As a teacher, I had a back to school August so long and hard it bled into September and even a little bit of October. As a parent of a child with special needs, my son’s back to school start was also hard, however still way easier than years prior. But it still required additional effort and planning. And to add to all of that, my family was plagued by a season of mild sickness, one strep throat, ear infection and flu bug after another. My son battles seizures and can’t regulate his body temperature during sickness. So his simple sickness had more layers than a typical kiddo. With all of that, I found that I was sprinting my way through a rough season on very little sleep.
In order to regain my footing I did what any good English teacher would do, I bought three books and decided to read them all at once. (Books fix everything, right?) I wanted to fill my cup, because it was empty.
And guess what… a little over a month later, my cup is fuller. I’m not running on empty. It wasn’t magic and no one book or thing fixed everything. But by engaging in thoughtful discussion with these authors, my mindset shifted and I gleaned a few things to apply to my life.
These are a few of the books and resources really speaking to me right now:
The Lucky Few
This is a book I received as a gift last year. I started it then put in down. While I was sick with what felt like the flu 6 weeks ago, I picked this book back up. I devoured it over the course of three days. I didn’t realize how much I would have in common with a mother of three adopted children, two with Down’s syndrome. I could relate to her struggles. One quote spoke to my heart. “Just because something is hard, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.” I think this is counter cultural. We seek easy, convenient, and pleasurable. Having a kiddo with special needs is hard. Juggling sick kids and work, also hard. But it’s not bad. My kids are awesome. Typical sickness is normal, despite my son’s struggles with fevers and seizures. My job is important and meaningful. My family is beyond beyond blessed, even in a rough season. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad.
You are the Girl for the Job
This book is amazing. Like, I read chapter 10 and just started crying. I feel called to my job as a teacher, yet at times it can be incredibly hard. I could easily find a desk job that is less stressful. I want to please everyone and I’m plagued with fear and doubting if I’m even doing the right thing. (Okay, maybe that’s the same way I feel towards parenting) The illustrations in this book will remind you God is God. He is the hero, but we are the gals he has called to bring light and life to a world where he has placed us on mission. (Pg 65) What if the circumstances we fear the most are the ones that will afford us the most abundance? (Pg160) Sounds a lot like the “What is hard, isn’t necessarily bad.” quote from The Lucky Few.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
“I can affirm that you are the girl for the job because God has placed you right where you are, with all that you have, for a purpose.” (Pg 249)
Rhythms of Renewal and Grace
Filled with rhythms of resting, restoring, connections, and creating. It’s practical advice and self evaluation. These rhythms are intended to replace stress and anxiety with life giving purpose. (Pg 21) Just a good reminder that I have to fill my own cup in order to be the person I’m designed to be. “You cannot run if you cannot rest.” (Pg 76) This is the only book I haven’t completely finished. It’s longer and the text is deeper. It’s takes longer to read… in a good way. You need time to process and reflect as you read. I’ve finished the first two rhythms: rest and restore. I’m moving forward into create and connect.
I love her thought that we don’t just do rest and restore for self care, self actualization, or just our own benefit but rather to fulfill God’s purposes of benefiting and engaging the world around us. (Pg 156) You know the saying, you can’t help others if… you can’t help yourself. Or the illustration that you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you can save those around you.
Stretched Too Thin
The author’s voice is more logical than I would typically enjoy, but it is so practical and removes “mom guilt.” So many motherhood books based on faith make me feel guilty for working. This book is for the working mom and acknowledges the real stress and struggles without suggesting you just quit your job and stay home. It reminds me I am a value to my family for working, but balances that with self evaluation and ways to set yourself up for success.
Unexpected challenges easily push us over the edge when we are feeling stressed.” (Pg 69) Yep, I’m always one sick kid away from losing my marbles!
“There is no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
Nothing she says is ground breaking, but was refreshing and a good reminder. I especially liked the reflections after each chapter: A place to journal and evaluate your situation.
Made for This (Season 2 – Podcast)
Based off her bible study Stuck, this season is focused on identifying and evaluating our emotions, the places we get stuck, and the God who sets us free! Each episode has been enlightening and encouraging. The guest speakers are phenomenal. And I’ve managed to use my 15 minute drive to work as a way to shape my mindset.
Emily Ley’s Teacher Planner
As I sat in a meeting with our campus administrators, I looked down at my planner: pale tan, coffee stained with bent edges. A $10 investment from Target looked like I felt: torn up, used, and broken. (I’m being maybe a little over dramatic… but I swear, October was rough) I felt compelled to change both my martyr attitude at work and also attempt to be a little more put together. This planner is bright, cheerful, and because I bought it in October, it’s half off. ($30… go buy one now!) I can’t help but smile when I look at it. I mean, I’ll probably still spill coffee on it, but… here is to a fresh start. (Emily Ley also sells planners for busy families and you can sign up for her emails with organization tips and tricks)
All of these books and resources pulled at a specific theme: finding your rhythm.
I love this term and I think I will replace “season of life” as frequently as I can. As a new mom, I would hear, “It’s just a rough season.” I enjoy spring and fall, but we Texans just try to survive August heat and muddle through Winter. I don’t want to “survive” or “muddle through” any season of my life. I want to find a rhythm that works for my family. I want to find rest and restoration, and then move forward so I can create and connect with humanity. I want to trade stress and anxiety for a life of peace and purpose. Life is messy and imperfect, but we are called to find calm in the storm in the arms of our creator.
What to read next?
Here are a few books on my radar. Is there anything else you would suggest?
- Live in Grace, Walk in Love:A 365 Day Journey by Bob Goff
- Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments by Emily Jensen
- When Less Becomes More: Making Space for Slow, Simple, and Good
by Emily Ley
- How to Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want to Be Tomorrow
by Bianca Juarez Olthoff