believe in the concept of spiritual birth?
2. Why do you think Jesus uses that analogy to describe the beginning of spiritual life?
3. In what way is every baby’s birth complicated, simple, messy and joyful?
4. In what way is spirituality like birth?
5. What does it mean to be dependent upon God as an adult?

Birth 2

Chapter 2: Failure
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
1. When you think about being or becoming a parent, what ideals stand out?
2. Do you ever feel like a failure because you can’t live up to your own ideals?

Chapter 3: Heaven
Revelation 21:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1.Did you experience the death of any loved ones as a child?
2. What were you taught to believe about heaven?
3. What experiences have shaped or formed your beliefs about what happens after death as an adult?
4. What does it mean to grieve as ones who have hope?

heaven

Chapter 4: Christmas
Luke 2:1-20
1. As a child, what did you love about Christmas?
2. As an adult, has your attitude changed?
3. How does Christmas combine the sacred and the secular?
4. Do you see the combination of sacred and secular as positive or negative?

Chapter 5: Rest
Psalm 23
1. Did you grow up with any type of ?Sabbath? observance?
2. Was it oppressive or freeing? Why?
3. Why do you think it is so hard to rest in our culture?
4. Do you ever set aside time personally or as a family to rest?
5. Do you see sleep and rest as a gift or a hindrance?

Chapter 6: Disability
John 9:1-11
1. Did you grow up with a disability or knowing someone with a disability?
2. What challenge do you face in trying to talk about disability??
3. How does Jesus talk about disability in this passage?

Disability

Chapter 7: Jesus
Colossians 1:12-20
1. What gut reaction do you have when you hear the word Jesus?
2. Is it easier to talk about God than about Jesus? Why?
3. I started to wonder whether the particularity of Jesus was an invitation more than an offense, an unfathomable welcome to all the daughters and sons of the earth into the household of God.?How could Jesus’ “particularity” be an invitation?
4. What do you want the children in your life to know about Jesus?

Chapter 8: Beauty
Psalm 139
1. What does the outside world tell us about beauty?
2. How does this message compare to a Christian understanding of beauty?
3. What people in your own life are beautiful? Why?
4. Does the pursuit of outward beauty harm the cultivation of inner beauty?

Chapter 9: Prayer
Matthew 6:9-13, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
1. Did you grow up saying prayers?
2. Do you pray now? When? Why?
3. Do you think prayer changes anything?
4. Do different types of prayer have different effects on your spiritual life?

prayer

Chapter 10: Gratitude
Luke 17:11-19, Matthew 20:1-16
1. Do you find it hard to give thanks? In what context?
2. Can you think of a time when you experienced profound/unprompted gratitude?

Chapter 11: Sin
Genesis 3:1-13, Romans 3:23
1. What is the difference between making mistakes and sinning?
2. What is the difference between human limitations and human sin?
3. In what ways do you follow the pattern of Adam and Eve in wanting to deny your human limitations?

Chapter 12: Waiting
Philippians 4:11, Psalm 131
1. Do you relate more to Amy Julia or Penny in this chapter?
2. Are there any children who have modeled patience for you?
3. What do you think it means to wait for the Lord?

waiting

Chapter 13: Easter
Luke 22:14-30, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20
1. How would you explain the Christian story of Jesus’ death and resurrection to a child?
2. What questions do these stories raise for you?

Chapter 14: Listening
Deuteronomy 6:3-4
1. Do you believe God can talk to us? Have you ever “heard” God’s voice?
2. Have you ever “obeyed” God without understanding? What happened?
3. In what area do you resist hearing from God? In what area are you eager to hear?

Listening

Chapter 15: God
Psalm 8, 1 Corinthians 11:3
1. Can you think of a time when you have lost faith in God?
2. Can you think of a time when God has been like a good father?
3. What ongoing questions do you have about God’s character?

Chapter 16: Spirit
Galations 5:22-23
1. Have you ever experienced the Holy Spirit?
2. Have you ever seen the Spirit produce fruit in your life?

Holy Spirit

Chapter 17: Happiness
Matthew 5:1-12
1. Why does Jesus call the poor and meek blessed?
2. In what way does vulnerability bless us?
3. If you are a parent, do you describe yourself as happy in that role?

Chapter 18: Laughter
Proverbs 17:22
1. Can you think of a time when laughter seemed impossible?
2. How can laughter change things?
3. Do you think child-like laughter is the soil for faith?

laughter

Chapter 19: Love
Ephesians 5:2, 1 Corinthians 13:1-10
1. Do you experience a difference between the feeling of love and the activity of love?
2. What happens to your soul when you love with agape love?

Chapter 20: Miracles
Exodus 14:13-31
1. What role do you think Biblical miracles have in faith?
2. Can miracles happen today? What is the purpose of miracles?

miracles

Chapter 21: Tragedy
John 16:33, Romans 5:3-6
1. When did your first learn about evil??
2. What questions do you have about evil on a spiritual level?
3. How does the story of Christmas inform this tragedy?

Chapter 22: Kindness
Psalm 36:7, Psalm 117:2
1. Is there a difference between kindness and love??
2. Is there a difference between meekness and goodness?
3. Can kindness be taught?

kindness

Chapter 23: Forgiveness
Matthew 9:1-8
1. When have you received or offered forgiveness?
2. Was it “domestic” or “dramatic”?
3. What happened in response?
4. What “scaffolding” needs to be in place in order for forgiveness to happen?

Chapter 24: Church
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
1. Did you go to church as a child?
2. What do you remember about it?
3. Why have so many Americans stopped going to church?
4. Is it worth it to take kids to church?

church

Chapter 25: Money
Luke 18:18-30
1. What did your parents teach you about money?
2. What do you think it means to be generous?
3. Why are the two stories from the Gospels so different?

Chapter 26: Friendship
John 15:12-17
1. How would you define friendship?
2. Was friendship easy or hard for you as a child? For your children?
3. Do you agree with the importance of friendship?

Chapter 27: Baptism
Mark 1:9-11, Matthew 28:19-20
1. What role does baptism play in the life of faith?
2. Have you been baptized? Why or why not?
3. Why do you think some Christians argue about infant baptism versus adult baptism? What views of God does each perspective imply?

baptism

Chapter 28: Marriage
Genesis 2:22-24, Mark 10:6-9
1. How has having kids changed your other relationships?
2. How was it helped you to grow up?

Chapter 29: Grace
Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 3:23-24
1. How have the children in your life been a means of grace to you?

Photo Credit: Chris Capozziello

Photo Credit: Chris Capozziello

Praise and Reviews

Small Talk reveals how talking with our children about the most important things in life actually ends up growing us up just as much, if not more, than them.
Gabe and Rebekah Lyons, cofounders of Q and authors of The Next Christians and Freefall to Fly, respectively

Small Talk is a gift to parents who long to connect with their children about the joys and everyday rituals that sustain us, as well as about the griefs that capsize our hearts. Amy Julia Becker is an astute observer; she watches and names how, along with her children, she is maturing and coming to understand the world and her place in it. Thoughtful, wise, and engaging, Becker’s work inspires me to live with intention and keep alert to the presence of God. Highly recommended.
Jennifer Grant, author of Love You More, MOMumental, Disquiet Time, and Wholehearted Living

One reason, among many, that Amy Julia Becker is a great writer is that she pays attention. Her reflections in Small Talk will inspire you to pay attention to the small wise voices in your world as well.
Margot Starbuck, author of Not Who I Imagined

Amy Julia Becker does big things in Small Talk, delighting and challenging readers with stories of conversations with her kids’ and the thoughts on life, love, and God that follow. Small Talk is a must-read for anyone who’s ever learned about the bigness of life from the smallest of folks’or anyone who wants to.
Caryn Rivadeneira, author of Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed about God’s Abundance and producer and host of Midday Connection on Moody Radio

Amy Julia tells stories of life with children in graceful prose that is rich in theological insight. Parents will find themselves nodding in empathetic recognition as they read her accounts of the joys and challenges of family life, but Small Talk is by no means a book for parents only. This is much more than a book about life with kids; it is a book about life’s most complex questions.
Rachel Marie Stone, author of Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food

Photo Credit: Chris Capozziello

Photo Credit: Chris Capozziello

Small Talk goes far beyond trite observations that our children teach us patience or rekindle wonder. Amy Julia Becker offers readers a nuanced exploration of how loving her children through significant moments and hard questions has stretched and deepened her own understanding of what matters most and why. Small Talk offers wisdom that even the cynical and the exhausted can grab on to as we go about this bewildering business of raising children.
Ellen Painter Dollar, author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction

Small Talk made me want to suspend time in the moments with my children that I’m so often tempted to brush past. But more, Amy Julia’s narrative doesn’t just allure us into finding God and His fingerprints in these moments in the lives of our children; she calls us to a place of seeking God tucked away in all of life’s seemingly simple minutes.
Sara Hagerty, author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

Through story after beautiful story, Amy Julia demonstrates all the extraordinary ways God reveals his amazing grace to us through our children. She also reveals the profound beauty that can radiate through a parent’s willingness to be authentic about their own vulnerability, weakness, and need. Amy Julia has the gift of reminding me that truly, All is grace.
Jeannie Cunnion, author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child


banner review

“Her latest book, Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most are rich, liberating words for parents who need to know they aren’t alone, and for everyone who wants to receive love and laughter through the little ones in their lives… I really love how the illuminating, brilliant words of her Small Talk – add up to the biggest, most beautiful, eternal things.”

Click here to continue reading, “What Happy Parents Know & Do When It Gets Hard
Review by Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience


Small Talk, a new book from my friend Amy Julia Becker, is the kind of book that takes the things children say seriously. It’s neither a dour theological tome nor a saccharine-sweet book of “cute things kids say.” It is a theologically astute yet consistently accessible account of a parent’s honest wrestling with questions Big, Medium, and (Christmas and Easter, laughter and rest. Along the way, conversations – and just plain Life – with her children illuminate and enflesh ideas that in other contexts would remain cerebral; conjectural. It’s a book that will speak to you right in the middle of diapers and mayhem, and will speak to you even if you’re long past the time of raising kids, and even if you’re not a parent at all. For life and faith with kids turns out to look a lot like life and faith, period.”

Click here to continue reading, “Talking with children about death and God and Christmas (when real life includes parenting small children who seem to simultaneously challenge and teach; inspire and learn. This is a beautiful book, one in which I – a non-Christian- took pleasure reading.”

Click here to continue reading, “Book review: Small Talk, by Amy Julia Becker”
Review by Meriah Nichols, A Little Moxie


This book is a treasure. It is filled with raw, beautiful honesty. Her children stretch her in ways only children can and it is a joy to be allowed to listen.”

Click here to continue reading, “Small Talk: Learning from My Children about What Matters Most (thereby equipping all of us, regardless of our faith background, to find God in our everyday experiences.”
Review by Patricia Clarke


“Becker’s Small Talk is what long-time readers have come to expect from her writing: inviting, thoughtful discussion about important issues written in a non-judgmental, insightful way. If that sounds like something you would enjoy reading, I encourage you to buy Becker’s new book, Small Talk.”

Click here to continue reading, “Small Talk (Down Syndrome Prenatal Testing


Small Talk is about finding true honesty while valuing those questions that kids aren’t ashamed to ask… Becker doesn’t shy away from her kids – or the deep-thought discussions they shared. This book is a great model for consideration; take the grains of truth found within its pages and apply them to your own conversations with kids. This would be an amazing choice for a mom’s group or women’s Bible study…. Small Talk gave me a different view in respect to the way I talk with my children. It gave me an appreciation for the responsibility God placed on me when entrusting them to my care.”

Click here to continue reading, “Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker – for those tough questions kids seem to ask”
Review by Dede, Savings in Seconds


“I highly encourage any mom or dad to read Small Talk. In the busyness of our days it’s too easy to overlook the little things and to take our children’s words for granted. This book is the perfect pick-me-up that all of us could use.”

Click here to continue reading, “Book Review: Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker”
Review by Sarah Haney, Mommy of Two


“Amy Julia Becker has a gift – the gift of taking the ordinary and sharing it with us, her readers, to encourage us to keep on trucking – as moms, as believers, as women. She encourages us to listen to our kids and let their words help us become better moms – to grow and be challenged even. I LOVED this easy-to-read book that make me smile and tear up – because being a mom is never easy – but ALWAYS rewarding – if we just look for that reward!

Click here to continue reading full review on GoodReads.com
Review by Becky


“Becker speaks simply, honestly and thoughtfully about a variety of subjects and situations. Kids offer a lot of wisdom – and this book does a wonderful job reminding us to stop and engage in that ever important small talk with our little wise ones!

Click here to continue reading, “Small Talk Book Review and Giveaway”
Review by Angela Thompson, A Mama’s Corner of the World


What a heart-warming, faith-affirming, enchanting, delightful book on the wise words and exchanges between a mother and her child(acceptance and forgiveness.”

Click here to continue reading full review on GoodReads.com
Review by Claire


“I really love how she honestly talks about some of her short comings and feelings as a mom and how her kids and God help her though it. I could see myself in so many of the situations and this can be so encouraging. I think this is a book all moms should read. I think it would be a terrific conversation starter for a fellowship group or even to read on your own.”

Click here to continue reading, “Small Talk: Learning from My Children about what matters most by Amy Julia Becker #giveaway
Review by Heidi Bee, Buzz4Mommies


Small Talk is such a beautiful book. It’s funny in parts, but so poignant in others. Amy Julia Becker is transparent about the struggles and questions that come up in every day life… Amy [Julia] handles these questions with truthfulness and grace that are both encouraging and challenging…I think this book is great for any mom to read. It’s a great reminder that you are not the only one that dreams of quiet vacations or even just quiet showers.”

Click here to continue reading, “{review & giveaway} Small Talk”
Review by Jackie, One Redeemed Mom


Small Talk– humor and reverence, insights and outbursts- it’s all here. Amy Julia Becker has written a book that I will be returning to. As she tells us, this isn’t a parenting book filled with how-to advice. It’s a collection of observations and conversations, scenes and stories inspired by her three kids… And we’re encouraged to lean into the Love that surrounds us, the Love that flows through our family and finds its source in our Heavenly Father.

Click here to continue reading full review on GoodReads.com
Review by Faith Farrell


Small Talk, by Amy Julia Becker is a pretty great book. Amy [Julia] in each chapter talks about her life with her children, from trying to explain down syndrome to her son, to learning about the fruits of the Spirit through her children.. Small Talk is an amazing story.”

Click here to continue reading, “Small Talk, by Amy Julia Becker a review”
Review by Ginger, My Mismatched World


“I’ve long been a fan of memoirs, but Small Talk gave me a chance to pause in the middle of my own chaos and remember how God shows up among all those words my own kids speak. And I know it will do that for other people – regardless of how old their kids are or whether they have kids of their own”

Click here to continue reading, “{Giveaway} Their talk is more than small”
Review by Kristin Hill Taylor, 152 insights to My Soul


“[Small Talk] is a must-read for everyone because parent, or aunt, or cousin, friend, or caregiver – we all love and nurture these small ones. And this book is so encouraging: may we more and more talk with our children, at the same sharing our faith and life; and gaining a greater understanding ourselves of what it is we believe and why.”

Click here to continue reading, “Time for some Small Talk”
Review by Jennifer, A “Peace” of Mind


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