The Sacred Slow by Alicia Britt Chole

Sacred-Cover

From the book:

THIS BOOK MAY READ YOU

Ours is a hurried age, in which speed is deified and waiting is demonized. Ours is a cluttered age, in which noise is the norm and images constantly clamor for our attention. And in our hurried, cluttered age, faster has become synonymous with better, and experience has become a substitute for intimacy.

Welcome to The Sacred Slow: A Holy Departure from Fast Faith. Formatted as fifty-two experiences in unhurried honesty with God, The Sacred Slow reminds readers on every page that God never wanted to use them; He always wanted to love them. The tone is personal, practical, and penetrating. The fruit is sustainable (as opposed to event-based) nearness with God.

Experienced devotionally or in small groups, each chapter features a short but thought-provoking reading and two options for application: a thought focus or a heart exercise. The content is the overflow of Dr. Alicia Britt Chole’s thirty-plus years as a spiritual mentor to leaders and learners.


My review:

I’ve been thinking about thankfulness a lot in the past few weeks. ‘Tis the season, after all. I’m thankful for so many things great and small: for family, for friends, for a beautiful place to live, for those of you who (for some strange reason 🙂 ) have chosen to follow my blog and read my reviews…thank you! For the past few months, I’ve been nursing my mom back to health after complicated back surgery, drug mix-ups in the hospital, and useless physical rehab stays; it has been uber-stressful, to say the least! But all of that has made me so thankful for God placing me where I am, so that I can be here to help her.

In the midst of all that has gone on lately, I find myself thankful for one more thing: The Sacred Slow by Alicia Britt Chole. This “Holy Departure from Fast Faith” has been such a blessing: a heart-searching, mind-focusing, stress-releasing exercise in slowing down and paying attention to God, that I have been savoring.

And that is exactly what this book is meant to do: it “invites you to willfully live in Him moment by moment by faith” (p. 9). It helps to remind you that you experience God not just in those big, exciting moments in that big, exciting church service or revival meeting, but in the quiet, peaceful moments curled up in your bed, simply talking to Him or reflecting on the path He has led you down. He is always there; you need to slow down and feel for Him, look for Him, listen for Him.

It’s so easy to be distracted in this world we live in. Dr. Chole’s book is an invitation to step away from all of that and reclaim the devotion, the peace, the quiet yet powerful love that God offers us every moment of every day. I am so grateful that I have this book on my desk, to remind me to take some time with Him. And I look forward to growing my faith throughout the “fifty-two experiences in unhurried honesty with God” that it provides. I definitely recommend you pick up your own copy today!

Many thanks to Handlebar Media for the copy of this amazing book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

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Two Books by Frederick Buechner

 

Today, I present a double-header set of reviews: two inspiring books by Frederick Buechner. Both are quick reads, but pack quite a punch. First up, A Crazy, Holy Grace.

buechner 2

From the Book:

When pain is real, why is God silent?

Frederick Buechner has grappled with the nature of pain, grief, and grace ever since his father committed suicide when Buechner was a young boy. In this essential collection of essays, including one never before published, Frederick Buechner finds that the God who might seem so silent is ever near. He writes about what it means to be a steward of our pain and about this grace from God that seems arbitrary and yet draws us to his care. And he tells about the magic of memory and how it can heal old wounds with memories of past goodness and graces from God.

Buechner’s best writings on pain and loss, covering such topics as the power of secrets, loss of a loved one, letting go, and resurrection from the ruins, reveal that pain and sorrow can be a treasure—an amazing grace.

Buechner says that loss will come to all of us, but he writes that we are not alone. Crazy and unreal as it may sometimes seem, God’s holy, healing grace is always present and available if we are quiet enough to receive it.


My Review:

A Crazy, Holy Grace is a book I normally probably would not have picked up. I’m a fiction reader—that’s where I find my book joy. I mean, it’s a collection of essays. I used to be an English teacher. I’ve read more than my share of essays, and I have a serious dislike of them! Yet, I was inexplicably drawn to this book. And I must admit, it touched my heart.

The section where Buechner talks about being a steward of your pain–of sharing your pain with others, in order to help them get through their pain–struck me, how we should not talk about our pain, but talk out of it. What a simple, but profound idea—an idea that can completely change our relationships. An idea I intend to put into practice.

And there is so much more in this small volume! Definitely worth the read.



And now, The Remarkable Ordinary…

buechner 1From the Book:

You may not be able to see it—your life may seem boringly predictable and your work insignificant, until you look at your life as Frederick Buechner does.

Based on a series of mostly unpublished lectures, Frederick Buechner reveals how to stop, look, and listen to your life. He reflects on how both art and faith teach us to pay attention to the remarkableness right in front of us, to watch for the greatness in the ordinary, to use our imaginations to see the greatness in others, and to love them truly and well.

As you learn to listen to your life and what God is doing in it, you will uncover the plot of your life’s story and the sacred opportunity to connect with the divine in each moment.

Pay attention, says Buechner. Listen to the call of a bird or the rush of the wind, to the people who flow in and out of your life. The ordinary points to the extraordinary God who created and loves all of creation, including you. Pay attention to these things as if your life depends upon it. Because, of course, it does.


My Review:

This book really hit me in the feels. I have flagged so many passages, the book won’t even stay closed anymore. His work is infinitely quotable. Buechner’s writing is easy-to-read, yet so profound and poignant that you can’t help but tear up at the beauty and the simplicity of what he is so eloquently writing about.

Buechner really does make you think about the little, seemingly insignificant (or the huge, ground-shaking) moments of your life and how life-altering or life-affirming each can be. But most importantly, how each moment can draw you closer to God, if you will only open your eyes to His leading. Beautiful!

Both The Remarkable Ordinary and A Crazy, Holy Grace speak of some of the most pivotal moments in Buechner’s life. But each book looks at them through different lenses, showing how those moments can affect us in more than one way, depending on where we are in our own lives and in our own walks with God.

A good book to me is one that can change you, change the way you see the world around you. And that is exactly what these books by Frederick Buechner have done. I’d highly recommend you read them both, with a box of tissues and a highlighter or some page flags in hand. 🙂 I can’t wait to share my copies with friends!

Many thanks to Handlebar Media for the copies of these books for review purposes. I was not required to give positive reviews. All opinions are my very own! 🙂