Friday Fuel: Conferences, Contemplation, and End-of-the-Summer Reading

August 2, 2013

It’s hard to believe it’s August already!  I’ve already been spending long days back in my classroom getting ready for school in just a couple of weeks.  I’m honestly ready to get my routine back.

It’s the end of another week, and as such, it’s time to take a look at the last several days at all the things that fueled me.

In Real Life

Last Friday, I was in Dallas having a blast at Echo Conference.  Among the highlights, getting to hang with Lore Furguson, Micah Murray and several new friends at the Bloggers Meetup. Next up is STORY in Chicago.  Who’s with me?

On My Shelf


I haven’t talked about this, but it’s been a tough few months.  Not only do I tend to flounder when school is out, but I’ve been trying to control some real anxiety and even depression.  Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who has been gone for decades has been rescuing me and revolutionizing my prayer life.  In a world where spirituality isn’t often not all that spiritual and faith is often a tool for conquering goals, Merton’s outlook on contemplative prayer and being at peace with ourselves is just what I need.  I didn’t know where to start with Merton, but you can’t go wrong with his Essential Writings.

Just Released

I’m really happy for my friend, Renee Fisher.  Her new book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me released last week.  Also on the new releases, another friend and fellow Moody author, Jeff Goins released The In-Betweenwhich I’ll be talking about next week.

On the Blogs

My blog reader was dominated by the ladies this week.  Ally Vesterfelt commented on the temporary nature of all things with It’s Not Forever, It’s Just for Now.  Kelly Youngblood toned it down with a multiple part series, starting with I’m Not Tone Deaf.  And Sarah Markley, who always writes lovely things, discussed a new responsibility she discovered she has to her daughters in The Responsibility to be Brave.

That’s what fueled me this week.  What about you?

3 responses to Friday Fuel: Conferences, Contemplation, and End-of-the-Summer Reading

  1. Have been listening to the audio version of Jeff Goin’s new book. So good.

    Composer Eric Whitacre’s choir pieces have been doing my soul a lot of good. On bad days the sheer beauty of his pieces breaks through the gloom. (Here’s a favourite of mine covered by Peter Hollens

  2. Sorry to hear about your summer–depression is nothing to mess around with. Hope you’re doing okay.

    On the summer reading front, I always have books by great thinkers on my list but never get around to it. At the end of the day, it’s escapism that works better for me. Right now I’m working on “Shada” by Gareth Roberts, which is based on an old Dr. Who episode that Douglas Adams wrote but never aired. I got hooked on classic Dr. Who when I was in med school and Tom Baker was my favorite “version” of the Doctor. It’s kind of fun reading one of those old eps in book form.

  3. Hey Matt,
    Concerning depression and anxiety:
    Some contemplative practices can be made worse by these practices. I would suggest you get guidance from a skilled contemplative (Christian, Zen, Tibetan or otherwise). Not all contemplative or meditative techniques are the same and some can amplify anxiety, body-over-consciousness, self-loathing and more counterproductive mental habits. It is very hard to see our way out of our own patterns.

    Meanwhile, I am sure you know, exercise, good diet and good hydration and face-to-face time with dear friends is crucial. With a special emphasis on exercising — wt training is more important than aerobics but a balance is good.

    Best wishes on those struggles. Good reading (like Merton or Herman Hesse or more) are a good way to get out of a self-circular mind, but beware that contemplation itself could worsen some poor mental habits if done at the wrong time in the wrong way.

    Best to you chap,
    Sabio Lantz recently posted..Most Christians Don’t Believe