Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, where I started reading titles by FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of  and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.
I received a complimentary copy of “Godspace” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I have been purposely seeking out titles like this one:
All of us feel the chaos of our lives hectically carting us forward time to time – it leaves little personal space much less space for conversing with God. Whilst we’re feeling harried and stretched a bit thin round the edges our spiritual lives can feel untethered or pulled a bit too taut or even fractured in places where we otherwise might feel strong. As soon as I read the chapter breaks within GODSPACE, I knew I had picked the right time to delve into the author’s context of this book:
NOTE: I refer to my reactions/thoughts by using the // after the prompts in the book
* Sabbath – Space in my Calendar // how many of us find less time for stillness and peace in our spirit?
* Hospitality – Space in my Home // how many of us feel like cocooning ourselves in our comfortable abode as a retreat from the outside world?
* Worship – Space in the World // how many of us feel disillusioned by the Church?
* Simplicity – Space in My Soul // how many of us overthink our spiritual health?
* Generosity – Space in My Budget // how many of us are of the working class and feel our budgets blighted by the woes of living economically insecure in a workforce which is never guaranteed to be stablised?
* Gratitude – Space in My Relationships // how many of us feel stressed out by life itself to where we have let go of spending time on our connections to others?
* Critical Thinking: Space for Faith & Doubt // all of us should aspire to have a healthy balance of our emotional and intellectual states of awareness
I loved the book cover for this book, too. Not that I have the same kind of contents within my own purse – but because, it shows a strong representation of all the important bits of modern life most of us have within our purses or backpacks – from the functional components of staying connected in a high-tech world of commerce and trade; to the ready at will access to our finances and the beautification of ourselves on the move to the little touches of our personal essences by the accessories which set us apart from each other. The only thing missing is where do we keep the spaces needed for our spiritual health and welfare? They might not be tangible components of our lives – pieces of material we can tuck into a pocket or purse, but where do we shelter and store our spirituality?
The premise of the story behind this go-to guide for busy believers is quite simplistic – despite our varied religious backgrounds there is always time to retreat and find a path back towards the One of whom is most important of all. We all need to find ways to remain actively involved in our spiritual paths – of connecting and reconnecting our souls to the greater truths and the humbling aspects of being human – thus, I felt the context of this warranted being read during a year where I felt taxed and burdened by the changes within my life to where exhaustion oft-times won out over finding the joys which light up my days with smiles of happiness. We each have our own upturnt scales of adversities to muddle through but we all have to find a way to shift through and out of those moments to re-align with a better buoyancy of balance where we’re not always teetering on the edge towards those things which seek to unsettle us the most.
Think you don't have time or space for spiritual stuff? That intimacy with God is impossible?
Here's how-in the life you already live-you can make time and space for God.
GODSPACE offers seven practices that help busy Christians pay attention to God. They help us align our sometimes messy daily lives with our spirituality. And they strengthen our most important relationships, giving our lives meaning, significance, and purpose.
It's not holding a set of beliefs, reading the Bible, going to church, or even praying that determines how we connect with God. It's our pace of life. When we live hurried and distracted lives, we miss the chance to experience the intimacy we desire with God.
Experience God more deeply and live more joyfully by exploring these seven spiritual practices:
With abundant wit, humorous anecdotes, and authentic sharing of her own joys and struggles, KERI WYATT KENT guides us toward a deeper and more meaningful faith in the midst of our overcrowded, cluttered lives.
Places to find the book:
Published by FaithWords
on 5th September, 2017
Format: Hardcover Edition
Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook
Converse via: #NonFiction, #INSPY, #Christian & #ThursdayThoughts
My review of godspace:
I could definitely relate to Ms Kent when she was describing the battleground for balance in our spiritual lives is where we are in our everyday lives; directly relating to how we approach our living hours within our homes. Our families have untoward stress on their shoulders where the causes of the stresses might be readily known but how to seek a way to diffuse and alter what is stressing the family the most can sometimes take longer to recognise or execute. It speaks to the causal conversation I had with a clerk at a fast food eatery who had the foresight in his young twenties to recognise being of a cheerful spirit at work lends better to getting through the hard hours on the job far better than to let what sours his spirit at work show to those he interacts with whilst on the job itself. He chose to take the higher road if only to em-better himself towards handling his stress levels but also, by not overburdening his employees or his customers. We can all learn quite a lot from this simple observation – however cross applying this to our family lives is a bit trickier, such as the examples Ms Kent was referencing herself.
At home, all our warts, weaknesses, fears, doubts and strengths are on full display – we might recognise we’re approaching a situation wrong or we’re not allowing our hours to be filled with spiritual renewal as oft as necessary to our own spiritual health; but it could also be equally truthful to say we’re simply overworked, overly exhausted and merely attempt to carve out a small fraction of ‘down-time’ from the chaos which surrounds us to see a better route towards this ‘other goal’ which seems to get further away from us.
One thing I have done is take stock of my neighbours – throughout the years though, one thing I observed is I seem to know more about their lives through observing them through the cycles of the Seasons than they know about my own life. A recent observation of mine (and that of my parents) is the neighbour’s dog was remiss from his usual spot at the window. We knew he was an older dog well into his senior years – a kind of dog who leaves an ear up on one end of his head and smiles with appreciation for you giving of your time to acknowledge him. For weeks it bothered us – yet, for all our worrisome thoughts on his behalf his owners were never around. Day and night, it didn’t matter the hour – they were absent and so was he. It took a long time to find a break in their busy schedule to broach the topic of ‘Did your dog die? We haven’t seen him around lately’ to confirm he did indeed pass away those many weeks earlier. Regret washed over the neighbour’s face realising he should have said something to us – the family who was always eager to wave, say hallo and enquire about his dog’s health and well being was suddenly anxious to know – how is his dog and how is he coping with this sudden loss?
He on the other hand had moved on – he adopted a new dog, a younger pup with a heap of energy and a loving spirit – despite grieving his own loss in life over his previous owner. We happily sent him blessings of sympathy and the joy of introducing this new little guy to his life – you could tell the loss took its toll but this new dog, with his exuberant joy to live would slowly but surely heal his heart. They’d heal each other through a renewal of newfound friendship. And, on the opposite end of it – we get to be friendly to the newest dog in the neighbourhood all over again! Mind you, I also know how many cats we have – which ones are feral and which are happily over the moon happy they have a home to call their own. I even know most of their names – the domesticated ones at least. Yet, does anyone know we went from having three cats to having lost one whilst the other two grow older themselves?
Part of slowing down in our lives is not just to acknowledge where we are on our spiritual ledger of intuitive awareness nor of being mindful of where we are on our path – it’s about recognising what is in close proximity of where we live. The neighbours and the animals – the wildlife and the way the trees like to bow into the crisp air as Winter starts to wink at them under clearer skies. It’s of staying connected to where we root ourselves whilst we live but also, of how where we live is affected by others who are living within a closeness of space of our own homes. Of reminding ourselves to step outside that awkwardness of feeling like a stranger in your own neighbourhood and finding little ways to entreat into conversations with your neighbours. Even if it’s just to comment on their dog or their cat – find a way to connect and stay mindful of their presence.
Sometimes it’s as easy as stopping to unload your groceries at night because your neighbour walks over and wants to update you about something in their life. It’s the only time you can connect with them as you both have opposite schedules – rather than bowing out do to the groceries in your car, knowing some of it is perishable, the extra minutes spent talking are worth more than a slight worry over if the ice cream will melt too quickly (as an example) or the fact you’re exhausted just standing there trying to listen intentionally to what they need to share. There is always space and time to fit people into our lives – likewise, there is space for God, too. We just have to remember to remain cognisant of it all.
I truly loved this revelation early-on in the text:
What if the way to find “God space” – open space for God in our lives, schedules, hearts – was to live at “God’s pace”? What if adjusting the pace of our lives to God’s sacred rhythms could help us find God space – sacred moments in which we encounter the holy? What if the presence of God we seek is right there, but we miss it when we move to the demands of the culture instead of God’s gentle invitation?
-quoted from “Godspace” with permission of the publisher.
Isn’t this true for us all?! Timing and pacing – how we set our rhythm of living and the connnectedness of everything in our life (directly or indirectly) to an order of sequence which besets within itself a harmonic wellness for living?!
I could definitely relate to Ms Kent talking about being modern liberated women (ie. how all of us in womenhood have been given certain freedoms within ourselves to live freer due to the women who forged the path ahead of us – from the Suffragettes to Amelia Earhart to Katherine Hepburn to Rosa Parks to Diane Keaton and Gloria Steinem; to the women at the Women’s March on Washington on 21st January, 2017 and those of us ‘who virtually marched’ through the voice we raised on social media – ALL of us are united in seeking Equality and Independence as women) and how this can go against some organised churches due to how women are (supposedly) meant to be more passive than assertive; yield more than lead and otherwise, not voice strong opinions in all instances of where our voice has the right to be heard. Yes, dear hearts – this I can personally relate too – especially as I don’t apologise for being outspoken or having my own mind – to do so would to disown being a modern woman. I do, however, have found a way to temper when I say certain things and when I do opt to listen without offering a reply which might offend rather than educate. Not always – mind you, if someone wants to attack me on the subject of my choice to adopt children in the future or the fact I was raised as an independent woman who benefited from her Mum having assertiveness training in the 1970s, than so be it; you’ll get an ear full!
Having said that – I also can relate to Grandpa Walton – not all of us need to be within the walls of a church to find God or to experience our spirituality. Technically, this also applies to one of my favourite leading men in an INSPY film: Clark Davis (portrayed by Dale Midkiff) from Love Comes Softly wherein Clark applied the philosophy of Grandpa Walton or rather the two men celebrated the same revelation – God is where you find Him, not where you find yourself. We make our faith walks too complicated too much of the time! I reversed how I spoke about these two characters because even though technically Love Comes Softly was released years (decades, more accurately) after The Waltons (one of my favourite series growing up) – if you put it in perspective of when each of them lived, Clark Davis was ahead of Grandpa Walton! Laughs with mirth. If that doesn’t show my geeky side of looking at things, I’m unsure what else would more readily!
The interesting bit is when Ms Kent shared her journalled insight about her day observing the Sabbath is how I related her life to my own experiences by seeing the similarities within all the days of the week throughout my life. Meaning – there wasn’t a day where my Mum or Dad weren’t interested in hearing about my day or helping me unravel a mystery of my life or to help me work through something weighing on my mind. We regularly took time out to appreciate the natural world (we still do) and to be aware of our natural environment – of seeing how nature is affected by man and how the natural world likes to wink at us at unexpected ordinary moments where we can’t help but smile for ‘seeing’ who is trying to get our ‘attention’.
It was also relatable in other ways – of how my Mum would put laundry on hold if a phone call was more important (ie. family, friend or neighbour) or how being there for each other took over the need to do something else which could be done lateron. It was in seeking out ways to contribute to our communities and to be aware of our community wherever we ventured outside the home. Little moments of where we found we could share of ourselves or be ourselves either in our circle or outside it as well. Of finding ways to connect, share or find the beauty in the stillness where we allowed ourselves to simply ‘breathe’. In this, I guess you could say we take moments out for the Sabbath on a regular basis – not limited to being ‘one day’ a week but any moment of any day which allows us to slow down our pace to where the days do not blur into each other but have a longer presence in our awareness of them. Of course, I won’t say I had a very structured upbringing – I grew up in a lively and spontaneous family – at least in direct comparison to the examples Ms Kent is referencing. In this way, I feel truly blessed. I learnt some of what she is talking about early-on – it’s only as we grow older and life grows more complex, we sometimes forget the things which enrich our lives with renewal and it’s those things we must restablise in our lives to find better balance.
Fly in the Oinment: where the reader just needs to exit the text
One key issue on this particular subject [of working on Sundays] I actually took offence vocally at a church I was attending. Similarly, my ire was re-irked through reading the context of Ms Kent’s narrative on the same [subject] as it re-affirmed how [they] were (personally) offending my Mum who was (or rather is still) working on Sundays; knowing full well how hard it was for my Mum to be gainfully employed full-time and how much her work is needed in our family during this period of time.
To them it was an insult to their faith and their precepts – to us it was a directly answered prayer we felt we were given through the grace of trusting our lives to be lived through prayer and to be renewed in the hope we have received through the everyday mercies. Two sides of the same observation – yet, guess who came out in error? We did. I still take offence to this because if your in a family where work is necessary irregardless of the day on the calendar – you work.
I think modern churches (and herein, Ms Kent) fail to recognise modern families who are struggling to live within an economically depressed economy and/or are hindered by major health crises which take time to resolve. A lot of things can happen in the expanse of our lives but if you see a family who has a joyfulness of spirit inside them and a cheerful attitude – why take them down a notch by telling them how their failing at observing the Sabbath in the ways in which [they] believe it to be observed when you adapted your spirituality to work within the perimeters of how you can be employed? They seem to err on realising we are spiritually living in a world run by man and the rules of how to become financially secure therein.
I think Ms Kent turnt a bit preachy in this section and omitted the obvious – if someone has a surplus of what they need, that’s one thing; if a family is going through adversity that’s quite the other feather of anther bird completely! Oy. I wish I could say I didn’t eye-roll this section but she turnt me off by the exclusionary way in which it was written from one point-of-view over the other.
Secondly, it should be noted:
Also, at one point I really was growing tired of reading quotations from Brueggemann – I understand and respect this person had a profound effect on her spiritual path, but goodness! Is this a text of ‘cliff notes’ towards his ideologies and philosophies or is this her own treaty of ideas therein?
I was on page NINE and asking myself – how did this move from being beneficial to being difficult to trudge through? Especially since I was reading Mr Turner’s intuitiveness about disconnected men and was so inspired by what I was reading I wanted to slow my pace down within his text and opt to read this one as there were certain parallels between the two texts – yet, my heart was slowing extracting itself from Ms Kent’s narrative and longing for Mr Turner’s! Not good.
One reason I felt this way is because she was making a cardinal mistake! She said she was working on not continuing to repeat this one fault of hers: being overly prideful and making others feel inferior! By this, I am referring to how Mr Turner humbling acknowledges ‘all our paths are individually different’ whereas Ms Kent is all but declaring – ‘it’s this way, not that way and surely not how you’ve interpreted it’. Huh. Okay, then. Can I opt-out now? You’ve lost me as a reader.
I skipped ahead several pages and then, towards the next section – as I glossed over those pages I kept seeing quotations from Brueggemann (sighs) whilst noting, when Ms Kent is talking in her own voice and using her own experiences as the benchmark towards enticing you to consider the principles and practices she’s trying to encourage you to live by yourself – we’re more aligned. It’s almost as if this book has two voices within it – or perhaps three – there’s the dedicated narrative by Brueggemann who feels like a second narrator, the antidotical musings of Ms Kent and the authoritative voice of Ms Kent which comes off far too preachy for me.
I read enough bits to know her heart was in the right place but it’s the delivery which rankles me – it’s one thing to teach through sharing your own story, remaining humble and appreciating the journey – but if you cross the line where your going from being empathic to trying to say there is only one definitive way to live – to me that’s crossing a line of ethics. Overall, this book just wasn’t my cuppa of tea – it might suit someone else better but for me, I was ready to put it back on my shelf frustrated I had attempted to read it at all. It really rubbed me the wrong way, sadly.
This book review is courtesy of:
I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!
Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.
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