The summer crazies (and a FREE calendar!)

Okay. We’re the first to admit it feels like the crazies are winning. All those long, lovely, leisurely days we envisioned in May have given way to shuttling our school-free children all over the Midwest, frantic loads of laundry between trips, and the subtle sleep-deprivation that comes from staying up way too late, thanks to endless dusk. My best attempts at a daily schedule deteriorated within days of Micah’s kindergarten graduation, replaced by variations on, “Didn’t I just feed you?” and “Leave your brother alone. Now.”

 

Meanwhile, other than an evening sailing and a fun trip to Erin’s hometown in Ohio, the Wasingers and Arthurs have barely managed to greet one another at church, much less meet weekly for dinner. All those good intentions, those small but radical changes for the sake of Jesus, seem to have been obliterated by simply surviving summer.

When did this happen? How did summer become the crash zone for the intentional life of faith? We can’t be the first Christians to experience this, not when monastic communities for centuries have farmed the lands they lived on. Seedtime, harvest, baby livestock, upkeep of the grounds and buildings, storing food for winter, washing every last thing while there’s hot sun to dry it…and yet the daily rhythm of prayer, shared meals, and worship never cease. The bells still ring, summoning the community together. A reminder to pause in your labor. Rest from your striving. Seek the presence of the One whose sustaining power is everlasting, no matter the season.

Breathe.

Consider this update one of those bells. Restore the rhythm. Don’t let the crazies win. Step back from the fray, revisit your spiritual goals. What one small thing are you working on? Is it living simply, befriending the poor and marginalized, caring for creation, seeking justice, being honest about your mental health? Don’t wait for September 1 before you take some practical steps again. Call one of your covenantal friends right now. Today. Reread the chapter that inspired you.

And download this spectacular FREE calendar–a gift from our publisher to you–that tracks The Year of Small Things starting August 1, just like the book itself does. A daily, visual reminder to put first things first, even if they’re small.

 

And if you need some extra encouragement, here are some opportunities for further reflection:

  • We love this excellent interview in Interpreter Magazine: “We’re not in ministry to the struggling. We are called into friendship with those who are struggling. That is a whole different thing.”
  • Here’s a thoughtful, insightful review in The Christian Century: “The Year of Small Things is about doing the dishes. It’s about the hard work of serious discipleship when you have a life and family.”
  • Don’t miss these podcast interviews with Jen Pollock Michel, author of Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home and with Brian Bantum, author of The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World.

Do you hear them, the bells? Don’t let the summer crazies win.

We’re coming to West Michigan! (& other fun updates)

In the flurry of activity that was Holy Week (Arthurs & Wasingers temporarily gave up trying to slow down, get ourselves out of the way, take the long view–which is probably what the disciples themselves felt like at that point in the story, anyway…), we have been nonetheless excited to spread the word about some upcoming author events. 

  • Tuesday, April 25th7 PM Author event at Potterville Public Library in Potterville, MI. We can’t wait to join some of our favorite friends in our new favorite small town for a FREE author talk & book signing! We’ll do a drawing for a free book too (choose from any of Sarah’s titles or The Year of Small Things). NOTE: Please call the library to reserve your spot: (517) 645-2989. 150 Library Ln, Potterville, MI 48876.

  • Thursday, April 27th7 PM Book signing at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI. We’re hitting one of our all-time favorite bookstores in West Michigan for a fun author talk & signing — and yes, our signature drawing for a $10 store gift card is in your future! Let us know you’re coming/interested on the Facebook event page. This event is FREE, so bring your friends & family. (P.S. The children’s section is FANTASTIC.)

Some other Year of Small Things goodness: 

  • Don’t miss Erin’s Think Christian article on radical finances. Do you let your covenantal friends review your bank account? Why not?
  • The full text of SOJOURNER’S review of The Year of Small Things (from the print mag) is available online for a limited time. Many thanks to poet Abigail Carroll for her kind, thoughtful reflections.
  • Sarah interviews the famous chicken farmer Joel Salatin on the Small Things podcast.

Eastertide blessings, all!

Catch the book signing for ‘Year of Small Things’

The more ways you spread The Year of Small Things love, the more likely you are to come out a winner. Literally.

Join us for Saturday’s book signing at Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy (or two) of the book and have it signed by Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger. As a thank you for stopping by, we local authors will be giving away TWO $10 Barnes and Noble gift cards!

We’re in practice signing books thanks to Church in a Pub’s book signing.

To enter to win, complete any or all of the prompts listed below. The more you do, the better chance you have for walking out with that gift card!

Saturday’s small things, should you accept:

  • Bring a friend (you both get an entry!)
  • Sign up at our table to receive our blog (or put down your email anyway if you already subscribe)
  • Take a selfie with Erin or Sarah and/ or the book, inside the store (sorry, Mom, you can’t just post my old school photos)
  • Show us that you posted the photo to Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #yearofsmallthings
  • Let us video record you answering this question: “What one small thing are you doing this month?”

We’ll do the drawing at 2:55 PM-ish, and you don’t have to be present to win.

The details you’ll need:

  • What: Year of Small Things book signing
  • When: Saturday (March 11) from 1 PM to 3 PM
  • Where: Barnes and Noble (in the Lansing Mall), 5132 W Saginaw Hwy, Lansing
  • Cost: Free. Books will be available to purchase. (Makes a great gift or an Easter basket surprise. See: Chapter 5, on Stuff. Books don’t count as stuff to Erin.)
  • Also: There will be cookies.

Bonus! Some of Sarah Arthur’s other books will be available for purchase, including Between Midnight and Dawn, a devotional for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide; and Mommy Time, a devotional for new parents.

See you Saturday!

How one church kicked off a series of ‘Small Things’

The Year of Small Things is at its essence a church story. The Arthurs and the Wasingers, who committed to a year of small things, don’t operate independent of Sycamore Creek Church. Our prayers and other spiritual disciplines don’t replace worshiping with our people in Lansing and Potterville. So, you can imagine the energy fueling our five-week series.

Fun part: the energy didn’t come from having me and Sarah preach each message. (We didn’t.) Our fellow Sycamore Creek-ers love us, but they are not impressed by us. They’ve seen us trip over a minuscule patch of ice in the parking lot. Spill our coffee. They’ve heard us sing off-key. We have zero celebrity cred.

The energy fueling the series came from a group of people — small groups of people — who are together reading the book and meeting to talk about the small things they’d like to see in their own lives. Imaginations are quicker to spark when discussions are happening in community.

The book makes a great study or series because of its community-oriented nature. So — interested in plugging in a sermon series? Here are the nuts and bolts: The Year of Small Things series is a five-week study of the themes of the book by the same name (we chose covenantal friendship, hospitality, vows, kid monasticism, and self-care). Because our churches are wonderfully diverse (and most don’t know what new monasticism is), we centered our sermons around Hebrews 13, which touches on just about every theme.

Audio sermons can be heard via the Sycamore Creek website and Potterville’s website.

And, finally, if you’d like to have Sarah or Erin speak on Small Things where you worship or meet for small groups, contact us!

Happy book release day, Year of Small Things!

Welcome to the world, The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us!

Sarah Arthur and Erin F. Wasinger are proud to announce that The Year of Small Things (Brazos Press) is in stores/ online today! The bundle of new monastic, love-your-neighbor, follow-Jesus-right-where-you-are joy could be in your hands now.

Yes, you can hold her.

The conversation’s just beginning:

Subscribe to our blog — especially for a chance to win a copy of our book — to stay updated about events related to the book.

Remember that as you read the book, you can talk about it in the public Facebook group! Join us today and start posting your reactions, questions, stories, encouragements for others, and more.

Remember, too, that as you tweet, IG, or talk about it anywhere online, you’ll find fellow readers through #yearofsmallthings. 

One more thing: we pray that God begins in your life your own small things. All our small things together — that’s something.

Now, cupcakes for everyone*!

(*So to speak.)

Preorder, watch trailer for ‘Year of Small Things’

Preorder, watch trailer for ‘Year of Small Things’

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us — releasing Jan. 31, 2017 — is almost here! Want the book in your hand or on your Kindle when it releases? Preorder your copy from a favorite retailer and The Year of Small Things will be yours on the same day it’s released into the wild.

Preorders also make great Christmas gifts — and to give someone something to unwrap on Christma295583_yearofsmallthings_calendars morning, we’re offering an incentive.

BONUS: Those who already have or will preorder our book receive in January a free download for a printable, artistic-quality calendar! Simply fill out the form with your purchase information below.

Consider the calendar our invitation for you to embark on your own Year of Small Things in 2017!

(At right is a “conceptual preview,” meaning the image and typography might be slightly different.)

Watch our book trailer above to hear more about the authors’ year of small things — and start imagining what God might have in mind for your small things!

 

Mapping out the Year of Small Things

Mapping out the Year of Small Things

Early summer, two years ago:

I (Sarah) pitched an idea to our two families: what if we all took some of the “radical” Christian practices touted by folks like Shane Claiborne and his community The Simple Way and spent a year growing into them? Can downward mobility for Jesus actually happen with debt and diapers and dishes–in suburbia?

Here’s what this looks like on the ground:

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How to find other “ordinary radicals”

How to find other “ordinary radicals”

During my husband Tom’s final year (my first) in seminary at Duke Divinity School, he sent out an email to our ethics class. We knew that once I graduated we would be leaving Isaiah House of Hospitality and everything we had learned in community; Tom would become a United Methodist pastor in Michigan, where we came from. Within Methodism’s appointment system, we would not get to choose our zip code, much less our community. And we could be moved annually thereafter.

So Tom’s email was both a question and an invitation.

The question: How do we live out a vision for community, downward mobility, and radical hospitality within the itinerant (and sometimes subtly upwardly mobile) system of mainline denominations?

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This was new monasticism before ‘The Irresistible Revolution’

This was new monasticism before ‘The Irresistible Revolution’

Lunch. Simply lunch, spurred into being by that announcement at Asbury Temple UMC.

Innocuous enough, and yet life-changing for the Arthurs. I won’t go into how we fell in love with not only the household but the vision, how we prayed, and talked, and came over for more meals. Suffice it to say, by fall semester we did not renew our lease on the one-bedroom near Duke.

We moved into the ‘hood–and stayed. For three years we shared a household with other community members committed to simplicity, hospitality, sustainability, and reconciliation—as well as with women and children in transition out of homelessness.

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One lunch, one mission: desegregate ourselves by race and by class

One lunch, one mission: desegregate ourselves by race and by class

You know that feeling of regional vertigo, when you’ve been traveling so long that when you climb out of the car or step off the plane you can barely remember your own name, much less what state or country you’re in?

Maybe you’re hungry, and you think, “I’ll just grab a burrito from Cosmic Cantina on the way to the hotel,” and then you realize that Cosmic Cantina is roughly 867 miles away, and you haven’t a clue where to get food around here. Yeah, that. In addition to the bodily weirdness of traveling so far, there’s now a mini existential crisis, a spiritual displacement, as if your very identity, including the God you worship, is now up for grabs.

All because you walk on unfamiliar ground. Which is another way of saying that place matters.

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