January: Hope and a Future.

Over and over this month, I’ve seen references to the book of Jeremiah. Hannah Brencher, my patron saint for this season, wrote a post about Jeremiah 30, “The city will be rebuilt on her ruins.” I’ve seen references in sermon notes and in books I’m reading. I’ve seen Jeremiah mentioned so many times that I’m wondering if this is foreshadowing – we’re going to have a 4th boy, and in the tradition of Bible names that end in -ah, we’re going to name him Jeremiah.

2019, and my people.

2019, and my people.

I’m kidding. I think.

But I do take January seriously – blank slate and all that. January is one of my favorite months of the year. That hasn’t changed. The thing that has changed is how hard it’s been to come up with goals for this year, in light of the next ten.

2019 is the last year of the “teens,” the last year before an entirely new decade. So how do I take this year and make it count a decade from now? And how do I take those dreams and distill progress into one year?

Right before our annual family New Year’s retreat, I wrote my goals. Then twenty-something days into the new year, I re-wrote them. And I realized that my goals weren’t just goals. They were prayers. And that “hope and a future” isn’t a checklist. It’s a promise. And after the promise is an invitation – to come, to pray, to seek.

These are a few books, etc. that are lighting that path for me:

Word By Word: A Daily Spiritual Practice – I ADORE this book. Reading it feels like she’s been going through my mail. It all applies.

Boundaries for Your Soul – Such an important book for healing from hard things.

The Rock That is Higher: Story as Truth – Madeleine L’Engle is probably my favorite writer, and I’m learning so much from this book.

A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle – Thinking and planning for the next ten years has me going down the legacy/memoir/biography alley.

Always Enough, Never Too Much – My favorite devotional book right now – I’m re-reading it. And Jess Connolly’s All Good Things Collective came out with an Enneagram line that is so good.

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way – This book, and the Proverbs 31 study that go along with it, are game-changers for me in this season. So thankful for Lysa’s wrestling and her words.

First, Be a Follower – This is a Bible study, and not a book (see: Come Matter Here), but it has helped me to dive into truth in the best ways. If you’re looking for a study, I would start with this one.

Looking back on 2018.

How much was a product of our decisions, and how much was in the cards all along?
— Lisa Gungor, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen

Truth be told, I’d rather look ahead than look back. I could write a book about the lessons I learned, the mistakes I made, all the ways that I failed, but in the spirit of #2018bestnine, I’m grateful for these nine “bests.”

The highlight: the news and the birth of our third baby boy and the end of being pregnant. Our favorite getaway: The Beach Lodge. Best financial goal hit: paying off my grad school loan. Best habit: recalibrating with the Intentional Living Worksheet every month. Favorite house project completed: turning our loft into a “movie theater”. Best fitness goal completed: hitting a 60-day Peloton streak while I was 8/9 months pregnant. Best relationship practice: regular date nights and business meetings with my hubs. Favorite family goal: intentional monthly adventures, like Disneyland, with the boys.

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… and, of course, the books I finished reading this year (not including the huge stack on my nightstand that I’ve started), my favorites in bold.

  1. A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living by Emily Ley

  2. Hello Sunshine: A Novel by Laura Dave

  3. Touch by Courtney Maum

  4. Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want by Rachel Cruze

  5. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

  6. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

  7. Our Tiny Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan

  8. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

  9. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza

  10. Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

  11. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the World by Tsh Oxenreider

  12. An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones

  13. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

  14. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

  15. The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile

  16. Reading People by Anne Bogel

  17. You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

  18. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown

  19. You are a Writer by Jeff Goins

  20. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

  21. A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out: A Novel by Sally Franson

  22. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy by Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam

  23. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

  24. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Chris Heuertz

  25. Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for an Active Life by Phileena Heuertz

  26. Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World by Hannah Brencher

  27. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

  28. How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

  29. Be the Gift: Let Your Broken Be Turned Into Abundance by Ann Voskamp

  30. What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas

  31. Begin Again: The Brave Practice of Releasing Hurt and Receiving Rest by Leeana Tankersley

  32. Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

  33. The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

  34. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami

  35. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder by Lisa Gungor

  36. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

  37. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

  38. Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

  39. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler

  40. The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

  41. Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life by Lauren Winner

  42. Design Your Day: Be More Productive, Set Better Goals, and Live Life on Purpose by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

  43. Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith

  44. The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

  45. We Were Mothers: A Novel by Katie Sise

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2018 was beautiful and surprising and I won’t forget it, but I’m also glad it’s almost behind me. I’m already so excited about 2019 and what we have lined up – our annual new year’s family beach retreat, an Exhale writing workshop, the getaway that we just booked for our anniversary this summer, and a new house… maybe? So many things! Here’s to a blank slate and a new chapter. See you in 2019.

Books for the new year.

I love the fresh start of the new year.  The beginning of January is one of my happiest times of the year. I set my goals and intentions the last few weeks of December, and seeing them in action gives me so much satisfaction and joy.

#shelfie

#shelfie

A theme that’s already started emerging for me this year is help and coaching. It’s harder to accomplish goals in a vacuum. One of my self-care goals for Q1 of the year is to get our youngest sleep-trained by the end of the month. If you know us, you know that we are incredibly lackadaisical about kiddo routines, which has backfired! After three years running of sleep deprivation, I finally bit the bullet and hired a sleep consultant. I don’t want to jinx it, but so far, it's been a game-changer.

Books to me are like consultants that live in your bag. They are such low-barrier ways to access expertise and a fresh perspective.  No better time to start a reading kick than in the new year. My January reading list:

Work

Lifestyle

Home

Spiritual

  • She Reads Truth Bible – I have it in the Navy LeatherTouch and love it - it feels so special.
  • The Soul Tells a Story - all about the discipline of writing and the practice of creative pursuit - motivating and inspiring.

What are you reading? I'd love to know!

What I'm Reading: April & May.

I went just a little bit crazy buying books these last two months.

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Family

The Magic of Motherhood. You can bet that I pre-ordered this as soon as I heard it was on Amazon. I'm such a huge fan of Coffee & CrumbsOnly Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love is another mom-fave for me. My mom actually took it off my nightstand and has been reading it herself. It's only $2.99 on Kindle right now, so scoop this one up.

Not Naughty: 10 Ways Kids Appear to Be Acting Bad But Aren't. This was a really eye-opening one for me, especially numbers 2-4 and 9-10. I'm learning to offer Noah (and myself) grace when it comes to being overtired and overstimulated. Most of the time, we know what's best for our own kids, but I'm a big believer in learning how to be a better parent. Dave and I went to a parenting workshop at our church before Noah was even walking, and the speaker said something to the effect of, "If we want better kids, we have to be better parents." That stuck with me.

The Happy Sleeper. Sleep training, it's real. 

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. I want Dave to read this one. So hard to disconnect these days, and I want to make sure we are setting the best possible example for the little ones before they grow up to be iPhone addicts.

Self

How to Draw Modern Florals. So, so excited to carve out time to work my way through this book. I can't make it to an in-person art class these days, so this is perfect for at-home art times with my little ones.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. I'm just now learning about this, and wondering why I hadn't read it sooner. It's therapy in a book. One of my biggest life challenges is learning how to adequately communicate my needs and my boundaries and helping my kiddos do the same, and this book has been so helpful in guiding me. Breathing Room: Letting Go So You Can Fully Live is another therapy-esque book I'm reading slowly.

The Silent Child. This was $1.99 on Amazon, and had a ton of great reviews. I haven't started reading it yet, but it's next on my list, as soon as I remember to charge my Kindle.

Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms. I'm a personal finance junkie. I'll read almost anything related to women and money.

Home

Surf Shack: Laid-Back Living By the Water. I bought this as a coffee table book for friends who just moved into their new home, and then bought another copy to keep for myself because captures the California aesthetic so well.

Living with Pattern: Color, Texture, and Print at Home. This book is beautiful, and so inspiring for me. Home decorating is a slow, slow road when you're on a budget, but I'm looking forward to layering textures and print.

Kiddos

Next to You: A Book of Adorableness. I bought this book to read to Judah, but Noah loves it, too. His first words to Judah in the morning: "Hi sweetheart! You are cute, cute, cute and cute." It's the best.

I've added so. many. books. to my summer reading list, so stay tuned. Happy almost June!

What I'm Reading: February & March (and some recs for the littles).

So much of my reading list these days revolves around motherhood with a sprinkle around work and creative living. Now that I'm buying books for the boys as well as myself, I'm including a few recommendations for little ones too.

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For me:

Hands Free Mama. Sherry from Young House Love touted this book as the practical complement to Chasing Slow, which I loved. I'm feeling the squeeze on quality time with my boys, so I'm learning to be more intentional about being present and not distracted by a device, work or chores while I'm with them. I've teared up in more than a few places reading this book and reflecting on how quickly these precious moments pass. I'm learning that the quiet moments spent being completely present with my little ones can be just as soul-restoring, if not more, than alone time.

The Wellness Mama Cookbook. Healthy, budget-friendly recipes in under 30 minutes? Count me in. I really like that for the most part, the recipes in this book are super simple with no fancy ingredients that I have to make a special trip to the grocery store for. I've only had this book for a few weeks, and it's already the cookbook I turn to first for meal-planning. The slow cooker recipes are especially useful for me these days.

The New Preschool is Crushing Kids is an article that came on The Atlantic that has been influencing my thoughts about preschool (and this op-ed as well). Noah is all about stories – reading, listening, telling, and as this article states, "Conversation is gold." Education is such an investment, so I want to make sure that we're choosing the best one possible.

Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That's Been Hiding. My good friend told me about this author, who spoke at her MOPS group, so I looked up her book. This book is totally speaking to where I am in my creative life right now. I'm so skeptical of myself! This book is such an encouragement and provides the road-map for soul check-ins that I need.

A Woman's Place. I'm constantly asking myself, Am I doing what I am meant to do? This book adds another dimension to the women and work conversation.

The Magnolia Journal. Is there anyone who doesn't like Fixer Upper? This is a bonus dose of the home and life inspiration in print form. 

For the babes:

If You Give a Mouse A Cookie. I loved that this popped up on my Amazon feed, and knew immediately that Noah would get a kick out of it. We read this at least once a day, and he references it whenever I give him a cookie. In the cookie vein, I also bought Cookies Board Book: Bite-Size Life Lessons. We haven't read it yet, but after reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal's essay in the New York Times, I was hooked.

If you asked me what keeps me up at night, I would say children in vulnerable circumstances. The refugee crisis is breaking my heart. Teacup is a picture book about one boy's journey to a new homeland. It's never too early to start teaching empathy, and I'm confident that Noah will be interested in this story.

On a lighter note, Noah, like every other two year old boy it seems, is super into trucks. I bought him I Am a Garbage Truck, which we have read so. many. times. I Am a Fire Truck just dropped down to $2 (!) on Amazon, so of course I purchased it. Noah is like me and loves surprises and treats, and this book will be one for sure.

 

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