Back to school: time to pack your backpack!
The smell of freshly sharpened pencils, completely white sneakers, cute haircuts and junior high nerves is what comes to mind for me when I think about the start of a new school year. Depending on where you live in the world, you may find your newsfeed and social media accounts filled with back-to-school photos and posts. The back-to-school season is one that can be triggering to those of us who carry the cross of infertility. Like any major holiday it may be for some just another marker in time that reminds us where we are not; and how much time has passed since we last thought “next school year, I will have an infant in my arms” or “my baby would have been in 2nd grade this year”. If you feel this way, you are not alone.
This school year will be my 7th year as a public school educator in Texas, USA. For me, the beginning of a new school year has always helped to cultivate my creativity and spark my curiosity. This point in the year is very much a time of reflection, learning, planning and preparation. So sister, this back-to-school season we have a challenge for you. Pack your metaphorical backpack, put on your new white sneakers and grab your favorite journal and pen - you’re going to want to write these recommendations down. Join us in reframing what back-to-school means for you and remember to share with a friend who might benefit too!
What did I do this past year that was especially fruitful?
Spiritually, where was I a year ago? Where am I now?
Physically, what did I do this past year to become a healthier version of myself?
Emotionally, what worked when I was at a low point in this past year?
Books to pack in the backpack
Discernment, God’s will and peace
Pray, Decide, and Don’t Worry by Bobby & Jackie Angel
Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits by Dan Burke
Discernment of Spirits in Marriage by Fr. Timothy Gallagher
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola translation and commentary by Fr George E. Ganss, SJ
Finding God’s Will For You by St. Francis De Sales
Finding God's Life for My Will: His Presence Is the Plan by Mike Donehey
Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr. Jaques Phillippe
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen
He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek S.J.
God’s Healing Mercy by Kathleen Beckman
Uniformity with God’s Will by St. Alphonsus Liguori
The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce H. Wilkinson
Catholic books on infertility
The Infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples by Angelique Ruhi-López and Carmen Santamaría
Under the Laurel Tree: Grieving Infertility with Saints Joachim and Anna by Nicole Roccas
My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell
Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life by William E. May
Twelve Stripes Deep: How Infertility and Other Suffering Delivered my Greatest Joys by Mary Bruno
Blessed Is the Fruit of Thy Womb: Rosary Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss by Heidi Indah
Held: 31 Biblical Reflections on God's Comfort and Care in the Sorrow of Miscarriage by Abbey Wedgeworth
You Can Adopt Without Debt by Julie Gumm
Adoption: Choosing it, living it, loving it by Dr Ray Guerrndi
The Complete Adoption Book: Everything you need to know to adopt a child by by Laura Beauvais-Godwin and Raymond Godwin
Before You Adopt: A Guide To The Questions You Should Be Asking by Christa Jordan
In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends by Elisabeth O’Toole
Podcasts to listen to on the school bus
The Gathering Place by Blessed Is She
The Poco a Poco Podcast by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Mothergood (specifically the episode on Spiritual Motherhood)
Catholic Stuff You Should Know (specifically episodes “Baby Making” and “Madonna del Parto”)
Discernment 101 by Fr. Mike Schmitz (individual episode)
Prayers, devotionals and litanies to help you through the school day
Waiting with Mary: A Seven Sorrows Devotional for Catholic Women facing Infertility by Kathryn Wood
33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitley
Jesus I Trust in You, 30 Day Personal Retreat with Litany of Trust by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia
Litany of Trust set to music by Colleen Nixon
Litany of St. Joseph set to music by Colleen Nixon
Ignatian prayer, especially the Daily Examen
Lectio Divina (suggested verses: Matthew 23:37, Mark 5:25-34, 1 Samuel 1:9-16)
Resources for homework
Truth, Beauty and Goodness Challenge
Spring Clean your Life (spiritually, emotionally and physically)
Preparing Your Heart for Social Gatherings
Managing Medical Appointments and Navigating NaPro
Dealing with Pregnancy and Birth Announcements
Toolbox for Stressful Times
Wielding the Sword of the Spirit: Fighting Satan’s Lies with Scripture
Supporting Couples with Infertility
Semen Collection the Catholic Way
All of these resources can be found here.
After browsing some of our recommendations listed above and reflecting for a while, make a plan and set some goals for yourself. Your plan may look like an action step each week, month, or three months. It may involve choosing which podcasts or books you want to read this school year. Everyone plans differently so pull out your planner, journal, notepad or notes app and do your thing!
Now that you have a plan set in place for a successful “school year”, go for it and make it happen! Set yourself up for success. Order a book off the list, set an alarm on your phone for prayer time, or go follow a new podcast. You’ve got this!
And always remember who was the ultimate teacher. Sometimes learning may just be sitting and talking with Christ or exploring his parables.