Family and friends
1) Alyssa. I used to romanticize what wedded bliss would look like. In my mind there was vaseline on the lens, soft lighting, and everything had the best Instagram filters. But it’s not really all that rosy. And though Alyssa does in fact look fantastic always, I do not. (Fact: She wakes up beautiful.) Alyssa sees me in my mess and loves me all the same. Hopefully you all think I’m smart and good-looking and talented and all that because I’m trying to impress you but Alyssa hears my bathroom noises, reads my crappy first drafts, listens to every wrong note I play, and loves me all the same. And she loves me well. It’s gospel love. She loves me when I least deserve it. She is patient and kind, generous, gracious, intelligent, quick-witted, creative, and a gifted care-taker. Everyday I look forward more and more to our life together. I see Christ in Alyssa everyday in how she loves our family. Her prayers sustain me, her love keeps me afloat when I think I’m sinking. She gives me hope that the world is gonna be okay because she is in it. And though everybody knows this it bears repeating: Atticus is beyond blessed to have her as his mother. Trust me, I know a thing or two about great moms.
2) My Mom. Fact: My mom is better than everybody else’s, save Atticus Mac’s mom. And since Alyssa isn’t my mom I can safely get my mom “The World’s Best Mom” mug with much sincerity. There are few people I enjoy talking to as much as I enjoy talking to my mom. And we’ve been best buds, chatting since I was cooing baby nonsense. My mom is incredible, she raised my sister and I as a single mom while putting herself through nursing school and holding down side jobs. Being a parent is hard when there’s two of you so my mom’s fortitude blows me away, I never saw any cracks in her armor. And it didn’t stop there, when I was in high school (after she remarried and had a third kid) she wanted to try something else so, you know, she went to law school. And while in law school she made dinner for us ungrateful teenagers every night, came to all our extracurricular functions, and made time to talk with us and build relationships with our friends. Oh! And she graduated at the top of her class.
3) Atticus Mac. Most mornings I wake up well before I want to with Atticus Mac. I hear him crying from our bedroom but when I go and get him from his crib he looks at me, stops crying, smiles big and says, “Dada!” He’s like me in a lot of ways, which is both wonderful and terrifying, including the fact that he likes to wake up slowly. We spend the first hour or so most mornings snuggling on the couch. Now I realize that as a pastor I’m supposed to spend my first few hours Divining the Mysteries of Eternity or Translating the New Testament or Whatever, but if over the last year and half I’ve learned anything about God in this first hour of my day it’s this: Like I love Atticus, my heavenly father loves me not because of anything I’ve done or am capable of doing but simply because I exist and am His. Someday I’ll teach Atticus about starting your day right with God or something but for now I’m content in snuggling.
4) My Siblings. Over the past few months my sister and brother, Cailtyn and Josh, and myself have had an ongoing group text message. I’d share a sample conversation with you but it’s so funny you’d not get any work done in the next week. I’m grateful that even though we all live far away from each other we’re an almost daily part of each other’s lives. Side note: Caitlyn and I dubbed Josh “The Chosen One” when he was like seven or something and he’s always assumed that was an accurate descriptor.
5) My Dad and Step-Mom. My dad has had a tough year but the thing about my dad is that he perseveres. I don’t always give him the credit he’s due but he’s overcome a lot in his life and I’ve not ever doubted for a second that he loves me and my sister (and our step-siblings) with ever fibre of his being. Pluse he and my step-mom, Shellie, have one of the coolest relationships. They seem to love each other more each time I see them together. I’m grateful that Christ has done incredible things in both of their lives.
6) My Step-Dad. One of my favorite things about God is that His love is an intentional choice and He goes to great lengths to prove it. That’s also one of my favorite things about Steve. He is one of the kindest people there is and when I was little kid he made the choice to love me and be dad while never trying to replace my dad. Being a step-parent is tough, maybe impossible, work and Steve does it successfully with such grace.
7) My Grandmas. Two of the best moments of the last year involved my mom’s mom, Grandma Pearl and my dad’s mom, Grandma Pat! We named Atticus after my Grandma Pearl’s late husband, Grandpa Mac, and the first time Atticus met her she held him and he was so comfortable he fell asleep cuddling her immediately. And this past May when we were home for my brother’s graduation and Atticus Mac’s first birthday celebration my Grandma Pat, who I haven’t seen in way too many years, surprised me. I almost knocked her over with a hug. Growing up each summer Caitlyn and I would go up and spend a week with her. And despite all the years it’s been she’s never once missed a birthday, holiday, or special occassion.
8) My In-Laws. Want to hear a funny joke? A retired Navy Seal turned firefighter and a poetry writing pianist walk into a bar… Just kidding, David doesn’t drink. My in-laws and us younger Weltys have a sort of Oscar and Felix thing going on but I gotta hand it to them, over the past three years or so they’ve proved to be incredibly patient with us. They’ve helped to guide us in some sticky situations and are more than willing to be sounding boards for us. I’ve never felt like I’ve been without family in California because they’ve welcomed me like their own. And they buy us dinner on Friday nights.
9) My Extended Family. Most of my cousins are having kids right now. Grandma Pearl has about the same amount of greatgrandchildren as she does grandchildren. Us cousins were raised together and it’s really neat to be raising kids at the same time. Around the time their kids were being born I got to have similar conversations with my cousins Anthony and Curtis about how awesome it is being a father. I’m so glad we get to share this together.
10) Old Friends. I’ve made plenty of new friends over the past three-and-a-half, four years in California but over the past year I’ve been able to reconnect with a couple of friends from different stages in my life. Last autumn I got to reconnect with Dave Schuman, who I used to lead worship with in college, and we’ve been able to pray with each a couple of times over the past year as he’s made a big move (to the wrong Westminster, but I digress…) Another close friend, who I got to lead worship with in high school, Dan Alcantara and I have been regularly chatting these past few months as we’re in similar life situations and he’s been a great comfort to lean on. And in the past two months I’ve reconnected with my oldest friend (we were born together, no joke, long story I’ll tell it later), Ian Eller, and we’ve had the most incredible ongoing conversation about art and life. At a time when friends have seemed few and far between reconnecting with these three guys has been a huge encouragement.
THE written word
12) Psalm 126. This is my favorite Psalm, hands down. Some recent thoughts on it: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Tommy Welty”
13) The Curator. I’ve enjoyed the writing at The Curator for a few years now. When I decided I wanted to try and get some poems published they were the place I hoped would publish my first poem. And they did! If A Tree Falls in the Forest and I’m the Only One There
14) The Brothers Karamazov, Book V: Pro and Contra, Chapter 4: Rebellion. “No, I can’t admit it. Brother,” said Alyosha suddenly, with flashing eyes, “you said just now, is there a being in the whole world who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? But there is a Being and He can forgive everything, all and for all, because He gave His innocent blood for all and everything. You have forgotten Him, and on Him is built the edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud, ‘Thou are just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed!'”
15) Mockingbird. This website is a great place to reflect on pop-culture in a serious and theological way. I’m regularly encouraged by their writing, particular the Editor-in-Chief David Zahl.
16) Anton Checkhov, short story, Rothschild’s Fiddle. You know that shopworn phrase, “It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry…”? Well, this’ll make you laugh and cry. Also it’s opening line is shockingly dark and funny: “The town was a little one, worse than a village, and it was inhabited by scarcely any but old people who died with an infrequency that was really annoying.” The protagonist is a miserly coffin-maker.
17) Gerard Manly Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur“. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God”
18) Aaron Belz, “A Little Lightning“. “You think there’s more to this. Look:/ When I look I see skeletons walking around.”
19) Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. A pint of cold beer after running a marathon through the Saraha on the hottest day in recorded history.
Here’s a playlist that includes tunes from each of the following:
21) Josh Ritter, Sermon on the Rocks. Josh Ritter has long been a favorite songwriter of mine. His lyrics include all of my favorite things – Biblical allusions, absurdities, mythic narratives… Each album of his is unique from the others. This one sounds like my hometown in autumn.
22) Bob Dylan, “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” and “With God On Our Side”. These two songs ministered to me in different ways. “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” is an invitation to rest, which I need after listening to “With God On Our Side.” I’m trying to lose friends at this point, but both these tunes are tunes I wish I had written and if I ever end up gigging I think “With God On Our Side” will be a staple.
23) Kendrick Lamarr, good kid, m.A.A.d city. Go ahead and read The Subtle Racism of a Buffered Self to know why I’m thankful for this album.
24) Les Misérables. I listened to this on repeat all through August for some reason. OH YEAH! Because Les Misérables is what my soul sounds like when it’s singing in Aslan’s How.
25) Punch Brothers, Phosphorescent Blues. In a year of great albums this is the only one that never got old listening to. I listen to it probalby once a week.
26) The Brilliance, “Brother”. The Church needs to remember this:
27) Citizens & Saints, Join The Triumph. I love singing these songs on Sunday mornings. This is a solid album from start to close.
28) Ryan Adams (by way of Taylor Swift), 1989. This is the only Ryan Adams album I like. Because T. Swift wrote it.
29) Andrew Peterson, The Burning Edge of Dawn. I cried in Starbucks the first time I listened all the way through this album.
30) The Flaming Lips, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and “Mr. Ambulance Driver”. The Flaming Lips made Miley Cyrus cool. So, that’s how you can know they’re talented. I’m sure they didn’t intend this but “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” demonstrates Total Depravity fantastically, and “Mr. Ambulance Driver” is about what results of Total Depravity. Really, great tunes.
This list was impossible to curate. I want to include more people, more books and articles, more songs and albums. I want to include some moments from the year, some disciplines, other media that brought me much joy. So… Maybe I’ll try again.