Tag Archives: Kristin Schell

More on Gathering Around a Table with Help from Shauna Niequist’s book: BREAD AND WINE

Friends!  The past few weeks we’ve been looking around with mission-minded eyes from our back yards to our front yards, perhaps plopping down turquoise picnic tables in them.

This week we’re going to mosey on inside, and try a few recipes in the kitchen, making some unsuspecting guests at our table very, very happy.

Even if you’re challenged in the cooking department like me, you’ll be so inspired to try what author Shauna Niequist suggests in her super fun book, Bread and Wine—A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes).

Shauna’s honest, no-nonsense style and wit make this book a page-turner.  Divided into three parts, most chapters, which are lovely vignettes, include a recipe.

All her chocolate recipes call for my favorite ingredient:  dark chocolate. The one I most desperately wish to try ASAP is her three-ingredient “Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”.  I know…  She dubs it “cheater mousse”.  LOL.

Sensing some of her readers may be cooking impaired, Shauna offers entertaining tips, a list for what to stock your pantry with, and menu ideas.  It’s the best!  Plus, for those of you who need to eat gluten free, she either shows you how to make the dish GF, or it already is GF.

You’ll become acquainted with Shauna and her husband, Aaron, their two boys, Henry and Mac and many of their unique friends. Her Supper Club sounds like a blast.

Her extended family makes cameos as well and you’ll get a feel for how real they are. In reality, I’m sure it’s tough to escape from under the microscope of her Dad’s mega church, Willow Creek.  (www.willowcreek.org )

Also an accomplished author, Shauna’s Dad, Bill Hybels, clearly loves his family.  Getting a peek into their family is so sweet.  Their devotion to one another is beautiful.

I love how Shauna calls her Mother, Lynne, “a global soul: a poet, an activist, a woman of creativity and conviction and vision, a woman I aspire to be like in a million ways.” Lynne is also a fantastic author.

Just as author Kristin Schell showed us easy ways to be hospitable via a turquoise table, Shauna does the very same at her dining room table.  She proclaims, “Fuss not!”, blissfully chucking perfectionism out the window.

This is how she puts her foot down:  “You can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…” I need to make that quote into a sign and hang it in our kitchen!

Here, Shauna’s readying to prepare a meal…

My Mother was a long-suffering perfectionist.  When John and I would go home to Lexington for dinner, she’d spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  We’d serve our plates and she insisted we “go on and eat.”  We complied, but by the time she fixed her plate and came in to eat, we were all nearly done. There we sat.

One petite example:  Jelly was never served in a jelly jar, it was presented in a crystal bowl, silver spoon at the ready.  To this day, I still laugh when I whip out the ketchup and barbecue sauce bottles, salad dressing bottles, etc. and set them on the counter for everyone to self-serve.  (Mother would be horrified. Shauna would say, “Yes!  You can do this!”)

Above and beyond striving for simplicity, Shauna and I could be buddies on many levels. In addition to being a mom of boys, I adore her love for bread.  I’d go one step further and confess my love for bread and butter. (Any of you Whole 30 advocates out there are cringing.)

Shauna explains her title beautifully:  “…I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine…The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.” To me, that makes communion that much more special.

Another of many favorite quotes in the book is: “Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table.

Something extraordinary happens when we…

Slow down,

Open our homes,

Look into one another’s faces, and

Listen to one another’s stories around the table.”

We also learn early on Shauna bravely put herself in a culinary boot camp.  I applaud her effort. Her experience filters throughout the book in an encouraging if-I-can-do-this-you-can-do-this way.

One statement from the Intro’ seems to be a goal of the book. We readers get to see it in action in each of the meals Shauna serves.  I see it in three parts:

What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to

(1) Rest and

(2) Connect and

(3) Be fed at my table.” (I added the numbers.)

Dash  to your local bookstore.  Find this book and flip thru’ it.  My guess is you’ll see enough recipes you’ll want to try, especially when you learn the stories behind them…even better!  Bread and Wine would make a great gift as well.

‘Til next time!

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Now We’re Movin’ to the Front Yard with help from Kristin Schell and THE TURQUOISE TABLE…

Friends!  I pray today finds you well…I’m livin’ in the Land of Denial re:  “Summer’s Half Over”…Somehow the 4th of July left us rather rudely in the dust…

Here’s a book for your summer reading whether this finds you poolside, or perched by a picture window…

A recent discovery of this book has snowballed to near avalanche proportions.  Thanks to a favorite, informative resource, www.styleblueprint.com , the gals offered a fascinating interview with author Kristin Schell as a “Face of the South”.

I was so mesmerized by the article, I promptly forwarded it to my friend, Judy, who’s creating her own book with similar offerings.  Judy up and ordered two copies, one for her and one for me.  We’ve simultaneously become enraptured by the book.

The book?  The Turquoise Table—Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristen Schell.

Note the beauty of the cover.  I’d have bought it solely from the cover.  Its’ spine is a lovely, sheeny gold and it includes a rich, brown, satin book marker.  Such things tickle me. (You go, Thomas Nelson.)

Each page is thick, easy to turn. Each chapter has beautiful photographs, ideas, recipes (all of which look easy and delicious), and testimonies of others acquiring a turquoise table.  Why the turquoise table you ask?

One weekend, Kristin and her family were going to be entertaining in their back yard and she realized they needed furniture.  A picnic table fit their budget.

Delivery guys plunked the table in her front yard.  This gave Kristin an idea:  What if she left it there, inviting friends and neighbors to visit on a whim?

Oh, but it couldn’t stay in its’ plain ole’ natural wood color.  Flipping thru’ many paint samples, with the help of Kristin’s Mom, Mia, they landed on “Nifty Turquoise”.

Check this out from Bourn Creative:  “The color turquoise is associated with meanings of refreshing, calming, sophisticated, energy, wisdom, serenity, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, patience, etc.”

Kristin’s writing style is expressive, funny, and honest.  You’ll relate with her from the first page.  This comes as great relief to the reader as we learn the simplicity of offering hospitality to others.

One of many appealing aspects of the turquoise table is its’ location:  it’s outside.  Thus, no one knows if the inside of your house is a wreck or not.  (Just pray they don’t have to use the bathroom, right?)

Kristen says, “If you’re busy and overwhelmed, the last thing you need is one more project, one more thing to do. Well, you’ll see the Turquoise Table offers simplicity. It’s more than a table; it’s a symbol of reaching out and making room without all the fuss and frenzy.”

In my last post, we talked about our mission fields being in our own back yards. Here we see Kristen showing us:  “We are called to love others in our everyday, ordinary lives…right where we live: in our own front yards.”

Kristen shares how this whole idea of the table evolved.  Many days she begins by sitting at the table alone and soon, others show up. Sometimes she plans get-togethers. Sometimes she’s there with her children.  She adds, “If people come, great, but if not, then you have time to stay unconnected and have room to breathe.”

One on-purpose gathering simply came from a text she sent out saying, “9:00 tomorrow. Yoga pants.”  Love that! (You can hear more from Kristen in a fun interview she did with Eric Metaxas on his radio show.  It aired 6/13/17.  Visit www.metaxastalk.com)

Kristen’s kids began setting out a bowl of water for dogs who walk by, and a bowl of candy to treat their neighbors, just for starters.  She includes other numerous ideas.  To see how this whole idea has evolved and literally spread across the country is astonishing.

After having her fourth child, Kristen began dubbing herself the “Queen of Crazy”.  She prayed a fabulous prayer:  “Lord, edit my life!”  (Note to self…)

Romans 12:13 became her mantra:

You’ll love what you’ll learn about hospitality. It has many different faces according to Kristen.  If she can do this with four young children, surely we can too…

Equally fascinating is a pattern she discovers.  Don’t miss this!  (I’m not about to spoil the discovery for you, you must read the book!)

Countless people have written to Kristen sharing their stories, including some challenges their HOA has presented and their very clever solutions. One of many favorite ideas from Kristen’s time at the table is she’s begun setting out an “iBasket”…which you can guess collects cell phones.  Kristen said in the Style Blueprint interview, “There’s no ‘i’ device that will ever replace ‘eye’ contact.”  Whoa.

Combine quiet, unplugged time with the  “Ministry of Presence”, thanks to inspiration from an eighty-four-year-old widow in Prague…

Her name is Ludmilla.  She has a plaque on the outside of her apartment that says, “Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven.” She opens her door and her heart to friends and strangers. Kristen said Ludmilla encouraged her to “want to have a simple table spread with abundant love. To offer an atmosphere of joy and peace.” 

Any argument you could have about beginning this endeavor, Kristen answers.  It almost becomes comical because you feel as if she’s reading your mind.

One of many favorite activities in the book is to “Start a Front Yard People Journal.”  This helps you remember neighbors’ names, their family, prayer requests, etc.—Almost a guest book of sorts.

I’ll go so far as to recommend you start your own version of a guest book whether you’re considering a turquoise table or not.  My same friend Judy who gave me Kristen’s book says her one major regret over the years from having hosted countless missionaries, pastors, authors, friends, and family is not recording who all has gathered and placed their feet under her table.  That would make for a fascinating book!  (We’re anxiously awaiting yours, Judy!!! You can do it!)

Friend, run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab The Turquoise Table.  You’ll love it.  It’s also an excellent gift idea.  My daughters-in-love are getting a copy ASAP.  It would also be a beautiful coffee table book, guaranteeing lively conversation.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons