Authors Record Year-long Experiment in Radical Change

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

year of small thingsThe Arthur and Wasinger families spent a year changing their lives a bit at a time; and together they recorded that year in the new book "The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us" by Sarah Arthur and Erin F. Wasinger. The authors will speak and sign books at Baker Book House at 7 pm Thursday, April 27.

Arthur, author of several other books, originally pitched the book as one family's year-long practice of new monasticism in suburbia. Then Tom and Sarah Arthur met Erin and Dave Wasinger and asked them to be part of the journey.

"We formed a covenantal relationship with the Wasingers," said Sarah Arthur. "It's a whole different thing when close friends know what you're doing and challenge you, asking you the hard questions."

The goal was to engage in the 12 marks of new monasticism, a lifestyle espoused by the likes of Shane Claiborne and others.

The Arthurs had lived in an intentional community that practiced the new monasticism while in seminary, then moved to suburban Lansing when called to a church there.

"I reflected after several years of life in suburbia how hard it was to translate so many of those practices into our current situation," said Arthur. "But we felt called to this life regardless of our ZIP code."

The families mapped out what they would do each month, including hospitality, covenantal friends, radical finances, sustaining creation and self care. Each chapter records the journey from both women's perspectives.

Easiest was the chapter on covenantal friendship, made simple because of the close relationship between the adults and five children they have between them.

Hardest for Wasinger, who lives in urban Lansing, was living the chapter titled Kid Monasticism. The chapter discusses controversial things such as school choices for her children.

"It was hard to write about it and not make my kids feel like examples of something," she said. "We couldn't make a choice to make a point or for something to write about, but make the choice as a mother and for the needs of our children."

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For Arthur, the most difficult was creation care. "In suburbia, simplicity and sustainability are not the same thing," she said. "If we want to have a sustainable lawn, it's not simple or cheap. And the housing association has rules about what lawns need to look like."

Each author offers a message to readers. For Arthur, the biggest practice they learned was discernment.

"The practice of discernment is the most important. We didn't want the book to be prescriptive, but to help you ask what can work with your family," she said.

For Wasinger, "Even small things are nearly impossible to do without other people supporting you. You can burn yourself out doing 12 things on your own, but with people helping you it's more sustainable. And it kept us accountable."

Authors Visit Grand Rapids
When: 7 pm, Thursday, April 27
Where: Baker Book House, 2768 East Paris Ave., Grand Rapids
Details: Books will be available for purchase
Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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