Earlier this month I wrote a list of people, songs, and books I’m thankful for. I said at the end of that post that I wanted to include more books and articles, more songs and albums, some moments, some disciplines, other media that brought joy or encouragement or growth. So, I’d like to jump back on the Thanksgiving Train and share more stuffs I’m thankful for.
1) Recalling Psalm 42 Whilst Standing in the Pacific on a Wednesday in August. The most spiritual moment I had this year was in the midst of a particularly stressful and draining week. I had chosen to sing the song You Make Me Brave at New Song’s annual leadership conference and was thinking about the lyric “as wave after wave crashes over me” while I stood in the Pacific feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and abandoned. Then I recalled Psalm 42 a cry for help when the Psalmist was feeling likewise and the Psalms’ description of God’s overwhelming and constant voice like “deep calling out deep as the waves and breaker crash over me” responding.
2) Alyssa’s and My Second Anniversary. Atticus was born a little over a week before our first anniversary so Alyssa and I didn’t celebrate our first anniversary too much. So this year was our first chance to celebrate. We got dressed to the nines, left Atticus with the grandparents, and went to a resteraunt we couldn’t afford.
3) Atticus’ Nighttime Routine. Sometime between 6pm-630pm we’ll walk into A’s bedroom, he’ll sit in my lap and we’ll read three books (I’m partial to Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton), then we’ll say goodnight to the pictures hanging on the wall, he’ll give me a kiss on the cheek, and we’ll pray. When I lay him in his crib he smiles, waves, blows a kiss, and then I turn out the light and walk out of the room while he sings himself to sleep. I realize it’s not revolutionary and lots of toddlers go to sleep like this but it still feels like ours.
4) The First Time Atticus Said, “Ah!” Alyssa neccesarily teaches Atticus most of the things he knows but one evening he and I were at Chipotle and he wasn’t eating his cheese quesadilla so I absentmindedly said, “Say ‘Ah!'” and he did. When we got home and I showed his mom she said, “He’s never said that before!” Yep, I taught Atticus how to say “Ah!” and now I’m getting to teach him other vowel sounds like “Oh!” and “Eee!” and “Uh!”
5) Visiting Hampshire in the Spring. After church, while Alyssa was helping set up my brother’s graduation party I drove Atticus around town while he napped in the car. I had forgotten how lovely Hampshire is in the spring and I wrote a poem about it, To My Hometown. Here’s a snippet:
Once I dug for gold in the creek
winding and trickling through town
but the gold is in the green;
the dandelions and purple violets
lacing the ground like a veil.
6) 8/14/2015. For my birthday Alyssa, my mom, Atticus, and I went to Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens, then to my favorite book store where I got quite the haul, and then to dinner at my favorite brewery with my mom, my mother-in-law, and my brother-in-law. Best birthday in ages.
7) Family Vacation to Florida. The last family vacation to Florida was just a few weeks after I moved to California so I wasn’t able to go. Everybody went without me. This time around we all got to go together, and it was an incredible week just hanging out at a resort drinking Mudslides and sitting by the pool reading The Fellowship Of The Ring.
8) 9/22/2015. So, I’m notoriously awful at getting gifts. I’m real bad at it. You can just assume I’m going to get you a book that I liked and you may only kind of like. But, this year, for the first time ever, I got Alyssa a gift she actually wanted. To celebrate Alysa we got dressed up to the nines again and went to San Diego and visited Balboa Park where we got engaged, there she participated in a street performers act. Afterwards we went to two different restaurants – one we greatly enjoyed where got drinks and appetizers, and the other we greatly enjoyed making fun of.
9) Atticus’ Two Yo Gabba Gabba First Birthday Parties. There was definitely a party in our tummys. So yummy.
10) Sam Jeet’s Photography. It’s official, Sam Jeet is our family’s historian. We’ve had two photo shoots with her this year and both had great results. Check out more of her work at SamanthaJeet.com
11) Palm Sunday. You can read about it here, but this past Palm Sunday was a hard but blest day.
12) My Team at NSIH. I have the great pleasure to play music, sing with, and serve along side a group of people who outclass me in so many ways. The band, vocalists, sound engineers, and media people are hardworking people of extraordinary character. So, thank you Steve, Jay, Jason, Brad, Frank, Candace, David, Max, Mackenzie, Lisa, Carole, Almena, Terry, Kenny, Jillian, and Elijah.
13) El Meson de Mi Tierra. This is the best Mexican food in Fallbrook, if not my favorite Mexican food in general. When we go the owner of the restaurant, Eli, will tell us stories of growing up in Mexico and coming to America and raising his family. He treats us like old friends and his family makes the best food in town.
14) Family Worship in June.You know those videos of Jimmy Fallon singing pop songs with classroom instruments? Well, the band got together and worked extra hard learning one of our tunes playing only classroom instruments. We also shot off confetti. So, who says church isn’t fun?
15)The NSIH Congregation.The Christian life is best lived out in community, I’d argue is only lived out in community. I love getting to serve the people of New Song Inland Hills. The community at Inland Hills is faithful to prayer, family to each other, welcoming to strangers, and devoted to what Christ is doing in Fallbrook. I love seeing God working in our midst.
16) The Pastors of New Song. I get to serve under three incredible men of God. Hal Seed, Ryan King, and Bryan Seed. I’m grateful for their collective vision for the church and individual vision for their ministries. Hal’s commitment to reaching North County with the Gospel, Ryan’s administration ability and patience with my “artistic” predispositions, and Bryan’s commitment to the honor of God and His praises sung at New Song.
17) Carne Asada Fries. Who wouldn’t be grateful?
18) Full Circle #ShadowFighting. This is the ongoing playlist my siblings and I have been curating.
19) Bulleit Bourbon. Ahem… Not that I drink whiskey or anything but this stuff is smooth.
20) Preaching at New Song. I hadn’t been behind the pulpit as it were in years but I’ve been afforded the great honor of preaching at New Song four times so far with another chance coming up in a few weeks. I’ve gotten to preach on some of my favorite subjects – forgiveness, I’ve gotten to work with the material of a man I highly respect – Hal, and I’ve gotten to share from my favorite of the Apostle Paul’s letters – Galatians. I look forward to sharing from God’s word again in December. If you’re interested in any listening to any of the sermons: Tommy Welty Sermon Archives.
21) My Small Group. I love our Tuesday night group, it’s super cool seeing such a diverse crowd come together and enjoy each other’s company while digging into scripture and prayer.
22) This American Life. I’ve yet to be disappointed by any episode of TAL but Episode 559: Captain’s Log is a particular favorite this year. The second act, “Cookies and Monsters,” was emotional and reveals the particular power of communal singing. The third act was Aniz Ansari’s standup routine that his new and incredible Netflix show, Masters of None, is based on.
23) The Withertongue Emails. This blog series at Christ Hold Fast is a play on CS Lewis’ The Screwtap Letters. It’s an ongoing series of “emails” written from a senior demon, Withertongue, to his deputy, Filthpit, who is tempting a young pastor. There’s a lot about the interior life of a young pastor and temptations (s)he may come under. It may sound derivitate, and I guess in some sense it is, but I’ve greatly enjoyed it on its own merits. There’s some great stuff there and I’ve been encouraged and rebuked by these fictional letters from a demon similarly to how I was years ago when I first read Lewis’ classic work.
24) Inside Out. Who would think that a Cotton Candy-Elephant-Cat-Dolphin hybrid in a porkpie hat would make a man with a beard like mine weep the way Bing Bong did? Pixar is back after a string of making just okay films like Brave, Cars 2, Cars…
25) The Liturgy Fellowship.This is a Facebook group for liturgy enthusiasts that’s moderated by some of the best contemporary worship theologians and worship artists around. I get to pick the brains of fellow worship leaders and some of the best thinkers in my field.
26) Josh Garrels’ Mother’s Day Show. I’ve seen Josh Garrels play many times but this show was special for me. Alyssa and I went with the DeGraff family who has long been a surrogate family for Alyssa and has, in some fashion, been the same for me since moving to California. Garrels had just released a new album of songs on the theme of “home” and the show was the night before Alyssa and I flew back to Illinois. It was like my two worlds had converged and for a moment I got to be the person I used to be and the man I am now. Here’s yet another link to something I wrote: Heaven’s Knife (Reflections on the Music of Josh Garrels)
27) Oasis. I’ve been awarded the privilege of program coordinating New Song’s annual leadership conference. There’s something special about seeing hard work pay off. We had record attendance, incredible musical moments, motivating teaching, and I believe that the church as whole caught a great wave before leading into what has been incredible season of growth for our church. I’m glad that I got to play some part in an incredible event.
28) Love, Suffering, & Creativity: Creating in an Age of Spectacle. I spent an evening listening to David Zahl, Dustin Kensrue, and Brett McCracken talk about art. Here’s some of my favorite quotes:
Brett McCraken – To make better art we must gaze with love and have a posture of sacrifice.
Dustin Kensrue – God loves you and me in spite of our crappy art.
David Zahl – You can’t love people if you expect them to be good… You’ll want to change them to something they’re not.
29) The Flash.If a show about a guy who runs so fast he can travel through time and across the mutliverse while punching telepathic gorillas and villains with guns that make things cold is wrong I don’t want to be right.
30) Blogging. Writing this blog is an immense pleasure so thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.