I’m not naturally a winter person, but there’s something refreshing about the fresh start of a new year. January can linger, but it also gives me the chance to regroup and reflect.
One day I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with regular life of parenting three kids in three different seasons, processing news from people we love and from national media I can only take in small doses, and navigating a hard conversation with someone. So I made a list of stressors and joys. Some of the stressors were causing me to react in ways I didn’t want and blind me to the joys. I spent some time thinking about what I could do about the stressors, what I needed to let go of, and what I just needed to accept as well out of my control. Really, it’s an exercise I probably need to walk myself through regularly because it really helped me regain some perspective and live (more) faithfully.
We have a group of friends who like to travel to away Murray State basketball games together in a 14-passenger van we borrow from a Taylor family business. We went to SEMO in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, this month. We stopped at Lambert’s on our way and then enjoyed a good basketball game from our third-row seats. It was a fun time with good people. We have our favorite restaurants in the cities we road trip to, so it’s fun to have these traditions and invite someone new to join us like we did in January.
(Unrelated to basketball, my day in Cape Girardeau also gave me the chance to spend a few minutes with blogging friend Sarah Geringer inside Target. Win-win-win!)
We also went to Martin, Tennessee for another game with our friends, but we ended up taking our own vehicles to that one. But it was still a fun night together cheering on our Racers (and eating at a local BBQ restaurant along the way).
Bacon-wrapped crackers – I know this sounds weird. But it’s a Pioneer Woman recipe, so just trust her and me. I made them (the brown sugar version) for New Year’s Eve and the bowl full were gone well before the new year began.
Steaks cooked in the oven – Not only could I stay warm inside and not fool with the grill, but this recipe was super easy and quick. I used ribeye steaks and made our favorite fried rice to accompany.
Free bagels – Panera gave me a free bagel every day this month. It was a surprise perk on my reward card that I took advantage of most days. My son who likes bagels for breakfast was especially pleased.
Board games with my big kids – On a snow day we had, my husband proposed each picking a board game to play. It was a simple but totally fun idea! I’ve always loved playing board games and am so glad we’re well passed the days of Candy Land. Here are some of our favorites.
The Couch with Mary Carver podcast – My friend launched a fun new podcast. I binged the first few episodes and was immediately ready for more. Mary does a wonderful job finding truth in unexpected places, including TV shows, books, movies, and ordinary life. (Learn more about it here.)
#HospitalityMatters series – A winter installment is coming to inboxes on Friday, so make sure you’re signed up to receive emails from me. You’ll get weekly-ish emails from me, a free guide about how to serve in your community with your family, and a couple #HospitalityMatters emails each season.
From the bookshelf
“Rock Needs Rivers: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption” by Vanessa McGrady – I finished this first book of the new year in two days because I love adoption stories. I was especially happy this was one of Amazon’s First Reads for January.
“The Forgotten Hours” by Katrin Schumann – This book had some heavy storylines, but I liked the storytelling and really was invested in finding out what happened and where the characters would go from there. Happy new year because Prime members got to choose TWO BOOKS for January’s First Reads.
“Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan – This is one of those books I need to keep close even though I finished reading after several weeks because I’m going to consult it for many, many days to come. Francis Chan’s words took me into God’s word, affirmed things I already knew to be true, and challenged me to think about other aspects about church & community. Our small group is working through the accompanying video series and study guide.
“The Sacred Enneagram” by Christopher Heuertz – This book had been waiting on my Kindle for quite some time. I’m glad I finally read it at what turned out to be the perfect time. It was full of some things I needed to hear about myself and those around me. Like this quote: “… when type Ones disentangle themselves from their idealized drive for perfectionism, they realize that everything is already just as it should be; as Father Richard (a type One himself) says, “Everything belongs”—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this case, perfectionism is no longer a cruel master but a gentle guide back to grounded presence, perfect peace, holy perfection.”
“The Secret Mother” by Shalini Boland – I spent my free moments a couple days this month reading this book that I thought I had figured out but still managed to surprise me. I’m happy this new-to-me author has several more books.
On the screen
“Safe” on Netflix — I stayed up way past my bedtime the night we had only two episodes left because I had to see how it ended. I’m a longtime fan of Harlan Coben’s fiction books, so I am excited he’s branched out to writing suspense stories for television.
Shows back on the DVR — I’m especially excited to have “Manifest,” “Blue Bloods,” “New Amsterdam,” and “Madam Secretary” return.
How was your January?