Monday, December 19, 2016

Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller, 2016

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Sabbath-keeping not only brings physical refreshment, it restores the soul. God commands us to "remember the Sabbath," but is it realistic in today's fast-paced culture? In this warm and helpful book, Shelly Miller dispels legalistic ideas about Sabbath and shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives--whether for an hour, a morning, or a whole day. With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for having peaceful, close times with God. You will learn simple ways to be intentional about rest, ideas for tuning out distractions and tuning in God, and even how meals and other times with friends and family can be Sabbath experiences. 

Ultimately, this book is an invitation to those who long for rest but don't know how to make it a reality. Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through.
(224 pages)

Oh, the irony. Here I am sitting here on a Sunday afternoon–the only slow time I get all week, because I have two midterms due in the next six days–reading and reviewing a book whose entire purpose is to convince me to take time off for myself. If I wanted I could try to argue that I'm working on my blog because it's relaxing to me, but the truth is that I feel compelled to do it. If I had unlimited time to do whatever I wanted today, I would totally be reading a brand-new fiction novel or re-watching a favorite episode of Doctor Who or even agreeing to go with my Star Wars-obsessed sister to see Rogue One. I certainly haven't got anything against Rhythms of Rest, but it's not the sort of book I normally read on a Sunday afternoon. I've just been so busy lately that I didn't have time to read it until the day before my review was due.

So yes, I'm definitely feel the call to take more breaks. At the risk of being like one of the women Miller quotes in the book, though, I'm afraid I have to postpone my Sabbath-taking until things have died down a little. The good news is that the holidays are nearly upon us: once I take my physics midterm this coming Saturday, I'll have a week off to celebrate Christmas and recharge my batteries. Once the school year starts again, I'll focus on being more intentional about giving myself time to unwind.

Anyway, enough about me. Moving on to a discussion of the book itself! I think Miller has a lot of excellent points, and that she makes them relatively well. I enjoyed reading the anecdotes she shared about her own family and their experiences practicing Sabbath, though some of the letters she shared from other women participating in the practice felt like slightly random additions. There were a few times when she was telling about something, whether in her own life or that a friend had told her, when it would be confusing at first to figure out what was going on. I don't think she always kept things quite in chronological order, which muddied the waters some, but what really made things hard to decipher at times was her use of first-person present narration. At some points I thought she was telling the reader "this is something I do regularly," only to realize that she was actually just describing in first-present tense something that had happened to her in the past.

Anyway, I still enjoyed reading the book (especially since I completely empathize with Miller's calling to live in Great Britain). Though I didn't always agree with Miller's interpretation of events in her friends' lives (especially when she said a young woman miscarried her baby because she wasn't in the right spiritual place to have a child–that gets dangerously close to implying the baby was punished for its mother's sins by losing its life!), I did like her overall points. They were just what I needed to hear right now, as my life is so hectic and stressful right now. Has anyone else read Rhythms of Rest or spent some time devoted to carving out free time on a weekly basis? If you have any tips for decreasing stress through relaxation, please do share them in the comments section below!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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