The sun rides higher
The sidewalk shoes
A snowstorm comes,
And cars are stuck,
Though road salt flies
From the old town truck.
Grow plump on seed
That Mother pours
Where they can feed,
And snipping, snipping
To cut out hearts
– February by John Updike
We have, indeed, seen a bit of snow and many-a-chickadee lately at our feeders! Aside from flurries and winter birds, though, my favorite thing about January is the paperwhites. Each year on my birthday (at the end of December), my only gift request from Ari and my parents is paperwhite bulbs. Forced inside in early January, they smell like spring—and remind me to be faithful (my word of the year) in the midst of winter seasons! Winter may seem bleak at times, but after winter always comes spring. What a picture of His promises fulfilled to us in His timing!
January is a fresh start and a chance to try new things. Like we talked about last month, January is also a good month to set the pace of life—to take small steps forward in faith, not all at once. And if you didn’t take as many steps forward as you’d hoped, there’s a new month before us filled with opportunities to grow good things!
January Monthly Goals:
Move forward – on new goals, decisions, and out of 2020, praise the Lord! / Praise the Lord, indeed. While 2021 got off to a jarring start in many ways, I did take steps forward.
Make our 2020 Lists (all first steps on my PowerSheets goals!) using one of our Legacy Journals: – 2021 Prayer List
– Road trips for the year
– Books to read as a family this year
– Date ideas
– Scriptures to encourage my goals
– Playlists for running and the kids / Moving these remaining lists to February!
Do my time audit at work
Plan something for our 15-year anniversary in March / Done! After much deliberation, we’re going to the mountains as a family for a few days. I will make a good dinner that evening for us all!
Plan solitude in the year/weeks
January Weekly Goals:
Bring a feast of good ideas in homeschool / I still haven’t finished my homeschool post with all the details on what we do and what we love, but I’ll go ahead and tell you a couple of our favorites this month—great for everyone, not just homeschoolers! Letters from Afar is so fun for kids (and us adults!) and Exploring Nature With Children is hands-down one of our favorite resources!
Poetry + good words at dinner w/ the kids. / Yes! We love reading A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year, A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, and Sing a Song of Seasons (we faithfully read this throughout the year and love starting over each January!).
Surprise Ari with sweet things each week, like notes left in his wallet 🙂 / I was consistently doing this in the start of the month and then gave myself a little grace with the latter half – a few surprise dinners and sweet things. I hope to continue this. It has been fun! Also, side note, we watched the entire Signed, Sealed, Delivered series and all the subsequent movies in January. Quite a marathon and we are not usually TV people, but the series was just so good. Learning about the dead letter office, great writing from Martha Williamson, and Carol Burnett as a guest star? It was fantastic! Also, Oliver’s character made me start reading Shakespeare again here and there with the kids. Ari and I really enjoyed watching it together.
January Daily Goals:
Bible reading with Ari and our group – we landed on a 2-year Old Testament plan that we are reading with friends on the free YouVersion Bible app. / Yes! We have loved this together. Want another great plan to start your year with? Over 250,000 people have completed my free 5-day God + Goals plan. (I recorded audio for you in the plan, too, if you’d rather listen! Enjoy!)
Run! / I decided to switch from a FitBit to an Apple Watch in December to purposely be able to lose track of my phone! I was nervous about this at first, and the Apple Watch was a big commitment, but it has proven effective. I now often forget where my phone is and, if my mom calls and needs me ASAP, I can answer from my wrist with very few distractions. I have also enjoyed the 3-month Apple Fitness trial. There was one class in particular where the trainer played all the classic songs you might hear at a southern wedding (Sweet Home Alabama, etc., etc.). Having a bit of experience with that, I have to say it was super fun!
Presence – focus on 1-1 connections / I was just telling the ladies I work alongside that there are things we intentionally do or plan that lead us closer to the Lord, and there are things that God drops in our laps. I experienced the latter with Grace this month. My friend Jess sent me an advance copy of her new book, Glory Girl, and the moment it landed in Grace’s hands, she has been enthralled. She asks me to read it to her every night! She loves doing the journaling prompts and we have had the sweetest conversations about prayer, dreaming, relationships, and being glory girls together. The book is so good and I’ve been encouraged by it right alongside her. I already bought another copy for Sarah to have when she’s older. 🙂
Write the Word – I’m using the Blank Write the Word journal (my second time using one!). / Writing through Psalm 119 to start the year has been so good. I haven’t been doing this as consistently as I planned, but a few times a week I go deep with my Write the Word journal and I love it!
Also in January—our barn quilt climbing wall was featured in the January/February issue of Country Living magazine! Thank you, friends at CL for the wonderful feature!
It was in a fun section about quilting—I loved the whole issue!
Onto February! Here’s what’s on my Tending List for the month ahead—all action steps from my new 2021 goals.
February Monthly Goals:
— Love for Him – a focusing on loving others for the Lord and reflecting His love in several upcoming birthdays (Sarah is turning 5!) and Valentine’s Day (one of my favorite holidays with the kids!)
— Get a 15-year anniversary gift for Ari. With the caveat that he is not a gift person. And the traditional gift is crystal. Any creative ideas out there? I am stumped.
— Write my remaining 2021 lists: scriptures and a family reading list
Make playlists for each kiddo – Striking this through because I already did it! The moment I finished my Tending List, I did my little not-so-secret move with goals — I went ahead and did something about them! It felt so good to get the momentum going instead of waiting for some other magical day. And the kids LOVE them. We had the best dance parties this weekend and they felt so loved!
— Get outside – make friends with winter 🙂
February Weekly Goals:
— Shabbat – This is what Saturday naptime looks like for me above. I am loving my Val Marie Prayer Journal (that I decided to use to pray over our team and work this year!), my Write the Word journal, favorite Bible, and I just got this Vine’s dictionary.
— Homeschool with love
— Read Life Together with Ari. This book is blowing our minds a little. It’s so rich and striking that we have had to take it a paragraph a day almost—a feast of good words.
— Continue reading Glory Girl with Grace 🎉
February Daily Goals:
— Bible reading
— Close my rings (Apple watch fitness rings!)
— Write the Word – continuing through Psalm 119
— Neck exercises – I’m back in physical therapy and making some good progress.
Your turn! What are you tending to this month? What are you excited about? I’d love to hear–share in the comments below!
I love how you included Shabbat in your weekly action items. After listening to your podcast last year where you talked about how it is so important to appreciate how God set that example for us to have a day of rest changed my mindset. I now make sure to “pencil in” rest time on the weekends to allow myself to rest for the rest of the week. Thank you for that! 🙂
Woohoo! Excited for you to take time to rest, Molly!
I am truly grateful to God that I came across Cultivate What Matters; it’s been a wonderful experience for me and I look forward to learning more from you.
I love that you shared how you write your goals (monthly, weekly and daily); I’m hoping to adopt this and I look forward to starting an accountability group using the PowerSheets Group Guide (God bless you for providing that! 🙂
I’m SO glad you’re here, friend!! Cheering you on as you cultivate what matters most in this season!
Lara what wonderful progress! For a gift for Ari – would a crystal picture frame of where 15 years of marriage has led you be something he would enjoy? Just an idea! (My husband is very similarly challenging to buy for haha).
This month I am cultivating digital minimalism by taking a break from social media – so here is to slow living this month!
So fun! Thanks for the gift idea, Ashley!
Hi Lara : ) I got an AppleWatch last year as well, and I think one of my most used features is being able to ping my phone from my watch so I can find it…it means I’m always losing my phone around the house, which is a good thiing. : ) Miss you, friend, and hope you’re well.
So grateful for you, Brooke! Love being phone-free too!
A trip to where crystals grow naturally in the mountains? (And one to being home to remind you of it of course) – not a traditional anniversary gift but in theme nonetheless!
So fun and creative, Sarah!
Happy February friend! I love the paperwhites. My mom sent me some bulbs too. I’m waiting patiently for them to grow and bloom. A couple’s book that might help with gift suggestions is Alexandra Stoddards “Happiness for Two”. One of my favorite books. Enjoy!
Yes! Can’t wait for your paperwhites to bloom, too! Grateful for that book suggestion, Melissa!
Rest is SO hard for me, eve though I know that I need to take it! So in January one of my goals was LISTEN (my word of the year) to my body, to God, and to my gut–and if that means taking more rest and letting myself be tired, that’s OK. I’m continuing with that this month. I want to finish my first knitted cardigan and I’m really close! I’ve also started brainstorming book two and things I can do for my ministry during Lent!
Amen, Emily! I’m cheering you on as you listen and rest!
Those paper whites are INCREDIBLE. My goodness! I sure miss your home and you. Seeing these photos is SO bittersweet. Miss you, friend.
Grateful for you, Rhi! Love you so much!
I love “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”! I wish it still came on TV.
It was the best, wasn’t it? Grateful for you, Monica!