i picked up your book cold tangerines a few days ago. i was trying to stay engaged with another book, one some friends of mine were reading at the same time. the book was about the gospel and doctrine, learning it again, and living it, as a Christian rather than a new believer. it was about the gospel being a living, breathing part of every day. i want that. i do. the gospel of Jesus Christ defines me. it is my heart. i don't think it always shows, and i don't think i pray over it, think on it, and live it enough. but His story is mine through salvation. and this book was beginning to walk me through that. but, if i'm being honest, i could hardly keep my eyes open reading it. i couldn't get into it. it was the kind of book that every time i picked it up, i sort of winced because i knew what was coming. it wasn't getting to me, He wasn't getting to me through it, as much as i wanted it to. as much as I wanted Him to. and i'm sure it was me, not Him, after all. and maybe if i prayed more over it, it would have. i don't know. but i do know that i picked up your book at the exact moment i was meant to. and in those first moments of reading it, i knew i had to write down my thoughts as i read, as to not forget anything in my letter to you. so here they are, my thoughts, questions, realizations and more … cold tangerines.
i read this and was changed:
"I'm not a doctrinarian, mostly because for me, doctrine is not the thing that God has used to change my life. I'm a reader and a storyteller, and God chose literature and story and poetry as the languages of my spiritual text. To me, the Bible is a manifesto, a guide, a love letter, a story. To me, life with God is prismatic, shocking, demanding, freeing. It's the deepest stream, the blood in my veins, the stories and words of my dreams and my middle-of-the-night prayers. I am still surprised on a regular basis at the love I feel for the spirit of God, the deep respect and emotion that I experience when I see an expanse of water or a new baby or the kindness of strangers." - shauna niequist, cold tangerines
this is me. not every little detail of it. but a lot of it; me.
i have tried to fit that mold, like so many i love fit well into, and this may have been one of the first times that i realized that the way i feel His love, learn His love, and experience His love doesn't need to fit that mold. just like the book i was reading before yours didn't. just like it.
i'm sure you've been asked many times before but, tell me more about the island. tell me it's name, so i, too, can go there. do you still go every year? and are you celebrating the new year there in just a few short days?
part of me aches for the freedom, travels, and stories you have from your young adult years. the relationships you have, the ones you talk about so freely, i wonder if i would have more of those, or built more of those, had i not taken the path that i took. then the Lord quietly reminds me of His plans for me. and what they were then, and what they are now. your book has made me want to go back and write my stories. this blog is my stories, but i want to go back to the older stories. i want to revisit the places, people, and lessons learned. i want to see them from my eyes now.
and right now, i don't want to stop reading, but part of me is craving to pick up my Bible, flip to exodus, and read it all. right now. while eating sharp cheddar on multigrain bread. in fact, there isn't much i would rather do than that right this very minute.
i have never practiced lent before, and never really had the desire to until now. i want to say that i will this year but i am awfully scared to commit to it, which is all the more reason for me to do so. and do you know what? i know exactly what you should do with all those pennies. this. i can already envision it in your old house.
i want to be like grandpa niequist, who left the new toys and baseball mitts floating in the creek. he's the kind of person i'd like to be, indeed.
and what you said about prayer, about being prayer-ish... i feel that, and struggle with that, all the time. my conversations and mumbles to Christ throughout the day are constant. my pleas to Him in the midst of tragedy are real. but my every day looks something more like this: the boys remind me to pray before their macaroni and cheese at noon… and they are three and two. and, at night, when i fully intend on praying and letting Him hear all about my day, my mind wanders right after I say hello to my Savior. and instead of thanking Him, and telling Him, i start to drift into a deep sleep, or get up to pee one more time, or think about the exact shade of yellow that i want to paint the crib. i am prayer-ish. and trying to be, working towards being, prayer filled.
this cold tangerine way of living, i can taste it, but so often times it feels like the life i live: the little house, little bank account, stay at home mom, stuck inside all winter with my kids life i live doesn't get the opportunity. but you changed that for me. you reminded me that choosing joy isn't always the easy option but it's always the one i want to choose.
with love and thanks,