Shortly after I was introduced to Benedictine spirituality in 2012, I found Joan Chittister. The title to this book was intriguing to me since I’ve been walking the recovery road for a while. In The Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility RevisitedJoan does a remarkable job breaking down Saint Benedict’s 12 steps of Humility into easily applied life principles. I’ve read this book twice and use it regularly as a resource. I also enjoy Joan’s blog and other books which you can find here: joanchittister.org. Sr. Joan’s writing is beautifully descriptive. She is one of my favorite authors today.
Only recently introduced to Richard Rohr’s writing, I was pleasantly surprised to read concepts often represented by Eastern religions or New Age philosophies shown in our Christian traditions.
In The Naked Now Fr. Rohr literally teaches a new way to see. He helps us move from the all or nothing; either / or thinking, to more inclusive both / and views. An excellent book to help bridge the gaps we see so much in our culture today. I love that he isn’t afraid to quote other religious teachers: Zen Masters and The Dali Lama for instance.
One point he made that I have seen in my own life is that many Christian denominations focus so much on doctrine but don’t give us the vision or practices that can help us actually experience the truths. Most awesome is the appendixes that teach us how to practice The Naked Now!
What a fresh word! I’m ready to read this book again!
If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for a introduction to The Naked Now by Richard Rohr.
One of my new favorite people is Esther de Waal. In my opinion Esther is responsible for the global growth of the Oblate movement for the last 30 years. Her book Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict brings St Benedict’s Rule to life for those trying to live monastic principles in our ordinary lives outside monastery walls.
Ms. de Wall breaks down the Rule, written by a celibate man to other celibate men over 1500 years ago, into ways that can be applied to every life. Along with the beautifully translated Rule, each chapter is punctuated with sweet prayers and quotations perfect for a devotional or meditation time.
I learned many things in this wonderful book. But the most important is something I use every day; a principle that is tied to our daily work, whatever it may be.
Reflecting on this quote from the Rule:
He will regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected. (RB 31.2)
Esther de Waal writes:
What we can learn from the Rule is that the sense of God’s presence can be mediated throughout daily work and not destroyed by it… seeking God does not demand the unusual, the spectacular, the heroic. It asks of me as wife, mother, housewife that I do the most ordinary, often dreary and humdrum things that face me each day, with a loving openness that will allow them to become my own immediate way to God. (Ch VII Material Things)
After reading this I put a daily ritual in place to help me keep this forefront in my mind. I start each morning by lighting a candle at my kitchen altar where I have placed a reminder card of this principle. Prayerfully, I dedicate my hands and work to God. Reminding myself that every implement of my work is a sacred vessel on the altar of my transformation. This immediately puts my heart attitude in check with the Holy Spirit.
You may not be interested in becoming an Oblate. But if you are pursuing spiritual growth, I highly recommend you read Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict. Esther’s words have been so inspirational to me. This is a book I will read again and again!
If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful teaching by Esther de Waal given at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 2013. I love love love this woman! Her spirit is so sweet! I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. Blessings… Tamara
Thomas Merton(1915-1968) was an incredible spiritual thinker of the 20th Century. Though he lived a mostly solitary life as a Trappist monk, he had an amazing impact on the world through is writing. He was an out spoken anti-war and civil rights proponent and was reprimanded for his social criticisms. He was unique among Christian leaders in that he embraced Eastern mysticism and sought to bridge the gap between the East and the West. Over the last several years I’ve run across Thomas Merton’s name in many books. Having read several by now, I am quite taken by his way of teaching, his convictions and his sweet poetic writing style. A Book of Hours wasn’t written personally by Thomas Merton, it is a recent compilation from his books sweetly edited by Kathleen Deignan and beautifully illustrated by John Giuliani. Designed as a daily prayer book, A Book of Hours has various selections from Merton’s poems and other writings divided up as hymns and prayers which are to be read each day of the week at Dawn, Day, Dusk and at Dark. It has been the a tradition of the Christian church since ancient times to pray throughout the day. In this way the church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing. As I have embraced monastic spirituality, praying the Liturgy of the Hours has been a wonderful way to keep me spiritually focused through the day. It helps me specifically in my recovery walk to stay on track. I highly recommend The Book of Hours by Thomas Merton. Beautifully bound, it is a great gift for yourself or a friend. It is one of the sweetest prayer books I own. I will treasure it for many years to come.
How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
Stuart Brown, MD
Earlier this year I reviewed Brene’ Brown’s book Daring Greatly in which I first learned of Stuart Brown and the National Institute for Play. Having my own challenges with finding play time I decided that PLAY was an important book for me to read.
In PLAY, Dr. Brown takes us to all sides of play, from the animal kingdom through the human lifecycle, play time in infancy to school yard rough and tumble, through adolescence on into adulthood. We learn through Dr. Brown’s research the incredible importance play is to the prevention of violence in our world and spawning innovation in the marketplace.Most interesting to me was to learn that the opposite of play is not work, but depression. Which makes total sense if you think about it.
When you read PLAY you will discover your play personality, how to take your own play history and hopefully learn how to be free to play more. I found this book quite interesting. It’s a little heavy on the research for my personal taste, but all in all I recommend PLAY by Dr. Stuart Brown.
If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for Dr. Stuart Brown’s fascinating TED talk.
This past September I was blessed to see Lysa TerKeurst speak at the Women of Faith conference in Dallas. When she spoke at the conference her message was taken from Unglued so I was excited that I had already chosen it for my October Book Review.
Are a woman who struggles with stuffing your emotions or exploding from over-stuffing? Then you are going to want this book! To be honest most of us are one or the other and sometimes both depending on the hour of the day or the day of the month. Our schedules are overly committed which keeps us in danger of bursting at our seams with raw emotions daily. In Unglued Lysa shares transparent personal stories to help us recognize the differences between stuffing our emotions and exploding. She then gently teaches us from Scripture how to repair our thought processes and reactions which can help prevent future explosive episodes. Though I don’t struggle with raw emotions much these days, there were many years when I was a walking time bomb. I could have really used Unglued when I was raising my three children!
I enjoyed reading Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst and I think you will too!
If you can’t see the video screen below click here to Lysa TerKeurst discuss Unglued.
Over the years I have read multiple books by Joyce Meyer. If you’ve been following my blog you know the profound impact her ministry has had on my life.
The message of this particular book is one of Joyce’s foundational teachings and is one I’m sure she will continue teaching as long as she has breath. Why is it she continues to pound away at us about our words? Because our brains are extremely stubborn and don’t given up bad habits easily!
Joyce has written several books and preached countless messages about the mouth. But I believe Change Your Words Change Your Life is her most user friendly to date. She gives us a dictionary of Scriptures divided up by topics to help us quickly in our time of need. Through good times and bad, complaining, encouraging, and opinions… she doesn’t miss a beat. And what I love most about Joyce is that she keeps it real by sharing her own areas of weakness and growth!
I had a wonderful summer book study with my newest daughter-in-law, Alicia, who chose Girls with Swords for us to read. Although, I’ve seen Lisa Bevere multiple times on television this is the first time I’ve read one of her books. Not unlike her TV appearances, Lisa has a powerful message to share.
Today many of the popular video games and comic book adventures depict women as heroes. But that certainly has’t been the norm of our social culture. Having not seen strong women modeled for us, many of us girls find it difficult to step into the role of warrior princess.
In Girls with Swords Lisa does a wonderful job using fencing metaphors to teach us the power we have available through The Sword of God’s Word. But before we can learn how to weald our sword we must first be aware of the battle set before us. Once we learn our battleground the task of becoming a warrior begins. We learn how to forge our sword, walk through the battle toward our harvest, armed with the Light, songs of praise and even times of silence.
Lisa carefully teaches us that as God’s children we are chosen but we must be trained and armed before God will commission us to our individual battles. We may be chosen it’s up to us to attend boot camp. Only there will we get the preparation necessary for the battlefield of life. If you are looking for a book to study this Fall I highly recommend Girls with Swords! Also, you might want to check out the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual which goes beautifully with the book. It’s perfect for individual study or small groups.
If you cannot see the video screen below Click Here for a message from Lisa Bevere.
Making Good Habits Breaking Bad Habits is up there with Joyce’s best and most practical books. I love the way Joyce writes. She sweetly imparts her wisdom from personal experience of dealing with consequences of her own bad habits that ultimately motivated her to create healthier habits.
Joyce takes us through a series of behaviors that when combined, provide a beautiful recipe for successfully changing habits. She recommends rather than focusing our energy on removing the bad habits we should implement positive habits which will eventually drive out the bad habits.
I have been a huge fan of Joyce Meyer for years and have read many of her books. She has impacted my life in immeasurable ways. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for her.
If you are struggling with some bad habits, and who isn’t, I encourage you to get Making Good Habits Breaking Bad Habits. I personally have purchased an audio copy and look forward to listening to it so I can further cement these principles in my brain. Thanks Joyce!
If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE to watch Joyce Meyer discuss Making Good Habits.
Last December, while searching for books to review, I stumbled upon Made to Craveby Lysa TerKeurst. I was unfamiliar with the author but found many books by her with raving reviews and as a seasoned Amazon shopper that means BUY =D
With obesity rates rising, it’s no secret that food is a big problem in our world today. Though this isn’t my specific area of weakness, sex and food addiction are closely related, so I decided it would be a great selection to review. Little did I know God had a different reason for me to read this book. On a seemingly normal Saturday afternoon, I was reading along when all of a sudden God snuck up and healed a deep emotional wound from my childhood! Just like that. Out of the clear blue. Healing came through Chapter 14 ironically titled Emotional Emptiness. To process her own childhood emotional wounds, Lysa used Philippians 4:8:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
So as I read how Lysa processed her painful memories, I processed my own unmet nurturing needs. Here are excerpts from my journal:
What is true about my childhood?It is true that by father was emotionally unavailable, an alcoholic, sex addict and womanizer. It is true that my older brother was born handicapped and my mother wasn’t able to give me the nurturing I needed because she had to care for my siblings. It’s true momma did the best she could. She didn’t reject me on purpose, she was just running on her own strength and didn’t have enough to go around.
What is right about my childhood? It is right that my mother did all she could to care for my brother. God just whispered to me – if our roles had been reversed – if I had been in the wheel chair, my mother would have done the same for me!
What is pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy in my childhood?What if I change my perspective on this emptiness and feeling of lack? What if I look back at this memory and see it as a sacrifice of love for my brother so that he could have the care that he needed most? Jesus doesn’t see His wounds as a victim but as a sacrifice of love. I mustn’t see the empty places as lack for me but as a gift to my brother and sister. By doing this my perspective changes to purity of heart, loveliness for my brother, my sister, and my mother. Seeing the positive vs. the negative allows my pain to become something admirable and praiseworthy.
Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting a surprise healing that day. One thing I know, is that my burden is gone. I am free from that empty pain of lack! Our cravings may come in different packages but the bottom line is still the same: we’re all trying to fill our spiritual emptiness, to moisten our dried up hearts with pleasures found in the world. It won’t work no matter how hard we try. It seems the harder we try the deeper the hole gets, and the less satisfaction comes until we are so numbed that we can’t feel our brains think any more. Whatever your weakness: food, sex, gambling, shopping, media… You will find help in this book. Where the word food shows up just fill in your particular weakness. That’s what I did and it worked for me! I highly recommend Made to Craveby Lysa TerKeurst. It’s an easy read, with touching personal stories sure to reach a spot in your heart. There are study guide questions at the end of each chapter that make it perfect for small groups to work together.