Soul Food

Soul Food {March 2017}

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

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

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

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

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

What fed you this month?

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Blossoms of an Artist

I Started an Etsy Shop!

art drawerThe idea to sell my artwork and some of my other creative projects through Etsy has been in my head for over a year. But I immediately faced discouragement when I first began vocalizing it, so I mostly shoved the thought away.

In November, however, I was given an opportunity that I so wanted to take hold of. It was going to cost more money than I had (or would have any time in the near future), but I had such a desire for it that I was ready to start taking the idea of an Etsy shop seriously and see if I could raise funds that way. I began to research, ask friends who had experience, and work on what I was going to be selling.

But because my situation is unique (living with my family and working on creative pursuits from home, with no income to speak of), I faced a lot of setbacks during the process. Starting a business was intimidating. Okay: it was terrifying. I was determined to push through the fear, but running into roadblock after roadblock was becoming more spirit-crushing with every instance. And when the opportunity that had spurred me to start working on this in the first place fell through… I just kind of left everything alone. I didn’t intend to give up. But I did give up.

When I had been working to build the business and began facing discouragement, the Lord had been so clearly and openly supportive of me. He pointed me to the story of the Eiffel Tower; when it was being built, the art community in Paris was circulating a petition to stop the work, claiming it would be an ugly mark on a beautiful area in the city. The builders continued anyway, and created a piece of artwork so widely loved that it has become an icon. He told me this story, and encouraged me to keep building. I wanted to listen. For a while, I did. But eventually I let the discouragement get to me.

Lately I have been revisiting some of our conversations from that season, and seeing what He said and didn’t say… and what I did and didn’t do. Etsy was something He said was good. And something I have ignored. I don’t want that to be the case anymore.

Last week– I opened my Etsy shop. Tessa Maye Makes Things is alive.

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I know I will face challenges. But I will face them, as they come, instead of letting them cripple me or keep me from something that could be good. I am nervous. But when I put the final piece of information in and saw my shop go live for the first time? I took a deep breath. I felt relieved, and I felt hopeful. I’m not going to ignore that.

If you want to check out my artwork/projects, feel free to visit the shop! I am brainstorming more ideas for it already. But, if nothing else, I want to urge you: that thing that still invades your mind sometimes? That He placed a desire for in you? That maybe He’s even told you He’d support you in?

Keep building.

Soul Food

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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • “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.