Books That Make Me Want to Hug the Author. And Big Changes.

One month ago, I spent an hour on a Tuesday morning crying to my therapist. About church.

The first half, I cried about my baggage. When it comes to church, I have baggage. I haven’t always known this, but since I figured it out, I’ve been exploring that baggage with a counselor.

(Influence attendees will remember how I encouraged you to explore your baggage. I’m taking my own advice. I also wrote about it for the forthcoming What a Woman Is Worth project.)

The second half, I cried about my kids. How I’m fighting for them, how I’m failing them. Or at least it’s felt that way a lot lately. My husband’s job at a church left me as a single parent on Sundays: a role that I filled strongly, gracefully, and pitifully, in turn.

Lately, “pitifully” has been the dominant adjective. And my kids—growing older all the time, as kids are wont to do—were asking so many questions. About our family’s schedule, about the structure of our lives and our work. I’d give my answers–and my answers were good and right and true–but they were snappish. I continually surprised myself with how snippy I got when quizzed. Clearly, they were hitting me where it hurt.

When I got home from my appointment that morning, I found these waiting for me in my mailbox:

I was looking forward to Rachel’s book, but I had no intention of starting it that day. It wasn’t coming out for another month anyway.

But that afternoon, while my baby was napping and the others were “resting,” I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to scan the table of contents, maybe read the first few pages.

I’d heard the buzz about the book but wasn’t sure what to expect, yet Rachel spoke so eloquently to My Baggage that I couldn’t put it down. I finished all 319 pages by the next day.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood is going on the list of Books That Make Me Feel Like I’m Not Crazy. Or maybe my forthcoming list of Books That Make Me Want to Hug the Author.

Actually, I had every intention of doing that yesterday. We were in Virginia this past weekend for a family wedding, and knew we’d be passing through Blacksburg at the same time Rachel was scheduled to speak there. Serendipity, right? I thought I was going to get to hug her in person (even though I’m not really a hugger, so that’s saying a lot).

Alas, Hurricane Sandy foiled my plans.

Hug or no hug, I’m grateful for anyone–or any work–who makes me feel like I’m not crazy. Like I’m not alone. Who can speak to my baggage.

 *****     *****     *****

Two days after I found Rachel’s book (and the InStyle that I still haven’t opened) in my mailbox, my husband got a call–that became a conversation–that turned into a job offer. He accepted. He starts today.

His years at the church have been good; I’m wistful about that time coming to an end. But I’m hopeful for the season ahead. And who knows, maybe in another season he’ll be back at the church. The timing’s just not right for now, but the thought that it could be in another season makes me happy.

 *****     *****     *****

Thanks for reading this personal post today. Thanks for being here. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not crazy. I wish I could hug you all. (And I’m not really a hugger, so that’s saying a lot.)

 *****     *****     *****

Rachel’s book releases tomorrow, but you can order it now from

What’s on your list of Books That Make You Feel Like You’re Not Crazy? Or, even better: Books That Make You Want to Hug the Author?

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  1. Linda says:

    Ever since I heard about this book, I’ve been dying to read it. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I’ll move it up my “must read list”.

    Enjoy the transition with your husband’s new job. We’ve been through that this year. It was a “right time” thing for us too.

  2. Maya says:

    Reading your post makes me want to hug you! Your honesty is very touching, and on a day when I’m feeling overwhelmed and alone and pitiful, it’s always good to read about other women facing their own struggles.

    Wishing you and your husband all the best on this new part of your journey!

    (And thanks for the book tip – looks interesting!)

  3. Joanna says:

    Both of Shauna Niequest’s books (Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines) have a way of making me feel less crazy, more hopeful, less alone and more understood. Definitely in the make me want to hug the author (if I had the chance) category.

  4. Jennifer H says:

    I’m basically a single mom on Tuesday – Friday. It’s tough. I have been begging (well, that may be too strong a word – I mention it every time I get tired of being the weekday parent) my husband to look for a day job for years. It’s hard to look for a new job when you have one with really good benefits.

    I am happy for your family’s new season and hope it makes your life run more smoothly. S misses J – let’s get them together soon.

  5. Rachel @ A Cupcake for Moose says:

    Aren’t those books that make you feel like you’re not crazy the best ever? They are like a gift that you can hold onto, reread, and thank God that we are all in this together.

    Congrats on your hubby’s new job. God’s timing never ceases to be perfect, whatever season we are in.

    P.S. Do you think when we get to heaven we will see a big sign above God’s door that says, “baggage claim?” I hope I’m empty handed by the time I get there. 😉

    Cheering you on in your journey! 🙂

    • 'Becca says:

      I love the idea, except that I think you mean “baggage check”–the place where you set down your baggage and no longer have to carry it, not the place where you recognize your baggage and have to pull it off a moving conveyor belt (without spraining your spine!) and haul it away.

      • Rachel @ A Cupcake for Moose says:

        Thanks Becca. I see your point. 🙂 I guess it depends on who is doing the checking and claiming. We check our baggage and Jesus claims it for us. Either way, we gratefully never have to see it again once it’s in Jesus’ beautiful grace extending hands. Blessings to you!

  6. Lately I’ve been thinking of my baggage in terms of the yucky gunk which had settled on the floor of our cistern. For the most part I could live with it, though the whole house filter had to be changed frequently and no one could drink the water unless it was boiled first. Now and then the tank would get low and the bath water would turn brown. Disgusting.

    Cleaning out the cistern was a huge process. At first things got stirred up and the whole situation felt much, much worse. We had to bring in a portable tank to use as we removed the sludge and scrubbed the walls down with bleach.

    And so it has been for me with counseling. Very draining work. Exhausting.

    But as I turn on the tap at my kitchen sink and clear water gushes forth I think about how good life will be when this hard work of clearing out the sediment in my heart is finished.

  7. Angela says:

    There are so many books that make me feel that way! I think that is why I read – to be reminded that I’m not alone, and to be challenged and changed too! Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama says:

    I may have to take a look at that book for sure. We all have baggage but what do you do with it?!

    I struggle with feelings of inequality (i.e. “fairness”) usually in the form of: It’s not fair that my husband gets to have dinners out all of the time (work events), or gets to sleep in until 7a (despite his “wanting” to get up and exercise) while I’m up with the kids at 6a or earlier or talks to adults during the day or has the time to sit down and watch a movie or hour-long program before 8p!

    But, I am able to stay home with the kids while he goes out to work and I know there is a trade-off (fancy dinners do pale in comparison to dinners with your family, especially with how fast they grow up.) I’m rambling now, so I’ll just say, I’ll need to check out the book.

    P.S. I hope you’ve cracked your INSTYLE by now, that was a good issue… as they all are!!

  9. Suzette says:

    Baggage…oh oh oh. I hear you!
    So so so happy for the new chapter beginning today! Blessings and prayers during this time of growth and change.

  10. deborah says:

    Oh, I so commiserate! I have my own baggage and some of it is church baggage.

    And I have my times I’ve feeling like I’m totally failing my kids.

    Now, I really want to read the book!

    Best to your husband on his job change!

  11. Zarah says:

    My husband is a pastor, so I’m pretty sure I understand at least a little of what you’re going through re: his schedule (although I only have 1 kid so far, and he is only 2 1/2 so not asking that many questions yet). It can be exhausting – I definitely haven’t figured out how to do it yet. I hope your husband’s new job is a good change for your family!

  12. Tim says:

    Praying for the new job and the family’s transition and the baggage issue (I think we should onyl have carry on size baggage!) and conversations with the kids and all.

    I’m not a hugger either but my wife has been known to do so on occasion, so here you go: {{hugs from Tim’s wife}}


    P.S. I just realized that I mentioned hugging a friend on my blog today. I guess I do hug on occasion myself.

  13. Elizabeth Kane says:

    I’m in the middle of reading Jeff Goins’ “You Are a Writer” and I feel that way. I want to hug people who have the courage to put their work out there and release it into the world so others can be inspired. It’s a cycle full of good feelings for all of us. 🙂

  14. 'Becca says:

    I’m glad the church-job situation that’s been triggering your snippiness is changing, and I hope the new job works out wonderfully!

    One book that makes me want to hug the author is One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry (reviewed here). She and I share only a few of the same specific “demons”–the ideas that bother you and interfere with your life–but I feel empathy for her struggles, and I relate to the *way* she ruminates over some of these things. She’s also inspired me to write about some of my own “demons”; the only one of those writings I’ve shared publicly is about my failure to become an architect.

  15. Michelle says:

    Anne- thanks for your honesty. I grew up as the daughter of a pastor and watched my mom juggle and balance a lot. We all have baggage. And I think the only way I have found to lessen the load is to go through it- piece by piece. Know you’re not alone in that journey. And I’m looking forward to reading Rachel’s book as soon as amazon will offer free shipping internationally : (

  16. Jillian Kay says:

    I hope the job change works out for your family.

    Did your trip get cut short? Too bad.

    Thanks for the book rec too. I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed right now and I kind of want to punch the author, so a hug book sounds better!

    • Anne says:

      Really? I’ve heard good things about Wild, but I haven’t yet read it.

      We came home right on time. Though we were at a wedding, and lots of people are still hanging out on the East Coast till they can get a flight home.

    • Anne says:

      Daring Greatly just keeps coming up! I have tremendous respect for Brene Brown so I really should add that to my list. (Thanks for the reminder.) But Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is all new to me. I’m very curious to check it out now–that’s quite a title!

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