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A Spacious Life

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Oh my, it's not often that you read a book, relate well, and are sad that it ended. This book is that kind of book for me. I will re-read this book. I found it to be biblical, relatable, and created a picture of a gospel-focused life with the beauty and surrender it entails. It challenged me, it resonated with me, and it has me thinking and is pushing me to grow in my own relationship with the Lord. That's a book worthy of high honor in my opinion.

This book focuses on gospel living. It's focused on life in the limits of Our Good and Gracious God, Jesus' work on the cross for us, His sending of the Holy Spirit, who lives within us, and brings us much space. It's focused on real community, real abiding in Jesus, real life, and a real invitation to live like Jesus models for us. The author shares relatable aspects of learning her limits, with scripture concepts and examples of Jesus living and teaching on earth, and the larger concepts of gospel living in real authentic community, with all the sacrifice that brings.

At the start of the book-this concept, I identified with: "What I didn’t know, at least not then in a deep-in-your-bones sort of way, was that these limitations on my time, body, and affections were actually an invitation. Instead, I fought them. For years I fought God about the gap between my imagined life and my given one. My crash course in acknowledging my limits was parenthood."

"We are made by Love for love, and love joyfully accepts constraints in order to love others particularly and fully."

"The goodness of gathered salt is that it shows us how food works and tastes best. Might the people of God show us how we work best as humans—not overly individualistic, but bearing a communal identity of love? Might we be more concerned about enhancing the flavor of others than enamored with our own saltiness? May the people of God minimize bitterness, temper saccharine sweetness, and heighten the aroma of Christ. What does this look like? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. To be the gathered salt of God, we must consent to the constraints of community."

"But to be the gathered salt of God, we must consent to the constraints of community—of being for others instead of using others—often through limiting our time, desires, and even those secondary identities we hold dear."

"Rich community in the church, that first family that Jesus adopts us into—like a beef bourguignon or homemade pasta—builds and grows in its flavor only through constraints. It happens slowly. To build thicker communities, we’ll have to stick around, live under gracious and loving authority, forgive each other, and choose to spend time together, rather than making the best choice for any one individual."

"Rich community happens through diverse people, layered and simmering together."

"We crave the goodness of gathered salt. But to actually be the community we crave, we must limit ourselves. We limit ourselves by choosing to show up when at times we’d rather not. We limit ourselves when we give of our time to listen, talk, and pray. We limit ourselves when we participate in weekly liturgy even when we do not feel like it. "

"Part of our work as followers of Jesus is resisting the limit to create our own purpose and instead to receive the one God gives us, even if it doesn’t look like what we imagined. . . Jesus, who limited himself for love, asks us to follow him: to steward our limits for others. Limits create conditions for the community."
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In the early pages of her new book A Spacious Life: Trading Hustle and Hurry for the Goodness of Limits, Redbud author Ashley Hales roped me to my chair, reading more. A few lines double-knotted me there:

“Without the loving setting of limits on the natural world, it would be void and without form.”

“Limits create for us a home; they create the condition for flourishing.”

“Limits, given to the world by a loving God, are the conditions for life.”


“Hm,” you say. “Limits? Spaciousness? Aren’t they mutually exclusive?”

Quite the contrary, according to Hales. In fact, acknowledging God-ordained limits on ourselves—reckoning with our smallness, instead of gulping, grasping, consuming, and trying to be big—is the very mindset that makes roomy, joyful significance possible. Limits give us space to rejuvenate and heal, to love and grow in abiding intimacy with Jesus in ways that actually make us productive in more meaningful ways.

Hales explains her position with thoughtful, wise exposition and vivid illustrations—both deep and broad—and a feast to read. As she addresses universally relevant topics, she invites us to slow down, rest, delight, and pay attention. As we do, we will enjoy community as never before, will approach material goods differently, and will thrive in hope and purpose.

I’m taking this book to heart. I loved Hales’ insights, her succinct, lyrical writing . . . all of it. I imagine pulses quieting, smiling broadening, paths crystallizing as others read this, just as mine did.
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A Spacious Life
Trading Hustle and Hurry for the Goodness of Limits
by Ashley Hales
Pub Date 14 Sep 2021 
 InterVarsity Press,  IVP

I am reviewing a copy of A Spacious Life through InterVarsity Press, IVP and Netgalley:

In A Spacious Life we are reminded that Freedom is not simply freedom from constraints, but for something we love.    We are reminded too that our God-Given limits are a doorway into a more spacious life.  

We are reminded too that Limits, given to the world by a loving God, are the conditions for life.  The readers are reminded too that your limits create a unique path whereby Jesus comes to you in that moment  and invites you  to live for the life of the world.  It is pointed out too that waiting opens us up so God can make his home in us.

We are reminded too that we can form habits that create the conditions for rest,  but rest is ultimately a gift given by a good God.

We are reminded too that in Jesus things find both their proper use and place.   

I give A Spacious Life five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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A Spacious Life by Ashley Hales is a non-fiction title that helps you guide to a more open, enriched life by pushing against societal norms. This book urges the reader to resist the demands of more from ourselves and those around us. Instead, boundaries on our time can enable us to create a life filled with wonder, meaning, and peace. 

This is a lovely book from a Christian perspective that opens the minds of the reader. This is done through various "invitations" to become more aware of how the people and media around us are affecting us. While there is certainly good to come from these things, when it becomes the priority it can deplete us. Instead, accepting the invitation in our life like setting aside social media and to recognize and abide in the difficulties of life, we can be brought closer to meaning and relationship with God. 

This is a book that reads very easily with concise, but relatable language. I highly recommend reading a chapter each day to sit with each invitation and to truly respond to the invitation over the day. I think this is a book that also can be returned to, to receive a reminder of this invitations in our busy lives. I also appreciate the prayers at the end of each chapter which leave you feeling peaceful and hopeful at the end of each chapter. 

Overall I recommend this for anyone that wants to learn how and why it is important to slow down from a Christian perspective. 

Many thanks to the publisher InterVarsity Press and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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Hurry and haste are 

not in good taste.  Slow down and

delight in your Lord.

A greatly beneficial Christian living book!  So thankful for its thoughts and the 'reset' it could bring into a life that is out of control and alignment, or full of frustration or despair.  Reflect on what Ashely Hales has to say and learn that the guardrails of God's limitations in our lives are for our own good.  The old adage, "our disappointments are His-appointments" seems appropo to describe many of the thoughts in this book.  

This is not a book to skim through in "hurry or haste".  Take your time.  Read carefully and delight in the words Hales pens and the thoughts to which she leads the reader.  Discover that "cathedral" where we can find spaciousness even in the limitations with which life underscores us. Meet with God at those roughshod times.  He's there.  Stretch out in His spaciousness He's creating for us all and to which Hales invites on His behalf.  She's been there.  She knows firsthand.

The limitations are invitations from Jesus to learn of the hope resurrection brings; to learn of Him and to draw us to our Heavenly Father which could bring new life and purpose despite losses.  These are His gifts to us, Hales informs.  Do what it takes to pay attention to Him.

Very pointed discussion questions are provided.   They are good to answer for oneself and/or in a group setting.  Acknowledgements and Notes about quotes used, follow.

                                                    ~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~

                                                             August 2021

Disclaimer:  This is my honest opinion based on the review copy given by the publisher.

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A good premise/reminder to slow down and embrace limits, but in my opinion the book was a little too on the surface. Perhaps that is due to chapter length or overall page count, but it left me wishing it had gone deeper.
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This book is designed for Christian women who are feeling overwhelmed with life.  It shows that God has designed limits for all of us and that is a good thing.  She encourages women o use ordinary means of prayer, worship, Bible reading and caring for others to connect us with God and our neighbors.  This quote helps to summarize this book.  "However God has made you, wherever God has placed you, with the limits that are yours to embrace, you get to be a part of his great mission: finding ways to connect the ordinary with the story of God.  That is your job: to bear witness, from the budget-doing, to the carpooling, to working to end injustice, to your work and leisure.  All of it is holy." I recommend this book to any Christian who wants to deepen her life.  
I received a complementary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I really appreciated this book and Hales' argument that it's our limits, our boundaries, that give us the safety and capacity for freedom. This is, perhaps, not surprising, given that my favourite section of A Wrinkle in Time has always been the one where our lives are compared to sonnets: rigid structure, but with the freedom to say anything you want within that structure.; and I adore the scene near the end of The Horse and His Boy where Aslan explains how he has guided and guarded Shasta during his travels. The timing of Hales' book is fascinating to me: after the externally imposed limits and boundaries of the pandemic, so many have been saying that they don't want to go back to the frenetic pace and constant busyness of pre-pandemic life and I think, consequently, this book will meet many readers where they're at, even as we're all faced with the pressure to get back to "normal". I hope that readers find in the pages of A Spacious Life the extra support and reasoning they need to push back and embrace those healthy limits and boundaries.
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An interesting book for Christians on creating more space in your life. It was good for reflecting on what I value in life.
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