I’m happy to host Jeannie Ewing on the blog tour for her latest book, a devotional for the downtrodden I’m calling it, A Sea Without A Shore. Jump ahead, if you’d like, to the book description, author interview, my review, buy links, about the author, and a giveaway!
About the book:
Everyone experiences suffering and trials throughout life, whether in the form of death or significant loss of a relationship, finances, a home or job, and even a pet. Loss affects us all, and we are often left feeling empty, lonely, and lost in the midst of such excruciating darkness. Others may attempt to ameliorate our fears, concerns, and struggle, but to no avail. Even our faith may seem to fail us. Jeannie Ewing understands that holy darkness may veil us in a cloud of unknowing for a time, but we don’t have to capitulate to despair. Instead, we can journey through the mysteries and misunderstandings through the eyes of faith. In A Sea Without A Shore: Spiritual Reflections for the Brokenhearted, Weary, and Lonely, you will find a familiar friend journeying with you throughout the often murky and tumultuous waters of grief. No matter the cause of your pain and strife, this devotional will offer short but poignant insights that open your heart to God’s love and mercy.
Did you feel a closeness to or kinship with any particular saint and his/her spirituality as you wrote A Sea Without a Shore?
The saints I always feel are close to me on a daily basis are St. John of the Cross, Our Lady, and St. Michael the Archangel. I pray to them often. At times, when I was writing this particular book, I felt the spirituality of the Carmelite saints, like John of the Cross or St. Therese of Lisieux, really emerge. I think the message of understanding holy darkness as it pertains to our spiritual journey is really important today. So many people are despairing, because they believe God is punishing them or has abandoned them when this couldn’t be further from the truth. I pray always that my writing will console those who are in a dark place so that they remain faithful to God and stay in a state of grace, seeking the Sacraments and not ending up bitter and resentful for their sufferings. That, essentially, is a main message of the Carmelite mystics.
As I read A Sea Without a Shore, I felt at times as if I was praying it as much as I was reading it. It’s very intimate without being personal, making it adaptable to the reader’s circumstances. Can you describe briefly the writing process for this book? Did you approach it much as you would a private journal or with the reader in mind?
It’s funny, because as I mentioned in the Introduction, I didn’t really set out to write a book with these reflections included. The process began when I wrote “An Empty Cup” during Lent, I believe. I was praying my morning prayers, and I received this beautiful image of a pauper’s cup and a chalice, which I described in the reflection. From that day onward, my daily prayer routine somehow included a pattern in which a particular Scripture verse or quote from a saint stood out in a new way to me, and I would ponder it almost as if a prayer to God. It was definitely more like a private journal, because all of the original reflections are included in my journals. But as I was organizing the reflections, I did think about the reader and almost felt that some of what I wrote was a bit awkward if people couldn’t relate to the feeling of having a mysterious illness or a child with a rare disease. My hope was that the readers would glean some particular consolation in their own sorrows through what I wrote.
A Sea Without a Shore is exactly what it says it is: Spiritual Reflections for the Brokenhearted, Weary and Lonely, and while my life is by no stretch a bowl full of cherries, my generally partly-sunny disposition leaves me somewhat outside of the target audience. Even so, there was much here for me (whose spiritual life is nothing if not dry) to relate to. After all, we all experience varying degrees of grief, loneliness, suffering, and disappointment.
While I read the book straight through in order to review it, I think it would be best read as a devotional, breaking it up over days and allowing the reader to ponder the topics without rushing, mulling them over throughout the day, and praying along with the author. And while a fair amount of the book deals with pain, fear, and weakness, there are bright spots, hope, and above all, the assurance of God’s love.
There are plenty of gems (key insights or new ways at looking at elements of spirituality) hidden throughout the book that stopped me in my tracks, wanting to highlight a line or two for further reflection. There are bits of poetry and psalm-like prayer interspersed with the narrative as well.
About the author:
Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel fuzzy inside, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts.
Facebook – Love Alone Creates: https://www.facebook.com/lovealonecreates
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/fromgrief2grace/
Watch Jeannie Ewing on At Home with Jim & Joy:
Enter to win:
Enter for a chance to win one of two paperback copies of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers or one of two paperback copies of A Sea Without A Shore! (Ends 1/30/17, so enter NOW!)
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