January 2021 felt like it lasted forever, but I’m not complaining because it also gave me ample time to chill out after the holiday season, reflect, and plan for the upcoming year. I’ve been journaling reflections at the end of every month for a few years now (you can see my personal process here), and I’m excited to start sharing a monthly roundup on this space moving forward. January was full of making lists, setting goals, implementing rhythms and disciplines, and looking forward to the year ahead. Here’s what gave me life this past month!

What I did

Set my goals and planned for the first quarter of the year. Go check them out!

Started a Bible reading plan with my church. There are readings for 5 days a week between the Old and New Testaments that will have me read through the Bible in a year. Thanks to my Well-Watered Women Give Me Jesus journal and an agreement with a friend to keep up a Snapchat streak by sending each other our reading time as accountability, I am proud to say that I’ve kept up with it thus far and am so excited to keep reading!

Completed a 500-piece puzzle with a friend. This was the best way to wind down after a busy work week: a few hours of screen-free time full of concentration, teamwork, conversation, and laughs that led to a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and a beautiful piece of art to admire!

Won a few rounds of Codenames! I played this with one of my community groups and it was a BLAST! I love how it makes you think of the best way to concisely communicate and trust your gut.

Visited the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with a friend! We saw an art exhibit by Julie Mehretu and enjoyed seeing the process that went into her layered pieces. I got in trouble twice – once for not noticing the tape lines in front of the art that I wasn’t supposed to cross and when we took off our masks to take a photo together. You can’t take me anywhere.

What I discovered

The Crazy Book Lady – This is a used book store located near my house that buys, sells, and trades used media. I spent a few weeks cleaning out our two bookshelves and was able to trade them all in for a fresh batch of new-to-me books that I can’t wait to read. The bookstore carries a huge variety of genres and authors, so I’m sure there is something there for everyone.

Knowing Faith Podcast – Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds, was pivotal in shaping my approach to reading and studying the Bible. When a friend told me that she was on a podcast discussing theology I knew I had to check it out. I’ve been working my way through the episodes and walk away from each one having learned something new or gained a new perspective to think about. I cannot recommend this podcast enough!

Cal Newport – I discovered this social media-less man through this podcast interview, and I am fascinated with the insights he shares. I’m planning to get my hands on his book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World and continue learning from him.

What made me smile

Spending time with my family – I was able to visit with some of my extended family and it was so good for my soul to connect with them and see all of my cousins who keep getting taller and funnier every time I see them. My time with them always feels so genuine and wholesome, and I am grateful for it.

Paul Rudd in How Do You Know – This is the first movie I’ve ever watched with Paul Rudd in it, and I can now say that I understand the appeal to his blandsome-ness (blandly handsome, a term I learned and have fallen in love with thanks to Annie B. Jones). His character in this movie is endearing and sweet and everything I needed on a gloomy work-from-home day.

Watching Pride and Prejudice for the first time with a friend. The scenery, the music, the cast, the costumes, the dialogue – all of it made me swoon!

Seeing llamas out in the wild. A friend and I were walking on the Silver Comet Trail in Dallas, GA, and saw what we thought were horses coming onto the trail. Lo and behold we were wrong and pleasantly surprised to see LLAMAS!! Definitely a highlight-worthy of sharing – they’re not something you ever expect to see out like this!

What I wrote down

My interview with Wild Web Women! It was such an honor to be featured in an interview with the sister company of my previous employer and talk about something I’m passionate about – work/life balance.

“It’s okay to let go of thriving to focus on surviving.”Rachel A. Dawson

“Figure out what you want and learn how to ask for it. You’re tougher than you think you are right now.”Therapist on How Do You Know movie

“Solitude well practiced will break the power of busyness, haste, isolation, and loneliness. You will see that the world is not on your shoulders after all.”Dallas Willard

“Oh Monday. You are gasoline in my fresh, clean stream.”Annie Parsons

“Look around you. Stay awake. Contribute. You’re making your history as you go.”Ash Parsons

Where I saw God

I’ve been making more of an effort to chat with and get to know my next-door neighbor, and the last conversation I had with her led to us bonding over some deeply personal things. I invited her to visit my church but unfortunately couldn’t be at the same service she ended up coming to, so I introduced her to a friend of mine to sit with. Turns out, they had already met before! It’s always such a sweet reminder of His goodness and faithfulness to see all of the little ways that God connects us with people and puts us in the right place at the right time to grow closer to each other and to Him.

What I’m looking forward to

In February I’m challenging myself to do 24 days of pilates with Lottie Murphy, and I’ll be tackling my new photo album-ing practice, reading, visiting friends, wedding dress shopping with my newly-engaged sister, and hiking to see some waterfalls in North Georgia. The season of Lent (my favorite in the liturgical calendar) also starts this month! It feels so good to have things to look forward to doing.

I hope that January treated you well, and if it didn’t, I hope that February brings you glimmers of light that overshadow the darkness. There is always light to be found as long as we have eyes to see it.

What’s something that gave you life in January? Please share in the comments below – I’d love to hear about them!

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