Category: Books

Book Review: Disquiet Time

I wasn’t raised in the church.

I became a Christ-follower in late middle school/early junior high. I was a part of a fairly conservative Southern Baptist church, but I remember there being a few outliers who, looking back, probably pushed the envelope. To this day I can name these influential people in my life for whom I still hold a fond memory.

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It’s in this vein that I introduce Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels. A compilation of essays put together by Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani, Disquiet Time is a book that discusses many of the things that you’d never hear in church or a Bible study but are actually either quite interesting, entertaining, or profoundly necessary.

What I loved about these essays is that they are honest and they resulted because someone thought that something didn’t line up quite right, and so they asked questions. Some asked questions of the Bible, others about the “norms” of Christian culture, and yet others of God Himself. I believe that asking questions is absolutely essential to a healthy, growing faith (I mean, actually to life in general!), so to read a book full of people asking them? I will settle in and listen intently.

The foreword of this book is written by Eugene Peterson, which says a lot. Eugene is a faithful pastor who loves God, loves Scripture and loves pastoring people into the fold of God. He’s one of those teachers that I really trust, and so to have him foreword such a book says something.

The essays range from topics like what the Bible says about “crap” (this was a funny chapter and I immediately filed this away to bring out in a couple years for a fantastic Bible lesson with my kids), to wrestling with Scripture during seasons of painful doubt. Several of the essays sought to uncover potential bias we have when we approach certain Biblical texts, and generously suggest a reframing to understand them better. What I love most is how the authors entered into the Scriptures in an incredibly honest, real way.

This is mostly of a book of invitation. The authors invite you to come around as they share a piece of their faith journey. They give room to say, “Oh wow, you struggle with that? Me too. I thought I was the only one.” They also offer a place to lighten up and laugh about really funny things that happen both in Scripture and in our quirky church circles. So, if you’re looking for a place to rest and prop your feet up for awhile, you’re invited.

 

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A disclaimer: a least one of the essays in this book will frustrate or offend you, most likely. I ended up skipping over a few that I thought were misguided. Also, apparently in order to write in a book like this you have to curse. So to be fair not every essay includes cursing, but a fair amount of them. Typically no more than one word per essay.

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Thanks to the publisher for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. 🙂

How to Find a Good Book

One of the most frustrating things is having the time to read a book, but not knowing what to read. Although, perhaps the only thing MORE frustrating is having the time to read, only to find out that you don’t really like the book you thought you were going to love.

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Of course it’s inevitable for these kinds of things to happen, but I’ve found I can decrease the likelihood of this by using a few key book-finding strategies.

1. Personal Recommendations 

Not all recommendations are created equal. I used to think I needed to be nice and give everyone’s suggestions a chance, but I soon learned that since reading time is precious, I need to be spending it reading books that I’m going to enjoy reading, or that are going to teach me something important. DON’T FEEL BAD when you don’t take someone’s recommendation. It’s kind of them to offer it, graciously thank them for it and just keep on moving on with your life. BUT, if you’re lucky, you’ll find those people who seem to always have a really interesting book on their nightstand. Hold them close :). I’ve found it’s a true gift to have those kinds of people in my life.

2. Who Published the Book?

It helps to “get to know” the publishers.  If you are being observant while reading a variety of books, you’ll begin to get a general feel for kinds of books the different publishing companies put out. You will probably even find yourself gravitating towards certain publishers or imprints (imprints are the different divisions of one publisher). For example, I know that I’m probably going to love anything published by Intervarsity Press. Their books have a trek record of being high-quality, thoughtful books. I also know that they are a not-for-profit, meaning that they can publish books with interesting views because money is not their bottom line. On the other hand, I have a love/hate relationship with Tyndale books (sorry, I know lots of people love them, i don’t know, it’s just a thing), so because I know this about myself, I can be extra cautious when choosing a book published by them. I’m signed up on several publishers’ email lists, and they send me newsletters about upcoming books. I quickly scan and add it to my amazon wishlist (which is more like a “to-read” list than a “to-buy” list) or my Books I Want to Read pinterest board.

3. Blogs

I have a few go-to blogs that keep my book lists full :).

Modern Mrs. Darcy: I just started following her blog a month or so ago, but I already look forward to her updates. This lady loves to read a variety of books and she seems to always have a book ready to recommend.

Englewood Review of Books: A weekly review of books put out by Englewood Church in Indianapolis, this site has been HUGE for me in connecting with interesting, kingdom of God, “another world is possible” kind of books. They have a weekly newsletter where book reviews are sent right to my inbox, as well as a quarterly print magazine with its own set of book reviews.

Amazon.com: Weird, right? Well, not so weird, really. They have a really good algorithm going on that shows me books I’m pretty much going to like. If you click on a book, scroll to the bottom, and you’ll see a list of what other customers also viewed. I love scrolling through these to find books I haven’t heard about. About 50% of the time, I’ll add a book to my list.

Her.menuetics: A blog of Christianity Today, the women who contribute are thinkers, which I love. The blog continually updates their side widget (see: “What We’re Reading” –good stuff) and I also like to look up the contributors to see if THEY have written any books. Many of them have.

4. Endorsers

If you’re on the fence about a book, check out the inside cover and see who endorsed it. Do you know any of the people? Are there many people who you have heard of but don’t really agree with their outlook on life? Or do you enjoy reading those who are endorsing the book? I always think that I’m going to like a book, even if I don’t really enjoy the endorsers (“Oh, I’m sure it’ll be great. How could this book NOT be good?”). That decision has been a bad choice every. single. time.

I currently have 37 books on my amazon wishlist, 20 library books on my desk shelf, and a big board on Pinterst that I want to get to and I’m pretty sure I’m going to like most of them. Hopefully these tiny tips will help your next book be one you can’t put down! 🙂

 

How to Find Time to Read

We all have the same amount of time in a day, but that doesn’t mean we can all use our time in the same way. I’m continually amazed at women like Modern Mrs. Darcy and Money Saving Momma who reads TONS of books in the midst of having children and managing a successful blog. For me, tackling ONE a week was a true challenge. Nevertheless, the question I most often get concerning my love for reading is-

“But when do you have time to read?!” 

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1. After kids to get bed

This is where 80% of my reading happens. Kids go to bed between 7:00 and 8:00 and I go to bed around 11:00 (well, that’s my goal, often it ends up pushing midnight). That leaves a lot to time to do whatever my little heart desires! I have some general guidelines for my evenings:

  • No chores. We try to make sure that the necessary chores (dishes, sweeping, tidying) are done right after dinner with everyone helping out. The day-to-day chores happen during the day, sometimes with kids helping me, sometimes not. Chores are not for nighttime. Rejuvenation and personal hobbies/writing is for nighttime.
  • I have a plan BEFORE the night begins. This is huge. I can’t take 30 minutes figuring out what I want to do. Time is too short for that. Instead, I know what I want to do as soon as I turn on the music and shut the kids’ bedroom door. Ready, Set, Go.
  • I try to read at least 30 minutes before falling asleep. But sometimes my whole night will be earmarked as “reading” and that’s 3 hours logged!

2. During naptime/rest time.

From 1:00-2:30 I can almost guarantee time to read, if I so choose. At 1:00 Anaya goes down for her nap, and Ada has a quiet time in her room. She’s a rockstar quiet-timer, so I can generally count on her being in her room for almost that whole time. Admittingly, I mostly use this section of the day for emails, blog writing, planning kid activities for the week, household management stuff, or even a nap, but occasionally I’ll read too. So, I’d say I fit 10% in here.

3. With my kids

Somewhere along the way, our family started listening to books, and it’s a favorite pastime of ours. We will often listen to books that are for kids (A to Z Mysteries, Calendar Mysteries, Mercy Watson, Fudge series, and Nate the Great are some of our families’ “go-to”), but we’ve started venturing out into books that Jake and I actually really like too. We’re on the 5th book of the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins (it’s FANTASTIC), and so those are books I would read even if the kids weren’t around. I look forward to doing this more with the kids as they get older– just think about all the good stuff we’ll be able to listen to and discuss!

4. Listening by Myself

This past year I listened to a couple books (from the library) and this was pretty great for me! I would download the books on my phone and then listen while I was folding laundry, doing dishes, taking a walk, and grocery shopping (with headphones, of course).

5. In the Midst of Everyday Life

I’ve just begun to read in the midst of the chaos of life. I read somewhere that it’s important for kids to see their parents read and love books in order to keep their love for reading strong, and this made total sense to me. Do my kids know I like to read since they never see me do it? Do my kids know how much I LOVE to read? Or do they think that I LOVE to clean/Facebook/etc.? I’m sure there is no question in my kids’ minds (books are littered all over our house), but I decided to use this excuse to read a chapter here and there while my kids are reading their books, or even during a time when the kids are playing kindly with each other. I just plop myself on the couch or in the playroom and read while they play around me. I’ve discovered they often really desire my presence with them in the room, but they don’t necessarily need me interacting with them the whole time.

A few more “tips” that I find useful:

  • Always have a book with you. Even if you think you won’t have time to read it, bring it anyway.
  • Have a stack of books ready. Use your local library. Borrow all kinds of books that you think you might like. Don’t be afraid to have 5, 10, 20, 100 books checked out at one time (or whatever your library’s limit is). I typically read about 25% of what I check out and return the rest unread. I like to have a variety of books available, depending on what mood I’m in (fiction, christian living, comedy, memoir, biography, parenting, etc.).
  • Have a pen and paper ready at all times for recommendations. Or your phone (or both). I love getting book recommendations from people. Sure, I might not actually read them, but I can at least check them out online to see if it’s something I’d be interested in.

If reading is something you love and want to make more time for it, I’m convinced there is a way!

{Book Review} In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World

For the past couple years, I’ve all but done away with cookbooks. They take up too much space in my kitchen and any good recipe I can just pin to a board. It will be there always and forever. Just click my Pinterest app, a quick search, and bingo!

It’s only been in the last couple months that this ancient kitchen artifacts have been slowly creeping back into cupboards. There’s something about the work of a cookbook — a collection of stories and photos and themes– that I just haven’t been able to recreate on Pinterest.

6184MkUvtwL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World
is one of those collections- a beautiful and diverse group of recipes compiled by Gabriele Galimberti- yummy dishes from grandmas all over the world.

Each recipe starts out with a picture of the grandmother in her own home. The photos are authentic and wonderful in that the photographer lets the picture really represent the woman’s place of cooking. In a couple of the photos, there are small things that are “off”- crooked candlesticks, a calendar featuring a woman in a bikini poised somewhat provocatively, and even one picture has the cook’s husband in the background, sleeping in a chair- ha!

Even more than the recipes, I love that this book celebrates generations of culture and food of REAL LIFE people. No Pinterest photos in here. Sigh of relief.

In-Her-Kitchen-excerpt_Pagina_052As for the recipes, there are some delicious ones indeed! Readers will learn how to make Mboga and Ugal from a grandmama in Kenyai, Lok Lak from a woman from Cambodia, Chicken Vindaloo from India, and Cosksu from Malta. Most of the recipes include ingredients that can be found in the U.S., but you’ll probably need to visit a speciality store for a few of the spices.

This would be a great book to both cook from and to put on your coffee table to enjoy with your family and guests. I love talking with my kids about different cultures, and this is one tool in helping kids get a taste of a little something different.

Check out the author’s video for a little bit behind the story of the man who travelled the world to find out what other grandmas are cooking around the world.

Thanks to BloggingforBooks for this review copy in exchange for an honest review– I thoroughly enjoyed it!

 

52 Books in a Year…. barely.

Nearly 365 days ago, the kids and I came up with a plan to read 52 books in a year. And while Asante and Aly finished up back in October, I spent much of the last week reading :). BUT, I’m so EXCITED (and grateful) that I can say I did it, and I’m also resolved to not do that again for awhile. While I do love that I was able to read so many books on “my list”, I felt like I had to move too quickly through them and couldn’t really absorb and think about the implications of what I was reading. So, 2015 will be less books, but closer readings. Lesson learned. 🙂

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In case you’re interested, here are the lucky 52 (in the order I read them), and I’ve provided links to reviews where applicable.

  1. Free by Mark Scandrette
  2. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey*
  3. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
  4. The Artful Parent by Jean Van’t Hul
  5. Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell
  6. Restless by Jennie Allen
  7. Wonder Women by Kate Harris*
  8. The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio
  9. Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel*
  10. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
  11. Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons*
  12. 20 and Something by David H. Kim
  13. Hyperlinked Life by Jun Young and David Kinnamen
  14. Fighting for Peace by Carol Howard Merritt
  15. Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown*
  16. Greater Expectations by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
  17. Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther
  18. Faith Forward, edited by David Csinos and Melvin Bray
  19. Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker*
  20. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith*
  21. When We Were On Fire by Addie Zimmerman
  22. A Child’s Work by Vivian Gussin Paley
  23. Hand in Hand by Jenny Doh
  24. Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley*
  25. Soul Keeping by John Ortberg*
  26. Slow Family Living by Bernadette Noll
  27. Sacred Roots by Jon Tyson
  28. A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves
  29. The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding
  30. Found by Micha Boyett
  31. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha
  32. Simplify by Bill Hybels
  33. Talking Taboo, edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro
  34. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
  35. Lean on Me by Anne Marie Miller
  36. Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
  37. Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi
  38. Faith shift by Kathy Escobar*
  39. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigon*
  40. Still by Lauren Winner
  41. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins* (LOVE THIS SERIES!)
  42. Not Yet Christmas by J.D. Walt
  43. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
  44. A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker
  45. Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker
  46. Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen
  47. Exploring and Engaging Spirituality in Today’s Children, edited by La Verne Tolbert
  48. Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel
  49. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
  50. Love Does by Bob Goff
  51. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brene Brown*
  52. The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible by Eugene Peterson

The ones with a little star behind them were my favorites! There were a few that I struggled to finish but in all, it was a good reading year.

What was your favorite book of 2014? What are you looking forward to reading in 2015? 

Review: Small Talk: Learning from My Children about What Matters the Most

In our house, there is one word that can be used at any time, as long as it’s not used by itself.

Whatever.

It’s an innocent enough word, but left to stand by itself, it can be relational harmful. Using this word often signals a premature disengaging that, if said often enough, can cause a wall between two people. In a house full of know-it-alls (how did this happen? Jesus help us), this word is the equivalent of a curse word.

I don’t even remember the context now, but for some reason I let the W-word slip. Ada, startled all of a sudden, looks right at me and says, “Mom, did you use that word in a sentence?” At first I felt indignant- how dare my 3-year-old challenge me in my usage of the English language? I’m the mom, don’t I have the right to say whatever I please? But, with the next wave of thoughts, I recognize my lack of respect with my words and quickly admit my error and began mending the situation.

I’ve been learning from my kids these days that just because I’m the parent and have the so-called “power” in the relationship, I still don’t get to break the rules. I don’t get to show disrespect or use relationally hurtful words that my children aren’t allowed to use with me or one another.

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In her new book, Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most, Amy Julia Becker writes about some of the important things that she has learned from her children, whether it be in the van on the way home from school, observing her kids during an after school playdate, or on the back porch eating dinner. She writes in the introduction:

This book is a series of reflections from my past few years of parenting…it is not a how-to guide. It is not filled with advice. It is, I hope, a word of encouragement that good things can emerge out of the hard but ordinary everyday moments. It is, I hope, a reminder that on those days when you wonder if there is any meaning in the dishes and disputes and diapers, you are not alone.”

In this book, Amy Julia travels the path of friendships, traditions, beauty, disability, baptism and everywhere in between in a way that leaves the reader feeling encouraged, contemplative, and with an eagerness to listen a little more closely to what comes out of the mouths of our babes.

While Amy Julia is a great writer and thinker whose writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode blog, the Atlantic, Christianity Today, etc., in this book she stumbles upon what all of us parents come to know eventually- some of our greatest learning, our deepest theological musings, our most potent catalysts for spiritual transformation begin with an interaction with our children.

To learn more about Small Talk or about Amy Julie Becker, you can read her blog, Thin Places or connect with her via FB or Twitter.

Thanks to BookLook books for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.  

 

Review: Zondervan Plush Bible, NIrV

A little over a year ago, for Asante’s 6th birthday, we presented him with his very own, full-text Bible. I had done quite a bit of research and we had ended up settling on the Adventure Bible for Early Readers, NIrV, which he’s enjoyed. As I’ve been searching for one for Aly, one thing was for sure- I’d again purchase a NIrV (New International reader’s Version), which is very friendly towards young readers. Other than that, however, remains unclear.

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Zondervan has just put out the Plush Bible (NIrV), which has a cute sparkly pink cover that is a little bit furry and has exactly the kind of flair that a 5 or 6 year old girl would get excited about. The binding of the Bible is well done, which is important for little ones for obvious reasons!

I was a bit surprised that the inside of the Bible was very traditional– it would look like any other adult Bible that you pick up (no colorful inserts, no pages at the beginning of each book to tell the overall story, etc.). I know that some people are minimalists in that department, so it’d work out great for them, however, my early Bible days is filled with using those developmentally-appropriate inserts to guide me to passages of Scripture that would become blatantly applicable to my daily life. So, while i think the Bible’s translation is perfect for young readers who are ready for a full Bible, I think the plainness of the inside might be geared towards those older kids (high school students?) who want the flair of a sparkly pink Bible.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for providing this Bible in exchange for an honest review!

Review: Not Yet Christmas (an Advent reader)

The season of Advent begins in one week- and while many of you have the resources that you are planning to use for this upcoming season, I know that some of you are totally procrastinating and have no idea if you’re even going to do this “Advent thing” ;). If this is you, I’d like to introduce you to Not Yet Christmas: It’s Time for Advent by J.D. Walt, who is the current sower-in-chief of Seedbeed, a Wesleyan resource hub that puts out really great resources (books, videos, blog posts, curriculum, etc), sowing seeds of the Gospel and resourcing the global Church. Once upon a time, J.D. was the Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, which is how I first knew of him, and later Seedbed.

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J.D. begins this reader with a call to Christians to stop complaining about the consumeristic American culture “stealing Christmas” from us (how dare the store clerk say ‘Happy Holidays’ to me!), but instead, to just live the season wholeheartedly ourselves. “Let’s joyfully embrace the fact that we will do Advent in the midst of a culture that loves Christmas but doesn’t really understand it. But let’s not be mad about it. We do no live in a Christian culture. We live in an American culture…Jesus is not competing with Santa” (vii). It is out of this vein of truly celebrating Advent and living Christ-centered in the midst of whatever else is being celebrated around us that J.D. writes each of the daily readings.

Each reading begins with a piece of Scripture that speaks towards Jesus’ second coming. I think this focus is a bit unique for many Advent devotionals– most of those I have reviewed over the years tend to be mostly focused on Jesus’ first coming to the world without a whole lot of emphasis on the future. After the piece of Scripture, J.D. writes a bit, often not more than a page of text, and then ends with a poem written by a team of poets from around the country.

One of my favorite days is Day 17: It’s Time to Recalibrate our Pace. The reader slowly reads through Psalm 25, and then our thoughts are turned to the thing we all do best– waiting. J.D. challenges us to consider why we despise waiting so much, and then asks this question- “What if the ‘paths of the Lord’ are more about pace than destination? What if our days became exercises in waiting on the Lord, as in, ‘for you I wait all day long.’ How about we take all those occasions in the coming days where we find ourselves waiting and we consider in the midst of it all that we are waiting on the Lord” (38). This devotion hit home because not only is the Advent season about waiting and anticipating and waiting some more, but also the achiever in me is far too often tempted to not wait around for something to happen, but to seize ahead and MAKE something happen. What does it look like for me to wait upon the Lord and rest in peace?

Some strengths of this reader include:

  • J.D. writes with a perfect mixture of grace and exhortation. If one is not challenged by this devotional, then the reader probably isn’t reading and listening close enough.
  • I appreciate the brevity of each day’s readings. The reading is not very long, and the content is quite potent, giving the reader something to carry with them throughout the day.
  • The poems are a great addition. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, mostly because I don’t want to slow down and spend time on it. But, the season of Advent comes with a necessary slowing, and the poetry is a literary reminder to do that each day.

Thanks to Seedbed for providing me a copy of this reader in exchange for an honest review. I’m thankful to be using this as part of my Advent journey this year!

 

 

Review: Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

This year for Advent our little team is using Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift family devotional. What’s different about this devotional than other traditional Advent resources is that it widens its focus to include the whole story of Scripture instead of only the Christmas story. I’m pretty excited with this alternative because it goes along nicely with Jake and I’s attempt this year at helping the kids learn the big story of Scripture.

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Part of the using the book involves making a Jesse Tree. Ann says that, “to make a Jesse Tree is to trace the family line and heritage of your own forever family- the family of God.” So each day we’ll use this book to:

  1. Read a portion of Scripture.
  2. Read a family friendly devotional written by Ann. The devotionals are 2-3 pages long and are really well written. If you need something to compare it with, I would say that they have the same feel as the Jesus Storybook Bible.
  3. Talk about the story (she gives a couple questions).
  4. Do an activity. She gives a couple options, so we’ll do what we want and skip what we don’t. Some activities require some preparation, but many do not. For example, one of the days she says to “Turn off all the lights in the room except the Christmas lights. notice how the darkness makes the light seem even brighter. Thank God for being your light, even in the dark times” (76).
  5. Finally, we’ll hang up a paper ornament onto our Jesse (Christmas) tree that goes along with the Scripture that we read. The paper ornaments are free (downloadable from her website with a code in the book), but there are also real ones that can be bought from incourage.me. While I’m not a huge fan of the style of the ornaments, they’ll have to do for this year. I’m throwing around the idea of having the kids draw their own ornaments some of the days.

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The pages of this book are beautifully illustrated, and the writing is powerful. Ann does a wonderful job at pointing us towards Jesus and the good news of the gospel that so many of us need to hear again and again and again.

As for the age range of readers, I’m guessing that my almost 4 year old will possibly lose interest at some parts, just because of her age and attention-span, but I think that my elementary schoolers will be very interested.

Does your family celebrate Advent? If so, what do you do? 

Thanks to Tyndale books for providing this complementary copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Review: Faith Shift

I first decided to review this book not because of the title or content, but because of the author, Kathy Escobar. I recognized her name from another book on my “to read” list, Down We Go. In a world of climbing the business/social/christian ladder, I felt like I needed to read a book like that to balance myself out, and to remind myself of what following Jesus could look like in a today’s world kind of way.

So, I thought, if Kathy wrote a book like THAT, then this Faith Shift one should probably be pretty good.

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Oh and it is. Kathy writes this book for those who are going through a faith shift, meaning what was once comfortable and comforting to you (your church tradition, your core beliefs, your relationship to Jesus, etc.) no longer is. Perhaps it was caused by a slow drift, or maybe something significant happened, but whatever the reason, you find yourself asking a whole lot of questions and having way less answers than you used to.

My favorite thing about this book is Kathy’s ability to explain the spiritual formation process and to normalize it. For many of us, we’ve learned that questions can be dangerous. Have you ever asked a question in a group of people and immediately get shot down because “we will never know the answer” or because “that’s a question that can cause doubt?” I have, and it’s an incredibly uncomfortable feeling. But, what I’ve learned over these past couple years is that questions are actually signs of a growing faith. In fact, it’s an odd thing that it has become so taboo these days, because many of our church mothers and fathers knew that it was a common stage in one’s spiritual formation (p 20).

Kathy breaks down the process into a few sections:

  • Fusing: This is where you first become a Christian and everything is so fantastic. You are soaking up Scripture, you are having incredible worship experiences, you are learning so much and things make so. much. sense.
  • Shifting: Something happens in how we relate to God or the church (p. 38). “We hit a significant spiritual barrier and things stop working in the ways we are used to. Our connection with God wanes, and we can’t seem to pray. Our hearts begin to feel dead. We start to feel resentful. We stop caring about church, and events and programs lose their attraction. We notice inconsistencies in leadership and theology that never occurred to us before. We become ambivalent, apathetic, or feel hints of anger and fear in deep places of our soul.”
  • Unraveling: Also known as deconstruction. Lots of questions. Lots of ranges of feelings. I liken this to what many church mothers and fathers have described as a spiritual wilderness. Henri Nouwen. St. John of the Cross. Mother Theresa.
  • Severing: This is when people cut their ties and walk away. Fortunately, not everyone does this, but it certainly happens.
  • Rebuilding: The slow, careful process of rebuilding your faith.

She goes into depth in each area, sharing her own story as well as stories of others she has interviewed. She provides some ideas for soul care as people are moving through each stage, and is careful to honor where people are at in their faith.

People, parts of this book served as water for my soul. I underlined. I starred. I journaled. I even talked out loud while reading it at times.

I had a hard time identifying with other parts of the book, but that’s okay because it probably means those parts aren’t really written for me. I think readers should be aware that she is pretty inclusive, so if this is something that really bothers you, then you probably don’t need this book. 🙂

I also think this is an important book for people to read who love someone who is going through a faith shift. As I was reading, I not only reflected on myself, but I also began to understand past friends more. I would read something and say, “Ohhhh. I see. I understand now what they meant when they said _________.”)

So, not for everyone, but essential to others!

You can learn more about Kathy at her website, www.kathyescobar.com.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review!