What I’m Learning: Winter

Guys, I started this post when it was 77 degrees outside and it’s currently 30. Writing a “What I’m Learning: Winter” post felt a little weird in shorts, but when one of your favorite writers inspires you with a quarterly series of observing and learning from your dailiness, you ignore The Weather Channel and go with it. Then, a week later, you snuggle up with your computer and your favorite quilt because it’s a perfectly cozy day to hit “publish”.

The practice of paying attention to what we’re learning serves as an anchor for the soul in a fast-moving world. Instead of waiting for the world to stop so we can catch up, we slow ourselves, look around, and name what we see. 

Family //

  • Golden Retrievers are legit.

For the last 3 years my kids have begged for a pet. EG would beg for chickens and cats while D consistently colored pictures of a Golden Retriever named Duke. (You see where this is going.) I hemmed and hawed and lost countless hours of sleep wondering if we should take the plunge on this potentially 12-15 year commitment…more mess and more money…seemed like a lot of trouble… but the week before Christmas, I caved. We did some serious Craigslisting and arrived at the decision for Joel to drive up to Tennessee and pick up an 8 week old ball of fluff. The original thought was to get a kitten for EG at the same time #whatwerewethinking but over breakfast the morning before Joel would secretly drive to get Duke, she conceded over her scrambled eggs that, “I DON’T CARE WHAT KIND OF PET WE GET. WE JUST NEED A PET!”

So, we are now proud pet owners of ONE “adowable” dog.

What I'm Learning: Winter
Ya’ll this dog has brought an insane amount of joy to our family. So much laughter and so many parenting illustrations for the kids about how it feels when someone doesn’t obey you. Summation: we are smitten and he is the sweetest dog you’ve ever met. He’s already huge.

What I'm Learning: Winter

  • Speaking of huge…My kids are getting huge. I know all parents are shocked by their kids’ growth and development, but I am gonna play the adoption card and say that adopting two kids after those big birth-3 milestones makes you see the golden years in a new light.

What I'm Learning: Winter

D turning 10 shifted something in my heart. Double digits and two hands. A baby boy who is quickly becoming a pre-teen using phrases like “epic fail” and dabbing every 5 seconds and reading and tying his shoes without as many incredible meltdowns. It’s good. It’s hard. It’s happening. Oh and sis? Her two front teeth have fallen out AND grown in and she now says “cartwheels” instead of “carton wheels”. I am 100% not gonna recover when she finally can pronounce her R’s. #speechtwiceaweek

Wins //

  • Keeping the Sabbath day holy has been a game changer for my mental and emotional health.

I’ve read books on Sabbath rest since I graduated college but never actually KEPT the Sabbath consistently. In her book “Rhythms of Rest”, Shelly Miller calls to mind the way we fill the pantry and hunker down for a big snow storm when a winter weather watch is in effect and in the same way she encouraged me to think about what preparations I could make to ensure the greatest amount of Sabbath freedom. I know it’s coming! I can look forward to it because if the work week is the inhale, Sabbath is meant to be the exhale!

This Winter I’ve been doing things like prepping meals ahead of time, sharing expectations with family members, signing off of social media, etc. This “snow day” mentality has been something that’s made me be more intentional the rest of the week and also less gripey about my need for me time/rest/quiet/etc. because at least 2-3 out of 4 Sundays I know it’s coming.

Another thing that’s help has been keeping a cumulative list of the restorative things I’ve done on those Sabbath days. It’s really fun to see a growing list of adventures taken, books read, loaves of bread made and friends with whom I’ve connected. I highly recommend Sabbath list keeping.

  • We’ve made it through hybrid homeschooling and we don’t completely hate our lives. I’m gonna chalk that up as a win.

Struggles //

  • I shared about this on Instagram Stories, (it’s like Snapchat for old people), but I am continually realizing how entitled I am to my time and how even regarding people and things that help me fulfill my calling, sometimes I’d rather just hide.
  • Much to my frustration, I am learning how much I struggle with anger and fear in my heart.

It comes out through my mouth in the way I respond to and micromanage my kids and the way I overshare with friends…I think this comes from a place of wanting to be seen and heard and known and understood (all things only God alone can truly offer me) and you just can’t always have that desire met by humans. Golden retrievers though? Vaults.

The Lord has been showing me that I may not suffer much as an American Christian, but sacrificing this desire for the greater reward of being seen and know by Him is worth it.

Favorites //

  • The Chronological Read Through the Bible Plan on the Holy Bible App.

Oh my heavens. My alarm goes off, I roll over and grab for my phone, with one quick click I am in business to start the day with the Bible in chronological order! I think 60 women from my church are doing this and sometimes we chat on a FB group about it, but holy moly I LOVE this reading plan. On days I am in a rush, I just pipe it in on the audio version and HELLO IT’S MARCH AND I AM STILL ON THE WAGON! THIS NEVER HAPPENS.

  • Long phone charging cords.

For as long as I’ve had an iPhone I’ve thought, “How can we send men to the moon and not think to extend charging cords so they actually reach from your plug to the top of the nightstand? I do not have hotel lamps with plugs built into them, people!” But, hey, when Apple forgets your service appointment and offers you a free product you do not take the screen protector they offer you, but rather suggest a free cord that will reach far enough for you to stir the boiling water and talk on the phone at the same time because, let’s be real, everyone’s phone is dead by dinnertime, amIright?

Life Hacks //

Basically a great notebook from Marshalls + brain dumping everything from to-do lists to sermon notes and adding a table of contents = life-changing Bullet Journal.

(DO NOT leave the innermost thoughts and plans of your soul in the seat pocket of an airplane for any length of time because Delta will NOT care to get back to you no matter how many times you tweet at them. Hypothetically.) Any who, between the Bullet Journal, this calendar. And setting reminders on my phone I FINALLY don’t forget major life events…for the most part. Except birthdays, I still cannot keep track of birthdays…

What I'm Learning: Winter

I cannot describe my husband and co-worker’s relief. If only I’d had a Tile affixed to my bullet journal.

Things that make you go hmmm //

  • I added up the number of hours I spend carpooling my kids…and I should not have.

BUT it made me realize Voxer (group voicemail), Spotify (streaming music-here’s a playlist I made for a recent women’s retreat) and podcasts are saving my life. A few of you have asked what I’m listening to, so I’ve listed and linked my favorite podcasts here for you:  The Art of Simple, The Road Back to You, Upside-down Podcast, Read Aloud Revival, God-Centered Mom, One Extraordinary Marriage, Lead Stories, The Gospel Coalition, The Accidental Creative, HopeWriters, The Portfolio Life.

  • Tears and anger are the biggest indicators of my heart these days.

I meant to already have published a post about this, but it’s still in the draft file. Anything making you teary and/or angry lately? (#homeschooling) I feel like I’m on the brink of tears or internal temper tantrums more often these days…it’s telling. Also, when I start to feel shakey on the inside and I can sneak out to carpool 10 minutes early I like to go sit in the cemetery across from my kids school. Morbid? Nope. Melancholic? Perhaps.

There’s something incredibly grounding about just sitting in the solitude of God’s presence, staring at the beautiful broken reality of life.

What I'm Learning:Winter

  • The book of James…it’s the oldest book in the New Testament.

Who knew? Okay, probably you, but not me. I’m leading a discipleship group that’s studying James this semester and it makes so much more sense to understand that it was one of the earliest books written in the New Testament…so of course God went to all lengths to give the baby Christian church a “how-to” guide for living amidst persecution! James uses OT language while having the most references to Jesus than other books in the New Testament…where have I been?

  • I can fill up a cloud like nobody’s business and Apple’s Customer Service rivals Disney. I spent 5 hours at the Apple store last month and walked away with a new iPhone, free charging cord, a tuned up computer and having had 5 hours of journaling/semi-alone/people-watching time. WINNING.

Entertainment //

  • I’m trying to read one book/month that is outside my usual Christian non-fiction realm.

This month I am reading “To Keep the Waters Troubled” because I always pass the “Home of Ida B. Wells” on the way to my in-laws in Holly Springs, MS and figured it was time for me to learn about this woman worthy of sign on the highway. WOW. Woman deserves more than a sign I will tell you that. I’ve learned so much about Holly Springs and was going on and on to Joel about how Yellow Fever wiped out the majority of the town in the 1878, to which he replied, “Right, there’s a graveyard out where we go hunting for a lot of the folks who died then.” WHAAATTT?! Summation: learning about the people and places that make your current state what it is happens to be very fascinating.

  • At 35 I can finally say that I am bad at TV and movies and pop culture in general and would rather read a book or troll Instagram. There, I said it.

Spiritual //

  • It’s all spiritual on some level, isn’t it?

I think I’ve mostly been learning what it looks like to love. Sometimes it looks like speaking hard-to-hear truth in love and other times it looks like love graciously covering a multitude of sins.

Today, it looks like doing the dishes and the laundry to the glory of God and for the love of people, not to win the approval of men or because I enjoy it.

What I'm Learning; Winter

Holiday Book Baskets for Kids

Okay, so I have always loved books, but then when two kids got thrown into our little mix, it opened up a whole new world of book obsession. Board books, audio books, chapter books, you name it, it’s in my Amazon cart. Here’s the thing though, I hate clutter. I hate clutter and we don’t actually have bookshelves or an attic in our current home…So I MUCH prefer to borrow books from the library and friends and then send them back to their home. BUT after a couple years of forgetting to reserve the Christmas books I had hoped for our family to enjoy, I decided I’d start building a collection of Holiday books for my children.”Holiday Book Baskets for Kids” has become a favorite tradition, so I thought I’d share. Holiday Book Baskets for Kids

Throughout the year, when I see children’s books on sale (Marshall’s and TJ Maxx always have children’s books on sale following Holidays! Thrift stores are great too!) I snag them and toss them in the small plastic bin that I’ve reserved for that specific holiday. I am a minimalist when it comes to holiday decor and am not trying to have more things to put in the closet of our garage where I keep holiday items, but this has become such a fun experience for my kids that it’s worth it for us.

A week or two before each holiday, depending on how many quality books I’ve found, I’ll wrap the books in their respective holiday paper and we will rotate which kid gets to open a book. (Sometimes this is bribery to get them to sleep through the night if we are in a rough sleep season..hence they’ve only opened 3 Valentine’s Day books this week…)

The best thing about theses growing collections is that even as they get older they still enjoy the “little kid” books because they’ve been put away all year-long and it feels like something new yet recalls fond memories.

Valentine’s Day Books

Lent & Easter Books

 

Thanksgiving Books

Advent, St. Nicholas & Christmas Books

        

I’ll keep adding to this list for future reference. Do you or your family have any holiday books you read each year? Any traditions that foster togetherness and connection?

Don’t enjoy reading aloud as a family? This podcast/blog has given me great motivation on days I’d rather not.

Happy Holiday reading, friends!

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my habit of good books.}

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