One thing I do miss about not being on Instagram is that I have no place for brief thoughts. Of course, there’s also no pressure to have brief thoughts every day, but a place to process small events can be helpful.

In lieu of social media posts, I’m reviving the old-school practice of a hodgepodge personal reflection blog post. If you also have a blog with your musings, feel free to share it in the comments!

In lieu of social media posts, I'm reviving the old-school practice of a hodgepodge personal reflection blog post. Join me for 5 things I learned in January.

1. Daily lists work with daily review.

One of the blessings (that doesn’t always feel like it) of helping others with the same topic for years on end is that God keeps you humble by making it obvious when you don’t follow your own advice.

At least I can breathe a sigh of relief when I get back on track. It is solid advice after all: Write things down. Look at what you’ve written down.

Yeah, I know. Insightful. Brilliant. Shocking.

It’s surprisingly difficult to stick with small, simple habits like this, but they are always there when we return to them.

I am always tempted to make things too complicated, to change things up, to try something new, to redesign and reorganize my planner binder. But by paring down to one notebook, with a page for the week and a page per day and pages in the back for whatever notes I want to take, and then writing it out every day, looking back over it all every day, I’ve felt more calm and collected with my various projects and spinning plates than I have in the last few years of personalized, customized, printed planning forms.

It’s not about the planner. It’s about the habit of writing things down and then looking at them.

2. Turns out I can still ride a bike – to the shock my teen daughter.

My third-born, a daughter, became a teenager in January. She wanted to go on a long “exploring” sort of bike ride with a friend for her birthday, so I took them, their bikes to the bike path by the river with miles of path they’d never been on in either direction. Not wanting them to get stranded if someone fell or a tire popped, I also packed my son’s bike and came along for the ride.

My daughter was happy but surprised to have me join them. I made her nervous. When was the last time I’d ridden a bike? Answer: 18 or 19 years. Was I sure I still knew how to ride a bike? Answer: I think there’s a cliche about that. Would I be able to keep up with them? Answer: Definitely.

With my daughter looking on in concern, I put the bike on the path, hopped on, and started off, calling over my shoulder, “Hey, you coming?”

That was fun.

3. I can also still write papers with footnotes and everything.

I am taking a graduate-level class through New St. Andrews college. It’s a one-semester class spread out over two semesters and available for enrollment to educators not in their graduate program. January 3 our first paper was due. Now, it was only 1500 words, but 1500 words of a blog post and 1500 words of an academic paper are a little different.

Still, I pulled it off without agony. I submitted to my husband’s revisions (he’s a great editor – but editing is always painful). And, I even got a decent grade.

It was a good experience to be in the other seat. As someone who has been assigning and “grading” (I haven’t given actual grades in years because it’s unnecessary and not generally useful when you’re not operating in an institution) papers for years, to feel the pain of having your work critiqued and realizing that the delightful sentence you loved needs to get the ax for the sake of clearly making your point is a good thing.

4. Hospitality is as important as ever.

Even though we have some home renovations underway and our house isn’t quite in the order I would like, we had people over for dinner a few times, people 20+ years older than us, people 10+ years younger than us with small children, those who have seen us as well as our children grow up and those brand new to the church and left without ways to connect to the body.

Being a church body means eating and working alongside one another, not only worshiping together. It is worth the extra inconvenience and the going out on a limb to forge those human connections that knit us together. We can and should each exercise our own situational common sense and not just accept lowest-common-denominator rules when it comes to relationships, church life, and our own homes and meals.

As Romans 12:13 commands, “seek to show hospitality.”

P.S. – Our monthly topic inside Simply Convivial Continuing Education in March will be hospitality, both extending it to our own household first and then extending it out. Hospitality is an attitude as well as a task, and we can grow both the demeanor and the skill. Click here to develop hospitality with us.

5. Without social media prompting me, I don’t take photos.

Turns out that the internal queue to snap a photo came from the necessity of having something to post. Take away that need and I don’t snap photos.

At the same time, my kids have just started browsing photos more often, enjoying the fact that I did snap photos of them doing normal life things. So, I might need to make “take a photo” an item on my daily list to rebuild the internal prompt.

Bonus: Books finished in January

Click the covers to see my thoughts on each.

[mybooktable tag=”finished-january-2021″ header=”hidden” gridview=”true”]


  1. I think that’s what I miss most about being away from Instagram too! I started a similar type of post where I share links and things I have been enjoying. I’m excited to check out the books you read in January!

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