Best Books for Seasons of Overwhelm

Repost: This past week I sent out a prayer letter to all of our prayer challenge team to pray this week because I am feeling extremely overwhelmed. There is no time to sit down and write a wonderful blog post about it, but I will soon. Until then I thought it would be useful to others to have access to the resources I return to over and over when I am overwhelmed. I dug up this old blog post for myself, and figured I would repost it for you. Yes, the links are associate links with Amazon. It will cost you nothing to click through. If you do decide to purchase anything I will get a small percentage of that money with no extra cost to you.

The Golden Rule

I have often struggled with the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), thinking that it would be insulting to my neighbor if I was to love her as I love myself. I have always thought negatively about myself, even in elementary school, believing I was far bigger than others, hairier, louder, and something was wrong with me. The last few years have truly turned me around, and now I truly do see that I must learn to love myself in order to love those around me. God has commanded that I love my neighbor as myself and I would very much like to love on my neighbor, which means I must elevate the love I have for myself. I must stop denying God in His outspoken love for me. I must heal and learn to belong in my skin if I am to love others properly.

The Permission Slip

Today I give myself permission to take better care of myself. I will learn to believe that I am enough, that I have worth, and that I am valuable. Every day I will attempt to say no to something in order to take time for caring for myself. When I sit down with chores and tasks and schedules, I will make sure to add things I enjoy like writing and reading and exercise. I will continue to get to know myself, my potential, my dreams, and my goals for the future. I will continue to walk toward God and learn His Will. In all of these steps, in prayer and meditation, and in practicing kindness toward myself, I will truly Belong. My happiness will be a positive light in the lives of my family and friends and all around me, making it worth the journey.

The Fringe Hours

I will receive a small bit of the money if you click through the links on this page to purchase these books from Amazon, with no extra cost to you. How awesome is that?

I am currently reading the book, The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner. Throughout the book there are various writing prompts, so I decided to share this response to one of them. In my quest to learn to love myself this year I knew that books would hold many a key to unlocking the doors and windows in myself. This book has indeed begun to do just that with only a quarter of it read. I am taking my time as I read through it so that the truths of God’s love for me, and my need to love myself in order to pass that love onward, can seep into me. I love reading books with meaning just as much as I love reading books to escape. However, to read a book that will change my life takes many more days than cozy mysteries and adventure novels. Once I finish a book that takes me on a journey through myself, changes a habit or attitude of mine, it is very challenging to share that personal testimony with others. Therefore, many of the most important books get no more than a mere recommendation in passing from me, if that. This is why I thought recommending this book at the beginning of that journey would be successful.

Help Yourself to More Reading

Let me recommend some more books that have been instrumental in my life over the past year or so. I thought I would include links to past reviews that relate to this category as well, so below the new reviews I have included pictures of previous books which you can click on to find my review of that book.

The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. was a game changer for me. Finding out there is a whole community of fellow “barometers” (someone who can sense others’ emotions, and is vastly affected by the mood of a room) as my mom always called me, was thrilling! This book taught me so many things about myself that I have now been able to accept rather than work to change. I recommend it for anyone struggling as I was to live in a sandpaper world.

Rachel Wojo’s
One More Step was instrumental in my moving into this season with joy. I was concerned for the year of waiting for Kyrie to get surgery that only in her healing would I find peace and joy. I learned through all of these books, and it was cemented through this book, that I can find joy in the pain, I can begin to heal even before I can find any solutions. I finished this book sitting in Cyprus watching these birds, and that image is one I return to over and over when I am feeling low. I was able to sit in my pain and feel God’s Presence and hear his voice promising a future. Like Abraham I was able to take one more step each day, to rise early, to obey, without any confirmation of the promise. This book was the one at the beginning of this season of Abraham I feel that I am currently in, so it sits in my memory as a huge book in my year. This book required a contract between myself and God, and I return to that piece of paper almost every other week to remember the promises, and to seek one more step of obedience to God. If you are in the in between of seasons, a time of struggle or transition or trial, this is the book for you. If you are feeling weaker and weaker instead of stronger, read this book before you give in to the exhaustion.

I cried every chapter of Undone. This beautiful memoir by Michele Cushatt softened my heart in so many ways. It gave me the courage to keep going through the trials of waiting for Kyrie’s surgery and watching her in pain all the time. Truly, it was life altering to join with Michele in her story through her beautiful writing.

All of Sarah Young’s devotionals have been wonderful for me to grab for a quiet time of prayer and meditation. I so appreciate her gentle way with words and the practice of taking a verse and treating it as straight from the mouth of God as well as something to respond to. She truly makes it safe and easy to be in conversation with God, to pray always as we are called to do. Dear Jesus is one of my favorites because it starts with the place of vulnerability which I really needed the past two years.

This is only the beginning of the original post because I only included the books that I think would aid me in this time of being overwhelmed.  There are plenty of other books that have helped me, and as I work through this season, hopefully I will be able to start sharing some more awesome books I have been reading. Please share any books that have helped you in seasons of overwhelm. And thank you for purchasing through my links, this is my first Amazon Associate post, and I appreciate the support.

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Do This One Thing To Get Rid of Digital Distraction in Your Life

In The Beginning

This blog was started because a nurse thought that I wouldn’t be able to read as a mom. Since that day my son was born until now I have been constantly reminded that we can accomplish something when we really put our minds and energies towards that one thing.

In an ongoing series about the Spiritual Life of Christians I shared about our Ideal, Paragon, and Focus. As we focus on goal setting we can often choose things that sound good, but aren’t things we ever intend on doing.

However, I meant to read because it gives me life. I enjoy it, find purpose in it, and it is a huge benefit to me.

How Do You Read So Much?

It is funny to me when people ask me this because reading is such a part of my life, and I love to do it. To me the answer is, “Of course I can find the time to read!”

I have a dear friend who reads far more than I do. As I look at the two of us, natural readers, reading a part of our DNA, I know that it is because we make it a priority. If you hear me say that and think you want reading to be a priority, but you still don’t check a book out from the library, it is possible you are merely trying to compare yourself to me or other readers you admire.

If I compared myself to my friend it would seem like I am not a reader after all. However, I am not reading for her, or for you, but for myself and to better my relationship with God.

Why Do You Read So Much?

Reading quiets down my soul and mind and gives me a place to vent internally, in notes, and in prayer; a way to escape; a place to say I don’t know and seek help; and a place to process all that is going on in life. For many people that isn’t their experience reading. I don’t want to tell you what experience you should have reading, or even to tell you to read.

We live in a time of social media and technology running huge chunks of our lives.

I was listening to a webinar today about multitasking and was so proud of myself for not being the person he was describing.

As I said before, this is natural for me, so my experience is not going to be your experience. Most likely if you are following my blog you have some level of technology access, so on some level there is some point at which you are distracted.

I am easily waylaid from my projects by multitasking. I used to think I was so amazing because I could “multitask”. Now I know that what I perceived as multitasking was really and truly getting high on adrenaline.

I Don’t Multitask

That is my secret ingredient for successful days. It is my secret ingredient for being able to read or cross stitch or homeschool or clean.

Now truly, there are distractions, there are alarms, and I am a mom.

But when I decide that we are going to homeschool, I don’t try to pick up a book while David works. I prep for the next activity, or I turn on their homeschool songs so we can sing and work. I stay on topic.

If I decide to read, I choose to do it when everyone else is also doing a quiet activity. I have trained my kids to have quiet times in their rooms, and I read during those times. I read during naps. I read while waiting for the bus. I read while Louis works on the computer after the kids go to bed.

If I decide to clean, I split my task in two. 1. Chores the kids can help with. These are chores that will require my oversight, so I can’t go dig in on a task I need to focus on while hoping they work. During cleaning times they have to stop playing and tidy up, wipe up spots, etc. 2. I put the kids in their rooms to play while I work on dishes or deep cleaning.

For me it is easy to focus with single mindedness, so this strategy works well to get me accomplishing what I want and need to do throughout the day.

Goals for 2017


Goals for 2017

1: Read 52 Books. Aka Read 1 Book Each Week

2: Read the entire Bible.

3: Consistency in Blogging, Homeschool, Arabic, and Home Life

4: Lose 50 lbs and be able to do 10 Real Pushups

These ended up being my 4 big goals. They were really under construction through March.

As I shared in my post about my ongoing habit progress, I am just getting to the point of being able to verbalize what has been going on over the first half of 2017. I wanted to share my goals even though it is “late” by regular seasonal standards because I know there are many of you out there who never got around to setting goals for the year or for reasons only you know have given up on your goals.

I did give up on my first run of goals. In December when Kyrie was healed and had a complete transformation into a joyful, energetic little girl, I knew that my goals were obsolete. And 2017 hadn’t even started! I have taken the first 5 months of this year to get to know this new little girl, and to see what life has to offer now that we are out from under the pressure of waiting on surgery.

RESEARCH

I ended up realizing that there were projects and events which were going to make up a large part of my year. I could not determine measurable goals for these categories, so instead I just decided to spend some time this year on vague ideas.

To make goals that would be achievable if I lived in the same place and could maintain a routine is ideal, but not reality. Instead I needed to be realistic about there being projects I needed to research, which couldn’t really count toward a book goal, even if I may read some books, other pieces would be articles, documentaries I could watch, discussion, experience, etc. So I did not raise my book goal. I also just couldn’t come up with a way to make a generic research goal, so I wrote down the topics I knew I want to research and know I will be adding to this list.

EVENTS

There are also many huge events that have made up the first half of the year and which are coming up. So, I took about half of my Goals for 2017 page to list big events.

Already completed:

Davy’s 4th Birthday Party (was extended into our America trip from November.)

Trip to America (January)

Move to Sin el Fil (a different city closer to Louis’ work)

Horizons Eastern Staff Summit

Kyrie’s 2nd Birthday / Healing Celebration

Louis Job Promotion

Visa Trip to Greece

Engaging Islam Institute Beirut (Currently Going On)

Adding an extra Weekly Session of Arabic

Coming Up:

Garden Show

America Partnership Development Trip June—August (CLICK HERE if you are in or around Arizona and want to meet with me personally to hear about Lebanon)

Davy’s 5th Birthday

Davy starting KG2

Kyrie starting daycare

Starting my Master’s program through Rutgers

Our Last Visa Trip of 2017 sometime in October

Adding an extra Weekly Session of Arabic

Help Yourself to Some Book Suggestions

I know that I will always have something I can improve about myself.

I spend a lot of time trying to improve and work toward who I want to be. In doing my Reading Challenge for the year, I have read even more books than normally that have aided me in changing my attitude, marriage, lifestyle, habits, and even accepting who I am so I don’t have to manically run after improvements.

As I was looking back over the books I have read this year I was realizing that I have kept a lot of these books close to the chest because I learned some very personal things and I am not quite ready to share everything I have learned and am trying to implement in my life. I am not ready to shed all my layers and be completely naked before you all on the internet, even though I try hard to be very vulnerable on this blog.

If I do not believe in the help offered by a book, I won’t finish it. In the self-help category I start out pretty skeptical. Yet, this year I have already read 15 books that I would put in this category, and I loved the majority of them. Finding those 15, however, took starting and qutting quite a few others. Because of this I figured it might be helpful to some of you out there who are tired of trying to weed through books with your own busy schedules if I could share what made these books stand out amidst the others of their type.

Additionally, I want to provide a starting point for you if you are looking for something in your own life. Self-help is very specific, and the idea of having a book be the answer is pretty ridiculous, but when we are living an open and honest life with ourselves we can usually find a book that can be of great help in walking us through and processing with us a specific area of life that we need in a certain season.

This Momentary Marriage

To begin with this review I will take you back to 2015. Last year I read a marriage book of his that absolutely changed my marriage. I have never finished a marriage book prior to This Momentary Marriage.

As a young person getting married, I definitely feel like my marriage is different than anyone else’s I observed growing up. We tell each other everything, and we are honest with each other. We don’t need these books that talk about such normal issues. We will never argue about those things, or if we do we will argue and solve it. Those things that wreck other people’s marriages are just because they are missing the love we have.

Well, this book didn’t even try to tell me what a normal marriage book would talk about. In the very beginning of this book, John Piper shares a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his fiancée while he was in prison in Germany for attempting to assassinate Hitler. The beginning of this book was very clear: Jesus Christ is the most important thing. End of story. This will wreck your life if you let it. I cannot say enough good things about this book and the way it made me see my marriage with God’s eyes instead of my own.

This book was nothing like the other marriage books out there.

It doesn’t approach marriage at all like other people and books. Not only did it help me take off all those blinders and rose colored glasses and blindfolds I had put on to keep from seeing my marriage as normal, it raised my expectations and standards for myself way higher. This is a must read for anyone in the world who has a heart that might love ever. CLICK HERE to read my full review of This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.

A Time to Grieve

When this year began I was depressed and just couldn’t climb out of it. I was so sad all the time, and just felt lost. I knew that I wasn’t grieving in a healthy way, and I knew that I needed to let myself grieve and be sad for things I had never grieved. So, I took the time to walk through a book called A Time to Grieve. The book worked well for me in two ways. First, I was able to grieve with the questions and process. I took extra time to journal as much as I could about the questions presented and really take time to be sad.

The book is written for people who want to help others grieve, so I was also able to take a step back and think about others. How I could take my own pain and grieving and become more empathetic. For me this was a huge deal because I do not have a great deal of empathy stored up in myself.

Not Your Regular Stages of Grief / Step Program

I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to comfort others, to learn more about the grieving process in a way that is not formulaic. The book is written in more of a relational way than a step by step definition of the grief process, which I really enjoyed.

Desiring God –> When I Don’t Desire God –> When the Darkness Will Not Lift

Because I loved the John Piper book so much last year, I decided to read another one this year. Piper is known for his book Desiring God which is what his website domain is as well. I meant to read that one, I really did, but at the beginning of this year I just wasn’t desiring God. I was mad and depressed and in culture shock and grief stricken.

As I was looking at Desiring God, I found a follow up he had written called When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. That sounded a lot more like where I was at. But then I found a third follow up. John Piper took the last chapter in When I Don’t Desire God, and made it into a book, When the Darkness Will Not Lift. That was perfect.

This book was amazing at letting me be depressed. I really was able to just sit before God and grieve and be sad for days and months. When the healing came it was not fast and it was not pleasant, but I was able to sit in the promises of God that He will not put me to shame, and that He is my refuge. In the middle of the darkness, He is my refuge. In the middle of depression, He is my comfort. Even when I don’t feel comforted, He is my Tower.

If you or someone you know is in the darkness, this book is powerful and excellent. If you are just struggling to find joy, I would recommend any of these three books. Even without having read the first two, I know they are excellent books.

More Self-Help Book Reviews on their way!

CLICK HERE to receive updates in your email so you can be ready to get the next installment of Helping Yourself to great Self Help Books.

The Light of the Fireflies

Reading Kindle First books is a fun experience for me so far. Each month Kindle offers me a choice from a selection of books that will be released the following month. I get a discounted price on them, and get to choose one for free. With the buzz about the movie Room and the book the movie is based on, I thought a similar book would be interesting. I didn’t read Room and I didn’t watch the movie, and I will be honest reading The Light of the Fireflies began as my own way of not having to know all about Room, but to be somewhat engaged. This is a fictional account of kids being born into a situation of trauma, pain, suffering, manipulation, and lies in an underground home. I hoped it would keep me from being emotionally involved to the point of living the terror by not being analyzed and discussed by everyone around me. I have discovered I am very personal about reading, and reading something after or before it is popular help me enjoy it far more.

I was gripped by this book. When I got to 50% one night it was about 2 in the morning, and I thought to myself I should go to sleep. Instead I finished the book! It was that kind of book. I had to get to the end and know what was going on in this basement and what was wrong with these people! So, let me tell you the general premise of the book without giving anything away.

This is the story of a boy born in a basement underground. His entire family lives in the basement and they never leave. His family consists of the youngest boy who we follow, his older brother and even older sister, mom, dad, and grandma, and The One Who Wasn’t There, a seventh person who never eats the meal laid out at the seventh place. As we flash through his life we find many haunting and disturbing pieces in their lives below the ground. For instance, never leaving the basement for ten years, how did his sister have a baby? Who’s the father? And also why doesn’t anyone have a name in this book?

This is a book that you enter knowing it will be creepy, dark, and tragic, but the twists had my head spinning. This book was beyond crazy! I don’t want to give anything away if you decide to read this book. I will say that this is not a book for kids (I hope that was obvious).

This book was translated from Spanish, but I couldn’t even tell. It was beautifully written and engaging throughout.

If you like analyzing a book or people, or are into psychology, this book has millions of layers for you to unravel. This unraveling family has so much baggage that it is surprising there is any room in that basement. Like not ever using names in the book. It seems as though over time they stop thinking of each other as human at all. Or perhaps the fire that caused them to go down into the basement was something more dehumanizing than just a fire. The secrets, lies, and abuse swirling through that basement cause such damage.

Title: The Light of the Fireflies

Author: Paul Pen

Translator: Simon Bruni

Place: The Basement

Publisher: AmazonCrossing

Publication Date: April 1, 2016

# Pages: 338

Special Features: Mystery, Suspense, Trapped Underground, Dysfunctional Family

Price: Free with Kindle Unlimited, $5.99 to buy on Kindle, $7.55 in paperback from Amazon

ASIN: B016A31ZWC

Goals to Build a Thriving Life in 2016

This is going to be a short post that will begin my weekly goal posts. I am going to post Mondays, and the goals will not include the weekends so that I have more slack to review my goals from the previous week. I just completed the course Make Over Your Mornings by Crystal Paine, one of my favorite bloggers. Much of the method to my goal setting comes from this course. I cannot place a measurement on Thriving, but by choosing the following measurable goals, I believe, day by day we will begin to thrive.

If you want to see my past posts on Goal Setting CLICK HERE.

My BIG GOALS for 2016

Self, Heart, & Soul:

    Read the Entire Bible Through (New Testament 5 Times)

List 1: New Testament – 4 Chapters Every Night Before Bed

    Once Complete Repeat all but Revelation

Old Testament Read 1 Chapter of Each List per Night

List 2: Prophets

        List 3: History

List 4: Law

List 5: Poetry

    Take Tim Challies’ 2016 Reading Challenge

My Goal is to Attempt Avid Reader this year, which is to read a book approximately every 2 weeks from the challenge list. This is audacious, but I think will help my soul and heart to attain the rhythm God and Louis are both impressing on my heart in this season of life.

Marriage Goals:

After finding the reading challenge mentioned above, Louis and I both have set reading goals, which will come from that challenge instead of add to that list.

    Louis: Read 6 Seminary Books

Finish Third Culture Kids

Finish Serving as Senders & Create our Blog Study for Partners in the States

Read 1 Book Together

Spend Intentional Time Together Just for Us 3x per Week.

Family (Mothering, Parenting) Goals:

Many of the goals for this year are not truly Big Goals for the year, but just building routines. At the end of the year I want to be able to look back and see several things accomplished however.

David Potty Trained

School Decision Made for Davy

Routines in Place:

    Grocery Shopping without Louis

    Teeth Brushing (Davy Learn and Do it Routinely)

    Bath Time (Water Heater Routines and Bathing)

Pause for PRAISE here for our evening routine at bedtime working so well and continuing to include Bible Reading to the kids!

David getting dressed and undressed by himself

Arabic Study Plan: Study 1 hour per day. 20-30 min. per day for Davy.

Ministry & Discipleship Goals

The Arabic Study Plan of course is part of our ministry here, and once that plan is in place it will cover many of these categories.

Mommy Book Blog: Post Weekly Goals once a week for accountability and twice a month posts on books and parenting and life in Lebanon.

Lisses to Lebanon Blog: Post twice a month. Hopefully one from each of us each month about missionary life and ministry.

In the past I made many mini goals, but these BIG GOALS will be broken into bite size (weekly) pieces and posted each Monday in Weekly Goals. Feel free to post your own goals so we can all keep each other accountable.

Book Review: 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids


I got this book from the library, took it home, and realized I had already pinned almost everything in the book! I already follow the blog FunAtHomeWithKids.com and love the ideas! However, being in transition for so long has given me only enough motivation to pin and not enough to do. With the book in hand I was able to share it with my son, who immediately chose some things he wanted to do. I was also able to explain some of the ideas to my husband with the pictures and explanations and chapters. Wow I love books!

    I have wanted to do sensory bins for some time, and this book had some great ideas. Once I was able to show this book to my husband he latched on to the idea, and the next day we went out and bought the bin ($3 at Walmart), a bag of insects, lizards, and frogs ($1 at the dollar store), a bag of shells at Michaels ($5) and we had everything we needed for several of the ideas in the book. We already have at home many many small figurines in lots of themes: farm, dinosaur, ocean, Noah’s ark (multiples of animals), desert, rainforest, Arctic, etc. I am not crafty and artsy by myself, and I was a little concerned that I would put too much work in and nothing would come of it, but Davy loved it! Louis loved it, and I am looking forward to adding this to our homeschooling this year as a recurring activity.

    

The second thing I was excited to take from Pinterest to Reality was Discovery bottles. It is so easy to see the beautiful pictures on Pinterest and in reality the work outweighs the reward, or the supplies are out of reach. Since we chose an ocean theme first, since we were reading Jonah, we wanted to make a Discovery Bottle with sand and shells and shiny marbles. What we got was a murky mess. This book included the same Discovery Bottle I had pinned, and upon actually reading the instructions, it calls for craft sand or no sand at all. As I said I am not creative on my own, so it was essential that I get these two ideas because I had not thought of it myself. The book also explained that upon filling the bottle with water or gel or oil it might be too heavy for baby to lift. This was very useful because it brought my expectations to reality, and when it was too heavy for Kyrie, Davy and I just dumped it into the ocean sensory bin and played with the items ourselves.

    I hope the two experiences I took out of this book can give an idea of the usefulness of this book. If you are like me and are looking for ideas to play with kids, and would like them to be in your hand instead of in the digital expanse, this is the book for you. I love this book, and I am going to be using it quite a bit this year. Too bad the library only lets me renew books 4 times. Other fun things in this book include Slimes, Doughs, Paint (including all-natural paint that you color using items like carrots, beets, & spinach), other Sensory Activities, and DIY Toys. I am so excited to share with you in the coming years all about how I am using this book (and the corresponding blog).


The facts about the book.

Title: 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com!

Author: Asia Citro, MEd

Publisher: Adams Media, Avon, Massachusetts

Publication Date: 2014

# Pages: 255

Special Features: Easy Doable Activities, Upcycled Supplies, Age Range for Each Activity

Price: Free from the library or Kindle Unlimited, and the ideas are all on the website/blog FunAtHomeWithKids.com. The books even have some DIY kits to give these books as gifts to a parent. $12.66 on Amazon or read for Free on Kindle Unlimited.

ISBN: 978-1-4405-7615-7