2018 is plugging right along, so as we say goodbye to January, I wanted to share a few things that made the start of the year extra special and meaningful. Following is a recap of the books I read, items I listened to, enjoyed and used, articles that were both fun and heartbreaking to read. I hope you enjoy this little recap, as I will be doing them going forward, so get used to them haha! 😉

A review of books I read:

One Man’s Meat by E. B. White: “Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man’s Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman’s lessons, a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style.”

I read this article about E.B.White’s farm in Maine, from where he wrote Charlotte’s Web, just before our trip to Maine last year and I was so intrigued by the beautiful storytelling I had to check out a copy of his essays for myself. Be forewarned, it’s a slow read and it’s best to take your time with this one. The essays are short and meant to be savored, especially since they cover a length of time spanning more than 5 years; I wouldn’t recommend reading more than 2-3 each night. His writings are both simple and witty, ordinary and exciting, funny and dark, especially as WWII wages on. Many of the essays revolve around farm life, with plenty of accounts of the weather, war, politics and moments of small-town life woven in.

So many great passages I could share, but I especially liked this one on modern parenting, written in September of 1940. “We teach our child many things I don’t believe in, and almost nothing I do believe in. We teach punctuality, particularly if the enforcement of it disturbs the peace. My father taught me, by example, that the greatest defeat in life was to miss a train. Only after many years did I learn that an escaping train carries away with it nothing vital to my health. Railroad trains are such magnificent objects we commonly mistake them for Destiny.”

Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren“Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us. Each chapter looks at something―making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys―that the author does every day. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship.”

Meant to help us find the holy in the everyday, this book was a beautiful and easy read I breezed through in just a couple days, and my highlighter was kept busy marking up passage after passage. I especially liked her observations of us as a bored-easily people. “When we gaze at the richness of the gospel and the church and find them dull and uninteresting, it’s actually we who have been hollowed out. We have lost our capacity to see wonders where true wonders lie. We must be formed as people who are capable of appreciating goodness, truth and beauty.”

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp: “In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.”

Okay guys, I’m going to be straight with you, this book is very Biblical, very high on the Jesus talk. Well no duh, Andrea, did you check out the title? I know, I know, but I just felt that I had to preface my entire conversation with this statement, because I think had I read this 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready for it; it would have felt a little too Jesus-y, a little too out there. And I don’t at all mean that to be mocking, pretentious, or scornful, but just speaking in practical terms, I think those who are raising kids in more of an agnostic way, won’t jive as well with this book and may find the language off-putting. With that being said, I absolutely LOVED this book and do firmly believe that even nonreligious families could benefit from it because the examples he draws from, and the actions he calls us to practice as parents, are for EVERYONE. Sure, the guiding principals are based off of Jesus’ teachings, but because they are all grounded in love, grace and humility, they’re traits we can all call on and benefit from when parenting. I shared some notes I took of the key takeaways on my IG stories, and I got about 30 DM’s asking what radical book I was listening to. Here are a few of them: The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change. Our identity is formed through Christ, not who we are as parents and our kid’s accomplishments; we are parenting humans, not manufacturing trophies. Parent with mercy, that is with a tender heart. Don’t take their “failures” personally, but view their struggles with compassion, and see each difficult parenting moment as a blessing, not a hassle or distraction. The process of many, many moments of insight together, lead to many, many moments of change. Be patiently willing to have the same hard, heart conversations again and again and pray that God will work in them in a way that you as their parent cannot.

Bottom line, I loved this book not because its aim is to raise “happy kids”, or because it gave me step by step tactics to enact during moments of disciplining, or promised to help solve my problems, but because it takes a realistic, long-term, loving approach to parenting, which I desperately needed at this point. This past weekend when spending 6+ hours helping Taylor clean out and organize her room, I followed and kept in mind many of the words I heard when listening to the book. I kid you not, what resulted was hands down one of the most enriching, rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as a mother.

Articles worth noting:

The Search for Jackie Wallace: “In 1990, a homeless man looked me in the eye and said, “You aught to do a story about me.” I asked him why. “Because I’ve played in three Super Bowls.” Now, finally, here’s the entire story, 28 years in the making.”

The Psychology of What’s Inside Your Home: Hey, I recognize those bar stools!

Other things I loved & used in January:

The Just Between Us mother/daughter journal needed a dusting off again, after a series of tough but meaningful and necessary conversations.

I LOVE these pants and despite what appears to be a strange, hard-to-wear color, I’ve managed to wear these with a TON of things!

I found this Word On Fire episode on Sex, Babies and a Prophetic Pope to be both informative and fascinating; as always Bishop Barron manages to cover delicate subjects with love and care, as well as a compelling case of intellect.

It’s been awhile since I felt compelled to dive into a new show, but after a friend and neighbor recommended The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I am totally hooked. The clothes, the decor, the language and comedy, it’s all just so perfect! I love every second of it, I just wish I could stay asleep to complete an episode each night. So far, I’m averaging 2-3 nights to finish a single episode, but don’t blame it on the show, I’m just getting too old to stay up much past 9:45 p.m.

So what have you been enjoying so far, in 2018? I’m sure it ain’t the news, so spill. What should I be adding to my shopping cart, reading list, podcast downloads or Audible wish list?