Every month has flown by this year but November seemed like an eternity. Atlanta is pretty magical in November- cold and cozy mornings, leaves changing colors, and warm and sunny afternoons. I'm finally learning to appreciate this southern weather. Wrapping up this month as if it was one cohesive entity is almost a joke. This month has held a lot for me- lifestyle changes (goodbye hair!), preaching for the first time at my church, holidays, a mountain of school work, and the death of a family member. I suppose it makes sense during this season that the first word that comes to mind is gratitude. Gratitude for what life looks like, gratitude for 25 years of loving my grandpa, gratitude for the weather, gratitude for the opportunities ahead. God is good, all the time.
What I'm Learning
I could have said about a million school related things, but this is the most honest answer. Therapy is the best. If you've never gone to counseling before, hear this as the sign you needed to go. It will change your life. (psst- CTS students, you can go practically for free!) I've learned so much about myself this fall and I can tell it's part of a lifelong journey of self-discovery. Therapy has given me a language to understand what I've been feeling and thinking all these years. I've started to understand my lifelong fight against vulnerability, my fear of taking up too much space, and my striving to be exactly right. I could write a lot more, but this is not this is not the place for it. I've learned about myself this month and that's what matters.
How I Celebrated
I spent my second Thanksgiving on the East Coast this year, this time with friends. I was housesitting down the street from the school, so I had friends over who were still in town. It was a wonderful dinner and it was such a blessing to have a lovely home to do it in. Last year, it was very hard not to be with my family. I was with a friend's family for the holiday, and somehow that made me even more homesick. This year, I loved the opportunity to cook my favorite mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, and apple crisp. Even thousands of miles away from family, I tasted a little bit of home.
What I'm Mourning
On November 27th, my Grandpa, Richard Jones, passed away at the age of 97. He lived a long and incredible life and was in pain at the end, so we are equally grateful that he is out of his pain, and mourning his passing. He was my first grandparent to die, so it's still strange to think about going back and seeing my grandma without him being there. They were married for 71 years and embodied what it meant for two to become one. If you're the praying type, I know my mom, her siblings, and my grandma could use your prayers. I'm leaving school early to fly back to the funeral in California next Saturday. I'm looking forward to celebrating his life with my family.
What I'm Preaching
Part of my internship at Pulse Church includes quarterly preaching, which I was both excited and nervous about. I haven't preached for a congregation since I left Bethany and Pulse has a very different style than Bethany, to say the least. It was Stewardship season, so I preached on a strange and awesome parable that I had been studying for class. If you want to listen, it's on Apple Podcasts and on my website. (Fun side note: when I uploaded it, I realized this was already the second time I had used "upside down kingdom" in a sermon title. They say preachers have 3 main sermons that they repeat, so I guess this is one of mine! Another favorite: Already and Not Yet)
What I'm Drinking
My favorite grown-up dessert is these boozy milkshakes. They are perfect for a girls night or an evening treat. Seattle friends, if you've ever left Hot Cakes wishing you could recreate the magic, look no further (and get some of that Seattle Distilling liqueur!)
What I'm Watching
Over Thanksgiving break, I finally caught up on one of my favorite shows- Jane the Virgin. It's one of the funniest, smartest, and most enjoyable shows on television right now. I'd been saving up episodes for when I had time to watch them and it made for a perfect break binge.
What I'm Listening To
It was a tough choice between this and t-swift's new album (#sorrynotsorry), but ultimately Jason Kander's new podcast won out. It's a podcast for the 54% of us who voted for someone other than Donald Trump about how to talk to those who did. Each week, he interviews someone directly related to the issue of the week and then breaks down Republican talking points and how to engage with those who espouse those beliefs. It's a great podcast and there are only a few episodes out, so it's a great time to start listening to it.
Where I'm Working
For the past year, I've been working for Presbyterians for a Better Georgia. We're a partnership of Presbyterian Churches from the metro Atlanta area that works to influence state legislation that protects our most vulnerable neighbors. Faith and politics are the two areas I'm most passionate about and I've loved my time at PBG. However, this school year has proven to be too full for me to handle, between 4 classes, an internship, and this job so I've decided to step down from my job at PBG. I haven't talked much about my work there, but it has been a wonderful experience and I am so grateful to have been a part of it.
Where I've Been
The weekend before Thanksgiving, I went on a mini road trip to Birmingham, Alabama to volunteer for the Doug Jones campaign for US Senate. It was my first time to Alabama, so I was definitely excited to check that off the list. But I was much more excited to explore Birmingham and volunteer for the campaign. It felt like a pilgrimage of past and future civil rights history. It was a short trip, but a great experience.