Category Archives: grace

Reading 2013: Bread & Wine

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At this point in my life, it is rare that life should bring me to tears, though sometimes books and movies get me closer to that point (well, along with too little sleep). But a book about food? There were no heaving sobs, but Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist kept simultaneously me laughing out loud and wondering if my watery eyes would turn to flowing tears.

Bread & Wine is profound, moving, deeply spiritual, and deeply human. It’s about hoping and healing, feasting and fasting, learning to love and to accept love, learning when to hold others close and when to let go, and learning to weave together the rhythms life. Most of all, it’s about learning to gather together and embrace community and hospitality, particularly for those of us who are the people of the bread and wine.

This unique book recipe blends part spiritual memoir and part cookbook (although Neiquist insists it is not, maybe a “collection of recipes,” then?) to create a flavor all its own.

Niequist’s book will undoubtedly be on my list of favorite reads for 2013. Although I haven’t yet tried any of the recipes, the spiritual lessons are simmering away on my heart and mind. (And hopefully, I’ll make Shauna’s recipe for blueberry crisp before we eat all the blueberries the kids and I just picked!)

Shauna’s husband discovered that he had a gluten allergy, and many of Shauna’s friends have had to live with food restrictions. Her book is geared in such a way that most of the recipes are friendly or easy to adapt to diets with special limitations, particularly gluten free. (Which is good, since my gluten intake since return to the States has hit me hard with some side effects this week.)

Going into this book, I didn’t realize who the author’s father was, and I hadn’t read anything by Niequist prior to this book. Realizing who she was might have changed my perception of the book, though she certainly doesn’t she bask in the limelight of her father’s religious fame.

This is a book that offers real life and transparency without idolizing transparency or basking in brokenness. Particularly, Shauna deals with his struggles with fertility and body-image.

Evangelicals who hold to the belief that Scripture teaches total from alcohol may be a bit uncomfortable with Niequists frequent mention of enjoying alcoholic beverages (after all, the title is Bread & Wine), but I think even many who take such a position would readily take value in the overall message of the book.

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1 Corinthians 13 Mom Meditations: Love Endures All Things

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Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NIV)

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (KJV)

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (NAS)

Within this passage, there are so many descriptors of love that seem similar. A love that endures appears similar to love that is patient and love that bears and love that hopes. But there is a unique element to be found in love that endures all things.

Enduring Love Remains Under

Love that endures doesn’t give up. The word being used here, hupomeno/ὑπομένω, means “remaining under” or “to stay behind, to await, endure.” It is indicative of someone enduring through their surrounding circumstances (rather than acting in patience toward someone, such as in the phrase “love is patient,” which uses a different Greek word). It is a person who, because of love, willingly remains, standing firm, amidst a difficult situation.  (more…)


Reading 2013: Whispers Through Time

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Having read and benefited from L.R. Knost’s previous parenting book, Two Thousand Kisses a DayI was excited to hear about her new book, Whispers Through Time: Communicating through the Ages and Stages of Childhood

Both of these books reflect the gentle spirit that I aspire to have as I mother my children, and reading this book also came at a crucial time in my own mothering journey. One of our daughters was having a difficult time adjusting to living differently in a new country during our 5-week trip to Ecuador. Specifically  she was wrestling with some legitimate fears that too easily became all-consuming in her life. Meanwhile, I was determined to get us settled into a rhythm and routine, and in my hard-driving efforts and reactions, I unfortunately came down rather hard on her with unnecessary strictness and really, on my part, a refusal to listen to her concerns. Instead, what she needed from me at that time was to know that Mommy was listening to and respecting to her fears. I needed to recognize that her acting out was a last-ditch effort to try to get my attention.

Good communication is essential to any relationship, and good communication between parent and child is the emphasis of this book. Knost provides practical insight and experience for many of the common issues parents face in each stage. This book emphasizes the importance of allowing our children to have a voice, and discusses some of the consequences that often show up later on when we don’t listen to or respect our children as people during the early years.

Similarly to Two Thousand Kisses a DayWhispers Through Time shows threads of Knost’s Christian beliefs, though it is not overt or dealt with in depth in each chapter. Knost’s title and theme are based on the proverb found in Proverbs 15: 1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Most of us as parents need this reminder at some point, and Knost deals with this theme through each stage of childhood development.

As parents, we are the adults in the relationship, but we can easily slip into patterns of expecting our children to deal with issues and difficulties using far better bodily and emotional control than we have as adults, even though we have the advantage of fully developed bodies and years of exposure to wisdom and knowledge. Knost deals with this common problem by looking at childhood development, specifically examining how children communicate and learn to communicate as they grow and develop.

In many circles and subcultures (Christian included, and in some cases Christian, in particular), it is easy to pass along beliefs and paradigms that frame a child’s diversion from adult-like behavior as willful evil intent to disobey. Knost examines some of the most common of these misperceptions and helps to explain what and why the child may be acting or behaving a certain way. In general, we have a breakdown of communication, and as parents it is often easy to overlook our children’s voices and believe that one-way communication is acceptable in our parenting. Instead, we need to value our children’s voices and work to make them know we are listening and respecting them–loving our little neighbors as ourselves, while still providing boundaries and guidance.

This book does not at all imply that we just give into whatever our children want. Unfortunately, there is a popular dichotomy that states that if you are a parent who listens to your children, allowing them to have a voice, then you’re also a parent who makes no rules or enforces no boundaries. (Knost actually gives specific guidance in dealing with both listening and with boundary-setting.) Kindness and gentleness are not weaknesses in parenting (or in life in general), and like the proverb reminds us, both often dispel angry emotions and actions. Within the framework of communication, Knost also deals with what words we use to frame our children’s words and actions. If we blame natural development and variances on a child’s bad intentions, we easily succumb to believing this about our children, and in turn, treating them this way. (E.g., if a baby is “overdue,” we may even tend to begin this sort of framing pre-birth; we way, “he’s so stubborn!” This pattern can easily continue in a way that is harmful to our relationship with our children.)

This was a book that was helpful for me to read with three children ages five and under, and I know it will be a helpful book through the ages and stages to come (and when others are repeated). I especially benefited from Knost’s perspective of being a mother of adult children, while still having a baby in her house, as well as other children mixed in at older stages. This gives her the gift of a parenting perspective that has the voice of experience and age, while simultaneously allowing her to remain connected to the current struggles and joys of parenting toddler.

Table of Contents: 

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About the Author:

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Best-selling parenting and children’s book author, L.R.Knost, is an independent child development researcher and founder and director of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources. A mother of six, her children range from 25- years down to 25-months-old. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages and Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood are the first in her Little Hearts Handbooks series of parenting guides. The next book in the series, The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline is due to be released November 2013. Other works by this award-winning author include the children’s picture books A Walk in the Clouds, Petey’s Listening Ears, and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series for ages 2 to 6, which are humorous and engaging tools for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing gentle parenting techniques in their homes and schools.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free Kindle copy of this book to read and review, but all opinions are my own. This book is also part of a book tour, and the other reviews and posts about this book can be read here. (Due to some Internet issues on our return from Ecuador, this posting may show up a little later than originally planned.)


Reading 2013: Two Thousand Kisses a Day {And a Giveaway x2!}

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Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting through the Ages & Stages is written by L.R. Knost, a woman who is herself a veteran mother (and now grandmother), while also still having her heart and hands engaged over many of the ages and stages of parenting. Her six living children range in age from twenty-five months to twenty-five years.

Knost’s book explores the basic framework of gentle parenting and how it is played out from infancy through adulthood. This book is a helpful read for parents at any stage in parenting (and covers each individual stage), but I think it will be particularly encouraging for those who are in the earliest phases of parenting. (more…)


“A Declaration of Freedom”

“In the Bible, Sabbath rest means to cease regularly from and to enjoy the results of your work. It provides balance: ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God’ (Exodus 20:9–10). Although Sabbath rest receives a much smaller amount of time than work, it is a necessary counterbalance so that the rest of your work can be good and beneficial.

God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave – to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.

Thus Sabbath is about more than external rest of the body; it is about inner rest of the soul. We need rest from the anxiety and strain of our overwork, which is really an attempt to justify ourselves—to gain the money or the status or the reputation we think we have to have. Avoiding overwork requires deep rest in Christ’s finished work for your salvation (Hebrews 4:1–10). Only then will you be able to ‘walk away’ regularly from your vocational work and rest.”

-Timothy Keller