Christian Books To Read And Love

I write a Christian book review post about once a year.  The last post I did highlighting Christian books was here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/08/10/three-books-of-importchristian-book-reviews/.  I would like to share a few books I have recently read and loved with you today!  Here we go!

Listening for the Heartbeat of God:  A Celtic Spirituality by J. Phillip Newell, the Warden of Spirituality for the Anglican diocese of Portsmouth.  One of the foundations of Christian life is the ability to achieve stillness and to listen.  This book is divided into sections on Listening for the Goodness (looking at the maligned Pelagius), Listening within Creation (Eriugena), Listening for God In All Things (the Carmina Gadelica), Listening with the Imagination (using the writings of George MacDonald),  Listening and Acting (George MacLeod), and Two Ways of Listening (The Apostles John and Peter).

Where God Happens:  Discovering Christ In One Another by Rowan Williams,  the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.  Excellent look at the Desert Fathers and spiritual searching.

Abiding:  The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2013 which talks about abiding in body, abiding in mind, abiding through care, and abiding in relationships.  This books weaves together how we abide in God’s will through many stories – stories of St. Benedictine, stories of South Africa and Congo, Michael Ende’s Momo,   and St. Macrina.

Encountering The Mystery by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  I love this book, and have re-read it over and over.  Whilst specific to Orthodox Christianity, it also touches on issue that all Christians should be thinking about.  My copy has a lot of underlined parts in it and notes in the margin.  Highly, highly recommended. Continue reading

Guest Post: Hybrid Rasta Mama Weighs In! A Special Offer for Parenting Passageway Readers!

This is a letter from my friend Jennifer over at Hybrid Rasta Mama who has a special offer you won’t want to miss!  Thank you so much Jennifer for this offer, and for all your kind words.

 

Jennifer writes:

I have been a long time reader of The Parenting Passageway. I can actually remember the day that I stumbled on Carrie’s site.  I felt like I struck gold when I found her Random Thoughts About Newborns post! I was two months away from becoming a first time mother and I drank in every word Carrie wrote from that point on. She presented information that a new mother like me could wrap her brain around without getting completely overwhelmed (more so than I was from simply becoming a mama!)

 

Carrie is actually the sole reason that I started my blog. She didn’t know that until now but it was with her gentle encouragement that I took the plunge and started chronicling life as a conscious parent and natural health advocate. That was February 2011. Over 500 posts later and I have never looked back! (Carrie here:  I had no idea, and I am touched. Jennifer’s blog is great – head on over and take a look!)

 

One of the first series that I tackled on my blog was the Mindful Mothering Challenge. It was inspired by Carrie’s original 20 Days Towards More Mindful Mothering series. To this day, it is still extremely popular and I was thrilled to not only share Carrie’s wisdom with my audience but to work through the entire series for all my readers to garner inspiration and motivation from!

 

Fast forward to today and my series is now a 57 page bonus eBook that is part of the Mindful Parenting eBundle. (Don’t worry – I made sure that Carrie gave her blessing and of course I credit her upside down and sideways!) This eBook takes you, the mother, through 20 small steps which will awaken your mothering, push you beyond your comfort zone, and deepen your connection with your children. What I personally love about this eBook is that it is real talk…I give you me and all my flaws to learn from!

 

Carrie talks a lot about gentle parenting from an anthroposophic viewpoint on The Parenting Passageway (obviously!) As a former Waldorf preschool aide, this always resonated with me and it is how I approach my parenting. The more I wrote about conscious parenting on my blog, the more I realized that I needed to pull together a pool of gentle parenting resources that would resonate with parents from a wide variety of backgrounds and parenting philosophies.

 

I teamed up with two other wonderful mamas to bring The Mindful Parenting Bundle to fruition! There are 22 eProducts including eMagazines, eBooks, teleseminars, audio, and workshops. Topics include peaceful guidance, creativity and play, stress relief for parents, mindful motherhood, divorce, coming of age, children and food, and more! Attachment Parenting International even included their teleseminar on the 8 Principals of Attachment Parenting, something I wish I had access to long ago!

 

If you would like to learn more about the contents of this Bundle, please visit: http://www.hybridrastamama.com/mindful-nurturing-bundle. This bundle is only available until June 10th and is an incredible deal at only $24.95. You get close to $300 worth of products that will truly enhance your parenting no matter what season of motherhood you are currently in! I personally will be able to glean inspiration from many of these resources until my daughter is well into her teen years.

 

Thank you again to Carrie for being such a huge inspiration to me and for allowing me to share The Mindful Mothering Challenge as part of this bundle. You are a beacon of light for a lot of mothers and I honestly would not be the mother I am today if I had not stumbled on your blog.

 

Peace and Love,

Jennifer at HybridRastaMama.com

“Working Material for the Class Teacher Forming The Lessons of Grades One Through Four”

 

This is a little gem,  a document put into a bound book along with the few pages of the working document I mentioned in my last post (“Examining the Waldorf Curriculum from an American Viewpoint”).  On page 18 of this manuscript, there are several “golden rules” for teaching from a Waldorf perspective and I thought I would highlight a few for you.

 

1.  Thinking, feeling, willing – you hear this a lot in the world of homeschooling blogs and literature but the point is to always bring the subject at hand back to the child.  How does this have to do with your child, how does this concern your child? This takes careful child observation and in this, we can tailor our homeschooling to the child.  It always goes back to the human being.

2.  Doing then understanding, whole and then parts.  This is opposite of how many adults function (ie, first we as adults have to understand in order to “do”), so this can take some getting used to.

3.  The world is beautiful!  I love this one, because it sums up my philosophy of life.  Here is a direct quote:    “For the teacher there is the stumbling-block that he sees what is NOT beautiful in the world.  His task and his exercise will be to see the beautiful in everything and point it out.”  Bring everything into a picture. This is why individual biography is so important in fourth grade and up (after the nine year change). 

4.  Rhythm.  Rhythm is still important – movement and resting, listening and speaking, group activity versus individual activity.  How do we work with this in the home environment?  This is an important question.

5.  Practical life.  Waldorf homeschooling is first and foremost an education of beauty, and of beauty in the practical life.

 

One last quote:  “Of course we must take care take care today that the child does not become precocious, that he is not made “old” too quickly, which is that the times and the overall environment want to achieve with force, and so we must develop willing, imagination and warmth of heart as strongly as the intellect.”

 

Lovely thoughts to ponder today,

Carrie

“Coping With Typical Solvable Problems”–The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

This chapter begins by citing the hot buttons of marital discord: “Work stress, in-laws, money, sex, housework, a new baby..Even in very happy and stable marriages, these issues are perennials…Although every relationship is different, there’s a reason why these particular conflicts are so common:  They touch upon some of the marriage’s most important work.

Wow.  Think about that for a moment.  These are issues that cover almost everything in life, and gives true credence to that idea that having a good marriage takes work.  However, what the author adds to this oft-repeated phrase and conversation about work in marriage is that it takes a “rich understanding” between the husband and the wife.  Both people need and should feel secure in the marriage.  Dr. Gottman cites that marriage should be a port in the storm , a place of peace.

I love this chapter because Dr. Gottman provides some real solutions to the six basic areas of stress. What I like about the sections devoted to each area is that he breaks it down to an essential task for the marriage to accomplish.  He starts with the stress of the work day, and then spends a particular amount of time on the stress that in-laws can provide to a marriage (including an exercise based around this for you to work on in your family).

He also provides a multi-step solution to  the dilemmas about money Continue reading

“A Donsy Of Gnomes: 7 Gentle Gnome Stories”

This  182-paged book is one of my favorites for five and six  year olds for “school” but also for bedtime reading for almost any age.  My seven and a half year old and I just got done going through these stories at bedtime again, and they are so lovable.  The stories are seasonal and so sweet, and include imaginative ways to present the stories and how to re-tell the stories.

The stories include the gnomes of Limindoor Woods and the two human children who live nearby.  The seven stories are:   Pebble (whose father teaches him the family trade of being a crystal gardener); Brother Acorn (who keeps the world forested) (this story has a lot of repetition and is shorter so may be of delight to even younger children); Tommy Tomten (a winter tale about giving); Teasel and Tweed (this is a longer story and has a rescue element – not scary, but may be better for children a bit older); Gilly ( a springtime tale); Bracken (an adventuresome gnome); Mossy (a Midsummer story that references all the other stories and characters in the book).

The stories have some simple, beautiful ink drawings to accompany them that are lovely and could be a springboard toward your own creation of wet on wet painting moving pictures (where the characters you paint move through the scene).

There are also many “extras” in this book:  Continue reading

“Solve Your Solvable Problems”: The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

 

If a couple wants to solve a solvable problem, then the most popular conflict resolution method is to “put yourself in your partner’s shoes while listening intently to what he or she says, and then to communicate empathetically that you see the dilemma from his or her perspective.  It’s not a bad method – if you can do it.”

 

But many folks can’t do it.  By studying the happily married couples in his lab, Dr. Gottman came  up a five-step process for conflict resolution. 

 

Step One:  “Soften Your Startup” – Approach a subject you want to solve with humor; avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling.  Be gentle with each other.  “Discussions invariably end on the same note they begin,” says Dr. Gottman.  So, if things start off defensive and nasty, the conflict is unlikely to end any better.

 

A harsh startup is more likely to happen if you let things store up; bring up issues as they happen.  Be clear, concise, polite, appreciative.  There are many exercises in this section to help you learn how to make a gentle startup. 

 

Step Two: “Learn To Make and Receive Repair Attempts”  –  This section talks about how to make repair attempts if the discussion gets off track and becomes harsh and defensive.  There is also a large section on phrases that will help soothe yourself and your spouse under the headings of “I Feel,”  “I Need To Calm Down,” “Sorry,” “Getting To Yes,” “Stop Action!” and “I Appreciate”. 

 

Step Three:  “Soothe Yourself and Each Other” –  Less stable marriages have a hard time with conflict discussions because inevitably one partner or the other becomes emotionally flooded.  If you are flooded, you cannot hear your partner and what they are saying.  If you become flooded during a conflict discussion, then you may need to stop and take a break.  Calming yourself down for twenty minutes or so before continuing the discussion can be invaluable.  After that, it is good to calm each other down.  Dr. Gottman notes that this is important: “Soothing your partner is of enormous benefit to a marriage because it  it really a form of reverse conditioning.  In other words, if you frequently have the experience of being calmed by your spouse, you will stop seeing your partner as a trigger of stress in your life and instead associate him or her without feeling relaxed.”

 

Step Four:  “Compromise” –  there are several exercises to work on this most important step.

 

Step Five:  “Be Tolerant Of Each Other’s Faults” – Don’t focus on the “if onlies” but on the acceptance of flaws and finding common ground.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

“The Two Kinds Of Marital Conflict”: The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

We are up to the seventh chapter!  Who out there is reading along?

This chapter brings up a really great point that no one ever talks about in marriage:  that there is two types of conflict in marriage.  One is the type of conflict that has a resolution, but the other type is perpetual and ongoing!  That’s what no one ever says, right?  That some marital conflict just IS and may be ongoing.

Dr. Gottman actually estimates that almost 70 percent of marital conflict is perpetual!  Wow!  He writes, “Time and again when we do four year follow-ups of couples, we find that they are still arguing about precisely the same issue.”

And guess what?  Despite the same perpetual problems and conflict, these couple remain happy and satisfied within their marriages!  This is because “they’ve learned to keep it in its place and to have a sense of humor about it.”

Problems are an inevitable part of intimately loving and living with someone else.  If we can develop strategies to cope with these problems, then we can live with it.  The difference is that in an unstable marriage, these perpetual problems kill the marriage because instead of coping with the problem, the couple just “gets gridlocked over it.”  Continue reading

“The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” : Chapter 6

 

“In our long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, now in its eighth year, we found that, even in the first few months of marriage, men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce than men who resist their wives’ influence.  Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”

 

“Obviously it takes two to make or break a marriage, so we’re not singling men out here.  The point of this chapter is not to scold, bash, or insult men.  It’s certainly just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect.  But my date indicates that the vast majority of wives – even in unstable marriages- already do that.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t get angry and even contemptuous of their husbands.  It just means that they let their husbands influence their decision-making by taking their opinions and feelings into account.  But too often men do not return the favor.”

-page 100

 

This chapter does a great job pointing out the the happiest and most stable marriages are those in which the husband “treated his wife with respect and did not resist power sharing and decision making with her.”  Their research found that when a man expressed anger, his wife would either match the intensity of anger or try to tone it down.  However, when a woman expressed anger, 65 percent of the men actually escalated their wives’ negativity by being critical, contemptuous, defensive or stonewalling.  By doing this, the husband essentially  ignored his wife, and demolished her point of view. 

 

When we convey honor and respect to one another, we set the stage for a happy marriage (and also, Carrie is here to add – stable, happy and respectful children!)  It provides a firm place for compromise, also a valuable skill to model for children.  It demonstrates the “us” of a couple and of a family over “me.”  It is not that happy marriages never see arguments, criticism or defensiveness – but that honor and respect do outweigh the negatives. 

 

“Research shows a husband who can accept influence from his wife also tends to be an outstanding father.  He is familiar with his children’s world and knows all about their friends and their fears.  Because he is not afraid of emotions, he teaches his children to respect their own feelings – and themselves.”

 

There is an several exercises at the back of this chapter geared toward being able to compromise, yield, and hear the other person.  One of the exercises is directed toward husbands and one is an exercise of compromise for spouses to do together.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

“The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work”–Chapter 5

 

The opening paragraph of this chapter just made me just laugh:

 

“None of the footage taped in our Love Lab would win anybody an Oscar.  Our archives are filled with scenes in which the husband looks out the picture window and says, “Wow, look at that boat,” and the wife peers over her magazine and says, “Yeah, it looks like that big schooner we saw last summer, remember?” and the husband grunts.

 

You might think I’d find viewing hour after hour of such scenes unbearably boring.  On the contrary:  When couples engage in lots of chitchat like this, I can be pretty sure that they will stay happily married.”

 

The theme of this chapter is turning toward each other instead of turning away from each other.  In unhappy couples, these small connections rarely take place. 

 

Taking time to connect with each other in small spurts throughout the day and really responding to each other in small ways is really important to keep a marriage alive and well.   The questionnaire on page 81, “Is Your Marriage Primed For Romance?” highlights this idea with questions about spending free time together, enjoying doing the small daily tasks of life together, how much you and your spouse enjoy talking to each other.  “We have a lot of fun together.”  “When we go out together, the time goes by very quickly.”

 

This chapter also delves a little deeper by asking if you and your spouse are spiritually aligned, are your values the same, are your interests and goals compatible?

 

Being helpful to one another is a big part of turning toward each other.  How can you be helpful to your spouse every day, in the little ways that matter and count?  There are further questionnaires that  detail the contents of building an emotional bank account – in other words, what do you do for your spouse? what do you do together? 

 

Listening techniques are highlighted on page 88.  The  thought is to try to use these techniques, not when you are having a disagreement, but actually when your spouse is talking about something unrelated to your relationship (or, as Dr. Gottman puts it:  “when you are not your spouse’s target.”)  Putting forth an attitude of “we against them”, showing genuine interest, expressing affection, validating emotions. 

 

The last part of this chapter is about what to do when your spouse doesn’t turn toward you.  On page 92, “…. sometimes there are deeper reasons why couples keep missing each other.  For example, when one partner rebuffs the other, it could be a sign of hostility over some festering conflict.  But I have found that when one spouse regularly feels the other just doesn’t connect enough, often the cause is a disparity between their respective needs for intimacy and independence.”  There are several more exercises designed to get to the heart of the matter of this disparity.

 

Friendship between spouses can be the greatest equalizer and balancer in a marriage.  “When you honor and respect each other, you’re usually able to appreciate each other’s point of view, even if don’t agree with it.  When there’s an imbalance of power, there’s almost inevitably a great deal  of marital distress.”

 

I think this is an important book.  Please get a copy and follow along!

Many blessings,
Carrie

The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work: Chapter Four

This chapter is entitled, “Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration”.  Dr. Gottman talks about how for many couples who are in trouble and on the brink of divorce, that their marriage may be able to be revitalized and saved if the couple has a “fondness and admiration system”.

“….the best test of whether a couple still has a functioning and admiration system is usually how they view their past. If your marriage is now in deep trouble, you’re not likely to elicit much praise on each other’s behalf by asking about the current state of affairs.  But by focusing on your past, you can often detect embers of positive feelings.”

Dr. Gottman also talks about how a fundamentally positive view of your spouse and your marriage is a big buffer when troubled times hit.  He brings up some other good points: Continue reading