Soul Food

Soul Food {April 2017}

Sunshine-filled spring days met me somewhere deep this month. I found a lot of light in the art I consumed, too. Let’s talk about it!

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  • Knox Hamilton’s “The Heights” album. I saw them live at the end of the last month when they opened for Colony House; when I got back home from my trip I downloaded their album and started listening to it on repeat. They are so much fun, and not without being meaningful, too. My favorites from the album are “Washed Up Together” “Set It On Fire” “Pretty Way to Fight” “How’s Your Mind” “Sight For Sore Eyes” and “The Heights.”
  • “Rapper” by Heath McNease ft. Keyes. In my head for dayzzzz.
  • Isla Roe. Her voice is stunning, and she pairs it with poetic songwriting and simple, haunting arrangements. She has an album called “April,” and I can’t pick favorites from it; they’re all so lovely. I also enjoy her songs “Still Your Girl” “Thirty Thousand Feet” and “Hazel (demo)” scattered across the internet. She is just incredible.
  • “Goodbye” by filous ft. Mat Kearney. I’ve been obsessed with Mat for such a long time and nothing he does changes that; he is so consistently good. A huge inspiration to me. “My heart is on the table; somebody’s gotta try. I’m willing and I’m able, don’t you know it? I don’t wanna say goodbye…”
  • “11:47pm” by Montell Fish. Good vibes, especially in the second half. Just something to sit with.
  • Elvis Presley’s version of “In The Garden.” My car only plays cassette tapes, and my Elvis hymns collection is becoming my go-to. This song in particular captures me every time. One of my favorite hymns.
  • “Time Flies” by Lykke Li. Makes me feel like I’m in a fairyland, a somber but still lovely one. So beautiful and stirring.
  • “In The Blood” by John Mayer. His new album “The Search for Everything” came out this month. He released it in three separate waves, so only four of the songs were new to me, but it’s such a great album all around; I listened to it almost exclusively for a while. The song I’m sharing is my favorite new one. It hits so deep.
  • Derek Minor’s “Reflection” album. I found a list of rappers who were Christians and checked them all out, to find that I enjoyed Derek far above the others. Relevant, convicting, and uplifting all at once, surrounded by solid beats. My favorites from this album include “Look At Me Now” “Hold Up” “You Know It” “Until I’m Gone (ft. BJ The Chicago Kid)” “Judo” and “Good Enough (ft. Camille Faulkner).” That’s like half the album but shhhh it’s fine.
  • “In The Name of Love” by Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha. Emotional and heart-thumping at the same time. I turn the volume way up on this one.
  • “Always Been U” by Phangs ft. R.LUM.R. If you saw Relient K on their last tour, you also saw Phangs in their band. His new single just dropped, and what. a. jam.
  • “Fallen Short” by Youth. Such comforting spring vibes in this. If you follow Fleurie on all her social media, your playlists will quickly fill with her shout-outs.
  • “On A Night Like This” by Dave Barnes. I spent a late night with it and it was just what I needed. Dave writes so beautifully.

If you want to listen to all of this music in one place, I have a playlist on YouTube and on Spotify. Scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.

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  • Andrew Garfield dancing for charity. No comment necessary.
  • John Mayer’s interview with Charlie Rose. This made me want to go for coffee with John to chat about music and personal growth. I didn’t know if I’d watch the whole thing, but I was so engaged that the time flew by before I knew it. One of my favorite things he said: “There’s a difference between writing a song because of somebody and for somebody.”
  • Guardians of The Galaxy. I know it’s been out for almost three years now, but I just had never been able to see it until this month! I think it’s a great marriage of a comedy and a cool superhero/sci-fi movie. Looking forward to volume two soon!
  • This Tom Holland interview. He’s one of my favorites. All his interviews are fun to watch because he’s just charming, but this one was also a genuinely great chat (shout out to skilled interviewers who ask good questions) about Marvel and the upcoming Spidey film. And I swear: he gets more handsome every week.
  • Jen Campbell’s analysis of Peter Pan. The day I declared I simply didn’t like Peter Pan, I watched this video and repented. It convinced me to put it on my re-read list.
  • Brad & Hailey Devine’s “Kyoto Travel Guide.” Goals.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Battle of The Five Armies. Why not part one? Because I’ve seen part one a hundred times, y’all. Also I had to google who the fifth army was.
  • This video about falling in love, heartbreak, and learning to be firm in who you are. I love the way she tells her story and how much wisdom she has for us to glean. “I was a different person, and that person didn’t need him, she wanted him.”
  • The cast of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries playing Marrying Mr. Darcy. I need this card game and I need to play it with these people right now, please.
  • Continued watching Designated Survivor and Scorpion.

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What fed you this month?

Soul Food

Soul Food {January 2017}

The first month of the year brought some wonderful new media my way. Let’s talk about it!

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  • Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” album. I’ve loved Coldplay for years but never actually owned one of their albums, so owning this one now is special. Such rich and layered songwriting with sweeping melodies. I love pretty much every song on it, but this month “Lovers in Japan” really spoke to me. “They are turning my head out, to see what I’m all about; keeping my head down to see what it feels like now. But I have no doubt: one day we’re gonna get out…”
  • “Magic” by Thomas Gold ft. Jillian Edwards. Jillian is one of my musical inspirations, so to see her collaborate with a DJ was especially cool to me; it reminded me of how limitless the possibilities are for artists. Plus, what a great jam.
  • “Why Georgia” by John Mayer. There’s just something about it. “Four more exits to my apartment, but I am tempted to keep the car in drive, and leave it all behind…” I was led to this song by a lovely John Mayer acapella medley, also worth checking out. When they hit those harmonies on “hearrrrrtbreaaaak…”
  • “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” also by John Mayer. New and incredible, laced with emotions. “Parts of me were made by you…” His entire new ep is great.
  • Kenzie Nimmo’s cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe” (ft. Harris Heller). So calm and melancholy, with beautiful voices. Love it.
  • “The Perfect Parts” by Shakey Graves. I’ve had this album for like two years but I still go back to it and find more to like about it. Story-telling and solid jams. The Audiotree session of this song is great, too. My dad and I listened and gushed.
  • Colony House’s “Only The Lonely” album. They are my boys, and I am elated to have new music from them. They go a bit more retro rock-n-roll on this one, but I’m into it. And lyrically? Masterful and soul-reaching. My favorites are “Where Your Father’s Been” “You & I” “You Know It” “3:20” and “Cannot Do This Alone.” I think I just named half of the track list but it’s fine.
  • “Ocean Eyes (Blackbear Remix)” by Billie Eilish. Beautiful, emotional, with cool beat-driven moments. I can’t listen to it just once.
  • “Vibes Vibes Vibes” (ft. Aha Gazelle and Chris Durso), “Usual Suspects” (ft. Willow Stephens), “Time 4 That” and “Extra Wavy” by Social Club Misfits. I’m always kind of torn about these guys. The tracks they produce are super fun and get me hyped up, but lyrically it’s almost all reminiscent of a messy humblebrag. I’ve been listening to their new album trying to figure out if I like it; I’m still not sure. But these songs are the ones I end up enjoying in the midst of that conflict.
  • “Hold On” by Jet. This song is in Spider-Man 2 and hit a sweet spot in me the last time I watched it.

If you want to listen to all these songs in one place, I’ve made a playlist! It’s on YouTube and on Spotify (neither are complete, which bothers me, but I had to work with what was available).

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  • Pete’s Dragon (the 2016 version). I had no expectations for it, but it was lovely and magic-filled. I loved the gentle and soft yet powerful design of Eliot.
  • The Joy of Painting. I grew up with Bob Ross’ art; my grandparents were both certified instructors of his and taught classes in oil painting, and we have many of their pieces hanging in our house. I feel such an affection for him and his work. This month, watching episodes of his show was an accidental daily thing for me, so I decided to make it a purposeful routine. Every season is on this YouTube channel in playlists; I’m on season one right now. I love his positivity and how deeply he appreciates everything. He truly created his own world. Plus I just enjoy the solid painting advice. “You have the fun; let the brush do the work.”
  • This bullet journal flip-through. Though I don’t follow a bullet journal format, this inspired me to try out some more creative ideas in my own journal.
  • “Amy Adams & Andrew Garfield – Actors on Actors.” Two wonderful people (Andrew is one of my absolute favorites) sharing such interesting thoughts. I want to sit in on their conversations for hours.
  • Bull. It gives me a few vibes like The Mentalist did, in a courtroom instead of a police station. Though no character comes close to Patrick Jane or his crew.
  • This video about a man who paints without his sight. Stunning and inspiring.
  • George of The Jungle. My ridiculous favorite. “Thor! Are you arguing with the narrator?!”
  • “OMG We’re Coming Over!” I was obsessed with interior design shows when I was little, and watching this cute couple continue on that legacy with their series makes my heart happy.
  • Spider-Man (the 2002 version), Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3. My ever-present Spider-Man love has been extra powerful lately, so watching the films that started it all for me was almost necessary.
  • Captain America: Civil War. Because Spider-Man.
  • Continued watching Scorpion and The Mentalist regularly.

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  • “In Which I Write a Letter to Women’s Ministry” by Sarah Bessey. Spot. On.
  • Jesus Outside The Lines by Scott Sauls… and I didn’t like it. Which was so disappointing, because I thought I would find such a life-speaking voice in it. I wrote a full review on Goodreads if you want specifics.
  • Quite a few Andrew Garfield interviews, because his spiritual journey was making me giddy. His interview with The New York Times is a stand-out.
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I wanted to read it purely because Wells was such a gem in Poe Party, but I ended up really liking it! Engaging and interesting, just the right amount of sci-fi for me.
  • “Have We Overplayed the Sermon Card?” by Wayne Jacobson. A hearty yes to this.
  • “The Phenomenon of The Dones” also by Wayne Jacobson. I have been aching to hear someone say these words for such a long time. So grateful for this and what it spoke into me. If you know me personally and we’ve talked about church-going before, I’d love for you to read this; it articulates everything I’ve wanted to and more.
  • The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. Sometimes, a book looks you in the face and tells you what it sees in the depths of you. It shows you things inside you that you’d suppressed for so long you weren’t even aware they were living in you anymore. And once it does that, it tells you– you have the capacity to live abundantly even with those things. You are broken, and you are loved for it. Life changing book. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • “Nobody Wants To Be a Refugee” by Ben Stiller. Nails it. “Compassion and security are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing.”

What’s been feeding you lately?

Soul Food

Soul Food {September 2016}

A lot of transition and change happened in my life this month, and I’m learning that’s a good place to be in. These are some of the things I carried with me, though a few probably carried me instead.

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  • “Stuff We Did” from the Up soundtrack. It’s wordless, but it spoke so loudly to me. Playing it on my piano helped me heal.
  • “Where Is The Love” by The Black Eyed Peas featuring “the world.” I can’t begin to explain how moving and powerful this is. I’ve listened to it so many times and I still can’t do so without crying. We need to internalize it. “If you never speak truth then you never know how love sounds, and if you never know love then you never know God.” [The video has disturbing images and there’s a little profanity.]
  • “Worst Way” by Christian Collins. If you don’t know that I’m always gonna promote and support what he does then you haven’t been following me for very long. Proud of him.
  • “Empty House” by Relient K. I talked about the new album two months ago when it came out, but I had this particular song on repeat for a while. It was a lovely companion for me in the beginnings of the morning.
  • Spencer Sutherland’s cover of “Ride.” His voice is insane; I can’t get over his range. Plus this is a fun interpretation of a song I like. When he covers good songs, I listen over and over.
  • Millie Thrasher’s cover of “How Deep Is Your Love.” This came to me at a time when I was discovering a few lies ingrained in me about love and relationships, and helped me feel a bit more healthy. Also her voice is so beautiful and the production on this is stunning.
  • “The Upside Down” by Andy Mineo. Just a solid jam.
  • “Jack and Jill, Part Two” by The Gray Havens. An anthem for me recently. “And we were feeling new, as if everything sad came untrue…”
  • “Can You Hear Me?” by Fleurie. She recently released a new album and this song is my favorite from it. She’s a big inspiration to me; she writes such meaningful, dreamy music, and her voice is gentle yet soul-piercing. I met her at a concert this month and she was so warm and kind. Love, love, love.
  • “Warm Up” by NF. He released this song to celebrate the beginning of his tour; I got to go to my state’s show with two of my best friends and it was so much fun.
  • “Clay” by Grace VanderWaal. She was on America’s Got Talent and stunned me with her heartfelt original music every single performance. I was so happy to see her win. This song from the finals gets stuck in my head every once in a while.
  • “Thinkin Bout You” by Aaron Krause. I have spent probably hours jamming to this, genuinely. The sound is infectious and right up my alley, the theme is down-to-earth and sweet, and I just think it’s such a great song. [There’s a profanity in it, which bothers me a little, but I just love the song too much to let a word ruin it for me. If you want a non-explicit version there’s an acoustic live session, but I don’t like it as much.]

If your taste in music is all across the board like mine and you want to listen to these songs in one place, I’ve made a playlist! It has all of my music picks from this year so if you only want this month’s they are near the bottom.

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  • Chicken Run. Because my mom found it and it’s a ridiculous classic.
  • Still watching “Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party” and laughing with every episode; Lauren Lopez as George Eliot slays me. The longer the series goes the more invested I am in the mystery. Who is killing all these authors?! And why?!
  • Captain America: Civil War. Not my favorite Marvel movie, but Spiderman is in it and he’s one of my favorite characters from anything. [Some profanity and lots of punching/shooting/throwing stuff at each other.]
  • Beauty and The Beast. I forgot how stunning it is. I love watching classic Disney films because the animation and music are lovely, but this one… there’s just something about it. Enchanting in every sense.
  • “The Voice.” I’ve never tuned in to this particular singing completion before, and so far I’m a fan of the format: coaches instead of judges, with blind auditions and kind words and a genuine love for music.
  • Rhett and Link playing with a Bop It. Way too entertaining.

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  • “Loving Your Enemy, Even When It’s ISIS? Yes, Even Then” on Preemptive Love Coalition. An incredible story with truths I can’t get out of my head. “ISIS beheads and burns its enemies. That’s why we must feed and clothe ours.”
  • “This is Not How I Pictured Jerusalem” by Emily P. Freeman. I love the scripture she paired with her experience. More people need to know what she discovered.
  • “The Performance Principle” by Richard Rohr. He and I don’t come from similar backgrounds, but I still gained some necessary soul-checks from this. “One of the only ways God can get us to let go of our private salvation project is some kind of suffering.”
  • “The Unlikely Thing You Have to Believe When You’re Living a Life You Didn’t Choose” by Ann Voskamp. She writes the real stuff. I am so grateful to her. “The cross you’ve been given– is always God’s kindest decision.”
  • The “Stories” page on Joshua Harris’ website. He’s opened himself up to receive feedback on his books and the effect they’ve had on people’s lives, and he shares these anonymous stories with us. Some of them are a bit blame-heavy, but some of them are very honest accounts of experiences a generation can relate to. I confess I’ve taken the time to read every single one of them, and even to submit one of my own (have fun guessing which).
  • Anne of The Island by L.M. Montgomery. Wondrous moments, relatable moments, humorous moments, with such loveable characters. So good. [You can keep up with my reading progress on Goodreads if it tickles your fancy.]
  • “The Powerful Reason Why We All Have to Get Out of Bed– That Changes a Broken World,” also by Ann Voskamp. This showed up during a week I struggled to get out of bed each morning. You bet I listened. “What you are in love with decides what you live for.”

I promise I am still writing and will be more active here soon! In the meantime, thank you for letting me rest for a while.

Soul Food

Soul Food {April 2016}

What a whirlwind this month was, like a crazy tornado. I am so ready for something new. These seemingly random and unrelated media choices reflect the chaos a little bit.

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  • “Sparrows” by Jason Gray. Jason is one of my favorites; he creates such emotional yet hopeful and truthful pieces, without pretense or Christianese. Plus he is just good at what he does musically, too. Such a fan of his. This song is new, and joyful.
  • “Alive With Worship” by Newday, the Chris Howland remix. I love finding CCM that sounds fresh and simply good (honestly, it’s a rare thing for me). This upbeat remix of a worship song is like that. I found it on The Good Christian Music Blog, which I also recommend; it has playlists for electronica, hip hop, indie, plus other genres, too! What?!
  • The acoustic version of “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber. Acoustic versions of anything are my jam. When they’re done by the original artist? Score.
  • “December” by Zoe Boekbinder. Less than two minutes long, but it takes you on a lovely, melancholy journey.
  • “Up&Up” by Coldplay. A calm soundtrack with hope in it, for stormy days inside.
  • “Soap” by Melanie Martinez, the Solstis remix. One of my current favorites to dance/exercise to.
  • “Stay” by Tyler Ward ft. Cody Johns. I spent a Sunday afternoon lying in bed listening to this on loop. Love it. I feel like I recommend a lot of Tyler Ward, but eh, you do you, Tessa.
  • “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.
  • “If You Ever Come Back” by The Script. A fun yet emotion-laced song, which is a combination I love.
  • “Thank God” by Jon McLaughlin. He’s one of my favorites. This song from his latest album is so sweet and sincere, and fun to have playing in the background when I’m making art so I can belt along.
  • “Storm” by Lifehouse. Stunning. It came on while I was working on a piece in the middle of the night, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.
  • “More” by Sevin ft. Mark Driscoll. The chorus… so good. I declared it a lot this month. I’m also just obsessed with the beat. The pieces of a sermon in it are good, too, albeit a little tiring after a couple of listens.
  • “Steady Me” by KXC ft. Karen Gillespie. Passionate and thunderous. Love it.
  • “Flow Like Wine” by Gabe Dixon. When the chorus of this song hits… you’ll just have to see. Trust me.
  • “Running With Giants” by Thousand Foot Krutch. I love them and I always will; I don’t think they can put out something I won’t like. This song is from their upcoming album and I’m pretty pumped about it.
  • “Daisy Chain” by Shakey Graves. I just love his sound, and the way what he makes reminds me of visits to my dad’s hometown when I was little.
  • Nick Primuth’s “Her Middle Name Was Jane” ep. I fell in love with this throughout the first listen. Such sincere songwriting and lovely, comfortable sound. I played it on an anxiety-filled night, and it was such a nice voice to have speaking. Can’t pick a favorite from it.

If you want to listen to all of these songs in one convenient playlist, I made one for you! It features all of my 2016 Soul Food music picks so far, and it’s a pretty great playlist, if I’m allowed to say so. [Nick Primuth’s ep is not featured in the playlist because I could only find it on Noisetrade, so please do check it out there!]

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  • “Songs That Tell Her Side of The Story: Esmé Patterson at TEDxMileHigh.” Such a cool concept– writing songs from the perspectives of women sung about in other songs. Her music that carries out this concept is just beautiful, transports me.
  • I’ve recommended their individual videos before, but I watch Good Mythical Morning every day and it is guaranteed to get a laugh out of me at least once each episode. Who doesn’t need a guaranteed laugh in their day? These guys do such bizarre things on their show but I love them for it. [Side note: do you know how long I scoured the internet for a photo of them that wasn’t like this? A long time, friend.]
  • The 0-100 series by Soul Pancake. A hundred people, representing ages 0-100, are asked one question, and their answers are so interesting and often beautiful. I learn so much about my humanity family through these short videos.
  • “4 Things Christians Forget About Politics” by Jefferson Bethke. Dang this nails it. I respect Jeff and his thorough research a ton.
  • I’ve recommended The Bible Project before, but their video on Jonah shared so many things I didn’t know that I have to mention them again. They do amazing work!
  • Kenzie & Harris. They are such a darling couple that I’ve enjoyed seeing on her music channel, and now I get to watch them be cute on their vlog channel, too! They seriously seem like such lovely people.

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  • “Why We Need to Stop Trying So Hard” by Ruth Soukup. This hugged me tight. “We focus on our need to achieve perfection, and forget that the hard work has already been done for us, in spite of us.”
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I had never read it before, and now I understand how big a deal that is, because I am Anne and Anne is me and it is such a lovely story! Currently reading the next book in the series. [You can keep up with me on Goodreads? If you wanna? Eh?]
  • “When You’re Finding It Hard to Keep Up” by Ann Voskamp. Learning what the word “follow” actually means in the verse “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”? Huge.
  • “How to Love The People Who Have Hurt You”, also by Ann Voskamp. Because lately I’ve been needing a reminder to love my enemies every single day.
  • “Your Growth May Threaten Others, Grow Anyway” by Donald Miller. Changing is a good, normal thing and I needed to be told that. “Suddenly, after a series of experiences that had changed you, you went back and felt a chasm between the way people were treating you and who you really were. They hadn’t realized you’d changed.” I really love this post.

I’m taking part in the “What I’m Into” linkup over at Leigh Kramer’s space. Be sure to go visit if you like monthly round up posts like this.

Misc.

On Being Broken & Having Doubts

DSC09999I’m broken.

I forget it sometimes. Sometimes, I think I’m doing okay. I do what I can with what I have during the day. Then I get into bed and start talking to Him… and I don’t want to talk for long. Because I just cannot be detached or passive with Him, and I don’t want to concede to the fact that maybe I’m still not okay. “If I just protect my joy, I’ll be fine and won’t get hurt,” I think.

I remember Ann speaking of candle flames. She said that when we desperately cup our hands around the flame of our joy in attempt to protect it, we are suffocating it; we will snuff it out. “My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy. Flames need oxygen to light. Flames need a bit of wind,” she said.

So I try to let myself feel what I feel. I try to stay out of denial when it’s an especially difficult day. I try to be kind to myself. But I still hate not being okay. I hate that hard days are more frequent for me than good days right now. And I hate feeling like a pile of broken pieces, feeling incomplete, empty, like I’m not whole.

Most of the time, I feel it’s my fault. When I recognize a mistake I’ve made or flaw I have, I feel that I should be able to change it. But I have so many flaws and wounds, and they still show up every single day.

Someone I admire once said he believes our gifts and our flaws come together to help us live our specific purpose. I keep thinking about that. And how I’m always going to have flaws as long as I live in this body. Though I’ll fight to overcome them the best I can, there are some things I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life.

I have power over my actions. But I also can’t fix myself, because the problem is that I am what’s broken. Only my Father can truly heal me, can fix what’s wrong, because He’s the one who made me. So what can I do to improve, and when is it an impossible task for me?

I want to share some beautiful answer He revealed to me. But the painful truth is that I don’t have one. I’m not even close. I’m broken over my brokenness. I’m hosting so many questions, questions I was afraid to ask Him before because I feared He would be angry with me for not trusting Him.

What I am learning is that when I have questions– ugly, difficult, sometimes angry questions– He isn’t upset with me for having them. He knows they’re in me already. When I’m honest with Him about them, He isn’t angry; He’s glad I’m coming to Him. It doesn’t mean He’ll answer the question with anything but His arms and the gentle words, “I know.” But He doesn’t love me less for asking. He doesn’t call my questions sin or mistrust.

…I doubt Him daily.

Solid theology in my head and noble intentions in my heart don’t change what’s wrong in my soul. I can know His promises and His truth and His character in my head and I can act accordingly, and I could still not be convinced of them in my soul. I know my Father loves me. I know He’s working things for my good. I know He takes care of me. I know He’s a healer. I know He makes a way where there is none. I trust Him in my head.

But, in my soul… I don’t believe it. I’m scared to.

I’m scared to surrender my vices to Him. Because I know in my head He doesn’t take things away without putting His best in their place, but in my heart I’m afraid to be left with nothing; left to myself, and now even without the little balms I’ve made for myself.

I’m scared to pursue what He points me toward. Because, in my head, I know that when He asks me to do something, He does it with me. But in my heart I know I am inadequate and not skilled enough and will fail by myself. I’m terrified He won’t come when I need Him. The enemy’s lies have been in my ears for so long that I can hardly distinguish them from my own thoughts.

I’m scared… I’m scared of who I am.

In my head, I know that my Father loves me, but… but all of me feels so unloved. Overlooked. Tolerated. Unlovable.

No words of wisdom can fix this brokenness in me. I have a lot of them, and I believe them in my head, but they don’t reach my heart. I wish they would.

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart,” He says.

My Father is the changer of hearts. When I want to believe but still doubt, He comes in power to teach my very heart to trust and know Him and His truth. In our struggles to believe, He reorients our hearts, completely, so that we belong to Him and He belongs to us, in wholeness.

When my faith runs short, He brings my heart into His own. And He doesn’t run short on anything.

“That’s always the best place for miracles: God meets us– right where we don’t believe. When our believing runs out, God’s love runs on. . . God takes broken hearts– and gives you His.”  -Ann Voskamp [full post]

“Before you doubt Me, doubt your doubts. Doubt your doubts, and you will see that they are just as empty as the tomb that I walked from. . . Don’t you see these rings in my hands? See, we are married.” -Joseph Solomon [full video]

On Media & Art

Notes from “One Thousand Gifts”

Multiple people told me about “One Thousand Gifts” and about the power of gratitude. I knew I’d end up reading it because I already loved Ann Voskamp’s writing, but I wasn’t sure how much she was going to convince me that gratitude was something that was going to shape my life. I thought I’d be encouraged, but not changed.

I was so wrong.

Gratitude has so much more power than we could think… could hope. The way Ann explained gratitude and it’s relationship to grace and to salvation itself… I’m tearing up writing this, because I don’t know how much longer I would have lived in the dark, cynical world I’d found myself in if Ann hadn’t shared her raw stories of experience that give her credibility and undeniable evidence for how true her life-breathing words are.

All is grace. No matter how much I want to believe otherwise, I know. All is grace. What I experienced as I read this book will not leave me. I hope everyone finds what I found because of it. I see my intimacy with Jesus growing infinitely, as I thank Him for his grace-gifts.

I like to share pieces of books I love so that they end up recommending themselves. I took many more, but here are some of the notes I passionately scribbled as I read.

1000 gifts 11000 gifts 21000 gifts 3“When I’m present, I meet I AM, the very presence of a present God. In His embrace, time loses all sense of speed and stress and space and stands so still and… holy. Here is the only place I can love Him.”

“Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, ‘I know. I know.’

“… that I’d day after day after day greedily take what looks like it’s good from Your hand– a child gloating over sweet candy… but that I’d thrash wild to escape when what You give from Your hand feels bad– like gravel in the mouth. Oh Father, forgive… should I accept good from you, and not trouble?”

You may suffer loss but in Me is anything ever lost, really? Isn’t everything that belongs to Christ also yours?

1000 gifts 41000 gifts 51000 gifts 61000 gifts 7“To lack faith perhaps isn’t as much an intellectual disbelief in the existence of God as fear and distrust that there is a good God.”

“My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy. Flames need oxygen to light. Flames need a bit of wind.”

Soul Food

Soul Food {July 2015}

Want a look at the media I consumed this month? Here you go!

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  • “I Don’t Know” and “Shut Up and Dance (Cover)” by Jon D. I like the calm feel of his sound. His original is a beautiful peek at the hard days, and the cover isn’t my normal listening but something that just really makes me smile; it just has sweetness in it.
  • “At the Cross” by Chris Tomlin. This feels like classic Chris Tomlin to me, and I like it a whole lot. It leads me into a good place, a restful one.
  • Everything by The Gray Havens. I’m in love with their self-described “narrative-pop-folk-esque” style, and they are lyrically so rich; I love a poetic vocabulary. Some of my favorites of theirs are “Inheritance” “Songs in The Night” “Jack and Jill, Pt.2” “Where It Goes” and “Music From a Garden.” Check them out on iTunes! [Also they’re in the photo above, they are such a beautiful couple, I want to be them.]
  • Jon Foreman’s “Shadows” ep. I know I mentioned The Wonderlands last month, but the second ep in the project came out so I’m allowed to talk about it again, right? I just love all of his work. My favorite from the Shadows ep is probably “Ghost Machine” or “Your Love is Enough.” He’s been my most frequent listening all month long.
  • “At The Table” by Josh Garrels. His entire new(ish) album, “Home,” is wonderful, but this is one of my favorites from it. “There will always, always be a place for you at my table; return to me.”
  • Peter Hollens’ cover of “Now We Are Free (Gladiator Theme).” His voice does not become less beautiful to me, this song choice is brilliant, and his rendition of nearly anything he does is lovely.
  • “Into Your Arms Again” by Capital Kings. My brother gets annoyed with me because of how many songs I refer to as “my jam.” But I must say: this is my jam right now.
  • “So Close” by Ólafur Arnalds. He creates absolutely gorgeous music, and this is the first I’ve heard from him that has lyrics. Of course they would be beautiful, as well.
  • “After You Let Me Go” by The Country Together. There is a sweetness and a love in this that takes me to the summers of when I was young and full of wonder.

Movies/TV/YouTubeprince of egypt painting

  • The Prince of Egypt. My sister reminded me about the existence of this movie, and holy moly it is good. The music is haunting, the animation is uniquely pretty, and it makes me look at the story of the exodus with fresh eyes. I feel kinship with this portrayal of Moses.
  • “Food Network Star.” I’m such a nerd; when I watch TV (which is rare), I am probably watching Food Network. I get way too excited about this show.
  • “Say MovieNight Kevin (formerly Nostalgia Christian)” by Say Goodnight Kevin. He reviews Christian films and it’s fantastic. I spent a day watching all of the videos in this series and cracking up, while also uttering, “Yes, you tell ’em!” a few times. The “God’s Not Dead” episode is on point.
  • Charlie McDonnell trying to speak in an American accent. I laugh way too hard at “squirrel.”
  • The Sword in The Stone. I’ve be re-watching childhood movies as they cross my path, and after watching this one I concluded that Disney is the undisputed ruler of enduringly good animated films. It was darling and so enjoyable.
  • “Gravity Falls.” This show is my sense of humor to a T and I love it so much. There’s mystery and an over-arching plot, but there are also countless hilarious and even slightly teachable moments. I’m obsessed.
  • “Why Do Christians Freak Out About Everything?” by Blimey Cow. If I’m afraid to say it, I can count on Blimey Cow to most likely say it for me.
  • How to Train Your Dragon. I watched this at the house of one of my best friends, and I always forget how much I love it. I connect to Hiccup; he thinks differently than the people around him and won’t obey the societal norms if they don’t mesh with his principles. He stands for compassion even if it seems absurd to the people around him.
  • Mom’s Night Out. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this movie was going to be good; I just haven’t been floored by any of the films this group has made. But I was so pleasantly surprised! Not only did it get me to genuinely laugh numerous times, but there was a really sweet heart behind all the humor. Added bonus: my dear friend was a production assistant and I got to see his name in the credits!

Books/Articles/Blogsperspective

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these things, or about the things you consumed in July.