The Flowing Grace of Now

IMG_9912I will never forget the impact of the words flowing over and into me as my friend read me quotes from Macrina’s book a few years ago. I was at a place and space in my life where I needed input, healing and direction.  Somehow, her words landed in my soul, sunk deeply, and took root.  I was on a personal retreat so I bought Macrina’s book Seasons of Your Heart and was drawn in immediately and intensely.

I was mesmerized by both her writing style, and the depth of Macrina’s own thoughts.  In my own way, I recognized her soul’s thoughts as very similar to my own.  Her writing style, so very similar to my own.  I needed to learn more from this woman.  I had found a new mentor from afar.

I stalked Macrina on Facebook and was quite surprised when she accepted my friend request.  I am sure I wrote her an incredibly overbearing and animated messages, trying not to sound like a stalker, but assert myself so she knows I’m serious voice. I tried to convey to her what her work meant to me.  Macrina was patient and kind in response, so I asked her if I prsumptively could come visit her.  Again, much to my surprise and joy, a friend and I went to visit her and learn from her just a few months later on a retreat.

Macrina is a Benedictine Monk, living in St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith Arkansas.  I had never met a monk, let alone one who was a woman. I had no idea that was a thing.  She explained to me that they are Monastics, Thus “Monks” in the Benedictine tradition.

I soaked up everything Macrina had to teach me, in her patient and kind way.  She laughs so well and is so fun to be around.  I learned silence and solitude from her. I learned that life, in all its twists and turns, ups and downs is always there to teach us and point us to God. Even our character flaws can teach us, she taught me. Once we acknowledge their existence, we can begin to be honest and grow from there.

Over the years, I’ve been to a few of Macrina’s retreats, and have developed a true friendship with her.  I was so excited to find out that she was working on a new book called

The Flowing Grace of Now.

The premise of her book is this: The teachers we can learn from are often the ones we normally want to shrug off, ignore, or hide because of shame or pride. Some of the voices are more positive and familiar to us.  What if we tuned in and truly welcomed these teachers, asked God what he was trying to teach us through them, and then listen and wait?

Here is an excerpt from Macrina’s book The Flowing Grace Of Now.

Here is an exercise in humility you might want to try sometime this week—perhaps every day this week. Use your imagination and throw a banquet for the crippled, blind, and lame parts of yourself. Invite your doubts, your pride, and your superiority and arrogance. Invite your resentments, your selfishness, your narrow-mindedness, and your prejudice. In all probability, you won’t find any of these invited guests trying to claim the first place. They will more likely all climb into the chair reserved for you. Here is one last suggestion. Treat each of these guests with reverence. Try to discover what this invitee is to teach you. O lavish Caregiver, Each day I am invited to your feast of life. Teach me to be grateful as I take my place at the table of plenty. Show me how to honor even my faults. They teach me humility. They have the potential of being transformed into something beautiful. They can become my teachers. May I learn to listen to my life. Your teacher for the week will be the crippled and lame parts of yourself. Our faults and weaknesses can become our best teachers. Choose one each day this week. Try to discern why it is a part of your life.

 Macrina’s book takes the reader through the weeks of the year, with a suggestion of a “teacher” for each of those weeks.  Her insights are powerful and help me center my soul, focus again on Jesus and remember that all of life is here to learn from.  I highly suggest this wonderful book! Macrina is a beautiful person and a wonderful friend to all who turn the pages of her books.IMG_2331

Book Review–Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality

Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and SpiritualityRedeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality by Debra Hirsch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s All About The Love

Redeeming Sex is a book that will transform the conversations in the evangelical world and beyond about sexuality and how we can embrace and love one another wherever we are on our journey toward redemption. Seriously– This book is a game changer, and I love it.

Deb’s thoughtful insight, impeccable research and theological perspectives on human sexuality are so right on, and resonate so deeply with everything in my soul, I know I will use this book as a reference for years to come to guide and help others in love and grace who have been so wounded by well meaning “Church” people, trying to make everyone look alike, think alike, and act alike.

So much irrevocable damage has been done in the name of Christ to anyone who does not fit the “Normal” paradigm of sexuality (whatever that is). Redeeming Sex sends a message loud and clear that there is no one, not one person who does not bear the image on God brightly on their soul. I think this book will give us all a greater understanding of ourselves and each other as we move forward into a more Jesus loving, Jesus believing, Jesus acting kind of people.

I am excited for pretty much all of humanity to read Deb’s book.

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My 2012 Bookshelf

Just for fun…here are the 131 books I have read from January 2012 until February 2013. I keep track of all my reading through Goodreads.com, and have taken part in the Goodreads book challenge for the past few years, which means that at the beginning of each year, you can set a reading goal for yourself and keep track of all your reading there.

You can click on each image to see how I rated the book and if it’s worth your time to read! I’d love to give you any recomendations if that is helpful. Happy reading!

Michelle’s bookshelf: read

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
The Unwanted Wife
The Snow Child
When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions
The Healing Presence: Curing the Soul Through Union with Christ
Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction
The Mermaid Chair
The Secret Life of Bees
Gift from the Sea
The Dry Grass of August
Jane Eyre
Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers
Gold in Your Memories: Sacred Moments, Glimpses of God
Glaciers
Happy Cat Me
A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film
The Flight of Gemma Hardy
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People



Michelle Wegner’s favorite books »

How I Find Time to Read and Why I Do.

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I read 100 books last year. 110 or so really, but I did not finish about 10 of them because they were just that awful, so I won’t count them here. I read about 120 books in 2011. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How do you find all that time to read?” I’ve been called lazy and that’s why I read. Inferences of others imply that I have a lavish life, that’s why I have time to read. I’ve also had people ask me if I do anything that matters other than read. All very interesting, loaded questions that I won’t answer here. But, I will tell you how I do find the time. Here goes.

  1. I hate television. I never watch TV, ever. Unless it’s the Today Show while kids are getting ready for school in the morning and I sit on the couch in between getting lunches made, signing papers, Stuffing random gloves in backpacks, etc.
  2. I loathe cooking. I don’t enjoy it–like, at all. I DO cook for my family on a daily basis, but I keep the cooking and baking time to the bare minimum.
  3. I’m not in a crafty phase. I do enjoy scrapbooking, but crafty time is not how I spend my spare time right now.
  4. I listen to books in the car. For whatever reason, I cannot listen to fiction books in the car because my imagination wanders too much. But, non-fiction books are easy for me to listen to, even while I’m grocery shopping. I just bring my headphones and stuff my Kindle in my purse and I am instantly transported into a place in my head where I am really not grocery shopping, but learning something as I am doing the dreaded task of grocery shopping. (I know, I don’t like to cook OR grocery shop. I am sure there is something wrong with me).
  5. I love to read.
  6. I have a passion to read.
  7. I cannot stop reading.
  8. I want to learn all I can from books that I cannot learn from what is my here and now. I want to learn from other’s stories. How they have handled obstacles, how they survived overwhelming odds, what their lives looked like along the way. I never want to stop learning from others.
  9. I want my spectrum to be broad. Living in the same culture for twenty years now, I never want to forget that there is a “rest of the world” that does not live like me or think like me.
  10. Reading makes me a better writer. When I begin to write about a topic, often I hear the voices of other writers inside my head (I know this is not normal either. 🙂 ) These writers urge me to paint a story with words I would never normally choose.

Reading will always be a part of my life until the day I die. I find time to read because I love to read. People will spend time doing what they love, and I love books!

A Few Really Good Reads

I have a goal again this year of reading 100 books. Last year I really surprised myself by exceeding my goal of 100 by 10 or 15 books. I’ve read 78 as of today. I thought I would share a few of my recent favorites here. I’d love to hear what you’re loving to read and why!

Hemingway in Africa: The Last SafariHemingway in Africa: The Last Safari by Christopher Ondaatje

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is not only about Hemingway in Africa, but a piece of art in biography form. The photos throughout the book are stunning, engaging and tell their own story of life in East Africa. I spent a summer in Uganda and Kenya, walked on some of the same places mentioned in the book…surprisingly, I have a photo of myself taken at Murchison Falls on the Nile River, unknowing at the time that Hemingway’s plane crashed there.

The life Hemingway lived on his first trip to Africa was so different from his second. I love how this book compares and contrasts his two visits, along with the author’s own observation about a land that gets in your heart and changes you from the inside out.

This biography is more than a story, more than art, it is also incredibly inspirational to me as a writer. I’ve never thought about hunting and writing along the same lines, but these thoughts will have me thinking for a long time.

I loved this book.

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Once Upon a RiverOnce Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an incredibly well-written, easily believable story about a young girl “trying to figure out how to live”. Margo is a lost soul, makes mistakes, learns from them and forges a life for herself out of sheer determination and will. I loved this story, and it got me to thinking about “What’s my river?” The river calmed Margo. The river was the one sure thing in her life, and she knew it. It’s not too often that I walk away from a novel asking myself deep questions about my own life, but this one left me pondering. It was a really great read.

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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic RootsUnorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this memoir so much I could not put it down. Deborah Feldman’s journey from the prison of other people’s ideas for her life to freedom is truly inspirational. I knew nothing of the Hasidic community before I read this book, so it was intriguing, yet heartbreaking to think how many girls and women are trapped by traditions that leave them powerless to do anything to improve their circumstances or protect their children from rigid law that demoralizes them.

I am proud of Deborah for taking a stand and leaving literally every comfort of home to rebuild a life for her and her son. If we all had her strength, we could make this world a much better place.

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Who’s Shaping Your Soul?

Rob and I visited The Potter’s Inn in Divide, Colorado this past June.  We met some fabulous friends there, Steve and Gwen Smith.  Steve gave us this workbook to work with after our Soul Care Intensive week with them.  Guess what? I’m still not done! For my over-reading, over-achieving, people-pleasing self, this is stressful! But the reasons I am not yet finished are because of the intensity of the material and the in-depth questions. I’ve never been through a Bible study that examined my soul quite like this one.

Want a copy? I’d say you need it if you want to take a few steps for caring for your own soul. No one else can do that but YOU!  You can order your copy here