I love books. I like the way they feel in my hands. I like turning the pages. I like underlining and making notes in the margins. I like filling shelves to overflowing with them. I enjoy walking through book stores row by row, stopping to thumb through pages. Just thinking about it calms my heart and makes me smile.
As a result, I have several boxes of books from our recent move. By several, I mean 50 or so; many of which I’m still in the process of unpacking. We don’t have the space to continue to house all of these wonderful items so I’m trying to fill new boxes with books to donate. It’s a time consuming process because as I unpack each book, I can’t help but thumb through it, remembering, smiling, cherishing.
Most of the books fall into either faith based writings or parenting or a combination of both. Each of them are a reminder of all that God has done and His faithfulness to me over the years.
When I found out that we were going to have our oldest child, I knew that I wasn’t well equipped. I had brokenness from my own childhood that I didn’t want to repeat; I didn’t want to mess up the beautiful gift that God was giving. I knew some of the basics of keeping her alive, I just wasn’t sure about nurturing or loving her well. So I did what I knew to do…I researched. I watched other moms. I asked questions. I reached out for help. I prayed. And I read a lot.
Many of the faith based books were about growing closer to God, praying, healing, how to study the bible, and bible study tools. I knew that I needed God if I was going to be the kind of mom I wanted to be, which meant I needed a lot of healing and truth. I’m in awe today of all that He has done to sooth and bring wholeness in my heart.
The parenting books were what you would expect; how to talk to your kids, how to listen to your kids, when to start having them do chores, how to get them to work together, how to raise emotionally intelligent kids, how to teach kids about God, how to raise a child with disabilities, and the list goes on..
As the kids got older, I read books about helping children resolve conflicts. One book recommended that I empathize with my child when he/she was mad with a sibling. I jumped at the chance to try it out the next time a fight erupted.
I could tell one child was mad at another so I asked her, per the books instructions, “Are you mad? Do you feel like hitting your brother?” The book said that at this point the child would reply yes, and I was to empathize by saying something about how I understood her desire, but hitting was not appropriate. But before I could say anything, she hauled off and hit him! I was stunned! This was not how it was supposed to go! Thankfully, my laughter diffused the situation (maybe not the best reaction, but I couldn’t help myself!) and I was able to make a teaching point out of the failed experiment. We still talk and laugh about that incident when we reminisce about the kids’ childhood. It certainly made a lasting impression!
⁄⁄ ⁄⁄ ⁄⁄
So as I unpack each one of these books, I think about how each one came into my possession. Some came by way of loving, caring friends who knew I was looking for answers. Some came from spending time in the book shelves of libraries and bookstores. All came through the loving hands of God who heard my plea for help.
I thumb through each book, looking for things I’ve bookmarked, highlighted, or starred. The memories come flooding back. Each mark reveals my thoughts, struggles, and desires during that time. It’s hard for me to believe that those intense, fun, stretching, joy-filled, and sometimes difficult years are behind me. I’m still a mom, and I have other things to pour into and walk through with my children, but those years of purposeful, daily parenting are gone.
My heart is full and grateful as I now enjoy the harvest of those planting years.
I’m thankful for the wisdom I gleaned from each one of those books. They offered encouragement, insight, and understanding. They all became a part of my arsenal as I grew as a mom.
I smile as I lovingly put books on my shelves to remind me of all that has passed. And I pray as I put some of those precious books in new boxes; hoping that they bless and encourage their new owners…