Snow, Coffee, and Writing

This was a good week for varying weather here in North Carolina. Thursday and Friday were in the upper 50’s and I enjoyed taking a run even at 6pm after the sun went down in the cool-but-pleasant air. That would have been unpleasant in Oklahoma, courtesy of the wind. Here, it’s often breezy but not often windy—a distinction I increasingly appreciate. Then, yesterday it snowed. It didn’t snow a lot. Rather more accurately, not a lot stuck. I spent the morning working on taxes and a short paper for seminary and watching enormous fluffy white snowflakes tumble gently out of the skies. It seemed fitting to be studying Psalm 19 with its meditation on the heavens declaring the glory of God as I watched a white proclamation of glory drift by my window.

Picture of snow falling out my window
Snow falling on the forest behind our apartment

Taxes went surprisingly quickly this year, considering that I had three separate jobs last year, one of them subject to self-employment tax. Because I hadn’t filed quarterly tax estimates before, last year was pretty rough on estimating the amount I needed to pay; in particular I steeply over-paid the first quarter. As I quickly learned, the simplest solution for a one-man consulting business is not to try too hard to figure out what your yearly earnings will actually be; just set aside the amount you need to pay for your taxes out of each paycheck and pay however much you’ve set aside when the deadlines come up. The result, what with that overpayment and lots of deductions—not least adding a baby—is a very solid refund.

Since we just got hit with a $2600 bill for Elayne’s delivery back in May—some but not all of which will be covered by my old employer under the terms of their health insurance coverage—that refund is a huge blessing. I’m glad I opted to potentially overpay rather than underpay; seminary has enough financial pressures that not having a tax payment and a tax penalty is a nice relief. In any case, it was nice to be able to get my taxes done relatively quickly; I’ve learned to keep my paperwork in order, and e-filing takes out a lot of the hassle.

After less than 2 hours on taxes, I was on to finish my third interpretive paper for my hermeneutics class at Southeastern (if you’re curious, you can read the first and second, and this one will go up on Ardent Fidelity come Monday morning). This class has been one of the real joys of seminary so far; it’s helping me stretch and deepen my approach to God’s word in important ways. It’s also forcing me to write clearly and concisely, because these papers have to be between 600 and 625 words—not a word fewer or more, or they’re thrown out. Long-time readers will know that the challenge of brevity is good for me.

On a related note, I’ve been enjoying having a bit more time to write while I’m here. I was finally able to knock out a postsecond for Mere Orthodoxy that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. And yesterday, I was able to knock out 1300–1400 words of The World As It Is. (If you missed it, you should see my announcement: I’m writing a book!)

Picture of coffee, computer, and notepad
Working on The World As It Is at Jubala Village Coffee

It’s been months since I’ve had this sort of concentrated time available to write, and to be honest, it’s also been months since I’ve had the mental energy for it. Getting back into it is a great joy to me. As I’ve often noted, writing is good for my soul, and I stand in a long chain of Christian thinkers (who stand far above me) who find thought clearest after being processed through writing.

So whether it’s knocking out short posts on Designgineering describing some of the hilarious programming escapades in my consulting work; posting quotes, or papers, real substantive posts on Ardent Fidelity or Ars Artis; compiling random links from the internet at No Segue; or writing my every-few-weeks update here on life, having writing as a regular habit again just makes me happy. It’s not a stretch to say that I was made for this; my soul sings when I get to write in a way precipitated by few other things. (Composing is on that list, and I’d like to find some time for that this year, too. We’ll see.)

In any case, I’m loving being here: I’m loving seminary, I’m loving my work, I’m loving the geography and weather, and I’m loving my family. (More on Jaimie and Ellie next time around!)

Picture of snow on trees
Glorious morning after snow

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