Books, Songs, Podcasts and Practices That Helped Me Grow Up in 2017

I am indebted to the mentors, the muses, and the motivations I gained this past year from a wide range of areas. Each item is something that I was exposed to in 2017 that had a high impact on me changing and maybe even growing up.

Music

Band of Horses – Last January was so full of stress and tension that my only moment of respite would be the last 10 minutes of my work day when I would turn on two songs by Band of Horses. “In a Drawer” and “Casual Party” had the right mixture of triumphant rock and moodiness to break some of the tension and bring a little catharsis to my overwhelmed state.

Andrew Bird – My go-to reflective, relaxing, holding the tension between pain and praise music. Every drive back from Abilene, where my Dad suffered his last days, included a six song playlist from Bird.

Podcasts

Pray As You Go – A common companion on my runs, this app provides the listener with 10-12 minute meditations on scripture along with music and time of reflection. If you want to recharge your approach to scripture, this podcast will do the trick.

The Invitation – Josh Banner has the typical interview format but regularly will have 20 minute spiritual retreats that have been very meaningful to me. A recent one covered lament, which was very appropriate to my situation. Also, his 5-minute prayer episodes are great for making spiritual things more accessible.

Building a Storybrand Podcast – I re-listened to the first 6-7 episodes twice and was inspired each time. These Podcasts are helping shape me into the kind of manager I want to be as a director of a library.

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Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash

Books

Water to Wine by Brian Zahnd – I was inspired by the heart, intellect, and the spirit of God working in Zahnd’s book, Beauty Will Save the World. I heard him speak at the Apprentice Gathering and heard him mention his book, Water to Wine. This book chronicles his movement from a typical American pastor at a typical American large church to a more contemplative and spiritually rich pastor. His story is remarkable and his courage to transform his ministry after decades of doing it a certain way is inspiring.

Healing the Heartbreak of Grief by James Flamming – The author was a pastor at the church I grew up. Even as a kid, I remember his ability to mix the heady, the spiritual, and the practical in wonderfully concise and accessible ways. He is a great communicator. In this book, he does the same thing with the concept of grief. I have stepped away from this book with a better understanding of what grief is and how it works and also have been healed in the process.

Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen – I have given this book out to many people who are experiencing pain or struggle. In light of my own struggles, I began reading this again for myself. The entries from this book are taken from Nouwen’s personal journal when he was in a deep point of struggle. Not every entry applies to every person’s situation but the one’s that do are like they were written just for you.

Experiences

Running – The practice of running is so time consuming that in the past I have had to choose blogging or running because I couldn’t do both. But this year, I realized how much I love running and how helpful it is to me physically and spiritually. Running is such a good stress reliever and if I wasn’t running, I wouldn’t spend much time outdoors, which is not good for my mental state. When I think about the many gifts my Dad gave to me during his life, running might be one of the most meaningful.

Fasting – About a month after my Dad’s death, I took a day and a half and fasted. I wanted to give time and intention to my grief and all that I needed to do to move forward. This was one of the best decisions I could have made. This time was so rich with memories, nudges from God, insights from scripture, and healing. I have now committed to practice these fasts quarterly.

Examen – Our days just move along to their usual conclusion and then we reboot and do it all over again. There is often no time for reflection, for gratitude, for confession, for a challenge. Peter Scazzero, in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, lays out a simple method of what church history has called Examen. At the end of each day, you practice the following:

  • Be grateful for God’s blessings.
  • Review the day with openness and gratitude, looking for times when God has been present and times you may have ignored him.
  • Pay attention to your emotions in order to listen to God.
  • Express sorrow for sin and ask for God’s forgiving love.
  • Pray for the grace to be more available to God who loves you.

This practice has allowed me to not end my day with stress, anxiousness, disappointment, and guilt; which I am so prone to do. Instead, I place myself back into God’s hands and know that I can trust him with the outcomes and with the promise of the next day.

 

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Best of the Blog in 2017

This year has been the hardest and most meaningful year of my life. So many things, good and bad happened this year. I couldn’t sum up the year in a few sentences, but my posts provide a diary of sorts to the ups and downs and the goodness of God.

Spiritual Discovery

If you are young and exploring your spiritual identity, join the crowd.

God might be speaking to us all the time. We just arent’ paying attention.

2018 might be a time when we embrace the ordinary.

We can all say that we have Grown Up but where do we actually stand on the Maturity Scale?

We all have a spiritual life. What are you making of yours?

Struggle

There would be no blog and my life would be a shadow of what it is now if this hadn’t happened.

Last summer, I took this well-known passage, Jeremiah 29:11, and explained why it is meant for those who are in places they do not want to be.

As my Dad lay dying, I had to come to grips with my own selfishness. It wasn’t pretty but it was needed.

I have learned that God is working and showing up even when he doesn’t seem to be attentive to our prayers and even our needs.

It took me two posts to discuss the problems with having a sour face.

Do you think you are on the verge of Growing Up? Be ready for a major challenge from Satan.

@krisroller

Grief

One good thing about being so aware of spiritual disciplines is that I knew there were tools out there that could help me with my grief. I just needed to use them.

I tried to eulogize my dad after his death. My goal was to talk about why I admired him so much and why his kind of life is so needed in our time.

Culture

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, I explain while our society is ill-equipped to solve these problems.

That time I picked up a hitchhiker on Mother’s Day.

 

Spiritual Disciplines

I think we could all use help reading the Bible.

Life Change

Beyond my Dad’s death, the most significant thing to happen to me this past year was this.

Parenting

Parenting is probably the area where I need to Grow Up the most.

Why I am not a Dad blogger.

Sin

Being overly critical is a poison and it has done damage to me in the past. But I am working on it.

Service to Others

I might have found the secret to making serving others easier.