I wrote a book review for Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist at the beginning of the month. I was really impressed with Shauna’s honest writing about change, disappointment and rough seasons of life. She balanced it all so well with growth and healing. Such a good read and it did a lot for as I deal with my own bittersweet situations. I decided to check out her first book Cold Tangerines since I loved Bittersweet so much.
I was curious about Cold Tangerines because it was her first book and the tag line is “celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life.” I wasn’t sure if Cold Tangerines was the happy book before the bottom fell out and Bittersweet was the sad, realistic book to follow. Now I wouldn’t call Bittersweet sad (it did make me cry), but a mix of both bitter and sweet reflections, so it was fitting for it’s title. I thought that Cold Tangerine might be fluffy and maybe I wouldn’t like Shauna as much if she was too perky. However, I found great consistency in her character. She’s an amazing writer. When I read her work, especially when she writes about writing, I think that I could do that. I could be a writer. I could share short insights into what I’ve learned through everyday life. In fact, that’s what I try to do on a somewhat regular basis here on this blog. Let’s face it though, sometimes I just want to write about cupcakes. Shauna also writes a lot about food, so I think she would understand my need to write about baked goods!
This book covers the period of time where she left her job at a church and become a stay at home writer and mom. I could relate to her as she wrote about her identity being wrapped up her job. I think those of us with “church” jobs think that the job is who we are. We are saving the world and trying to make it a better place. What are we without our titles, projects, meetings, and busy schedules. Would we cease to exist? I hope not. This is a lesson that I’ve been learning more and more. My job is only a small portion of who I am and what I have to offer the world. It’s not my identity. Being a church lady isn’t the only thing I’m good at. I love my job and I love being a church lady, I’m not knocking the profession, I’m just saying I’m more than that.
I find myself being drawn to books about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I love One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp for that reason and now both of these offerings by Shauna Niequist. I used to think that life was all about striving for the next big thing – the next up and coming, bigger and better thing. It was always about striving for more. Now I realize that right where I am is more than enough. I love the simple things and living a simple life. I don’t know why I thought I had to be all important and massively impressive. Talk about a lot of pressure. So like Alicia Britt Chole writes about, I’m choosing to be Anonymous. I’m finding that by choosing the unseen life, I’m slowing down to a pace where I can see the unseen things in my own life. The treasures of each day are plentiful. Each moment if truly a gift. I used to say that in a Hallmark card kind of way – all gushy and happily-ever-after-like. I didn’t quite believe it because it seemed too sweet to be real life. Now that I can take both the bitter and the sweet and be thankful, I’m learning the value of each minute. It’s not going to be rainbows and sunshine all the time, but God is good no matter what and I can see him in all things if I’m looking. Even in the things I don’t understand, I know that he is there, holding me. I don’t have to get it all. I just have to be thankful. Because being thankful makes me joyful and being joyful makes me smile and laugh and feel free.
Now to keep with the theme of my reading lately, I look forward to starting Love Does by Bob Goff. The tag line of this book is “Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.” Sounds right up my alley, doesn’t it? I’m so glad that God has colored in my ordinary world with his love! No excuse for boredom and never a dull moment! I’m living an adventure!