Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey, By Sharon Garlough Brown
Sensible Shoes
  • Length: 349 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: February 27, 2013
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: 4305
  • ISBN: 9780830843053

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Four Strangers, One Retreat Center, A Story of Transformation

Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation:

Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is.

Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past.

Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage.

Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right.

You're invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation.

Along the way, readers will find:

  • Key spiritual practices that they can take into their own lives,
  • A cast of characters that any reader can find themselves in, and
  • Tangible support for the deeper life with God.

If you want to travel this journey with others, you will find a group study guide and book club resources at

"I have been on retreats with [these characters] and I am one of them. Their neediness, arrogance, cluelessness, perfectionism, self-pity, codependence . . . are mine. By the end of the book I was grateful for author Sharon Garlough Brown's fresh eyes and voice. She not only gave me resharpened tools for my journey with Jesus but also reminded me that I need fellow pilgrims to love me and keep me honest along the way."

Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color

"Sharon Garlough Brown introduces us to four engaging women who are wrestling with their . . . view of God. Strap on your best traveling shoes--following their journey in Sensible Shoes is not for the faint of heart!"

Melinda Correa Schmidt, Midday Connection

"As a reader, I was captivated by this story and its characters. Once begun, it was hard to put down. As a long-time spiritual director and retreat leader, I found the stories of spiritual transformation to be true to what I have seen with my directees and on retreats. I have suggested it to many as a glimpse into the contemplative life and what it may have to offer them."

Rev. Jim Gaderlund, spiritual director and retreat leader

"Sharon Garlough Brown's book Sensible Shoes provides an accessible message about the power of spiritual practices in our lives. As a spiritual director, I highly recommended this book to anyone who is seeking a deeper connection with God."

Patti Harrison, spiritual director, Detroit, Michigan

"There are books that offer a can't-put-it-down reading experience and books that offer truths so resonant that I am compelled to stop reading and ponder awhile. Sensible Shoes is both. Its characters have become spiritual companions for my journey."

Doreen Olson, executive minister of Christian formation, The Evangelical Covenant Church

"A book of four spiritual journeys that we can all relate to. Filled with spiritual insight, truth, beauty and discovery—not to mention deft and beautiful prose. A story to open eyes, to comfort and remind us of the importance of relationship."

Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Havah: The Story of Eve

"Sharon Brown's story provides a way for readers to vicariously dip into deep spiritual practices through the realistic struggles and joys of four women. Through emotionally resonant characters, Sensible Shoes encourages us to communicate with God in new ways, broadening our spiritual journey one step at a time."

Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood

"Written with a compelling narrative that weaves their lives together, Sensible Shoes offers readers a new understanding of key spiritual practices and support for those who wish to travel deeper into life with God themselves."

ForeWord This Week Newsletter, April 16, 2013

"If you're a spiritually inclined person, I think you'll really love it. It's about four women, every one of them coming from a different place spiritually. But all of them in need of a fresh cup of mercy. . . . So it's terrific. I highly recommend it."

Kathie Lee Gifford, NBC's Today, March 11, 2013

"This work of fiction felt like my own personal story as I connected on a different level with each of the four women on a quest to grow in their faith. I loved it in a way I haven't loved a book in a long time. It's filled with relatable narrative and examples of key spiritual practices that deepened my faith. I found in it a compassion for myself and for others who are walking alongside me. I cannot wait to read the other books in the series."

Elizabeth Murphy, Just Between Us, Winter 2016

Read an Excerpt


1. Invitation to a Journey
2. The Pilgrimage Begins
3. Exploring the Heart of God
4. Learning to Linger
5. Come and See
6. Hiding and Seeking
7. Walking Attentively
8. Intimacy and Encounter
9. Found at the Crossroads
10. Deeper into the Wilderness
11. Lightening the Load
12. Walking Together in the Love of God
Discussion Guide


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Sharon Garlough Brown

Sharon Garlough Brown is a spiritual director, speaker, and cofounder of Abiding Way Ministries, providing spiritual formation retreats and resources. She is the author of the bestselling Sensible Shoes Series, which includes spiritual fiction novels Sensible Shoes, Two Steps Forward, Barefoot, An Extra Mile, and their study guides.