Shauna Niequist taught me a new way to live.
I picked up her book, having no idea what I was getting myself into, and put it down changed. Reading her words in Cold Tangerines, felt like reading my own journal… on a really, really good day.
I was shocked that someone else had gone ahead and lived the life that I could barely dream was possible. I was even more shocked that someone could put such beautiful words to those moments and experiences.
I was feeling this stirring, this unsettled restlessness of a life unlived. I knew that there had to be more – had to be something deeper to the beauty of the world but I didn’t know how to ask for it. I wanted this life to be about celebration and the process and the beauty in the ordinary, but I didn’t know where to look for it and couldn’t put words to my deep longing.
Shauna gave me those words.
Shauna is an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. But she’s proof that even the most ordinary of lives are extraordinary when we take the time to see.
Her honesty gives sweet and tender words to the things that we so often feel, but don’t know how to explain.
And so it has been my pleasure to read and now to recommend her newest book, Bread & Wine.
Bread & Wine is a love letter to food and the beautiful things that happen around the table – a tapestry of stories, experiences, and recipes.
It’s striking that this book is about something that causes women so much pain. It’s strange to hear someone talk about food with such loving words when normally, food is talked about as something to be counted or consumed with the greatest caution – the cause of our shame and our hiding.
I know that this connection is not lost on Shauna. I know that the reason she is able to love food so much is because of the redemption that the Lord has brought about in her life. I know that she’s well aware of the hatred that we can carry for food and what we feel like it’s done to our bodies.
For Shauna, this book completes the circle – from a girl who used to hate her body and the food that caused her shame, to a woman who loves her body for what it is and what it isn’t, who treats it with care and respect and love.
Her love of food had to come after a long season of hardship, just like this book.
It’s powerful to me to know that the celebration of Bread & Wine had to be earned – that it was preceded by a long season of loss and change and uncertainty.
Sitting in a similar season of change and uncertainty, it’s a sweet reminder that the promise of life is fulfilled, in an extra measure, after a season of loss. It’s a picture of rebirth – of the moment when all the leaves fall off of the tree and then it springs to life once more.
In my own bittersweet season, it feels deeply grounding to read words from a woman who knows what I’m taking about. A woman who has stepped a few places ahead, savoring the richness of the wine and the nourishment of the bread, having gone through the hard parts that come right before the greatest celebrations.
This book rings in a celebration in my life – a time of great joy and deep love. And it’s made extra rich by the hard work that preceded it. And it’s a pleasure to bring in that celebration with a companion like Bread & Wine.
Shauna, as always, thank you for stepping out before us. Thank you for doing the hard work that is a life well lived and for turning around and telling us the truth about what you’ve seen just over the horizon. Thank you for putting words to what we sometimes fail to say and for reminding us that the sweetness, the promise, the rich life of the bread and wine is deeply real and something that we can take hold of too.
To celebrate this beautiful new book, I decided to have a small dinner party to test out some of the recipes. My small party turned into a packed apartment with a table that overflowed. I made Shauna’s Blueberry Crisp and the Mini Mac & Cheese. Both fantastic.