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Sensible Shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown
Follow four reluctant strangers on retreat in this study on spiritual formation that reads like a novel! The pastor's wife is one step from burnout. Widowed Meg is mourning an empty nest. Mara is trapped in a difficult marriage. Charissa is a hard-working graduate student who just wants to get things right. Will key spiritual practices help them find hope together?
Number of Pages: 340
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
Availability: In Stock
Series: Sensible Shoes
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"Written with a compelling narrative that weaves their lives together, Sensible Shoes offers readers a new understanding of key spiritual practices and support for those who wish to travel deeper into life with God themselves."
"If you're a spiritually inclined person, I think you'll really love it. It's about four women, every one of them coming from a different place spiritually. But all of them in need of a fresh cup of mercy. . . . So it's terrific. I highly recommend it."
"Sharon Garlough Brown's book Sensible Shoes provides an accessible message about the power of spiritual practices in our lives. As a spiritual director, I highly recommended this book to anyone who is seeking a deeper connection with God."
"There are books that offer a can't-put-it-down reading experience and books that offer truths so resonant that I am compelled to stop reading and ponder awhile. Sensible Shoes is both. Its characters have become spiritual companions for my journey."
"A book of four spiritual journeys that we can all relate to. Filled with spiritual insight, truth, beauty and discoverynot to mention deft and beautiful prose. A story to open eyes, to comfort and remind us of the importance of relationship."
"Sharon Brown's story provides a way for readers to vicariously dip into deep spiritual practices through the realistic struggles and joys of four women. Through emotionally resonant characters, Sensible Shoes encourages us to communicate with God in new ways, broadening our spiritual journey one step at a time."
"I have been on retreats with [these characters] and I am one of them. Their neediness, arrogance, cluelessness, perfectionism, self-pity, codependence . . . are mine. By the end of the book I was grateful for author Sharon Garlough Brown's fresh eyes and voice. She not only gave me resharpened tools for my journey with Jesus but also reminded me that I need fellow pilgrims to love me and keep me honest along the way."
"Sharon Garlough Brown introduces us to four engaging women who are wrestling with their . . . view of God. Strap on your best traveling shoes--following their journey in Sensible Shoes is not for the faint of heart!"
debhgrtyPlymouth MAAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Deb's Dozen: Come take an incredible sacred journey with Meg, Mara, Hannah, and CharisaJuly 30, 2015debhgrtyPlymouth MAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Debs Dozen: Come take an incredible sacred journey with Meg, Mara, Hannah, and Charissa.
Seldom, if ever, have I been drawn into such spiritual depth by a work of fiction. Sensible Shoes is an incredible journey with four very disparate women who come to know each other and themselves in a spiritually deep and rich fashion. I was drawn in by the characters of Meg, Hannah, Mara, and Charissaperhaps because I could see a bit of myself in each of them. What wonderfully complex and vulnerable characters Sharon has writtenso believableto the point I wish I could talk with them and become their friend too.
Four womeneach with deep wounds from their past. Each drawn to attend a series of sessions by a plum-colored flyer that stated: Jesus says, Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and youll recover your life. Ill show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I wont lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and youll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message). We invite you to come take a sacred journey.
As they gather at the New Hope Retreat Center, they each wonder why they cameand think about not coming back. Mara, with the burdens of her unhappy home and infamous past; Meg, tied to a house haunted with the voice of an unaffectionate mother; Hannah, given a forced sabbatical of nine months by her church; and Charissa, an uptight, perfectionist of a graduate student working on her PhD. Four women with nothing in common who discover the commonality we all share.
One of the exercises is to confess the wells other than that of living water theyve drunk from in their pasts to try to find fulfillment.
She had drawn from the well of sexual gratification, but the water had been bitter.
She had drawn from the well of material possessions, but that well was filled with salt water, making her crave more and more.
She had drawn from the well of approval and acceptance, but that well was unpredictable. She never knew if there would be water or not, and even when she managed to draw some out, her bucket leaked. She couldnt hold it. It didnt last.
Another came to the realization that she
had worn her self-sufficiency as a badge of honor. For years her own pride had kept her from Jesus
she didnt want to feel guilty. Because she wanted to avoid reproach and punishment. Because she wanted other people to respect and admire her. Because she knew it was the right thing to do.
But love for God did not appear anywhere on her long list of reasons and motivation for living and obedient Christian life. How was that possible?
She had been self-centered, even in her faith. Totally self-centered.
And eventually one came to the realization that,
For so many years I based my identity on how much I achieved and on what other people thought of me. I wasnt at rest in my relationship with God. I was always haunted by the thought that I should be doing more, that I wasnt a faithful enough servant. Then when God stripped everything away and pruned me down to a stump, I began to see all the false things I had trusted in. I finally began to understand that I have the same invitation John the disciple had: to call myself the one Jesus loves. To really believe it in a way I never had before and to live life from that center Im not trying to earn Gods love and favor anymore. Im just resting in Christ. And its good. Theres such freedom there.
How Ive identified with these statements. How many of you have identified with these statements too? Put on your Sensible Shoes and join Meg, Mara, Hannah, and Charissa on their sacred journey. Youll be so happy and blessed that you did! Five stars only because I cant give it ten!
Sharon Brown and I talked about how she came to write Sensible Shoes. She told me the book is drawn from real-life experience. In 2008, she asked a group of women if theyd like to be in a spiritual formation groupto grow into the Spirit. Twelve said yes. Over time they found they could be authentic, trust each other, and deal with the deep personal issues they each faced. The transformation was profound and deep and beautiful. One of them said, To walk with God, you need to wear sensible shoes.' They discovered they needed a spiritual discipline to cooperate with grace.
Although much of the book is fiction, there is no fiction in the reactions of the women or their spiritual leaders. The book teaches there is hope, freedom, healing, and community to be foundno one needs to do this work in isolation.
I asked Sharon what she learned about Sharon by writing Sensible Shoes. She told me she had learned how to celebrate the love of God in her own lifeespecially as a pastor. She learned how to disentangle her professional and personal identities, coming to know herself as Gods beloved child instead of wearing herself out in anxiety-driven work for God. She realized her compulsion to rescue others and that she needed to be able to back off and trust the work of the Spirit.
Sharon was born in Arcadia, CA. She studied English at Smith College and then earned her Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Shes married to Jack and they have a son, David, who is nineteen. Their ministry postings have taken them from Glasgow, Scotland, to Tulsa, OK, to Southampton, England, and theyre now in a pastorate in Caledonia, MI.
She was raised in Presbyterian and Methodist churches, but has ministered in several denominations: Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, a non-denominational church in England, and now they are with the Evangelical Covenant Church. She says they needed a place to land and found this church, founded in the 1800s, which has as a tenet the commitment to agree in the essentials while affording the freedom to disagree on the nonessentials.
Interestingly, she is a technophobe, just got her first cellphone in late May, and recently learned how to text. She says I love all things Britishespecially tea. I love to read. I love to travel. I love watching movies with my family. I love to write. Ive always loved to write.
Her second book, Two Steps Forward, which will release in September, is a continuation of Sensible Shoes, and covers the period of Advent. The book is the story of persevering in hope. The final book, Barefoot, covers Lent to Easter and is about surrendering to God and dying to self. The books are fiction books with non-fiction teaching content. The characters become windows and mirrors that the readers can look through and in to find themselves and see God more clearly.
Sharon Garlough Brown is a pastor, spiritual director, retreat leader, and author. Kathy Lee Gifford calls Sensible Shoes one of her favorite things. To learn more about Sharon, check out http://www.SensibleShoesClub.com.
Navpress gave me a copy of Sensible Shoes in exchange for my candid review.Deb's Dp
Nanny of 95 Stars Out Of 5Sensible ShoesJanuary 7, 2015Nanny of 9Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Sensible Shoes is a powerful, well written novel that offers insight to God's healing grace. The characters are all developed in ways that allow the reader to relate to each one. This book is a teaching tool, as well as being an entertaining fictional story.
songbirdAlberta, CanadaAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Sensible ShoesNovember 8, 2014songbirdAlberta, CanadaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleIncredible book. Encouraging,challenging, interesting, unique. Great way to experience getting to know God better.
TwhiteAdrian, MIAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5October 10, 2013TwhiteAdrian, MIAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This book is an excellent way to get to know the Spiritual gifts and maybe start doing at least one of them.
Laverna StoninaColumbia Heights, MNAge: Over 65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5September 30, 2013Laverna StoninaColumbia Heights, MNAge: Over 65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is a book that makes you stop and think about the things in your own life that keep you from being the person you could be. Very easy to read and 'hard to put down' book.