Archives for posts with tag: book club

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How to let more light in

For the second week in a row we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, told why we were interested in reading a novel about four women who meet on a spiritual retreat and why our hearts were pulled to discuss the book with others.

This woman had been there before, had driven the 45 minutes to hear what we were learning from the characters and from our questions. But this time, as we told our names and our stories to the new people, she mentioned owning an apple orchard.

I told of my three crazy boys, of make-shift wrestling matches in the living room and of being suspicious of silence in our house. And once we were no longer strangers, we talked about “Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey” and how we could see sticky notes and dog-eared pages in the books we held in our hands.

“What parts did you underline? What parts meant the most to you?” I asked.

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One woman turned to page 15, where Hannah, one of the main characters, is being reminded of a sermon she preached about God pruning things like a gardener would. Hannah had told her congregation that pruning isn’t punishment – it’s improvement.

“I had never thought of that scripture that way,” the woman said as others chimed in about pruning and its painfulness.

But the woman with the orchard shook her head and waited for a turn to speak.

Pruning is essential, she said, and we do it more than once a year because the trees need space. The fruit needs nutrients. And pruning allows for more light.

That last thought – the one about the light? That’s the one that keeps ringing in my ears. That’s the one that has me asking what I need to let go of so God and love and light can more easily find their way through my muddled mess.

Maybe it’s my own expectations that could stand to be cut back or the binge watching on Netflix that could be trimmed a bit. Maybe I could take the scissors to my spending, my procrastination and a hundred other bad habits that pull time and nutrients from my soul.

The gardener knows with each snip, there would be room for more light and stronger growth.

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Sensible Shoes Sharon Garlough BrownWe were so thankful to have Sharon Garlough Brown, author of Sensible Shoes, spend time with us on Facebook as part of the Simply Faithful Book Club. She is full of wisdom and grace, so I wanted to capture that conversation for you here.

Click on the comments button (the one that looks like a speech bubble) to read along… Be blessed!

Sensible Shoes #6453Like most people, I enjoy a good book, but I don’t like to take time to weed through the mediocre ones. That’s why I love recommendations from friends.

And that’s why this summer’s Simply Faithful book club pick is “Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey” by Sharon Garlough Brown ($18, IVP Books). A friend suggested it, and I read it and fell in love.

Now, I can’t wait to discuss it with you and introduce you to the author during a Facebook chat in August.

Brown does a masterful job of introducing us to four strangers who meet at a spiritual retreat center and begin the difficult work of unmasking themselves. Hannah is a pastor on a forced sabbatical. Meg is a widow haunted by her past and struggling with an empty nest. Mara has experienced a lifetime of rejection and now is in a difficult marriage. And Charissa? She is a graduate student who desperately wants to do what is right.

They all wrestle with faith in such a true-to-life way – a way I often don’t see in Christian fiction – and that’s the real gift of this book. Brown, who has a master’s of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and is a pastor and spiritual director with the Evangelical Covenant Church, paints faith as a relationship that grows and stumbles and strengthens, as something more than merely a subplot to life.

She also weaves in scripture and spiritual practices, like walking a labyrinth and praying the examen, so readers come away with tools to draw closer to God in their own, non-fiction lives. In fact, at www.sensibleshoesclub.com Brown offers a free 80-page companion guide to the book, which essentially serves as a 12-week devotional.

In the next few weeks I’ll share more about the author and your chance to chat with her. In the meantime, what do you say? Will you join us for the Simply Faithful book club?

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Thank you for reading Satisfied with us. I’m hoping that you’ll tackle the first section this week and then come back and share your thoughts with us. (We have much to learn from each other. Amen?)

One of my favorite quotes from this section is:

“Contentment is not achieved through getting everything we want but by training the heart to experience full joy and deep peace even when we don’t have what we want.”

With that in mind, what areas of your life are you content with? Where do you need help?

How do we know we have enough or that we are enough?

The author suggests two projects this week: Counting your shirts and shoes and giving something of value away.

How many shirts and shoes do you have?

What did you give away?

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“Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied…” Psalm 63:4-5

So, maybe you’re interested in this book Satisfied and thinking you’d participate in this Facebook chat with the author — if you only had a clue how to do that.

No worries. Here’s a quick and easy tutorial so you’ll be ready for March 25.

First, you go to the Simply Faithful Facebook page here.

Once you are there, you’ll see a page that looks a lot like this. See that arrow? That’s where you post your questions for the author, Jeff Manion.

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Want to see the answer to your questions — and the questions that other people are asking?

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Remember to refresh your page every few minutes so you are seeing the latest conversations.

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And that, my friends, is just about all there is to this. So, what do you say? Will you join us?

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