BOOK REVIEW: ANONYMOUS by Alicia Britt Chole





Jesus’ Hidden Years… and yours


Alicia Britt Chole


This book has been a life changer for me. Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole is one of the most applicable books I’ve ever read. I first read it when her series on the TBN network began airing in October 2018. Once I began reading I was blown away by how much it spoke to this season of life I’ve been in for more years than I care to count.

In this groundbreaking book, Alicia teaches us about the 30 Hidden years of Jesus Christ’s life before his ministry went public. A topic I’ve never read or heard anyone teach about before. Here’s a snippet from Part One:

…Consider the growth of a plant. Before a gardener can enjoy a plant’s fruit, she must tenderly and strategically attend to its root. So a plant’s birth begins with its burial. The gardener commits a generally unremarkable seed to the silence of the soil, where it sits in stillness an sightlessness, hidden by the smothering dirt. Just when it appears as though death is imminent, its seeming decay reveals new life. The seed becomes less and yet more of its former self, and in that transformation takes hold of the darkness and reaches for the sun. All that is to come rests greatly upon the plant’s ability to tightly and sightlessly develop to roots in unseen places.

As with a child in the womb and a seed in the ground, God’s unanticipated move of hiding Jesus granted him protected, undisturbed room to be and become. From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative, to be rested in, not rushed through and most definitely never to be regretted.

Unapplauded, but not unproductive:  hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness. ~ Alicia Britt Chole

If you’re in a dark season of waiting. If you have a dream in your heart that you want to share with others, yet the perfecting time fails to appear… this book is for you.

I highly recommend Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole!

Watch Alicia Britt Chole on Praise introducing her book and then watch Anonymous series on TBN. Here’s a sample of one of her interviews… enjoy!

BOOK REVIEW :: Addiction and Grace by Gerald G. May, M.D.



Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions

Gerald G. MaY, M.D.


Gerald G. May, M.D. (1940-2005) was a psychiatrist, spiritual counselor and Senior Fellow in Contemplative Theology and Psychology at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. He wrote many books and articles blending spirituality and psychology. (Excerpt taken from book cover.)

The Shalem Institute is grounded in Christian contemplative spirituality yet draws on the wisdom of many religious traditions. As a result Dr. May references various religious traditions in his writing.

This may be off-putting to some. However, I’ve found far more of his content valuable than not. I’m not a theologian, philosopher nor am I one to argue doctrine. My personal practice when reading different books is to take what I can use and leave the rest.

There is much to praise Addiction and Grace for. Especially being written in the late 1980’s, I believe many of May’s ideas and psychological thoughts on addiction were ahead of his time and may still be.

Addiction and Grace isn’t a quick read. Each sentence, paragraph and chapter will provide you with much to contemplate and ruminate on. You will find an in-depth study of the psychological layers of addiction, as well as how they effect our mind, body and spirit. Dr. May shares personal struggles and stories of several people he counseled with different types of addictions.

For me, having read this book twice, the best take-away was and continues to be in the last paragraph of the book:

“The specific struggles we undergo with our addictions are reflections of a blessed pain. To be deprived of a simple object of attachment is to taste the deep, holy deprivation of our souls. To struggle to transcend any idol is to touch the sacred hunger God has given us.” ~ Gerald G. May, M.D.

Blaise Pascal wrote about the God-shaped vacuum that we all have. This deep longing in our souls can never be satiated by anything created in this world. Dr. May is teaching us that we aren’t supposed to re-direct that longing to anything. He suggests we not only make friends with the empty place, but come to fall in love with it. Scripture teaches it is possible to be comfortable with and live with the pain. The Apostle Paul learned and accepted that God’s grace is sufficient!

I highly recommend Addiction and Grace by Gerald G. May, M.D.  I hope you’ll consider reading this power packed book to deepen your walk with God as you continue to press through your own personal pain and struggles.

Contemplate your emptiness. Sit in the empty place. Bring your emptiness to God. Let God’s Holy Spirit and grace fill that empty place. Because no matter what we try to put there, the emptiness will never be fully satisfied by anything in this world. God’s grace truly is the only thing that can satisfy our souls!

Book Review

When a book continually hits my radar it means I’m supposed to read it.

2018 was my year for Streams.

There are almost as many types of devotionals as there are people and issues. Formats range from monthly to yearly. Some have short daily readings with a Scripture reference and a simple encouraging word for your day. Others are dedicated to specific topics or people groups. Streams in the Desert is for everyone.

With its pinpoint Scripture references, relevant stories and beautifully supportive poetry this devotional is perfect to help us make it through life’s daily challenges. One might be hesitant to read  Streams in the Desert since it was written in 1925. But because humans still struggle this book is completely applicable to life in the 21 Century. 

Lettie Cowman and her husband were missionaries to the Orient in the early 1900’s. When her husband became ill in 1917 they returned to America where she cared for him until his death in 1924. It was during those trying years that Mrs. Cowman penned this touching devotional. For me knowing this history of when it was written gives it much more meaning and insight.

With the new year just ahead, now is the perfect time to get your copy. I highly recommend Streams in the Desert! It’s one of the best devotionals you will ever read! I’ll be returning to it again and again.

Our capacity for knowing God is enlarged when we are brought by Him into circumstances that cause us to exercise our faith. So when difficulties block our path, may we thank God that He is taking time to deal with us, and then may we lean heavily on Him. ~ Lettie B. Cowman 

Book Review


New Seeds of Contemplation


Thomas Merton


A 20th Century Christian mystic, Thomas Merton is far and away one of my favorite authors. Although I haven’t read all his books yet, New Seeds of Contemplation is in my mind his greatest work. Without a doubt a modern spiritual classic.

The depth of Merton’s spiritual understanding is difficult to grasp. His words are soothing as a pool of cool water. I want to swim in them for hours.

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.” ~ Thomas Merton

In New Seeds of Contemplation Merton takes us to deeper levels in our spiritual walk, teaching us about faith and humility, thoughtfully helping us to find our true identity in Christ. If you are on a serious spiritual growth path, seeking a clearer understanding of your relationship to God, this is the book for you. 

My feeble words fail when trying to describe the magnificence of Thomas Merton’s writing. Poetic, transcending, life-changing, mesmerizing, core-cutting, astounding, incredibly perfect, a true gift from God. It leaves me almost breathless… Always wanting more. 

The highest of recommendations from my bookshelf. READ THIS BOOK!





Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation


Joshua Choonmin Kang

In January 2008, I was introduced to Joshua Choonmin Kang when Renavare` suggested their followers read Deep-Rooted in Christ together that year. Because I am such a fan of Richard Foster and the Renovare`organization, I was confident the book would be amazing. I was not disappointed. In the tradition of classic spiritual writers, Joshua uses the spiritual disciplines to show us the path to Christlikeness. Written with 52 short chapters it is perfect for a weekly devotional. There is so much life changing wisdom that once through barely skims the surface. I’ve read this sweet book several times since I first got it. If you are looking for a new devotional for the upcoming year or perhaps a Christmas gift, I would highly recommend Joshua Choonmin Kang’s beautifully written book Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation. I’m looking forward to reading it again myself.




Thoughts in Solitude 
Thomas Merton

“There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.”

I became an immediate Thomas Merton fan when I read this first sentence of Thoughts in Solitude.  After living most of my life numbed out in a mind filled with fantasy, I was amazed to find a book written by a Trappist monk that could touch the core of my being with one sentence. 
Merton’s writing flows like beautiful poetry. You will want to soak in his nourishing words for hours on end. There is incredible healing in this precious book. I’ve read it twice and will read it time and again for the rest of my life.
If you are unfamiliar with Thomas Merton, I highly recommend starting with Thoughts in Solitude. It was my first book of his but it hasn’t been the last. Until I’ve read them all I can’t name a favorite, though this one is at the top of the list so far.




Cynthia Bourgeault




As my monastic spiritual quest unfolds God continues to put amazing books in my path. Each leads to another and on and on they go. My Amazon account is grateful to be sure!

In early 2014 when I was looking for books to use with my Lectio Divina and Liturgy of the Hours practices, I started reading Phyllis Tickle’s book series The Divine Hours.  She spoke about the history of The Hours and how years ago monks (and some still today) would chant the Liturgy vs. speaking it.

A light bulb moment hit and I began looking for a book on chanting. Then voila’! I discovered Cynthia Bourgault’s book Chanting the Psalms.  The perfect answer to my search.

Not only is this book an incredible history of chanting but it is a beautiful teaching tool of music and worship. The best part is the instructional CD that is included to help you learn the chants.

Don’t worry if you’re not a musician or a singer. Cynthia has all that covered. She does an awesome job putting us at ease with our uncertainties and inexperience. As a novice with chanting I need lots of practice. But that’s where our spiritual growth comes through our practice.

I am so excited about Chanting the Psalms by Cynthia Bourgeault and plan to use it for many years to come. I hope you will consider it as an addition to your prayer and personal worship experience.


Originally published November 26, 2014



St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living
Jane Tomaine


Readers who have been following my blog will be familiar with the title of this book. It has been listed as a resource for many of my columns.

As the title suggests St. Benedict’s Toolbox is just that… an excellent tool for applying The Rule of Saint Benedict to lives outside the monastery wall.

Jane Tomaine does a incredible job laying out the chapters in a user friendly fashion with ideas and resources that will blend with your personal lifestyle and faith practice.

If you were to buy only one book to help you begin applying The Rule you must buy St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine!

I’m crazy about Jane’s book and plan to use it for years to come! Every time I open it I get more excited about putting it into practice. Thanks Jane!


Originally published Aug 27, 2014


Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

Richard Rohr

It’s always exciting when I discover a book that has fresh concepts and approaches to the subject of addiction recovery. Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr is just that and more.

I’ve been using this book in my own recovery walk for over a year now. With every chapter I get new insights that help me get up and take my daily baby steps again.

Though himself not a recovering addict, Fr. Rohr has a sweet way of lining up our hurts and issues with the spirituality and healing we all long for. 

Breathing Under Water, like all of Richard Rohr’s books, is beautifully written and is one of my favorite books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with addiction of any type.


by Anthony Marrett-Crosby (Editor)

2003 Canterbury Press Norwich

The Oblate Life

by Gervase Holdaway OSB (Editor)

2008 Canterbury Press Norwich


To finish out this year I have chosen to review the two best resources I’ve found for becoming a Benedictine Oblate. Both books are beautifully bound with durable hardcovers designed for years of use. They are similar in style and format with topical essays in easy to read chapters written by excellent contributing authors.

The Benedictine Handbook begins with a brief introduction to Saint Benedict and his Rule followed by the tools for Benedictine spirituality and how to practice them in our every day lives whether we live in a community or as a solitary. The Benedictine Handbook is an excellent resource to help you understand the basics of the Benedictine lifestyle and the foundation of this type of spiritual walk. 
The Oblate Life though very similar in style and format regarding Benedictine history and spirituality, it focuses mostly on what it means to live as a Benedictine oblate. Whether married with a family or single, in our community or the church, the essays cover all areas and seasons of life. The bibliography in The Oblate Life is an excellent list of resources to help us delve deeper into all things Benedictine.
If you feel called to the Benedictine spiritual walk both of these books are a must have for your library.  The Benedictine Handbook and The Oblate Life both serve as a great introductions to many of the best Benedictine authors in the market today. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying both books and will continue to for years to come.