An Invitation to Savor

There are few people whose voice I want to hear speaking into my every day, but Shauna Niequist is one of them.

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I was so thrilled to receive her latest book, which is a daily devotional called Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are.  My introduction to Niequist was in reading her last book, Bread & Wine, which has since lived in my kitchen amongst my three most used cookbooks, and it looks like this:

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Yes, as you can see, my copy of Bread & Wine is well-loved.  And if you aren’t familiar with Shauna Niequist than you must know: the woman loves food, but not just for the sake of food alone, but for the gathering that happens around the table.  For the way sharing a meal together cracks our hearts wide open to one another, breaks down stiff walls between each other, thaws out our awkwardness toward one another.  The way opening our homes and inviting someone in says, “I see you.  I want to know you.  I want to give you something my hands have made.  I want to share life with you.”  Because of her love for good, nourishing food and the power of a meal shared with loved ones, Niequist often incorporates her favorite recipes into her writing.

Savor is no exception!  Not only is the book beautifully designed, with hand-lettering by Lindsay Letters accenting the linen cover + each page, but it is also thicker than I expected and has gorgeous navy blue edged pages.  Her recipes are sprinkled throughout the book, reminding you that “spiritual living happens not just when we read and pray, but also when we gather with family and friends over dinners and breakfasts and late-night snacks” (back cover),  including a wide variety of recipes such as Blueberry Yogurt Breakfast Cake, Wild Rice Salad, Curried Cauliflower, Fregolotta, Thai Beef Salad, and Grilled Peach + Caramel Sundaes.  I’ve already been busy cooking out of it, as you can see.

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In this devotional, each day begins with a short scripture and a pertinent reflection, encouraging you to savor this life, to savor each day that God has given.  Each day finishes with a question for reflection.  You know an author is gifted at her craft when her words stay with you months or years afterwards, when those words rattle around in your bones and start to live and grow deep in the soil of your own heart.  When that writer communicates the way she sees life so clearly that you can see it, too, and your own vision is transformed.  This is how Shauna writes.  She will inspire you to move beyond surviving your days to paying attention to them, slowing down, feasting, savoring.

“So read and learn and pray and cook and share.  Remember to savor each day, whatever it holds: work and play, coffee and kids, meals and prayers and the good stuff and the hard stuff.  Life is all about relationships, and your daily relationship with God is worth savoring in every moment.”

My only complaint is that each day’s reading leaves me wanting more!  Shauna’s words are evocative, stirring, and true, and a couple paragraphs is just not enough!

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Thanks to HarperCollins Christian Publishing for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Longing For More

A brand new year unfolds before us. How many of us find ourselves restless, longing for more? The holidays are behind us now, and we are tired of all the activity, the rushing, the memory-making + merry-making, the feasting and the getting.

Now we start again, we re-set, we look into what is both ordinary and fresh at the same time. We’re back to our usual work. Laundry piles, dishes stack, children squabble, bills accrue again. How can we enter into the sameness and the ordinary and yet become different?  

What are we so restless for?

Timothy Willard offers us companionship in our restlessness and offers a soul-remedy: God.

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The month of January is a clean start, a time when many of us are thinking about change, the changes we want to make to become more of who we desire to be.  We go into a new year and bring our old selves into it; but how can we be changed?  How can we be transformed?

Scripture tells us we can be transformed by “renewing our minds” (Rom. 12:2).  We renew our minds by immersing them in the Truth and abandoning the lies that have taken root there.  Willard’s book is just one more weapon in our arsenal to immerse our minds in truth and meditate on it.

In his book, Willard offers us companionship throughout the year with daily readings organized into 52 weeks, each week offering 5 meditations on scripture and short prayers.  The readings are fairly concise, leaving you often hungry for further exploration on your own into the scriptures.  The weeks are arranged topically, giving you the option of either following allow chronologically or using the book topically as it suits you.  The topics are things such as love, joy, confession, family, worship, beauty, forgiveness, faithfulness, etc.  Willard arranged the book around the natural rhythms of life, understanding that we experience and relate to God in the ordinary and often mundane activities of our days.

Originally, the readings began as a series of emails written over the course of two years to fellows in an entrepreneurial incubator program for founders of social justice organizations called Praxis.  Willard says, “I wrote weekly devotional emails crafted to inspire, challenge, and engender transparency among those in the program.  I wanted the writing to reflect the rhythms of daily life but also point to the heavens, to God…Why God rhythms?  Because life is anything but formulaic.  Though I try to implement systems to help organize my time and relationships, these life buckets tend to mix and gel, clash and explode.  I experience life like you do, in the whirlwind of reality’s rhythms.  But I do not despise the whirlwind.  Instead, I look to its creator, the author of life, the poet of the universe who holds the ebbing and flowing of life like a valley holds its rivers and streams and trees: in the beautiful cadence of balance.  The storms interrupt, the rains nourish, the sunlight quickens, the fires purge, and the seasons create of cycle of anticipation.  We are always looking to the daffodils, to the picnics, to the harvest parties, to the Christmas trees.”

Willard’s writes as a fellow-sojourner and the readings carry the sense of the dailyness of life, symbiotic with my own feeble heart each day.  His writings stir up my affections for Jesus and always leave me longing to dig deeper into God’s Word and to linger in His presence.

Pick up your own copy HERE and visit Timothy Willard’s website HERE.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  As always, the opinions expressed are my own.