Category Archives: Books

Book Club: Woman Code Pt. 3 (Cycle Syncing Meal Ideas!!)

As promised, today we’re going to dive in to what drew me to WomanCode by Alisa Vitti in the first place — FOOD. The idea that our body benefits from different foods at different parts of our menstrual cycle made a lot of sense to me. Certainly I’ve seen how my body reacts to food differently (in a more negative sense — hi bloating!) throughout the month, but was there a way to use food to nourish my body and give it more of what it needed in each phase?

Vitti breaks down the science behind syncing your cycle with food and I thought it would be fun to explore ways to incorporate this cyclical approach to nutrition in our own lives. On a very surface level, without getting into any discussion of micronutrients and vitamin supplementation, we can start by looking at each phase of the cycle as a season —

Menstrual Phase = Winter
Follicular Phase = Spring
Ovulatory Phase = Summer
Luteal Phase = Fall

The way your eating shifts as the seasons change during a calendar year can be mirrored as you make your way through your cycle. Foods we often associate with a (northern hemisphere) Spring-time meal; like leafy lettuce, eggs, grapefruit, and split peas — are great for the Follicular Phase. While things like squash and sweet potato, brown rice, apples and dates, foods we associate with Autumn, are ingredients we might consider during the Luteal Phase. Thinking of these seasons occurring as you pass through your cycle’s phases is a great place to start when syncing your cycle nutritionally.

To learn more about foods for your cycle, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of WomanCode (if you haven’t already). Vitti goes in-depth on the topic in Chapter 5, and there’s a handy chart on pages 159-60 with all sorts of food ideas for each phase. Using this info as a jumping off point, I decided to “cook up” some meal inspiration for us!

(Note: As I’ve been trying to incorporate these nutritional changes in my own life, my approach has been focused on additions not subtractions. I find this to be the easiest and healthiest way to make lasting changes. I would never advocate for highly prescriptive and restrictive eating plans and, in my experience, completely changing your eating habits can lead to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, I’m looking for ways to introduce cycle-supporting foods along with the foods I already enjoy/know work well for my body.)  

Ok, let’s get into the phases…

Foods for your Follicular Phase // Inner Spring 

The Follicular Phase comes after menstruation and lasts 7-10 days. At the beginning of this phase your estrogen and progesterone levels are at the lowest and then estrogen begins to steadily rise. Along with that rise in estrogen comes a rise in energy and creativity. You might feel like you want to get out in the world and try new things! So, what foods can help us through this rising trajectory? Lighter foods and energy-building foods. Stuff like green smoothies, salads, foods with active cultures, oats, cashews, sprouts, etc. These foods are also high in Vitamins A & B which help with healthy egg maturation (lookin’ at you upcoming ovulation!).

Follicular Breakfast Ideas:
Oatmeal with cashew milk and cinnamon
Artichoke egg cups
Avocado toast

Follicular Lunch Ideas:
Split pea soup with toast and a plum
Almond butter and sour jelly sandwich with an orange and a hard-boiled egg
Romaine lettuce salad topped with sprouts, avocado and lentils
Serenity Bowl

Follicular Dinner Ideas:
Roast chicken with broccoli and zucchini
Breakfast for dinner — scrambled eggs, chicken sausage links, grapefruit & avocado
Chicken and Barley soup
Marinara sauce served over zucchini noodles

Follicular Snack Ideas:
Brazil nuts
Pickles
Pomegranate seeds

Foods for your Ovulatory Phase // Inner Summer

Ovulation begins around day 14 and may present with some tell-tale signs: cervical mucus, a desire to be more social, and flirtiness (hint, hint).  As you might imagine, your natural energy is at it’s peak in this phase and your mood is pretty stable due to that estrogen rise. As a result, you might want to stick to lighter grains, stay low on carbs, and focus on lighter preparation of vegetables (steamed or raw). You also want to make sure you metabolize and eliminate surplus estrogen and for that you need fiber-rich veggies. Foods like quinoa, nuts, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and salmon are all great during ovulation.

Ovulatory Breakfast Ideas:
Almond croissant
Fruit Salad – cantaloupe, raspberry, and strawberries
Sliced banana topped with almond butter and shredded coconut
Smoothie made with coconut milk and frozen fruit

Ovulatory Lunch Ideas:
Tuna salad over spinach with dry-roasted almonds and raspberries on the side
Lamb Tacos
Spinach salad topped with feta, strawberries, pistachios and fennel, served with balsamic dressing

Ovulatory Dinner Ideas:
Red Lentil Dal over quinoa or red lentil soup
Eggplant Parmesan
Salmon served with asparagus and quinoa

Ovulatory Snack Ideas:
Tortilla chips
Pecan Pie Lara Bars
Chocolate covered strawberries

Foods for your Luteal Phase // Inner Autumn

During the Luteal Phase, progesterone starts to rise after ovulation. You may experience waning energy levels and near the end of the phase many women begin to notice PMS symptoms like mood swings, bloating, acne, and tender breasts. So in this phase you want to focus on foods that promote hormone health in a way that helps alleviate these symptoms. Foods like collard greens, spinach, and kale are rich in magnesium and help reduce bloating. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots help counteract irritability because they’re rich in B-Complex. And, similar to the ovulatory phase, you want to flush out excess estrogen (which can be the culprit of many PMS symptoms) with fiber; so brown rice, apples, dates, and root vegetables can all help decongest the large intestine.

Luteal Breakfast Ideas:
Roast sweet potato topped with nut butter, banana, and cacao nibs
Pumpkin overnight oats
Chocolate Omelette 

Luteal Lunch Ideas:
Hummus and Veggie plate with pumpkin-zucchini-carrot bread
Turkey sandwich served with an apple and coleslaw
Beef hotdog with carrots/celery and hummus and a peach
Taco mixture (rice, ground beef/beans, veggies)in a collard wrap

Luteal Dinner Ideas:
Beef fried rice
Baked cod with collard greens and sweet potato
Sweet potato, parsnip, and kale soup

Luteal Snack Ideas:
Date balls
Beef sticks
Roasted chickpeas

Foods for your Menstrual Phase // Inner Winter

The menstrual phase begins on day 1 of your cycle aka when you get your period. So, when you’re in the menstrual phase you’re losing blood. Therefore, it’s important to eat foods during menstruation that contain trace minerals and iron as well as help build blood. Essentially, foods for your menstrual phase should be deeply restorative to the blood and kidneys. These can include seaweed, beets, beans, water-rich fruits, and miso. Because your body is involved in an intense elimination process during this phase, you want to ADD nutrients back into your body through your food.

Menstrual Breakfast Ideas:
Kasha cereal
Smoothie made with protein powder and blackberries/blueberries
Bacon, kale & mushroom fry-up
Buckwheat blueberry muffins

Menstrual Lunch Ideas:
Brown rice sushi rolls with seaweed salad and miso soup
Tomato soup with grilled cheese
3-Bean soup and side salad

Menstrual Dinner Ideas:
Vegetarian Chili
Catfish and chips
Crab cakes with warm beet salad
Roast duck with wild rice and cranberry sauce

Menstrual Snack Ideas:
Grapes
Beet juice
Miso soup

What do you think? Will you try out some cycle-supporting foods in your coming phases // inner seasons? Let me know below! 

Check out last week’s post for tons of cycle syncing resources.

Stay tuned for PART 4!!!

If you enjoy my book club, please consider supporting what I do (and helping me keep my book-shelf stocked). Thank you! xoxo ☕

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Book Club: Woman Code Pt. 2

Last week, I introduced you to the latest book in our Finding Delight book club — WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti. And the ladies in the crowd said, “YAAAS!” (Seriously; reactions from friends, comments on my IG, and replies to my emails all indicated that y’all are super down for this topic!)

Today, I thought I’d share some resources that I’ve found incredibly inspiring and informative on my own “menstrual cycle optimization” journey! If you’ve read WomanCode and want to dig deeper, these links are definitely for you. BUT — they’re also for those of you who HAVEN’T read the book. (My reading list is mile’s long and sometimes a topic interests me long before I have time to crack the spine of a book on the subject, ya dig?)

So, whether you’ve read WomanCode or just popped it on your Amazon wish-list for later, let’s dive in…

Continue Reading:

Books

Articles & Blogs

Continue Watching:

Instagram Accounts

Tuning in for the IG stories of a few “cycle awareness” accounts is a great reminder to take note of your own cycle!

Educational Videos

Continue Listening:

Podcasts

Playlists

Continue Experiencing:

  • Incorporate a new recipe for the different phases of your cycle — FOLLICULAR // MENSTRUAL // OVULATORY // LUTEAL (Note: There’s a specific recipe for each phase but each video also points out other optimal foods for the phase and the info is garnered straight from WomanCode!)  
  • Journal your cycle — HERE are some free resources to help!
  • …and for more experiences, stay tuned to FindingDelight.com. Part 3 of this series will feature a 3-day meal plan for each cycle phase and Part 4 will show you how to make a cycle syncing calendar!

Check out last week’s post HERE. ❤

If you enjoy my book club, please consider supporting what I do (and helping me keep my book-shelf stocked). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Woman Code Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #2 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you haven’t heard, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. For this book, the posts are going to look something like this — 1) about the book, 2) extended reading/listening/watching, 3) extended eating, and 4) final takeaways. So, let’s dive in for more on WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti, HHC.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Hormones affect everything. Have you ever struggled with acne, oily hair, dandruff, dry skin, cramps, headaches, irritability, exhaustion, constipation, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, clotting, shedding hair, weight gain, anxiety, insomnia, infertility, lowered sex drive, or bizarre food cravings and felt like your body was just irrational? It’s not; it’s hormonal.” 

Synopsis

As a holistic health counselor, Alisa Vitti helps women. She founded the FLO Living Center in Manhattan because, after experiencing symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome for years, she was able to turn her health around through the power of foods and lifestyle changes and thought other women could benefit from what she found to be so life-changing.

Now, in WomanCode, Vitti shares the prescriptive program she used on herself and later with her countless clients. The book explains this proven set of guidelines that has helped thousands of women solve issues related to their cycle, skin, thyroid, mood, and fertility.

The program consists of five steps. Each step is mapped out in easy-to-understand detail so that readers can make changes as soon as they set down the book. Working through the program promises to help you:

  • Live in tune with your cycle
  • Learn how to reduce the impact of harmful ingredients found in your environment, food, and products
  • Lovingly support the function of your blood sugar, adrenals, systems of elimination, and reproductive organs
  • Use the power of your feminine energy

The information in WomanCode gives women a greater understanding of hormone health so they can naturally eliminate period problems, tap into the benefits of living cyclically, and feel great!

***

“Most women know very little about our hormonal biochemistry, and as a result,
we’re making choices about our menstrual care, fertility, and libido
that have long-term negative repercussions.” 

Initial Thoughts

I was first introduced to Alisa Vitti, and the idea of cycle syncing, when she was a guest on a podcast I listen to. The host of the podcast had recently adopted many of the changes outlined in WomanCode and wanted her audience to hear from the source. I’ll be honest, Vitti’s perspective really resonated with me. She discussed the hormonal peaks and valleys that occur throughout women’s cycles. How inherently cyclical we are.  While all the while, society so often asks us to exist in a linear fashion. What would happen if, instead, we tapped into that cyclicality? Or better yet–optimized it?

This optimization is what fascinated me most. Vitti went on to explain how she recommends different foods for each phase of a woman’s cycle. I’ve long believed in the idea of food as medicine. So this made a lot of sense. Why wouldn’t you choose foods that provide the nourishment your need at each point in your cycle? For example, foods rich in B vitamins are great for the Luteal Phase, while seafood and sea-based veggies during menstruation can help remineralize your body with iron and zinc. Sounds pretty interesting, right? And I love anything with the potential for meal plan creation…so her book went straight on my list.

That was several years ago, and in the interim I found (and became low-key obsessed with) another period coach. Claire’s Instagram stories really solidified WomanCode’s place on this book club’s reading list. How? She often shares cycle updates and talks about the different ways she adapts her self-care, business strategies, social life, and exercise to that specific cycle day. Honestly, mind blown! I knew that Vitti’s book would break down the science behind this type of holistic cycle syncing. So, here we are!

As you can probably tell, I’m deeply interested in alternative medicine, nutrition, and women’s health. WomanCode does not disappoint in these areas. I feel like it’s unlocking a whole new approach to my health & wellness and I’m so excited to get stuck in.

Next week, I’ll be sharing some really awesome websites, videos, Instagram accounts and all sorts of other goodies that will hopefully get you fired up about cycle syncing and menstruation! See you then!!

Read this if you’re interested in: Women’s Health, Nutrition, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Healing, Cycle Syncing

Read this if you loved: Moon Time by Lucy Pearce, The Optimized Woman by Miranda Gray, Adore Your Cycle by Claire Baker

Follow Alisa Vitti: Website, Instagram, Pinterest

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings about a book and what it brings up for YOU. Sometimes this can be difficult when reading books by yourself. You read for entertainment and enjoyment, maybe you underline a passage that speaks to you or remark YAS! to a sentence that really rings true. But in a book club? We can dig a little deeper. So, shall we?

confessions of a secular jesus follower tom krattenmaker reflection questions

1. In Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, Krattenmaker clearly knows his stuff when it comes to the Jesus presented in the New Testament. He recounts many stories and offers a secular spin.

How well do you know Jesus? What stories of him, from Scripture, do you remember? Do you have a favorite?

2. Historically, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples served an invaluable role as a place where emotional and spiritual needs were met and where a sense of purpose was established. With the move away from organized religion, these needs and purpose are often cared for elsewhere.

Where would you say these needs are met and purpose established for you? 

3. Jesus has been held captive by a nationalistic culture of white, middle-class, anglo-centric, mostly male people. Yet, he was born with darker skin, was from the lower class, had a male body but a seemingly female soul and often voiced disdain for religion. He lived between east and west. The only thing he excluded was exclusion itself.

What do you struggle with including in your circle of love and acceptance? How might you work towards being more inclusive?

4. Jesus said, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” The early Church actually forbid membership to soldiers. And yet countless people of faith have fought and died believing a a “just war policy” that simply was not of Jesus’ thinking.

Is it possible to end violence and war? What might that transformation look like?

5. Marie Kondo is gaining immense popularity right now for her clear the clutter that fails to bring joy philosophy. This book really highlighted for me the similarities between her take and Jesus’, who reminds us that there is enough for everyone to have all they need.  We tend to be hoarders rather than distributors of our wealth.

How might you better meet the needs of others? How might you share your wealth? What do you think it will feel like if you give some stuff away?
*Note: Krattenmaker’s interpretation of the loaves and fishes story would be a wonderful section to revisit before taking on decluttering projects! What do you think?

6. Isolation, depression, and anxiety are at epidemic levels in our country today. Much of this stems from a feeling that no one cares, no one gets me, there is no one. Jesus was all about radical hospitality so that everyone cares, everyone gets me, there is everyone. So, your challenge today is to make contact with people – chat with a cashier, make eye contact and smile at a homeless person, check in with a family member you haven’t spoken to in awhile (actually talk, no texting). And then come back and reflect on how it  felt.

Who benefited most from these encounters? How might you incorporate these little actions into your everyday life?

7. You read the statistics – we are an Incarceration Nation.

What would it look like to offer restorative justice rather than retributive justice (locking everyone up) in our society? Where might this begin?

8. The author asks a very good question, “Were he suddenly inserted into our time and place, were he to behold our structural racism and all the other forms of injustice borne by one group or another, what would Jesus have us do?”

Thoughts? 

9. Let’s talk about non-dual thinking or living with paradox. Many hear this and think of eastern religions. But Jesus was also a non-dual thinker. That means sometimes there is no right or wrong, this or that, my way or no way. Sometimes both are right, my way and your way. It’s about coming to the conversation with an open mind.

Can you think of someone you strongly disagree with? Do you know that person’s whole story? Have you really listened to that person’s reasoning without judgment? Could you have that conversation? If not, why not?

10. Lunatic, Liar or Lord? Time to brainstorm some more L words that might describe Jesus. One I love – LOVE.

Your turn. 

Have you read Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

So, what’s next for our book club? Subscribe HERE to receive the full Finding Delight Reading List or tune in next week for PART 1 of a brand new book. 🙂

❤ Thank you to my mom and sister for their help with this series. Grateful to be part of a family that loves and encourages reading! ❤

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about the man behind Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower. (Well, the author, Tom Krattenmaker. Not Jesus. LOL) I shared some of his other work, and a few interviews, which hopefully placed the book in the broader context of why Krattenmaker, again and again, finds himself turning to the figure of Jesus.

Today, I’d like to widen the horizons of that context even further and offer some extended reading. Perhaps these pieces will bolster the book’s argument for where to find inspiration and input in your own life, perhaps not. Either way, I hope they are illuminating.

I must admit, Krattenmaker’s NOTES section made the process of discovering “further reading” super easy. Most of what follows was pulled from those pages; I selected the ones I felt best broadened the scope of each chapter and linked them for you here…

First, listen to this —
On Being with Krista Tippett – The Equation of Change

For more on contemporary American Religion —
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert Putnam and David Campbell

For a deeper dive into exploring the modern world in theological terms —
The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium by Walter Wink

I’d love to know, what do you think about the interpretation of modesty in this article? 
Yoga Pants and What the Bible Really Says about Modesty
and here’s another opinion piece the book makes reference to in Chapter 3 —
The Caligulan Thrill

To enter into a conversation with Jesus —
Let Me Ask You a Question: Conversations with Jesus by Matthew Croasmun

For more on questioning the meaning of life —
What Makes Life With Living? Take a Moment to Ask 

* QUICK INTERMISSION *
So much to read and take in, amirite? How about a little break in the action for some tunes! Click  HERE for my Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower playlist on Spotify. 🙂

For a greater understanding of the “urban age” discussed in Chapter 6–
America’s Urban Future

Some further reading on who we lock up —
The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty

The invisible and forgotten —
The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

For more on religion and politics —
God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics by Stephen Carter
and an interview with Jonathan Haidt —
Defusing Political Conflicts

How to approach the resurrection as a nonbeliever —
Easter for Atheists

Some more secular inspiration —
All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly

Ok, that should keep us all busy for a bit. Happy reading!
And, one more time,…here’s the link to the Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower SPOTIFY PLAYLIST. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our first book club book, shall we? Tom Krattenmaker is a columnist for USA Today and the Director of Communications at Yale Divinity School.

His work primarily explores the discord, problems, and potential that arises from the intersection of religion and culture. Tom considers himself a secular progressive, and Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower stemmed from his idea that crucial moral guidance and insight can be gleaned from the Jesus found on the pages of the New Testament.

Previous books include Onward Christian Athletes (2009), a critique of Christianity in sports, and The Evangelicals You Don’t Know (2013), about the “new evangelicals” in our post-Christian America.

Not only an author and journalist, Krattenmaker is also a speaker — at the American Humanist Association conference on multiple occasions, as well as countless other events and many universities. He’s won awards from organizations like the American Academy of Religion, Religion Newswriters Association, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and the Muslim Educational Trust.

He currently calls New Haven, Connecticut home and you can follow him on Twitter HERE.

“On the mountains I’ve climbed, figuratively speaking, I’ve discovered, and then rediscovered again and again, the anchor that means the most to me, the anchor I find most worthy of my trust. It’s the ethic and the inspiration and, indeed, the way of an ancient figure with whom we are acquainted, but whose relevance to our lives and society might not be so readily apparent, and whose availability to us, if we are secular might come as a complete surprise.”

***

More with Tom Krattenmaker

Posts and articles —

Real men get help when it’s needed–as it so often is Recent blog post
Christmas is a Time to Celebrate Jesus’s Moral Insights USA Today column
White progressives shouldn’t be smug about racism … USA Today column
Don’t Domesticate MLK Commentary in Religion News Service

Interviews —

Can You Be Secular and Still Love Jesus? An interview in Psychology Today
Reading is FUNdamental An interview on The Brain Candy Podcast
Do Religion and Pro Sports Mix? Faith Matters series on NPR

📚📚📚

Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE. Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today marks the launch of my new Finding Delight Book Club. I’ll be reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book — 1) about the book, 2) about the author, 3) extended reading/listening/watching, and 4) final thoughts and reflections. I’m kicking off the club with an exploration of Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe by Tom Krattenmaker.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“It is not my aim to reclaim the Christian religion … Nor is it my objective in this book to join the scholars who pursue the historical Jesus–the historically and journalistically accurate Jesus–as important as that quest might be. I am interested, rather, in what we might describe as “face-value Jesus,” the Jesus who says and does things on the pages of the New Testament. I am not worried for now about the factual accuracy of those accounts or the religious assertions that arise from them. His stories and instruction are valuable and ‘true,’ I contend, whether they are journalistically accurate or not.”

Synopsis

When you think about Jesus, what image comes to you mind? A man with piercing blue eyes and flowy hair last seen on the cover of your old Sunday school workbook? A painful expression from a cross at the front of a dim sanctuary? Or perhaps the name alone invokes feelings about religious doctrine or political stances in direct opposition to your own.

Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today columnist, separates Jesus from our preconceived notions and explains how his teachings are exactly what we need to bring reason and sense to the current state of affairs in America — even a SECULAR America.

Krattenmaker asks–
What gives life meaning?
What does it mean to live a good life?

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower is Krattenmaker’s answer to these long-pondered queries. Surprisingly, as a self-declared secular and non-believer, he turns to Jesus. Fully. Not just as an instructor or someone to be imitated, but as a personal North Star, as it were, directing and guiding all life’s components and quandaries.

To encourage us to adopt a similar conclusion, the book paints a realistic picture of the status quo while detailing the ways turning to Jesus’s teachings can provide a much-needed salve for so many of America’s woes. And no stone is left unturned — politics, racism, sexual exploitation, mass incarceration. Krattenmaker has studied religion for years and, as a journalist, covers the intersection of religion and public life in America. It is through this lens of religious understanding, that he expresses how nonreligious folk can follow Jesus. He walks readers through key teachings, parables, and sermons and extrapolates meaning and guidance that can be applied to a modern life.

This book helps readers discover, or perhaps rediscover, Jesus. A man who, Krattenmaker believes, can help us lead a good and meaningful life. An inspiring read no matter what you believe.

***

“If Jesus had a “shit list,” you wouldn’t find people on it. You’d find attitudes and actions. Not wrong people but wrong ideas, behaviors, and ways of being in the world. He could see the humanity even in the dreaded tax collectors, who were enforcing the severe policies that kept many of Jesus’s people in poverty. He could see the humanity even in the soldiers who were carrying out his execution.”

Initial Thoughts

Can these two truths coexist within one person?
1. Jesus is the answer.
2. I’m not looking for God.

They seem contradictory, right?

I love that this book shows me, as someone who has walked away from organized religion, the ways in which they are not. Krattenmaker does a wonderful job exploring Jesus’s teachings — explaining metaphors (for those of us apprehensive with *pulls thing out of thin air* miracles) and cultural context. This allows for a more holistic application of bible story to current conundrum. A leap that can be hard to make when the subject and setting of these stories feel so far removed from our own.

Wherever I’ve been on my own faith/spiritual journey, I’ve always conceded that Jesus was and is a pretty important dude. Afterall, he was able to split time in two. No small feat! But despite regular church attendance and religion classes throughout my formative years, I still wouldn’t say I have an intimate knowledge of his teachings.

Curiosity about the historical Jesus had me pick up this book last year. Which I would definitely recommend as a way of placing “the man” in time and space. Curiosity about what he taught, however, has me poring over Confessions of a Secular Jesus.

In recent years, I’ve seen some good done in Christ’s name, but a lot more bad. Maybe you feel the same way? For me, in 2019, this is what is hard to grapple with when approaching a book like this one. I found myself proceeding with caution towards the idea that Jesus can be a moral guide for all folks — whether they worship him or not.

Yet, Krattenmaker’s interpretations of the Jesus philosophy is winning me over. His philosophy…

that love is the way,
that responding to war with peace is a powerful counter-strike,
that finding the humanity in all persons is possible and beautiful,
that forgiveness can be subversive.

Perhaps these are the answers we can find in Jesus if we take the time to look.

Read this if you’re interested in: Philosophy, Self-Improvement, Religion + Politics, Literature

Read this if you loved: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, What’s Beyond Mindfulness by Stephen Fulder, What the Qur’an Meant by Gary Wills

Other books by Tom Krattenmaker: The Evangelicals You Don’t Know and Onward Christian Athletes

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Review: The Wine Lover’s Apprentice by Kathleen Bershad

The Wine Lover's Apprentice

As y’all may know, I am a self-professed WINERD. Of course I love drinking the stuff, but learning about wine can be just as pleasurable! Do you agree? When we were living in Miami, I even worked part-time on the occasional evening and weekend at a wine store in our neighborhood. I learned a tremendous amount about wine and the industry, and it was so much fun to interact with people from all sorts of walks of life who were so passionate about the subject.

But of course, any life-long learner will tell you there’s always room for more knowledge! Which is why, when I heard about The Wine Lover’s Apprentice: Words of Wisdom for Would-Be Oenophiles by Kathleen Bershad, I JUMPED at the chance to grab a copy.

This book decodes the world of wine so that when you encounter a wine review or a new bottle, or even a tableside aficionado, you’ll understand…and even feel enough in the know to offer your two cents!

Author Kathleen Bershad is a wonderful guide throughout. And no wonder, with over 15 years of experience in the food and wine biz, she really knows her stuff! She has worked as a food writer and restaurant reviewer and now runs her very own consulting practice – Fine Wine Concierge. She earned her Sommelier Certification from the American Sommelier Association.

The first part of the book delves into everything you need to know to consider yourself a true wine geek. Everything from tasting notes to storing to picking out the perfect bottle at a shop or restaurant.

The rest of the book is reserved for a tour of the world by way of wine regions. Starting with…

Which makes this book a perfect companion if you’re looking to expand your palate. Read up on a region, hit the wine store to stock up, and REPEAT.

What’s so wonderful about wine is that there is always a story behind each bottle. And where the wine comes from is a great starting place for that story! Before you know it, you’ll be busting out wine facts to your dinner guests like it’s nothing!

It’s Bershad’s hope that once you make it through her book, you’ll “become empowered to know what’s in a bottle, be able to make an educated guess about its flavors, and help change the culture to make drinking wine what it should be―relaxing and fun.” And I think she succeeds! Of course, I would add you should definitely make your way through the chapters with a glass of something in hand!

This book is perfect for anyone who loves trying new wines and wants to up their overall knowledge in an effort to become one step closer to a tried and true oenophile!

If that’s not you, perhaps you know someone you would classify as a WINERD. This book would make a wonderful gift! Pair it with a bottle, a beautiful stemware set, or even a lovely bottle stopper. Christmas is right around the corner!

Here’s the link one more time!

Are you a fan of wine? Do you like learning about it or just drinking it? (No judgement! haha)

For the love of BOOKS!

What have you been reading lately? While I believe ALL seasons are great for reading, Fall weather feels especially conducive. Don’t you think? There’s something so lovely about curling up on the couch because, hey, it’s already dark outside…but in reality you still have plenty of hours ’til bedtime.

I think Anne, of Green Gables fame, said it best —

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Sad to see October go. But so excited for what books lay ahead in November! If you’re in the same boat, here are some books I’ve read recently that I’d recommend for next month’s evening couch sessions:

Sharp Objects
Delancey
Honeymoon in Purdah
Under the Banner of Heaven
All the Light We Cannot See
The Vacationers
Some Girls
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

I’m currently reading The Silver Star, which is written by the same person who wrote The Glass Castle. My friend recently recommended Nevada (I added it to my reading list right away), and my mom and sister both LOVED The Electric Woman. Also, I recently saw someone perform an amazing oral interpretation of a story from Her Body and Other Parties, which totally made me want to reread.

So, what are YOU reading? Anything you’ve read in the last few years that you can’t stop recommending to people? Would love to hear!!

P.S. How to make time for books.

How to Make Time for Books

After a book binge on the topic of polygamy (I know…I’m weird), I’m currently reading Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

If the answer is nothing…that’s ok. I’m here to provide some gentle encouragement that if you want to start making more time for books, you CAN! With all the back-to-school vibes hanging out in the air, I totally believe now is a great time to recommit yourself to lifelong learning. Reading books is such an important part of that.

So, you’re on board. (Woohoo!) But how can we make more time for books in our busy, busy lives? Here are a few ideas…

1. Schedule Reading Time

I am one of those people who has lots of aspirations but not a lot of follow-through. (See also: this post.) So I can saaaaay I wanna finish a book a week, but if I don’t actually set aside dedicated time to do said reading…it’s probably not gonna happen. That rogue 30 minutes in my day will go *poof* and I’ll still be sitting at my computer clicking around on pointless stuff.

INSTEAD! I really study my planner (I use this one) for those free pockets of time and schedule in the stuff I want to do.

I’ve also written a post about how you can “set and forget” self-care that you can check out HERE. If hunting down reading time doesn’t sound like your bag, no worries! Pick a recurring time slot and stick to it.

2. Read Books You Like

This might be a no-brainer but I think it’s important to point out. If you want to make reading a habit that you’ll stick with, then you’ve gotta read books that interest you! After all, you want reading to be something you look forward to.

A great way to find MORE books you like is by talking about books. Share your favorite reads with friends and family and get their recommendations. I like to keep a list of book recommendations I’ve gathered from folks I know and cool reviews I come across on the internet.

Then, bring that book you like with you wherever you go! If you get stuck waiting somewhere you can pull out the book instead of your phone. It’s amazing how a random 10 minutes at the pharmacy here and a 15 minutes in a parking lot because you’re chronically early to stuff (just me?) there really starts to add up.

Oh and, NOTE: If you don’t end up liking a book? GUESS WHAT!? You don’t have to finish it! I had a weird aversion to ditching books until like really recently and I gotta say…this way is much better. Frees up a lot of time for the books you’re actually going to enjoy. So, there ya go–I grant you my permission, for what it is worth.

3. SHARE!

Sharing is WHAT? Accountability! 

I love, love, love posting about what I’m reading (and what I’ve just finished reading) on social media. I’m sure it’s not the most thrilling of content but it holds me accountable with my reading goals. (I also enjoy tracking my reading privately which you can read more about HERE.)

Other fun ways to share about books include joining a book club, reading a book with a friend, or tracking on the Goodreads app. Find what is fun for you!

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about kicking off an email-based book club in January 2019. Would anyone be interested in that!? Let me know below and subscribe to my email list so you’ll be in the loop!

Ok, over to you! How do you make time for books? Share your secrets (and stuff I missed) below. 

 

P.S. If you’re basically blind but also wanna double down on reading time by adding in a dose of self-care…you’ll have to wear your glasses over top of your face masks. It’s a LEWK! 🙂