Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey (Sensible Shoes Series #1)

Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey (Sensible Shoes Series #1)

by Sharon Garlough Brown


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  • A 2013 Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention

Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation:
Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is.
Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past.
Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage.
Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right.
You're invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation.
Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God.
If you want to travel this journey with others, you will find a group study guide and book club resources at

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830843053
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 02/27/2013
Series: Sensible Shoes Series , #1
Pages: 349
Sales rank: 33,665
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Sharon Garlough Brown is a spiritual director and cofounder of Abiding Way Ministries, providing spiritual formation retreats. Her book Sensible Shoes was named one of television personality Kathie Lee Gifford's "favorite things." Sharon earned an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Jack, have served congregations in Scotland, Oklahoma, England, and West Michigan.

Table of Contents

1. Invitation to a Journey

2. The Pilgrimage Begins

3. Exploring the Heart of God

4. Learning to Linger

5. Come and See

6. Hiding and Seeking

7. Walking Attentively

8. Intimacy and Encounter

9. Found at the Crossroads

10. Deeper into the Wilderness

11. Lightening the Load

12. Walking Together in the Love of God



Discussion Guide

What People are Saying About This

Rev. Jim Gaderlund

"As a reader, I was captivated by this story and its characters. Once begun, it was hard to put down. As a long-time spiritual director and retreat leader, I found the stories of spiritual transformation to be true to what I have seen with my directees and on retreats. I have suggested it to many as a glimpse into the contemplative life and what it may have to offer them."

Patti Harrison

"Sharon Garlough Brown's book Sensible Shoes provides an accessible message about the power of spiritual practices in our lives. As a spiritual director, I highly recommended this book to anyone who is seeking a deeper connection with God."

Melinda Correa Schmidt

"Sharon Garlough Brown introduces us to four engaging women who are wrestling with their . . . view of God. Strap on your best traveling shoes—following their journey in Sensible Shoes is not for the faint of heart!"

Tosca Lee

"A book of four spiritual journeys that we can all relate to. Filled with spiritual insight, truth, beauty and discovery—not to mention deft and beautiful prose. A story to open eyes, to comfort and remind us of the importance of relationship."

Doreen Olson

"There are books that offer a can't-put-it-down reading experience and books that offer truths so resonant that I am compelled to stop reading and ponder awhile. Sensible Shoes is both. Its characters have become spiritual companions for my journey."

Jana Riess

"Sharon Brown's story provides a way for readers to vicariously dip into deep spiritual practices through the realistic struggles and joys of four women. Through emotionally resonant characters, Sensible Shoes encourages us to communicate with God in new ways, broadening our spiritual journey one step at a time."

Sybil MacBeth

"I have been on retreats with [these characters] and I am one of them. Their neediness, arrogance, cluelessness, perfectionism, self-pity, codependence . . . are mine. By the end of the book I was grateful for author Sharon Garlough Brown's fresh eyes and voice. She not only gave me resharpened tools for my journey with Jesus but also reminded me that I need fellow pilgrims to love me and keep me honest along the way."

Customer Reviews

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Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never read a novel quite like this before. Part fiction, part Spiritual instruction, part Bible study. I read this book slowly so that I could really absorb it. I'm so glad I didn't rush through to find out what happens to the characters. Because, doing so would have stunted the experience I was able to have through the multi-faceted approach of the author.  This is a book that would be fantastic in a small group, book club, or Bible study. I highly recommend it. 
TRAW More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for your vacation reading. Excellent character development of four unique personalities. And I could identify with parts of each of them. Great teaching woven into the story line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sensible Shoes is a warm happy read that just puts you in a peaceful place. You become friends with the four characters and find the one you identify with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable stories of spiritual growth that shares spiritual disciples in a way that the reader could begin to use them for themselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. ?!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not excited about the soil searching but it is necessary and I will continue, maybe read again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this as part of a book club exercise. I approached it as fluff and trivial, with a smug sense of superiority in part too, expecting it to be unworthy of intellectual analysis. Boy was I surprised! I hung on every word as I read it, savoring the intellectual challenge to analyze and understand, seeing myself in each of the characters, striving to drop my burden and find the path to greater spiritality. This is one book I will gladly re-read
debhgrty More than 1 year ago
Deb’s Dozen: Come take an incredible sacred journey with Meg, Mara, Hannah, and Charissa. Seldom, if ever, have I been drawn into such spiritual depth by a work of fiction. Sensible Shoes is an incredible journey with four very disparate women who come to know each other and themselves in a spiritually deep and rich fashion. I was drawn in by the characters of Meg, Hannah, Mara, and Charissa—perhaps because I could see a bit of myself in each of them. What wonderfully complex and vulnerable characters Sharon has written—so believable—to the point I wish I could talk with them and become their friend too. Four women—each with deep wounds from their past. Each drawn to attend a series of sessions by a plum-colored flyer that stated: “Jesus says, ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly’ (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message). We invite you to come take a sacred journey.” As they gather at the New Hope Retreat Center, they each wonder why they came—and think about not coming back. Mara, with the burdens of her unhappy home and infamous past; Meg, tied to a house haunted with the voice of an unaffectionate mother; Hannah, given a forced sabbatical of nine months by her church; and Charissa, an uptight, perfectionist of a graduate student working on her PhD. Four women with nothing in common who discover the commonality we all share. One of the exercises is to confess the wells other than that of living water they’ve drunk from in their pasts to try to find fulfillment. She had drawn from the well of sexual gratification, but the water had been bitter. She had drawn from the well of material possessions, but that well was filled with salt water, making her crave more and more. She had drawn from the well of approval and acceptance, but that well was unpredictable. She never knew if there would be water or not, and even when she managed to draw some out, her bucket leaked. She couldn’t hold it. It didn’t last. Another came to the realization that she … … had worn her self-sufficiency as a badge of honor. For years her own pride had kept her from Jesus … … she didn’t want to feel guilty. Because she wanted to avoid reproach and punishment. Because she wanted other people to respect and admire her. Because she knew it was the right thing to do. But love for God did not appear anywhere on her long list of reasons and motivation for living and obedient Christian life. How was that possible? She had been self-centered, even in her faith. Totally self-centered. And eventually one came to the realization that, For so many years I based my identity on how much I achieved and on what other people thought of me. I wasn’t at rest in my relationship with God. I was always haunted by the thought that I should be doing more, that I wasn’t a faithful enough servant. Then when God stripped everything away and pruned me down to a stump, I began to see all the false things I had trusted in. I finally began to understand that I have the same invitation John the disciple had: to call myself ‘the one Jesus loves.’ To really believe it in a way I never had before and to live life from that center … I’m not trying to earn God’s love and favor anymore. I’
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!  It was entertaining and informative.  I plan to use it for a book study at church.
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Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sophmoric writing. could have been written by a teenage girl for her book report. this could have been so much better. very disappointed.