RSS Feed

Tag Archives: books

bread & wine & quinoa

breakfast (quinoa) for dinner with @dmossthered.

right now a lot of things are kind of overwhelming to me. & cooking is one of them. I love to cook. but when you have school til 3:30 and a PTA meeting at 5:45… or school til 3:30 and tutoring at 5:30… getting to the grocery store & making dinner seems kind of impossible. if anything, it can only happen after all of the other things… which means you don’t eat til 8pm. sometimes I just eat out. but mostly I eat things like hummus, pita, apples, granola bars, oranges, spinach leaves. healthy & somewhat filling but all cold & kind of soul-less.

several weeks ago I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of shauna niequest‘s new book, bread & wine. even in the midst of teacher life, I devoured it. I’ve loved all her books, but I might love this one best. all of the stories connected so beautifully to the theme of the table without feeling forced. & the book was full of recipes… fancy sounding things like mango chicken curry & goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates, but also very do-able things. simple, homemade salad dressing. goat cheese biscuits. breakfast quinoa. & on one kinda icky night when I was definitely too tired & overwhelmed for a dinner party, david & I made this breakfast quinoa. quinoa, onions, chicken apple sausage, & eggs (scrambled for me, fried for him). it was warm & satisfying & exactly what we needed. & this morning, several weeks later, I made it again. & it was just right the second time as well.

I’m thankful for books that are comforting & inspiring all at once. & for recipes that are flavorful & delicious but attainable even on nights when you have three & a half commitments. I want to have dinner parties again soon. but for now, breakfast for dinner will do just fine.

on not being able to do everything

bedtime reading. "we cannot do everything... this enables us to do something... an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter & do the rest." thankful.

I want to be a good teacher & start a Spanish club & hang out with my sister & run half marathons & tutor & have a birthday party for everyone & write some grants & cook something new every week & plan a wedding & have all my neighbors over for dinner & hang out with David lots & be part of a great small group & keep my house really clean & go pick up things from craigslist & put coupons on my kroger card & plan really engaging lessons.

but I can’t do all those things at the same time. some things have to lose. unfortunately lots of times the things that lose are things like sleep, a clean house, & grocery shopping… which are the very things that make the other things possible.

when I can’t do everything it sometimes makes me feel like a failure. like I’m not as strong or organized or responsible as I should be. like if only I did a better job of time management I could fit everything in. & if I did a better job with time management, I could probably fit a couple more things in. but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it all, no matter how well I use my iPhone & planner.

so I’m trying to learn to prioritize. to learn that saying no doesn’t make me selfish or incapable or a bad person. & to give up the idea of control, the idea that things will fall apart if I don’t do everything. a lot of my frantic-ness has to do with a lack of trust, a lack of belief that god will “pick up the slack” I am leaving behind. that’s wrong. & it’s a pretty prideful way to look at life. so here’s to breathing deep, saying no, & not feeling guilty for resting. I don’t know how to do any of those things. but I want to learn.

p.s. the book pictured is this common prayer pocket book, which I recommend.
p.p.s. this is a good post from a favorite author about living anti-frantic.

wednesday words

Untitled

thanks to our school librarian who’s been lending them out on the side, I’ve been re-reading harry potter. there’s not really too much to say about this. if you’ve read them, you understand. if you haven’t read them, what are you waiting for? really. I’ve re-read the later ones a few times, but it’s been ages since I read the first few. it’s cool going back & seeing how rowling really sets up the plot from the very beginning, years before they come to fruition. that lady can write some story arcs like nobody’s business.

I brought chamber of secrets with me on the plane over thanksgiving break & multiple people (with big smiles) asked me excitedly if this was my first time reading them. I kinda wished I could say yes, but I’m thankful I grew up with harry. as I re-read I keep thinking… these are magic in every sense of the word. here’s to kids books & never really growing up.

p.s. speaking of kids books, I’m dying to read this one.

we are loved

happy monday, y'all.

this little print has been with me the past four places I’ve lived. usually in a place where I’ll see it every day. it makes me smile… something about the idea of a guy yelling beautiful truth towards someone who looks so discouraged.

growing up in Southern church culture, the idea of humans as inherently sinful was very familiar to me. & I still believe that this is true. but I’ll never forget one day in college, listening to a guy sitting on a stool towards the front of the room my church was meeting in. he explained that although he had a hard time accepting it, ultimately his identity before God was that he was loved… that God had loved him before he was born, that God loved him now, during his sin… & that God would still continue loving him after sin was no more. this simple truth blew my mind that morning & has been gradually reshaping my identity ever since. yes, I am–we are–desperately sinful, prone to wander. but before & in & after that, we are deeply loved by God. this is comfort & hope & peace… this is grace. this is reason to rejoice.

p.s. I also love what mary karr writes about communion in sinners welcome:
“‘you are loved,’ said someone. ‘take that & eat it.'”

wednesday words

photo (6)

it’s been awhile since I’ve written about a book. mostly because this summer has been full of reading short stories to teach out of & lots of handouts about teaching English. but Picking Cotton came to me via mail (half price, thanks to amazon used books) & I devoured it in the span of a few days. I even skipped an afternoon bus nap to finish it… & around here, that means a book is really good.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t say anything that’s not on the back cover. Picking Cotton is the true story of a women that is brutally raped and the man she mistakenly identifies as her rapist… the man who spends eleven years in prison because of that mistake. both of the protagonists are victims in very different ways.

rape is one of those things in life that, honestly, it’s hard for me to see any kind of cosmic purpose in. it’s difficult to imagine what coming back from it looks like–but the female protagonist does just that, with the kind of grace & spirit that gives me a lot of hope. the last few chapters of this book were one of the best pictures I’ve recently seen of love in the face of hate, forgiveness instead of bitterness.

this was a meaningful book. it’s a fascinating look into certain aspects of the justice system; it’s very well written. but its most powerful message is, to quote Bono, “grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”  I finished Picking Cotton reminded that, while there is a lot lot of terrible darkness in the world, it will always be beaten back by light. worth skipping that bus nap for sure.

p.s. feliz cumpleanos to David!
& welcome back to ‘merica. : )

wednesday words

Untitled

I really like kids books. last year my roommate & I kept a stack in our living room. when I was a kid I adored goodnight moon. now days I think moe williams is pretty genius, especially edwina, the dinosaur that didn’t know she was extinct & leonardo the terrible monster. as much as I love kids books, though, I’ve always had a hard time with kids Bible books. I have read so many different ones, between four younger siblings & dozens of babysitting gigs… but it always seemed like they reduced to mundanity the stories that I know are so so beautiful.

then a couple of years ago I stumbled upon the Jesus Storybook Bible. Sally Lloyd-Jones has put together the most beautiful retellings I’ve ever read… simple enough for kids to follow, but rich enough that any adult reading them aloud will benefit greatly. my copy is side by side English & Spanish (how cool is that?), but there’s an English only version as well.

I am particularly fond of Lloyd-Jones’ renditions of Isaiah, the Last Supper & Revelation… but the part that is brought to my mind most often is actually in the introduction:

“Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy.  The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bibe aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story… there are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name…”

this book is rich. sometimes when I feel bogged & buried in “intellectual Christianity,” I pick it up, flip through, breath deep & am reminded of how simple & how beautiful the Story really is. I’m telling you… kids books are good for the soul.

wednesday words

Untitled

lauren winner is one of my very favorites. everything that she’s written has been so timely in my life. her first book is called ‘girl meets god.’ it’s an excellent book & it’s really smart– all about winner’s life & journey through reformed Judism, orthodox Judiasm, & Christianity. unfortunately the combo of the cover & title make the book seem like some kind of chick lit Christian book that will tell you how to meet the perfect boyfriend. so when I tell people I love this book I feel like I have to follow up with “IT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT LOOKS I PROMISE.” anyway, digression.

I read winner’s most recent book last semester. titled ‘still,’ the book explores loss & failure, doubt & faith. tonight while I was tidying my room, I found it on my nightstand… I picked it up, flipping through, re-reading parts I’d underlined. there are countless things that I gleaned from this book… lessons about sainthood (“the failure of a saint reveals the forgiveness & new possibilities made in God, & the saint is just a small character in a story that is always about God.”), about the simultaneous closeness & elusiveness of God, about prayer, about Emily Dickinson. my copy of ‘still’ is full of marginala & underlining… but this part in the preface is perhaps my favorite:

“The enthusiasms of my conversion have worn off. For whole stretches… my belief has faltered, my sense of God’s closeness has grown strained, my efforts at living in accord with what I take to be the call of the gospel have some undone.”

And yet in those same moments of strained belief, of not knowing where or who God is, it has also seemed that the Christian story keeps explaining who and where I am, better than any other story I know. On the days when I think I have a fighting chance at redemption, at change, I understand it to be these words and these rituals and these people who will change me. Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith. And yet I continue to live in a world the way a religious person lives in the world; I keep living in a world I know to be enchanted, and not left alone. I doubt; I am uncertain; I am restless, prone to wander. And yet glimmers of holy keep interrupting my gaze.”

the biggest complaint about ‘still’ seems to be the fact that winner doesn’t offer a lot of concrete answers. but oh, it is sometimes healing in and of itself simply to find someone asking your same questions. I’m glad to read the words of someone who has learned to doubt well… & ever so thankful for the gracious, gracious God who incessantly sends glimmers of holy to reclaim my wandering gaze.