I am so grateful to my Father for giving me so many things that spoke comfort and assurance to my soul. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves. Everything on these lists this month was grace.
- Christian Collins. I mentioned him last month, but– and this is way exciting– he just released his first single, “You Don’t Have to Go.” It is just so good, musically and thematically; the heart of safety, coming home, and belonging is powerful to me. I listen to it all the time. Huge, huge, huge fan of his.
- “Don’t Mess With My Girl” by Jon McLaughlin. This song is a blast and I love knowing that he wrote it for his little daughter. His song “These Crazy Times” was also a helpful thinking-space for me this month. Close your eyes and listen to the lyrics, especially the second half.
- “Echo” by Jason Walker. Sad, lovely, a lament. Sometimes I need music like it.
- Andrew Belle’s “Black Bear (Hushed)” ep. His songwriting has such depth and beauty in it; lyrically it is profound and thoughtful, melodically it is comfortable and down-home. “Hushed” is his slowed down ep of a selection of songs from his full “Black Bear” album, which I also really enjoy, but “Hushed” just hits me. My favorites from it are “Pieces” and “Sister.”
- “No Answers” and “Eight Long Months” by Zach Winters. His music is a cathedral for me. Musically ethereal, lyrically insightful and thoughtful and poetic.
- “Blue” by Vocal Few. I wanted to cry the first time I heard this, because sometimes I fear there isn’t someone in the world who would say these things. It whispered hope to me.
- Holly Ann’s “Light & Bloom” album. Gorgeous, thoughtful, and raw. I fall for it more every time I listen to it. Get it on Noisetrade! My favorite from it is definitely “Rivers End,” but I also love “First Love” “Dead Alive” and “Carry You.”
- Mat Kearney’s “Just Kids” album. He is one of my favorites, and this album is equal parts fun and haunting; I smile and get misty-eyed throughout. It’s strangely therapeutic, in the best possible way. My favorite songs from it are “Just Kids” “Ghost” “One Heart” “Shasta” and “Air I Breathe.”
- “Sing Brave” by Brandon Heath. I love his narrative songs, and this one is so personal and moving. It uplifts me.
- “Clumsy” by Chris Rice. Because it is so relevant to what I’m learning about being a flawed, broken person, and being loved anyway.
- Of course I listened to Christmas music this month! Three gorgeous eps in particular I found this year have become favorites I’ll be enjoying for many more years to come: Evan Wickham’s “Christmas Music Vol. 1” (“End of Exile” is my favorite), Jetty Rae’s “More Than December” (her version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is like a cozy blanket), and Amy Stroup’s “You Make The Cold Disappear” (“Love’s a Light” nearly made me cry with it’s gorgeousness).
- Evynne Hollens’ voice lessons series. She has been such a blessing to me by making these. I learn little tips on strengthening my voice and my confidence each time she uploads a new one. Thank you, Evynne!
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II. This story has so much to teach us about humanity, peace, war, and brokenness. It’s hard to see but I think it’s worth it. Grateful to see it with my best friend and hold hands with her. [Graphic/violent.]
- “A Shadow of a Doubt”— a spoken word by Joseph Solomon. This met me right where I was, in my hurt and my questions. It’s wildly, beautifully real.
- These guys making up Christmas pick-up lines. They’re so cheesy and cringey but I was still cracking up. And that one about the Christmas list? Honestly, I’m sold.
- “You Are Who You Are in The Dark.” My friends directed, wrote, and starred in this short film/spoken word, but I’m not sharing it for that reason. I think it’s incredibly powerful. I cried over it.
- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. I’m not quite sure why, but this movie is a place of bliss and light-hearted happiness for me. When I dream of winter or hear certain songs that take me into quiet, cozy moments, scenes from the forest in this film come to my head. I treasure it.
- This video unpacking what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. Someone finally said it!
- “Resolutions: I Promise”— a spoken word by Natalie Patterson. I love these promises she makes to herself. These matter.
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I’m not generally a Star Wars person, but the new film is just a solid piece of work. Wonderful characters and interesting plot points. I genuinely enjoyed it and don’t regret seeing it!
- The Book of Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau. These stories may be written for tweens, but I had a wonderful, thoughtful experience with them. They are such simple yet lovely insights into humanity and learning to use what we all have to carry hope and to make the world better. My only word of caution: book three of four is a prequel, and it’s good, but I wish I had read it last instead; it interrupted my time with my sweet characters!
- “God Has a Surprise for You” by Micha Boyett. A beautiful, honest way to ponder the unexpected. “What do we say? Well, yesterday an angel arrived and called me blessed among women. So that changes everything.”
- “Everyone’s Screwed Up, Busted Up, and Catching Up: And That’s Okay” by J.S. Park. I needed this so badly. “There’s this Secret Guilt going around that we’re all halfway hypocritical frauds who will maybe one day catch up to an awesome version of ourselves. It’s a desperate hope that we’ll eventually do what we’re preaching with our mouths and our blogs. And then we blow up or flip a table or punch a wall and that monster comes out, and we think ‘Where did that even come from?’ — and the Guilt chokes the pit of our stomach again.”
- “When Your Heart’s Aching for a Bit of a Christmas Miracle in The Midst of a Lot of Mess” by Ann Voskamp. I cried reading this. When we run out of hope, He does not. He meets us in our emptiness, and gives us His own heart to take the place of our failing one.
- Sarah Bessey’s series inspired by advent. The one about joy was just so pure and spot-on, and the one about love met me where I was. She links to all of the posts in series at the bottom.
- Addie Zierman’s first Dear Addie advice column. Being lonely or feeling different within a church community isn’t rare, and I learn that more and more over time. These words of advice and comfort on that topic feel like they were written by a loving big sister.
- “Before You Make That New Year’s Resolution” by Scott Sauls. Ignore the cheesy name of the post; there are so many solid pieces of truth and guidance here about true change and gospel-centered growth.
- “16 Uncomfortable Feelings That Actually Indicate You’re on The Right Path” on Thought Catalog. My best friend sent this to me as food for thought. It encouraged me. Discomfort doesn’t mean your situation is bad. Sometimes we have growing pains. And that’s okay.
- “Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses” by John Piper. I have been thinking about the concept of our flaws being important to our purposes almost all month, and this reminded me that it’s actually a biblical concept! Things are starting to click a little better in my brain now. Please give this a few minutes of your time.
I’m taking part in Leigh Kramer’s “What I’m Into” link-up. As usual, if you want to see more content along these lines written by a diverse group of people, give it a look! Looking forward to more discoveries in 2016.