Friday, March 20, 2015

The Art of Spiritual Listening

The Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God's Voice Amid the Noise of LifeThe Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God's Voice Amid the Noise of Life by Alice Fryling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this study guide. It had a great format, combining brief life lessons with scripture and open questions. I feel this study guide is relevant for Christians of all ages and at all levels of faith. I look forward to incorporating it into my Youth Group studies next year.

On a personal level, I really enjoyed going through this study. I learned a lot about reading scripture and putting the Bible into a "real" place in my head. I learned a lot about working with other people as a Christian - both guiding and receiving guidance. Most importantly, I learned how to create the spaces where God needs to speak to me, to extend that invitation to Him and receive what He has to say. We'll work on actually doing those things next...

 Synopsis: Life shouts. God whispers. How can we hear God’s whispers when the struggles and worries of life distract us? How can we quiet our souls?

The Art of Spiritual Listening is about learning to listen to the gentle, persistent voice of God and help others hear God’s voice as well. With insightful and creative reflections, Alice Fryling guides us through Scripture passages that teach us how to experience and hear God more fully. Here you will find ways to:

·Become more attentive to God’s spirit
·Understand how to hear God’s voice in your own life
·Learn how to help others develop the discipline of listening to God’s leading

With an emphasis on spiritual direction, The Art of Spiritual Listening includes Bible study questions, prompts for personal reflection, and notes for leaders who wish to use the book in a group. If your life is too noisy to hear God, or if you want to hear his voice more clearly, The Art of Spiritual Listening will guide you to a deeper understanding of what it means to respond to God’s invitation to listen.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, #8)Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know I've read a good book when I'm still dreaming about the book DAYS after I've finished reading. Gabaldon's book is stuck in my head. This is not a bad thing. She has beautiful characters. Even the bad guys are lovely. She writes a lovely story, complex - yes, detailed - yes, and memorable - ohmyyes.

I cried. I laughed. I said "Huh, didn't know that." I squirmed at some of the medical procedures described. I loved. I loved. I loved. I want more. More Jamie, more Claire, more William, more Ian, and more Jem. (I have to confess, I love when the story is told from Jem's point of view so much more than Brianna's or Roger's.)

There are bittersweet moments in the book - after reading Gabaldon's short story about Roger's father - and finding the point in Roger's story where the two stories intersect... it was so sad, and longing, to know what Roger didn't. My kids gave me strange looks when I shouted at the book "He did make it back and he saved you!" Sigh.

I'm ready to read this book again. And again. And again.

Synopsis: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel and a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.

Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.

Recommended Reading:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett
Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stuck in Suckville

Let me just get this out of the way...

February sucked.

It was awful. Valentine's Day, my birthday, and cabin fever - in addition to already being in a depression? - it was more than awful. It was horrendous. It was a disaster.

If I wasn't running nilly willy, I was parked on my couch with Netflix/Hulu. I made lame attempts at life in general. I couldn't write. I couldn't read. I tried to convince myself I was moving on. Going forward. Or just going.

Reality: I wasn't even faking it anymore. I was stopped. Stopped at a place in my grief where I couldn't cry any more, I didn't have the energy to be angry, but yet I couldn't take the step of acceptance.

All month long there were little reminders that This was not how February was supposed to be. This was not how it looked in my head in December. This was not right and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. This sucked.

I thought to myself, "If I can get through February, I'll be okay." I lied to myself. It's March and This still sucks. The sun is shining, the snow is melting, there's a breath of spring in the air... and I'm still stuck in Suckville.

I'm trying. I picked up a book and finished it. I am going to pick up my writing. I am going to get back on track with my 2015 goals. (I did manage to stick to 2 cups of coffee and lots of water - most days. At least I didn't completely fail.) I am going to clean my house. I am going to become a human being again. One preferably with GOOD feelings.