Tag Archives: Shauna Niequist

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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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Life Lessons

Crazy Busy or Crazy Grateful? (With help from Kevin DeYoung) Part 2 of 2

Friends!  Last week we discussed our need for pushing pause and how to do just that, thanks to an excellent book by Shauna Niequist (Present Over Perfect—Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living).

This week, I have more good news for you!  Thanks to a lovely God-incident, I came across a skinny little book (only 118 pages long) by Kevin DeYoung.  The book?  Crazy Busy—A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.


The author, Kevin DeYoung, is the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.  Kevin’s married to Trish and they are blessed with, get this:  seven children.  That is one full quiver, God bless ‘em!

You can go online to Kevin’s church’s website, www.universityreformedchurch.org and check out his sermons.  I was blessed to hear Kevin speak at a Together for the Gospel Conference (www.t4g.org ) here in Louisville a couple of years ago. (You can also go to that website and watch any of the talks from the conference.  Amazing speakers, Kevin included.)

As funny and brutally honest as Kevin is, he’s equally passionate about believing in, abiding in, and trusting in our Sovereign Lord.  For which we can thank him, because his book we’re about to talk about will steer you away from chasing unnecessary wild rabbits.

From the first word of the first chapter, Kevin pulls us readers in.  Let me show you:  Chapter One’s title: “Hello, My Name is Busy.”

Kevin begins, “I am the worst possible person to write this book. And maybe the best. My life is crazy busy. I don’t say that as a boast or a brag…How did I get this way?  How did you get this way?…There’s a pervasive sense of being unrelentingly filled up and stressed out.”

Here’s where I picture Shauna’s red wagon we talked about last week brimming over with her lugging it with great difficulty behind her.  Kevin’s been doing likewise.


In fact, when Kevin’s friends asked him about his next book project, upon hearing his answer about a book on busyness, they were stunned.  They reminded him his schedule was a mess and busyness was one of his biggest problems. Precisely why he took the project on.

This is the same scenario years ago for me when I began to study the meaning of margin.  (And the lack thereof, in my own calendar.)  I confessed to many of you, had my Mother been living then, she’d have howled out loud and said, “Oh, this  should be good!”

Kevin tells us upfront the layout of the book: “My outline is as simple as three numbers:  3, 7, and 1:  Three dangers to avoid (chapter 2), Seven diagnoses to consider (chapters 3-9), and One thing you must do (chapter 10).  Excellent  and succinct.  Choose your chapters per your interest. You don’t have to read them in order.

My favorites of the seven diagnoses, while all good, are “Diagnosis # 4:  You Need to Stop Freaking Out About Your Kids”, “Diagnosis #5:  You Are Letting the Screen Strangle Your Soul”,  and “Diagnosis #6:  You’d Better Rest Yourself before You Wreck Yourself.” To which I reply, “Thank you, but really: Ouch, ouch, and ouch.”

Wow. Close Up Portrait Young Woman Beautiful Girl Looking Excite

While Crazy Busy is crazy full with helpful tips, I’d like to share a couple of quotes to get your laughter endorphins cookin’.  I firmly believe, especially when we’re stressed out (a/k/a crazy busy), laughter is the best medicine.

Straight from Scripture:  Proverbs 17:22 reminds us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Cheerful hearts come from laughter, but crushed spirits come from being crazy busy.


Kevin quotes Tim Chester from his book, The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness where he offers “twelve diagnostic questions to determine how ill we’ve become with ‘hurry sickness’.”  They’re all worth exploring, and I’ll tease you with just two of them:

Tim:  #6. “Do you often feel tired during the day or do you find your neck and shoulders aching?”

Kevin: “Mountain Dew, ibuprofen, not a problem.”

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 26th Oct 2016, Mountain Dew is a carbona

Tim:  #12. “Do you eat together as a family or household at least once a day?”

Kevin:  “More or less. When one person is eating, someone else is usually in the house at the same time.”

In the chapter on not freaking out about your kids, Kevin says, “Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be.  It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives.”

Babies Playing With Toys

“Now, our kids have to sleep on their backs (no, wait, their tummies; no, never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart and surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night.  They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.”

Hysterical and comforting… Oh my.

Kevin doesn’t promise immediate change or transformation, or a money-back guarantee (!!!) for us readers, but he does say,

“I hope you’ll find a few ways to tackle your schedule,
several suggestions for reclaiming your sanity, and
a lot of encouragement to remember your soul.”

Friends, those are some kind of powerful verbs:  tackle, reclaim, remember.

For those of us trying to do everything for everybody, this book will help us literally put those worries to bed and sleep better.  No foolin’…

Sleeping Dreaming Woman

Finally, Kevin saves the best for last in “The One Thing You Must Do.”  No spoiler alert, just a phrase or two to leave you with:

We have to believe that the most significant opportunity before us every day is the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus.”

Kevin quotes another one of my favorite authors, Paul Tripp.  Paul gifts us with a quote not just for people in pastoral ministry, but for all of us in our ministries, whether with our family, friends, small groups, the grocery store, Home Depot, wherever:

I am more and more convinced that what gives a ministry its motivations, perseverance, humility, joy, tenderness, passion and grace is the devotional life of the one doing ministry

When I daily admit how needy I am,
Daily mediate on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
Daily feed on the restorative wisdom of His Word,
I am propelled to share with others the grace that I am daily receiving at the hands of my Savior.”

Dear friends, let’s all be more intentional about these next few weeks, to not be so crazy busy, to enjoy and savor moments with family and friends as Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches.

Thank you, Kevin, for a wonderful, helpful, and blissfully short book!

‘Til next time!




Filed under Book Reviews, Margin

When You Need to Push Pause…(With help from Shauna Niequist) Part 1 of 2

Friends! What do you do when you hear Christmas music playing in Walgreen’s while you’re buying Halloween candy?  Would you happily hum along, or become more than irked?

I’m not tellin’ what my reaction was.  You can take a wild guess.

I battle daily with “the glass is half empty” vs. “half full” outlook in addition to a crammed calendar.  Sigh…

My friend Lisa gifted me with a timely book recently over lunch.  She’d been so moved by it, she figured I could use a dose of it as well.

If you’re in the midst of barely coming up for air, juggling a full calendar, feeling like you’re about to implode, this book is for you.  (Never mind Christmas is right around the corner! I know…)

The book?  Present Over Perfect—Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist.


Shauna confesses her life was like she “was pulling a little red wagon, and as I pulled it along, I filled it so full that I could hardly keep pulling.  That red wagon was my life, and the weight of pulling it was destroying me.”

Three pug chihuahua mix - chug- puppies in a red wagon toned

(Now I know Shauna’s talking about things and too many activities, not a load of puppies, but I couldn’t resist this picture. However, three puppies at once could be stressful!)

Shauna tells us, “This book is an account of my winding, messy journey from…

Exhaustion to peace,

From isolation to connection,

From hustling and multitasking to sacred presence.”

She invites us, the reader, to join her from a bird’s-eye view.

She is, “Calling you to leave behind the heavy weight of
Competition, and
Exhaustion, and to
Re-craft a life marked by
Connection, and
Unconditional love.”

Sign me up!  The book is a collection of stories, divided into six parts.  Because she’s been on this journey to get off the “drug of efficiency”, she speaks with authority, sharing what she’s learned, encouraging us to take her challenge of being present over being perfect.

I wish I’d learned these lessons while raising our boys!  Gracious!  Shauna is very convincing, tho’, and I’m a big believer in “it’s never too late.”

Listen to this:  “If you believe people can’t change, I’m here to tell you we can. If you think you could never turn down the volume or lay down your armor or climb into the silence, I’m here to tell you that if I can, you can. If I can, anyone can.”

“I’m a hardened case, a tough nut to crack, a lifelong connoisseur of noise and motion and excessiveness of any kind.  If I can climb into silence and simplicity, anyone on earth can join me there, I promise.”

See how persuasive she is?  Don’t you want to climb into silence and simplicity? She really draws the reader in.  It’s like sitting down in a café having a cup of coffee with her.  A real-live therapy session.

Shauna’s honesty is refreshing and many times, comical.  Just as one story is funny, the next one brings tears.  Many tugged at my heart, being a mother of boys like her.  I’d love to give her a huge hug and say, “Shauna, dear girl, you’re doing the best job and I’m so very proud of you for taking this wake up call and encouraging us to do the same.”

She shares words she’s choosing to focus on during this new season:

grace, and

She reminds us we cannot hear from God when we’re on the hamster wheel.  We must slow down and be still, quiet, non-moving.

She says, “Let silence be your anchor, your sacred space, your dwelling place.”


Shauna blasts the word “perfect”, while embracing and giving examples of how to be “present”.  She’s blessed by friends who literally come alongside of her and rescue her.

One “aha!” moment happened in their home one night when they had a Jesuit priest over along with some friends. They were studying the story of Peter walking on water (See Matthew 14:22-33.).

Shauna said they saw for the first time that Jesus rescued Peter first before ever saying a word.  She suggests we remember and recognize Jesus is for us, all about us, and nothing surprises Him, or rattles Him.  He’s on our side and will do everything in His power to rescue us every time.

My friend Liz frequently reminds me of this same scenario.  It’s as if God says, “It’s okay.  I’ve got this.”

Finally, let’s close with a couple of eye-opening questions that will help us all push pause before filling something else in on our calendars….

Busy Day Overworked Schedule.

Shauna asks,

1 – “What do you need to leave behind in order to recover that essential self that God created?”

2 – “What do you need to walk away from in order to reclaim those parts of you that God designed, unique to you and for His purposes?”

Blank Desk Calendar With Pink Carnation Flower

This reminds me of what I heard John Piper say, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Before the holiday season hits, grab Present Over Perfect—Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living to read slowly.  You’ll save your soul a lot of unnecessary strife and stress if you do.

Choose to be present over being perfect.

Purposefully push pause to do so.

Take a deep breath and smile.

‘Til next time!

P.S.  You can learn more about Shauna via her website:  www.shaunaniequist.com She’s married to Aaron and they’re blessed with two boys, Henry and Mac.  She’s written a number of books, two of which are my favorites:

One is Savor – Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are (Great devotional.  I’ve given it to all our daughters-in-love.) I   blogged about it last year: “Every. Single. Day


The other one is Bread and Wine – A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.


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When You Say Grace this Thanksgiving…

We’re talkin’ Turkey this week….You?

Turkey and stuffing….

Mashed potatoes…

Piping hot gravy…

Homemade yeast rolls…

Green beans cooked-to-death in savory-n-salty Kentucky country ham…

Pumpkin pie…

Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey On A Plate(Someone please tell me there is chocolate, somewhere???)

My favorite children’s book this time of year is The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, because let me tell you, for a lot of years, many relatives came from all over the place. They stayed all over the place. They stayed a very, very, very long time. (I s’pose the three-day fish rule hadn’t been implemented yet.)

The Relatives Came

My Aunt who started this whole thing is now at Sainthood status in my book. I laugh out loud over the years I balked at trekking to Owensboro for Thanksgiving.  My Mother would remind Dad and me that this very well  could be my Aunt’s last Thanksgiving. (That was at least fifteen years before she did go to be with the Lord.)

Generally every year is different, tho’, depending on who’s visiting which side of the family. This makes for every year’s uniqueness, and for that, we are all thankful. Seriously. Keeps you guessin’…

This Thanksgiving Week all I want us to do is focus on one simple Scripture. I landed on it in the same devotional I told you about last week, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist.


Shauna says,

“I absolutely believe that…

Gratitude is a way of life,

a practice as opposed to a feeling,

and I want to be the kind of person who chooses to be grateful for what is, instead of angry about what isn’t. Wow! Let that soak in for a few seconds…

Here’s the verse I want us to chew on all Thanksgiving Week:

Colossians 4:2 in the NIV says:

“Devote yourselves to prayer,

being watchful

and thankful.”

The NLT expounds on watchful and thankful suggesting we pray “with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition doles out a specific prescription:

“Be persistent

and unwearied

and steadfast in your prayer life,

being both alert

and intent in your praying with thanksgiving.”

These adjectives are some kind of magnanimous marching papers!!! Park on them for a few minutes! Here’s my summary:  Never give up praying…And while you’re at it, be happy while praying!!!

Phillips’ version and the ESV suggest an ongoing lifestyle of prayer: “Always maintain the habit of prayer: be both alert and thankful as you pray.” (Phillips)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (ESV)

The Message is bottom line:

“Pray diligently.

Stay alert,

with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”

May we all meditate on these six versions of Colossians 4:2…Try taking one per day of Thanksgiving Week. My prayer is we’ll all be more grateful, even for the little things this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Count Your Blessings

Blessings to all and may you find some chocolate somewhere….

Chocolates background. Chocolate. Assortment of fine chocolates

‘Til next time!

P.S. My good buddy Liz Curtis Higgs taught me how to look at several versions of the Bible at once. It really helps in your understanding of God’s Word. Here’s her tip:

Go to: www.biblegateway.com

Type in your Scripture you wish to study. (To see all the versions, it can only be one verse.)

In this example from our post, try typing in “Colossians 4:2” and hit “Search”.

Underneath where the Scripture is, there’s a neat little phrase that says, “Colossians 4:2 in all English translations” Click on that, and voila!!!

All the versions will show and if you don’t know the abbreviations, keep scrolling down and they’ll be spelled out for you. It’s the BEST!!!!

Give it a whirl….


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Holidays, Life Lessons

Every. Single. Day…(Savor by Shaunna Niequist is a must-read.)

Brush your teeth.


Wash your hands.

Woman Washing Hand Under RunningTake your vitamins.

Don’t forget your meds…

Especially if some of the above phrases come from your doctor, we’d all be wise to heed his or her advice. Every day. Right?

Every. Single. Day.

What if we added one more daily activity, guaranteed to help us and all those who cross our path?

I ran across this idea in a new devotional I’m crazy about. (One can never have too many devotionals, right?) You may want to consider this for a Christmas gift for your friends or family members. Little fun fact: in addition to three hundred and sixty-five devotions, about every ten to fifteen pages, Shauna includes fun recipes!

It’s called Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist. (www.shaunaniequist.com ) Shauna is a beautiful young wife to Aaron and Mom of two boys, Henry and Mac. She also happens to be the daughter of well-known preacher, teacher and writer, Bill Hybels and his sweet wife, Lynne. (www.billhybels.org and www.lynnehybels.com )


Shauna wrote this devotional to teach us readers ways to savor our lives. This encompasses our children, friends and family, our community, God’s creation, etc. She says, “This is my attempt to clear away space and noise, inviting you to hear the ‘drumbeat’. God’s always speaking, always.

He’s always moving,

Always present,

Always creating,

Always healing.

The trick, at least for me, is paying attention.

The trick is savoring.

As God would orchestrate, my Wednesday Bible study group just finished Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. We declared it’s a manual for the Christian Life. Priscilla says we must put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) daily…and, in a gazillion other ways, she says we must have our faces planted in His Word every day.

Every. Single. Day.

I just so happened to bring Shauna’s devotional with me to Bible study for Show and Tell.  Don’t you know that day’s devotion was right out of Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is a like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Note we’ll be blessed when we delight in His Word, when we meditate on it day and night.)

Eugene Peterson’s wording from the same passage above in The Message is simultaneously amusing (“Smart-Mouth College!!!”) and to the point:

“How well God must like you—

You don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

You don’t sling along Dead-End Road,

You don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,

You chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden,

Bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,

Always in blossom.”

You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Same can be said for our Christian walk. The more we study the Bible, the more we become Christ-like, yielding fruit for Him, bearing “fresh fruit.”

Apples On Tree

Joshua 1:8 tell us, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

psalm 119-97

Psalm 119:97 simply says, “Oh, how I love your law!   I meditate on it all day long.

Friends, these are just three of seventy-one verses in the Bible on Meditation. (Check out www.openbible.info to see more.) My Life Application Bible says, “Meditating means spending time reading and thinking about what you’ve read—asking yourself how you can change so you will live as God wants you to.” As my friend Caroline says, “That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Shauna says her Dad suggests:

“… every Christian needs to spend time alone with God every day, praying, listening, reading the Bible, letting ourselves be reminded that we are God’s creation, God’s children.”

Every. Single. Day.

Shauna adds, “God wants his people to trust Him daily, to need Him and follow Him every morning with new faith.”


She confesses, “I couldn’t live well without regularly reading God’s Word.

Every. Single. Day.

Should you find yourself saying, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but I don’t have time for that.” I challenge you to simply give it a try. You’ll be surprised when you give God your first few minutes of the day, somehow your minutes and hours are more plentiful. Just try it. (You can also get some more ideas from this: “BUT I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A BIBLE STUDY”)

Every. Single. Day.

‘Til next time!



Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Life Lessons