Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is episode 100. Can you believe it? Of course, with the bonus episodes, there are actually about 120, but what an incredible journey God has given me with this podcast. I have been so blessed not only with the conversations I’ve been able to hold on here, but also because I have gotten to know some of you through your emails and messages or as you’ve come to work with me in spiritual direction. So thank you for being here and supporting the podcast.
A few weeks ago, I shared some of the highest-ranking episodes, but I’m curious… is there an episode that has really resonated with you? I’d love to hear. You can email me at email@example.com, or you can leave it in a review on Apple podcasts. Either way, I’ll find it and it would be such a blessing to me and an encouragement as I continue on with this ministry.
January Book Recommendation: Sensible Shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown
Now, this year, I wanted to start a monthly series where I can recommend a book to you. As an avid reader and someone who loves to learn, I enjoy passing on ideas to others who want to grow in specific areas. These authors have been mentors to me in many ways, and I hope they become the same to you.
(And I promise that none of the book recommendations will include spoilers. I would be so disappointed to ruin a book for you.)
My first book recommendation is really the first book I recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about the spiritual life and different spiritual practices—and spiritual direction in particular. It’s called Sensible Shoes, written by Sharon Garlough Brown.
Sharon was actually a guest on the podcast back on episode 61, so if you haven’t listened to that yet, be sure to check it out. I really appreciate her gentle and wise spirit, and the vulnerability with which she shares parts of her story. And it’s always neat to hear the behind-the-scenes about a book and how it came to be.
A unique thing about the book Sensible Shoes is that although it’s a book about the spiritual life and spiritual practices, it’s not written as non-fiction, like a self-help book, but in a story format. And what I’ve really been noticing lately is how much better I learn when something is presenting in a narrative format. Do you feel that way, too?
Storyline + Characters
I’d like to provide a brief overview of the book so you can discern if this be a good fit for your reading list this year.
Sensible Shoes is the tale of four women who are experiencing different trials and journeys of their own. Let me read the character descriptions to you from the back of the book:
- Hannah is a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is.
- Meg is a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past.
- Mara is a woman who has bounced from relationship to relationship, trying to navigate a difficult marriage.
- And Charissa is a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right.
My guess is, either you will relate to one of those situations, or you will connect with the personality of one of them. Maybe even both.
These four women participate in a spiritual formation program together, called Sacred Journey, led by a spiritual director in their community. Every other week, they meet for their session, and one of the cool things is that you have their handouts in your book. And so as they learn about a spiritual practice, you can also learn about that spiritual practice.
And one of the points of the book is to explore ways to actually encounter God—through these practices, through daily living—and letting that encounter with Him change you.
In fact, here’s one quote from the spiritual director in the story as she gets ready to lead the first session:
“The spiritual life is all about paying attention… The Spirit of God is always speaking to us, but we need to slow down, stop, and give more than lip service to what God is saying. We need to get off autopilot and take time to look and listen with the eyes and ears of the heart… Now, I’ll caution you right from the beginning… Walking the path toward freedom and deep transformation takes courage. It’s not easy. It’s not linear. It can seem messy and chaotic at times, and you’re likely to lose your sense of equilibrium as old things die and new things are born. You may feel disoriented as idols you once trusted and relied upon are revealed and removed. But don’t be afraid of the mess. The Holy Spirit is a faithful guide, gently shepherding and empowering us as we travel more deeply into the heart of God.”Spiritual director character in Sensible Shoes
Isn’t that beautiful? Does it resonate with you? Do you sense God calling you deeper into a relationship with Him, deeper into trust, deeper into freedom? If so, you’ll definitely want to read more.
Other Things to Note
Now, a challenge of the book might be that the perspective does change between these four ladies, and so it can take some time to sort out who is who and all the supporting characters. But reading it from the first-person perspective is really quite enlightening, as it gives us a glimpse as to what is stirring inside each character instead of just watching from the outside. If it helps, keep flipping to those character descriptions on the book or make a list of your own with short notes as you go through the story.
As you’re reading the book, I invite you to have a highlighter in hand or be ready to write notes down in a journal or something, because there are so many great truths presented here that you can reflect and meditate on. It will also probably stir up questions or other ideas within you that you want to explore further.
In fact, if you’d like there’s a study guide you can buy to go along with the book, to use on your own or with a group of friends. It’s broken up into a 12-week study.
Also, Sharon periodically leads a similar Sacred Journey program like the characters experience in the book, and so it’s possible to participate in something similar in real life. You can check on upcoming retreats and programs that Sharon offers by going to abidingway.life and clicking on the Retreat Schedule link.
And if you like Sensible Shoes, I’ve got good news for you! It’s actually the first book in a series. There are three more books in this series, and there’s another series that dives more into the life of the spiritual director whom we only get glimpses of here. Sharon and I talked about book three of that second series when she was on the podcast.
What’s Your Recommendation?
What do you think? Is it a book you’re going to check out? Are you ready to see what other books I’ll recommend this year? Be sure to come back each month to see.
And if you have a book recommendation for me, I’d love to hear it. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Are You an Introverted Leader?
Oh, and one more thing before I go. On Saturday, January 28, I get to speak at the Small Church Summit’s Women’s Ministries conference about being an introverted leader. If you’ve ever found yourself leading a Bible study or women’s ministry group, and find yourself on the quieter side, then I would love for you to join me for that session—if not for the whole conference.
You can attend live for free, or you can upgrade your ticket to get recordings of the sessions. Just go to lovedoesthat.org/women23 to learn more. Using that affiliate link will help support this podcast, so thank you in advance for that.
Okay, my friends, that is all for today. Until next time, let’s encourage one another…
- Episode 61: Perceiving God’s Presence and Love with Spiritual Director and Author Sharon Garlough Brown
- Sharon’s Website: Abiding Way Ministries
- Get Your Ticket: Small Church Summit’s Women’s Ministries Conference on January 28, 2023 (http://lovedoesthat.org/women23)
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.