Sometimes I just need help with an Ugly Cry.

The links have begun to pour in. Stories telling me of the importance of diet and of exercise, stories of how to organize the house and my life. Lots of links about bullet journaling, mostly because I am rather obsessed with this right now.

Links about new starts and plans for the new year. I wrote yesterday about my intention to avoid resolutions this year, my intention instead to focus on embracing more how I am wired and figuring out how to make that blossom.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14.   In all my haphazardness and all my inconsistencies, in all the things that spark wonder within me, and all the things that bring life to me…I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creative God who has marked me as His own. He has left His Image upon me.

Part of that, I think, is this deep affinity to story.

And that is why, I think, one of the links which continued to pop up in my FaceBook feed caught my attention.

The Wall Street Journal. The Need to Read.

The Need to Read.





Beyond just a tag on to my days, or something that would be nice to fit in to the schedule, there is a need to read. Will Schwalbe writes in the article above that the need to read is tied to a need to be exposed to ideas beyond just our own. We are able to experience and understand different ideas and people through reading. This is such an enormous reason to read.

It is not the only reason.

Right now, as I near 47 years old and parent kids from five to fifteen, I realize more than ever the need for wonder and story. That image of God marked on my soul? Part of it is is this innate affinity to story, this perking of the ears and the heart to a good story. Being drawn in to the characters and the setting, wondering what will come next and how the characters will resolve their challenges. Rejoicing in their successes and feeling that ache of heartbreak over loss and suffering.

In fictional stories.

Yep.

Crying those messy, snotty, tissue-necessary cries at the end of a story that releases our emotions. *

Sometimes we need that release. Because we have had to hold things together in the midst of a world that is stressful and filled with heartbreak. We cannot walk in mourning or anger or fear or sorrow all the time, even though we have valid reason for all those emotions…we have to learn to keep them in check and function with some sense of health in the midst of a crazy world.

Sometimes we need the catharsis of a good cry, the release of getting really ticked off at a villain worthy of our anger. We need our wonder sparked and ignited by the heroism of a fictional, or historical, character. We need our authors to give us a moment to release our emotions in the safety of a story so we can return to our realities of bills and parenting and teaching and health issues and dementia and cancer and fears and hopes and sports and joys and all that makes up our lives. We return with our hearts enlargened and ready to love well, to wonder well and, yes, even to have anger when needed.

Stories give us room to feel. They give us room to listen and to experience beyond our neighborhood. They are not a luxury, they are a necessity.

So, do not take it as a burden, and surely do not add it as a resolution…but go buy a book and read. Something. Ask a friend for a recommendation and find something worth reading.  If you need a place to start, check out this list over at The Rabbit Room.  Or, better yet…tell us in the comments what you are reading to start this new year! Currently I am reading Scarlet Pimpernel and Pride and Prejudice.

*The last book that left me in that state of an ugly cry (messy, tears falling and snotty nosed), was The Warden and the Wolf King…the last book in the Wingfeather Saga. You haven’t read these? Go…now. Read them to your kids, starting tonight!

Advertisements

Five Words I Love To Hear: Mom! Please, Don’t Read Anymore!

 

Each night for the last couple months I have been met by this exclamation from my youngest boy.

 

The lights are dimmed, he is in his bed and the Littlest Princess (I’m still settling on their nicknames for this blog) is in some degree of resting. Prayers are done and we have read one chapter out loud from our latest book.

 

We have been taking our time, savoring George MacDonald’s books. About Princesses. Yes, reading my boy books about princesses.

 

But these are George MacDonald books about princesses.

 

 

The Princess and the Goblin.

The Princess and Curdie.

 

The Lost Princess (or The Wise Woman: A Parable)

 

Books which greet us with comments like these:

“It was foolish indeed – thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of.”

 

“There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection.”

 

“What honest boy would pride himself on not picking pockets ? A thief who was trying to reform would. To be conceited of doing one’s duty is then a sign of how little one does it, and how little one sees what a contemptible thing it is not to do it. Could any but a low creature be conceited of not being contemptible? Until our duty becomes to us common as breathing, we are poor creatures.”

 

These are books which carry weight, and I have been happy to read slowly. The other night, though, I thought we might read two or three chapters so we could finish the book that night. The Youngest Boy would have none of that.

 

I get carried away reading books. Looking up I will find that I have read for two hours when I only meant to take a few minutes to read. This boy, though…he has restraint.

 

Stop reading.

 

Savor what we have.

 

He wanted me to stop so the book would last longer, so we would have more nights to think about Rosamond or Curdie or all the other cast of characters. He asked last night if there were any more after this…I told him there is this little one called At The Back of the North Wind.

 

There will be plenty of time to be swept away by stories and read for hours….there is something priceless about a 9 year old being aware that we need to savor the moment. He knows there will come a time when we have read all the MacDonald books, and he wants to hold that off as long as possible.

 

There is wonder, and sometimes we just glance and acknowledge what should make us stop in our tracks. The absolute-out-of-control laughter of children. Sunsets which turn the sky to fire and make our hearts beat faster. The smell of honeysuckle.

 

The reality of a God who creates all these things, and who cares for all of us. And for me. And for you.

 

Wonder. On a Monday it may feel far away….but think about the last time you took something in just a piece at a time to make it last. Today, take in just a piece…

 

Peace.

 

Grace.

 

Mercy.

 

Love.

 

Forgiveness.

 
Resurrection.

 

Creativity.

 

Don’t rush. Show the restraint of a 9 year old.

 

20090_10153344120515419_696579750904083534_n (1)

Yep. Momma is Reading.

This little blog has been silent for 2014.

Ten days of neglect.

It is not that I haven’t thought about coming over and writing some grand thoughts. It is not that I haven’t thought some thoughts.

I’ve been reading, though, and I’ve been aware that I need to listen. My hunch was right. I have a need to press in and read and to do so without the need to turn around and present my findings. I have wanted a year of more silence for awhile, but my soul has been been antsy and unsettled most years, and I just couldn’t get there…this year feels different.

Maybe I’m finally growing up a little.

Maybe I’m just more tired this year.

No…I’m just a little more ready to listen.  My stack of books is ready. Old friends I have wanted to revisit: Buechner and Chesterton and Lewis and L’Engle and Merton and Packer and Wangerin, Peterson and Berry. New finds…The Book Thief and  Elie Wiesel, Annie Dillard (because I really haven’t read her enough) and a whole stack of fiction.

I have my challenge set for 2014 on Goodreads.

My real goal, though? To feed my soul. To enliven my mind. To quiet and slowdown and remember what it is to sit long with a book and immerse myself in story. To remember what it is to fall in love with reading and story and authors…and to have my children see that again.

It happened for a moment the other day. My oldest and I were alone for a bit. I was reading G. K Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man and I became excited as I remembered how much I was moved by the section on man being marked by creativity. I read the section to him. Then I began telling him about Chesterton. Then I read him some more.

He turned off his iPod. He came over and engaged and laughed and listened.

He got it.

He listened.  And I told him he would be reading Chesterton in just a year or two. And many others…and soon he would have favorite authors as well, and he would be reading me sections of his favorites.

He smiled.

This year his Momma is going to remember that she is a reader. He is going to see her reading and is going to hear passages quoted. He is going to be aware that books are not just to adorn the bookshelves…we have hundreds of books around. He, and the other kids, are going to be aware that life is not driven by Instagram and FaceBook updates, by texts and emails. Life is going to slow down this year.

I am not sure what that will mean for The Small Rain…maybe more biographies and introductions to what I am reading. Maybe longer gaps between articles. We will see as we go. All I know right now is I am drawn back to books and that is a good thing.

The confirmation? Yesterday Maddie, 2 1/2, walked by and noted that I had a book in my hands. “You reading, Momma?”

“Yep, Maddie, Momma is reading”

Inspired by….Monday?!

So today is the first Monday attempting to dig in a little more, to think a little more deeply and to avoid distractions. I had FaceBook off most off last week, but I think I did so in the middle of the week, and Mondays are just different. So today, not logging on and spending my time with my cup of coffee looking at the latest on FB just feels, well, different.

Mondays get our attention. They make us wake up earlier and sit a little straighter and have to be a little more responsible.

Mondays are frustrating.

They mean real life is back upon us…the weekend is over. Ugh.

My boys are not fans of Mondays.  I never really have been either, but actually…don’t tell anyone…I am beginning to like them.

I cannot believe I am saying that.

I am beginning to rely on the rhythm that Monday calls me to. Monday tells me it is okay to sleep in a little sometimes, but now it is time to get back to work. Today, that means it is time to listen. That is what this whole paying attention business is about.

Time to listen to the voices who have listened themselves…time to listen to those who have something to say. Sometimes it is work to listen. Sometimes it is work just to quiet myself long enough to listen, long enough to really hear.

The goal is not just to listen, but to have something to give as well.

I am listening to learn, to be changed and to be filled so that I have something for my boys as I teach them.

Because I know just in myself I don’t have a lot.

There is more though…I want to listen to my kids as well.

Monday reminds me that another week has gone by.

Time to sit up straight and pay attention…time keeps on marching on and these little ones will not be so little for long.

In fact, my oldest grew over an inch since June. He needs to stop that. Maddie is speaking in sentences. She seriously needs to stop that. All of them are changing so quickly, and all of them have so much they want me to see. I need to pay attention.

I need to listen and I need to hear. I need to hear and I need to think about what I’ve heard, and then I need to give that back to the kids.  Reading books feeds my soul. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone. For some people listening to music has the same impact, and for some it is the interaction with others. We have to find what it is that feeds our soul in a way that brings life.

We have to find what it is that feeds our soul and in a way that makes us sit up on Monday with a hint of inspiration and an inclination that we are ready for another week to pay attention to life that week.

Part of it for me is reading, a large part is also fellowship on Sundays and worshiping together with others. There is great encouragement there and inspiration. Usually a healthy dose of thinking and challenge.

So…on this Monday….what inspires us? What feeds our souls in a way that brings life. Not just a chuckle and a diversion, but life. What pours into our souls in a way that gives us the patience and strength to pour back into the lives of those God has placed around us for us to care for, for us to inspire, for us to love?

Me?  Reading. Music. Fellowship. These things are my focus right now…with a little sprinkling of diversion.