“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
Meet Shauna Niequist.
I have read this hundreds of times in the past two years and today it still gives me goosebumps. If an author was the narrator for my life and I was able to hand pick a narrator…I would have to pick Shauna Niequist. From the moment, a good friend handed me her first book, Cold Tangerines I swear her voice has been echoing in my head.
When I first read Cold Tangerines, I had just switched jobs so I could pursue my photography , my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby and I had my hands up in the air asking God where the heck our little adventure in life was headed. The book, and Shauna’s honesty and zest for life reinvigorated my love for reading, for writing and for taking in the little moments. I savored each chapter I read not wanting it to end. Through bed rest and labor and a new baby, I slowly turned each page. I sent it to friends, and if you came into my home and even mentioned a book…I would send you home with it. Long after I finished the final page, I would still hear parts echoing in my head describing moments in my own life and wanting more out of it.
Fast forward to now… A full-time professional photographer, planning a second year old’s birthday party and looking for a new house on the horizon…life is certainly different and hopefully making God belly laugh.
I have been eagerly anticipating Shauna’s newest book Bread & Wine. I have followed it’s progression on the blog for the past two years. From the release of the title, to discovering that sweet and oober talented Lindsay Letters was penning the gorgeous calligraphy on the cover (she did Nicolle from Libby Lane Press’s logo) to the call for people to review the book…I feel like I have seen this book evolve along with my life. And wouldn’t you know it…I received an advanced copy.
If I am being honest, I still have a few chapters remaining. I have read it slowly, carefully swallowing and internalizing each little chunk of goodness…And yes…I have read it with bread and wine. My favorite bookmark is carefully tucked inside and the cover and pages are already curled. Each chapter is full of imagery and love and sincerity and followed by a recipe which adds to the ability for it to literally come to life in your kitchen. If you loved Cold Tangerines… if you love food…or family or you just love life…you are probably going to love this book too.
Bread and Wine challenges the audience to nourish each other, both with food and with love. It encourages people to open the door…for our neighbors…our friends…our families…to invite people in…and to invite them around the table. And never more has the need for that spoken to my life.
When my husband and I were first engaged we went to the store for thank you cards and came home with an over-sized dining room table (Note: no thank you cards were purchased that night). We didn’t even have a house yet and honestly…no budget for a new table, but we purchased it anyways and stored it in my mother-in-laws basement and by far it has been one of the best decisions we have made.
Our house is 100 years old and only has a few bedrooms. The house is what many would describe as a “starter” house and with two dogs, a two year old and two businesses running out of it, it is literally bursting at its seams. I must add that it has a pool and a nice porch and a half basketball court in the backyard which certainly makes it appealing for guests, but it doesn’t make the family room larger or it any easier for packing in the people we love. To even get into the kitchen you have to squeeze around our table which is by far one of the largest pieces of furniture in our house. Since we moved in on our wedding night I have envied people with large kitchens and perfect places for entertaining and I have apologized profusely for the small space or the need for people to sit on the floor. But the reality is that our tiny 100 year old house and the giant table have become a place of celebration and refuge and a place where the door is always open.
I received Bread and Wine in early February and since then we have celebrated my mom’s birthday with both sides of our family, hosted a Seder dinner for 20 adults and 3 children and have housed a neighbor who lost her house to a fire. At a women’s retreat for church we were asked to introduce ourselves and say something we liked to do and my friend said “Hi My name is Jill and I like to hang out at Brittany’s house”. And that’s when Shauna’s voice perfectly narrated my life yet again…
“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small…”
It’s the truth.
People are craving love and God and being home and being nourished. And I want to be able to give that to people no matter how small my house is. And if you are craving those things too…then you need to go buy this book…or come over to my house because the door is certainly open…for a copy and some bread and wine.
A note about the photos: In true photographer fashion I enlisted Nicolle from Libby Lane Press to help me with a shoot for this post. We clamored into her kitchen following a shoot one afternoon and put this together. It is Shauna’s mother’s blueberry crisp and it is delicious. The day we made it it was noisy and crazy and with her two kids running around we could barely hear each other over requests for more play-doh and the simmering of dinner on the stove. But we still read parts of the book aloud and again and again said “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Thank you Nicolle for your friendship and help and for always opening your home. xoxo