I had the wonderful privilege of receiving an advanced copy of Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist in return for a blog review. Such a wonderful way to get the blog community excited about her new book. I couldn't turn the opportunity down.
I have been a fan of Shauna's for years. My friend Allison introduced me to Cold Tangerines several years ago, and it continues to be a book that I read and re-read almost annually. Bittersweet is also one of my all time favorites. I've never connected with an author the way I have with Shauna. Maybe it's because my closest girlfriends all identify with her writing and we have read her books and celebrated her book releases together. I was even lucky enough to help with a Bittersweet event when Shauna was in town and squealed a bit when I saw that she mentioned it in Bread & Wine. The event she describes, in the rolling hills, under a ceiling of twinkly lights, I was there.
I knew I would like this book. I've known that Shauna treasures food and community since I first became a fan of hers. It was obvious this was the path she would take in her writing. I just didn't realize how much it would challenge me.
I'm a perfectionist by nature. I like things to look a certain way and feel a certain way, and while I love having people in my home, I almost never open my door to a dirty house. I learned the hard way that I had to change. When I was pregnant with Crosbi and consumed in pain and sickness, I wouldn't let those closest to me love me or take care of me. I didn't want them to see my mess. Food was left at our doorstep because I made excuses for why I couldn't come to the door. Either I hadn't showered or I was sleeping, or anything else I could think of because I just felt gross and embarrassed about what was happening to me. I think about that time, and I'm so sad that I put up such a wall. Thankfully friends called me out on it and opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn't hiding my mess, I was shutting them out.
But it isn't perfection, and it isn't about performance. You'll miss the richest moments in life - the sacred moments when we feel God's presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love - if you're too scared or too ashamed to open the door. - Shauna Niequist
Not only did Bread & Wine inspire me to open my door, not just to friends and family, but to anyone I come in contact with, it also rekindled my love for cooking. Nearly each chapter contains a recipe close to Shauna's heart and she writes in such a way that you can almost taste each dish as you turn the pages. She combines my favorite things - great autobiographical writing and cookbooks. I thought she brilliantly intertwined the two.
To celebrate this book, I invited my closest girlfriends over for a Bread & Wine themed brunch. I used my best serving ware, lit candles and shared an incredible morning with my best friends. I served Shauna's Blueberry Crisp, Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs (both in the book), and her Pumpkin Banana Anything Muffins, which can be found on her blog. We drank coffee and mimosas and celebrated our friendship.
I so highly recommend this book. If you are looking for a great read, full of encouragement, this book is for you. If you want to be reminded of how to love the people around you well, this book is for you. If you just need to be fed emotionally, spiritually, and/or literally, this book is for you. Trust me.
He's here! God is here, and he's good. Every time we eat, every time we gather, every time the table is filled: He's here. He's here, and he is good.