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Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey Paperback – March 27, 2013
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"Written with a compelling narrative that weaves their lives together, Sensible Shoes offers readers a new understanding of key spiritual practices and support for those who wish to travel deeper into life with God themselves." (ForeWord This Week Newsletter, April 16, 2013)
"If you're a spiritually inclined person, I think you'll really love it. It's about four women, every one of them coming from a different place spiritually. But all of them in need of a fresh cup of mercy. . . . So it's terrific. I highly recommend it." (Kathie Lee Gifford, NBC's Today, March 11, 2013)
"As a reader, I was captivated by this story and its characters. Once begun, it was hard to put down. As a long-time spiritual director and retreat leader, I found the stories of spiritual transformation to be true to what I have seen with my directees and on retreats. I have suggested it to many as a glimpse into the contemplative life and what it may have to offer them." (Rev. Jim Gaderlund, spiritual director and retreat leader)
"Sharon Garlough Brown's book Sensible Shoes provides an accessible message about the power of spiritual practices in our lives. As a spiritual director, I highly recommended this book to anyone who is seeking a deeper connection with God." (Patti Harrison, spiritual director, Detroit, Michigan)
"There are books that offer a can't-put-it-down reading experience and books that offer truths so resonant that I am compelled to stop reading and ponder awhile. Sensible Shoes is both. Its characters have become spiritual companions for my journey." (Doreen Olson, executive minister of Christian formation, The Evangelical Covenant Church)
"A book of four spiritual journeys that we can all relate to. Filled with spiritual insight, truth, beauty and discovery―not to mention deft and beautiful prose. A story to open eyes, to comfort and remind us of the importance of relationship." (Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Havah: The Story of Eve)
"Sharon Brown's story provides a way for readers to vicariously dip into deep spiritual practices through the realistic struggles and joys of four women. Through emotionally resonant characters, Sensible Shoes encourages us to communicate with God in new ways, broadening our spiritual journey one step at a time." (Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood)
"I have been on retreats with [these characters] and I am one of them. Their neediness, arrogance, cluelessness, perfectionism, self-pity, codependence . . . are mine. By the end of the book I was grateful for author Sharon Garlough Brown's fresh eyes and voice. She not only gave me resharpened tools for my journey with Jesus but also reminded me that I need fellow pilgrims to love me and keep me honest along the way." (Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color)
"Sharon Garlough Brown introduces us to four engaging women who are wrestling with their . . . view of God. Strap on your best traveling shoes--following their journey in Sensible Shoes is not for the faint of heart!" (Melinda Correa Schmidt, Midday Connection)
"This work of fiction felt like my own personal story as I connected on a different level with each of the four women on a quest to grow in their faith. I loved it in a way I haven't loved a book in a long time. It's filled with relatable narrative and examples of key spiritual practices that deepened my faith. I found in it a compassion for myself and for others who are walking alongside me. I cannot wait to read the other books in the series." (Elizabeth Murphy, Just Between Us, Winter 2016)
About the Author
Sharon Garlough Brown is a spiritual director and co-founder of Abiding Way Ministries, providing spiritual formation retreats and resources. Her book Sensible Shoes was named one of television personality Kathie Lee Gifford's "favorite things" in March 2013. Sharon earned an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Jack, have served congregations in Scotland, Okahoma, England, and West Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
That's why I find "Sensible Shoes" by Sharon Garlough Brown such a welcome, unexpected, joyous breath of fresh air. It's the powerful story of four women, each with issues and baggage from their past, who meet at a retreat center in Michigan. Through their retreats and their interactions God begins to move them from brokenness to wholeness, and the journey is breathtakingly inspiring. And here's the thing-it is both well-written and extremely insightful. No shallow platitudes here, no quick fixes that deny the heartache real people struggle with every day--"Sensible Shoes" is honest and raw in the way life is, and in being so it opens the door for authentic reflection on the ways God stirs us to step beyond our pasts and embrace a life that is rich, deep, and saturated with His presence.
If that were all, "Sensible Shoes" would be highly worth recommending. But what takes this book to another level entirely is the fact that it, while fiction, teaches and guides the reader as well as any non-fiction book on the spiritual life. If you like Richard Foster or Ruth Haley Barton you will love what Brown does throughout this book in teaching spiritual disciplines and ancient spiritual practices. The reader learns them along with the characters, and that is what I think makes this book totally unique. This would be a great book for small groups to read together and learn practices that would enrich their walk with God.
In short, great story, great characters, great spiritual depth. Christian fiction is in good hands with writers and books like this.
Mara is a lady familiar with rejection, first from kids at school, later from her husband and boys who take her for granted. Though she comes across to others as a colourful, confident person, she's nothing of the sort deep down.
Charissa is a beautiful, intelligent, high-achiever who aims to be an English Professor. Her husband, John, dotes on her and does all the cooking. Yet she feels very uncomfortable in situations which she can't control, and can't help looking down on people who haven't reached her high standards by their self-effort.
Hannah is a burned-out pastor who is forced to take a long sabbatical, yet finds it impossible to rest because being a busy servant, responsible for everyone else, is her whole life. Her part of the story became my favourite. What a satisfying ending for her.
Meg was hardest for me to deal with, at the start, coming across as too mousy by far. Come on, woman, you're facing a series of workshops, not a firing squad! Yet as her story unraveled, she grew on me and I found myself loving and understanding her.
How different they all are, yet how easy to see parts of each of them inside myself. Having a school history like Mara's, I totally understand her not being able to shake off the wounds years later. Like Hannah, I know how easy it is to build a false identity around not wanting to let people down. I get some of Charissa's attitudes too, such as her impatience for unstructured brainstorming, and wanting to be told definite answers to the elusive questions. And after deploring Meg for awhile, I realised that her imagination is just like mine, only my intense fears are in different areas.
I was torn reading this book. Part of me wanted to slow down and ponder the revelations deeply, while the other part wanted to gallop on and find out what would happen, or be revealed, next. Luckily, returning to Katherine's virtual-class worksheets is easy to do.
This book was full of pithy quotes, and here are just a few.
Hannah - 'Busyness is my socially acceptable addiction.'
Charissa - 'I've spent years investing energy into keeping up appearances, wanting everyone to think I've got everything together. Dr Allen calls it "impression management"'
Mara's son, Jeremy - 'I had a mom who loved me. And that's a lot more than some kids get.'
Meg - '...her imagination had always seemed more a liability than a gift, the vehicle by which she reaced at breakneck speed to worst case scenarios. She had lived in thousands of potential realities over the years, most of which had never materialised.'
Nathan - 'When Laura walked away from our marriage into an affair, her sin was condemned publicly. But for years, my sin had been congratulated and affirmed. I was such a good and faithful servant.'
And finally, one lovely image for the book lovers among us. "Hannah had forgotten what a prolific book-marker Nathan was, and his margin notes were undressed windows into his mind and spirit."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting weaving of the main characters. They're easy to identify with.
Even though this is a novel, she invites 4 broken women in different seasons of their life to find solace in finding...Read more