Category Archives: book review

Emotional Healthy Spirituality

Since finishing my masters degree in May, I kind of put reading on hold. Grad school was so intense and I knew coming off the work load would mean I’d finally get to read some of my personal material, which I was really looking forward to! And then the day after grad school, along came Christian! And at work summer is our busiest time. So the reading thing… not so much.

I won’t go through the list of books on my desk. The list by my night stand is shorter. No, it just came down to one book that was #1 on my priority list. Emotional Healthy Spirituality (by Peter Scazzero) is our Robertson family book club book from last year. I’ll be honest – I kind of judged this book by its cover. I’ve read a few other emotional health books back when I was doing more college ministry leadership. I really enjoyed the material but at my current stage of life I didn’t think the book was really what I needed. But Katie started reading it and said that it was just what I needed to read. So I got after it.

Emotional Healthy Spirituality (Peter Scazzero)

Emotional Healthy Spirituality (Peter Scazzero)

The point of this post is to share a glimpse of what I’m learning through this book and to offer it as a suggestion for your reading list if you think there might be something in it for you (my bet is there is).  In a nutshell the premise of the book is this: through disciplined self-reflection and deep introspection, then and only than can we pursue mature spirituality. The two are inseparable and yet the emotional component is often ignored or under-appreciated in our culture.

The book got really good for me in chapter six: Journey Through the Wall. The ancients called it the “dark night of the soul.” I know, sorry, kind of a downer. But in a pursuit of emotional health and a greater relationship with Christ, I’m willing to go there. Reading this book, you will too. The previous chapter talked about going backwards in order to move forwards. In looking backwards, this reflection leads us do a deep understanding of some of the subconscious aspects of our lives which leads us to the Wall. How do we know if we’re at the Wall? Our walk with God is no longer vibrant. The spiritual disciplines from our early years as Christians don’t work any more. Our relationship with God is slim to none. We may not enjoy going to church any more. “Starbucks and the New York Times are better companions on a Sunday morning.” And we don’t know where God is.

For me this comes into play with my career. I am working a job where I feel I have come to the end. I have tools and relationships in place to switch careers, but the exit strategy isn’t working. Clearly there’s a lot more than I can share here, but this book has allowed me to search my subconscious and examine the Lord’s plan for my life. Statements like that can be cliche and trite. I assure you this process is anything but that.

Emotional Healthy Spirituality has allowed me to dig into my relationship with God in new ways. It’s helped me realize the multiple layers of any given situation and has encouraged me to study each aspect of my life and know that God is in control.

When you’re in the dark night of the soul, Scazzero argues that God is trying to purge something from your being, from your past, so that He can put something new into your life. This career path has been a struggle to say the least; maybe it’s been a trial; maybe it’s been a test; maybe it’s been hellish at times. Maybe it’s essential for what’s next.

A couple weeks ago I tweeted the following:

https://twitter.com/HSchiefelbein/status/365475076033880065

It was a response from what I’m learning in this book and how I’m applying it to my life, my family, my career. God knows how much I can handle. On days when I think it’s too much, I cling to this truth: God will not give me more than I can handle. Relying on His strength, I can overcome any situation.  This book has given me the tools to look deep into situations, my past, and my daily attitude so that I can move towards emotional health and a greater sense of God’s provision.

How about you?  Have you looked at emotional health?  Do you think you’ve experience the dark night of the soul?  Might this book have something to offer you in your spiritual journey?  I’d love to hear it in the comments.

 

P.S.  This book is part of Nancy’s Book Club, a Robertson Family book club sponsored by Paul and Jeri Robertson.  They purchased this book for us and I want to thank them getting this into our hands.  

Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

In sports it’s called the sophomore slump. A player has a great first (freshman) year and then can’t live up to expectations the next. Donald Miller fully admits that after a very successful experience with Blue Like Jazz, a New York Times bestseller for 40 weeks, he went under the radar and did little more than get off the couch. Through a series of events and conversations with his roommate, Miller realized that he wasn’t living a good life; he wasn’t writing a great story. An avid learner and critic, Miller begins studying story in the context of films. Why? Because he’s been approached to adapt his memoir into a screenplay. He’s writing his own feature film, staring himself.

Donald Miller gained a nationwide following with his memoir, Blue Like Jazz, in 2003. His style of writing was refreshingly honest, critical, and insightful. But his cynicism left readers with a void and a sense of a missing component. Should we question so much of the Christian life without pursuing answers? In A Million Miles Donald Miller shows us how he has matured from a critic to an editor. He’s been charged with the task of making his story work. And the story is compelling. The backdrop is a movie – Miller’s life being edited for a screenplay on the big screen. But when two professional movie makers tell Miller that his story lacks some excitement, he’s forced to examine his life and see if there’s a better story to tell.

I was captivated by Miller’s context of examining story and how it translated to his personal life. The characters he encounters and pursues will keep you riveted also. This book will be an enjoyable narrative and a challenging reflection at the same time.

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

Fear is simple: “I’m scared of…”  Fill in the blank.  But when we examine the dimensions of fear, we see that it can play a significant role in various aspects of our lives.  Max Lucado unpacks all the subtle places fear can attack us and what the Bible says about how we should respond.

Plain and simple: in America 2009 we have realized that things we take for granted are not as secure as we thought.  Our jobs, investments, and retirement accounts are not guaranteed anymore.  Fear slowly pushed its way in and now has hit many of us square in the jaw.  Personally I’ve never felt uncertainty (in the job market) like this season I’m in.  I’m glad for Max’s words to investigate and remember what Jesus had to say about trusting him.  In classic Lucado fashion, Fearless shows us how Christians should respond to different fears in our lives.  Do we ultimately bring all things to Jesus?  Of course we should… And what a reassuring message when so many practical aspects of our lives, from career to money to family to death, are infected with fear.

I’ve included a video of Max talking about Fearless.

For more books by Thomas Nelson Publishing, visit their website.