Tag Archives: books

Soul Food {March 2017}

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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 {February 2017}

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This was a wild month in my life, filled with pretty much every emotion one can feel. I am so grateful to my family, my best friends, and the Lord, who have walked me through it. And maybe these songs and stories helped a bit, too.

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  • Kina Grannis’ cover of “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me.” This song has meant so much to me and her serene voice does it such justice.
  • “In The Cold” by Haley Klinkhammer. Her voice is so pure and the emotion she puts in it hits just the right spot. This song reminds me of looking back on being a teenager and feeling bittersweet toward who you were.
  • “Bummin'” by Relient K. I saw them live at the end of last month, and it spurred me to listen to their latest album a bit more.
  • John Mayer’s “The Search For Everything – Wave One” ep. I mentioned it last month but it’s been a constant companion for me lately. So good. “Wave Two” just came out, too, and “Still Feel Like Your Man” is my favorite from it.
  • “Love Grew Legs” by Brolly. Ethereal. I’d listened to one song of his upon a recommendation, but only recently began listening to the rest of his catalogue. Stunning work; nostalgic, original, heartfelt.
  • “The Garden” “Speak to Me” and “Miracles” by Kari Jobe. Her voice, in terms of both singing and influence, is one of my favorites in CCM. While our styles don’t totally match up, her sincerity is so apparent and I think it inspires sincerity in the response of the listener. Her new album recently came out; these three are the songs from it that hit me in that deep place. Especially “Speak to Me.”
  • Jeremiah Daly’s “The Darkness Will Be Over Soon” album. I’ve mentioned it many times before, but it has become a pretty consistent presence in my life. I listen to it when I can’t sleep; it just calms me and leads me into sentimental thoughts I can soak into. He’s a wonderful songwriter. Lately the track sitting with me has been “In Those Days.”
  • “Let Go Of The Wheel” by Mako. Emotional, but in a way that lets you dance it out. “Leaving me behind was everything you feared…”
  • “Heartbeat” by The Fray. It came up on shuffle in my giant playlist and reminded me how much I love wildly dancing around to it.
  • “Forever Like That (Acoustic)” by Ben Rector. A sweet background for a long writing session I had, and late night journaling times for the next week, too. I’ve also been enjoying and connecting to his song “Moving Backwards.”
  • “See Me Through” by Theatre Breaks Loose. A bit cheesy, but in a way that connects me to old emotions, so I still think it’s lovely.
  • “One & Lonely” by Phangs. Infectious and emotional.
  • “Replay” by Zendaya. I don’t even remember how I found this but I just think it’s a jam.

If you want all of this music in one place, I’ve made a playlist! It’s available on YouTube and on Spotify, and the newest additions are near the bottom.

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  • “OMG We Bought A House!” A super fun couple decorating and renovating their house to be lovely and quirky and cozy, bit-by-bit. Their creative instincts are on point and I love watching the process.
  • KeKe Palmer ranting about Titanic. Cracked me up so bad on a hard day.
  • Alice in Wonderland (the animated version). One of my favorite films, a familiar place for my spirit to rest.
  • “Chattin’ About Therapy With Tessa Violet.” And what a solid chat! I remember when I made my first counseling appointment; I was deeply upset because I thought it proved something was wrong with me. But the person I was with when I made the appointment told me: “Tessa– I am in counseling. Not for the same reasons, but I am in counseling. It’s not something everyone does, but honestly it’s something everyone needs sometimes.” She was right. I’m so glad I did it.
  • The Rescuers Down Under. I hadn’t seen it in years, so I wanted to refresh my memory. It’s delightful.
  • The newest volume of Craftversations with guest Clayton Snyder. So so so fun! I always enjoy the show, and Clayton definitely brings some extra charm to it.
  • An embarrassing amount of Tom Holland interviews. Most notably this one and this one from when he won at the BAFTAs this month. But here’s one about The Lost City of Z in which he explains how he broke his nose in the jungle, one about In The Heart of The Sea in which he’s just so intelligent and respectful, and I’m not hiding this crush very well am I
  • Angel’s Egg. My brother sent me this Japanese animated film, and I’ve been thinking about it since. Gorgeous artwork and score, and so rich with complex symbolism that leaves no definitive answer, leading you as the audience to bring your own interpretation to what’s there.
  • The Rocketeer. A feel-good classic I hadn’t seen before.
  • This video discussing whether or not the end justifies the means. Honest and thought-out and just good.
  • Always watching The Mentalist; currently in season two.

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  • “Learning to Pray From a Place of Desire, Not Duty” by Trent Sheppard. A lovely story and some beautiful reflections from it.
  • “Why Lent Matters to Me” by Sarah Bessey. It matters to me, too. Sometimes, a little liturgy can do a lot of good.
  • “One Surprising Way I Found Relief From Anxiety” by Emily P. Freeman. Such a beautiful and encouraging piece.
  • Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent. A startling illustration of the underlying privilege and prejudice still present in our culture. It’s difficult to read at times because of the painful memories relived in the pages, and because it forces you to look in the mirror at your own biases and misconceptions. But it is so important, I think especially in a season like this. Very thankful to have read this book.
  • You can keep up with what I’m currently reading and see full reviews I write by visiting my Goodreads!

I am continuing to work on different, more in-depth things for this blog, but none of them are saying it’s their time to be shared yet. Thank you for being gracious with me.

Soul Food {January 2017}

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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 {December 2016}

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Another year completed! I am so ready for the new things. But first, I’m ready to talk about some of the art and media I consumed during the final stretch of 2016.

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  • The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Boxes” album. I’ve loved them for years but I recently discovered their latest album, and not only did I greatly appreciate it for what it was, but I also appreciated that they’ve still never lost the comforting perspective and soft-rock vibes that make them the Goo Goo Dolls. My favorite from the album is “Flood” (ft. Sydney Sierota), but I also love “Over and Over” “Souls in The Machine” “The Pin” and “Lucky One.” Honestly, I’m fond of the whole thing. They’re one of my favorites.
  • “Put A Label On It” by Ryan Follese. Not the typical style I listen to, but it’s just so sweet and fun. In a time where people are afraid to fully commit themselves to much, a guy declaring he wants to put a label on a relationship is literally music to my ears. Also, the music video is one of the cutest I’ve seen in a while.
  • “Things That Keep Me Up at Night (Live)” by Brolly. So, so gorgeous.
  • “The Love You’re Given” by Jack Garratt. Such a cool groove, laced with emotion. “If you won’t take the love you’re given, then at least let me go…I’ve been trying to give you my love, but you won’t let me…”
  • “Northbound Train” from the “North and South” soundtrack. My best friend and I were talking about our favorite songs at the moment and she shared this one; it had met her spirit more than songs with words could. And wow I love it, too.
  • “Go Alone” by Colin & Caroline. Dreamy, lovely, calm yet full of life.
  • “Ain’t Ready” by Christian Collins. My guy released another jam– and the video is on his own Vevo channel. So excited about all the crazy stuff he’s getting to do.
  • Twenty One Pilots’ MUTEMATH sessions. Amazing. I discovered it late at night, and the passionate sound mixed with being able to see them create it met me somewhere deep. Making music is magic that doesn’t stop wowing me.
  • “Billion Years” by Trip Lee (ft. Taylor Hill). Makes me smile and makes me want to dance. So good!
  • “At Last” by Jeremiah Daly. I listen to his album when I can’t sleep, and this song is the one that makes my heart feel the lightest. So special.
  • “42” by Colplay. Obsessed. I got the “Viva La Vida” album for Christmas, and this is my favorite song I hadn’t heard from it.
  • My Christmas playlist! The full thing is on YouTube and a lot of it is on Spotify. But Christmas is over now so don’t listen to it for the next eleven months (hahaha).
  • Amy Stroup’s “You Make The Cold Disappear” Christmas ep. Some of my absolute favorite Christmas music for the past two years now. The second half mesmerizes me.

All year, I’ve been collecting my music favorites from these monthly lists into one big playlist. You can find the final product on YouTube and Spotify, and let my 2016 jams be some of your 2017 jams!

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  • The Amazing Spider-Man. My favorite portrayal of one of my favorite characters.
  • This interview with Rhett & Link about what’s on their phones. Cracked me up so bad!
  • Jordan Taylor’s video about alcohol. Describes and explains my own experience so accurately.
  • Eloise at Christmastime. Possibly my favorite Christmas film; humorous and heartwarming.
  • Ann Voskamp’s videos for advent, especially the one about joy. So many vital life-truths.
  • Tom Holland’s Facebook live Q&A. I’m hesitant to be excited about the new Spider-Man movie based on the trailer, but the young man playing him is so funny and charming! This Q&A is thirty minutes long but it flies by because he’s so enjoyable to listen to. [Also I found out his dog is named Tessa, WHAT]
  • Tessa Violet’s video on music copyright. A super informative introduction to the copyright world for songwriters and recording artists, explained in layman’s terms as much as possible. Definitely saved it for future reference.
  • “Christmas Time Boy,” from Olan Roger’s live story tour. So. Freaking. Funny.
  • Rogue One. I’m not a huge Star Wars person, but wow this film is good. I didn’t expect it to make me feel so deeply.
  • Bas Rijksen’s “Why I Don’t ‘Go to Church’ Anymore” videos, Parts One and Two. A non-angry, reasonable explanation that I relate to in my depths. Please: put yourself in an open-minded place, and listen. For me.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey continues to be one of my favorite characters in film.
  • Mike Donehey’s “No One Can Steal Our Joy” video journal. So important!
  • In The Heart of The Sea. A sad, heart-wrenching, sometimes gross film, but wow it is good. I might not be able to watch it again, but I really think it’s well done.
  • Continued watching Designated Survivor. I am super invested and awaiting the return in March!
  • And of course I watched The Mentalist all the time because I always do.

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  • “The Secret Truth That Cures Feelings of Abandonment & What Has to Be Said About Advent” by Ann Voskamp. “You are never abandoned in a place to be forgotten — you were placed in this place to be found.”
  • “12 Reasons Millennials Are Over Church” by Sam Eaton. Please read this. I don’t relate to every reason, but so many of them are right on for me and other people I know. We aren’t trying to be rebellious or heretical; we just want what’s real.
  • Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. This was my first ever read-through of the series, and it has now become a treasure to me. I love it so, so much.
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski. Jamie is a wonderful writer and has some important things to say, I just didn’t come close to tears or a heart-wrenching moment like everyone I’d heard from who read this book. Worth the read, just not the life-changing experience I thought it would be. My hands-down favorite chapter was “Telling Ghosts to Go.” [If you want to keep up with my reading progress and see full reviews, I’m on Goodreads!]
  • “The Best Habit to Cultivate When Joy Is Eluding You” by Dandi Daley Mackall. Such a powerful, convicting concept. “And I prayed that God would show me how to share joy in other areas, instead of competing for only one joy—mine.”

Soul Food {November 2016}

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Art has been extra important to me lately, both the art I make and the art I’m taking in. Let’s chat about some of it!

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  • Audio Adrenaline’s “Until My Heart Caves In” album. This is one of my favorite albums of all time. Meaningful and melodically masterful. It is so nostalgic for me; I won’t pick favorites from it.
  • “When We Collide” by Jon Foreman. Sweeping and heart-grasping.
  • Anthem Lights’ “Magical Medleys” Disney covers ep. Exceeded my expectations! Super fun but also arranged so beautifully.
  • “Wild World” by Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors. We need this. I’ve been singing it to myself all month long as a reminder.
  • “When” by Dodie. Sometimes a song captures a feeling you didn’t even understand you had, and sings that knowledge to you with a comforting touch. This is one of those.
  • “Love Me Now” by John Legend. I might not ever be able to get over this man’s voice. There’s also a lovely version of this song by Kurt Hugo Schneider, Madilyn Bailey, and Blake Rose.
  • “Pop Out Revenge” by Social Club. I’d been needing a new jam with a solid beat and wow did this do the trick.
  • “Love on The Weekend” by John Mayer. So calm and lovely. I painted to it late at night, then woke up with it in my head; I loved it in both places.
  • “Do You Miss Me At All” by Bridgit Mendler. Just a nice little something to groove with.
  • “Brother” by The Brilliance. “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.”
  • I’m getting back into my Christmas music! All Christmas season I have playlist, and add to it if I find more songs I love. You can find that playlist on YouTube or (most of it) on Spotify if you want!

Speaking of playlists: if you want all of these songs in one playlist, I’ve made it for you! You can listen to it on YouTube or on Spotify.

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  • “Forgiveness in an Age of Anger,” a TED talk by Brant Hansen. Reminders I needed, and probably a lot of us need right now.
  • “Eddie Redmayne Plays ‘Heads Up!’ with Ellen.” My throat hurt from laughing at this! Eddie is one of my favorites. There’s also this video of him screaming in terror at a clip of himself singing as a child.
  • Barbie and The Magic of Pegasus. An animated film I grew up with that still puts me in the warmest mood.
  • Rewatched every “Craftversations” episode because it’s just so enjoyable and cozy.
  • Rhett and Link doing the “Crazy Cookie Roulette Challenge.” So funny! Mostly because Link’s gem of dad guest-hosts.
  • Pride & Prejudice. The 2005 film is so beautiful. What a timeless and lovely story.
  • Continued watching The Mentalist and Scorpion.

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  • Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. This series makes me so happy.
  • “Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas for The Bruised.” In case you still thought the Christian music industry was a lovely place where people are treated fairly. It’s an industry just like any other, except it pastes Jesus’ name over their choices, to add a little extra sting. I’m working on praying for it instead of being bitter toward it.
  • “The Kind of Christian I Refuse to Be” by John Pavlovitz. I’ve struggled with calling myself a Christian for a few years now and this explains why so well.
  • “The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives Is a Killer.” So interesting and something I’ve seen to be true in my life and the lives of men I know. Our culture is in need of healing here and I think more people are seeing that.
  • The Veil by Blake K. Healy. Healy explains his giftings humbly and practically (yes, he explains seeing the spiritual realm in a way that makes it practical), with the intent being to simply share his story and impart insight to those who seek it. It made me think and it made me sit back in awe. There’s a lot to learn here about our role in the spiritual world that we’re living in and taking part in, and I’m really grateful to have read it. [You can see my reading progress and read my reviews in real time on Goodreads if you want to!]

Soul Food {August 2016}

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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 {June 2016}

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The first month of my summer was both weird and wonderful; I hope the rest of my summer is even more so. I learned quite a bit about the kind of art that’s special to me, so you’ll see some of that represented here.

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  • NF’s “Therapy Session” album. Yes, I mentioned him last month; yes, I’m still 100% obsessed. Every track is truly so good and so powerful. I am such a big fan of his. A few current favorites from the album are “Real”, “I Can Feel It”, “Wish You Wouldn’t”, and “Got You On My Mind.”
  • I’ve also been listening to NF’s “Mansion” album. I was going to list my favorites from it and had actually started to, but I genuinely was naming nearly every song on the album. It is just so good. Although I will say, if you only listen to one song from this album, make it the title track. I love all the others, but this one… we need it. [P.S., I might see him live in the fall and am so giddy about it!]
  • “Fireflies” and “Verge” (ft. Aloe Blacc) by Owl City. Nostalgia and just fun (I have to dance to “Verge” every single time). I can’t hate on Owl City.
  • Louisa Wendorff’s cover/mashup of “Never Forget You” and “Close,” featuring Anthem Lights. “Hey Tessa when are you gonna stop talking about Louisa–” NEVER! She is a huge inspiration to me. Beautiful harmonies on this, in which she created a cohesive story from the songs like she always does because she’s the queen of mashups.
  • Speaking of Anthem Lights, their Drake medley is fantastic. I’m not a Drake fan but I really enjoyed this.
  • “All Of God’s Children” by Jon Foreman. The lyrics are so, so important.
  • “Waking Up Again” by Emily Hearn. Sweeping, homey, uplifting; the kind of music I can nestle into.
  • “Bluebird” by Esme Patterson. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but the sound itself of this song is encouraging to me; it’s just a kind and welcoming melody that picks me up. Lyrically lovely, too.
  • “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato. I don’t normally listen to Demi, but when I heard this song I was stunned by it. Her vocals are crazy, the piano is haunting, and the emotion is so transparent. I’m working on learning the piano!
  • “You Know It” by Colony House. My favorite band released a new single, from their upcoming new album, so of course I’m going to share it! They’re putting out some 1960s rock vibes, and I’m into it.

If you want a playlist with all this music, I have one for you! It features all my 2016 Soul Food picks so far, so this month’s are near the bottom.

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  • The music video to “I Luv Rap Music” by dc Talk. It’s horrible in the most wonderful way. Friends might say it captures my essence (hahaha!).
  • Zootopia. Both a cute film with clever design and writing, and an important film sharing that we don’t need to fear others and treat them differently; we’re all the same inside. I love what Disney has been telling our kids lately.
  • Mike Donehey’s new video journal. I love this. I’ve always been bothered by Christian culture telling me I have to be a leader; the fact that Jesus asks for followers brings such comfort.
  • Sleeping Beauty. Its art and music are such consistent sources of wonder for me; I watch it when I need to get into an inspired headspace.
  • Robin Hood. I fall into a classic Disney animation mood sometimes. This lovely film captures fairytale wonder and the influence of 1970s art/music, which happen to be two things I really enjoy.
  • “The Inspiration Shake” on New Age Creators. A practical yet poetic and cute look at some simple self care for creatives.
  • “Food Network Star.” Because I’m a nerd and the contestants are interesting. Also Rhett and Link were guest judges once and it was incredible.
  • Lecrae’s TEDtalk, “Heroes and Villains: Is Hip-Hop A Cancer or A Cure?” I think this history of hip-hop and the culture it was born from is so, so important. He articulated it excellently.

Books/Blogs/Articlesmy afternoon

  • “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes. I have a slight rant about this novel. You can read it on my Goodreads if you’d like.
  • “Rejoice and Be Sad” by Shannan Martin. I just found comfort in this reminder that sadness is an emotion we have to feel and isn’t an indicator of how well we’re doing in life.
  • “About Those ’20 Minutes of Action:’ 20 Things We’d Better Tell Our Sons Right Now About Being Real Men” by Ann Voskamp. The truth living in this post is powerful and vital.
  • “Anne of Avonlea” by L.M. Montgomery. My first experience with this series is going so well; every character is such a delight, and Anne teaches me about myself.
  • The Bible Students Say Twitter account. An anonymous Biblical Studies professor tweets cringey lines from students’ papers, and it’s gold. And sometimes terrifying.
  • “Reclaiming ‘That Girl'” on Dear Woman. “‘That girl’ has become the poster child for too much. Too emotional, too loud, too needy, too picky. And I am convinced it has to stop. Every time we negatively refer to ‘that girl,’ there is an actual girl we are condemning.”