Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Reading Sarah Reinhard

My Changed Reading Time

MyChangedReadingTime
It’s hard not to marvel at my changed reading time.
 
But wait, first, let me start at the beginning: I read.
 
I’ve accepted this about myself.
 
Surely, I have other hobbies. (Or maybe I just have a family. Does that count?)
 
But really, I read. It’s how I define myself, and it’s truly my favorite of the things I could list. It’s a hobby that has opened vistas for me, and you’ll find proof of it all over my house.
 
In the front room, subdivided into an office, there are overflowing bookshelves. In the office section, there’s another bookshelf, and baskets of books on my table/desk, and piles of books on my other shelf. In the kitchen, there’s a basket of current reads under the cupboards, by the breakfast bar. There are odd books left out (I blame the kids) and baskets of books and toys jumbled together (again, the kids). All of the kids have books in their rooms, in various states of organization (or disarray, as the case may be). And my room has a few books by the bed. And we mustn’t forget the bathrooms, though we don’t view them as much a library as some do. 
 
My purse is host to a whole library, thanks to the technology made available from my phone and my Kindle. That’s saved me from needing a backpack-sized purse for the “blankie book” I need to make sure I have with me at all times. (The book itself changes. The fact that I need one does not.)
 
These things are set. They’ve changed a bit over the years, but not by much.
 
What’s changed in my reading life is my reading time itself. It used to be wedged between nearly everything, and available in long stretches quite often. It used to be largely uninterrupted, unless I wanted it to be interrupted. It used to be about me and what I liked.
 
Now, I find that my reading time is part of a bigger picture. It involves other people in a way it never did before. Sometimes, those other people live in my house and they want me to be part of their reading time. They turn my reading time into a shared experience.
 
Other times, the other people are authors whose work I’m reviewing. They may be friends who have trusted me to read a book they’ve written. They may be strangers who reached out to me. They may be just the name on the cover, sent to me by a publisher or agent.
 
And then there are my reading friends, people who have become part of my reading time by their suggestions and their influence on how (and what) I read.
 
My reading time used to be mostly novels. Then, in grad school, it became mostly multiple assigned textbooks and business books at a time. I moved into reading to learn about things: my faith, some skill, random nonfiction. And then, with children came parenting books and children’s books, intentional middle grade and YA reads and revisiting old favorites.
 
Most recently, my reading time has turned into part of my job. (And, honestly, I never thought that could even be a reality in my life, so we’ll just have a shared jump-up-and-down moment together, shall we?) 
 
There are books I’ve read that I never would have picked up without the circumstances in my life. There are books I never would have enjoyed if I hadn’t grabbed them in desperation to escape the chaos of my home. (It’s a good chaos, mind you. But sometimes, I just want to read.)
 
My reading time has also changed because, well, I have changed. I’m older now, for one thing. I’ve read a lot more, and I’m more likely to just stop reading a book, no matter how good That Person said it would be or how much Certain Human said I should read it. 
 
I’ve been Catholic now for nearly two decades. I’ve been married for 15 and a mother for 14 of those. I’ve learned things beyond my various degrees and my different professional experiences. Life has interrupted my plans and taken me far beyond where I would have gone on my own.
 
And that, my friends, has only made my reading time better. ?
Categories
Ink Slingers Mary Beth

Love, Despite

Love, Despite

I am a word nerd. Always have been. Growing up, I knew how to read before I started school. I wrote funny poems about and for my second-grade friends. And I often stayed in at recess just so I could get a jump on my new spelling words. When I first discovered the existence of a thesaurus, my nerdy word world was rocked! My Creator made me this way, so I choose to run with it. And because he made me this way I have learned that whenever he wants my attention, he likes to send a word for me to ponder. The ponder word can bubble up during my prayer journaling time, while I’m reading a book, while I’m saying the rosary or even while I’m spacing out in the car or the shower. I know the word when I see it and hear it because it usually compels me to pause. The word crackles my brain circuits for the tiniest moment and makes my heart sit up and take notice. I love this special way God and I have of communicating. It always draws me nearer to him. It teaches me something that’s relevant to the particular season of spiritual growth I happen to be in.

despite stands out

The most recent word that has been surfacing on a regular basis in my life is despite. Initially, I thought it was a negative word that implied a struggle, a difficulty, a challenge to overcome. But after stewing on it and wondering how God wants me to apply it in my life, I found it to be a positive, faith-filled word. A turning-point, change-of-perspective word. A word that I need to integrate into my daily life to keep me motivated and help me to become a stronger disciple of Jesus.

One example? Jesus commands us to Love One Another. That wouldn’t be so difficult if we weren’t humans, am I right? As EWTN’s Mother Angelica once said, “If it wasn’t for people, we could all be holy!” We humans have faults and quirks and annoying personality traits that make us tough to love. Ask my husband, who has to bite his tongue every time I bring home another lost cat or dog, forget to put gas in the vehicle or launch into one of my infamous pouting jags after a disagreement. I know I can be tough to love! But that’s where the word despite comes in. We have to love, despite. Jesus did not say to us, “Don’t worry—you only need to love those who are easy to love.” He said to love one another (everyone–even our enemies!) and that means to love one another despite. Despite the character flaws, despite the behaviors, despite the anger or frustration we may feel. By adding the word “despite” to the command, I can acknowledge that it’s not going to be a cake walk to do this loving thing, but I need to do it anyway.

There’s also Follow Me, despite. Again, Jesus does not promise an easy path by obeying this command. There’s a cross we need to take up with this one, after all. But for me, hearing that word in my ears reminds me that when the going gets tough, I need to keep going! Whether the road is uphill, or rocky or fogged in on all sides so I have no clue where it is leading. I need to Follow Him, despite the obstacles.

And then there’s Be Not Afraid, despite. Despite the fact that the financial strain is overwhelming or a child’s situation is desperate or the diagnosis is terminal. This is a tall order, Sistas. It’s fraught with doubt, discouragement, and fear. But if and when we can Be Not Afraid despite the circumstances of our situation, we learn to trust Jesus more. And when we trust Jesus more, we can Be Not Afraid even more, despite. See how that works?

And here’s more great news: our Good Shepherd also freely gives us patience, persistence, hope, joy, grace, mercy, strength and peace, despite. Despite the fact that we are ungrateful, grumbling, complaining little sheep; despite the fact that we don’t deserve it and can’t earn it. And despite the fact that we are sinners. He loves us with an all-encompassing, never-ending love, despite everything we do to push him away or ignore him or offend him! He pours out gifts to us, in abundance, despite.

Cool, huh? It’s a perfectly formed Divine strategy. So go forth today, sweet Sista, and know you can love and be loved. Have peace in your heart and be not afraid, despite!