Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bread and Wine ~ finding community and life around the table

Bread and Wine: Finding Community and Life Around the Table  -     
        By: Shauna Niequist

I enjoy reading cookbooks and imagining all of the possibilities new recipes bring.  Like everyone, I sometimes get in a food rut and need inspiration.  Bread and Wine ~ finding community and life around the table, is no ordinary cookbook.  In fact, while it has recipes in it, Shauna Niequist says it isn't really a cookbook at all.  She shares some of her favorite recipes and the stories and people behind those recipes.  In fact, she admits that many of these recipes came from other sources but I enjoyed the stories and memories stirred by the food she cooks. 

In her introduction, Niequist says,
        "It's not, actually, strictly, about food for me.  It's about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another's faces, listen to one another's stories.  It happens when we leave the office and get a sitter and skip our workouts every so often to celebrate a birthday or an accomplishment or a wedding or a birth, when we break out of the normal clockwork of daily life and pop the champagne on a cold, gray Wednesday fore no other reason than the fact that the faces we love are gathered around our table.  It happens when we enter the joy and the sorrow of the people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it's not strictly about food, it doesn't happen without it.  Food is the starting point, the common ground, the thing to hold and handle, the currency we offer to one another."

Because I come from a southern family, food is a large part of our family traditions. The food we share around our table feeds not only our bodies, but our souls too.  Whether it is the four of us sitting at the dining room table at night or Sunday dinner with extended family, our mealtime is a sacred space for sharing life together.  I identify with Niequist when she says,

        "What happens around the table doesn't matter to a lot of people.  But it matters more and more to me.  Life at the table is life at its best to me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day.  I believe God is here among us, present and working.  I believe all of life is shot through with God's presence, and that part of the gift of walking with him is seeing his fingerprints in all sorts of unexpected ways...When you
eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat.  When you eat bread and you drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread an dwine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere - on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach."

Niequist has inspired me to cook, to invite friends and family in and to make it about more than whether my house is perfect, but about the intimacy and love that is shared around the table. 
"This is what I want you to do: I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner's at six.  I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter.  I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon.  Begin with an onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and go from therrem, any one of a million different meals.  Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honestly and creativity.  Fed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you've ever heard, the best stories you've ever lived."

If you love food and you love spending time with your family and friends, I recommend this book.  If you are in a food rut and need some inspiration, I recommend this book.  After reading this book, I felt good about the times we are already spending around our table and feel inspired to create more experiences with family,old friends, and friends we've yet to make.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Perfect Life - The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus

 One Perfect Life is more than just a harmony of the New Testament Gospels.  It tells the complete story of Christ, weaving together prophesies from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament Gospels.  Dr. John MacArthur was able to put together something I have never seen before and I am so excited that this book is now a part of my resource library.  Not only does it read as a narrative, combining pieces of scripture from different books of the Bible, it allows the reader to more fully understand the life of Christ in a more linear fashion.  I especially enjoyed reading the footnotes provided, as they provided explanation and details that I hadn't thought about before. 

As a life-long Christian and someone who has studied the Bible for many years, I appreciate the easy format of this book.  Unlike Parallel Bibles, which present different accounts in a column format, this book weaves the accounts together into a complete story.  It shows how the different accounts fit together. 

MacArthur begins with the Creation of the World with Jesus Christ - the Preexistent Creator and Savior.  He continues with the Fall of the Human Race Into Sin and through Old Testament prophesies which fortell of the Messiah's birth.  It demonstrates how everything in the Bible was put together to tell the story of Christ, from the beginning of Creation and through the Gospels. 

When I first received this book I was excited to dig right in and wanted to read it cover to cover.  What I found was that I really want to take some time and read the footnotes and really ponder and understand what was happening and how the accounts came together.  I learned so much while reading and I know I will refer to this valuable reference tool again and again. 

This book would be beneficial to those wanting to read straight through the narrative, as well as others who want to take time to read and understand footnotes, savoring each piece of the story.  I highly recommend this addition to your reference library. 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”