Five Things I've Learned: Winter 2019

Part of me can hardly believe winter is nearly over. I feel like I just wrote fall’s reflection, and somehow it’s already time for winter’s? Of course, the other part of me is just as desperate for spring as I always am by the end of February.

Ready or not, here are a few things I learned this winter.

1. Tracking my reading is motivating!

Somehow I’d missed out on following Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Anne Bogel before this winter. I tuned in just as she was sharing her 2019 reading challenge. I had already decided to dedicate some space in my bullet journal to tracking my reading, but I was intrigued by the categories Anne listed in the challenge. I penciled in possibilities over the next week or two. Then I committed.

It has been SO fun to check titles off my list! I’ve already finished four out of twelve on my MMD reading challenge list, and I’ve written five others on my catch-all reading list. Considering that I finished about fifteen books last year (excluding the stacks and stacks of picture books my kids and I read), I’m thrilled with my progress!

2. Audio books and the libraries that loan them are magical.

I understand there are people out there who don’t think audio books count as reading. To them I offer a hearty, “whatever, man!” Three of my nine completed books have been audio books, and I was delighted to listen to them—especially because my library offers access to Hoopla where I can play these books straight from my phone into my blessed Bluetooth earbuds!

Having access to more audio books is helping me finish more of the nonfiction books I’ve been wanting to read. I’ll simply choose an audio book rather than a podcast while I’m doing the dishes, etc. Then I can still read whatever novel I’m working on in the evening.

(Speaking of audio books, make sure you don’t miss my note at the end!)

3. I don’t like most books’ dust jackets.

This is such a silly thing, but thanks to a December Insta-story from the Lazy Genius, I finally have permission to get rid of those ugly or too-flashy dust jackets and reveal the beautiful hardback cover underneath. Did I actually need permission? Nope, but I still like having it

4. Going to bed on time is a spiritual discipline.

I can’t say I’ve mastered this, but I’ve finally realized its importance.

I was in a comfortable routine of getting up at 5:30 a.m. in order to spend time with Jesus and have time to work and to write before my kids woke up. I was even edging my way toward getting up earlier.

Then cold and flu season hit with a vengeance. My sleep routine took a major hit, and it took a LONG time to get back on track. I realized along the way that I have to take going to bed on time seriously. If I’m too groggy to do any of my morning routine, my day is off the rails before it’s begun.

5. Gray days help me not to miss out on the sun.

This has been an extra cold, extra gray winter for us in Missouri. The upside to all those clouds is that we’ve had more snow than usual—more than the past five years combined! The downside has been, well, tons of cold, cloudy days.

But I’ve noticed that when the sun is actually out—even if it’s still freezing cold—I will do everything I can to get myself and my kids out into that sunshine ASAP.

And even though it feels a little trite to say so, almost every single time, I find myself reflecting on the way the gray or hard or lonely times make the bright and sunny ones even better. And I feel the warmth on my face and in my heart as my boys run and jump and play like the delightful hooligans they are. We are always extra glad to be there, amazed all over again at the difference sunshine and a fresh perspective make.


Many thanks to Emily P. Freeman for encouraging so many of us to adopt this rhythm of reflection, along with all the other ways she helps us make space for our souls to breathe so we can discern our next right thing in love.

If you like the sound of that, you’ll love Emily’s new book coming out in just over a month. The Next Right Thing is available anywhere books are sold, AND there are some amazing pre-order bonuses like the AUDIO BOOK for FREE! You can learn about the bonuses here.


What have you been learning lately?

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