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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Thanksgiving Projects

Homework, Art, & Tea (Week 2)

taken November 3, 2013November 3– my arms, a cup of tea, Romans 11:23, and my cozy slippers.

I feel like the luckiest person in the world every time it’s my turn to help in the infant nursery at my church. I love every baby and toddler that comes in, even if they’re new; really, I LOVE them! It can’t be described. Every time I hold a child, even if they’re crying and upset, I am so at peace. I didn’t take a picture in the nursery because I knew some parents might be like, “Uh…”, but I took this picture of my arms afterward because I was holding at least one child the entire morning. The tea is one of my favorite kinds: raspberry zinger, yum! The verse, in case you can’t read it (click on any of these pictures to enlarge them), says, “Even they, if they do not continue in their disbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.” It was a verse that spoke so clearly into where I was that I put the date next to it. Do you know someone who is so defiant, so far from God, that you’ve almost given up on them? There is hope for them. God is not limited; He has the power to bring them back! I needed to be reminded of that. And lastly, it was a freezing cold day and my slippers were wonderful.

taken November 4, 2013November 4– my new boots, a quiet break on a bench at school, journaling, and a hat.

I know this one is kind of superficial, but I’ll be honest and tell you why: this day was not positive, and these things are all I had the mindset to find. The boots are a gift from my grandparents (my birthday was last month) and this day was the first day I wore them; I’d been wanting a pair of short boots for a while, and these are perfect. The bench at school is on the second floor and sits next to a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks campus, so when my next class is in this building and I have time to kill I sit here and read/surf the internet/people watch. I have two daily journals: one for writing prayers, another for recording what I hear from Him (in the Bible and sometimes in other ways). On this day my prayer journal was completely full of things that I hadn’t been giving Him for weeks, but my “listening” journal? Just those two sentences (plus a few verses I wrote in later). But they were two sentences that I actually listened to. And the last picture was meant to be an alternative to the bench picture but at the end of they day this was all I had. So we’ll count it as being my hat, because it’s purple and I do like wearing it.

taken November 5, 2013November 5– a bowl of clam chowder, the completed first draft of my essay, a bag of cheese puffs, and my favorite ham and potato casserole.

First, can I just say: please don’t judge me because 3/4 of these are food! Haha! Literally all I did this day was write a paper and eat! The clam chowder was nice and warm on this cold day; in fact, it was so good that you can tell I almost forgot to take a picture until it was nearly gone. My paper took so much planning; writing class is difficult, yet my favorite class! I know all that I’m learning will impact my writing for the rest of my life. I took a picture of my first draft because that’s the hardest part. Once you’ve planned it and gotten your ideas down, all it takes is passion and the right words. [If you’re curious about my paper, it’s about education from a Bible college perspective; let me know if I should share it on Forgiven and Loved or not!] The cheese puffs were a good snack as I typed the essay, and for dinner my mom made this amazingly good casserole. It is the definition of comfort food.

taken November 6, 2013November 6– an invitation, the smell of fall, a phone call with Sierra, and an A on my paper.

I rarely check my campus mailbox since I live at home, but when Emilie hinted, “You– should check your mailbox.”, I obeyed and found this invitation to our small group Christmas party! I am very much looking forward to it; I have the best small group ever! The picture of the pretty trees represents what I was smelling at the moment (haha!). You know the smell of fall? Burnt leaves, cold air, mustiness, first rains? I was reveling in it. That night, my best friend Sierra called! We got to fill each other in on a few changes in life and pray for each other, and it was great. We are the perfect illustration of that C.S. Lewis quote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” We have so many “You too?” moments! And the paper I wrote the previous day? I got a 94, which is an amazing compliment to get from my teacher! She loves my writing, and that really encourages me.

taken November 7, 2013November 7– Monsters University fruit snacks, my bed, a Lindsey Stirling music video, and tea.

My only explanation for the fruit snacks? Smiling faces in the midst of intense studying. My bed is so warm and comfortable, a place where I can just sleep and not have to worry about anything. For some reason, I really appreciated the fact that I have a bed the day I took this. (And sorry if you love neatness and are itching because my bed isn’t made! I didn’t want to “stage” the picture and my bed is never, ever made!) All day I was either studying for a biology test while listening to Lindsey Stirling, or procrastinating by watching a Lindsey Stirling music video. If you haven’t heard her before, I recommend changing that! She plays the violin and has both original music and covers of other pieces. My favorite cover has to be “River Flows in You” (although the Lord of The Rings medley is fantastic), and I think my favorite original is “Crystalize.” But they’re all so well done! And sorry I have tea pictures twice this week, but this one represents the kindness of my mom in bringing me some good ol’ earl gray as a studied; I had to miss youth group, which is not something ever I do, so I was a little sad. My mom knew.

taken November 8, 2013November 8– my cat, hardly any homework over the weekend, my biology notes, and owl earrings.

My cat Puzzle is so annoying, but she’s also the cutest, sweetest thing and I can always feel her affection for me. The awkward first photo is her sitting on my lap; she’s a snuggler. My small homework load for this weekend is a rare blessing that I am so thankful for! It’s especially nice after a week of tests. Speaking of tests, my biology one went well, but I am fully aware that I would have flunked if I had not studied. I got a solid B, but that was with a full day of studying; you have to put in a lot of effort, but it pays off. Utilize any resources your teacher mentions. My professor told us about the online flashcards I used, and I would not have passed without them. And my mom randomly got me these grumpy-looking owl earrings because everything halloween is on sale right now; I think they’re pretty cute!

taken November 9, 2013November 9– sleeping in, my sketchbook, my journal, and “The Living Church” by John Stott.

I haven’t overslept in a long time, but yesterday I found myself waking up at 10:00! Definitely not normal, but every once in a while it’s nice. The photo is of the clock I’ve had my entire life; my grandma painted it for my nursery, and it’s still on my wall. Both she and my grandpa are talented artists. This art challenge has been fun for me, more fun than I expected it to be! My sketchbook is kind of small, which helps with my problem of never taking advantage of the whole page (my art teacher in middle school always bugged me about that, haha!); I carry it with me everywhere. And you know how I said I have two daily journals? I have another journal, too, but this one is just for recording thoughts and memories whenever I have them. I journaled in it yesterday. And lastly, I’ve been reading “The Living Church” by John Stott for one of my classes. At first I wasn’t wild about it, but now I’m getting into it more; there is a lot of deep truth in these pages. I’ll close with this quote from yesterday’s reading about ministry (page 77):

“But how do shepherds feed their sheep? The answer is that they don’t. To be sure, if the lamb is sick, a shepherd may bottle-feed it. But usually he leads his sheep into good pastures where they feed themselves.” -John Stott

What kept you positive this week?