January is the month of new beginnings, resolutions, fresh starts and that elusive turning over a new leaf. As I told you, this year I’m trying something different: tiny habits towards a better life.

Sometimes life just happens on its own. Here are some of the bits and pieces:

Our first-ever professional family photo with my side of the family. A date with my sweetheart to our favorite Italian restaurant. New homeschool co-op classes. A mall date I sneaked in with my daughter after our eye appointments and lunch at Charley’s Subs. Coffee out with a friend. Talking with and listening to 24 of the best piano students in the world every week. A belated Christmas celebration with my husband’s side of the family. Dinner out with my parents. Putting together a 500-piece puzzle and packing thousands of products together as a family. Answered prayers. 



Now, more about those habits:


One of my habits for January was to increase my daily exercise to 30 minutes a day for 6 days a week. I started at 10 minutes and built up to 30 minutes by the last week. I ended January with 126 days of exercise in a row (leaving out one day of rest per week).


While I did publish a few blog posts here and worked on a few writing assignments, I don’t know if this really has a place in my habits this year. I am helping more in our business instead. I’m not sure what word will replace this one….I’m still learning about my roles in the business.


To reach my 100 books goal, I need to read about 8 books a month. I’ve posted my Reading List for you to follow along on my progress. So far I’m at 6 for January, so I’ll need to step up my game a little to reach the 100. I never recommend any book but the Bible. However, I’ll tell you a little bit about the ones I read this month:

Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Rabbi Lapin explores the reasons Jews have been successful in business for nearly 6,000 years of human history. He studies the Biblical concepts of business and wealth in great detail since he is an Orthodox Jew. I received deeper insight into many of the Old Testament stories and words. Here are a few quotes I am still mulling over:

“Those who want to succeed must concentrate on self-respect and esteem of others rather than on self-esteem. Self-respect is the consequence of genuine achievement and cannot be conferred by others.”


“When U.S. Business is functioning at its best, employer and employee are each focused less on their individual rights and more on their obligations toward the other.”


“Business creates wealth, it doesn’t redistribute it. By contrast, governments have no capacity to create wealth, but they can and do redistribute it.”


“I am obliged first to fill my cup and then continue pouring as it were, so that I will have sufficient to give away to others, thus helping to jump-start their own efforts.”

Reflecting Beauty:Embracing the Creator’s Design by Valorie Quesenberry
I read this along with my devotions. I found it to be a good Bible study with relevant information that allowed me to do my own digesting of Scripture. I found myself flipping through my Bible as I read which is sadly lacking with some other Bible studies. I was encouraged to aspire to a Biblical view of beauty rather than an archaic or modern one.

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker
This was my fiction indulgence for the month. I had been looking forward to the conclusion of Rachelle’s first trilogy since reading the other two books last year. A long-time fan of her father’s Circle Trilogy, I really enjoyed the fresh yet familiar perspective Rachelle brings to living out Christianity. The thought that resonated with me is to not forget who we are — that is when fear creeps in.

Healthy Habits: 52 Way to Better Health by Dr. Cris Beer
This book definitely fits with my word for the year. I wrote down each of the 52 habits in a notebook to include as I go through the year. Some of them I already implement in my life. A few things I learned was safe levels of caffeine for adults (2-3 cups of coffee or 3-4 cups of tea per day); the difference between appetite and hunger and this great quote:

“The quality of our health is directly linked to the quality of our relationships.”

Interestingly, the word self-esteem came up again in a negative context like in Daniel Lapin’s book:

“Self-esteem is based on comparison with others and whether you feel you deserve to feel good about yourself.”

Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity by Matthew Paul Turner
I’m not sure exactly what I expected from this book. I did expect to disagree with some of it and to be simultaneously amused since I’ve read one other book by Mr. Turner. In those points I was not disappointed, and I also found it to be an intriguing study of the history of Christianity in America. Due to his personal history, the author is biased against what he calls fundamentalists. This came through in his book often. I was surprised to find him generally favorable to the historical figures of my own denomination although we are often judged as more conservative than even fundamentalists. (Don’t you just love the labeling we do?) While I learned some about history, I was a bit disappointed in the open-ended way the book was left as well as his using profanity in a discourse about God. While many of his references to God were speaking of Americans’ idea of God, he was more casual than I prefer and bordered on irreverence.

You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child by Cynthia Tobias
This was definitely one of my favorite reads this month. I wish I would have had this book when I started my parenting journey. A strong-willed person is rarely cast in a positive light, but this quote in the first chapter dispelled that idea:

“Strong will, in and of itself, is a very positive trait. A strong-willed person is not easily daunted or discouraged, holds firm convictions, and doesn’t often accept defeat. A person using strong will in positive ways is fiercely loyal, determined to succeed, and often extraordinarily devoted to accomplishing goals.”

And this, would have saved me and my children so much angst, had I only comprehended it years ago:

“It’s not authority we have trouble with; it’s how the authority is communicated.”


“They know there’s a price to pay for making a wrong decision, but they have to know that losing your love will not be part of the cost.”

I hope you had a lovely January! I’d love to hear about your journey. Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail to let me know how your 2017 is going.

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