Fall is upon us and the days are getting colder and shorter. There are days when I want to do nothing more than curl up with a good book and relax. I hope you take the time to do that from time to time. This month, I asked our retreat leaders to share with you some of the books they have found especially helpful, meaningful or just enjoyable recently. Their choices are a great range of titles. I know I would like to read a few of these; I hope you might find one or two that you would find useful as well.
Wendy Kittlitz, Kerith Retreats Executive Director
HERO: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need
Written by Dr. Meg Meeker
Reviewed by Steve Witmer, contract leader at Kerith Retreats
This book is destined to become a classic! With compelling illustrations gleaned from more than two decades of clinical practice and the scientific research to support her observations, Dr. Meeker builds a compelling case for the role of fathers. Simply stated, kids need dads! Dads don't need to be perfect or super human, just available to provide a few basic emotional needs in the life of their child. This is accomplished by answering three essential questions:
- “Dad, how do you really feel about me?”
- “Dad, what do you believe about me?”
- “Dad, what are your hopes for me?”
Dr. Meeker provides fathers with an easy-reading, amazingly applicable tool to aid in the shaping of the next generation. I found this book so helpful that I will be buying one for every man on my Christmas list!
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership
Written by Ruth Haley Barton
Reviewed by Merrie Eizenga, co-director of Kerith Creek
I love how God brings along a book just when you need it. Such is the case with Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. I had downloaded it a few years ago on my Kindle, had read it and forgotten about it. Interestingly, I was required to read it this past summer as part of my ordination preparation. God's timing was perfect. I was, again, deeply impacted as Barton skillfully weaves together leadership lessons from the life of Moses.
She writes of Moses being blatantly honest with his questions, his feelings, his frustrations and his longings. And how God meets him there – not turning away or punishing him – but meeting him face to face. Barton reminds us that God wants an authentic relationship with us, even if it's messy. We gain nothing by trying to present ourselves as having it altogether. What a lesson for us as leaders to learn.
I appreciated her acknowledgement that leadership can be a very lonely place and her encouragement about the necessity of doing life in community. It made me stop and consider how to actually do that in this new season of our lives and ministry.
This is not a book to be rushed through or you'll miss the heart of it completely. At the end of every chapter, she has a section where you quiet your soul before the Lord and think deeply through the truth you have just read. In this busy, chaotic world we live in, I so needed and appreciated her contemplative approach.
It is now my intent to read Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership devotionally every year to be reminded of the insights she so beautifully shared.
Recovering from Losses in Life
Written by H. Norman Wright
Reviewed by Marshall Eizenga, co-director of Kerith Creek
Loss is a fact of life. We cannot escape it. It impacts all of us. The losses we experience are varied and multi-layered. There is the loss of loved ones through death, of friends through moving and of security through job change.
Wright walks his readers through losses I had never fully considered. One insight that personally impacted my wife and I was his statement, “We severely underestimate the loss involved with a cross-country move.” It gave us permission to authentically navigate some of our feelings with moving to Alberta after having pastored in Ontario for 35 years. He includes ways to adjust to loss and how to help others through loss.
Although the book is directed primarily towards adults, he writes about how children process loss and how they can be helped. It was provoking to read that “children who experience too many losses have more difficulty handling their adolescent and adult losses.” It helped me realize that children may indeed need extra help in processing.
As Wright talks about loss and how individuals are impacted, he also reminds the reader of the growth and new insight that can be gained as part of the grieving process.
From both a personal and pastoral perspective, I found this book to be a valuable read. There will be many insights which will become words of comfort and encouragement when helping people through any loss.
Written by Sharon Garlough Brown
Reviewed by Pauline Doerksen, co-director of Kerith Pines
Sensible Shoes is book one in the Sensible Shoes series by Sharon Garlough Brown. It is a novel that brings its readers through some lighthearted quips, tender moments of pain and some subtle musings of romance. The story is about four women who attend a spiritual formations class. They come from very different places in life, yet these four women connect and slowly begin to share their life experiences and faith journeys with each other.
The most appealing aspect of this novel is that the author blends some factual explanations of helpful spiritual disciplines with some fictional creativity of how they might affect our own journeys. I found myself doing my own self-reflection at times and it has whetted my appetite to explore some of these disciplines on my own.
Sensible Shoes was an easy read and it left me with anticipation for the next book in the series.
Written by Marilynne Robinson
Reviewed by Sam Doerksen, co-director of Kerith Pines
This novel is about John Ames, a man who is dying. He is wanting to tell his story to his young son as he won't be there to tell him later. John is a pastor in a lineage of pastors. It is interesting to note that even though his father and grandfather were both ministers, their theology wasn't always the same. Throughout the story there are situations that will resonate with pastors. I found myself smiling from time to time, thinking that the author is very familiar with pastoral life!
A great read – both relaxing and intriguing.
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