My Favorite Books From Last Year



Is it too late to write a post about my favorite books in 2019?

I have been slacking quite a bit on recording the books that I'm reading, ever since...well, our vacation, which was in August.  I met my goal of 52 books for 2019, but I didn't record many of them on Goodreads.  But I wanted to at least share a few of the books that stood out to me on here!



Non Fiction

I read a lot of non-fiction books that I really liked, so it was hard to leave some of them out.  These were the ones that stood out - I especially read some great Christian non-fiction, so if you are looking for some Christian encouragement-type books, read on!

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham

I bought this book when Voddie Baucham visited our local homeschool conference a few years ago, and I finally finished it.  Wow, if you want to be challenged in your parenting and in training your kids up to know the Lord, this is one you should pick up!  I was convicted to re-think a lot about my parenting and refocus on what is really important because of this book.  In fact, it's probably time I read it again.

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

This book is about the smaller sins that aren't mentioned much in Christian circles - we brush over these sins in ourselves and others, we tolerate them.  Bridges challenges us in this book to root those sins out of our lives.  This book is soundly rooted in the Gospel, and I found it not just convicting but very uplifting as well.  I highly recommend it!

None Like Him by Jen Wilkins

I feel like I've mentioned this book a million times between my blog and Instagram, but it was really good.  Wilkins looks at ten attributes of God, but these are not attributes that we can reflect (such as love, grace, etc), but attributes that belong to Him alone.  I found this book insightful and inspiring, and it was biblically sound and very readable.  It's a great book to start with if you are just beginning to dip your toes into theology.  Even though I was somewhat familiar with alot of the attributes she discusses, there were terms I learned and specific points that made me think more deeply about the ways that God is set apart from us.

Devoted: Great Men And Their Godly Moms by Tim Challies

If you've ever wondered if the little things you do for your kids are making a difference, pick up this book!  It's short and sweet, and would be perfect for Mother's Day.  I found it both convicting as I read about different godly moms through history and how they impacted their sons, and encouraging because of the little things they did that made such a big difference.  Highly recommend.

What Wondrous Love Is This by Joni Eareckson Tada

This is a book about hymns, and I used it as an addition to my morning Bible time.  Each chapter covers a different hymn, it's history, the theological breakdown, and it's personal impact on the authors.  I didn't even know half of the hymns in this book, but I would read a chapter and then look up the hymn on Spotify, and it was such an uplifting addition to my morning routine.  I'd recommend it if you also love hymns and are up for learning some new ones!

You Who? Why You Matter And How To Deal With It by Rachel Jankovic

I liked Jankovic's Loving The Little Years, which I read years ago, and finally remembered her as an author this year when I saw this book.  She discusses the "self help" culture, and why it is not the way we should approach life as Christians.  I think I need to read this book again, because I flew through it so fast the first time.  I read it during a discouraging period, and it was exactly what I needed to break me out of my doldrums, but I can't remember everything about it.  I inhaled it the first time, and I'd like to read it more thoughtfully a second time.  But anyway, it was good.

Them: Why We Hate Each Other And How To Heal by Ben Sasse

This book was timely for the current political climate, and the epidemic of loneliness in our culture.  We are more connected than ever, via the internet, but less rooted and less likely to actually know the names of our neighbors.  Sasse discusses why this is, what's really dividing us as Americans, and little ways that we can start to fix it.  I thought his view of why our culture is changing in our level of connection to one another was interesting, and in the end I was so encouraged by this book.  Though Sasse is a Republican senator, the information in this book and the points he makes are bipartisan, so I'd recommend it no matter your political leanings.

Chasing New Horizons by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

I started several space books last year after our visit to NASA, and I'm still working through most of my space books, but I shot through this book on audio!  It gives the history of Pluto, and how we finally sent a spacecraft to that distant planet.  What I found really interesting about this book was how involved it is to fund and plan an unmanned space mission, and all the logistics of sending a spacecraft to such a distant planet (even going as fast as 52,000 mph at times, and traveling almost a million miles per day, it still took 9.5 years for it to arrive at Pluto!).  I listened to it on audio, and I'd recommend reading it that way, I think it could be a little dry if read in print.  But it was a fascinating book to me.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

This book was so timely, since I read it after I decided to go on a Facebook break in December.  It challenged me to think more carefully about social media and how I wanted to be using it.  Highly recommend this book if you struggle, like I do, to put down your phone!



Fiction

As I was looking over my list, I did not have as good of luck with fiction books last year.  I'm going to list the books I really liked first, and then do some "honorable mentions".

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have to be honest, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book.  I have seen the movie before and the characters weren't exactly likable, and there was alot of debauchery, cheating, etc.  But what made this book worthwhile for me was reading while also listening to the Close Reads discussion of The Great Gatsby.  Because of reading the book while listening to that podcast, I noticed so many things that I wouldn't have otherwise, and I realized the message of the book is completely different than what I originally thought it was.  I ended up really liking it!  You can bet that if I ever have my kids read this for school, it will be assigned WITH the podcast.  Here are the links to the episodes if you're interested:

Chapters 1-3
Chapters 4-5
Chapters 6-7
Last Chapters


1984 by George Orwell

Does anyone really like 1984?  I'm not sure that's quite the right word, but I did get alot out of this book.  Some of it was creepily similar to aspects of our political environment today.  It's not like any book I would normally enjoy (more sexual aspects of the plot than I expected, and the ending was NOT uplifting), but I have to include it here because I think every adult should read it.  Very interesting.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

The first book I've read by Montgomery that wasn't an Anne book, and I loved every second of it.  It was completely delightful.  I especially liked the nature writing and the ending.  This book didn't feel anything like Anne Of Green Gables to me, but the writing was the same ol' Montgomery-style that I loved from the Anne series.

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

I love every Schmidt book I've read, and this is no exception.  A boy opens the door one day, and finds out his family has "inherited" a butler from his grandfather.  The butler starts putting the family in order and teaching Carter about cricket.  Really fun and delightful while also wrestling with some deeper subjects.  If you haven't read Gary D. Schmidt, you just should.  I usually recommend The Wednesday Wars first, but I loved this book because it had the same feel.



Honorable Mentions

A couple more books I read and enjoyed alot...

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

All the "book celebrities" (ie. Anne Bogel and booktubers) mention this book all the time, and I finally read it.  It didn't completely blow me away, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.  It's a post-apocalyptic book, but it imagines how art might survive in a post-apocalyptic world through following a traveling orchestra.  I think I enjoyed it even more because I've never quite read another book like this, so it was something new.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I listened to this book, and I'd recommend it in that format, because I think it would get slow in print (and also, the narrator was very good).  Whoever recommended this book to me said I should go into it without reading the synopsis, and I'm glad I did.  But let's just say if you are into time travel plots, you might like this one.  It's more character-driven than plot-driven.  Even though it's a slower-paced book, I still really enjoyed it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Horror books aren't really my speed, but this one is a classic, and I'm glad I read it.  I understand vampire references in pop culture so much better now.  That Gilligan's Island episode where Gilligan is bitten by a bat?  Makes so much more sense.



There we go, my favorite books from 2019!

What did you all read last year?  Any stand-outs?






Halfway Through (Happy Birthday To My Oldest)



My Dear Wyatt,

Buddy, you are nine years old!  I can hardly believe how much you have grown this year.  I looked at you the other day and saw with fresh eyes how tall you have gotten.  

You are all boy, and a smart, thoughtful boy too. I frequently find you tucked away by yourself in your room, reading a book about birds, or nature, or science experiments, or history.  Sometimes you'll read something in a book that you want to try, and you'll emerge with tons of ideas spilling out.  You'll go track down the supplies you need and start bringing your ideas to life.  Right now you are anxious for spring, when you can use your new bike lights (which you got for Christmas) to ride your bike when it's dark.  On your birthday list this year is an "adventure kit" (containing binoculars, a compass, and a flashlight, for all your birding adventures), a new watch, and Audobon bird stuffed animals with authentic sound effects.  




I love how adventurous you are when you get a new idea in your head, but I can still tell when you get nervous in new situations by the way you hang back next to me.  Sometimes if something is bothering you, you'll come and sit by me a while until I gradually get it out of you.  You need me less and less these days, so I have to hang on to the little ways that I can help you.

You are a funny kid, and you are constantly making your sibling laugh with your silly stories and jokes.  You are an organizer of games, especially imagination games, and I love to see the stories you all come up with together.  They all look up to you so much.  




I love your interest for so many subjects and how curious you are about the world, but I love even more how I see you growing in your faith.  You have made a very specific effort to start reading the Bible every day, and you just made it through the book of Genesis.  It gives my heart so much joy that in all your learning, you are making learning about the Lord a priority.  

Ten years is an exciting year for kids since they hit the double-digits, but nine is a landmark year for me as your mom.  This year you are halfway through your childhood. I find myself looking back on the last nine years with tears in my eyes, wondering where it all went.  But I'm looking ahead to the next nine years with excitement, because I am so proud of the young man you are becoming.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for you, my darling boy.  I couldn't ask for a more wonderful boy who made me a mama.  I love you more than every feather on every bird in the world.




Love,
Mama


Currently | February 2020


Currently...

Grateful...That we are not sick!  I started off January with that awful chest cold, and then a couple weeks later the entire family got a stomach bug.  This was a rare occasion when Derek and I were sick at the same time, so there was no one to take care of either of us.  Wyatt and I were the only ones who didn't throw up, we just lounged on the couch in misery for two days.  Fun times.

Loving...Quiet times before the kids get up in the mornings.  After Christmas and all that sickness, we have finally got back to a routine.  I usually wake up before the kids and drink coffee, and read my Bible, and read a book or blog before the kids get up.  Some days I get an hour to myself, some days I get five minutes, but it's nice either way.

Wearing...Alot of sweaters this week, because we got 8 inches of snow!  It's been in the single-digits with temperature, and this house does not have great windows, so I've been shivering my way through the days.  Last weekend I could have been wearing a t-shirt in the 65 degree weather.  We went on a family hike, and it felt like Spring!  But that clearly didn't last long.







Tasting...Hmm.  Well, not sugar, I can tell you that.  My eating habits have been questionable for the entire month of January, and it's time to lose the who-knows-how-much I gained over Christmas.  When I need to reset my eating habits, I go without sugar for a week or two, and it's been going well. My jeans are no longer cutting into my sides, so that's good.

Contemplating...Finally getting around to sharing my favorite books from 2019, and catching myself up on Goodreads.  For some reason I quit recording things on Goodreads after we went on vacation last year.  I just completely lost motivation.  Then last month I read a book called Reclaiming Conversation, and one of the points the author made was that the list of books that you check out from the library is confidential, because people (ie. the government) do not have a right to know what you are reading unless you want them to.  And that got me thinking, do I really want Facebook and Google spying on my reading list via Goodreads?  They already know a disturbing amount of information about me.  I'll probably still add my books on Goodreads for now, but it's something to think about.

Embracing...These wintery homeschool days.  Winter is hard with so many kids, we all get cabin fever.  But I've been keeping the apple cider brewing and snuggling on the couch while reading books to the kids, and it's been kind of lovely.

Working...On meeting my goals for the month of February.  Particularly the goal of memorizing Hebrews 5, and starting a prayer list page in my bullet journal.  Progress will be made today, I am determined.

Reading...The Last Of The Doughboys by Richard Rubin.  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that we saw 1917 in the theater a couple weeks ago, and Derek and I decided to read more about World War 1 together.  I saw this book at the bookstore and decided to give it a chance, and I'm so glad I did!  It's written by a man who interviewed World War 1 veterans in the early 2000's, when they were over a hundred years old.  It's been a really fascinating look at different experiences of the war, but also a fascinating look at centenarians.  I highly recommend it!  Derek is reading this one, in case you were curious.  Next on my reading list...A Farewell To Arms, All Quiet On The Western Front, and The Guns Of August, because about a million people recommended those to me.

Watching...The Bachelor.  I wasn't sure I even wanted to watch it this year, but I got sucked in again.  What is the deal with this group of girls?  Maybe we should stick with the over-28 crowd for the next Bachelor go'round.  These girls all seem too...young.

The kids are currently watching The Great Mouse Detective, which is bringing back alot of memories for me.

Preparing...For Wyatt's birthday next week, on which day he will turn nine years old, and officially be halfway through his childhood.  I don't really want to talk about it.

What have you all been up to lately?

Long Before Luther - A Review


Affiliate link below.

This book, Long Before Luther: Tracing The Heart Of The Gospel From Christ To The Reformation by Nathan Busenitz, caught my eye late last year.  I had recently heard someone claiming that the Reformers basically "made up" a new doctrine when they formally established the doctrines of "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone" as the means by which we are saved.  The claim was that no one before in church history had viewed salvation the way the Reformers did - that Luther, Calvin, and others were unsupported by previous church history and theologians.  I didn't believe that, but I am not completely familiar with church history either, so I wasn't sure what to think about that claim.  When I saw this book, I snagged it.

This book is pretty scholarly, but it has to be to address some of the specific charges of Reformation theology being unsupported previously.  The author does a great job of breaking down Reformation theology into three specific points - the forensics nature of justification, a distinction between justification and sanctification, and the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Each area is explained in a clear and accessible way, and then the author goes about showing that there are evidences of theologians before Luther who held views in line with these doctrines.

I really loved that the author starts with showing where Scripture itself is in support of each of these doctrines.  The Bible is our ultimate authority, and I love that the author clearly laid out how Scripture presents these issues of justification, sanctification, and salvation.  After firmly grounding us in Scripture, the author then presented his evidence from pre-Luther history, showing how many theologians held similar views to the Reformers in each of these areas.

I thought the author's presentation was thorough and convincing, while also being honest and fair in explaining the ways some of these theologians differed from the Reformers.  But my favorite section of the book was the Appendix, where the author includes 100 quotes from pre-Reformation theologians and church fathers that support the idea of being saved by grace, through faith in Christ, apart from any works.  The book itself thoroughly explains how these theologians viewed each of the specific Reformation doctrines the author was investigating, but the Appendix compiles all the evidence in one place, and it's really compelling.

After reading this book, I feel confident that the next time I hear someone claim that the Reformers were making up new doctrines, I will know there are specific church fathers and theologians that we can look at to prove otherwise.  Excellent book if you have ever wondered where the true Gospel was before Luther.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Why And How I Deleted Half My Facebook Friends



It's been two weeks since I cut my number of Facebook friends in half.

In November I decided to take a social media break (I wrote a little about why here), but through the entire year of 2019, I've been slowly starting to question the role that social media has been playing in my life.  I knew I was on social media way too much, using it as a distraction from the boring moments in my day.  The last straw was when I started to find myself holding my phone, scrolling through Instagram, without consciously making the decision to pick it up.

So right before Thanksgiving I got off Facebook and Instagram, which I've never done before.  During my break, I read several really helpful books, and took a good hard look at Facebook and Instagram to figure out what role I really wanted them to be playing in my life.  Maybe I'll discuss Instagram another day.  I'm still figuring that one out, since like it or not, Instagram is kind of the place for bloggers to be.  But today I thought I'd share one thing I figured out about Facebook over my social media break, and it's this:

Facebook keeps people from fading from your life.




If you had mentioned this to me a few years ago, I would have viewed that as a good thing.  Now, I'm not so sure.  I have started to consider that maybe some people are meant to fade from your life, and that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

There are people who aren't really friends, just acquaintances that passed through your life for a time. There are friends that you used to have alot in common with, but over the years you've drifted apart.  There are people that you were hoping to develop a friendship with, but years have passed and nothing has ever come of it.

I've always had a hard time letting people go, and I do still think there is value in being a tenacious friend, in making the effort to keep in touch with people who mean something to you.  But it's a tricky thing to balance when social media now gives you the ability to superficially keep in touch with your cousin's-husband's-sister who you met once five years ago.  Or that one person you hung out with at camp, but really don't know at all.  Or someone you used to work with, but who you haven't seen in five years.

Fifty years ago, you would have gradually lost touch with these people, no harm, no foul.  I used to think that was sad, but now I wonder whether it was a blessing in disguise.  These days, the social norm is for these relationships to linger indefinitely on Facebook, because no one wants to hurt the other's feelings by "unfriending" them.  If you dare to unfriend someone, you have to be prepared for the possibility of a conversation when you eventually run into them...or drama behind your back.

It must have been simpler back in the day when people were just allowed to drift apart.



One day I woke up and realized that a majority of my friends list on Facebook were these kinds of relationships.  People I don't really know anymore, or never really knew at all, had all this information about everything that was going on in my life, and I had information about what was going on in their life too.  But without ever putting in the effort to be an actual real-life friend to each other.

Not everyone should have unlimited access to your life.

And some people are meant to be in your life only for a season.

As I contemplate all of this, I also fully resonated with this article about how we make unfriending too much of a "thing".  I actually think we have made Facebook interactions in general too much of a "thing". The article mentions that we have started "validating our real life friendships by our online friendships", as if we aren't really friends with someone unless we are also Facebook friends with them.  I especially liked the question the author asks:

"When we feel like we need to add someone as a friend or maintain their access on Facebook in order to substantiate our interactions in reality, haven’t we reversed the natural process?"

And yes, I think we have.  




Personally, Facebook's most valuable functions in my life have always been as a convenient platform to share multiple photos with my grandparents and aunts and uncles (and other people who care about my children and don't get to see them often), and as a tool to facilitate real-world, face-to-face interactions with people.  

So during my Facebook break, I really started thinking about how to make sure that Facebook was serving those specific functions in my life, and drawing the line there.  To a certain extent, I had allowed social media to fill other functions in my life without my conscious permission.  I don't want Facebook to be a boredom buster, a friendship barometer, a self esteem-booster (or conversely, destroyer), a platform for all my thoughts (that's what this blog is for), a tool for life-comparison, an acquaintance-spying tool, or a cheap substitute for meaningful friendships (more on this coming in another post I think).  

I want Facebook to be just what I said - a photo-sharing tool between close friends and family, and a facilitator for setting up my face-to-face interactions.  That's all.

In order to fit Facebook into the box I had decided on, I realized that I was going to have to unfriend some people.  That's a hard decision to make, because for a lot of people, unfriending is taken as a personal insult.  I was afraid that some people, people I still like and wish the very best for, would take it that way.  I know some people probably did take it that way, but I posted this before I started purging, in an effort to explain:


"Hi Guys! I wanted to let you all know that in the next few days I'll be whittling down my friends list. Since taking my Facebook break, I've realized that some people struggle with social media more than others, and I am one of those people. I knew when I came back to Facebook I was going to have to make some changes, and this is one of them.If I disappear from your friend list in the next couple days, I hope with all my heart that you will know that it is nothing against you at all! This is more about my own personal social media mental health (how's that for a made-up term?), in an effort to maintain a proper balance in my digital life. If you ever want to connect or get together with me, I would absolutely welcome interaction outside of Facebook, through a text, phone call, email, snail mail, etc!  I'm thankful for all of you, and what you've added to my life over the years! I hope we can connect in the future outside a screen.  <3"


And then I took the advice and encouragement from someone who has done this before, and I cut over half of my friend's list.



Time will tell if there will be unforeseen negative repercussions, but so far I've received mostly positive responses.  I'll continue to refine my friend's list until I've achieved the balance that I'm looking for, but for now, I feel lighter.  I'm satisfied that Facebook is now more functional as a tool that serves me, instead of the other way around.  And I'm spending much less time on it.

The hardest part for me in purging my friends list was deciding who to keep and who to let go. As I tried to make some hard decisions, I was heartened by this quote from Digital Minimalism:

"It's worth noting that refusing to use social media...to interact means that some people will inevitably fall out of your social orbit - in particular, those whose relationship with you exists only over social media.  Here's my tough love reassurance - let them go. The idea that it's valuable to maintain vast numbers of weak-tie social connections is largely an invention of the past decade or so...Humans have maintained rich and fulfilling social lives for our entire history without needing the ability to send a few bits of information each month to people we knew briefly during high school."
-Digital Minimalism, pg 155

Let them go.

So I held my breath and took the plunge.  I kept some people that I am hopeful will turn into real-world friends, but I may have to do another purge in the future if nothing comes of those relationships.  I let go of some people that I genuinely like and wouldn't mind being friends with - but I've been Facebook friends with them for years, and we never see each other anymore.

I hope those people will understand that even though we are no longer Facebook friends, that doesn't mean that I don't want real-life interaction with them.  I am hoping that anyone who really would  have liked to keep in touch with me will reach out to set something up, or send a note, outside of social media.

And for the ones that don't - well, I guess we were meant to fade from each other's lives after all.






What I Hope To Accomplish In 2020



Over the past week I've been seriously thinking over how I want to handle goals in 2020, and I think I need a way to more frequently check in with myself on my goals.

Last year I made very specific, measurable goals that I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2019.  Specific and measurable is good, right?  Except that I was thinking too far in advance, and my goals, though measurable, were still too big.  My end goals became a little overwhelming to me, and when they started to seem unattainable, I just gave up.

This year I decided to make overarching goals for the year, but I'm going to try to make "little step" goals for each month (or two) that will move toward those overarching goals.  Does that make sense?  I'm hoping to write a post each month about how I did and share it on the blog for some accountability as well - if I write about it, I'm more likely to feel like I can't give up on it!



I decided on four categories this year, spiritual, marriage and motherhood, social, and financial.  I did not include health and blog categories as I did last year, mainly for simplicity's sake.  It's easier to focus more intently on less categories.  I also feel like I don't do too shabby at keeping up on this blog and my health anyway, so I'm skipping making goals in those areas for this year.


Spiritual

Overall Goals: Memorize Hebrews, and spend more time in prayer each day.

Little Steps:  Memorize Hebrews chapter 5, and start a prayer page in my journal.

There isn't much to explain here.  If I want to actually memorize Hebrews this year, I need to just buckle down and do it.  Last year I spent alot of time reviewing and solidifying verses, but this year I want to focus on the initial effort of getting them into my head.  I may not know them as well as I'd like, but once they are in there tentatively, it's easier to solidify them later.

I also have a Bible study bullet journal, which I use only irregularly when something stands out to me in my quiet time. I'd like to make it a more useful tool for my prayer time.  So over the next month I need to figure out a way to set it up to track the things I want to pray for.

Marriage And Motherhood

Overall Goals:  Be a happier and more thankful wife and mother.

Little Step:  Start the day with hugging each kid, and greet Derek immediately with a hug when he gets home.  

This goal makes me sound a little pathetic, but between getting the kids up and dressed, making beds, doing my own hair and makeup, making breakfast, getting started on school...sometimes I forget to take a minute to look into each of their sweet faces, and give them a hug and "good morning" before all the craziness starts.  I'd like to change that.  For Derek, he usually gets home right about the time when my nerves are frayed from all the chaos of the day.  I don't always greet him properly either, so that needs to change as well.


Social

Overall Goals:  Spend less time on social media, and spend more time investing in and encouraging my real-life friends (including family).

Little Steps:  Clean out my friend list on Facebook, and send some snail mail.

I'm cheating a little with this one, because I actually already cleaned out my Facebook friends list, and I am hoping to write more about that process next week.  Stay tuned for that!  My other goal is to send out some good old-fashioned snail mail.  I used to be pretty good at letter-writing, but I probably only send out one letter a year now.  I'd like to write at least one longer letter to one of my dear long-distance friends, and at least one short note of encouragement to someone.  I think it's a pity how much snail mail has declined, because I know the joy of receiving something in the mail that isn't an advertisement or a bill.


Financial

Overall Goals: Save $1000.

Little Steps:  Save $100 in February.

That's fairly straightforward, isn't it?  I have a secret project in the works that I need some money to accomplish, so I need to really buckle down and save a little more successfully this year.  Last year I saved only about half my goal, so if I can catch myself up to where I originally wanted to be at the end of 2020, so much the better!

Reading

Overall Goal: Read more books that I own but haven't read.

Little Steps: Participate in the Read Your Bookshelf project!

This one is more just for fun, but I also do have a ridiculous amount of books which I haven't read.  Chantel at An Intentional Life created this fun themed challenge to get us reading our unread books, and I'm going to try to participate each month!  In January I have to read a book with a color in its title (I'm gong to read "The White Cottage Mystery" or "Greenglass House"), and February is supposed to be a book that is also a movie (I want to read "The Princess Bride"!).



There we go!  My goals for 2020, and my little steps for the month of February.  I'm giving myself the extra two weeks in January as freebies, to help me get into the swing of things.  The plan is to check in with myself at the end of February and report how I'm doing on the blog (you guys are basically my accountability group, ha!).

What is your main goal for 2020?

How'd Those Resolutions Go?




Last year was the first year in...well, maybe ever?...that I actually set goals for the year.  I have tended to avoid making resolutions because I have always been sure that I would fail at them anyway, but last year I decided to give it a go.  Let's see how I did on my resolutions, shall we?


2019 Goals:

-Spiritual: Memorize the book of Hebrews.  I did not do well at this.  Before 2019 I had memorized through Hebrews chapter 4, but it had become pretty fuzzy.  In 2019, I basically really solidified Hebrews 1-4 in my memory, and that was it. I didn't memorize a single verse of chapter 5.  Fail.

-Marriage: Write Derek one note per month. Yeah, I didn't do this at all. Fail.

-Motherhood: Document my children better.  I had a specific goal of taking one picture of each kid per week, and writing down one thing about them.  I did not do any of that, but I do think I succeeded at the more vague overall goal of documenting the kids better.  I shared cute things the kids did and said more often on the blog and on Instagram.  In addition, I printed a ton of photos in 2019, which is something I haven't been consistent about before.  Semi-Success.

-Health: Go sugar free one week per month.  I actually did this!  I didn't record whether I did it every month, but I did sugar-free weeks frequently, and I felt great every time I did.  Success!

-Reading: Participate in the unread shelf project.  I did this, but not as much as I wanted to.  I did sort through my unread shelves, got rid of a ton of books I'm no longer interested in, and read a stack of the books I already had.  I have a ton more to go though, so it's still in progress.  Semi-Success.

-Blog: Try some posting routines.  I was semi-consistent with themed posts, like my "Stuff I Like" posts, and "The Wednesday Five" which I started in the fall.  Success.

-Financial: Save $1000.  I was not as consistent with this as I wanted.  I was using a weekly saving chart, which I think would have worked well if I used a weekly budget, but I don't.  I work with a monthly budget, often do my grocery shopping monthly, etc.  Since the saving schedule was weekly and my budget was monthly, I often forgot to hold aside the money I wanted to save.  I only ended up saving about half of the $1000.  Semi-Success.


I thought this was going to be a travesty when I sat down to write this post, but I am so relieved to see that I only out-and-out failed in two areas!  Being successful or semi-successful at 70% of my goals is good enough for me.  Even though I didn't check in with my written goals as often as I probably should have, I did find that just having these goals tucked in the back of my mind helped me make more progress than if I had made no specific goals at all.

So, will I make goals again this year?  Yes, I think I will.  Stay tuned next week for those!



How did you do at your 2019 goals?

A Rocky Start To A New Decade



A lot of people like to start off their new year with goals or resolutions, reflection on the year that has just past, or planning for the year ahead.  We started our new year with a cold.

On New Year's Day I started to cough a little, and by the 2nd I was sprawled out on the couch and miserable.  It took me about a week to finally feel completely better - which means I felt better yesterday.  Just in time for my kids to catch it.  Clyde started coughing last night (I'm hoping whatever this is more shorter-lived for them).

I've always liked the new year season, though not because I'm a particularly goal-oriented person or a planner.  I'm not really either of those things.  But the new year always feels fresh, and I ride on that feeling of freshness though cold, brown winter days.  When things could start to feel stale, the new year makes them feel...well, new.

Since I was too miserable for the first week of this decade to enjoy any of that newness, my new-year-mode is going to be extended.  I actually prefer it this way.  For me, the whole month of January is a time of reflection and gentle planning anyway.  So the new year in this house starts now.

I felt a lot of pressure to start off the year with a significant post, but this is shaping up to be a regular old chatty post instead.  I've decided I'm okay with it.  I don't think much on this blog is meant to be significant anyway, not in that way.  Ordinary days are significant in themselves, I think more than we know.

Our Start To The 2020's

The last day of the 2010's I spent filling up the last of the petition I've been working on (to stop late-term abortion in my state).  I had run out of people I know to ask for signatures, so I texted my sister-in-law, and she graciously set up a time for me to meet her extended family so they could sign my petition.  The last line was signed.  So a few days into the new year, I headed down to a notary event to get my petitions notarized and turned in.  Even though I had been sick, I was feeling functional - but barely, and I had lost my voice.  I tried to avoid breathing on anyone or shaking anyone's hands while I handed over my petitions, just in case I was still contagious.

Then I had to stop at the grocery store, because by this time we were basically out of food after the holidays.  I wanted it to be a short trip out of the house so I could go home and continue to rest and recover, but we just plain needed a few things.  So I did a little shopping trip at Walmart, and then headed back out to my car.

As I was pushing my full cart across the parking lot, I noticed a flutter of wings overhead, and then a flash of white in front of my eyes, and I looked down and realized a bird had pooped on me.  I was completely grossed out.  Do you know how many germs birds carry?

I'm admittedly very slightly germaphobic.

I went straight to my car, parked the cart on the sidewalk, and set my purse down on the front seat while I rummaged around looking for hand sanitizer.  As if hand-sanitizer would be effective against bird poop, but it was better than nothing.  After I finished dousing my pants in it, I turned toward my cart full of groceries and closed the door.

Then I heard a click.

And my keys were still in my purse.  On the front seat of the car.

Thankfully my phone was in my pocket, not in my purse, so I called Derek and squeaked out what happened (remember, my voice was gone).  He called my parents, and they came to rescue me about 40 minutes later.  Not too bad of a situation overall, but a little embarrassing.  I haven't locked myself out of my car since I was 18.

So yeah, that was a good start to the new decade.

New Year's Day Though

I actually take that back, the true start to the new year was a good day.  My cough had barely started, so I didn't realize yet that I was getting sick yet, and we decided to take a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park on New Year's Day.

Unfortunately, the last couple times we have visited the park there ends up being a storm rolling in, and we can't see any of the mountains.  The weather was clear and bright, right up until we entered the park, and within five minutes we could see nothing.  Cars were stuck in the snow on the mountain roads.  And we forgot to bring snow pants, because we thought it was going to be a beautiful, bright day.













We made the best of it though, and we still enjoyed the wintery beauty and saw some wildlife.  We piled the kids out of the car, walked for five minutes in the snow, piled back in.  Then we stopped at a taffy shop on the way home.  I've decided I'm not really a fan of saltwater taffy unless it's fresh.  This was the fresh stuff, and it was so tasty.

Ten Years Ago

Between signature gathering and being sick, I haven't had much time to truly reflect on the fact that 2020 is not just the marking of a new year, but a new decade.  I didn't look through the last ten years of pictures (that thought overwhelms me), or find old journal entries, or anything like that.  But I can remember where I was in life and how I felt ten years ago.

We were living in our first home, with three rambunctious dogs.  I was working as a dental hygienist a few days a week, and it was the heyday of blogging.  Derek was working for our county, and we were scraping together any extra income we had into saving for a ten-year anniversary trip to Italy.  We had been married for two years, and had decided we wanted to start trying for a family, but things weren't exactly working.  I wondered when, or maybe if, we'd have kids.  It was a little premature to worry too much, but worry I did.  My biggest prayer for the new decade was a houseful of children.

And here we are ten years later, in a different house, only one of those dogs still laying at my feet, and five tiny pairs of shoes pounding on the second floor over my head.  We never took that trip to Italy.  And we were okay with that, because dreams change over time.  I've received more than I ever thought to ask for ten years ago.

When I think back over the last ten years, I think of the faithfulness of God in our lives over this past decade.  There have been stresses and joys and sorrows and triumphs, and the Lord has been our anchor through it all.

I don't like to think about where I'll be in the next ten years.  I know my oldest will be graduated from high school, and my youngest will be right in the middle of middle school.  That thought alone is overwhelming to me.  Ten years is too far in the future for me to think about.  I don't know where we'll be living, or what exactly our lives will look like.  But I imagine that in ten years, when I look back again on the previous decade, I'll still see how God is faithful to us through it all.

So yes.  I'm ready to start the 2020's.

---

I want to write more about my plans for the upcoming year, or changes I'm already trying to make, but I think I'll wrap up this post here for now.  The kids are awake, and this is our first week back to school in 2020, despite being sick, so I have alot to catch up on this week!  The house is slowly being disinfected of whatever bug we caught, and I'm working with the kids and myself on developing good habits - one of those habits is that blogging has to happen first thing in the morning, so we can start school on time!  So I'm off to pour some cereal bowls and crack open some books.

How was the start to the new decade for you all?

Hopefully smoother than ours, ha!
© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.