Here we are, over halfway through the first month of the new year, and I’ve got a whole lot of links for you in this month’s inspiration list. What can I say? If January’s any indication, this year’s going to be filled with helpful and fun content. Maybe grab a cup of matcha to read through this one? (and, while you’re at it, also check out past inspiration lists here: December, November, October, September)
1. The article, “Ceremonies of the Ordinary,” written by Heidi Barr about this dark month we are in, is quiet and thoughtful and calming. One quote:
“What if instead we took Mr. Nerburn’s advice and chose to place our attention on things like the edges of old bowls and the backs of our hands? What if we didn’t try to ‘crush’ or ‘slay’ any goals and instead chose to hold a mug and contemplate its delicate heaviness, the way fingers fit around its curves, how the steam rises in air that is colder than comfortable?”
2. I’ve had this lengthy article on Millennial burnout come up in my feeds or emails no less than four times in the last two weeks. It’s a doozy. One quote: “I couldn’t figure out why small, straightforward tasks on my to-do list felt so impossible. The answer is both more complex and far simpler than I expected.” Oh, man.
3. If you’re still open to the idea of gingerbread in January (do be! avoid that closed mind!), these brownies from @mydiaryofus on Instagram were five stars. Gingerbread or not, they are maybe the best brownies ever to appear in my kitchen: chewy, yet firm; kissed with spice, but undeniably chocolate. I… didn’t know I liked gingerbread? I could not stop eating them. I want to make them again.
4. There’s been a lot of discussion online recently about blogging–the value of blogging, should you do it or not, writing for yourself versus writing for a large site, etc.–from blogger Tim Challies. I’ve had a lot of discussion offline because of it. Maybe my favorite takeaway, though, was this:
“Some people look at the medium of the blog and ask, ‘What can this do for me?’ Other people look at it and ask, ‘How can I use this to serve others?‘”
5. I tried one of those ready-made tikka masala sauces this week; have you ever tried one? It was fine. Afterwards, though, I ended up reading a journalist’s comparison of various store-bought sauces. That was fun. The journalist was Jolene Thym, and she also has a blog, The Picky Eater, filled with reviews of various grocery products.
6. I’ll let the title of this post from TheKitchn speak for itself: Family Credits Sweet Potatoes for Mother’s 114-year-old Life. (!!) // Also, similar subject, different story: Try to Keep Up with Australia’s Fastest 92-Year-Old Woman from The New York Times.
7. Here on the blog, you know January’s been big on the drinks: matcha lattes, an everyday kale drink, a full roundup of ways to sip and slurp your kale. My kitchen has been, too. I’ve made and liked the following: hearty chocolate oat smoothie from The First Mess, matcha cocoa from the Buttered Side Up blog and rooibos cardamom blender latte from Nyssa’s Kitchen. Bonus fun fact! Did you know holding something warm in your hands can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (which, in layman’s terms, helps you relax and the body heal)? Also good for this are nature, yoga and classical music! (more on this topic from celebrity doctor Dr. Daniel Amen in this YouTube video.)
8. I enjoyed this podcast interview with my pastor, Ray Ortlund, one of the wisest people I know. Especially helpful was his discussion of Ecclesiastes, including the verses this blog was named for, and about why/how we can think about a reality where life is simultaneously incredibly painful and very good.
9. Say what you will about health nuts, this article, “The Food That Helps Battle Depression,” from The Wall Street Journal shows yet again there is power in what we eat. We are complex creatures. I’m going to eat more cashews.
10. Last but not least, maybe the best thing I read on the Internet this month was an article PDF someone posted on Twitter about Christianity and the Arts, written by Jerram Barrs of Covenant Theological Seminary. There is so much to say about it–just ask my Twitter thread–but, for me, one of the most helpful parts was, unexpectedly, another answer to the questions I was asking last month about pursuing the blogging craft:
“When we watch the sun going down or pick a rose for the table, we do not need to look for any thing other than the pleasure of the act itself. Human art, just like God’s art, does not need to have a ‘higher’ purpose.” Jerram Barrs
That’s it, guys! Happy reading! And if you’ve run across anything absolutely share-worthy this last month, I’d love to hear about it, too: message me here.