On the Bookshelf -Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford

I have been following the inspirational writing and work of Rachel Macy Stafford for a couple of years via her blog and Facebook page The Hands Free Revolution. The basic philosophy behind all of her writing encourages people to both love more and live more fully – a lesson we all need from time to time, and one that I have needed to hear over and over again in this season of life.

Rachel’s words are often just the lift my spirit needs, so when presented with the opportunity to receive an advance copy of her newest book Only Love Today I was thrilled – and once I actually began reading the book I knew this was something I would be both returning to and recommending to others for many years to come. This book has the ability to inspire change, heal wounds, and encourage conversation.

I inhaled every page of  Only Love Today, even though it is actually designed to be read in small bits – maybe once a day, once a week, or just when your soul needs to hear some healing words. It is designed to help us all root our daily interactions from a place of love. My copy is already dog-eared, and will likely become more well loved in the months and years to come as I revisit specific entries.

The tagline on the title is “Reminders to Breath More, Stress Less and Choose Love,” – and who doesn’t want or need more of those things in their lives? When you read the words on the page, you actually feel as if Rachel Macy Stafford is speaking directly to you. Her words are genuine and organic. Her message is universal and incredibly accessible. And best of all for me? She really GETS that we are all a little broken! From the book…”When we see each other’s scars, we love each other more…By displaying my true self, I might inspire those around me to display their true selves as well. What a gift it is to meet others in the light of realness, a place where we can love each other even more because of our shared imperfections, vulnerabilities and experiences.”

When I read those words, my soul cheered! My soul cheered and my heart remembered these words that I wrote at the beginning of my own journey toward sharing our family’s story, “We are all a little broken – and we have love and faith and stubborn streaks that win out when the days get hard.”

Rachel Macy Stafford would sum that up in three little words…Only Love Today.

Only Love Today, indeed.

design-2.png

On the Bookshelf -Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier

I am a voracious reader. I love words. I love stories. I love ideas. I love to escape into a good book.

Some of what I read is for pure pleasure, some of what I read is to help me be better at my church job, some of what I read is to expand my understanding of our world, and some of what I read is to help me figure out how to help my polar opposite kids navigate this world. When I come across a book that I think is insightful or important in some way, I am going to share it with you all – just a glimpse of what is on my bookshelf.

“Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations” by Ron Fournier

516pl0nynl

My son is a current events and news junkie. It has been a challenge for us to find outlets for his interest that provide balanced and non-sensationalized reporting. The only televised news he is allowed to watch without parental supervision is the News Hour on PBS. Several months ago he was watching the News Hour and I happened to walk through the room during an interview with journalist Ron Fournier. They were talking about his recently published book “Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations.”

I can’t say for certain what caught my attention and caused me to stop and listen. But something did, and I found myself standing in a room with my son who lives with a level 1 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and my husband, listening to Ron Fournier talk about his own son who lives with ASD and his own emotional and physical journeys that changed his relationship with his son. I was riveted, and I instantly went to my computer and added the book to my Kindle.

Several weeks went by before I had an opportunity to begin reading the book, but when I did I found it difficult to stop reading.

Ron Fournier is a long time political columnist. He started his career in Arkansas covering then governor Bill Clinton, followed President Clinton to Washington DC, and covered the next 3 presidential administrations. He is also a son, a husband and a father to 3 including his son Tyler. This book is part fantastic reporting and part memoir. It is full of historical and social background, current research on childhood development and interviews with other parents; right alongside a recounting of his deeply personal journey to a stronger relationship with his adolescent son.

The book is set against a backdrop of a series of road trips Fournier and his son Tyler take to visit the homes and libraries of a handful of past US Presidents, including personal meetings for Tyler with both President Clinton and President GW Bush. Along the way, Fournier and Tyler forge a deeper and more empathetic relationship.

As I read, I could see so much of my own son in Tyler and so much of myself in Fournier. This is a book that broke my heart and then filled it back up again. “Love That Boy” is everything I write about on this blog – Family. Real. Raw. Broken. Beautiful. It is brutally honest look at parenting – not just parenting a neuro-divergent child, but parenting any child. It is a story of struggle and grit and love, and a family coming out stronger on the other side. It is a love letter to the relationsip bewteen parents and children everywhere – with the added bonus of some really amazing reporting on history, society and presidents.