24 June 2009

Cold Tangerines. (book giveaway!)


"But this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I'm waiting for, for that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets - this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience."
~ Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

I've returned home from glorious Colorado, but before I start gushing about the beauty of the mountains, I wanted to share some reflections on a book that has become very dear to me: Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. I've mentioned it here before, how the book was an inspiration to finally start writing my own stories more, to be brave with my writing, and to be brave with my relationships.

Cold Tangerines is about celebrating everyday life as it occurs in individuals: individual moments, and individual people. It's about real, honest, gritty struggles that inevitably happen and how we reconcile them and deal with them in the light of courage and hope.

A review by Shane Claiborne says, "This is a book you can taste," and that is a great description, because as you read, you can taste the risotto simmering in Shauna's kitchen. You can taste her joy after being awakened from busyness by a striking red tree in Michigan's autumn. You can taste the longing she feels as she recounts summer family vacations and friends' babies being born and birthdays being celebrated.

One of the chapters that most resonated with me when I first read it last year, and even now as I type this, is the one entitled "On Waiting." Because aren't we all waiting for something? It seems that my pinball-machine-mind is always in a state of "what comes next" - What is our schedule for tomorrow? Where are the next three places I'm traveling? Five years from now, will we get to have that charming old farmhouse nestled in the trees? How much longer will my parents live?

And we all do it - we all wonder. But the crisis is when you live like you're waiting for life to happen, while life is actually happening right now.

"I believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without even realizing it."
~ Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

Most days, I don't get it right. The few days before I left for Colorado, I'm ashamed to say the only words that could describe me were frazzled, stressed, irritable. My poor husband had the intensely painful shingles and needed my time and care, our teething puppy was chewing everything in sight, and I was on my fiftieth load of laundry while staying on top of a demanding 8-hour work day. The phone rang again, and I almost burst into tears, and that is when I knew I needed to stop.

So I pulled my hair back to the nape of my neck and went into the backyard where I hadn’t stepped in days, unless you count the beeline to the driveway to let Greta and Heidi in and out of the dog run. While I was inside feeling sorry for myself, in the meantime this entire wondrous thing was happening out there: new life was sprouting and growing before my very eyes, and I hadn’t noticed it. Our first tiny okra had made an appearance. A pear-shaped tomato was becoming golden on the vine. Orange wildflowers had opened their buds while I was inside stressing over loads of laundry and packing and my sick husband and my schedule and my to-do list.

I knelt down, pulled up some stray shoots of grass, watered the squash. I leaned close to the basil and inhaled deeply. I tore off some leaves the size of my palm and remembered that fresh basil is one of the best scents in the entire world. And then I went back inside and apologized to my husband for not loving him well, for not being thankful that I have this house, this life right now, these people with whom I get to walk through life. And then I thought about my caring mother and how many hours she has put into planning this trip for the two of us to see the beauty of the mountains together in Colorado, and how I had been so short with her on the phone. And I got choked up a little. Because once again, I had missed it.

Yet, the undeserved gift is that life keeps pointing me in that direction, even when I stray so far away. A message on my tea bag. A bottle of wine brought by a friend and shared over dinner. A chance to hold a baby and notice that her smile is changing everyday.


So, here's to life's best moments. I don't want to breeze through them anymore. This "pedestrian life" is the best thing I've got, and I'm not going to miss it.


* * *

AND NOW FOR THE BOOK GIVEAWAY...

Shauna Niequist has kindly sent me 5 autographed copies of Cold Tangerines to give away to my blog readers! If you'd like to win a copy of the book, post a comment below, and include at least one way you celebrate everyday life. This Friday, June 26th, I'll choose 5 winners from a random drawing.


28 comments:

Robyn Jones Clark said...

I'm loving this post 'stine'. it's hard not to get caught up in the stress of it all and love the ones we love well. thanks for being transparent... i'm learning daily how to love and be loved too. i will be praying for you.

Robyn Jones Clark said...

also, i have the book, s o you can not put my name in there! ;)

Kristine said...

waking to plant a kiss on my husband's cheek every morning. so small but so powerful. thanks!

jenni said...

It sounds like a lovely book. Here's a favorite afternoon ritual lately: make a big mug of rooibos vanilla tea, or rooibos chai, curl up in the soft armchair in the living room, read, pray, and admire the sunlight flooding our humble yet beautiful little backyard.

Alyson said...

First off, you have made me want to read this book so much I can feel it in my bones. Whether or not I win this book, I don't care, I'm reading it.

Things lately that make me enjoy life: I love the when I wake up in the morning and whatever light that is reflecting into my windows is a brilliant, soothing blue that makes my bed softer, my sheets cooler, and me rested. I enjoy life when I step in the shower and I let the warm water cascade over my skin and seep into my hair. And I always pause for a moment and live in the pleasure of that moment.

I'm so glad your time in Colorado was everything you needed and more than you wanted.

sherrieg said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful post and reminder. I also have the pinball-machine mind which has been getting the better of me lately. I have never heard of this book before, but the quotes are beautiful! I just checked my local library, and since they don't have it, I'm hoping to win a copy. :)

sherrieg said...

Oops, I got carried away and forgot how I celebrate everyday life - making my toddler giggle uncontrollably every day and kissing those cheeks at every opportunity. :)

Erin said...

Christine- I have been patiently waiting for this post since you told me about the book prior to your trip. It is definitely on my short list of books to read.

One thing I do each day is walk outside to get the mail. It seams incredibly trivial and even a necessity however it is a break in my wild day of working. I open the front door and am instantly greeted by the warm sun. I stroll to the mail box while taking some fresh breaths and looking at our beautiful trees in the front yard and remember that I am thankful. Even if the mailbox is full of bills, I look back toward the house and remind myself how lucky I am to be able to have a wonderful husband, a beautiful home, and a simple lifestyle that we can afford. When I sit back down at my desk I am refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day with a renewed spirit!

Thanks for being transparent and encouraging your readers to join you! I need more of that in my life.

kristian and katy said...

You're so fun to do a giveaway! of course i have to give it a shot :)

One this I try to do everyday is just think about my husband... Of course I'm thinking about him a lot more than once a day, but I find it so beneficial to just sit for a minute thinking about what I love about his character, about his great looks, about the way he treats me, about how I see God working in him...
Sometimes I am moved to tears by just these thoughts! Sometimes I just have a big grin. And most times I try to shoot him an email, call him, or write him a little love note to tell him what's on my mind.

Can't wait to see some CO pics!!

maryh said...

great post. i love your first picture! this book sounds reminds me of sabbath = it sounds so good! two of my favorite things each day are spending time playing in our bed with grant - sometimes reading and yes, sometimes just jumping all over. also, evening prayer with brad after grant goes to sleep wherein we recount all the blessings of the day.

Lauren said...

you have *raved* about this book, haven't you?! ok, a few ways i am cherishing the every day right now...

1. letting ella crawl into bed with us as often as her little heart desires. soon, FAR TOO SOON, she will want her space more than her snuggles- so i am savoring them now!

2. learning to spend money on experiences, not more stuff! it is wonderful memories with people i love that i truly cherish, so i am trying to be more intentional about putting my money where my mouth is.

3. sprucing up my house, with paint and pictures and plants and a little quasi-porch. it may be 'only a rental', but it *is* my home for now. and i want to love it and long for it, in all of its humble glory ;)

ok, that's enough!

Andrea said...

Boy, if I ever needed a reminder to enjoy THIS day, it is now. The last trimester is hard. Every day I think about how many weeks or days are left until my mom arrives, and then until the due date. Sigh. And I know better. I know to just be thankful! But we do get distracted, don't we?

In the meantime, I do *try* to celebrate each day. One thing is making a big breakfast every morning. I pretty much need my eggs and sausage or bacon with some fresh fruit, toast and tea every morning to make the day right. I'm also enjoying taking the kids to the pool, watching them in the water, especially Elijah as he is learning to swim, is so fun and refreshing. We haven't been going every day, but most, and trying not to let the aforementioned "to do" list get in the way.

I probably won't have time to read another book for a while, but if I win, I promise I'll read it sometime :-)

marisa said...

thanks to YOU, i've read (and blogged) about this book and already lent out my own copy to a few people. ...so i wouldn't mind another one :)

one way i celebrate everyday life is finding my nook in a local coffeeshop, in a comfy chair, with a hot cup of coffee, ...getting lost in books, thoughts, and songs...reflecting on life!

Ali O said...

what a fun (and totally applicable) giveaway! great post...and if I don't win I'll def request it from the library :)

Ali O said...

oh wait, I totally didn't play by the rules!

Having children, and really watching the way they learn (and answering their endless questions!) makes me enjoy life so much more. Lately we've been learning about robins (b/c they live on our yard) - how they make their nests, what color their eggs are, the different kinds of feathers they have - and I have deeper appreciation for God's creation because of exploring it with my children.

Kristina said...

Don't put my name in the drawing. I love, love, love this book. I read it in 48 hours. Seriously. It's that good!

Kelly said...

This book sounds amazing. Everyday I make a point to kiss my husband and my dogs. They are by far the most important things in my life today.

linda said...

Thanks for this post Christine and I hope your trip with your mom was wonderful for you both. That book sounds intriguing.I want to read it. Today I celebrated life by picking a whole bouquet of wildflowers in the soft morning light and pausing for a moment with my 5 year old to talk out loud to God about the majesty of the trees and sky. I soaked in the smell of linseed oil and oil paint from the easel my husband was working from and watched the ridiculously cute run of my 2 year old bouncing down the trail.

Christy said...

would love to read this...sounds like a good beach read!! put me in the running...

Christy said...

sorry just realized i forgot to tell you mine...this summer i am enjoying fun things with my kids and leaving the house a mess...they won't be little forever!

AcresofHope said...

Yes please! I sing really loudly in the car. Every single day.

Mandy said...

This book is one of the books I've treasured most in the most recent years. Shauna's words are so real and vivid and full of life. I'm pretty sure I gave it to everyone I knew for Christmas the year it came out.

Thankful for your words of reflection too. You're a gifted writer, Christine! Keep it up! I always enjoy reading it! I'm working on noticing the little things in life, and I have a lot of change coming up in my life that will probably help me in this...

The Morginskys said...

look at all your readers stine! when i started reading your post it made me immediately think of what mojo & i say to one another about your kids. we say, "we cant wait for now."
its easy, when they are tiny to say, "i cant wait for them to crawl, or talk, or laugh, etc" and we didnt want to constantly be waiting for the next stage so we encourage one another by saying, "i cant wait for now." love the post! i love hearing about your growth

Natalie Afton said...

i loved this post. i'm going to read it again tomorrow when i have more time to absorb it.

being quiet, even if just for a few seconds, and thinking about Christ existing on His own, of Himself, with His own glories, completely outside of and independent of me. sometimes this includes a mental picture of the earth suspended in space, surrounded by stars and suns. it is hard not to feel peaceful after those few seconds.

faeninamaxine said...

ever since susan bill told me about this book i've wanted to read it : ) so why not give this a try?

recently, i find myself celebrating everyday life with dancing--happy, random and free to whatever music (or lack thereof) may be playing. i do it when i wake up, while i'm baking and any other free moment i have to myself. i always finish filled with more joy than i had the moments before!

Shawna said...

oh girl - this just penetrates deep into my heart. the book is intriguing and i must admit - i love the author's name. :) as you well know, it has taken me almost 4 years here to really start embracing and drinking up life around me and to STOP waiting. sigh.

i have started:
1. to light candles - my best candles, for no apparent reason other than it makes me happy
2. use my best dishes and linens for every day meals
3. be as intentional as i can with my daughter and husband every day
4. stop with kate every night and talk about what we are most thankful for. she gets it. she always says...the sunshine.
5. i think - this marriage, my marriage - this is it. i have the resources to make it what i want it to be. why wait for something to change. it's exhilarating to be real and raw with my husband every day.
6. i travel as much as i can. why not?
7. i let kate play outside in the rain. it makes my heart and hers soar.

and the next thing i'm going to do to enjoy life every day here is ... PAINT. i am tired of waiting for a house. why not paint and enjoy it here in our little apartment. that's my new summer project and i could not be more excited.

thanks for the post!!

Monica said...

Dear Christine - I don't expect you to send this book to Switzerland, or would you? I surely would love to read it. So I'll share my everyday pleasures with you and your lovely readers:
1. Wake up in the morning with our bedroom filled with early light, greet the day and all those new chances, set up a cup of cinnamon chocolate milk and steal myself away to my prayer place - still in pyjamas - for a time of prayer, bible reading, devotion, journaling. This are such blessed minutes, they fill me with peace, joy and focus.
2. I can enjoy every moment - not only the BIG ones - when living it with thankfulness and wonder. I made it a habit to write down not only my daily tasks, but also things I'm thankful for and changes God has done in my heart or in the life of others.
3. Make room for 'quality time' together with my husband, for listening to each other, laughing, dreaming, working side by side, cooking special meals, inspiring each other.
4. Strive for creativity - for producing instead of only consuming - every day.
5. I'm also learning not to destroy life's sweet moments by unthankfulness, bitterness, or envy ...

Heather + Steve said...

I have to admit that I am the worst offender of the pin-ball persona. Everything decision I make seems designed to structure a future that grows increasingly distant in time. I absolutely get caught up in 12-hour work days and plans for tomorrow.

But something I've learned is that kids ground you like nothing else in this world. I recently gave birth to an amazing, beautiful little girl. And each evening bath and good morning kiss reminds me to take life as it comes.