Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Bittersweet: thoughts on change, grace and learning the hard way October 6, 2012

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 9:00 am
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I just finished Bittersweet: thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way but Shauna Niequist and all I can say is wow. The epilogue left me in tears. It’s not a happy ending because it wasn’t really an ending at all. Shauna shares her story through a hard season of her life. She shares the concept that there is always life after death and that is the cycle of redemption. She shares that life wouldn’t be worth living if it was all sweet and it isn’t all bitter all the time. The bitter and the sweet are always there. A compliment of light and dark. The beautiful and the ugly. This is life. It’s good and bad and some seasons are harder than others. Some leave us in rough and raw places. But there is growth that come from these places. We can taste the sweet through the bitter. Sometimes only in hindsight and reflection to we see the balance. We learn, we grow, we understand that what we walked through wasn’t for nothing. Maybe in that moment the pain was so bitter that it felt like you couldn’t swallow, but it’s not always like that. Life won’t always be that way.  I wrote down a quote from the prologue and added to my list that I’m keeping as a bookmark: “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” This is so crucial. This what makes the bitter worth it.

I appreciated Shauna’s honesty on topics like losing her job, leaving her church, selling her home, miscarriages, tension between her and her husband, how raw moments of stress can bring out the worse and leave us numb. She also talked a lot about food, family, friends and dinner parties. It’s so real. I think that is what I crave more than anything these days. I love it when people just share the truth. The gut level, painful, unglamorous truth of everyday living. They see it for what it is and they grow and they say thanks and they inspire me to take the mess and the ugly and to see beauty in all of it. Shauna is a PK (translation: pastor’s kid,daughter of Bill Hybels, the lead pastor of Willow Creek) and I expected her to be churchy. I don’t know why I expected that she would have it all together due to who her father was. My father is amazing and that doesn’t really help me have it all together. Her very candid writing style just breaks down barriers and shows us how human we all are and that we all struggle. Some days are good and some days are bad. Bitter. Sweet.

I read a lot. I’ve loved a lot of a books in my reading career. This one is right up there. It’s like One Thousand Gift by Ann Voskamp. The authentic faith of these women who live real lives and aren’t afraid to share where they’ve been and how they walked through it. The epilogue made me cry because Shauna found herself in a hard place again. She admits that writing this book helped her process that hard season of life and she thought that some how once the book was finished that the hard things would be finished too. But life keeps going. It keeps on being bittersweet. I think this was good for me to hear. I need to remember that even though I’ve pulled a lot of growth out of my own hard seasons, it doesn’t mean that it’s all going to be sunshine and rainbows from now on. It’s going to be a life of good and bad. There are going to be moments to celebrate and moments to cry. We grow the most when we walk through the bitter moments and is grace straight from God. Each day is wonderful gift and I have a choice. Will I take the bittersweet and grow? I hope so!

Seriously, this is an amazing book! It’s worth the read! Trust me!


Thankful for Hospitality October 5, 2012

The last two days have been a special treat for my soul. I’ve had two precious friends invite me over their homes for lunch and conversation. It’s been marvelous on many levels. First off, I love that the fact that I get to hang out at their home. I get to be a part of their world and it takes our friendship to such an informal level. They allow me to move in for a while and take up space and eat their food and it feels like family. Secondly, I’m always taking students out and paying for their meals. This is my choice, but it was nice to do a lunch date and not have to spend money and not have to go out and not worry about being in the way. I often take students out so I don’t displace Jeremy from our home and that way I’m in a public, safe place with someone’s kid. So the just chilling at home with others has largely been reserved for family in my life. I love that I can have my sister over and I don’t need to make fancy food and get all dressed up. I like that we can watch a TV program or both read a book and not talk and it’s okay. I’m learning how to have relationships like these outside of my own family. I’m learning to open myself up and just be me with other adults.

I’m currently reading a book called Bittersweet by Shuana Niequist and this women loves to host dinner parties. She loves to have people over. It makes me almost feel guilty because for a long time now I have viewed my home as a sanctuary from people and from the world. I am not a hermit, but opening my space just doesn’t come naturally. Hospitality isn’t something that is easy for me. I really admire that gift in others because it is so different than me. I think that is why it has meant so much for me spend these afternoons spent at kitchen tables and sitting on living room floors. It means a lot that they would let me invade their space because  my space is so sacred to me. A home is where life is lived – the real life – the loud laughter and the hot tears.

In Bittersweet, Shauna was saying that you’re not really friends if the person you see always has their make-up done and they are always presentable at all times. It made me think. I don’t really wear make-up, but a good judge for me is if I’ll let people see me un-showered and in my comfy clothes. Just last month, I had my friend, Kaly, over for a morning coffee. It was early and I knew I needed to clean my house later and I just didn’t want to get ready so I could get dirty again. If I’m going to getting ready for the day,I only want to do it once. I pulled my hair into a pony tail and put on a fresh t-shirt and sweat pants. Sure I didn’t feel like a glamorous hostess, but I was real and I was honest and Kaly didn’t care. This is progress towards authentic hospitality and deep, trusting friendship.

My lovely friend, Danielle, was supposed to have lunch at my place today, but Jeremy and I have been both been sick this week so I didn’t want her and little niece to come over and get our germs. She graciously opened her home even though she told me that she hadn’t cleaned it. Really I didn’t care! It worked out better anyway so her niece could take her normal nap. Danielle was in her sweats and we sat on the floor and talked even though we could have sat on the couch or chairs. I love this because it’s so real. It’s just being us.

I think being in ministry has made me feel like there is a line between me and people who attend my church. I have felt the need to always be put together and always be fluffy – you know – smiley, happy, and saying churchy things like “God bless you”. I’m not a fluffy person. I am joyful and I am free and I am happy to be who I am. I’m learning to share who I am and not worry so much about if I’m keeping it all together! I’m  not all together and I’m okay with that. I make mistakes… I made a fine one this morning on the way out of the house. Instead of being stressed out about messing up, I’m laughing about it. It was an accident and I can’t change it. I have to be okay with less than perfect. I am less than ideal. I know that.

I’m just thankful for friends that love me right where I am. I am thankful to wonderful ladies that shared good food with me and even better conversation. I am blessed because I know that I have a handful of truly amazing people that I could call and they would be there for me in whatever way I need them. Even at a distance, I know that they pray for me and love me. I am so loved. My heart is just happy, full and content. I am me and there are people who are okay with that! I pray that I can get better at the hospitality thing, but even if it never comes naturally, I am thankful for ladies who make it look so easy and love with their doors open wide!