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I used to be the girl with a book in her bag. When I was growing up, if I had even one free minute, I would pull a book out of my bag and read. I read in line at the grocery store. I read when I had finished all my schoolwork early. I read while riding the bus to and from school. There was always a book in my backpack. When I finished school and got my first job, the book just moved into my purse. I read during breaks at work. I read while I waited to get gas in my car (yeah, I’m a native Jersey girl, and I did not pump my own gas until I moved south).

I was always reading.

I have always loved reading. I love the fictional worlds, the characters, the stories. When I was struggling to understand the world I lived in, I found comfort in the worlds offered by books. When I was the new kid in school and didn’t have friends, I turned to the characters in my beloved books. I would often imagine myself in those worlds, a part of those stories, living alongside the characters. I dreamed about those worlds at night, and on occasion, I even tried my hand at writing new stories for my favorite characters in my creative writing classes. They were my friends, and I loved them.

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The first place I was allowed to ride alone was the town library. I would check out as many books as my bike’s basket could fit and return the following week for new ones. I could read multiple books in a week and usually, multiple books at the same time. I have always had a book on my bedside table, a book on the coffee table, and a book on the kitchen counter. I found every opportunity I could to read.

I did not give up reading entirely when I became a mom. As I fed my children at night, I read. I read every night for a little bit before falling asleep. I read on Sunday afternoons during the quiet peace of nap time. I still had a book on my bedside table, another on the coffee table, and one more on the kitchen counter.

But there was no book in my bag.

My bag was a diaper bag, and it was filled to the brim with diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, toys, and food. There was no room for a book. And when would I read it anyway?

And so for four years, I lost sight of the girl I had once beenthe girl with a book in her bag. And I didn’t even realize she was missing until I finally found her again. I finally became her again.

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I don’t carry a diaper bag anymore. I carry a purse again instead. It still has a small pack of wipes and snacks, but the days of diapers are fast receding. But now there is something else in my bag . . . a book.

I used to be the girl who always had a book with her, and I finally am again.

I rediscovered her. She was temporarily lost, but I found her. And hopefully this time I’ll do a better job holding onto her.

I am the girl with a book in her bag again. If you find me with my kids at the playground, I might be reading the latest murder mystery. If you find me sitting at the pediatrician’s office, I might be reading my favorite Jane Austen novel. If you find me sitting in my car on the school pick-up lane, I might be rereading the Harry Potter series for the fourth or fifth time. You’ll never know for sure what I will be reading, but you can rest assured that I will have a book in my bag.

Because that’s who I am. That’s who I’ve always been, and I’m never losing sight of that girl again.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Shannon Whitmore

Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing on topics such as marriage, family life, faith, and health. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.

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