Sensible Shoes Series

In this series which began with the bestselling Sensible Shoes, author Sharon Garlough Brown invites you to join in the journeys of Hannah, Meg, Mara, and Charissa as they—and you—gain a new understanding of friendship, spiritual truths and a deeper life with God.

In Sensible Shoes, you will meet these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and embark together on a journey of spiritual formation. They 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:

  • 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

We continue the journey as the women face roadblocks in the second book, Two Steps Forward. Sometimes life feels like two steps forward and one step back, but there is always hope. Find your own spiritual journey reflected in their lives and discover the way forward.

The third book, Barefoot, takes the women through unexpected turns in their spiritual journeys. Having been challenged to persevere in hope, can they now embrace the joy of complete surrender?

In An Extra Mile, the fourth and final book in the series, the women are navigating both deep joy and devastating loss. Travel with these beloved friends as they endure trials that test their trust and their willingness to walk an extra mile.

Praise for Two Steps Forward: "With her characteristic wisdom and grace, Sharon Garlough Brown gives voice to hope in the stories of Hannah, Charissa, Maya and Meg. Their spiritual journeys during Advent are marked by darkness, waiting and even heartbreak. Yet in Brown's honest and tender narrative, their friendship with each other and their openness to God's work in their lives continues to draw them toward light and new life, bearing witness to light in the darkness. To read this book is to learn to hope. In the lives of these four women, Brown reveals a God who calls us beloved even through our tears, who faithfully keeps his promises and who sends a Savior to bring joy to the world. Two Steps Forward offers spiritual insights of the rarest beauty about both the pain and the peace at the 'growing edges' in our life with God. Like Sensible Shoes, this book is a gift and blessing to all who long for Emmanuel."

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, professor of philosophy, Calvin College, author of Glittering Vices

Praise for Two Steps Forward: "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet with a spiritual director to talk about your spiritual journey? Sharon Brown does a masterful job of giving the reader a glimpse of what that process is like through the stories of four different women looking for peace and hope. For me, these women have became sacred companions on my own journey. I learned and pondered things with them like: What are you afraid of? Where do you want control? What agitates you? Learn to linger with what provokes you. What is God stirring in your soul? It is as though you enter into spiritual direction yourself, and it's life transforming! My own heart has been enlarged for more of Jesus as a result of Two Steps Forward!"

Marilyn Hontz, speaker, author of Listening for God and Shame Lifter

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "My heartfelt thanks for introducing thousands of readers to the concept of spiritual direction. As a spiritual director myself, I'm ever grateful for this."

Beverly Gallagher, spiritual director, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

Praise for Sensible Shoes: "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

"When I teach on spiritual disciplines, I often recommend the Sensible Shoes fiction series. Sharon Garlough Brown deftly weaves stories of real people grappling with daily soul care amid life's grit and grace. Moreover, these friends—Hannah, Meg, Charissa, and Mara—are me. And women I know and love. Doing things I do, both faltering and fabulous. Initially thrown together at a spiritual retreat center, these four very different women eventually form an imperfect community of support and growth—one I would love to join. I encourage you to read all four books, following them through the seasons of the year and the seasons of a lifetime. I suspect that you too will hate to say goodbye to these remarkable, authentic characters even as you take the best parts of them into your heart and your own journey."

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Ordinary Graces and Dwelling Places

"I know of no other series of novels like this one, where you actually have the opportunity to do some hands-on, practical spiritual direction with the characters. It's exceptional! You'll identify with Hannah, Charissa, Mara, and Meg as they each walk along the life path God has for them. You'll find at the end of this series that you've gained not just more information about God, but, more importantly, a deeper understanding that you are his beloved child and that he is close, close, close!"

Marilyn Hontz, speaker, author, ministry coach, pastor

"Rarely have novels impacted my life as much as Sharon Garlough Brown's Sensible Shoes series. From the first page of Sensible Shoes to the last one of An Extra Mile, God has whispered life and love and hope to my soul even as I was swept along by a story I couldn't put down. Brown weaves real-life drama within the bounds of spiritual direction, easily combining God's Word with centuries old spiritual disciplines in a way that makes you want to walk this road with Hannah, Charissa, Mara, and Meg in a wondrous story with life-giving truth. God has used this series to change my life, moving me ever nearer to the heart of Christ. The study guides at the end of each of novel are rich, and I have used them in my pastoral care ministry with missionary women. I tell all my friends about the Sensible Shoes series!"

Elizabeth Musser, author of The Long Highway Home

"An Extra Mile is a testimony to the joy that comes with spiritual growth and increasing trust, even amid setbacks and sorrow. In Mara, Charissa, Hannah, and Becca, we see God faithfully renewing real, messy lives with grace and tender patience, stretching his beloved ones to greater love and service. In this final installment of the Sensible Shoes series, Sharon Garlough Brown offers a beautiful invitation to share in the deepening sacred journeys of her characters and to make this pilgrimage our own."

Rebecca DeYoung, professor of philosophy, Calvin College, and author of Glittering Vices

"The characters in the Sensible Shoes series have become friends. Sharon Garlough Brown has created them to feel like real people—which is why so many of us readers love her books. We laugh, we cry, we puzzle at their actions, and we see ourselves in them. And more importantly, we see how a loving God can conform them to his likeness—he can change them. And, therefore, us. I wholeheartedly recommend this series and want to say please, please, read the books with expectancy and joy. Not only will you see yourself in them, but you'll be surprised at how God can use them in your own journey of faith. They are, quite simply, the best books on spiritual formation I've seen in a long time."

Amy Boucher Pye, author of Finding Myself in Britain

Praise for Barefoot: "During a difficult year of loss in my own life, I found great comfort in this fictional tale of four friends with true-to-life faith. The way they relate with Christ and one another in grief, disappointment, celebration, and joy served as a kind companion to me personally, as well as a creative reminder of some of my favorite spiritual practices."

Emily P. Freeman, author of Simply Tuesday

Praise for Two Steps Forward: "Once again, Sharon Brown has provided an inspirational story that allows readers to shadow four women as they continue their spiritual journey. Each facing specific challenges, the friends learn that God is with us, even now, even here, in the midst of our own mess. With a powerful companion guide for prayer and conversation, this book is ideal for anyone dealing with loss, abuse, fear, anxiety or insecurities. It reminds us all with a gentle touch that we are born in the image of God and we are worthy of being loved."

Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of Into the Free and The Feathered Bone

Praise for Barefoot: “Sharon Garlough Brown does not disappoint. That's because what undergirds all of her books is deep truth. One reads them and thinks, yes, that's how churches can be, or yes, that's what it's like to parent a twenty-something, or yes, that's a friendship that mirrors mine. But the deepest truth when we read her books is this one: yes, that's what a life of faith looks like—battered yet sustained, wounded yet deeply hopeful that God is up to something. These books resonate because they feel so true and because this is how we long to be: barefoot, surrendered, saying here I am to the One who guides our steps."

Mary Hulst, college chaplain, Calvin College, author of A Little Handbook for Preachers

Praise for Barefoot: "Sharon Garlough Brown may be a novelist, but she's also a portrait artist, painting with tender detail the souls of four women on a spiritual journey. This third installment is harrowing, lovely, joyous—like life, like faith. Beautifully rendered!"

Sarah Arthur, author of Between Midnight and Dawn

"Deep, genuine friendships are rare. Christian covenantal friendships—in which you hold one another accountable to doing good, not just to refraining from evil—are even rarer. Brown gives us four women who embark on such a journey together, weathering grief, loss, joy, and victories. Through tracing a year of their lives, Brown draws her characters—and her readers—closer to Jesus, one intentional step at a time."

Sarah Arthur, author, speaker, preliminary fiction judge for the CT Book Awards
Sharon Garlough Brown
Sharon Garlough Brown
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Sharon Garlough Brown and Sharron Carrns
12 Sessions
Sharon Garlough Brown
8 Sessions
Sharon Garlough Brown
12 Sessions
Sharon Garlough Brown
8 Sessions