Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Favorites: Recalibrating for the New Year

Friday Favorites: 
Recalibrating for the New Year

Dear friends,

Two more days until the New Year!

I don't know about you, but I am exhausted from 2011.  It has been a year of very challenging transitions for my whole family.  Frankly, I don't feel much like writing anything except in my journal at this point, hence the paucity of new posts on my blogs lately.

I feel a distinct need for recalibration at this point.  I know there are areas of life where I have almost completely lost motivation and vision, where I am battling to overcome negative attitudes and habits.  It's time to renew my mind and tweak my lifestyle even more.  In some ways, I just need to find my way back home again in the sense of recapturing, rethinking, refreshing, reworking the noble dreams I once had for my family. Yes, there has been much baggage of unrealistic (and/or legalistic) expectations that I've had to shed along the way, but I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And for that process, it seems I need a constant stream of inspiration, whether it is from the Bible (I have been reading and reflecting on Luke -- see Reflections on the 6th of Luke), or from the encouragement of friends (which has been so priceless in recent very difficult months), or from authors and musicians.  And in this post, I'm sharing about some books, a CD, and some other blog posts to bless you, too.

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life  -              By: Shauna Niequist
Cold Tangerines
My husband, at my request, gave me a copy of Shauna Niequist's book Cold Tangerines,which, as the title suggests, has been very refreshing to my soul. Subtitled "Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Every Day Life," it is is written in a warm and conversational style, and seeps deep. I appreciate that she doesn't offer easy answers, but instead explores some of the mysteries of faith and daily life. I seriously don't know how people learn to write like that, and I confess that I am insanely jealous. Maybe someday I will figure it out.  In my dreams.  One of my adult daughters who still lives at home borrowed the book, read it, and said it's her new favorite, too. Shauna Niequist reminds me of the literary version of musician Sara Groves, whose music has been such a balm to me in the past several years. 

Invisible Empires
Invisible Empires
I hadn't even realized Sara Groves had a new CD out, but my husband saw Invisible Empires in the bookstore and gave it to me for Christmas. Perfect.  We were listening to it in the car yesterday, just before our walk twice around Lake Lily.  We are working through sobering and pivotal things, the two of us, and that requires regular time away from the kids.


G.K. Chesterton

I've also been reading some books on Kindle.  You don't need an actual Kindle device to download and read them from Amazon.  I read mine either on my iPod Touch or on my computer. One of my Facebook friends, Angela (aka The Thrifty Homemaker) routinely posts lists of free Kindlebooks.  Here are three I've been enjoying lately: 77 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home by Judy H. Wright, The Heart of Abundance: A Simple Guide to Appreciating and Enjoying Life by Candy Paull, and Orthodoxy by British writer G.K. Chesterton, a contemporary and friend of C.S. Lewis.  "Witty" and "profound" are the two words that come to mind when I think of the writing style of Orthodoxy.  You have to think about this book, which is a Christian classic.  I particularly appreciate his kind words about those of us who think more poetically than logistically.  Chesterton reminds us to break out of our airtight little circles of rigidly "rational" thinking and stretch our brains and our hearts to a larger life. I like that.  I recommended it to my FB friend, and she added it in with today's list!

On My Blogs

·        The End, The Beginning, and the In Between (brief reflection on Ecclesiastes)

·        Every Body Matters (Book by Gary Thomas, Review by Virginia Knowles)

·        Christmas, A Gift of Joy (not just for the holidays)

Inspiration in the Blogosphere

·        Simple Ways to Start Fresh in the New Year by Charlotte Seims at This Lovely Place "The new year is just around the corner and it’s a great time to get a fresh start in your life.  Whether you want to get in shape, manage your time or get a handle on your house cleaning, take advantage of the extra feeling of motivation this time of year to accomplish some easy and doable tasks." (Charlotte is a home schooling mother of 12, speaker, author,  and fitness trainer).  Also from Charlotte's web site, an article by Elvie Look: 21 Good (and Bad) Habits to Keep You Organized

·        Filling your soul with beauty, truth and goodnessby Sally Clarkson at I Take Joy "Make a plan of how you will grow in wisdom, beauty and truth this year. What will you read? When will you have a quiet time? What do you need to stop doing? Make a plan for all the ways you will pour beauty, goodness, wisdom and truth into your children this year. What books and stories will you read to them? When will you have devotionals with them? How do you need to change to reflect love and graciousness to them so that they will form their relationship habits on gentleness and generous love?"

·        When You Need a New You by Arabah Joy"And it strikes me one day, why so many of God’s people never breathe it in. Why we never let the Physician do the full work He offers us: Some of us are content to stay on the other side of the Jordan. Like the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manassah, we are happy with the land just short of the Promised Land. (Josh. 22:1-4)  We decide our symptoms aren’t that bad, the prognosis is tolerable, and there are far fewer risks involved. Who wants to spend their whole lifetime fighting to gain territory, anyway? We’ll settle for stuffed bookshelves and too-busy lives and the intake of so much caffeine that it needs its own budget….we’ll take what we can get and make the best of it."   Also by Arabah Joy: The Gift

·        Quiet Time 101by Jeannie Fulbright "During the years I taught Bible study, I met many women who had never developed the habit of a daily quiet time. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to have a quiet time, it was that they simply didn’t know exactly how. They had tried to read their Bibles, but found it didn’t gel. They tried to develop a habitual prayer life, but found their minds wandered when they were praying so that they couldn’t really get through their list of prayers. Because many adults didn’t grow up in Christian families, they have never been taught how to have a vital, thriving quiet time with God. So, if you haven’t had a daily quiet time, how do you begin?"

·        A Faith That Fits by Emily at A Deeper Story "This faith I carry was stitched with as much love as that yellow dress, and just as my Mama made a big quilt to cover their bed of all our baby clothes, maybe I can make something worthwhile yet. So I gather up the tired faith with my scissors, needle, and thread.  And daily I snip out the worn clean through spots, split open the seams, and try to find pieces that are still good. I lay the salvaged squares out in front of me and try to piece it together with the emerging faith. Maybe one day I will make something beautiful from this mess. But today it’s still in pieces."

roasted almonds Roasted Cinnamon Nuts
·        Roasted Cinnamon Nuts OK, so this one isn't inspirational, but it sure is yummy.  I bought a three pound bag of almonds at Sam's Club made these as Christmas presents for my husband and my married daughters. I presented them in Rubbermaid containers with festive red lids, and they were seriously the culinary rave of the day.  My toddler grandson literally went nuts for them, and his pregnant mommy said she could just sit on the couch eating them all day.  Lightly sweetened, and just plain scrumptious…   I originally found this recipe linked from a post on Toni Anderson's Happy Housewife blog More food?  Check out Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays; you can find today's post at Food on Fridays: Shrimp in Garlic Cream Sauce.


God bless you, friends!

Virginia Knowles


  1. Be sure to check the price on the Kindle books. "Free" can be temporary. I think the chores book is not free anymore.

  2. My year sounds very similar to yours :-) Re-thinking, recalibrating, as you so nicely put it. Homeschooling is an area in which we'd lost our vision for much of this year but stuck with it anyway, unwilling to make "big" changes until the renovation God's been doing in our lives settles down a bit.

    I got a kindle for Christmas and one of the first books I downloaded was Orthodoxy!