My January reading, watching and learning list

We spend a lot of our time in life trying to find happiness. We pursue our dreams, set our goals and check off our bucket lists. But the reality is that life comes along and throws us unexpected curve balls. We tend to resist suffering. We want to find ways to get back to our comfortable lives.

What I’ve been learning this past month is that these times of suffering can be the most important parts of life. When life doesn’t go as planned, that’s when we are most dependent on God. Those are the times when we experience the most growth to become the person we were meant to be.

That was the theme of my favorite book of January, No Cure for Being Human, by Kate Bowler. If you haven’t read it yet, I would recommend that you just stop what you’re doing right now and get started!

 

Here are some of the other things I read, watched and learned in the month of January:

BOOKS

I barely read at all during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Life seemed to have enough stress of its own, and I couldn’t handle the added emotions that I often find in the lives of fictional characters! But I finished three books this month, and I really enjoyed all three. The two fiction books I read had a similar theme to each other. They were both about a life transformation due to a near death experience.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: this one was my favorite. It was an easy read that made me think.

Wish You were Here by Jodi Picoult: I pretty much love everything by this author. It was interesting to read a book that is set in the year 2020 around the theme of the pandemic.

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SPIRITUAL STUFF

I joined a women’s Bible study at a church we’ve been attending and once again, it is reinforcing the theme of finding God in times of suffering! The study is on Elijah. I’ve been challenged by the story of how Elijah had to leave everything he knew and trust God as he moved him from place to place, waited in the desert, and was fed by ravens… it’s all been hitting me in a powerful way.

I’ve also been reading two other devotionals packed with good stuff:

The classic, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Seeing Beautiful Again by Lysa Terkeurst

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WATCHED

When I asked for book recommendations this month, a friend on Facebook suggested the series, All Creatures Great and Small. I looked it up and realized it’s also a TV show. I’m always struggling to find something good to watch on TV, especially something that is appropriate to watch with my 12-year-old.

I paid $12 to get the first season on Amazon Prime, and I’m glad I did. The show is about a veterinarian in the early 1900s in the Yorkshire Dales who learns that taking care of animals is also about tending to the lives of their owners. The scenery is beautiful, and it has that PBS Downton Abbey vibe.

Also this month, I watched:

Encanto (of course!)… I’ve watched it six times! Don’t you love how you catch something new each time you watch it?

Hawkeye series on Disney Plus… of the Marvel limited series, I would rank this one right after WandaVision.

Only Murders in the Building with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez… I had my moments when I decided to stop watching, but I’m actually glad I finished it.

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PLAYED

Like the rest of the world, I started playing WORDLE. I really didn’t want to. The way everyone posts their results on social media feels like it’s a social experiment that must be signaling the end of the world. But once you play, you can’t stop!

If you haven’t tried it yet, you might be wondering what makes it unique. Two things: Everyone gets the same puzzle each day, and you only get to play one puzzle per day. It makes it fun to see how everyone else did on their daily WORDLE! (Please keep posting your results. I like to see them!)

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STARTED

My husband generously got me an Apple Watch for our anniversary in November. I’ve actually had a hard time adjusting to its many features and settings after using my FitBit for so long. I really only wanted to know how many steps I had walked each day, and the Apple Watch makes it kind of difficult to find that information!

But once I set my mind that I would try to “close my rings,” I bought into Apple’s advertising for the FitnessPlus app. I’m still not able to walk for exercise, and I’ve been wanting to try yoga. I’m really enjoying doing yoga with the Fitness app because I can select the length of my class, the instructor and intensity level. I’ve also tried strength training, Pilates and cycling. It’s basically an entire gym on my phone. As you can see in the photo, Cooper enjoys doing yoga with me as well.

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CREATED

I’m super, duper happy that I created a new planner this year. (Click the link to check it out!)

I actually needed MYSELF to tell me to get off my butt and get things going this year! It took me a few weeks after the year had already started, but I made a list of 22 things I want to do in 2022. (I realize this is in direct contrast to the statement I made in the opening paragraph of this blog post.)

Here’s what’s new this year though. Instead of creating this really amazing list of hard, life-changing things, my list is full of things that I actually find fun! Some of them, I’ve already checked off, including:

Learning to make macarons: They are kind of challenging to make, but so yummy AND gluten free!

Making creamed honey: I’ve been wanting to experiment with this for a while so I can sell some!

Making Jun tea: this is a variation of kombucha that is made with green tea and raw honey. You might remember that I used to make kombucha in large quantities, but stopped a few years ago.

Photographing eagles: I went on a few eagle photography adventures this month. The first few weren’t successful, but the last one was amazing! If you want to see HUNDREDS of eagles, go to Lock and Dam 18 in Gladstone, Illinois, during the month of January. It was definitely worth the drive! (Check out more of my photos on Instagram.)

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What did you read, watch or learn in the month of January? I would love to know!

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