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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!


  • “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.


  • 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.


  • 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 {January 2017}


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


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • “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 {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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • “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 {July 2016}


This month carried so many different things for me. A lot of things came out in media this month, too, and I’ve been enjoying good handfuls, so let’s talk about some of it!


  • “Amazing” by Christian Collins. If this guy makes anything, you know I’m going to promote it. Love him and the positive presence he is in the world. [Also the video is so close to a million views oh my gosh!]
  • Anthem Lights, especially their Justin Bieber, Drake, and “Single Awareness” medleys. They also recently shared a Peace & Love medley, which I think is very special. They’re just good. These guys arrange things so well and all have seriously beautiful voices. I’ve been listening to a lot of their stuff lately. (Such as…)
  • Joey Stamper’s cover of “Jealous.” Killer. I don’t even the like the original song but I’ve listened to this so many times because dang that voice.
  • Switchfoot’s new “Where The Light Shines Through” album. This album… we need it. It could not have been released at a better time for us. My hands-down favorite from it is “If The House Burns Down Tonight” (dancing and tears at the same time), but I also like “Looking For America” featuring Lecrae and “Hope Is The Anthem.”
  • “Mountain” by Jeremiah Daly. There’s just something magical about it. Comforting yet somewhat heart-wrenching. The entire album is good, honestly; I use it as lullabies on anxious nights.
  • “Better This Way” by The Early November. A guy I went to college with basically goes to hardcore shows for a living (yes, I’m jealous, too), and this month he shared a clip of this band. I went on my little internet scavenger hunt, discovered this song, and kind of fell in love with it.
  • “Afraid” by Tenth Avenue North. People are coming out with such relevant music lately and I’m loving it. Pumped for this album. “Fear never told the truth.”
  • “Up In The Air” by Tilian. A friend played this for me during a car ride thinking I might like it; she thought correctly. The word “empowering” comes to mind.
  • Relient K’s “Air For Free” album. Why are so many bands putting out such good albums right now?! This might be Relient K at its finest; both uplifting and grounding. My favorite from it is “Man.” I also really like “Bummin'”, “Empty House”, “Flower”, and “Heartache.”
  • “You & I” by Colony House. Lyrically excellent, musically their signature alt-rock with some added retro vibes! I read it was recorded in one live take, which only adds to the retro factor. I’m loving what they’re doing. Their album comes out in September, and you can pre-order it right now!
  • “I’m Not Perfect. You’re Not Perfect. Let’s Hang Out!” by Tyler Ward. First: I think the title is super cute. Second, this song is fun and danceable, while also being a beautifully honest reminder that we’re all just doing our best and can do better together. I appreciate it so much.
  • “A Prayer” by Kings Kaleidoscope. Stunning, heartwrenching, powerful.

What’s that, you say? “Tessa. Come on now. I just want one convenient playlist with all of these songs.” No worries! Not only does this playlist have this month’s music choices, but the rest of my choices from this year so far are there, too! I know: “Tessa! That’s amazing! You’re the best!” I gotchu. [The Tyler Ward song isn’t on it because it is not on YouTube.]

Movies/ YouTube/TVthe-vet-life-animal-planet

  • These brothers attempting to make artsy pancakes. Weirdly entertaining (teenage boys crack me up so bad, it’s probably a disease), and I kind of want to do this with my friends now.
  • America’s Got Talent. People are so diverse and interesting, and this show displays it. I love seeing people living in their passions.
  • Collins Key and the Merrell Twins doing the “Smoothie Challenge.” It’s gross but I laughed way too much. Their “Eat It or Wear It Challenge” is also gross and great.
  • Mike Donehey’s video journal for “Afraid.” He always speaks such truth. “Fear is just a consequence of believing a lie.”
  • The Vet Life. My dad told me he was shocked I wasn’t watching this, since it’s about veterinarians and I’m obsessed with animals. I wasn’t too interested in trying it, so imagine his surprise when I spent five hours one Saturday just enjoying seeing these fellow animal lovers take care of creatures and build relationships. They even share details about animal health and anatomy, which is just really interesting to me. [Although when they operate I definitely shield my eyes because I’m a sensitive nugget.]
  • “Tour of My Brain.” So clever. I definitely want to make something like this.
  • Christian Collins (yep I’m gonna talk about him again) creating a song out of instruments he’s never played before. First of all: how did he get so good at new instruments so fast?! Prodigy. Secondly: he makes me smile so, so much. The song is fantastic.
  • Still consistently watched Food Network Star as well as The Mentalist (although I might take a break from The Mentalist for a while because anxiety is dumb).


  • “Dear You: 5 Brave Things to Keep in Your Pocket for Hard Days in a Hard World” by Ann Voskamp. This… this feels like someone lifting my chin up, looking into my face, and speaking life into my body. Such simple but HUGE things to remember and be in awe of. “Promise yourself you’ll remember this because you will need this most: You can always have as much as God as you want.”
  • “Love Looks Like: Choices” by Sarah Bessy. I’m not even close to married, but this moved me so deeply. A stunning exploration of being two people with different perspectives still unified in love. “Now it’s funny when people ask us sometimes, how do you weather major theological differences in your marriage? I don’t know if we did it the right way. Is there even a right way? I don’t know the right answer for every marriage but here is the answer that worked for us then and seems to still be working now: Choose each other. Turn towards one another.”
  • “Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from The South of France” by Kristin Espinasse. A fun coffee table book to pick up and get a taste of France and the French language every once in a while. [You can keep up with all of my book progress on Goodreads if you ever feel stalkerish; no worries, I get it.]
  • “Guard Your Gates,” also by Sarah Bessey. I love her way of explaining the balance of being guarded while not letting fear win in you. It is so important to understand.
  • “Book of a Thousand Days” by Shannon Hale. Hale wrote what my younger self craved in fiction, and I’m finding my current self still craves those things: a mystical setting, strong/complex characters, lovely thoughts sprinkled throughout the story, questions that make me keep reading because I must know the answers, even a little non-mushy love mixed in. This book pleased me so much.
  • “When We All Ache for Justice in The World” by Tim Stafford. This has lingered in my brain since I read it; it is ringing so true to me. When we want to talk about justice, so often we immediately shift the conversation to focus on injustice. What if, instead, we sought to focus on what justice actually looks like– restoration, healing, things set right?

Soul Food {May 2016}


sf may 2016

This year is moving by so fast! The events themselves seem to be slowly pulling along, but January feels so near and recent. Life is good even though it’s wild. Here are some of the things I took with me on the ride this month.


  • Social Club Misfits. Fun yet truthful rap; listened to them pretty consistently this month. “Marriage Goals” and “The Misfit Generation” are my two favorites from their new ep.
  • “Fragile” by Jillian Edwards. Such a calm, sweet ballad that I want to wrap myself with and just rest in.
  • “Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale” from the Cinderella soundtrack. The nostalgia in this is a comfort, but even more than that, the beautiful, sweeping tune carries me away to a dreamy place.
  • “Grows Old” by Thirdstory. This made me gasp. The haunting, 50’s-inspired vibe paired with their incredible harmonies– gorgeous. Absolutely stunning.
  • “Poison & Wine”, “To Whom It May Concern”, “I’ve Got This Friend”“C’est La Mort” and “Disarm” by The Civil Wars. I know everyone already listens to them, but I just now got around to it, and wow… their homey, sentimental, poetic music is absolutely lovely. Obsessed. “I missed you, but I haven’t met you, oh but I want to…”
  • “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber, the Arman Cekin remix. I know I recommend a version of this song like every month, but I just keep happening upon good ones, man!
  • “Can’t Sleep Love” by Pentatonix, the Danny L Harle remix. So much fun to dance to oh my goodness!
  • “Goodbye” by Alyssa Baker. Somehow this song brings me back to growing up, and the kind of music and “I wonder if” feelings I was surrounded by when I was younger.
  • “Still Your Girl” by Fleurie. I aspire to make music as beautiful and dynamic as this.
  • “Waiting For My Time To Come” by Colony House. My boys always feel me.
  • NF’s “Therapy Session” album. First: I cannot think of a cooler name for an album. Second: wow he is real. The sincerity and passion had me sold three songs in. I also love the unique orchestral hints; he made it compliment rap very well. “How Could You Leave Us”“Breathe” and “All I Do” are my favorites, I think.
  • Authentic Fiction. The music-making persona of the one of a kind artist Jordan Watts, whom we lost three years ago. I found out that his loved ones released an album of his music (both finished tracks and raw takes) to honor him; it is such a gift. To still be able to hear his voice… I can’t put a price on it. He created such beautiful things. Listening to him gives me the best kind of heaviness in my chest. Find the album on iTunes and on Spotify. We love you so much, Jordan.

If you want all of this music in one convenient playlist, I gotchu! It has all my recommendations from 2016 so far, so the most recent are near the bottom.


  • Ant-Man. I didn’t really have expectations for it, but I ended up enjoying my experience with it so much! Interesting story, witty and charming characters, lines that genuinely made me laugh, and cool action that wasn’t gross. I will definitely be watching it again! [There is some language in it.]
  • Spiderman 2. The Tobey Maguire versions are cringey to me now, but I still can’t help loving them. Spiderman is my favorite, forever and ever. Also Mary Jane is just the worst, wake up, Peter.
  • My Neighbor Totoro. The artwork is beautiful. The characters have such a contagious joy for life and all the little things in it, and their story is just a fun, heartfelt, wondrous journey to step into. My brother has been recommending it to me forever and I finally listened; he, as usual, was right.
  • This video that Switchfoot and Relient K made to announce their upcoming tour. Absolute gold.
  • The music video for “Up&Up” by Coldplay. I recommended the song last month, but the video came out this month and it’s too incredible to not bring up. It is a piece of art.
  • The Mentalist. I don’t really watch TV, but you’ll catch me watching reruns of The Mentalist every week. Each character is absolutely wonderful, and it’s the least gruesome crime investigation show I’ve seen. Win.
  • This vine. Oh my word this vine.
  • This video of Jake Gyllenhaal and Jimmy Fallon spitting food at each other. I know: gross. But I was in genuine pain from laughing at this. The pie! THE PIE!
  • Sinbad: Legend of The Seven Seas. Nostalgic and mythology-filled.
  • Good Mythical Crew. Getting to see the behind the scenes shenanigans of the hilarious crew of a bizarre but great web show? My Saturday morning happiness.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? It’s always been one of my favorites (again, you can see how much TV I watch); just a cozy thing to nestle in and watch when I want to.
  • The Merrell twins being adorable and riding around in the car. They are the cutest people on the planet and I’d love to be friends with them!


  • “Jesus’ Flipping Tables Isn’t an Excuse for Your Online Rants” by Jesse Carey. The title pretty much says it all, but read the article anyway. People using this excuse for their anger in any context has always bothered me. God is God and we are not.
  • “I Went to a Strip Club” by Anna McCarthy. Love is for every single human on this earth, and we get to give it to them. I love this so much.
  • This article reporting on the science behind gratitude– how it literally rewires your brain. If you know me even a little bit, you know I am a huge advocate for gratitude as a lifestyle. I love seeing biology echo what Scripture and my own experience already prove to be true.
  • “Don’t Always Follow Your Conscience” by Andy Naselli. This was just interesting food for thought, the idea that sometimes our consciences have been trained in ways Scripture hasn’t told them to be. I’m still ruminating over it.
  • “Did God Give Me Cancer?” by Zack Hunt. This piece is beautiful. All could benefit from reading it, and from knowing who our God is and isn’t.
  • “What Happened When I Stopped Feeling Gulity for Wanting to Get Married” on Dear Wild Heart. Her church upbringing and experience mirror mine so much, and the more people I talk to the more I hear the chorus of “me, too” ringing out. This was a soft hug of encouragement and a kind reminder.
  • “Let The World Change You: A Commencement Address Do-Over” by Rachel Held Evans. Wow I relate to this. “I thought the world needed my answers, but as it turns out, I needed the world’s questions.”
  • “I Tried to Follow 8 Different High School Dress Codes & It Was Frustrating” by Kristin Chirico. I must admit: I go into big time mama bear mode when it comes to how people treat teenage girls. This article/experiment is such an interesting and important perspective to keep in mind when we consider our young women, and what we’re teaching them about who are they and their place in the world. She makes so many solid points.
  • I’m a failure of a bookworm, as my Goodreads reading challenge tells me every time I log on. But you can still follow me there if you want to see that I do in fact read books and have thoughts on them, even if I’m slow at it. Maybe this summer will be the turning point.

I’m taking part in the “What I’m Into” linkup over at Leigh Kramer’s blog. If you like round-up posts like this you can go there and find others!

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.


  • “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!]


  • “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.

Books/Blogs/Articlesyellow anne

  • “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.

Soul Food {March 2016}


This month was a good one. I accepted its contents as they came, and there were times of stretching as well as times of happiness and comfort. Here is some of the media I took with me.


  • The piano version of “You Don’t Have to Go” by Christian Collins. Oh my goodness. I can’t express how stunning and moving this is, or how proud I am of Chris. His song and its depth have been beautifully magnified in this version, by Kurt Hugo Schneider’s piano work and by the deeper intimacy in Chris’ voice. I gasped and covered my mouth the first time. I love it so much.
  • “Here Lies My Pulse” and “Cripple Me” by Rebecca Roubion. Both of these are just such lovely ballads to sink into and stew over; sentimental, yet thoughtful. The piano and her voice are both enchanting.
  • Shakey Graves, especially “Unlucky Skin” “Family and Genus” and “Proper Fence.” His music can be gritty, so I’m a little choosy about which songs I listen to. But he definitely has brilliant gems in his narrative, down-home roster; I think he is so skillful in what he does. Listened to him pretty much nonstop this month.
  • Louisa Wendorff’s mashup of “Photograph” and “Clean,” featuring Who Is Fancy. I know I’ve mentioned Louisa multiple times over the past few months, but I just love her. Her work and her spirit inspire me. I love how she can put songs together and create a story out of them. This one is special.
  • Tyler Ward’s cover of “Piece by Piece.” I love his way of interpreting music through his electric guitar, his amazing voice, and his emotions. This song is incredible.
  • “Fill My Cup” by Paul Colman Trio. This popped up on a random music channel we were listening to, and the happy feelings laced through it caught me. I grew up listening to a different song from this band, so that made it extra special; the early 2000s is a favorite music era of mine.
  • “Latch” by Disclosure ft. Sam Smith, the Dj Lil Taj remix. So much fun to dance to! Even if that’s not your way of exercising you’ll probably end up dancing to this anyway. And of course Sam Smith’s voice is incredible.
  • “Hurricane”  by Lord Huron. Lyrically interesting, musically fun and unique.
  • “Mine” by Maisie Peters. What a lovely, personal little ballad. It’s like listening in on her inner ponderings on a rainy evening.
  • “Searchlight” by Hermitude ft. Yeo. Upbeat and lyrically simple, which makes it such a blast to dance to. I love finding new exercise jams.

Want to listen to all of these songs in one place? Check out my Soul Food 2016 Playlist!


  • The “Donut Challenge” with Rosanna Pansino and Jake Roper. Two friends, blindfolded, trying to guess which kind of bizarre doughnut they’re eating. Weirdly entertaining and fun. Although I really wanted a doughnut for a solid couple weeks and watching this made it worse.
  • “Scorpion.” This show about a group of geniuses who meet complex, urgent needs in the world and navigate their differences through their common strengths? So fun. Endearing characters and smart plotlines.
  • “Starting Your Etsy Business!” on Nia’s Nest. An Etsy shop is tucked in the back of my mind, so this FAQ-style video by a successful shop owner was a good find for me. I saved it for reference in case I ever decide to take the plunge!
  • Up. I rarely choose to watch this movie because the first few minutes make me feel so much, but I caught it playing, and had to stay and watch. It is such a lovely, witty, heart-healing film. One of my favorites ever.
  • The Peanuts Movie. Oh my gosh it’s SO STINKING CUTE! My brother and I enjoyed it so much. Heartfelt, genuinely funny, just so sweet. It’s wonderfully classic Peanuts, but also modernized well with a great script.
  • Filmmaker Paul Dalio sharing about his experience with bipolar disorder. I give standing ovations to those who speak about their mental health; they show the world how much every human being is just that– a human being, with struggles and gifts alike. [If you want to be more informed about bipolar disorder, you can visit this article that was shared on World Bipolar Day this month. I encourage you to do so!]
  • Wreck This Journal flip-throughs. I’ve had my journal for a few months, and it has been a ton of fun adventuring in art with it so far. Seeing what others have done with theirs is interesting and inspiring for me. I especially like this one and this one. [There might be a sweary word or two in their artwork?]
  • Nathan and London Kress’ wedding video. This is one of the most darling couples I’ve seen. Ever. I admit that I’m one of those people who isn’t a fan of seeing couples be coupley, but these two… they have magic. (It’s also fun to see the little boy from “iCarly” all grown up and getting married!)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I have always loved legends of mystical lands, so when this Disney movie came out when I was little it was very exciting for me. It doesn’t get a ton of recognition, but I still think it’s fun, engaging, and creative. I always secretly admired Kida and wanted to be like her.

Books/Blogs/Articlesbook tea bookmark

  • “Why All Your Failing at Doing Things Better This Lent– May Be a Kind of Succeeding” by Ann Voskamp. This one brought the tears. Our mistakes and our messiness and our shortcomings? God doesn’t look down on them– He values them. Because He values us. And resting in that? That’s the point.
  • “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Good” by John Richmond. A look at the images we have of others and ourselves, and why it’s a good idea to stop crafting them. Humanity is messy and grimy; that’s hard. But it can also be a comfort.
  • This report from the American College of Pediatricians about gender ideology and its effects on children. This is important.
  • “The Metaphor in the Front Yard” by Sarah Bessey. “It’s kind of ridiculous how often I used to get mad at the effects of that rotten thing in my life instead of dealing with the cause, the rotten thing itself.” This one hit me hard.
  • “Rice Krispies: My Spiritual Awakening,” also by Sarah Bessey. I think many of us grew up being taught that we had to do great things for God, and believed there were people who are heroes of faith and greater in the kingdom than the rest of us. I love how she unpacks these assumptions and what the Lord speaks into them.
  • “This Is Why Your Suffering Needs a Voice” by Lisa Gungor. “We want to move forward right away, be happy, positive, love the person who hurt us, be over the grief of a lost life. But Lent calls us to face the darkness head on; to not put a lid on our anger about whatever suffering we have experienced, but to look at it for what it is.”
  • “3 Lies We Need to Stop Telling About ‘Negative People'” by Sam Dylan Finch. I’ve never been able to articulate why people being quick to cut others out of their lives bothers me so much. This post nails it. “It’s one thing to cut out someone who is abusive or puts you in immediate danger. It’s another matter entirely to cut someone out of your life because they aren’t happy enough for you.”
  • I am the worst bookworm ever and take forever to finish books; I’m reading three right now, I just haven’t completed any of them! However, I update on Goodreads regularly, so if you’re interested in what I’m currently reading/my impressions while I read, it’s all there.

I’m taking part in the “What I’m Into” link-up over at Leigh Kramer’s blog, so be sure to go over there and browse if you like seeing what other people are consuming.