Recent quiet weeks have offered me many hours of solitude, curled up in the corner of the sofa in our loft with some very fine books. And while there's no fireplace burning warm and bright, our little evening haven is warm and cozy all the same.
By no master plan, I've found myself absorbed in 4 random real life stories that ended up connecting one with another in ways that were almost startling.
I love when God orchestrates our reading lists.
Here's 2 very personal mental health sagas penned by professionals in their fields that will most certainly enlarge your borders.
And then there's 2 narratives that revolve around women's relationships with the church. One woman leaves even as another returns ...
Simply put, it's hard to put this renowned Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor's story down. Her personal struggle with manic depressive illness even as she soared professionally is inspiring, unsettling, and captivating. Jamison's compelling writing style pulls you into her vivid, fascinating, dangerous world and just won't let you go.
Absolute must reading if you or someone you care about lives with mental health challenges.
A Common Struggle: A Personal Through the Past of Mental Illness and Addiction ~ Patrick Kennedy
Tragically, the Kennedy family has been known for their unspoken generational struggles with mental illness and addiction ... and Patrick pulls no punches as he tells their story. His honest, raw perseverance through his own grueling struggles with addiction and mental illness is one that many families will resonate with.
Intensely personal, this book serves as a wake-up call even as it provides an exhaustive, eye-opening view into the complex posturing and maneuvering that goes on behind closed doors as political legislation is designed, negotiated, and brought to a vote.
Thankfully, Kennedy's work to enlarge the awareness and availability of 'brain health' treatment continues to morph and blossom even as his personal life has become healthier and more balanced.
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith ~ Barbara Taylor Brown
I've always been drawn to the stories of women in ministry ... the clear call to serve God in public ways, the brave pathways taken, the obstacles that discouraged yet didn't deter. Although my own ministry journey has been quite different than that of this Episcopal priest's, I deeply resonate with much of her story.
Brown has a beautifully warm, personal style of expressing herself, sharing her reflections in such a way that draws the reader into her experience. Her words are certainly captivating and thought-provoking.
I found myself reading a chapter at a time and then putting the book down to quietly reflect on what I had just experienced through her flowing pen. When all was said and done, this book encompasses far more of her life experience than simply leaving church leadership.
Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith ~ Sarah Bessey
You might remember that the Out of Sorts ~ Sarah's Synchroblog post ended up kicking off an important conversation, one of the best ever around here.
Even Sarah dropped in and liked what was happening.
Her conversational memoir gives the reader full permission to be in process and not to have arrived when it comes to issues of faith and the way we live out our love for Christ. I especially appreciated the 'Evangelical Hero Complex' chapter where she shares the season of soul-deep wrestling that she and her husband Brian walked through as he left professional ministry.
Yet Sarah has returned to her roots, has embraced the church once again. Her 9 page benediction is so personal, so powerful that it alone is worth the price of the book. I plan on fervently praying that prayer again. And yet again.
Pages of discussion questions could help you lead some substantial small group conversations.
What have you been paging through in recent days?