Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

by Shauna Niequist

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310335283
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 02/19/2013
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 88,086
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.
As an author and blogger, Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life---friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.
Shauna is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron and Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. SPANISH BIO: Shauna Niequist es autora de Mandarinas frias y Agridulce. Estudio Literatura Inglesa y Francesa en la Facultad Westmont en Santa Barbara. Luego trabajo en Willow Creek en el ministerio de estudiantes durante cinco anos y fue directora creativa en Mars Hill en Grand Rapids, Michigan durante tres anos. Shauna reside en la afueras de Chicago con su esposo, Aaron, directo de alabanza en Willow Creek, y su hijo Henry. Para mas informacion visite: www.shaunaniequist.com

Read an Excerpt

Bittersweet

Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
By Shauna Niequist

ZONDERVAN

Copyright © 2010 Shauna Niequist
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-32816-2


Chapter One

learning to swim

I learned about waves when I was little, swimming in Lake Michigan in navy blue water under a clear sky, and the most important thing I learned was this: if you try to stand and face the wave, it will smash you to bits, but if you trust the water and let it carry you, there's nothing sweeter. And a couple decades later, that's what I'm learning to be true about life, too. If you dig in and fight the change you're facing, it will indeed smash you to bits. It will hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you.

This last season in my life has been characterized, more than anything else, by change. Hard, swirling, one-after-another changes, so many that I can't quite regain my footing before the next one comes, very much like being tumbled by waves. It began three years ago, in January in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I got pregnant, lost a job I loved, had a baby, wrote a book. A year after I lost my job, my husband, Aaron, left his job in a really painful way, and then for the next year and a half we traveled together and separately almost every week, doing all the freelance work we could find, looking for a new home and trying to pay the bills. Leaving our jobs at the church meant leaving the church community, the heart of our world in Grand Rapids, and that loss left a hole in our lives that was as tender and palpable as a bruise.

The day after our son Henry's first birthday, my brother Todd left on a two-year sailing trip around the world, taking my husband's best friend Joe with him. My best friend, Annette, left Grand Rapids and moved back to California. I got pregnant again, our kitchen and basement flooded, and on the Fourth of July I lost the baby. My first thought, there in the doctor's office, was, Everything in my life is dying. I can't keep anything alive.

At some point in all that, we put our house up for sale, which meant lots and lots of showings but no offers. After several months, my husband and our son and I left our house still for sale and moved home to Chicago, to a little house on the same street I lived on as a child, exhausted and battered, out of breath and shaken up.

It may appear to an outside observer that these have been the best years of our lives. We became parents to a healthy child; we met interesting people and heard their stories and were welcomed into their homes and churches. I wrote a book, and Aaron recorded an album, and we got to be, really and truly, working artists. Every time I read over that list, I know that it should have been wonderful. But should have been is worth absolutely nothing. For most of that season, I was clenching my teeth, waiting for impact, longing for it to be over.

I know that to another person my difficult season would have been a walk in the park, and that all over the world, people suffer in unimaginable ways and manage far worse than my own little list.

I was miserable because I lost touch with the heart of the story, the part where life always comes from death. I love the life part, and I always try to skip over that pesky death part. You can't do that, as much as I've tried.

I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from a stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything's easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.

But for a long season, I forgot all those things. I didn't stop believing in God. It wasn't a crisis of faith. I prayed and served and pursued a life of faith the way I had before that season and the way I still do now. But I realized all at once, sitting in church on a cold dark night, that the story I was telling was the wrong one - or at the very least, an incomplete one. I had been telling the story about how hard it was. That's not the whole story. The rest of the story is that I failed to live with hope and courage and lived instead a long season of whining, self-indulgence, and fear. This is my confession.

I'm able to see now that what made that season feel so terrible to me were not the changes. What made that season feel so terrible is that I lost track of some of the crucial beliefs and practices that every Chris tian must carry with them. Possibly a greater tragedy is that I didn't even know it until much later.

Looking back now I can see that it was more than anything a failure to believe in the story of who God is and what he is doing in this world. Instead of living that story - one of sacrifice and purpose and character - I began to live a much smaller story, and that story was only about me. I wanted an answer, a timeline, and a map. I didn't want to have to trust God or anything I couldn't see. I didn't want to wait or follow. I wanted my old life back, and even while I read the mystics and the prophets, even while I prayed fervently, even while I sat in church and begged for God to direct my life, those things didn't have a chance to transform me, because under those actions and intentions was a rocky layer of faithlessness, fear, and selfishness.

I believe that faith is less like following a GPS through a precise grid of city blocks, and more like being out at sea: a tricky journey, nonlinear and winding, the wind kicking up and then stalling. But what I really wanted in the middle of it all was some dry land and a computer-woman's soothing voice leading me through the mess.

If I'm honest, I prayed the way you order breakfast from a short-order cook: this is what I want. Period. This is what I want. Aren't you getting this? I didn't pray for God's will to be done in my life, or, at any rate, I didn't mean it. I prayed to be rescued, not redeemed. I prayed for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways. I prayed for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience or anything else for that matter.

I couldn't make peace with uncertainty - but there's nothing in the biblical narrative that tells us certainty is part of the deal. I couldn't unclench my hands and my jaw, and I locked my knees and steeled myself in the face of almost every wave. I cried in the shower and alone in my car. When I looked into my own eyes in the mirror, they seemed flat and lifeless, and things that should have been wonderful left me blank and despairing. Sometimes at parties during that season, I felt my cheeks trying to smile, but I knew that my eyes weren't playing along. The tension and anxiety flattened me, and the fear about our future threatened to vacuum up the energy and buoyancy from almost every day, even as I fought to celebrate the good moments. Looking back, it seems like I mostly lost that fight, or possibly, generously, it was a draw.

Every wave presents us with a choice to make, and quite often, unfortunately, I have stood, both resolute and terrified, staring down a wave. I have been smacked straight on with the force of the water, tumbled, disoriented, gasping for breath and for my swimsuit bottoms, and spit onto shore, embarrassed and sand-burned, standing up only to get knocked down again, refusing to float on the surface and surrender to the sea.

There were also a few glittering, very rare moments of peace and sweetness, when I felt the goodness and familiarity of people who loved me, when God's voice sounded tender and fatherly to my ears, when I was able to release my breath and my fists for just a moment and float. And as I mine back through my heart and memories, I notice something interesting: the best moments of the last few years were the very rare moments when I've allowed these changes to work their way through my life, when I've lived up to my faith, when I've been able even for a minute to see life as more than my very own plan unfolding on my schedule, when I've practiced acceptance, when I've floated instead of fought, when I've rested, even for a moment, on the surface instead of wrestling the water itself. And those moments are like heaven.

So that's where my mind and heart are these days: more moments of heaven, and less locking of the knees. More awareness of God's presence and action and ability, and less stranglehold on my fear and anxiety. More floating, and less getting tumbled.

And while I certainly didn't thrive on the process, I'm really thankful for the result. I'm thankful for what change forced me to face within myself. I found myself confronted by the whiny, entitled child I had become. I like what got stripped away - like my expectations - and what was revealed. I appreciate the things that became grounded more deeply in my spirit and in my marriage. I respect the things that change forged in my life, even though it was very painful.

More than anything, I know now that I never want to live that way again - I don't like the person I became, and I'm not proud of the contagious fear and ugliness I left in my wake everywhere I went. Again, this is my confession, and my promise: I want to live a new way, the way I've always believed, but temporarily lost sight of.

I know now that I can make it through more than I thought, with less than I thought. I know better than to believe that the changes are over, and I know better than to believe the next ones will be easier, but I've learned the hard way that change is one of God's greatest gifts and one of his most useful tools. I've learned the hard way that change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we've become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I've learned that it's not something to run away from, as though we could, and I've learned that in many cases, change is not a function of life's cruelty but instead a function of God's graciousness.

The world is changing all the time, at every moment. Someone is falling in love right now, and someone is being born. A dream is coming true in some city or small town, and right at the same moment, another dream is crashing and crumbling. A marriage is ending somewhere, and it's somebody's wedding day, maybe even right in the same town. It's all happening.

If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits. They'll hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you. But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you'll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there's truly nothing sweeter. Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and begin to swim. Begin to let the waves do their work in you.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist Copyright © 2010 by Shauna Niequist. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

prologue: bittersweet....................11
learning to swim....................15
the blue house....................23
the closer you get....................29
what we ate and why it matters....................35
heartbeat....................41
on desperation and cold pizza....................47
things i don't do....................53
alameda....................61
what we left in south bend....................67
feeding and being fed....................71
sea dreaming....................75
grace is new math....................81
twenty-five....................85
thin places....................91
gifts, under the tree and otherwise....................97
coming home....................101
what might have been....................107
happy mother's day....................111
say something....................117
on crying in the bathroom....................123
headlines and lullabies....................131
san juan....................137
the table....................141
eight for eight....................147
a blessing for a bride....................153
love song for fall....................159
ravenous....................165
whole heart....................171
join the club....................175
princess-free zone....................181
the home team....................187
aurora....................191
my patron saint....................197
knees or buns....................203
evergreen....................209
the middle....................213
steak frites....................219
blueberries....................225
phoenix....................231
your story must be told....................237
epilogue: spring....................243
acknowledgments....................251

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Bittersweet represents an important theme resurfacing in the church today---public permission for honesty, brokenness, freedom, and healing. Shauna captures that spirit effortlessly and inspires her readers to do the same.” -- Rebekah Lyons, Co-founder

Customer Reviews

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Bittersweet 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every now and again I come across someone's blog or book or an article that makes me wish I lived in their town and have the privilege of being their friend. Shauna Niequist is now one of them.I've been reading her latest book, Bittersweet and in it I've discovered treasure upon treasure which makes me want to tear out entire pages, fold them up and keep them in my purse for a quick recap whenever I find time. Bittersweet really is like a collection of blog posts or essays and at the end of each and every essay (chapter), I've found myself wishing I could leave a comment, or type out the entire essay and post it on Facebook so to share with everyone else like I'd just discovered lost treasure beneath the ocean. I've had to read it slowly in order to savour every word and allow it to sink it and resonate through.The way Shauna writes is so raw and real; so much that it feels like I've had the privilege of sitting across her, having lots of dinners while sharing stories at her scarred table. She doesn't pretend to have it all figured out, neither does she speak in 'Christianese' or give me a 'how-to' lecture but all the while making sure she reminds me how important it is to keep God, the church and families close. (Oh, they would've been really awesome dinners!)Perhaps it's the way she has dealt with the rough patches, pain and loss that I could identify with, or maybe it's the fact that I could relate to the fact that she isn't as 'perfect' as you'd expect a pastors kid to be, or maybe its the fact that she loves food, or even that she struggles with saying "No" whilst trying to do everything and more than one could possibly fit into 24 hours. All this making me constantly want to tweet her and say, "OMG, ME TOO!!!" This is just to say; I've learnt so much from this book and I'd definitely be re-reading it many times over!
Widsith_the_Blogger More than 1 year ago
This was really quite moving. It's a series of semi-autobiographical chapters that touch on pain and the beauty we can find in it. Imagine a painting of a flower pot that's been knocked over by some kind of turbulence, and is now laying on its side amidst scattered shards and soil. Looking more closely, you notice that the flower has managed to take root and even flourish where it had spilled onto the ground. That's pretty much how this book has impacted me. --- ~*~ --- Shauna has an honest, down-to-earth way of sharing her own stories about heartache, loss, and troubles that resonate with many of us. There's lots to relate to in this book: The pain of losing a child, the sorrow of losing a grandparent, the difficuly of keeping a marriage healthy during hard times, the loneliness one feels when friends and acquaintances remain silent and distant during your time of grief. --- ~*~ --- But there's plenty of fun and light-hearted stuff in here too: Shauna draws the reader in with meaningful, well-written stories, and unique insights on the joys of cooking, traveling, weddings, and quality time with friends and family. --- ~*~ --- It's definitely a book for women, as it deals a lot with issues around motherhood, female friendships, and "crying in the bathroom." However, some of the chapters are great for men too. I've had moments where I just *had* to show my brother, my husband, and my uncle a chapter or two. And once they start the first few sentences they're usually hooked until the end. Of course, the point isn't that they got hooked on the chapters, but that the book has an enjoyable way of revealing truths about common life stages and experiences that stay with the reader long after the book has been shelved. --- ~*~ --- One of my favourite chapters is called "Things I don't do" about having boundaries on our personal time, and getting a healthier perspective on our priorities in life. It's one thing for me to describe this chapter to you, though, and quite another to read it. --- ~*~ --- If I had one concern, it would be her take on theology and her critique of theologians. She's a pastor's kid, as am I, so I would have expected her to have a more nuanced and sophisticated view of the Gospel and the people who teach it to us. Her perspective sounds a lot like the disdain for theology I heard from members of a former church I attended, and I'm concerned that a growing number of Christians--who are understandably disillusioned with dogmatic, fundamentalist-style Christianity--are throwing out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to regarding God's Word and the people He has gifted as teachers with value and respect. This chapter appears near the end of the book, so it didn't affect my experience of the rest of her thoughts, which was good. --- ~*~ --- But this is the only reason I can't give the book a perfect rating, as much as I would have liked to. So I give it four out of five stars. If you can find a copy, I definitely recommend reading it at least once.
snidbits More than 1 year ago
In the prologue, Shauna explains her thoughts on the title for this book. "Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness." Reading through the book, you learn about moments where she experienced heartache and also pockets of "life is perfect" at just that moment. She talks about grace and how she has a hard time bestowing it upon others though she readily admits to needing it herself. "If arithmetic is numbers, and if algebra is numbers and letters, then grace is numbers, letters, sounds, and tears, feelings and dreams. Grace is smashing the calculator and using all the broken buttons and pieces to make a mosaic. Grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty. It's when you finally realize that the other shoe isn't going to drop, ever. It's the moment when you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time." She talks about how she faced not one but two miscarriages, the second being doubly hard to deal with because she had been pregnant with twins. She talks about the rough spot she and her husband went through in their marriage and how thankful she is they were able to recover from it. At one point she says, "when things fall apart, the broken places allow all sorts of things to enter and one of them is the presence of God." She explains the importance of women having other women in their lives - how much those relationships have meant to her. "Bittersweet" is a mosaic of her life experiences all pointing to her belief that we need both in our lives. ".a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through." I liked Shauna's style of writing. While at times it was hard for me to follow what time in her life she was referring to (she jumped around with each chapter), I liked the "realness" in her writing. She wrote as though she was talking instead of trying to use big words and make everything come across as neat and tidy. What struck a cord with me was her chapter titled "twenty-five." Having just turned twenty-five, I was able to instantly identify with her. The chapter was her giving advice regarding things she learned from that period in her life. One thing that stuck out to me regarded decisions made during this time. "Some of the most life-shaping decisions you make in this season will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can't-live-without." My absolute favorite line from the book was about her love of Christmas. She talked about buying the exact same scarf for several of her girl friends and how she liked the idea of them all living in different places but wearing the same scarf. She talked about thoroughly enjoying Christmas despite what we may be going through. "And I hope that someone who loves you gives you a really cute scarf." When someone is honest in their writing, allowing you a glimpse into their life, you're able to connect with them and that's what Shauna has done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I didn't read it all in one sitting, but digested the chapters slowly over time. Some of the chapters spoke straight to my heart. I found myself encouraged by this fresh writing and honest conversation on faith and life.
iamsarahjoy More than 1 year ago
Every now and again I come across someone's blog or book or an article that makes me wish I lived in their town and have the privilege of being their friend. Shauna Niequist is now one of them. I've been reading her latest book, Bittersweet and in it I've discovered treasure upon treasure which makes me want to tear out entire pages, fold them up and keep them in my purse for a quick recap whenever I find time. Bittersweet really is like a collection of blog posts or essays and at the end of each and every essay (chapter), I've found myself wishing I could leave a comment, or type out the entire essay and post it on Facebook so to share with everyone else like I'd just discovered lost treasure beneath the ocean. I've had to read it slowly in order to savour every word and allow it to sink it and resonate through. The way Shauna writes is so raw and real; so much that it feels like I've had the privilege of sitting across her, having lots of dinners while sharing stories at her scarred table. She doesn't pretend to have it all figured out, neither does she speak in 'Christianese' or give me a 'how-to' lecture but all the while making sure she reminds me how important it is to keep God, the church and families close. (Oh, they would've been really awesome dinners!) Perhaps it's the way she has dealt with the rough patches, pain and loss that I could identify with, or maybe it's the fact that I could relate to the fact that she isn't as 'perfect' as you'd expect a pastors kid to be, or maybe its the fact that she loves food, or even that she struggles with saying "No" whilst trying to do everything and more than one could possibly fit into 24 hours. All this making me constantly want to tweet her and say, "OMG, ME TOO!!!" This is just to say; I've learnt so much from this book and I'd definitely be re-reading it many times over!
dcstarr on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Reading this book was like eavesdropping on a deep, candid conversation between my wife and her best friend. The the effectiveness of the book comes in the "everydayness" of her personal stories, and the ways that forms connections with the reader. The author's personna is that of someone who is likeable, who has a interesting stories and thoughtful perspectives. Each chapter has a different topic, and the Christian inspiration is gently applied. If Hollywood was pitching this book, they might say it's "Blue Like Jazz" for a female demographic.
jdy on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book didn't capture me the way her first story-telling book did. I found Bittersweet to be a tad more preachy and self-centered focused. I know this is a story-telling book, but found myself irritated more throughout the book than anything else. I appreciated some of her stories, and her honesty throughout. Many people have been down the same roads. It was just okay for me.
cheetosrapper on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a very raw and honest book about life as seen through the eyes of the author. The roller-coaster ride of living is masterfully woven as Mrs. Niequist tells small stories about her life. Using a journal-style of writing the reader is drawn into struggle, laughter, heartache, joy, and thought as each story bares a small piece of the author's soul. I found myself stopping several times to think about what I just read. This book does just that: makes the read stop and think. A well written book and a must read. It was so good that I went out to a retail store to purchase another work by the author: Cold Tangerines. If you know me, I almost never shop retail. This book caused a very rare exception.
IandSsmom on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book was all about seeing the good in the bad things that happen to you. It was just like a girlfriend chatting with you. It was a good christian book that makes me think differently about how to deal with life events.
parapreacher on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Excellent read! Shauna has a great talent for "turning a phrase" with poignancy. Her openness invited a vicarious journey with her emotions. Hard to put down once you start reading because of the introspection it induces. (Thankfully, it was not about her father - she stands on her own talents!)
TFS93 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Reading this book was like having a conversation with a close friend, or reading one of my own journal entries. Sometimes we need to be reminded not to feel sorry for ourselves, this was my reminder. "Blueberries" was my favorite story. It made me cry and miss my grandma so so much. Also don't miss "things i don't do", "grace is new math", and "eight for eight". The prologue is so awesome and sucked me right in! Highly recommended!!
LaughingLioness on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Niequist is a very good writer and this series of essays regarding her coming to terms with difficult situations is well written and engaging. She writes with humor and at times wisdom. And, while Niequiest makes the point that life is bittersweet very well, what one is left with at the end of the book is, very simplistically, that some things work out well and some don't. There is also a sense of entitlement and secularism in this book that left me not liking it as much as I wanted to given the allusions to faith. If you want a fun and engaging read, this will fill the ticket. If you are looking for, or expecting more, you'll be left wanting at the end.
BiblioFrog on LibraryThing 3 months ago
As I have grown older I see the need personally and in community to share our stories, and especially the stories of faith and what God does in our lives. Shauna has created a series of essays that are introspective, even painful. She shares intimate details of feeling and revelation that enable us to identify with the depth of joy and pain - the bittersweet moments of her life. At best we can identify and appreciate those moments in our own lives. We can better share pain and joy in the lives of our friends and families and respond. I appreciate the urging to readers to share their own stories - sharing is needed in our lives and communities as we live, not merely exist.
bibliophileofalls on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I took a chance with ¿bittersweet¿. I¿m not sure why I chose it. It¿s not at all the type of book I gravitate to. All the self-improvement preachy-type books especially the spiritual and religious ones are somehow a real turn-off for me. So, after receiving ¿bittersweet¿ my expectations were not tentative at best. How surprised I was when the book turned out to be truly enjoyable and uplifting. Shauna Niequist has managed to bring her faith and spirituality right into my face without turning me off or making me feel uncomfortable. Some parts of the book are really humorous and very believable when Shauna talks about experiences we¿ve all had and somehow have stumbled through. Totally human experiences and how she¿s handled them in good and sometimes not-so-good fashion. Her perspective on life is so keen, so wisdom-filled, you question if she can really be as young as she is. Her writing skills are extraordinary¿..beautiful, meaningful descriptions of everything from eyelashes to fragrances to cold pizza. My only criticism would be the too frequent descriptions of what I¿d call status food, which obviously are an important thing in Shauna¿s life. I will certainly be looking for other books by this very talented author.
SisAmanda on LibraryThing 3 months ago
In this book, Bittersweet, the author, Shauna Niequist, writes about growing through her struggles as she experiences the natural occurrences that most of us experience as we begin our journey in adulthood. Shauna Niequist speaks openly about her experiences and thoughts as she shares her journey as a young adult with family, work, friends, and traveling.The book is easy to read, many short chapters. For me, I found myself realizing that I am now living some of those moments that she experienced in the earlier years of her adulthood ¿ the struggles, the confusion, the uncertainty and the moments of bliss. I recommend this book to younger women who are considering marriage and motherhood, or young women who are currently living in this stage of life like me.Her wisdom and experiences are learning stones to go by and that special friend you need to tell you that it is going to be okay. I have quoted her in my blog, on my social networking pages, to my friends and family¿Shauna has a way with words and I am ecstatic that I was given the chance to read her book and learn from her story.I received this book as a give-away through Librarything.com and Booksneeze.com and I am not required to write a review, positive or negative.
CarlisleMLH on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Shauna Niequiest's Bittersweet: thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way is a most enjoyable and inspirational read. She writes of ordinary events revealing a most extraordinary yet simple faith. The writing style is beautiful as well. I kept thinking if I were ever to write a book, I'd want to write one much like this!!! After reading it twice through, I gave my precious copy to my best friend, and promptly ordered another of Niequist's books!
racergirl1313 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I found this book to be easy to pick up when times get tough. You can read a single story or a number of them, all of which are inspiring.I haven't read the author's first book, so I cannot compare, but I think this book would be a wonderful gift for a Christian friend who is going through tough times.
saracuse9 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I have to admit, when I first started reading "Bittersweet...", I was skeptical. After all, I'm not Christian, I don't really know what a 'housechurch' is and I don't live in the Midwest. However, Shauna Niequist's heartfelt essays about a difficult period in her life, when she was dealing with the loss of a pregnancy, losing a job and a community and moving to a different state resonated with me in a way I didn't expect. While some of the essays were a little bit repetitive at times and her assumption that her entire audience understood everything Christian, for the most part, they were honest and gave an interesting look into someone else's life.I do think she sometimes got bogged down in descriptions of food and people's houses in particular, but I liked how she also talked about how important those two things were to her and her family. Two of the essays that stood out to me were the essays when she talked about visiting California with a group of women she went to college with and the wistful way she talked about how she wished these women were involved in her day to day life; and the essay where she described a wedding where the bride left the maid of honor spot open because her maid of honor died.Overall, these essays may not appeal to everyone but they cured me of my skepticism. Now I just have to find out what a housechurch is.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Bittersweet was a mix between like and repetitive for me. While I appreciated and quite often really enjoyed the author's outlook and words of wisdom, there didn't seem to be enough new ones to completely fill the book. The book also has a very heavy religious tone to it. I knew going in that it had some, but it was a little too much for my taste. Also, the food. Detailing every meal she ever had, how it was prepared, and if people liked it or not was too much. I'll be honest, I stopped reading those parts and just skipped right over them with a mental "And then they ate." I did enjoy her stories about life, and the way she pointed out that bad things do happen to everyone. It's how people react and allow those bad times to shape the rest of their lives that can make or break a person. Learning to enjoy the good moments in the busy lives most of seem to live is a lesson I need to learn sometimes. Her stories of the simple things that stayed with her helped me remember some from my life, and it was very refreshing.
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