Day 31: A Song for Harvest Time {Really, It’s for You!}

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It’s the last day of this year’s Write 31 Days Challenge- and I made it!!! I wrote every single day of October here on the blog. Just in case you didn’t know, if you click the pic just above this paragraph, it’ll take you to the home page of the 31 Days of Enjoy series, so in case you missed any, they’re all conveniently listed right there just for you!

Speaking of just for you, I wanted to take this last day of the series to share a song I’d written some time last year about autumn (and love… and life… basically I wrapped up every profound subject in this one song. Just kidding, I didn’t, but for a second it sounded that way, didn’t it?)

Harvest TimeI don’t have fancy recording equipment of any kind, and decided only in the last couple of days to record it and share here, so this is just a rough video. But I’m hoping this can be one of those “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,” moments. I also put the lyrics below, too.

Autumn sun is sinking low
The spark in the air is one I know
Something grand will soon begin
Something’s coming in, something’s coming in
.
So come along with me
Let’s run away to the place we go
When October rolls around and the winds may blow
But I’ll hold you close, I’ll hold you close
.
{Chorus}
Bright autumn days remind me
Rejoice in this harvest timing
The earth is ablaze, earth is ablaze with the light
In the harvest time
.
Everything’s aglow
Trees and fields aflame as if they know
That it’s time to burn bright
And time to find a voice
Time to rejoice, time to rejoice
.
Springs and summers may come
Winters may go, but in my heart it’s fall
It’s the one I like best of all
Though we’re blessed in them all, blessed in them all
.
{Chorus}
Bright autumn days remind me
To rejoice in this harvest timing
The earth is ablaze, earth is ablaze with the light
In the harvest time
.
Like light in the darkness shining
There is a harvest inside me
Seasons may change but you stay the same
And bring life, you bring harvest time
.
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I confess, I’ve loved every minute of this challenge! I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have! (See what I did there??) 
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Please feel free to share this song with others, and you can also visit my youtube channel for more songs here (provided you aren’t a Judgey McJudgeypants… the quality of that video is how the others are too. Also, my piano resides in my daughter’s nursery, so prepare yourself for a lot of pink stuff in the background.)
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 I realized only in the last couple of days that while I’ve talked about music a couple of places in this series, I hadn’t shared any of my own. I struggle to be brave enough to do this, because of all the disclaimers I am prone to make (you know, like in that last paragraph), and because I always feel like I could do better. But making music is just my favorite beyond favorite thing to do. Even more than blogging, or art, or- gasp!- eating. (I did manage to share a few songs last month, because that was a huge, amazing thing that happened to me. But it still took some mustering of courage to share, somehow.)
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Really, I hope this can just be an encouragement to you, to boldly enjoy the gifts God has given you- often I think those are made to be shared with others. So, share! Create!
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Enjoy!
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(And thanks for reading/commenting, whether you’ve been with me every day, or only on a few. It’s a huge blessing and encouragement to me!!)

Day 30: Fall Family Photos

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Family photos. They’re just one of those things… You know? Those things people do. Those small luxuries we cherish in the name of family. (And I do mean family photos in the professional sense.)

But it’s not a luxury we’d enjoyed before. We were able to get a jump drive of some lovely, precious, dear photos of Lucy the day after she was born (because be still my heart! even though the jump drive itself was overpriced, the pictures themselves are priceless to me). However, we never had pictures taken of us as a family (we reminisced this past weekend about our lack of engagement photos)… Until now!

When we were down at Milligan last weekend, we stayed with my beautiful, dear, talented friend Kara, whom you at least know a little bit by now, if you’ve been around here awhile. While we were there, I begged of her a short session to- finally- take some family photos in the fall gorgeousness of East Tennessee.
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I love how Kara’s photographs reveal her unique style- her mysterious and magical gift of capturing the beauty (both hidden and in plain sight) of a moment.

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These ones… oh, my heart!

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Of course, a quick shot in front of The Coffee Company, because of what I mentioned earlier this week.

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And she got this one of me, messing with my hair and being distracted by the leaves on the ground… So, you know, my default. (And I told you I loved that dress didn’t I?)

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One reason why this was so fun was watching Lucy discover leaves (or “leaf” I should say, since she mostly just carried that specific one around the whole time) and pine cones and trees… And then catching those moments on camera! Ah- so wonderful.

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Lucy Light

Oh, and this. This is my Lucy. Her name means “light.” Can’t you just see it glowing from inside her here?? (Sheesh. That picture alone would’ve been worth the whole session, even if all the others somehow turned out terrible! Which of course they wouldn’t have, but I’m just saying…)

These are just a few of the moments Kara caught up in her lens. She has good eyes, if you know what I mean.

And I know sometimes looking at somebody else’s family photos leaves me feeling like their life is somehow perfect and there’s this weird jealousy thing that happens (to me, at least). So, even though I can’t imagine you’d feel this way looking at mine (we weren’t even in perfectly coordinating outfits, you guys), I encourage you that these photos were just one more way to savor and enjoy this moment- this season- in which we are living. Your season is just as beautiful, just as important.

I hope these beauties, these holy gifts framed between four walls encourage you to see that in your own life, too.

You can find more info about Kara at her website here.

Day 29: 10-ish Favorite Pieces from my Fall Wardrobe

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For some reason, I had it in my head that I wouldn’t allow myself to post about clothes during this 31 Day series… It’s silly and frivolous, I told myself.

And then I said, “Who cares, dumb Mrs. Trunchbull-voice in my head?!” The whole point of this series was to explore lots of aspects of enjoyment. And for me, clothes factor greatly onto the list of things I enjoy. Especially in the fall.

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I don’t care that it’s not the most profound content ever. I mean, one of my early posts featured some of my favorite things on my Autumn Happiness board on Pinterest… Which I’m fairly certain is NOT deeper than talking about my favorite fall wardrobe pieces.

So, here are my favorite things to wear this fall!

This first sweater merited 3 pictures, so you get the full scope of how happy it is. And, as we all know, fall is blanket- I mean- sweater weather, so this is the perfect such one for me! I positively swooned over it the first time I clapped eyes on its muted tones, aztec-y (but not too aztec-y) patterns, and awesome drapey-ness. (Are you seeing why this is not a fashion blog? I basically just make up my own words to refer to this stuff.) 

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Plus, it reminded me of this sweater I found online for a mere $95 (vomit- who pays $95 for cute when you can get it at T.J. Maxx  for a tenth of the price?!) But this one was 16.99, and it’s SO soft! I’ve been wearing it all the time the last couple of weeks.EDIT 2 back sweater

Of course, I love this shirt from Old Navy, and this hat and scarf combo from the covered bridge festival(I love them so much, they also made an appearance here.)

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Here’s a close up of the shirt’s pattern, since you can’t see it super well in the first picture:5 shirt close up

(Side note: clearly I don’t care about wrinkles. Another reason why this is not a fashion blog.)

And because one blanket- I mean- sweater isn’t enough, there’s this awesome, lightweight cable knit piece (also from T.J.’s) which is just the right amount of structured and loose for me. (This is a real challenge people; I’ve often felt that cable knit sweaters made my not-tiny arms look considerably larger, making me feel more like a pumpkin roll wearing a sweater. Most unpleasant. Thus, I love this sweater extra because it doesn’t do that.)

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Then there’s this blazer, which I found at Target in January or February marked down to $10.50!!! (If there ever was a moment I felt like I was winning at life, that was it.) It basically goes with everything I own, so it wins the award for best blazer.

9 plaid blazerThis dress… it may be one of the best dresses I’ve ever owned. It’s that shade of green I’m always drawn to, and it’s just floaty enough (while also being structured) that I feel like it flatters me better than a lot of dresses do.10 green dress

This dress IS pretty fabulous too! Plus, it’s bright and happy pattern makes me feel like an ambassador of cheerfulness whenever I wear it. (I’m like, where are those fairy wings of mine?? I know they’re around  here somewhere… Now everyone be quiet while I burst into song with small woodland creatures. Though if you can harmonize, feel free to join in.)

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Somewhere between the worlds of lightweight coats and winter coats lives the beautiful land of This Perfect Coat…

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And boots, of course. The middle ones are rain boots I’d ordered off of Amazon this summer. (Why is it so hard to find cute ones that don’t have obnoxious patterns all over them?! Maybe I just have an issue committing to pattern… Except plaid. I’m obviously committed to plaid. Just not on my boots!)

6 bootsWell, that was fun. I hope it was fun for you. I’m enjoying this year’s fall apparel more than I have in a long time!! I know they’re just fabric and stitches, but they’re little luxuries I’m enjoying, gifts that somehow really do brighten life. And that is part of what this series is about.

Day 28: Enjoying Coffee. {And Catching Up.}

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We’ve traveled a LOT this month. Like, every weekend but one. And I have positively loved every minute of it.

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But I will be glad to get to this weekend. Because I’m not going anywhere. And maybe I’ll finally put my laundry away, and wash that particularly intricate sippy cup of Lucy’s which has been renting out a corner of the sink from me for a few weeks now. (I keep washing everything else BUT that sippy cup. I know I said it was intricate, but it’s not really that intricate. There’s really no reason not to have washed it. I just haven’t.)

Other than that, I’ll be glad to settle my home once more. I find it needs hushing again. I’ll also be glad to settle my schedule again (my brain’s going, “Schedule… what’s that? It sounds familiar…”). 

IMG_3612This time last year, I was still attempting to basically work 3 jobs (daycare, a home business, and working as Communications Director for Wendy). And I was extremely scheduledI’m not sure I’ve ever been that scheduled in my life. And maybe I should clarify- I’ve had a schedule of some sort, but this time it relied at least 80% on me to craft the schedule (other than the hours at daycare). So, to keep myself sane, I clung to the structure I set up, which was an hour-by-hour agenda 5 days a week.

People. I am not an hour-by-hour agenda kind of girl. But I had to be in that season, because I just couldn’t keep all the balls in the air.

Even more than the schedule, though, I clung to Jesus. I was desperate for the joy even in the midst of that stressful season. I knew it was there, because God promises joy and peace in every circumstance, even and especially when things aren’t peaceful naturally. (Are they ever?) 

This was one big reason for the Reclaiming Abundance Project. I knew we needed to shift our mentality as a family towards abundance instead of scarcity. That project helped start the process.

One aspect of that rigid schedule that I still love is the time I’d labeled “Coffee and Catch-up” in my datebook. It was between 30 minutes to an hour long, depending on the day, and it always took place during Lucy’s afternoon nap.

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During that precious time, I would stop everything else, remember to breathe, be thankful, and- you guessed it- drink some coffee. (And often have a couple pieces of dark chocolate, or a little cookie or two.) Sometimes I would work on a blog post, because that gives me joy, or I would let myself just straight up play on Pinterest, or I would draw/do something artsy, or have more quiet time.

It helped so much to schedule that time in, because without it, if I took any time for anything fun/life-giving, I felt a disproportionate and soul-killing guilt over not maximizing my time perfectly.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Now I’m down to two jobs, technically. (Though I think of both this blog and my Etsy shop as a job, because they are life-giving to me and crucial, and something I feel called to build. So kind of still 3.) These days, I’m experiencing a fairly different agenda, one that mercifully does not involve being rigidly scheduled from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM (I’m not kidding; that’s what it was before). And I still experience the challenge of how to manage my time well, but I also still utilize the “Coffee and Catch Up” time. (Moreso when I work from home, versus daycare days.)

It’s just one way I wire my days with built in enjoyment. (And I desperately need that.) 

Yesterday, I opened this dark chocolate bar which was left along with a beautiful, welcoming note in our room when we stayed at Kara’s house last weekend.

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I didn’t initially read the whole name of it, because quite frankly I was looking at the awesome design on the packaging. So, when I took the first bite I was delighted to discover caramel inside! It’s not the first time I’ve had a piece of chocolate with caramel inside, but it just took me by pleasant surprise!

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And that’s really what this intentional time of enjoyment in the day does for me. It’s like finding caramel where you didn’t expect any. So much of daily life is already a gift in and of itself- rather like dark chocolate! But anything that helps foster better sight- a better seeing of the beauty and gifts before you- that is where enjoyment blooms a little brighter.


For me, it gives way to worship, because it’s like God knew just how to speak to my heart. The chocolate itself isn’t the point. The blessing is. It’s part of the delightful relationship available to us through Christ. Somehow, all these little graces act as little markers on the road, reminding us whom we are truly enjoying.

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Day 27: What the Bible Says about "Enjoy" {Part 2}

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Last week, I shared Part 1 of What the Bible Says about “Enjoy.”

Today is Part 2! Remember, we’re looking at this whole enjoying, delighting thing from our perspective. We’re looking at it from the perspective of someone who glorifies God and enjoys Him forever. And today includes a few verses reminding us of how God enjoys us. He enjoys who we are- he created us after all! (By no means is this a comprehensive look at EVERYTHING in the Bible about enjoyment or pleasure etc. It’s just a few verses to get us started.)

So again, I encourage you to find a quiet place so you can delight in and enjoy God’s Word.

Philippians 4:4 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

(Remember the free printable I did of this one?)

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The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth

because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,
Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.
From these verses, I see what God’s character is like; the Word reveals both the attributes he delights in as well as the way he loves and delights in us- as a father delights in his son. The context is crucial to these verses, friends. I challenge you to spend the next week taking some time to click the links to each verse to read it in context, especially the ones in Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Samuel, Luke, and Jeremiah. (Of course the others are equally important, but they’re not really stories.)

Day 26: Homecoming! {Lucy Goes to Milligan: Part 2}

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Ah, yes. Part 2 of homecoming weekend. I had to spend the whole first post about it being a sappy mess. So, now it’s time for a slightly less sappy mess!

Tennessee will always hold significance for us as a family, and especially for us as a couple. As broke newlyweds, we spent the first couple years of marriage there- years full of challenge and struggle that grew us up a lot in a relatively short time.

But there was good in the midst of the challenge, along with some good people.

We got to see some of those people this weekend, starting out Saturday morning, when we headed to The Coffee Company in Elizabethton for brunch/lunch (whichever meal you think scones and cinnamon rolls and coffee most appropriate). Not only is this place beautiful, it’s historic, and most importantly- produces the most delicious baked goods and coffee in the state.

It’s also an extra-special place because Ryan’s and my first official date took place here, up in the front section by the windows. (Sigh! Gazes off into the distance… then remembers to mention that my incredibly talented friend, Kara drew everything on that sign. I mean, I want that hanging in my house!!!) My first job in our married life was here, too! So much coffee… so many muffins… That part I definitely miss.

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Scone, your grace? Like I said, all the baked goods are exceptional. They’re all made from scratch by a German lady named Irene, whose sister, Ursula (who goes by “Uschi”… or “Ooshi” if spelled phonetically. Um, I don’t know how to spell it) works in the kitchen there as well. I have rarely seen Irene anything but happy and busy about her baking station. One time, however, I accidentally dropped a muffin or something onto these blueberry bar things, which Irene had newly placed into the fridge, and I experienced her short, German wrath. I thought I was the most passionate person I knew about baked goods… I was wrong.

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This is a turtle-mocha, topped with the best whipped cream ever in the history of dairy.mochaEDIT

We ran into two different people from youth groups we used to pastor- darling Anne was one such wonderful person! (Another was our friend, Shannon, who was actually working at the Coffee Co. that day, and with whom we neglected to take a picture! What is wrong with us?!)anne EDIT

And it just wouldn’t be East Tennessee without shops like this one, which find the spelling of words to be a subjective thing. (However, according to this site, there is some debate over collectible vs. collectable. So, well played, Country at Heart, well played.)

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Later that afternoon, we got to hang out and watch the parade which takes place on the main road running through campus.

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Dahling Heather, who is valiantly attempting to cuddle Lucy, who just really wanted to pick up all the leaves and inspect them thoroughly.buffolo greerEDIT

So, the highlight of the parade was our college president, Dr. Bill Greer, who rode a real live buffalo. Can I be the only person who dubbed him “Buffalo Bill” in my mind? Surely not…

The weekend was full of wonderful moments of recognition, old friends with new babies, professors who remain their delightful, quirky selves, great conversation with the dearest of friends, and even a late night drinking water and eating half price appetizers at Applebees (a collegiate experience if ever there was one).

Thanks for being so wonderful, Milligan! Here’s to another 150 years.

Love, Haylie.

Day 25: Homecoming! {Or… Lucy Goes to Milligan: Part 1}

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We seem to be enjoying a slew of traveling weekends, and this week was our biggest trip so far! We headed down to East Tennessee to our alma mater, Milligan College. I’m not gonna lie, I love my school.

But I never realized that love in typical homecoming, let’s-all-wear-our-sweatshirts-and-go-to-class-receptions kind of way. I think it’s because we lived in East Tennessee for awhile just after I graduated, so it felt like I didn’t totally leave Milligan right away (and plus, I was newly married, so I was distracted from any intense oh-man-I’m-leaving-my-awesome-college-experience-for-grown-up-world feelings which may have filled my fellow students.) 

So, while homecoming weekend was always fun (it usually entailed a visit from at least one set of parents, both while we were in school and the time following when we lived in TN), it wasn’t this sentimental experience.

Until this year.

This year it was:

a) the first time we’ve been to homecoming since we moved 3 years ago

b) my five-year anniversary from graduating

c) the first time Lucy has ever been to Milligan (to which she basically owes her existence since her parents met there, and her paternal grandparents did, too… plus my mom and older sister and cousin went there.)

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This year was the first time I went to homecoming and found myself being emotional all over the place about the littlest things. I had started out totally fine- just thoroughly enjoying running into people I knew, professors, friends, Ryan’s friends, seeing olds haunts and favorite spots on campus, etc.

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And then I went to the music department’s concert on Saturday afternoon, and bawled like a baby during the women’s chorale’s version of “Shenandoah.” Pretty much after that, it was all I could do to keep it together. To clarify, it was mostly being in Seeger Chapel (pictured above), looking at the grubby, tiny practice rooms (pictured below) in which I spent hours upon hours UPON HOURS practicing voice and piano… but in which I also wrote some of my first songs (aka songs I would admit to have written), and where I shared with Ryan the first love song I’d ever written for him.

practice room EDITMy girls (who will hopefully not hate me for including this picture of us being goofy- meaning me being goofy because who takes pictures of practice rooms?) and I even got to sing together (one very brief, all-too-quickly-finished hymn) at one of those old uprights, illuminated by the simultaneously dark and yet garish fluorescent lights… But all those grubby aspects were made beautiful and even- somehow- holy in that moment. (And who can keep it together when that happens?!)

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(Did you know there is such thing as a passive aggressive piano? Well, there is, and this is the proof. They always leave you notes with very correct grammar and punctuation with little keyboard banner borders printed on them. I think every practice room at Milligan houses one such piano.)

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So many moments like that happened this weekend! (Mercifully for you, they weren’t all captured via crappy iPhone pictures.) 

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(Fall is GORGEOUS in Tennessee. Here’s the proof.)

Getting to experience that concert was indescribably wonderful. And it was only one part of the weekend! So stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

Day 23: Have Courage and Be Kind. 

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Since we’re enjoying around here this month, I thought today I’d share that I finally saw Cinderella this past weekend.
And OH MY GOODNESS. How can it have taken this long for me to see this movie?!?!

It’s utterly beautiful. And it elicited a love for Cinderella’s story which I’ve never quite had before. (Though admittedly, I maintain that Ella Enchanted produced a similar effect when I read it years ago. A very different telling, but still a delightful book, friends!) As far as the Disney telling of the story goes, this spoke more deeply to me than the original animated classic ever did.

 Along with being sheer visual bliss, there were real relationships that actually stirred my heart- like the prince and his father, and Cinderella and her parents. (Oh and by the way, Lily James was sublime, was she not? And her voice is lovely, so you know, that’s perfect.) 

I know. I’m late to the party of people-who-love-this-movie. But I don’t care. It was such a well crafted story. I can’t help but share my deep, heartfelt enjoyment of it!

And it reminded me of this print I did commissioned by a lovely girl through the shop back in March.


If you haven’t seen it yet, go to the nearest red box and watch it with your little girl, your best friend, your Prince Charming, or a bowl of ice cream. (Or change all the “or’s” to “and’s”.) 

Artist of the Month: Andrew Peterson! (Day 22)

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For October’s Artist of the Month, I chose to write about an artist myself versus having someone guest post. (I’d warned you that I may do this from time to time, to showcase examples of excellence in the arts within the church- even if I don’t know them personally. That way, you may still get to learn and spread the word about what God is doing through them!)

I’ve been simultaneously excited about and dreading this post, because it’s been a long time coming, and I just want to do this artist justice. So, without further ado, enjoy this month’s artist, Andrew Peterson!!!

“I feel like I’d be friends with him.” Pretty much. “It connects with something that’s going on in me… something I didn’t even know about yet.”

Those two statements alone sum up a lot of my initial feelings about him. But let’s be clear- I’m not summing anything up yet. (Settle in, folks. I’m not even going to apologize for my wordiness on this one.)

  1. Songwriting:  I first heard Andrew’s (Peterson’s? AP’s? I don’t know, for some reason it feels weird to say “Peterson’s”) music somewhere in high school, the album The Far CountryAnd then I was hooked. I mean, not only is he a great songwriter in general, but he had a song called “Haven’s Grey” and copious allusions to C.S. Lewis and Tolkien in other songs, too, so basically I was destined to love and resonate with his music.

maxresdefaultPlus, as they mentioned, Rich Mullins was a huge influence for Peterson (there it is again… Andrew? Mr. Peterson? Why is this so weird?), so obviously he gets points for that, too. (If you don’t know Rich Mullins, you basically need to take a break from this post and go on a music-listening-rampage and catch up on his music. He was a great Christian songwriter, and I guarantee you that you know at least one if not several of his songs, whether you realize it or not… P.S. It’s best to just listen and not watch the super cheesy and/or extremely 90’s-ish lyrics videos paired with the songs. Just fyi.)

Andrew Peterson’s music resonates so deeply with me because not only does he bear his soul courageously, he does it articulately. It’s hard sometimes to find artists who do this.

Somehow, he manages to keep writing down the beautiful, life-giving, heartbreaking homesickness I- we- feel for our true home, our true Father. And I’m always surprised at the different ways he can say it.

As a songwriter, I feel myself come to life when he puts into words things that I never knew quite how to communicate, like when he mentioned that songs act as avenue for people’s stories to intersect. It’s also profoundly encouraging, because I’ve often struggled with why I personally write songs and have a desire for others to hear them. What is that? Why does God wire me/us/artists this way? So, hearing him describe that aspect of songwriting both affirms and quiets that struggle in me.

(And I love that he can laugh at himself. When they talk about Slugs and Bugs? I think many of us can relate to sometimes tending toward the solemn and somber and needing reminders to not take ourselves so seriously.)

Andrew’s newest album, “The Burning Edge of Dawn” just released recently! And it doesn’t disappoint. Go buy it now! (Click the pic to see it in the iTunes store.) Read an interview Andrew gave about the album here.

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2. “Behold the Lamb of God” tour

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Ryan and I got to go last year, and it was everything everyone said it was. It really was- holy. I love that the subtitle is “The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ.” It was so life-giving to me to be there, to experience such a unique telling of the story, and to experience other artists as well, some of which were new to me. It was one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given, being able to go to that concert! PLEASE go if you can.

Plus, they called it community tour. Are you kidding me??? This is only EXACTLY what I’m all about. One of the men described it as a collection of people gathering to tell The Story. And that’s what we are as artists in the kingdom of God. We gather and scatter to tell God’s story. And whether we are together or apart, he goes with us and- incredibly, graciously- lets us share in it, too.

I love the picture of this tour- of people gathering to create and literally tell The Story- because it’s like what we do as the church as a whole. We- the body of Christ- proclaim what he has done, the mystery and wonder of his grace and love, and are transformed in the process, as well as witnessing the transformation of others.

3. The Wingfeather Saga

Wingfeather_Bundle_1024x1024At the risk of repeating myself, I say again how I profoundly relate to Andrew’s love of story and of how God uses story to both communicate with us and engage in relationship with us. Which amplifies how dear this series is to me. I don’t know how to articulate the urgency of my desire for everyone I know and don’t know to go and read these books, and then read them to your children.

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The Wingfeather Saga has the light-heartedness of someone making up a funny bedtime story (i.e. the dangerous “toothy cows” lurking in the forest, and the fact that the evil creatures oppressing the land are called the “Fangs of Dang”… I mean you have to laugh a little bit) along with excellent and beautiful character development, brilliant plot-weaving and world-crafting, and the underlying profundity of a story woven with the longing and love for God. It is the first series I’ve read since Narnia to encapsulate these things. So much “Christian” fiction falls flat and feels contrived. But this? This is the fruit of a heart that beats for the Lord. A review of this book that articulates the wonderfulness of these books far better than this paragraph does may be found here.

(As a side note, Book 4 was beautifully illustrated by Joe Sutphin, who you should really look up!)

4. The Rabbit Room. This is one of those things I’d longed for all my life, and stumbling upon it, I found myself crying- here are my people!!! It’s a place that I love, and that I long to emulate here in some way. I believe in the power of community, especially in the church, and especially among artists. Because when we’re left alone with ourselves for too long, we can be consumed either by discouragement in our failure or by a dangerously inflated ego. Either way, our identity is not rooted in Christ and we can’t bear fruit for the kingdom of God.

Along with that, however, the Rabbit Room creates a sacred place for artists to gather and share the goodness of God through everything from good music, blog posts, books, and more.

That’s why The Rabbit Room shines so brightly into my own soul and others’. (Plus, it’s named that after the Rabbit Room found in the Eagle and Child in Oxford, where the Inklings used to meet regularly. If you don’t know what that means, you should really find out, because it’s awesome.)

Thus community is important. So, for Andrew to have come up with this brilliant idea- a place for people and artists of all kinds to discover, be inspired, to be fed, to feed, and to ultimately remember their part in the body of Christ- their identity in Christ- that’s a huge deal.

“A really great storyteller like Andrew enables people to experience their own story in a truer, deeper, and more beautiful way,” says Ellie Holcomb. I agree.

5. Hutchmoot– Honestly, I can’t even talk about this. No, I mean I literally can’t, because I’ve never been. But I long to go. For one thing, they have an awesome name… (Which of course, is the most important thing.) To hear it described as a gathering of “like-souled” individuals to engage in unique community just sounds so life-giving. It’s a real life opportunity to intentionally gather and go “further up and further in” as Aslan said.

They call Peterson a “people-gatherer.” And that’s what he does. Whether it’s through his Behold the Lamb of God tour, The Rabbit Room, or through his beautiful songs and stories that I love to savor while soul-huddling with dear friends.

I can’t help but think of Jesus. I can’t help but see a parallel, but on a much deeper, heartbreakingly beautiful level. We gather and fill rooms and coffee shops and pubs and everywhere with our wonder. We toast his victory, his kingdom, his love.

We are storytellers.

And anything that is heartbreakingly beautiful in the way Andrew’s art is just acts as another part of transformation- of the glorious, unbelievable Story breaking through from heaven to earth.

So, take a leaf out of Andrew Peterson’s book. Keep gathering, keep writing, keep singing, keep engaging, keep creating. And be brave and humble enough to share with others.