The first month of this year was already better than pretty much any month of last year, so that’s a big thumbs up from me. I’ve really been focusing on what I tell myself and what thoughts I let live in my head; thoughts are physical things in our brains that we either plant, water, or remove, and they affect how we live and how we interact with the world around us. As a result of learning that, my media intake has become a bit more sparse as I’ve been growing a bit more picky about it. These were some things that made the cut.
- Post Animal. I know I mentioned them last month, but I’ve still been listening to all their work pretty consistently. If a modern take on psychedelic 1970s rock sounds like your thing, you’ll love them. Some of my favorites include “Goggles” “Eel” “When I Get Home” and “You Were Not There.”
- John Mayer’s “The Search for Everything” album. I’ve loved it since it came out last year, but this month it was something I listened to as a long lullaby as I went to bed. The ones special to me lately are “Emoji of A Wave” “Theme from ‘The Search for Everything'” (I’m a sucker for a good instrumental interlude) and “Changing.”
- “I Want U” by Joseph Tilley. Happy, fun, young vibes I can’t get enough of. I also like his song “Mad,” too, for similar reasons.
- “Morning” “Scream So Loud” and “I Won’t Lie to You” by Francis and The Lights. They’re all about two minutes long (like most of the album) and for some reason that’s just magical. I love his sound and his simple but punchy lyricism. It makes me want to make more music myself.
- “Jack and Jill, Pt.2” by The Gray Havens. So joyous and uplifting to me.
- Joey Stamper’s medley of “Perfect” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I just need him to cover every song in existence, please, because he makes even the best songs better. His voice and his arrangements are simply incredible. And I love how seamless the medley is, down to the lyrics. Yes, yes, yes to every bit of this.
- “Call It Home” by Jillian Edwards. Calm and sweeping and lovely.
- Pretty much anything by Shakey Graves, but his iconic Audiotree session might be my favorite (though there’s an unsavory word in one song, if that bothers you). Every performance of his is a different take on his songs, so he just never gets old and his whole-heartedness continually shines. By the way, he just announced that he’s releasing a new album for the first time in four years!
If you want all of this music in a playlist, I already made it! It’s on Spotify and YouTube.
- Esmee Heebing’s 2017 bullet journal flip-through. I love seeing inside other people’s journals and getting inspiration for my own. Her style is so lovely and fun.
- You’ve Got Mail. The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan rom-com we deserved.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m not a hardcore Star Wars person so I don’t have a strong opinion about it in that sense, but I liked it! It was a really enjoyable movie experience and I thought it had a lot to offer.
- Beat Bobby Flay. Am I saying it’s great? Not really. But did I watch it for hours and die laughing as we made absurd jokes about it? Oh, yes.
- The Greatest Showman. The soundtrack is so so good and the visuals are colorful and gorgeous. The plot is pretty basic, but it’s still entertaining and definitely worth seeing. Hugh Jackman can adopt me.
- The Spider-Man: Homecoming panel at ACE Comic Con with Tom Holland, Laura Harrier, and Jacob Batalon. I’ve missed getting new interviews with them! Watching this felt like a reunion with my friends.
- The Office. A season and a half in one afternoon. So bad but so good.
- Continued watching The Good Doctor and The Mentalist regularly.
- The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup. A cute concept and story. I wasn’t incredibly engaged, but I think it was just due to the fact that it’s meant for younger readers (ages 7-10, which I didn’t notice was clearly stated on the back, oops). This would be a fun book to read as a family.
- The 21 Day Brain Detox program by Dr. Caroline Leaf. There was a toxic, painful thought that had been lingering in me for far too long. I wanted it out, but I just felt too haunted by it and tied to it. This program my grandma and aunt recommended and sent to me was such a helpful, eye-opening process to go through. I don’t feel haunted anymore, and that honestly is something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say. I am so grateful to be transformed by His mercy and the renewing of my mind.
I’m on Goodreads if you want full reviews and bookish updates from me.
What has been feeding you lately?
Sunshine-filled spring days met me somewhere deep this month. I found a lot of light in the art I consumed, too. Let’s talk about it!
- Knox Hamilton’s “The Heights” album. I saw them live at the end of last month when they opened for Colony House; I got back home from my trip, then downloaded their album and started listening to it on repeat. They are so much fun, and not without being meaningful, too. My favorites from the album are “Washed Up Together” “Set It On Fire” “Pretty Way to Fight” “How’s Your Mind” “Sight For Sore Eyes” and “The Heights.”
- “Rapper” by Heath McNease ft. Keyes. In my head for dayzzzz.
- Isla Roe. Her voice is stunning, and she pairs it with poetic songwriting and simple, haunting arrangements. She has an album called “April,” and I can’t pick favorites from it; they’re all so lovely. I also enjoy her songs “Still Your Girl” “Thirty Thousand Feet” and “Hazel (demo)” scattered across the internet. She is just incredible.
- “Goodbye” by filous ft. Mat Kearney. I’ve been obsessed with Mat for such a long time and nothing he does changes that; he is so consistently good. A huge inspiration to me. “My heart is on the table; somebody’s gotta try. I’m willing and I’m able, don’t you know it? I don’t wanna say goodbye…”
- “11:47pm” by Montell Fish. Good vibes, especially in the second half. Just something to sit with.
- Elvis Presley’s version of “In The Garden.” My car only plays cassette tapes, and my Elvis hymns collection is becoming my go-to. This song in particular captures me every time. One of my favorite hymns.
- “Time Flies” by Lykke Li. Makes me feel like I’m in a fairyland, a somber but still lovely one. So beautiful and stirring.
- “In The Blood” by John Mayer. His new album “The Search for Everything” came out this month. He released it in three separate waves, so only four of the songs were new to me, but it’s such a great album all around; I listened to it almost exclusively for a while. The song I’m sharing is my favorite new one. It hits so deep.
- Derek Minor’s “Reflection” album. I found a list of rappers who were Christians and checked them all out, to find that I enjoyed Derek far above the others. Relevant, convicting, and uplifting all at once, surrounded by solid beats. My favorites from this album include “Look At Me Now” “Hold Up” “You Know It” “Until I’m Gone (ft. BJ The Chicago Kid)” “Judo” and “Good Enough (ft. Camille Faulkner).” That’s like half the album but shhhh it’s fine.
- “In The Name of Love” by Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha. Emotional and heart-thumping at the same time. I turn the volume way up on this one.
- “Always Been U” by Phangs ft. R.LUM.R. If you saw Relient K on their last tour, you also saw Phangs in their band. His new single just dropped, and what. a. jam.
- “Fallen Short” by Youth. Such comforting spring vibes in this. If you follow Fleurie on all her social media, your playlists will quickly fill with her shout-outs.
- “On A Night Like This” by Dave Barnes. I spent a late night with it and it was just what I needed. Dave writes so beautifully.
If you want to listen to all of this music in one place, I have a playlist on YouTube and on Spotify. Scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.
- Andrew Garfield dancing for charity. No comment necessary.
- John Mayer’s interview with Charlie Rose. This made me want to go for coffee with John to chat about music and personal growth. I didn’t know if I’d watch the whole thing, but I was so engaged that the time flew by before I knew it. One of my favorite things he said: “There’s a difference between writing a song because of somebody and for somebody.”
- Guardians of The Galaxy. I know it’s been out for almost three years now, but I just had never been able to see it until this month! I think it’s a great marriage of a comedy and a cool superhero/sci-fi movie. Looking forward to volume two soon!
- This Tom Holland interview. He’s one of my favorites. All his interviews are fun to watch because he’s just charming, but this one was also a genuinely great chat (shout out to skilled interviewers who ask good questions) about Marvel and the upcoming Spidey film. And I swear: he gets more handsome every week.
- Jen Campbell’s analysis of Peter Pan. The day I declared I simply didn’t like Peter Pan, I watched this video and repented. It convinced me to put it on my re-read list.
- Brad & Hailey Devine’s “Kyoto Travel Guide.” Goals.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Battle of The Five Armies. Why not part one? Because I’ve seen part one a hundred times, y’all. Also I had to google who the fifth army was.
- This video about falling in love, heartbreak, and learning to be firm in who you are. I love the way she tells her story and how much wisdom she has for us to glean. “I was a different person, and that person didn’t need him, she wanted him.”
- The cast of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries playing Marrying Mr. Darcy. I need this card game and I need to play it with these people right now, please.
- Continued watching Designated Survivor and Scorpion.
- “Hard Holy Week? What He Asked Us on Maundy Thursday Changes the World, the Church, & Every Broken Heart” by Ann Voskamp. So many life-shaking truths in this. I filled two pages in a journal with quotes from it.
- The Complete Fairy Tales of George MacDonald. George is one of my all-time favorite writers, a poet even in prose. I swoon every time I read his work.
- This lovely thought from Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes, about building your life. We need the reminder sometimes.
- “When You’re Trying to Love Better: What Nobody Tells You About Love Being a Verb,” also by Ann Voskamp. A stunning piece.
- Two hashtag campaigns: #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear and #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear. Participating in these was such an impactful, life-building experience for me. If you click on the links, you’ll find the collections I made of my favorites from both. I’d love for you to take a look. Also, let me clarify: when we say “only Christian women,” we mean “not Christian men.” Other women can definitely experience these things, too. Consider this post by Sarah Bessey if you’re not sure what to make of what you find.
- “Looking at God’s Creative, Redemptive Work Through The Eyes of A Mother” by Catherine McNiel. I didn’t expect to connect very deeply to this piece, since I’m not a mother. But it was such a good read, turned on a few lightbulbs in me. “God’s most powerful acts, His Incarnation and redemption, did not break out of these most human of actions and identities—but rather worked within them.”
- “The Lost Art of Abiding” by Daniel Emery Price. Right. On.
- If you want to watch my reading progress and hear my thoughts in the midst of it, as well as read my full reviews, you’re in luck: I’m on Goodreads!
What fed you this month?
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.
- 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.
- “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.
- “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.
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?
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!
- 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.
- “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.
- 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!]