Laura Alary | Hands-On Spirituality, Kids, and the Church Year

October 17, 2017

Episode 29 of the podcast features an interview with Children's author Laura Alary. Laura has written several books, including the new Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas and Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter - both written and illustrated for children ages 7-10.

Toward the end of the interview, we talk about an awesome new Children's Bible that Laura has written. You can get Read, Wonder, Listen: Stories from the Bible for Young Readers today!

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Teresa McDonald-Lee’s interview - talking about spirituality for children

  • Exploring the liturgical year with children

  • Themes present in Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas

  • Prompting wonder in children

  • Tactile experiences for children in worship - Prayer flags and Fruit juice of the spirit

  • Walking a labyrinth - Robin McGauley’s interview

  • Seasonal table - advent wreaths, figurines of biblical people, Jesse Tree (some info on a Jesse tree)

  • Observing the season of Advent

  • A daily walk as meditation

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Brian Zahnd | In the Hands of a Loving God

October 10, 2017

Episode 28 of the podcast features an interview with Brian Zahnd. Brian is the pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri and author of several books, including Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God and A Farewell to Mars.

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Experiencing dramatic conversion to Christ and the impact moving forward
  • Being honest in our approach to the scriptures and centering our understanding of Christ by reading the gospels
  • How the Crucifixion of Jesus provides a lens for understanding the violence of humanity
  • How God’s "response" to the crucifixion is forgiveness and the sending out of the apostles
  • How we mistake violent retribution for justice but God’s justice is restorative
  • The place of the Book of Revelation - prophetic critique of the Roman Empire - laden with symbol
  • Mystical encounters in prayer - God as love and light
  • Spiritual practice - Brian has a regular morning liturgy that he follows. He learned to sit silently acknowledging the presence of Jesus / occasionally something would happen - a mystical direct experience of God / an overwhelming sense of the love of God would be felt
  • Trusting a well-crafted liturgy to guide us through our prayer life
  • Brian summed up his book Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by saying, "The good news is that God is like Jesus"

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Bethany Jett | Trusting God in Trying Times

October 6, 2017

Episode 27 of the podcast features an interview with Bethany Jett. Bethany is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She has worked on all kinds of projects, including the moving book, Through the Eyes of Hope. She is also one of the founders of the new Serious Writer Academy.

It was truly wonderful to talk to Bethany. She and I met about 18 months ago at the only writers' conference I have ever attended. Since then, we've continued a friendship, mostly talking about writing, and connecting regularly on an online Writers' Chat that she has helped organize.

Bethany is very open about her life and some of the struggles she faces, particularly with having a military spouse that can be posted overseas. In this interview, she really shows both her strength and vulnerability.

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Living the life God has made for you
  • The importance of Youth groups for teens.
  • Talking to God throughout the day as a Spiritual Practice
  • Finding God in the midst of the day to day moments
  • How finding time for God becomes more challenging in adulthood.
  • The pressures of parenting
  • Teaching our children by modeling spiritual practices
  • providing a foundation for children so they can connect with God
  • Trusting that God will seek a relationship with your children.
  • The Benefits of having a mentor in your Church
  • Trusting that God will take care of you when tragedy strikes.
  • Relying on God when you need strength to get through the day.

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S. D. Smith | Kindling Imagination for Kingdom Anticipation

September 26, 2017

Episode 26 of the podcast features an interview with S.D. (Sam) Smith. Sam is the author of The Green Ember books and is a co-founder of Story Warren, a website for parents and others dedicated to helping foster holy imagination in children.

Sam and I have a great time on this interview chatting about what it means to anticipate the kingdom of God, why the imagination is important, and some of the resources he uses to remain connected to God.

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Anticipation of the Kingdom of God
  • Living by an ethic that reflects the Kingdom of God
  • Teaching and writing books for children that reflect Christianity
  • What "Kindling imagination” and “holy imagination” mean
  • Matthew 13 - Parables about the Kingdom and the importance of story
  • How stories are powerful and shape us as people right from childhood
  • Connections to God that are present in the writing of The Green Ember and in Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed.
  • Hope and light embedded in story is vital as we have enough dark in our lives
  • Incarnational Spirituality
  • Connections through composed prayer
  • The Daily Office
  • Ritual, Routine, and Repetition as spiritual practice
  • Following Christ as our model for spiritual practice
  • Fasting and prayer
  • Ritual gives birth to creativity, excitement
  • How gloriously creative moments can come from routine practices
  • God creates extraordinary moments from the routine practices we participate in like liturgy in worship
  • Receiving God's inheritance as a life-giving gift, not a burden

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Sundi Jo Graham | Facing Brokenness

September 19, 2017

Episode 25 of the podcast features an interview with Sundi Jo Graham. Sundi Jo is an author and blogger, and is the founder of a ministry called Esther’s House of Redemption, which is a faith-based residential discipleship program, located in rural Missouri, offering hope to broken women. They serve women from all backgrounds, ages 18+, who struggle with life-controlling issues, such as alcohol and drug addictions, depression, self-harm, the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse, and more.

You'd think this episode might be super-heavy, but Sundi Jo is great at tackling big issues with grace, kindness, and simplicity.

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Why forgive and forget doesn’t work.
  • Forgiveness is a big part of healing.
  • The importance of actually facing your brokenness
  • Forgiveness is not a one-time thing
  • Asking God to be your Keeper
  • The importance of reading the Bible and Prayer
  • Counselling matters, friendship matters
  • Why thinking we’re okay on our own is prideful
  • Morning routines: coffee and scripture
  • Journalling
  • Listening to music as a spiritual practice
  • Having a better sleep routine
  • Setting goals

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Adam Weber | Talking to God When You Don’t Know How

September 12, 2017

Episode 24 of the podcast features an interview with Adam Weber. Adam in the pastor of Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, SD, and is the author of Talking to God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray. What a phenomenal conversation. Adam has tons of energy, so much depth, and wants to help people connect with God in real ways. His book does just that!  It is great for people who don’t know much about prayer or God and it provides encouragement for long-time Christians while being engaging for new Christians.

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Challenges in our prayer lives
  • Staying connected to Jesus through prayer
  • How prayer gets missed in our busy lives
  • The joy that comes from connecting with Christ
  • Making prayer routine and converting thoughts into prayers
  • How it is okay to ask people for help.
  • The importance of surrendering control to God.
  • Why we waste time on worry and stress about life goals instead of praying for discernment from God and asking God for wisdom about what to do.
  • How to understand God’s calling and the importance of community in hearing God.

Quotes from the Book

  • “Instead of it being another daily chore, something changes when prayer slowly becomes as natural as breathing. When we figure out that it no longer takes energy. Instead, prayer fills us with it. Prayer fills us with life.”
  • “[Prayer] connects us with the One who treads water for us when we’re unable to swim ourselves. The Ultimate Plate Spinner who helps us discern which plates are actually worth spinning.”
  • The longer I follow Jesus, the more I find myself praying, God, what do you want? What do you think I need? What is your plan? What is your will? The longer I follow Jesus, the more I find myself asking him to take control. And the more he takes control, the more I get to live into this response—’That was awesome, Dad!’”

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Lindsey Bracket | Fiction & Forgiveness

September 5, 2017

Episode 23 of the podcast features an interview with Lindsey Brackett. Lindsey is a writer of beautiful words. From her about page, Lindsey writes: "I like to string words together and make stories and images and memories that live and move and breathe in the confines of the imagination.” She observes life, beauty, grace, and God. Her first novel, Still Waters - (released on Sept 8, 2017), has forgiveness as its core theme.

 

Some of What We Talk About:

  • What does it mean to be “worthy” of forgiveness?
  • What are the limits of human forgiveness?
  • What does “spirituality” mean?
  • Spirituality is about seeking fellowship with God and trying to see God every day.
  • Being created with a need to connect with the spiritual because God wants to have a relationship with you.
  • Every day is a gift and that ordinary things can be God teaching us.
  • Writing as an overflow of the experience of God.
  • Being in community through writing.
  • Using your gifts in service for all kinds of people.
  • How fiction and different genres helps people enter into a deeper understanding of God, grace, and theological ideas.
  • Being the same person at church as you are in the rest of your life
  • Why “God won’t give you more than you can handle” isn’t true.
  • Spirituality in the family
  • The home being the primary place of Christian education
  • Having a quiet time with God
  • Having a time of listening to God rather than talking

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Steve Brown | The Myth of a Balanced Life

August 29, 2017

Episode 22 features an interview with Steve Brown. Steve is the president of Arrow Leadership, which is an organization focussed on developing Christian leaders. We talk about how we often want a "balanced life," but that this might be quite different from a Christ-centered life. Steve is passionate about helping people develop sustainable rhythms that support a life centered on Jesus.

 

Some of What We Talk About:

  • Gaining basic awareness that God loves you, and why this is so important
  • Getting out of a performance mindset with God
  • Serving from acceptance versus serving for acceptance.
  • The danger of seeking “balance” in life
  • Being Christ centered rather than seeking balance
  • What are the sustainable rhythms that support a Christ-centred life?
  • Having a plan, a place, and a time to connect with God
  • Praying for God to teach you to abide, and praying on the armor of God
  • Having a Prayer calendar
  • The value of Sabbath and how our society suffers from “hurry sickness”

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Steve Wiens | Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and The Entire World

August 22, 2017

Episode 21 features an interview with Steve Weins. Steve is the author of Whole and Beginnings. He is the pastor of Genesis Covenant Church and had a podcast called This Good Word. This interview is packed with great stuff - what an amazing conversation! We spend most of the time speaking about Steve’s latest book, but it is a pretty free wheeling conversation. So much fun!

Get Steve's latest book, Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and The Entire World

 

Some of What We Talk About:

  • The wide inclusivity of restoration.
  • What is broken and why do we need restoration?
  • Shalom as wholeness (restoring what is broken)
  • Moving to wholeness is a hopeful journey
  • The arc that shoots through all of scripture is restoration
  • What is the difference between a self-improvement project and a journey?
  • How you find joy in the everyday, and why is joy important?
  • He asked Eugene Peterson, “what do you think pastors are struggling with today?” The answer is so great, and tough to hear.
  • What is the connection between the promised land and restoration, and why do we need to be strong and courageous in entering the promised land?
  • We talked a lot about the temptation of Jesus, and what it means to think of Jesus as weak when we relate to him.
  • Laying down the need to be seen as successful.

Quotes in this Episode

  • “Faith is a lot more about mystery than it is about mastery."
  • “Mystery is not something we can never understand, it’s something that we can endlessly understand.” Richard Rohr
  • "What if pastors are supposed to be the people who model how to rest well…”
  • "The promised land is not where all of our problems are solved... It is the place where you remember what it was like to be a slave and you begin fighting for the restoration of others.”
  • “Thank God that God doesn’t wait for perfect motivation.”
  • "There are things that need to change in me; they just won’t be changed by feeling bad about myself or trying really hardto fix them. That isn’t how wholeness works. The journey of wholeness is not a self-improvement project. It’s a journey of loss, trust, transformation, and eventually hope.” from Whole
  • "...my own joy and enjoyment matter in measuring at least some of the metrics for indicating a successful Steve. I think I’m starting to learn that I can be a joyful pastor. Not a driven one, not a busy one, not a heroic one.” from Whole

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Michael Priebe | Connecting With God in the Workplace

August 15, 2017
Episode 20 of the Spirituality for Normal People Podcast features an interview with Michael Priebe. Michael is the author of The Lovely Grind: Spiritual Inspiration for Workdays, a collection of 90 devotions for stress relief and personal growth.
 

Some of What We Talk About:

  • What do people need in their working life?
  • What is spiritual health and its relation to physical health?
  • Staying in a job and bringing meaning to it.
  • What is Calling and Vocation?
  • What does it look like to speak about faith in the workplace?
  • Finding joy in the midst of regular life.

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