My Year of Marriage, Daily Rhythm, Tea, and My Favorite Albums, Books, Reads, and Other Things of 2019
At this time last year, I wrote that 2018 was the best year of my life. Well guess what?! I’M DOING IT AGAIN! 2019 FOR THE WIN!
I’m back at The Bourgeois Pig for the fourth year in a row to spend a day reflecting on the year that was, discern what might be next, and set goals for the year ahead. At this time last year, I sat here with my then fiancé of three days. I lived only a couple of miles north. I needed fingers and toes to count all of the concerts I attended. My consulting business, Kingdom Collaborative, was my full-time job. The lease on my one-bedroom garden apartment ran through August, but I had no idea where I’d live next. I lacked any sort of daily spiritual rhythm, but desperate to connect with God on a regular basis.
Things are quite different this year. Sam and I have been married for seven months and a few days. We live in a three-bedroom house with a garage and a yard some 1,700 miles away. I might’ve attended five shows this year, if that? My consulting business is part time, but only some weeks. Instead, I work full-time for a former client: an international children’s ministry that reaches 4.7 million kids with the Gospel every week. I can’t tell you the last time I didn’t start a day at home with the Daily Rhythm. Life is very different, but in all of the best ways. God is so good.
For those new to the drill, I make an effort to write an annual recap of whatever I want. My favorite albums and articles from the year are a staple. Recent years have expanded to include books, food, and personal goals. Even I don’t know where the words below are going!
Per usual, I must ease myself with a disclaimer: I publish these annual recaps and lists for my own records, but I encourage you to explore them to find something you might like. Here are links to past recaps if you’re so inclined: 2015, 2016, 2017’s albums, 2017’s articles, 2017’s books, and 2018. Enjoy!
My Word for 2019: Discipline
Each year I choose a word. 2015: patience, 2016: open, 2017: intentionality, 2018: create, and in 2019: discipline. As a straight white Christian male born and raised in the Midwest, I’ve generally always gotten my way. In recent years, that became increasingly evident. I’m also an indulgent and impulsive person … never have I ever said no to a good time, much less a baked good.
Setting out on my year of discipline, I determined I would practice a different discipline each month of the year. Honestly, I can’t remember most of them, mostly because I eventually stopped the practice. I did, however, excel at avoiding fried foods in January. I’m going to make another run at that to start 2020, too.
But by far, the most significant discipline(s) I picked up this year were spiritual. I have made a regular habit of spending a minimum of 30 minutes (more often than not 45–60) per morning worshiping, meditating, praying, reading, and writing thanks to my new friend Steve Barnhart’s Daily Rhythm books. The books is best described as a simple devotional guide for contemplation, not study. Each day includes a Bible passage based on the Revised Common Lectionary (a three-year Bible reading calendar), paired with the Lord’s Prayer, and encouragements to worship and reflect. Steve publishes a new version every three months … right now is the perfect time to give it a try since this next edition begins January 1. Practicing the Daily Rhythm has abundantly improved my life, spiritually and beyond.
Next year’s word is simplify.
2019 has been a year of receiving. My goodness, we’ve received so much. Between wedding showers, the wedding itself, moving into a house, Christmas, etc., we’ve either been gifted or purchased everything we could’ve imagined and then some. People have been so kind. God has been abundantly good.
But we have everything we need. God’s Word reminds us of that time and time again.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6–7
I could go on. Alas, Sam & I are placing a significant and serious emphasis on reducing our spending, especially on things in 2020. We’re tightening (and using!) our budget. We’re cutting unnecessary spending. We’re pressing ourselves to prioritize what really matters. We’ll do our best to be prayerful about all of it.
Even though 2018’s theme was create, 2019 has taken that to another level. I’ve continued with my staples of candles and marshmallows, but living in a home with a craft closet, full kitchen, stand mixer, and counter space has revolutionized my creativity. This year’s creative fruits have included scratch pizzas, soft pretzels, tons of cookies, candy canes, hard candies, crepes, lemonade, Rice Krispies, Nutella sandwich cookies, gum drops, brownies, cakes, graham crackers, Reese’s, poetry, watercolor painting, and so much more.
More than ever before, I take pride in making things myself. I continue to go analog, preferring a fire-warmed house to the heat. On top of that, I’m still working on perfecting every element of a s’more. I’m dreaming of making my own matches next year. I have taken on anything and everything my mind desires. This year, I hope to hone in on doing fewer things, but with excellence. Again, simplify. Make use of what we have. Be practical.
My Year of Tea
For those new to the party, each year, I force myself to work on a food item my picky appetite usually rejects. Previous efforts include lettuce, onions, coffee, salad, and this year, tea. Honestly, there isn’t much to share. I started with herbals and found myself really liking mint teas. I’ve dabbled in Earl Grey. I was mistakenly served a couple of iced teas in Arizona, which are okay, but I prefer it hot. The end.
As for next year, I’m considering a twist. I haven’t fully made up my mind, but I’m leaning toward focusing on meal planning. For all of my life, I’ve decided what I’ll eat by impulse in the moment. Safe to say, a doughboy like me often makes unhealthy choices.
Side story: A few months ago, I signed up for a cheap gym membership at a big facility just outside of our subdivision. As typical, they signed me up for a “fitness assessment” on the spot. I had little desire to show up, but I did anyway. I was 20 minutes early. The trainer was 15 minutes late. He started me on an elliptical, then proceeded to tell me about all of the flaws in my lower body. We moved to the floor and he stretched me out. At that point, he told me I need to stretch for 4–6 weeks before I can do anything else because my body is so tight and out of line. At the end, he asked me on a scale of 1–10, how committed are you to this? I said 4. This was in August. I went back for the first time yesterday. The end.
My Favorite Albums of 2019
My 2019 Albums Spotify playlist contains fewer than 50 albums. Last year’s featured 84. Man, that’s sad. Perhaps there’s no greater indication of my busyness and evolution from basement apartment city dweller to lawn mowing suburbanite. Alas, I am excited about plenty of new releases this year. Here’s a list of my favorites:
i,i by Bon Iver
This album makes me feel something, but I can’t exactly explain it. I just feel. (That sounds ridiculous.) I listen to it most days. I’ve watched the New York Times’ iMi video, lyric videos, listened to the Song Exploder podcast on Holyfields, and have consumed so much more content around the album. 10 of my top 11 most listened to songs on Spotify were from this album. There was never a doubt it’d be my favorite of the year.
Vulnerability by Strahan
This is the highest a spiritual album has ranked on my annual list of favorite albums. I especially love this song and listen to it often to begin my morning quiet time. The story of the record is beautiful and encouraging. The book of poetic prayers that accompanies it is one of my favorite pieces of art I’ve ever encountered. The whole package has had a profound impact on me.
Better Oblivion Community Center (self titled)
This is Phoebe’s third year in a row on my list. I like her.
Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers
Maggie cheated. This feels like a 2017 record, maybe 2018. It’s packed with singles that make you want to dance and I don’t even like to dance.
Lover by Noah Gundersen
- Noah released Lover on the same day that Taylor Swift released her album, Lover. It’s my favorite troll move of 2019.
- This is a classic case of the emotional bond that emerges having seen an album performed live. I saw Noah by my lonesome in Phoenix last month. As I left, I wrote this poem in my phone:
I miss friends
and convincing myself that I spent so many nights drinking Hamms with friends in Chicago.
Then I stood alone and realized Hamms sucks.
Phoenix by Pedro the Lion
This album dropped the week we decided to move to Phoenix. I mean…
Safe And Also No Fear by Slaughter Beach, Dog
I’ve had to play this one enough to convince myself to like it as much as I do. Truly, it’s this high because I messed up in 2017 by ranking Birdie and Motorcycle.JPG too low. I listen to Slaughter Beach, Dog more than most anything.
Vacancy by Will Reagan
I was so thrown off by this album the first time I heard it, I swore I didn’t like it. “Why Wonder” felt like a Bon Iver rip off. I gave it another try. Then, probably 20 more. I’m quite familiar with it now and rely on it for background music while working or a quiet drive when I want to talk out loud to myself (anyone else?).
American Football (LP3 — self titled)
Sam & I went to the album release show. It was fun, but gosh we were tired. It’s my least favorite of their records, but I still enjoy it.
Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten
I spent a lot of time with this record when it came out in January. I love the music video for Seventeen.
JESUS IS KING by Kanye West
Another reminder that I’m a straight white Christian male born and raised in the Midwest. I’m obligated to like this record. I love a few of the songs. I dislike a few, too.
Chrysaline by Josh Garrels & Love Is a Garden by Zach Winters
I think I like these artists more than the albums themselves, but I still like the albums.
There’s so much I’m excited for next year, too! John Mark McMillan has a record coming out in February, Mike Kinsella/Owen is working on something, Evan Weiss has promised something, hopefully Lorde will get past the death of her dog, Julien Baker graduated college and finally stopped booking so many dang shows, etc.
My Favorite Books of 2019
I usually sort through my Amazon purchases to remember which books I purchased and read over the course of the year. Thanks to planning and decorating our wedding from scratch, moving into a new house, my baking habits, and consumerism, that’s going to take far longer than I’d like.
I’ve already recommended the Daily Rhythm, but below are others I recall reading in 2019:
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
I’d buy it for everyone if I could. John Mark is my favorite teacher and this is one of his best works. I read it faster than I should’ve (considering the concept), but I plan to do so again in 2020. It’s that good.
Garden City by John Mark Comer
See above, except this book is about finding purpose in your work. It’s a quick read and will stick with you for awhile.
This is Marketing by Seth Godin
I recommend Seth’s daily emails to anyone and everyone. It’s one of only a few regular digests I allow in my inbox (in addition to Will Leitch’s weekly writing). This book is mostly original content, but it reads like his emails. It should be required reading for any marketing professional.
Marketing: A Love Story by Bernadette Jiwa
I never heard of Bernadette until I read This is Marketing, then I bought this book and fell in love with her work. She’s the female, Australian version of Seth.
The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson
I plan to read Peterson’s entire Pastor series in 2020 after reading this book. I reflect on it often as I attempt to become more pastoral.
Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton
I can’t believe it took me until 2019 to read this book, but alas, I’m glad I read it. I’d put it right up there with Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline as an entryway into practicing spiritual disciplines.
The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani
I must’ve opened this book more than any other this year. I reference it roughly once a week as I make pizza dough. I’m grateful for Tony and his dedication to the craft of pizza.
May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson
I bought this for my friend Chris and I to read together. It’s no more than a sentence and illustration to reflect on each day. It’s impressively simple, yet evokes such complex thought.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Confession: I haven’t finished this yet. Rather, it’s my go-to fiction book on sabbath Saturdays. I’ve been taking my time with it, but I really enjoy it. I’ve dabbled in a lot of Berry’s work this year, including his poetry. I want to be more like him.
The Strategic Storyteller by Alexander Jutkowitz
This was one of many books I read on storytelling. I liked it. You will, too, if you’re into crafting stories.
You and Me Forever by Francis & Lisa Chan
I read plenty about marriage in the first half of the year. This was my favorite book about marriage, though it’s more about personal faith than marriage.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Marie Rilke
I devoured this small book early this year, but I remember placing myself in the shoes of the recipient of these letters and really liking it.
The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas
I didn’t read this until Sam & I were engaged, however, I’m glad I did. I recommend it to anyone who’s single or dating. It helped me understand so many things I didn’t even realized I needed to.
The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith
Despite by love for his work, I never read The Apprentice Series until this year. I’d recommend this book to anyone exploring the Christian faith.
The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni
I feel obligated to include one business fable every year. Here’s this year’s fable.
Faith for Exiles by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock
Anyone working in ministry should read this book. It’s honest, heartbreaking, but inspiring.
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy & Kathy Keller
The content was mostly good, but I found it to be a bit long and dry.
Every year I tell myself I need to do a better job documenting the books I read. Perhaps 2020 will be the year. This list doesn’t even include the 20–30 books I skimmed, convinced I’d eventually read in full, from the library. Ooof.
My Favorite Articles of 2019
It’s time for the grand finale. After hundreds of hours (at least 1–2 each day) of reading articles, features, profiles, etc. on the internet, here are my favorites from 2019 (which I anticipate about half of which will come from The New York Times):
A runner in Colorado killed an attacking mountain lion with his bare hands. Cue Mark Batterson.
Becky Ferreira wrote about the discovery of 43,900 year old cave art, which is the earliest proof of storytelling discovered. So cool.
Much was written about homelessness this year. Thomas Fuller and Josh Haner spent three months in a homeless camp in the Bay Area.
Charisma Magazine profiled my favorite teacher, John Mark Comer.
One of my best friends works for WeWork. It’s the only reason I didn’t include any of these crazy profiles of former CEO Adam Neumann higher.
I’ve always found Sufjan Stevens to be an interesting, rabbit-hole inducing character. This piece opened that door again in 2019.
Sometimes a headline says it all: “The uncertain future of your neighborhood dry cleaner” or “Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden”
The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich shared a Q&A with the human I most came to adore in 2019: Wendell Berry.
The Verge published an astonishing feature about Facebook’s moderation centers.
Unlike ESPN, I struggle to consider poker to be a sport. Regardless, prepare to enter a deep dive into this poker cheating scandal that kept the internet busy for a month or so.
The NYT profiled a 72-year-old woman about to leave prison for the first time in two decades.
Upon the release of the Mr. Rogers movie, the NYT wrote about the strong character of Tom Hanks.
Bianca Bosker wrote an article titled “Why Everything Is Getting Louder,” then I realized the story focuses on an area just miles from my home. I was hooked.
Shea Serrano wrote about Scrubs (and season 5, episode 20, which is the best in the series). Of course it’s on this list.
Some dude in Iceland bought one of the countries last McDonald’s burgers 10 years ago. He still has it.
The NYT’s Tariq Panja wrote about a falcon hospital in Qatar. Don’t act like you knew such a thing existed, much less at this level.
The NYT also created this amazing interactive feature titled “Why Notre-Dame Was a Tinderbox.”
Anthony Federico was fired from ESPN in 2012. Now he’s a Catholic priest.
Rivka Galchen penned a long essay about the struggles of raising her kindergartner for The New York Times Magazine, which felt like something I’ll want to read again when I have a five-year old (Lord willing).
Somehow 2019 included my first visit to Pizza Ranch. This feature came out weeks later. I had to include it. Unrelated but related: I’ve never been to Texas Roadhouse, but this couple is my spirit animal.
The Ringer’s Claire McNear wrote about Malort. I kinda, sorta had to include it. Same with the NYT’s feature titled, “Our Lives in the Time of Extremely Fancy Axes.”
Buzzfeed published this really long think piece on how “The 2010s Have Broken Our Sense of Time.” Ironic.
Here’s my favorite Sharon Van Etten profile of the year, whose album I included in my favorites above.
I really enjoyed this thread of tweets about a mailman’s last day on the job after nearly 35 years of work.
This quick article by Chase Replogle about his experience reading Bonhoeffer has made me think a lot. Christianity Today also published this great piece on what church small groups can learn from Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alyssa Bereznak’s feature about TikTok made me listen to Sueco the Child more than I’d like to admit for roughly two weeks.
Remember the time an alligator (“Chance the Snapper”) was found in Humboldt Park?
Some retired people have way too much money.
Here’s an oral history of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Ryan Adams is not a good person.
The Houston Chronicle wrote a heartbreaking six-part set of features on hidden abuse and sexual misconduct within the Southern Baptist Church.
Pablo Maurer wrote my favorite sports piece of the year about the USMNT’s 2002 pre-World Cup photoshoot (which included the Landon Donovan water fountain photo). Even if you aren’t familiar with the shoot, scanning through it for the photos is worth your time.
Sam Borden profiled Auburn’s Andy Burcham, who has assumed play-by-play and fatherhood duties from the late Rod Bramblett. Borden also profiled Gardner Minshew Jr. on short notice.
Mina Kimes (the unanimous sports media person of 2019) profiled DeAndre Hopkins and his mother. This feature is guaranteed to bring emotion.
Michael Rosenberg’s recap of Tiger Woods’ Masters win was my favorite of the bunch. He also wrote an incredible profile of Todd Marinovich.
Here’s one of many pieces about the behind-the-scenes story of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George orchestrating a move to the Clippers together.
All of Tyler Parker’s NBA previews for The Ringer were hilarious. Even though the content will be irrelevant, I’ll likely go back and read these over and over again.
Danny Duffy valiantly opened up about his struggles with anxiety, depression, and panic disorder for The Kansas City Star.
Arch Manning is only a freshman in high school, but he’s already been profiled by The Athletic. Ben Baskin published a feature on his (maybe?) Hall of Fame uncle Eli.
Seth Wickersham and Michael Rothstein wrote about the beginning and end of the Alliance of American Football.
This profile of Calvin Johnson was dope.
Dead or alive, Tim Layden is the best horse racing writer on the planet. Unfortunately, so many racing horses keep dying.
Jeff Passan wrote my favorite post-World Series piece on the Washington Nationals remarkable run. Here’s a strong profile of Howie Kendrick to pair with it.
Indianapolis colts GM Chris Ballard is a good dude. So is Glenn Robinson III.
Stephanie Apstein profiled the late Roy Halladay and his love for flying. Dan Robson profiled the late Flyers goaltender Ray Emery.
Grant Wahl wrote a touching tribute to his deceased mother and her USWNT fandom. Haley O’Shaughnessy profiled Rose Lavelle, the best player on the WNT. Ali Krieger opened up about her journey from WNT castoff to two-time World Cup champion.
Bryan Curtis wrote about the profound influence Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann had on Sportscenter. He also wrote about FOX’s attempt to bring bowling back into the mainstream and his visit to the LA Coliseum for a Rams playoff game. And my favorite Curtis piece: a profile of Ray Ratto.
My friend Nick Wagoner wrote this fun profile of George Kittle.
The article you never knew you wanted to read: Esquire wrote about the history of Big League Chew. Speaking of vintage baseball, you should read about 37-year-old Luke Hagerty’s attempted comeback.
Dan Devine profiled Garrett Temple, Jared Dudley, and other NBA players who seem to always find a role for The Ringer. On the flip side, Vontae Davis quit football in the middle of a game.
Sarah Thomas swam the English Channel four times in a row. I can’t even make it one lap in a pool without wondering how far I’ve traveled.
I used to work at Tropicana Field. Here’s a profile about one of sports worst stadiums. I also used to work for the Rams, who continue to do amazing work in the community.
The Iditarod is facing big changes thanks to global warming.
ICYMI, no one in LA cares about the Chargers. Also, the Phoenix Suns front office was/is a mess.
Who doesn’t love a good Jeremy Lin feature? What about Rick Pitino? Or Isaiah Thomas? Or … Tomas Satoransky?
Chuck Pagano has a great story. The Florida Marlins do not. Same with the 2018 Green Bay Packers. Or the 2018 (and now 2019) Cleveland Browns.
We shouldn’t soon forget about C.J. Anderson and his magical playoff run for the Rams.
Emily Kaplan’s story about hockey players and their struggle with jeans is fun.
Since I included so many pieces from The Athletic, I suppose I should include this one about The Athletic.
Ok, I think that’s enough. As always, thank you for reading.