Book Review: Lovers in the Wilderness

Lovers in the Wilderness: Awaken Mystical Unity and Create a Joyful Life with Mantra Prayer by Stephanie Rutt is a brief but complete invitation into the practice of mantra prayer. She covers everything from the desire to explore the practice to its history and benefits to practical guidance on creating and maintaining an individual practice unique to each reader. The book is easy to understand regardless of what you know (or don’t!) about mantra prayer, can be digested in one sitting, and can be returned to again and again to support a mantra for each new season in the reader’s life.

I’ve been curious about mantra prayer but have never fully invested in learning the practice, so I was excited to pick up Rutt’s book and delighted to find it exactly what I had hoped for––an accessible introduction and practical guide. Whether you’re dissatisfied with your current spiritual practice or just curious to try something new, Rutt’s guide to mantra prayer is a great resource.

This one may not make it to my bookshelf; I’ll likely be re-reading it too often!

Link-Love:

Stephanie Rutt’s Website
Tree of Life School on Facebook
Tree of Life School on Twitter

#LoversInTheWilderness

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: NIV Beautiful Word Bible

NIV Beautiful Word Bible: Updated Edition, published by Zondervan, is a hefty NIV Bible with a plethora of colorful hand-lettered verses featured throughout and on nearly every page. If you grew up memorizing Bible verses from the NIV like I did, then flipping through this Bible will take you back to those VBS and sword-drill days (if you know, you know).

Although this Bible offers wide margins with lines for taking notes, the paper is so thin that I’m not sure what pen you could write with that wouldn’t bleed through. It might hold up to colored pencils for readers who want to add their own illustrations, doodles, or hand-lettering. If you’re not planning to write your own notes on every page or aren’t bothered by seeing the back side if your writing through the pages, then there is definitely plenty of room to add your thoughts.

This Bible might make a nice gift for an artistic, NIV-loving woman in your life.

Link-Love:

NIV Beautiful Word Bible Website
NIV Beautiful Word Bible on YouTube

#NIVBeautifulWordBible

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Learning to Be

Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out by Juanita Campbell Rasmus is the true story of the journey from depression to a life-giving way of living. Part memoir and part devotional guide, Rasmus shares hard-learned truths from what she calls the “homeschool of God” about how to care for oneself and know the unconditional and limitless love of God. She brings her readers along on her journey from doing to being through reflections inspired by daily events and Bible stories. She offers guided instruction for spiritual practices that help support a reshaping of the framework for a lifestyle that allows for more presence and grace.

If you’re someone steeped in the Christian tradition and interested in spiritual practices, then you’ll find this book to be a wonderful window into a new way of living that, in Rasmus’ words, is “grounded in the ground of all being.”

Link-Love:

Juanita Campbell Rasmus’ Website

#LearningToBe

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: White Knuckle Love

White Knuckle Love: A Memoir of Holding by April Stace is achingly beautiful. Among the shattering moments Stace shares, both in her own life and those she witnesses while companioning others, I found space to touch my own moments of grief, doubt, and pain––and hope. What I love most about memoir is this ability to connect our lives with others however seemingly different from our own.

If you have ever asked the big questions, found your belief system shifting underneath you, been hurt or hurt someone, had your life turn out differently than you planned, suffered a loss, or a million other things––this book is for you. This book is for all of us.

I will be returning to this one again, and soon.

Link-Love:

April Stace’s Website

#WhiteKnuckleLove

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Life Compass Living

Life Compass Living: A guide for growing up and growing old together by George H. Fuller, Jr. is a step-by-step guide to approaching both everyday life and life’s challenges and transitions with intentionality as well grace and preparedness. The book moves with energy and despite its thickness is a quick read.

I found the overall intention of the book to be inspiring and likely to be especially valuable for those preparing for or experiencing transitioning to caregiving roles for aging parents. Although the content is intended to have a broader application, caring for aging parents or dealing with the unexpected serious illness of a family member is probably the most useful setting for these steps.

I suspect that a book is not the best vehicle for this content and that it would be more useful redesigned as a workbook to accompany a multi-day workshop or class to guide people through the practical application of each phase in their real-life situations. Despite that, I expect this book will be a valuable resource to return to in the future and will be adding it to my bookshelf.

Link-Love:

George Fuller’s Website

#LifeCompassLiving

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: The Hidden Gospel of Thomas

The Hidden Gospel of Thomas: Commentaries on the Non-Dual Sayings of Jesus by William G. Duffy is an intriguing intellectual deep-dive into the ancient collection of Jesus sayings that some scholars call “the fifth gospel.”

Reading Duffy’s book brought back memories of my days as a seminary student reading and editing fellow students’ dissertations. I found his systematic approach both fascinating and illuminating, and I now have a better understanding of non-dualism both as a philosophy in itself and as it informs and is expressed within the Gospel of Thomas. I look forward to what comes out of future scholarly efforts building on the foundation of Duffy’s commentary.

If you’re into academic works or looking for a scholarly resource for understanding the meaning of the Gospel of Thomas, then I highly recommend this book!

Link-Love:

William G Duffy’s Website

#TheHiddenGospelOfThomas

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints

Screen Shot 2020-09-05 at 9.31.04 PM.pngHoly Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints by Daneen Akers instantly became my new favorite children’s book from the moment I read the first pages!

Like Akers, I have been yearning for better and more diverse books to help shape my son’s understanding of faith expressed through the lives of unrecognized, underrepresented, and marginalized groups including women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and Indigenous people. Unlike Akers, I don’t have to create these resources for my son because she has already graced the world with this beautiful compilation of inspiring and entertaining narratives of holy troublemakers and unconventional saints, both ancient and contemporary. While it may be a few more years before my son is old enough to read these pages himself (written for ages 8+), he already loves the colorful illustrations!

Whether you identify as a progressive Christian or just want to expand your children’s (and your own!) understanding of what constitutes holy and righteous activity in the world, you won’t find a better starting point for provoking thoughtful conversation about big questions of love and justice than this book. I can’t wait to read it again!

Link-Love:

Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints Website

#HolyTroublemakersAndUnconventionalSaints

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 1.46.58 PM.pngBrother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life, written by August Turak and illustrated by Glenn Harrington, is much more than a simple picture book.

In this moving and beautifully illustrated essay, Turak invites the reader on a journey through the pain and struggle of facing our worst fears and inadequacies to a gentle and compassionate realization that the purpose of life for each of us is at once the most challenging and the most obvious path forward. Turak uses the story of his surprise interaction with Brother John one rainy Christmas Eve to guide the reader toward self-revelation. Though the book is only a few pages and takes little time to read, its characters and message are thought-provoking, challenging, and inspiring enough to stay with the reader long after reaching the ending.

This book has already become a favorite and takes a prominent spot on my bookshelf where I know I will be returning to it time and again.

Link-Love:

Brother John on Amazon
Brother John Website
Brother John Trailer on YouTube
August Turak on Facebook
August Turak on Twitter

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Wisdom Walking

Wisdom Walking: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life by Gil Stafford is part philosophy of pilgrimage through the metaphor of alchemy and part compilation of stories of various pilgrimage journeys and those who walked them.

I was really looking forward to this book and for the most part was not disappointed. Stafford’s casual style is accessible and inviting, and it was a perfect book to read using my walking desk! While the writing was occasionally repetitive and dragged in some spots, it was overall encouraging, confirming, and inspiring to my pilgrim heart. I found myself nodding along, scribbling in the margins, and underlining along the way. I particularly appreciated the Jungian theory and wisdom of great spiritual mystics like Theresa of Avila sprinkled throughout the book. I came away with a reading list!

This book is a great read for anyone interested in pilgrimage, Jungian psychology, or generally struggling with a faith shift, significant loss, or other catalyst for spiritual and personal growth. I consider it a worthwhile addition to my bookshelf.

Link-Love:

Gil Stafford’s Website
Gil Stafford on Facebook
Walking Your Pilgrim Path | Gil Stafford – an excerpt on MikeMorrell.org

#WisdomWalking

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Book Review: Mind Your Life

Mind Your Life: How Mindfulness Can Build Resilience and Reveal Your Extraordinary by Meg Salter is an accessible and useful handbook for anyone curious about, suspicious of, or looking for tools and guidance to support an integrated meditation practice.

Of note is Salter’s intention to make mindfulness meditation practices and techniques accessible without any particular religious or spiritual language or belief system overlaid. Instead, she focuses on the scientifically proven physical and mental effects (read: benefits) of meditation and sprinkles in a variety of  case study examples, which she terms “ordinary heroes,” along the way to exemplify the motivation for, experience of, and integration of habitual practice of meditation in the everyday life of people in a variety of life situations.

A good portion of the book is devoted to simple-yet-detailed step-by-step guides for trying a variety of methods of mindfulness, and she even includes a few workbook-like pages along the way to aid the reader in developing an individual practice tailored to their own intentions, goals, and lifestyle.

As a practitioner of Thomas Keating’s centering prayer method of meditation, I found this book to support and deepen my understanding of my practice. This book is definitely one for the bookshelf as I am certain to return to it again to lend practical advice and variety to support my personal prayer practice.

Link-Love:

Meg Salter’s Website
Meg Salter on Facebook
Meg Salter on Twitter

#MindYourLife

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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