Drink Your Juice and other lessons from A Homemade Year

“We named ourselves the St. Zita Sisterhood for the thirteenth-century St. Zita of Lucca, who is the patron saint of lost keys. Young mothers – some working, some staying at home, some working from home – we were all a bit frazzled. Our hearts, emotions, and minds resembled pizza dough that had been pulled and tugged too much, long stretchy holes emerging in the thin places. Losing our keys often was something we could all identify with, no matter how we spent our days. An old skeleton key became our symbol, and in each other we hoped to find a way to unlock the confusion we felt over what was happening at church, what was happening in our marriages, with our children, and in our own hearts as we confronted the reality that life does not often turn out as planned.”
~Jerusalem Greer, A Homemade Year

About this time last year, my friend Jerusalem published her first book, A Homemade Year. The book takes families through the liturgical year with essays, recipes and crafts…the kind you can actually do, not just hope someday they will magically appear in your home.

I hosted a house party to help celebrate the launch. She came into my living room and read a bit to the group assembled. She also provided the snacks from recipes from her book.

Jerusalem is a smart woman and knows for all my best intentions, if she’d left it to me, the snacks would have been a disaster.

The book is wonderful. It’s like having Jerusalem with me all the time. She keeps reminding me through her words in the book and in real life that I have to stop “shoulding” myself. (I should be doing this. I should look like that. etc.) Also, no one has to be awesome every day. Some days good is good enough.

She helps with perspective. Not long ago I was practically hyperventilating over something that I could do absolutely nothing to change. Sensing I had worked myself into a state that was past all reasonable conversation, she simply said, “Drink your juice, Shelby.”

The book doesn’t explicitly tell anyone to drink juice, but it offers perspective and confessions to remind me that I’m not alone. For example, “Having kids didn’t fix me,” and “I have not loved my neighbor as myself.”

But the biggest lesson of all she keeps bring up over and over again is grace. We will all mess up. And we all need grace. And we should show more grace to others when they mess up because everyone does.

Her book has done well, and I’m so proud for her about that. It’s managed to sell even after someone reviewed it with the complaint, “It has too many words.” (The definition of book is apparently not the same for all of us.)

I find myself pulling it out regularly to re-read passages. The chances of me ever cooking recipes from her book remain basically nonexistent. Not because they’re not good, but because I’m me. I’ll do some of the crafts…eventually.

But I will for sure soak in her words. I will remain connected to my community. I will pause and enjoy ordinary life. I will do my very best to remember all of us need grace for something.

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