Batten down the hatches, people. Because it's May.
If you're a student, teacher, parent, or a basically involved member of society- you know what's up:
May is cuckoo bananas.
Whatever stress or busyness we feel in September or even December is amateur hour compared to May. There is something about the perfect storm of the school year ending and the summer beginning (plus for any of us who have family birthdays or travel plans ) that turns us into crazed, disheveled raccoons limping to the finish line.
Here is a recent picture of me catching up on some phone calls:
(Except I've lost even more hair since then.)
Anyway, after surviving even just the first full week of May (with Teacher Appreciation Week, my daughter's birthday, and Mother's Day), I thought I would take advantage of the 15 minute break I have (before the rest of the month continues) to post some of my current faves from this year.
And because its been so long since I've posted and because it might be my last (if this month actually kills me) I've got a longer list for you, similar to my 2020 Dump Edition. So here we go:
1.) The Chosen
Listen to me very carefully... if you have not watched The Chosen yet, I literally need you to stop reading this right now and go watch it.
Ok fine, finish reading my list because there are some other goodies in here, BUT THEN go watch it, mmk? Please? Promise?
Here's the deal, this series came out a couple years ago, and I had been hearing about how great it was from the get-go. The life of Jesus, through the lens of his disciples! Great concept and all, but the fact remains that I just don't get excited about christian filmmaking. Something about how the writing and acting and editing and theology and everything else is usually, um ...horrible? Is that the right word? Basically, christian entertainment has just typically been a cringey experience that I happily avoid.
So I just kind of smiled and nodded during the first few recommendations, but then I started hearing about how great it was from some people who actually have excellent and trustworthy taste in television, and I decided that I needed to give it a shot. And oh how happy I am that I did.
I really cannot get over how special and beautiful this series is.
Dallas Jenkins, the creator and director, has developed the first binge-worthy show about the people and events in the Gospels with the most incredible film craft, while also staying true to scripture. (It's like I just described a unicorn, I know. But this one is real!)
The entire production of each episode- the story writing, the cinematography, the music (ohhh you guys, the music), the sets and costume design- knits together into such a high-quality work of art and just an amazing viewing experience.
And not enough good things can be said about the acting. Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus, and the other actors who portray the disciples and the women following Jesus; give such unhurried, nuanced performances, they're absolutely mesmerizing to watch. And while most of them aren't necessarily very dark skinned, the cast is mostly of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent, and that obvious desire for historical accuracy makes me want to give someone a big high five.
There is just something so powerful about seeing all of these different, broken, lost, rejected, curious people meet and experience Jesus and then change forever. It truly does take your breath away. And watching the way Jesus keeps patiently giving such love and grace to His friends, who so often just DO NOT GET IT, is such an encouraging reminder all over again that He can love a mess like me.
You will love it. And thankfully, you can find out for yourself for FREE on their website or app, and also on Peacock TV.
2.) Complement by Aaron and Jamie Ivey
I have a very bold and truthful statement to make about this one:
This is THE BEST marriage book I have ever read. Ever.
And I've read a good handful in my life!
You know I'm a huge fan of Jamie Ivey (I listen to her podcast all the time and wrote about her book If You Only Knew.) and her husband Aaron Ivey has written some amazing worship songs (Jesus is Better, anyone?), so I was pumped when they announced the release of their marriage book.
It's a set of two books in one- she wrote half, he wrote half- and they both wrote chapters on the same topics: Love, Serve, Cheer, Lead, Follow, Fight, Forgive, Sex, Parent, and Mission.
I love that in their encouragement to do marriage together, that they wrote this book TOGETHER! Because having both of their voices and perspectives made it so authentic and real. One of my favorite things about them as a couple is that they both fiercely LOVE God and His word, but don't fall into the typical, cultural christian norms and boxes that marriage books tend to be littered with, that have wounded and handicapped a lot of people because they're not actually biblical.
But Aaron and Jamie are so positive and inspiring about the sweetness God intended for marriage and how it practically plays out in reality, without either of them being fake or sugar coating that it can also be super hard and challenging.
I loved it, Luke is loving it, and you will too, whether you're single or married.
Get it on Amazon HERE.
3.) Cangshan Knives
Feel free not to read into the fact that a set of knives is listed right under a marriage book, although that's a pretty hilarious coincidence.
I got this set of knives as a Christmas present from my in-laws and I want to MARRY THEM. (The knives, not my in-laws. Don't make it weird.)
They're balanced and beautiful and so dangerously sharp that I am low-key nervous about cutting a finger off every time I use them. (Which honestly speaks just as much to my clumsiness as it does to the knives, but that's beside the point. No pun intended.)
This set includes a chef's knife and paring knife, and the very cool block that they rest in.
They're amazing, and me and my crude knife skills are very undeserving of them.
(Kind of like when a really homely looking guy somehow lands a really gorgeous woman and it just makes no sense. Basically I am that dumpy guy and these knives are my bombshell wife I don't deserve. Obviously, I couldn't be happier.)
4.) Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
At this point, Backman books have just become a Current Faves staple around here. I can't remember the last time a wrote a list WITHOUT one of his books on it, and I assume I'll just keep reading and recommending them until one of us eventually dies.
And as per usual- I have more high praise.
Anxious People was incredible. It's a unique story from his other books in a lot of ways, with some heavier themes than in the previous ones. But he handled it with such care and hopefulness, that one could argue that the extra depth made it one of his absolute best works.
The story centers around a failed bank robber bursting into an apartment open house and taking the potential buyers hostage. As you get to know the police officers, the hostages, and the failed bank robber; more and more is revealed about how all of their lives are intertwined and that most things aren't as they seem.
And if THAT doesn't peak your interest, I don't even know what will.
Either way, it's a masterpiece. It's funny and wise and shocking and endearing and brilliant.
Such an enjoyable read.
Get it from your library or on Amazon HERE.
5.) IKEA Candle Sticks
These aren't necessarily a life changing addition to your home, but I picked them up at IKEA a few months ago and I think they are just lovely. So much, that they did really become a current fave.
I've thrown them on my rustic, shabby table with a runner and a few stems of artificial eucalyptus leaves and it makes the whole room look so elegant.
The set of 3 is $12.99 (for real) and they are so great to have around for holiday tables or just for a nice dinner. So next time you find yourself in our favorite Swedish labyrinth, treat yo' self to these.
6.) All Creatures Great and Small
This last January, PBS Masterpiece aired the first season of All Creatures Great and Small, based on the novels of James Herriot.
Multiple friends had recommended the books to me (I still haven't read them, but they're high up on my list), saying that they were just the most precious, feel-good stories and that I would love them. So then when I saw PBS had a made them into a series, I quickly nestled in to binge the episodes, like the TV-loving cheater I am.
It centers around a veterinary clinic in 1930's Yorkshire, the people who work there, and how they navigate life, careers, love and relationships with each other and the townspeople. It's incredibly charming and fun and wholesome and watching it feels like having a warm cup of tea.
I can't wait for the second season to come out, and in the mean time, I plan on finally diving into the books.
You can rent or buy the first season on Amazon Prime, or watch it on your mom and dad's PBS Masterpiece subscription like some of us did.
7.) Intermittent Fasting
After years of hearing different friends talk about intermittent fasting, I decided to actually try it out myself this last November, and I've sort of been doing it on and off since then. (Technically it's not meant to be done as inconsistently as I did it the beginning of this year, but if you think I was going to celebrate my birthday or go to Mexico and not say Heck Yes to any food whim I had- then you don't know me at all.)
But overall, I've really found it beneficial for resetting my body and feeling healthy again. The whole premise (in case you haven't heard the gospel of IF from another friend) is changing WHEN you eat, versus changing WHAT you eat. The fasting period gives your body a break so that it can lower your insulin levels, which burns fat and balances out hormones and blood sugar. And then during the eating window, you really can eat whatever you want (although common sense says it should probably be at least nutritious) and feel FULL, without feeling like you've broken a rigid set of rules or have fallen off the wagon. I've had friends and family who started living a basic fasting lifestyle with the goal to lose some weight, and know others who haven't needed to lose any weight, but wanted to enhance their hormonal function, reduce inflammation, and have more energy; and everyone I've talked to has seen great results in the direction they wanted.
Anyway, I swear this section is not going to end with me trying to get you to join a pyramid scheme (where you COULD BE YOUR OWN BO$$!!), it's just been something that's been helpful in my life so I thought I'd share.
The book Delay, Don't Deny by Gin Stephens was what I read to get the lowdown on how it helps the body function, what the basic rules are, and what style of fasting would work best for me. It's a quick and easy read and would help you get started if this seems like the kind of structure and change that could give you success with your health goals.
Get it on Amazon HERE.
8.) Il Makiage Foundation
I started using this foundation earlier this year after I kept seeing sponsored posts on social media about how you can try different shades out for free and return if it doesn't work for you. I took the quiz on which shade would match my skin best, and the first one I got was way too light. I basically looked ready to make my acting debut as Female Corpse #1 on an episode of CSI.
But then I returned it, and did the match quiz again (since I am famously horrible at taking tests and probably messed up the first time around) and the next one I got was PERFECT. I mean, just a flawless match. It blends with my skin tone seamlessly, plus it's lightweight but with medium to full coverage, and gives my face a smooth and even finish, that almost kind of looks like a camera filter.
I'm a big fan, and if you're having trouble finding a good foundation for your skin color and undertones, this is a great option to try.
Take the quiz HERE and find out which of their 50 (!) shades would best match yours.
Alright folks, that's all I have for you right now.
Here's hoping May doesn't completely suck out our souls, or at least that summer will promise lots of laid-back fun and recovery.
But until then, at least Ben gets us.