If you know me at all, you’ll know a few things.
- I am single. Very, very single. I have no one to make feel at home in our home because there is no “our” or “home.”
- I do not have a home to call my own. I am mind-blowingly blessed to be able to live with my parents while I am grad-school – but because of that – I don’t have a space to call my own. My kitchen is the same kitchen as I’ve always had. It’s really my father’s kitchen. Needless to say, I don’t throw dinner parties often. Ever, actually. I never grew up in a family that entertained much. We are wonderful and engaged and lively guests – just not the ones to host. It’s always been like that.
- I cannot cook. Like, recipes give me hives and my food Pinterest board is actually a source of anxiety in my life.
So there are those things.
When I started reading Bread & Wine, the latest from one of my very favorite authors Shauna Niequist, I was skeptical about the impact it would have on me. I mean, it had some pretty stiff competition.
Her first novel, Cold Tangerines changed my life. It also opened my eyes to a style of writing that I was instantly charmed by. I was awakened to this woman and mother and author who was honest, vulnerable, and conversational in ways I had often dreamt about but never known how to actually…do. I felt like I was sitting in Shauna’s living room with a cup of tea listening to her impossibly brilliant stories and comical tales of author life and motherhood and so on. I knew from the moment I finished that book on a flight home from Seattle that something in my life would be significantly impacted by that memoir.
Then, there was Bittersweet. I read this book at one of the lowest points in my life. It was perfectly orchestrated, I know now. On the gloomy nights of this season of my life I would roll into bed – tired and raw and broken and miserable – and let her words and stories soothe wounds in a way that only prose could. I would steal time while the kids I nannied were napping and devour word after word about the personal heartbreaks that she went through. I think as a writer, sometimes there is nothing more cathartic than to resonate with a piece of writing so deeply. This book healed me in many ways.
So then, Bread & Wine. Her highly anticipated book about…cooking?
I’ll admit, I was hesitant. I mean, what does a 23-year old single girl who lives with her parents and can’t cook worth ______ have to learn from a book with this subtitle: A love letter to life around the table with recipes!?
But then I read this:
I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even while I’m longing for something more. The longing and the gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that he sees what I can’t, that he’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning. (58)
I knew this book was for me.
Because you see, this is where I am at.
While I am beyond content with the life I live right now, I find myself peering into the future often. Trying to turn the pages of my story as quickly as I can until I can finally get to the good part.
But this is it. This is the good part. This season – this time of singleness and considering scrambling eggs with cheese in my father’s kitchen the epitome of my cooking prowess – is a sweet one. A rich one. One to be grateful for. My life doesn’t really start when a or b or c happens. It is happening right. now.
I turn a few pages and read this passage:
[she is talking about fertility issues she is having]
Approximately one million and one people had suggested to me that when I stopped thinking about it and worrying about it, it would happen. That’s sort of life telling someone who’s up to bat not to worry about watching the ball, that the hit will come when you stop staring at the ball. Really? ou know what will happen when you take your eye off the ball? At best, strikeout; at worst, a serious head injury. It’s like telling someone who’s drowning to relax and let the water do its work. I know how that one ends. It’s incredibly infuriating to be told to stop caring about something in order to make that very important thing happen. (84)
I was at a coffee-shop when I read that one. I wanted to jump on the table and shout from the mountain tops…well table top…
YES! THIS IS HOW I FEEL! THIS IS WHAT I HATE ABOUT PEOPLE WHEN THEY GIVE ME ADVICE ABOUT FINDING MY HUSBAND. PREACH IT SHAUNA!
Of course, I didn’t do this. But I wanted do. I resonated in such deep ways with this because she named it. She called out this frustration that I had been having and said, “me too Lauren. Me too.” Whether or not it is true (in her case, it did actually turn out to be true), I was just blessed by knowing that someone out there who also thinks it is insane advice to give someone who is single (or childless, or jobless, or _________less for that matter) to just stop wanting that.
Oh, there are so many underlined passages in my books. Words and lines and ideas that rocked my little heart. I could go on and on and tell you about all the ways that this book touched my heart.
And all this…from a recipe book?
It’s more than that guys. Yes, it is a book about creating a home and atmosphere that welcomes people in – with meals. But Bread & Wine taught me that all this doesn’t necessarily mean I need to have a family or kitchen or an aptitude in the kitchen. It means I have to be willing to gather with people, at whatever table we find ourselves at, and fight for community. Fight for the kind of friendships that will last long into wifehood and motherhood and homemaker-hood.
My life doesn’t start in 5-10 years when I am able to throw dinner parties for my husband and I’s friends. It starts now. My ability to welcome people into a warm environment, full of love and food (most likely cooked by Trader Joes) and friendship starts…now.
So thank you Shauna. Once again, you’ve met me right where I am at. Bread & Wine is a fantastic addition to your collection. For the chef, enjoy the recipes. May your stomachs be full.
But for all women, for the wanderers, single ladies, in-between and still figuring life out gals like me…enjoy the wise words from this brilliant woman of God. May your hearts be full and satisfied in ways like never before.
Buy Bread & Wine now!