I've started reading again.  The past few nights, I've found myself curled into my easy chair with a book.  A genuine, for-pleasure, not-for-my-kids-or-for-Bible-study book.  Two books in fact because (gasp!) I actually finished one book last night and then started another.

It's hard for me to explain this sudden renewal of my love for reading, my choice to finally pick up two books that have been sitting on my nightstand and coffee table for almost a year.  Perhaps its the fact that our Hulu Plus queue is finally empty.  Or maybe a friend's recent mention of one of the books was enough to get me started.  I'm not entirely sure.

I can tell you this with certainty, however; I am not reading again because I've finally gotten my life in order. Last night, while I read, there was a long task list waiting on my phone, clean laundry wrinkling in my dryer, even a poopy cloth diaper sitting in the bathroom, waiting to be rinsed.  Gross, I know, but the point is made.   I am not reading again because I've found free time.

In fact, I think perhaps I'm reading again because I've realized there will never (at least in the foreseeable future) be free time.  I will always be tired.  There will always be things to do.  No amount of running around all night is going to get me caught up.

I think perhaps I am finally learning to choose rest, to carve out little spaces for my soul in the midst of all the chatter and craziness of life.  For most of my parenting career, I've been fleeing my weariness with the satisfactions of productivity or with the mindless distractions of Facebook and TV.

But in reading again, I'm starting to remember.  Reading feeds me.  It helps me think and dream and process and be still long enough to know what I am feeling.  It helps me write.  It helps me be me.

Thirty Pieces of My Thirty Years #6: Reading

As you can see, I come from a family of bibliophiles. I don't have to search my memory long to find evidences of our obsession.

My Dad loves the smell of books, loves to press his nose against the binding and breath deeply. My brothers make fun of him, but I've caught them both doing it a time or two.

When she was a girl, my Mom tried to escape her household chores by "going to the bathroom" and reading. She's still known to lose track of a day when captured by a good book.

I was read to enough as a child that I was able to teach myself to read before kindergarten, having memorized the words to my favorite stories. Throughout most of my childhood, I read an average of a book a day. At one point, I decided I was going to read all the books in the young adult section of the library and began working my way thorugh the "A" biographies (I think I got to George Washington Carver before I quit). In general though, I read Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, and the like.

My Dad read my brothers and I the Adventures of Mini and Maxi and The Chronicles of Narnia. My Mom read to us from history books as part of our homeschooling curriculum. I read my brothers a series of books about some girl named Mandie. We lost ourselves in her adventures on our living room couch, me in the center, Joel on one side, Nate on the other.

My brothers and I ate more than our fair share of free personal pan pizzas thanks to Pizza Hut's Book-It program.

Martin family beach vacations have been and still are basically week-long reading fests - with a few breaks for swimming, eating, boating, and napping. It's how we relax.

Martin family Christmas mornings usually end with everyone holding a new stack of books.

I don't read as much as I used to, but I still consider myself a reader. Books feed my curiosity, allow me to understand people different than myself, and help me to be still and quiet in a busy, crazy world.

I love the way they look on a shelf, pages after pages of wisdom waiting to be explored. I love how they fit in my hand, the grainy feel of the pages in my fingers. I love how it feels when a book totally captures you, when you stay up until 3 a.m. to finish it, when an author says something you could never put words to, maybe didn't even know you were trying to express, but on some deep level always felt needed to be said.

I love that even God values words, that He chose to reveal Himself to us in a book, in pages, in story that can be read.