Soul Food

Soul Food {July 2017}

We’re two-thirds into summer now, and I’ve consistently run into beautiful, fun, soul-feeding things that I would absolutely love to share with you. I’ve been taking a break from my regular writing (last month it was unintentional, this month it was on purpose because self care is real), so thank you for sticking around and enjoying some good art with me in the meantime.

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  • “13” by LANY. I have a few friends who listen to them so I tried out their new album, and this was the song that hit me in the right spot. Their sound is fresh while also being synth-infused and nostalgic, I really like it, but most of the time I was a bit torn lyrics-wise.
  • “Lovely Child” by Ghost Friendly. I’ve loved Nick’s voice since the Two Worlds days, and it’s wonderful to see him continue to make music; he’s always been fantastic and he only gets better.
  • “Cobalt” by Jessica Frech ft. Sarin.Us. Such a lovely, happy vibe to this! I’ve listened to it over and over.
  • “Fleeting Moments” by Nick Primuth. Came on while I was listening to my comfort playlist on a night I couldn’t sleep; it was a hug.
  • “Honey and Milk” by Andrew Belle. He’s one of my favorite songwriters, both lyrically and in the feelings he manages to capture in his sound. This new song stole my breath; there is something so special about it. Seriously can’t wait for his upcoming album.
  • “Goodbye” by Echosmith. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past and their new single is definitely up to par. I love how they mix gentle acoustic guitar with fun modern pop. “When you finally find yourself, tell him I said goodbye…”
  • “Stay Happy” by Broken Social Scene. It feels like I’m at a concert every time I listen to this. Passionate and fun with a bit of a 70s vibe.
  • “Wall” by James Droll. Moody in the best sense, laced with his smooth voice and thick with a kind of resolute emotion. “And my tears won’t fall for you, like I did…”
  • “Beth” by Kina Grannis. Stunning in every possible way. I am obsessed with this lullaby-like ballad.
  • “Judo” by Magic & Bird (Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed’s new project). What. A. Jam.
  • Relient K’s “Forget and Not Slow Down” album. It is always an essential summertime album for me. The vibe is fun and energetic, but lyrically it is so bittersweet, and I love how well that contradiction works. My favorite song from it is “Over It,” but I love all of them; one of the best things about this album is the story to be found in listening to it front to back.
  • “One More Light” by Linkin Park. In memory of frontman Chester Bennington.
  • “Moonlight” by Grace VanderWaal. This girl’s voice paired with her candor in songwriting… it’s a magic spell that makes you feel what she’s feeling. I love everything she puts out.
  • “Part of Me” by Good Old War. Their music is so often a home for me. “There’s always a place for you here in my wild heart…”
  • “Looking Too Closely” by Fink. Reminds me of thoughtful summer evenings. Beautiful and sweeping and something I needed.

If you want all of this music in one place, I have a playlist! It’s on YouTube and Spotify; scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.

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  • Spider-Man: Homecoming. I told Twitter all about how deeply I love this movie. I am so, so happy with it. Spider-Man is my favorite, and this film does it right.
  • Iron Man. I hadn’t seen this film since around the time it came out, so I wanted a refresher. I really enjoyed it, and knowing what all the Marvel movies since have grown into made it extra special to see the first piece of the puzzle.
  • “Rogue One Stars Answer the Web’s Most Searched Questions.” Every single one of Riz Ahmed’s answers kills me, and Diego Luna is precious.
  • Spider-Man 2. I glean something from every viewing of every Spider-Man movie. This time, Peter’s struggle to choose between what he wanted and what the world needed from him spoke loudly, as did his words that solidified his choice: “There are bigger things happening here than me and you.”
  • “You Are Not Your Sexuality,” a talk by Sam Allberry. Not everyone is going to like this, but I promise: it is so empowering. So many things we associate with our identity (whether it be our sexuality, our addictions, our hobbies/talents/occupations, anything) have no real say in who we are. You are not defined by anything apart from His love for you. Period.
  • Johanna Clough’s art journal flip through. I love seeing inside these things! She also has a series where you can watch her process as she makes individual pages in her journal, and I so enjoy it.
  • Collateral Beauty. A few friends came over and watched it with me after I raved about it; I love this film so much. Love’s second speech sticks with me.
  • Various interviews with the Spider-Man cast, such as: this one with Tom Holland that is just super fun; this one with Tom and Zendaya hosted by an adorable child; this one with Tom and Jacob Batalon that cracks me up (and also gives me big sister feelings, haha!); this one with Tom in which he admits “I am a walking meme”; this one with Tom in which someone finally gets him to sing; this one with Jacob in a comic book store that made me want to go comic shopping…
  • The Amazing Spider-Man, both the first and the second film. I wanted to rewatch them after all the recent Spider-Man hype. While they are probably the least Spider-Man-like of the different movies we have to choose from, I can still enjoy them if I don’t think too hard about it. I still want to cry with Peter at the end; Andrew Garfield is a solid actor, despite the writing.

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  • “How Emotional Abuse From My Childhood Makes It Hard to ‘Take Up Space’ Now” by Juliette Virzi. Relatable and articulated so well.
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Enjoyable and thought-provoking, though I’m not sure how much I actually agree with the main thesis. I wrote a full review on Goodreads if you’re interested in that.
  • “That Time I Said, ‘Yes,’ When I Really Meant ‘No'” by Rebecca Reynolds. The circumstances that brought this piece about are messy, but I just love the way the author captured what confusion through our convictions is like and shared what she’s found to be true there. So aptly worded. “I didn’t wonder if there were exceptions to the rules because I wanted to defy God. I didn’t waver because I wanted to be a relativist. I wavered because I was overwhelmed watching someone I loved suffer at close range.”

What fed you this month?

Soul Food

Soul Food {June 2017}

This month was a weird one for me. Thank you for being patient and gracious as I’ve been taking a little non-intentional break from publishing any of my writing. Be assured that I am still writing and will share again soon. In the meantime, here is a look at the media and art I’ve enjoyed this month.

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  • “Down” by Andrew Belle. He’s one of my favorite songwriters and I’m excited about the new things he’s releasing!
  • “Release The Panic” by Red. I rediscovered the album while looking for something to play as I baked banana bread; I’d forgotten how much I like heavier music.
  • The La La Land soundtrack, especially “City of Stars” (both the duet and the first solo) and “The Audition (The Fools Who Dream).” There’s magic in it; influenced by classic instrumentation and laced with emotion.
  • “Just For The Record” by Lucie Silvas. Beautiful and emotional. The vibe reminds me of cloudy summer days in my lakeside hometown.
  • “Nothing Can Separate” by David Baloche. Simply rich.
  • “Altar” by Sweater Beats ft. R.LUM.R. What. A. Jam. I love R.LUM.R a ton.
  • “Fields and Pier” and “Sweet Adeline” by Avriel & The Sequoias. The first line of the first song I heard from the ep was enough to capture me and make me a fan.
  • “KIDZ” by Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed (Magic & Bird). Such a tight song, just straight up fun to listen to.
  • Christian Collins and Kurt Hugo Schneider’s cover of “Malibu.” Such a lovely, moody rendition that elevates the words. “I always thought I would sink, so I never swam…”
  • “Native” by KYKO. I’ve been listening to KYKO’s entire catalogue, actually; I’m convinced he can’t put out a bad song. But this one in particular is relevant to me right now and has a pleasant anthem-like quality to it.
  • “Good Rain” by Trevor Hall. So beautiful and uplifting and cheerful. An immediate mood boost.
  • “I Should Go / Thinking of You (Live)” by Good Old War. Really their whole “Live From The City of Brotherly Love” album has been playing through my house recently. I love their calm, homey sound and their sincerity. “I can only think of one reason why I should go, but I should go…”
  • “Run” by Foo Fighters. When I was growing up, my dad would introduce me to his my favorite bands and we’d listen to them together. Most of the time it didn’t end up being my style, but Foo Fighters always struck a chord with me. This is their new song and it’s dang good.
  • “You Might Be” by Autograf ft. Lils. One of the new additions to my work out/dance playlist, with a lovely emotional undertone.
  • “Something Just Like This (Tokyo Remix)” by Coldplay and The Chainsmokers. I love Coldplay with my whole heart. Something about the live version of this song just adds some extra magic.
  • Michael Bolton’s version of “Yesterday.” I found his covers album on tape at a thrift store, and it is definitely my go-to for car singing right now. This song in particular melts me.
  • “Sometimes I Wonder” and “Knock Kneed & Lead Lunged” by Zach Winters. His new “To Have You Around” album comes out today, actually! These two songs he released beforehand are lovely and poetic and deep, as I’ve learned to expect of his work. Excited to become familiar with the rest. “Our love won’t survive on the words of others…”

If you want all this music in one place, I made a playlist! It’s on YouTube and Spotify; scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.

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  • Tom Holland visiting a children’s hospital as Spider-Man. He’s my favorite. I love how passionate he is about visiting children in hospitals everywhere he goes; he’s already done it numerous times, in numerous countries, and the movie hasn’t even come out yet.
  • This video that I’ve watched probably a hundred times but still laugh at. “IT’S TROY BOLTON’S DADDDDDD”
  • The Shack. I read the book in high school, and (from what I remember) the movie does it justice. Beautiful, healing thoughts and truths illustrated.
  • La La Land. Visually gorgeous, musically sweeping, carrying a story that leaves you pondering when it’s over. I love Emma Stone and she does some fantastic work here.
  • Cheyenne Barton‘s bullet journal plan-with-me videos. Her creativity and style always inspire my own journal spreads, and I also enjoy her chats she adds in. Her Instagram is great, too.
  • Now You See Me 2. An enjoyable watch. I have fun with films about clever people who commit clever crimes for non-malicious reasons. Also, Dave Franco is significantly less creepy than James Franco? Like, not at all creepy?
  • “A Fan’s Guide to Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This convinced me I’m gonna cry through the whole movie and I’m so excited about it.
  • The Spider-Man: Homecoming Audi commercial. So cute!
  • Various interviews with the Spider-Man cast, like this one with Tom Holland, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon (“Let’s go! Gotta get riiipped!”); this one with Zendaya, Jacob, and Laura (“Did he really?! What a loser!”); and this one with Tom and his dog. Tom was also on various TV spots and I really enjoyed tuning in to those. The movie comes out July 7th, you guys! I’m just a little excited.

Books/Blogs/Articleswhen-we-were-on-fire

  • CNET’s interview with Tom Holland. Because he’s my favorite.
  • “One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death” by Russ Ramsey. Beautiful. “Suffering is not an event. It is a path.”
  • “Finding Lost Things” by Casey Tygrett. Incredible and truth-filled perspective on our theology of “the lost.”
  • When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman. I am so thankful this book exists, if for no other reason but to prove that spiritual abuse is often subtle but still so very real. I have mixed thoughts and feelings about the book as a whole, mainly because I am currently in a process that somewhat resembles the one Zierman expressed so well. I love her unabashed honesty. I also wish that some things had been spoken into after they were spoken about. But that’s my selfish desire; I know the book is a memoir, meant to tell me a story and not to directly teach me.
  • If you want to get regular book updates and full reviews from me, I’m on Goodreads!

What fed you this month?

Soul Food

Soul Food {March 2017}

So many lovely things came with this month for me. Some of them are works of art and media; let’s talk about them!

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  • “Perfect” and “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” by Ed Sheeran. I never really got on the Ed Sheeran train, but I’ve been trying to listen to the new albums the people around me get excited about, and his latest is one of them. I definitely understand why he’s so widely loved. While there are occasional things content-wise that bother me (aka romanticizing excessive drinking/clubbing), he is a wonderfully genuine songwriter and I think he meets a generation where they are in a lovely way. I’m sharing my two favorites from the album. The man can write a love song.
  • I’ve also been listening to Ed Sheeran’s older song “Kiss Me.”
  • “Call Me Out” by Sarah Close. Happened upon it and immediately put it on repeat all day. Chill and a jam at the same time.
  • “Falling Into You” by Hillsong Young & Free. Dancey and positive. “I wanna love you like you love me…”
  • “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” by John Mayer. Yeah, I’ve mentioned John Mayer every month this year; his new album comes out next month so he’ll probably be in that one, too. Deal with it.
  • Mat Kearney’s version of “Dancing In The Dark.” Wrap up in a blanket, close your eyes, and lean into this one. His version brings out the sadness behind the desperate words.
  • Lindsey Stirling’s “Brave Enough” album. Violin + dubstep/electronic vibes + a good handful of talented guests + exploring love and loss = a stunning album I should not have waited so long to lend my ear to. My favorites from it are “Brave Enough (ft. Christina Perri)” “Those Days (ft. Dan + Shay)” “Gavi’s Song” and “Love’s Just a Feeling (ft. Rooty)” (also, definitely watch the music video; it’s unique and sweet and tells a huge story in under four minutes, and was what got me to listen to the full album).
  • Jetty Rae’s “Can’t Curse The Free” album. Her voice is one of my favorites, period; she manages to do so much with it. I enjoy her organic style interlaced with the beautiful melodies and poetic, honest songwriting. My favorite from her latest album is “The River” (stunning songwriting), but I also love “Can’t Curse The Free” “Another Town” and “Coast to Coast.”
  • “Diazepam” by Turnover. An interesting story inside an infectious song. I really like the 70s/90s soft rock vibe that carries it.
  • Andrew Belle. Basically everything by him. I love the entire “Black Bear” album, and his single “Dive Deep” is amazing, too. He can combine feel-good tunes with a perfect amount of moodiness, and I think it’s unique and lovely.
  • “The Best Things in Life Are Free” by Sam Cooke. I’m learning that classic big band music is one of my favorite genres out there! This short and sweet recording gets me every time. His voice is killer.

If your music taste is all over the place like mine and you want to listen to every song I’ve talked about today, I have a playlist on YouTube and on Spotify. I use this playlist for the whole year, so the latest additions will be near the bottom.

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  • Dinotopia: The Series. My favorite show from middle school. It’s so cheesy and cringey but the nostalgia still makes it super enjoyable for me. I also still kind of want to live there.
  • Sho Baraka’s response to being removed from Lifeway Christian Bookstores. So well stated and respectful. Ironically, this situation is what led me to listen to his album, and I think it’s pretty powerful.
  • Doctor Strange. I had no prior knowledge of his story– and now I think it’s so cool. The process of becoming humbled and looking outside himself was a treat to see unfold. Plus, the film is visually intricate and engrossing, and it’s a superhero movie in my beloved Marvel universe, and it’s just… cool!
  • “What’s On My Head? Challenge (ft Mayim Bialik)” on Good Mythical Morning. So freaking funny. “Is it one of those, like… chefs?”
  • Andrew Garfield holding a baby while on the set on Amazing Spider-Man 2. Because why I would not watch this if it exists?
  • Father of The Bride. Ridiculous yet heartwarming.
  • “Hoping for an Airport Reunion: One Refugee Family’s Story.” We need these stories to be shared everywhere. We need everyone to know the facts and humanity behind the refugee crisis.
  • Designated Survivor. It just returned this month after a winter hiatus, and the suspense is still high for me.
  • That Thing You Do. Super cute and witty film about a rock band finding stardom in the early sixties. Tom Hanks is a favorite of mine and he’s great in it.
  • “What Winter Feels Like” by SoSonia on SoulPancake. I have friends who deal with seasonal affective disorder; hearing these words from that perspective was inspiring.
  • Moana. I didn’t have expectations for it, really; I tend to be cynical about things that have a lot of hype. But I ended up loving this film. Beautiful music, fun characters, and inspiring lessons about being fully present in the powerful person you are.
  • Collateral Beauty. Holy. Cow. You have to see this. It is so poignant and powerful and lovely. I don’t cry over movies beyond a moment of watery eyes, but this? Sobs that lasted into the credits. I will keep thinking about it, and it will be an enduringly important film to me.
  • Waaaaay too many videos about running an Etsy business (because I started my own!). I collected some of the more helpful videos in an unlisted YouTube playlist if that’s something you could use.
  • The new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer! I squealed over/shared every new poster they revealed, friends tagged me in the trailer when it was released, and I already have people I’m seeing the movie with when it comes out in July, because I am not playing around, this is Spider-Man, you guys! I’m elated.
  • Continued watching The Mentalist and Scorpion.

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  • Eve by Wm. Paul Young. Refreshes an air of magic and wonder for the story of Creation/Eden/The Fall to those of us who grew up with it, and breaks down lies we believe about God and ourselves to replace them with the truth of what Love is and does. The sweet and dynamic characters and the gripping plot are an added bonus. I’d take a little bit of the content with a grain of salt, but it is a work of fiction so I’m not sure the author is asking us to believe some of the elements of the story to be reality in the first place. Definitely worth a read.
  • “Good News: God Will Not Use You” by Carolyn Watts. I think it’s important to refine platitudes from our personal theology, and am grateful for writing like this that helps us do that. “God made us not for his use but as an overflow of his love. 
  • “The Church We Leave Behind” by Amy Sondova. I have been going through a similar process; hearing someone speak into my situation with clarity and a “me, too” was a deep need met. “Change can’t happen in hardened hearts, so sometimes we need to dust off our sandals and move on.  It happened to Jesus and the apostles and we can expect the same.”
  • The Violet Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang. Weird and wonderful, with illustrations that give me heart eyes. I spent a whole year reading it, though, not gonna lie.
  • “Dear You Who Feels Wounded” by Ann Voskamp. Ann writes warm embraces you can crumble into. This is so, so good.
  • This review of The Parent Trap. So. Freaking. Funny.
  • “So I Quit Drinking” by Sarah Bessey. Beautiful thoughts on conviction, holiness, and finding balance in the extremes. “Conviction is less about condemnation than it is about invitation.” [She also wrote this post-script which is important, too.]
  • “Lie #3: God is in Control” by Wm. Paul Young. I’m not sure about my full thoughts on this yet. But it sure has made me think. I think agree with a lot of it.
  • “Of Lent and Emptiness” by Addie Zierman. Her writing always seems to put words to the hidden tensions we might feel. “’This year,’ she suggested. ‘I think you should give up trying to muster up any response at all. Say to yourself I am free to have emotions, but I refuse to generate them.‘”
  • You can keep up with my reading progress and see my full book reviews on my Goodreads if you want to!

What fed you this month?

Soul Food

Soul Food {August 2016}

This month has been one full of changes and transitions, but I know it’s all working toward the positive, so I am (slowly) learning to open my arms to it instead of walling myself up. Here are some of the things I’ve been taking with me.

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  • Philip Serino’s renditions of “All Love Can Be” and “Annie’s Song.” This month I could be found lying on my bedroom floor, soaking these in. Stunning in every way.
  • Spencer Kane and Alexis Slifer’s cover of “This Is Living.” The arrangement and their voices are so lovely. Ten times better than the original.
  • The Gray Havens’ “Ghost of a King” album. They make such special music; it’s lovely, it’s dynamic, and they put so much thought and meaning into their lyrics. Sometimes it almost feels like reading the Chronicles of Narnia. My absolute favorite from the album is “At Last, The King.” I also like “Take This Slowly” “Diamonds and Gold” and “Go.”
  • Heath McNease’s “Who Knows? Who Cares?” album. Honest, real, hopeful, thoughtful. I love how he can marry chill sound with hip-hop so seamlessly. My favorite from it has to be the title track, but I also love “Wide-Eyed Skeleton.”
  • “Top of The World” by Anthem Lights. Super fun. Also, I know it’s like two years old, but I didn’t know about it back then, okay?!
  • The sped-up version of Fifth Harmony’s cover of “Red.” [Complicated enough?] I heard a snippet of this on a video and searched the internet until I found the whole thing. There’s just something lovely and heart-wrenching about it for me.
  • “Dive Deep” by Andrew Belle. I’ve loved his work, so of course his new single would be fantastic to me, too. Stuck in my head and sung under my breath often.
  • “The Man” by Aloe Blacc. I have to dance when I hear this. Have to. “Been through the worst but I still give my best; God made my mold different from the rest, then He broke that mold so I know I’m blessed.”

If you want to listen to all this music in one place, I’ve got a playlist for you! All of my music recommendations from this year are there, but if you want only this month’s you can scroll to near the bottom.

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  • This stupid clip oh my gosh! I mostly use my “watch later” list on YouTube as a place to put music I’m not sure belongs to a playlist yet, but I put this there because someone sent it to me and I truly did intend to watch it later. It now interjects a playlist otherwise made of music, and makes me laugh way too hard to want to remove it. It seriously surprises me every time.
  • The videos that the New Age Creators have been putting on Soul Pancake. These young adults make such thoughtful, heartfelt content and it’s been a joy to see what they want to talk about, whether it’s happiness, travel, creativity, passion, insecurity, learning a second language, anxiety, being a grown-up (possibly my favorite), or the internet.
  • Ben Rector’s music video for his song “Brand New.” I already really liked the song, and the fact that he spent his music video budget on a trip to Six Flags makes it that much better.
  • This video from Twitter. I cried laughing. “Ya’ll mind if I praise God?”
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party. This comedy webseries about a gathering of classic writers has been long-anticipated, and it’s finally here! It’s an eleven-part series and only two episodes are out right now so I can’t give much of an opinion yet, but so far I think it is so funny, as well as just a well-written, visually gorgeous piece. Clayton Snyder (freaking Ethan Craft!) as Dostoevsky is everything.
  • “Singing Without Sound,” a short glimpse into the life and methods of singer/songwriter Mandy Harvey, who lost her hearing. Music is my passion so losing my hearing is a terrifying thought, but she has lived it and risen so high above it. And she makes such lovely music.
  • “HOW IT’S MADE: Christian Music.” Hilarious and too real.
  • Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Because it’s one of my favorite films and I’m thankful to Gene Wilder for bringing so much magic to it.

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  • “This Is the Cure for Awkwardness, If You Are Awkward, Which I Am Sometimes, and You Might Be Too. Sometimes” by Nika Maples. I love this. “We would be surprised what God would call good, if you and I brought it to Him and thanked Him for it.”
  • “How to Catch a Falling Star: An Adoption Story” by Ann Voskamp. The way she found herself in her new daughter… and finds all of us in the process… wildly moving. Tears showed up for me.
  • Deborah Apy’s retelling of “Beauty and The Beast.” It’s a picture book, but it’s almost like it was made for grown-ups to enjoy. The language is beautiful, and I think it’s a lovely, well-focused version of the story. A true fairytale.
  • “Spiritual Warfare In The Better Covenant” by Jonathan Welton. So interesting and groundbreaking. I personally have seen people become so much more alive and powerful in the most healthy, humble ways because they decided to accept the authority Christ has given them, stop giving the enemy such attention in their life, and walk in truth with themselves.
  • “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. So impactful for me. A few parts of the book are a bit out there, but so much of it is transformative truth about our abilities to make good choices, be in control of ourselves, and handle whatever we face. I so recommend it. [Psst, I review all my books on Goodreads if you’re into that!]
  • Joshua Harris’ apology for “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” This is huge. I feel bad that people have been rudely outspoken with him, but I still teared up reading this because I never expected him to recant what he’d written to millions of people. He has gained a lot of respect from me, and forgiveness I didn’t know I needed to give him. Thankful.
Soul Food

Soul Food {December 2015}

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.

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  • 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).

Movies/TV/YouTube

  • 293ebc9fd6bd11cdb4b474f27ea4c1fdEvynne 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!

Books/Articles/Blogsbook of ember series

  • 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.