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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Overview

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

“The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness. “It’s the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that 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, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy. "This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. “I’ve learned the hard way that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. 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 that in many cases, change is a function of God’s graciousness, not life’s cruelty.” Niequist, a keen observer of life with a lyrical voice, writes with the characteristic warmth and honesty of a dear friend: always engaging, sometimes challenging, but always with a kind heart. You will find Bittersweet savory reading, indeed. “This is the work I’m doing now, and the work I invite you into: when life is sweet, say thank you, and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you, and grow.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310335283
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 02/19/2013
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 104,381
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

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Bittersweet 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 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!
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