At a recent gathering after the funeral of a beloved family friend, and with blotchy, tear-stained faces, some of my sisters, our parents and I had a long conversation about books. We each pulled out our favorite list-making tools (phones for most, a random scrap of paper for one and my bullet journal ) and traded titles of what we've been reading lately. We talked about everything from beloved memoirs to sweeping fiction to YA dystopian novels.
As I've thought about this conversation over the past couple of weeks the thought struck me that in the midst of our grief talking about books gave us comfort. We are, without a doubt, a book-loving family. But I'd be willing to bet that most people have come across a book that really spoke to them despite whatever grief or challenges they were facing at the time. Perhaps because of the grief and challenges.
Because books are so powerful, I am drawn to giving them as gifts. And because Mother's Day is quickly approaching, I want to share with you nine books that have had an impact on me as a mother. While I believe that fiction is incredibly inspiring, these books are all non-fiction. They are meant to connect with you where you are as a mother and help you strive for a happy, fulfilled, intentional life.
Everyday MOMents by Jessica Poe
This book came into my life as an answer to prayers. It's so easy for me to get caught up in my to-do list. I'm a busy homeschooling mom. I have lots of goals and ideas and limited time to accomplish them, so I'm a list-lover through and through. Everyday MOMents was a perfect reminder to met to slow down and look for the beauty, and little lessons from my Heavenly Father in the midst of my ordinary days. To make a different kind of list. Like the time Ethan spoke exactly the words I needed to hear or the countless other small moments it's easy to miss. I've found myself looking for MOMents and it's opened my heart to feel closer to my loved ones and to my Father in Heaven. If you're in need of some encouragement, this is the book to grab.
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
This simply beautiful book is one I plan to re-read on a yearly basis. There's a reason it's considered a modern classic. It's short but powerful and reminds me of the beauty to be found in everyday life, as well as the importance of finding time for myself.
Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie
While specifically aimed at homeschoolers, I believe any Mom could find nuggets of wisdom and encouragement in this book. Teaching from Rest is all about trusting in God for our children. Knowing that He will help us to know their needs and how to fulfill them.
Walking with the Women of the New Testament by Heather Farrell
This book is absolutely gorgeous. It includes stunning photographs by Mandy Jane Williams and insightful glimpses into the lives of each of the women found in the New Testament, written by my dear friend Heather Farrell. I used it as a study aid for the entirety of last year and it added so much to my daily time with God. This book is approachable, readable, enjoyable and deep at the same time. Getting to know the women in the New Testament made the scriptures much more real to me. I was able to connect on a different level than just reading the stories. It's a perfect book for the Mama in your life who is looking for a deeper connection to the scriptures.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Brene walks us step-by-step through her own journey to live authentically in her latest book, Rising Strong. Her use of personal stories to illustrate her points drove home the message and allowed me to see how I can apply these principles in my life. Brene speaks right to my soul, and I've loved everything of hers I've read. Such inspiration for true connection in relationships is hard to find in this world full of comparison and competition. I am very much just starting out on my authenticity journey, but I long to connect with people in a deeper, meaningful way. To let my guard down and really allow people in. This book is on my list to re-read periodically to inspire me in that pursuit.
Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee
This book resonated with me from beginning to end. I appreciated the reminder that I am loved, just as I am by my Heavenly Father with no need to win his approval or acceptance. Jennifer Dukes Lee writes in a personal and personable manner and shares insights gained on her own journey to feel God's love and acceptance and not dwell on pleasing others or comparing herself to the successes (and failures) of those around her. It reminded me of this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe? He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.
This is a journey I have been on for my whole life, and one I hope to be able to leave behind me, at least to some extent. Reading Love Idol was about 50 steps in the right direction.
The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner
Loved this book! It's all about the importance of making time to do the things you love. As busy women, wives and mothers, it's easy to feel like every single moment needs to be spent in service to others. There is always laundry to fold, ironing to be done, dishes to wash, errands to run, volunteer positions to fill, etc. Jessica's book is about making the most of your "Fringe Hours", those often wasted moments you can find in a busy day. Maybe you get up a few minutes early so you can read or knit or paint. Maybe you take some time on your lunch break to get a massage. Or instead of mindlessly watching TV in the evenings, you actively pursue a passion of yours.
I feel like I have made great progress in this area already throughout my life, but The Fringe Hours inspired me to make sure I'm using my time as wisely as possible. Of course I still want to take good care of my family and to have a clean-enough and smoothly-running home, but I also need to honor who I am and the talents and skills I want and need to improve.
The Life-Giving Home by Sarah and Sally Clarkson
I just discovered Sally Clarkson and have already been so inspired by her words. She and her daughter wrote this book together and it's all about establishing an intentional, life-giving home. They talk about how to establish traditions and build meaningful memories and rituals into your family life. From the book description:
Does your home sometimes feel like just a place to eat, sleep, and change clothes on the way to the next activity? Do you long for “home” to mean more than a place where you stash your stuff? Wouldn’t you love it to become a haven of warmth, rest, and joy . . . the one place where you and your family can’t wait to be?Mothering With Spiritual Power by Debra Woods
It's been several years since I've read this book, but I still remember the encouragement I received from its' pages. It's easy to feel lost as a mother, especially a mother with young children, and this book addresses our need for spiritual connection to our Heavenly Father as well as supplies practical, usable advice directly from the scriptures. It's definitely time for a re-read for me.
What books have inspired you as a mother?
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