December, jk.

Hi, hello, and welcome! 

If you’re thinking, ‘wow, December’s newsletter is late,’ you are not wrong. Instead of Donatist December and all the manner of Christmas frivolity I had planned, we all caught Covid instead and without guile, it was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life, even being fully vaccinated. I’m six weeks out and I still don’t feel all the way back to “normal,” but it’s so much better and I know it could’ve been so much worse. I have never been more thankful to taste my tea in the morning, and smell the way my yard smells in the frigid dawn, and enjoy my children screaming with laughter in the same room, and to take my walks again. I am thankful that instead of all my best laid plans, our family spent the holidays sick together and recovering together, watching TV together (the kids are now k-drama fans), and re-remembering the things that matter. I was grateful for God reminding me that He sets the lonely in families, when I had meals and books and heart rate monitors and cookies and all manner of love and care from different family and friends all on my porch within the first few days. Thank you, kind saints. 

It was a merciful month overall, except when I accidentally rage-quit the NYT in a covid-induced-haze (before I knew I had covid) after reading an op-ed. For all my verbosity in real life, I never write letters to the editor, and it was a few weeks before a friend pointed out that I ended my subscription coincidentally at the same time as my covid-fueled out-of-sorts-ness began. I do stand by the letter, but not the self-righteous indignation, and I already miss my Tish Harrison Warren/Esau McCaulley pieces. I will probably humble myself and re-subscribe if my new news subscription doesn’t measure up, don’t tell anyone though, I’m still embarrassed about it.

My favorite part about the last newsletter was unplugging from social media for half of October and concluding I should just give it a rest, really, and then joining the bird app later that month and expecting it to be different from the rest of social media. I am here to confirm what you already know: social media shaped like a bird is not very different than social media shaped like a camera. It does skew a little bit older, which I love, and I’ve been blessed to find some niche pockets of academia that bring me joy, but wow also sometimes people are really unfiltered on there and that sure is something. Beth and (unrelated) Russell Moore are still some my favorite parts of it, along with finding out about Wordle, but ultimately I’m a luddite at heart and I think I’m at peace with my inability to master the socials. If you were holding out for the rest of the Bonne Maman Christmas jams on Instagram, I promise to post them eventually on whatever carb-laden vehicle they end up blessing.

I took myself to see Encanto, and I don’t know how to say this, but I might be only person on earth who didn’t love it. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda, and I did love Bruno so much, and the magic house was cute. But I struggle with self-actualization as a narrative climax, because not only is it so often untrue, I believe it’s a little thin and uncompelling as a plot device. I know that’s unpopular, and I felt the same way about Frozen 2, so maybe I’m just expecting too much out of my children’s movies? Is it just me? Am I the only one that is unfulfilled by the message of “I am enough and I’ve been here all along!”? Please help me love what you love about this (really!). What am I missing?

We’re almost done January, but this time of year brings the end of my fall semester and the beginning of the next. We’ve been prayerfully considering my next steps as a family, and what the next season will bring. When I began school, I knew exactly what the next few years would bring and had it all planned out. I knew so much more then, about absolutely everything, and with great certainty lol. As I head into my last two semesters, I am three years into school and three years out from resigning my last job that I was positive was my forever job; that I was building my education around. When I try to imagine a few years down the line now, I can’t see the big picture, and I have never had less certainty about ::waving hand in the general direction of the future:: all of this. But I have never been more certain of God’s kindness, and nearness, and His sovereign and guiding hand, and the utter security that is found in His love; Paul really wasn’t lying when he wrote that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So, my next logical step feels like continuing my education, from a standpoint of delight, aptitude, opportunity, and I hope, service; but, if you pray, would you please be praying for us as I send out grad school applications over the next few weeks? And as always, truly, please let me know how I can be praying for you. It would be my honor and delight ❤️

What I’m Reading: 
– Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri. This was easily my favorite book of 2021, and is now a lifetime favorite. I devoured this book over three days. I wept and laughed and wanted very much to be in the world he painted. I want to hear the glass aviary in his Iranian home. I want to taste the rose water desserts his mom makes, that his dad promised his class he could make too. I wanted to meet his Baba. I love the cadence he writes with, and his tenderness, and how often he cried; it made me feel less shame about my own frequent tears. I love the truth he tells about memories, and his telling of the ‘Persian flaw’. In case I am not communicating this clearly enough, I really, really loved this book, and I hope you get to cherish the gift that it is, too.

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi. Kendra is a gem. There are some chapters in here that make me and my messy life feel so seen and normalized, and then she actually helps us readers make peace with the whatever messy normal limits exist in whatever season we’re in, and genius hack what we can within those limits. She’s brilliant and funny and really practical and wise. 10/10 would recommend.

What I’m watching:
– I actually cannot get enough of The World According to Jeff Goldblum, and this show gave us all such joy when we were stuck in quarantine. His affectations. His manner of drawing out words. His outfits. He is also a gem and I want to meet him someday. Also…

– The Chosen. Don’t laugh at me, but I weep through every episode and I embarrass myself doing it. I love fake Jesus. I love how kind he is to the children. I also love Peter and his surly, self-preserving ways. He is us, and I can’t talk about it without getting weepy again. 

What I’m loving to eat:
– You will not be sold on this title but let me tell you how roast chicken over schmaltzy cabbage is by far the family favorite right now. I know I know, it’s chicken and cabbage, booooring. No. It’s amazing. The chicken skin gets so dang crispy it shatters as soon as you take a bite, and then it melts with the glory cabbage and before you know it, you are a chicken and cabbage person. You can up the chicken skin-to-fat ratio and just use chicken thighs instead of the whole bird, it’ll be even better. You don’t believe me now, but if you make it, you will.
Glory cabbage.
Trust me.

Stovetop hot cocoa and jiffy pop, because it is January in the Northeast and I don’t know how else to prop up the last few molecules of Vitamin D left in my brain other than plying them with sugar and cocoa and buttery carbs. I miss the sun and being outside, so if I have to be cold and indoors, I’m going to be cold and indoors with cocoa and popcorn. 

What are you loving to read, or eat, or watch these days? How are you coddling your serotonins? Share it with the class, please.

Until next time,

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