How I Happy: Pre-Fall 2017 Edition

Once upon a time, I intended for this How I Happy type of post to occur monthly. And it did, for awhile. Then, I had a baby. My second to be specific. And ever since then, I’ve been- to put it mildly- transitioning.

I mean. Isn’t she CUTE?!

Still, it’s been one big transition, and it’s taken almost an entire year for me to find a new rhythm. I know. It’s totally normal to feel this way whenever you add a new member to your family. But certainly on my list of priorities, blogging fell so far down the list, it shared ranks with things like cleaning out our storage unit or going to the dentist. (So like, it wasn’t even on the list.)

So, how am I happying lately? Let me just shake the dust off my brain and I’ll tell you.

First of all, I’m happy- SO happy- that summer is almost over. OVER, I tell you! And now that we’re almost totally through September (how did that even happen?) pre-fall is thoroughly underway. Shortly to be followed by actual fall. (And there was much rejoicing. MUCH.) 

Okay, truth be told, the most summeriest parts of summer went extra quickly for me; well, not quickly so much as they basically didn’t even happen from my perspective. This is because I ended being sick with severe pneumonia for about a month…as in, it was so bad I was hospitalized. Yeah. It was horrible. The scariest thing was the shallow breathing that carried on for days before I finally realized I needed to go to the ER. Have you ever not been able to breathe normally? For days??? I mean, it was over a week before I finally felt able to breathe like a near human being again!

Look at this sweet baby. This was when she saw me for the first time after I’d been in the hospital a couple days; she just laid herself upon me. Oh my heart!!

However. We were so abundantly blessed by people from our church giving their time and- equally important- their food to help us get through all the mess. One of my good friends even brought me Starbucks and a bag of face wipes and dry shampoo and amazingness! (What do people do who don’t have church family? Who brings them casseroles when they can’t even inhale and exhale???) 

We were also super thankful to my mom who came over to kind of take turns with Ryan watching the girls and/or visiting me (and bringing me goodies and magazines), as well as my amazing mother-in-law who stayed with us the whole week after I was discharged from the hospital so I could, you know, actually recover and my kids would not, you know, go insane. So many good people.

Man. Thank you, good people.

Okay so that was all number one but I promise the others won’t be as long-winded. (Ha. That’s hilarious.) 

Secondly, I am happying because my 3-year-old daughter LOVES FALL AS MUCH AS ME. You guys. I can’t stress enough how adorable it is when my child recognizes fall decor, gasps audibly, and cries out with great jubilation that she sees fall stuff.

Examples:

1.We went to Dollar Tree back in early August (you know how I feel about Dollar Treebecause of their fab faux-leaves and garlands and whatnot to replenish our fall faux-leaves and garlands supply, and as soon as we got home, she said excitedly, “After nap time I wan’ decorate wiv’ you for FALL!!!”

I was planning to wait awhile…but when she said that I was like, “OKAY YES LET’S DO THAT TOGETHER!!!!!!” So obviously, we had to decorate for fall even though it was still a billion degrees out. Who even cares?

Post Dollar-Tree Adventure Starbucks, naturally. Don’t even worry about that double chin. It’s all good.

2.The other day, I pointed out a tree with leaves already changing to yellow to her, and I said, “Do you know what that means?” And together, with equally crazy eyes and jubilant voices we simultaneously shrieked, “FALL!!!!!!!” after which she threw herself into my arms and cackled with alarming giddiness. It was awesome.

3.Following this revelation, she has proceeded to bring up said tree to every person with whom I have a conversation lasting longer than one minute. I JUST LOVE HER. (Except when she throws tantrums of apocalyptic proportion…but let’s not go there.)

Moving on to Happy #3… Sometimes, there are just people in your life whom you know are wonderful kindred spirits that totally get you and make your life better. So you impulsively get them a present. An awesome present, featuring a pink mug with a unicorn prancing upon it declaring, “Just Believe” which I think we can all agree is in equal parts hilarious and awesome and would make anyone feel like a boss in their life…

And then, when you tell this particular bestie you have a present for them, they’re like, “Whaaaaat????!!!! You don’t need to get me pres- oh. You know what? I actually have a present for you too.” And you get together and the present they give you IS SO EPIC AND AMAZING AND PERFECT YOU NEED BETTER WORDS TO DO IT JUSTICE.

Yeah. That totally happened to me. The bestie? Ella. The gift? As follows:

  • A veritable cornucopia of beautiful little faux-pumpkins from the Target Dollar Spot (that I had lamented my Target not having any because I’d wanted some!!!)
  • A BEAUTIFUL travel mug with gold leaves etched on it (also from the Target Dollar Spot because that place just don’t quit, y’all…well, except when they run out of faux-pumpkins.)
  • And- AND?! A PAWNEE GODDESSES T-SHIRT YOU GUYS. (Listen, I know I’m writing in all-caps a lot, but that is because I have big feelings so I’m using the big letters and I’m just owning it.)  The link right there is exactly the shirt I have!! Well, I think it is. It looks exactly like mine anyway, and it’s awesome!!!!

Other awesome things that happened over the last few months? Well, I quit nursing on August 30th. WOOHOO!!!! I know lots of mommas love nursing with their whole being and that is great for them, but y’all, I barely made it to eleven months. I was already over it when Evie hit 4 months, so basically someone should throw me a parade for doing it as long as I did.

Also, in August, I had the honor of being commissioned to paint a Scripture mural on a wall at the church where I grew up. That was SUCH a fun project!!!

Fyi, I based this pretty closely on a design I found on Pinterest by Cory Say. There were some things I changed, but overall it’s very similar.

(I also got to see Andrew Peterson in concert that same weekend, but was too exhausted to think of taking any pictures while I was there.)

I also acquired some Apple Cider hand soap by Mrs. Meyers and it is The Best Cider-scented Anything in Creation (except maybe actual cider). Go get you some.

Last but not least, I got to go to Experience Conference in Orlando a couple weeks ago; it was SO good and so life-giving for both my husband and me. We’re both really passionate about creative arts and worship ministry (and ministry in general, but that was the focus of this conference) and this marked the first opportunity since our girls were born to get away together! Admittedly, though it wasn’t a relax by the beach vacation or something, it was 100% the most relaxing thing we’ve done this year.

I even got to go to a songwriting pre-con workshop!!! YOU GUYS. Along with somewhere between 25-30 others who participated, I got to meet and connect with actual industry songwriters including Jon Egan, Michael Farren, Krissy Nordhoff, Paul Baloche, and Andy Rozier. IT. WAS. AMAZING.

Not only did we get to listen to them review and give helpful (and gracious) feedback to a handful of songs submitted by attendees, we got to break up into groups and do a co-write with them. I had never gotten to co-write with anyone, which is actually highly unusual in the real songwriting world. Naturally, I felt a degree of apprehension. But even though I’m so green to cowriting, I absolutely loved every second of it. Do you ever do something and you are just the most fully alive version of yourself when you do that thing? That’s how I feel about singing/songwriting.

Four other attendees and myself got to write with Andy Rozier and a fellow songwriter and friend of his from their church, Harvest Bible Church. I really could just write about this experience for a whole day, but I’ll just say that the Holy Spirit moved in many ways. For me, I felt a distinct shift in my posture regarding songwriting, and really life as a whole.

My favorite thing Andy said was that God didn’t give us the gift of songwriting to bless the church. He gave us the gift of songwriting to spend time with us. Wow. I would argue that that statement carries truth for many parts of our lives and isn’t limited to songwriting alone. He also said that when you write a song, it’s like building a boat: sometimes it’s a big boat that will carry a lot of people like “Revelation Song” for example, and other times it’s a boat that’s only for you and Jesus.

These two statements alone would’ve been worth traveling all the way to Orlando. Because they’ve clarified my vision and my approach to the creative faculties God has put inside me.

Someday, I’d love to share the song we wrote, but I don’t have a recording of that ready yet.

Clearly, much has transpired in the last several months! And today, just so happens to be my precious baby girl’s first birthday!! But I’ll be doing a separate post about that because there may or may not be a thousand pictures involved…

This is a small space, this blog where I write. And I have had to let go of writing regularly here for the past year. I’m here to tell you, it’s ok to let go of creative pursuits for a season. I find myself in a beautiful season, but one that requires a lot of fluidity; I work a handful of jobs as well as working on a handful of hobbies. But most importantly, I’m hanging out with an awesome guy and taking care of some sweet little girls that won’t be little for long.

If you read my posts regularly here, I hope you’ll forgive my absence this year. Here’s hoping this year I’ll be able to write a little more often! (I miss it; for one thing, it helps me remember my life a whole lot better!)

This was a long and semi-scattered How I Happy, but I do hope you enjoyed it! Here’s to new seasons- literal and figurative. And let’s hope fall gets here, already!

 

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Artist Feature: Albion Tea Company! When Tea is More Than Tea

Today’s Artist Feature is one of the single most inspiring, mobilizing stories of beauty and heart that I’ve had the privilege of sharing so far on this blog.

Deborah and Brock Wilkie are the founders of Albion Tea Company, a business + ministry that not only creates beautiful and delicious teas (and even herbal coffees- what?!) and tea products, but also utilizes their heart for the broken, marginalized, and needy. They are doing good as well as creating good product and I simply can’t say enough about them!

Settle in with a cuppa for my interview with Deborah as she tells of the adventures that led them to start this exciting journey! (All product photography by Kara of Humilitea House who was featured on this very blog here!)

Tell us a little about your background:

World travel was a big influence in my life. I started traveling overseas immediately after high school and never looked back. Germany, Malta, England, Wales, 4 times to Ireland, 2 times to Australia…interning on a cattle station, helping as an au pair, teaching English, volunteering with a ministry…wide variety of experiences that broadened my horizons and gave me a deep appreciation for other cultures, cuisines and of course, introduced me to the wide and wonderful world of TEA!

WOW! That is a lot of travel!! (I’m only a little jealous…like 99%) Were you always a tea-lover? How did that passion develop?

I grew up collecting tea things and having teas with my mom. Our favourite book was Emilie Barnes’ If Teacups Could Talk. From picnic teas to themed seasonal teas, to teas with my dolls and teas at real tea houses, it was a staple of my girlhood. The teas my mom would throw became legendary in our area. So many amazing memories wrapped up in the gentle beauty and bonding of tea time.

I love that tea was such a sweet and meaningful part of your childhood!! I’d love to hear how the business developed from a passion into a business?

Albion Tea Company really all started with chai tea. I first had authentic loose leaf chai while on my first trip to Australia and fell in love. I never could find it back in the states, so I set about learning how to craft it myself. Many, many months later I developed a stunning chai we dubbed Rivendell Chai which has become our flagship tea. This experience opened my eyes to the complexities of tea blending, but also to how much I enjoyed the challenge and the process.

My husband and I have a heart for the UK, particularly Wales. We fund raised for two years to move to Wales and work with World Horizon’s Youth Development Team, leading an outdoor adventure program for Welsh young people. However, UK immigration denied our visas which closed that door, causing us to look for a new direction but still with a burden for that corner of the world.

Wanting to be free to pursue ministry stateside and create the life we wanted for our young family, in 2016 we decided to go into business for ourselves. Early in our marriage I had been crafting a few teas and candles and such and selling on the side. Our friend, Kara, was the one who asked if I had considered re-starting a full-on tea business, considering I had already crafted a killer chai! 😀

The seed was planted, the idea grew, and we realized that was the perfect fit for us. I had become quite the tea snob from my time overseas, and my hubby and I could see a tea business being something we would love doing together. We had a soft launch in November, 2016 and were stunned by the response from family and friends to the teas we were creating. So we officially launched in January 2017 and made the leap: Brock quit his remodeling job and I stepped away from my role as Senior Executive Leader at Usborne Books & More to give 100% to the business we are building together.

This story is so uplifting to me as a creative, hearing how God has grown this dream into a reality! And you are also using this passion to give back to that corner of the world you’d felt led to as well, right?

Yes! We currently have a tea, Snowdonia Ceylon, that has a portion of the proceeds being donated directly to the YDT program in Wales.

Tell us a little about how you created your logo and came up with your company name?

Our logo includes the Trinity Knot and the name Albion is the Ancient name for Great Britain. We love books, so there was also a literary influence to our name choice: Stephen Lawhead’s Song of Albion trilogy which is a favourite of ours!

(Yes! Favourite with a “u” in true British style.)

Clearly, you have a heart for reaching people along with your passion of creating fabulous teas. Is God opening your hearts to any other avenues of ministry?

As we have looked at the future and how we can impact young people here in the states through our business platform, youth aging out of foster care were put on our hearts. Our goal is to build our business to the point of needing to hire employees and then hire young people in this much ignored, but often very needy, demographic! We want to provide a good income, a stable work environment, mentoring, and assist in plugging them into the community and find their passion for their future.

As many as 36% end up homeless as they lack the support system and skills needed to acquire a job and establish a life for themselves. Nearly half of youth who age out of the system end up in prison within 2 years. Our goal is to hire aging out youth as employees of Albion Tea Company, providing a steady paycheck, mentoring, and assistance plugging into the community.

That is amazing!!! I think you’re the first person I’ve heard of point out this overlooked corner of the population. How awesome would it be to see God use Albion to reach and bless them!

We are actually moving to northern idaho next year and looking at farm properties. To expand our business and ministry, we want to have a pick-your-own-lavender and tea farm with a tea/gift shop, a getaway cabin or two, and tiny houses for the youth we employ to live- a place of peace and rest for folks to come, relax, and find Christ-love. Our own little Rivendell if you will.

We believe this vision to provide work and housing for a time will give these people much needed tools and eventually help them work towards full independence to chase their own dreams!

I am already in love with this idea, not only because I would obviously want to visit, but because it’s so empowering and inspiring to find ministries and businesses and creatives (or a combination of the three) who are not only creating beautiful, excellent products, but are also using their gifting and business etc. as a vehicle to draw people close to Christ and grow the kingdom of God.

Personally, I LOVED the teas you sent me. Would you share a little more about your process of creating them and what kinds of products you have?

Each tea blend we sell is completely our own creation. We dream them up and make them a reality. We currently have 15 black and herbal blends, plus 4 drinking chocolate blends, and an herbal coffee blend, plus chai tea jelly and a chai spice blend. We love to get creative and think outside the box with tea! We also love searching for unique beverage accessories to provide for our customers.

Herbal coffee?! Okay. That’s the next thing I’m ordering. And hey, if I decide to go absolutely all-natural everything tomorrow, can I still consume your products?

Absolutely! We are committed to an organic, eco-friendly life style and this carries over to our business as well! Our tea ingredients are organic and fair trade. We do not use any artificial or natural flavorings or preservatives…if we can’t make a flavor with real food ingredients, we don’t make it! Presents a huge challenge but we are committed to providing tea as it should be…fresh, pure, organic, utterly delicious.

We create our teas and drinking chocolates to order so each customer receives a deliciously fresh product every time. Nothing sitting on shelves and collecting dust over here!

What if I’m new to the tea-drinking world? Can I ask questions or reach out to you guys?

Definitely. We love teaching people how to use loose leaf tea and love answering our customers questions about the process from selecting a kettle to choosing an infuser! The taste of fresh loose leaf will blow the mind of anyone accustomed to drinking tea made from boxed tea bags. And not only is it easy to prepare and tastes amazing, but it is highly cost effective. Our loose leaf canisters come out to less than 50 cents per cup for made to order, fresh, organic, fair trade tea! You can’t beat that anywhere!

That is a lot cheaper than my Starbucks order, not gonna lie. Can you give us any sneak peeks of what’s new or coming up for Albion Tea Company?

This month we have launched our Adventure in a Cup Club…a monthly subscription box featuring our teas and drinking chocolates, along with carefully curated accessories and goodies. We have a box for adults as well as one for kids! With our love of world travel, we will be exploring different cultures with our boxes throughout the year.

That sounds fabulous!! And for kids, too? I would never have thought of that.

Yes! Kids love tea too; plus, it makes a super yummy alternative to sweet sodas and juices! We have created many of our herbal blends with kiddos in mind; our daughter Carys LOVES being our official taste tester for those. 😉 Her favourite is Misty Mountain Chai.

Since it’s summer, do you make any cooler options?

All our teas and drinking chocolates can be made ICED! How cool is that?! So for warm months, or for those not keen on hot drinks, we have ya covered. My favourite trick to make iced loose leaf tea (which knocks bagged iced tea out of the park!) is to use a french press (that hasn’t been used for coffee of course.) You put in 1 tsp per 6 oz of water, cover with cold water, pop the french press in the fridge for 6-12 hours (depending on which kind you are steeping), press down, and voila!

Also, the drinking chocolate makes amaaazing homemade popsicles! A trick of the trade for hot herbal brews is to cover your mug with a plate while steeping to keep all the healthy herbal goodness and flavor in your tea instead of letting it escape with the steam.

Wow. Great tips!! Anything else we should know about your fabulous company?

In July, we will be donating 10 trees to Trees for the Future for every canister of tea we sell: our goal is to sell 1,000 canisters in July to plant 10,000 trees! 1,000 trees brings an entire family out of poverty! (After July we will regularly be donating 1 tree per canister.) Trees for the Future has an amazing program teaching forest farming techniques to families in Africa to help bring them out of poverty and to restore the land itself. Check them out here.

I can’t stop saying wow… Readers, are you inspired yet???

Thank you to Deborah from Albion Tea Company for taking the time to share your story with us!!! And just for you, reader, use this COUPON CODE to receive 15% off your order: BEAUTY15

If you want learn more about Albion Tea Company, here are all the places on the interwebs you can find them:

ALSO: Deborah and her hubby are hosting a tea time event TOMORROW evening for anyone who would like to know more about their online tea experience program!!! To find more info, click here.

And one more thing…
If you’d love to do something fun in support of Brock and Deborah’s fabulous business + ministry, here’s a truly fun idea!

Day 19: Covered Bridge Festival!!!

31 days of Enjoy square

It FINALLY happened. We FINALLY got to go to the fabulous covered bridge festival I love so very much!!! This past weekend, we headed over to my parents house a couple hours away, and go to spend a couple lovely days with them (including a simple, restful Saturday), and Friday was the day of covered bridge wonderfulness.

Husby Selfie EDIT

This is called an I-forced-husband-to-selfie-with-me-because-of-my-overabundance-of-excitement Selfie. (We were in the car… not even to the festival yet.) 

Bens Pretzels

Of course, about 50- eh, maybe 75%- of the wonderfulness of this covered bridge festival is due to Ben’s Pretzels. YOU GUYS. They are the biggest, softest, warmest, most delicious pretzels to ever pretzel. If there were such things as autumn carols, there would be one devoted specifically to these pretzels. So, obviously, we bought them promptly after our arrival… followed within 10 minutes by the consumption of a bag of mini fried doughnuts which were so good they basically just melted in your mouth. (Because that’s what you DO when you are at the covered bridge festival, friends. If you’re not eating at least 2-3 kinds of baked/fried bread and/or meat/cheese/butter, then you’re not doing it right.)

Lucy and Mimi 1

Mimi showing Lucy around one of the super cute booths.Mimi and Lucy 2

booth 2

festival booth

Fake berry garlands? Of course I want to visit this booth!

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Lucy and her grandpa!
Me and Lu

Was it too much to ask Lucy to smile into direct sunlight?? Possibly.IMG_3460

Hubs contemplating the rustic brands of cream soda and root beer available at the old mill. (Isn’t he handsome???)

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I love this pumpkin patch area. (I mean, it’s obviously not an actual pumpkin patch, but it’s the designated pumpkin area, so what do you want from me?) This picturesque spot may have been featured last year, too.IMG_3458

I love these boots. Getting to wear them on a chilly day is a small thing, but a lovely thing. IMG_0419

Um. It’s a metal lawn-ornament minion family. How could I not take a picture of them? I have never had a desire for lawn ornaments (in part because I live in an apartment, people), but these almost tempt me. Almost. IMG_0416 IMG_0413

My girl. Inspecting all the pumpkins, presumably to make sure they measure up to her high pumpkin standards. (She’s very thorough.) 

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I just love that sweet face!

pumpkins

One of my top 5 favorite days of the year. Easy. (Until next time, pretzels. Next time…)

sleeping beauty

I think Lucy had fun… She certainly took a good nap afterwards. (She’s cuddling her new Pinky Pie, purchased for her by Grandpa, of course. I don’t think it took much to convince him. Basically, I set her down and she ran right over to the My Little Ponies exclaiming, “Pie! Pie!” So… that was the cutest thing ever.)

Any special wonderful fall places you love visiting with your people this October?

Performing at Disney: Aka The Best Thing Ever

I am about to tell you about possibly the most amazing, fun, surreal, magical experience I’ve ever had.

castle

Let me first say, it was all because of my mom. Awhile back, she sent in this video of me singing a song I’d written inspired by a sermon series at our church back in March to a competition. Without my knowing. (How cool is that?! Well, in this case it was…) Here is the song!

Basically, the audition was to perform at Night of Joy on the Talent Spotlight stage this past weekend at Disney World!!! (If you don’t know what Night of Joy is, click here.) The Talent Spotlight is a fabulous event within Night of Joy that showcases new and young artists and bands, and- according to the website– the winners who get to perform are selected by “industry leaders and Disney executives” (What the what?!) 

So, it totally made my day that my mom thought to enter me in the first place… And then I found out about 3 weeks ago that I was selected to be one of the performers!!!!!!! [Insert combustible excitement and shock and awe and amazement here.]

After finding out (and combusting from the aforementioned reasons) there was a rush of plan-making and flight-booking, followed by a surprisingly quick couple of weeks leading up to the event.

Ryan, Lucy, and I flew down Friday afternoon, met up with both sets of parents at Planet Hollywood, walked around afterwards. (Mom and I split fried lasagna… after which walking around is crucial. Although we also got gelato after that…) I think I woke up every hour that night, partly from nerves and partly from the fact that Lucy was in our room. (My Mom Radar won’t shut off when she’s that near; I’m overly attuned to every rustle and sniff she makes.)

Then came Saturday. It was a crazy and awesome day, people.

goofyface

Our tickets didn’t get us into the park until late afternoon, so obviously we spent the morning hearing one of those time-share spiels where you get a $125 gift card and a really good deal on a 3-day/2-night stay (Ryan and I think we’ll use ours for Harry Potter World next year. As in, all three days at HP World…) Then, after Lucy got to actually take a full nap, we all went over and met up with my parents- and the weather was mercifully in the 80’s instead of the 90’s.

Even though we didn’t get to really do much in the Magic Kingdom, can I just say that I love it there?! It’s just so beautiful, you guys. Plus, they had fall decor put up… Bless their sweet little Floridian hearts.

princessminnie1

We left Lucy with the Grandparent Brigade (as I’ve decided to call them just now), and rushed over to Liberty Square for a meeting with the people in charge of the Talent Spotlight. (She was seriously SO GOOD the whole weekend, and we had to get her something for it being her first trip to Disney, so we/I opted for the Princess Minnie you see above. Perfect, right? Plus, she loves that thing.)

I thought it would be purely informational, but it turned out to be this wonderful moment to breathe and be encouraged by both the other performers as well as the leaders, who managed to bolster my belief in myself in a way I hadn’t expected. They just reminded us that God brought us here, that we truly do have gifts that people need to experience, and that they wanted to make it as great an experience as possible for both us and the audience. I mean- wow. I left that place feeling so uplifted and and- I know this sounds completely redundant and cheesy, but- believed in, that it totally set me on track to truly enjoy the night. Which was all I wanted.

I was so afraid of getting down there and not being able to soak it in and enjoy it, because of things I usually do, like overanalyze it to death, anticipate every single awful scenario possible, things like that. But this was one of those times that I could tell was just- protected.

Have you ever felt people’s prayers taking effect over you? This was like that. I just knew everything would be fine (Aimee Brown’s mantra). I had wise friends remind me that this was a gift from God, to receive it as that, people texting me that God knows what He’s doing, reminding me to have fun… and also telling me my hair is perfect, which is comforting in a totally transcendent kind of way, of course.

And that feeling just continued throughout the night- one good thing after another. It even thunderstormed- after we’d magically found a table for dinner inside. (Now THAT is a Disney miracle.) Even that was a God-moment for me. Maybe it will sound silly, but during the first Disney trip I remember, I was like, 8 or 10 or something, and it was kind of rainy. But not a monsoon- just a perfect kind of rain that made everything beautiful while not prohibiting us from enjoying the park. I don’t know why, but I loved that it rained that trip, and I loved that it did on this one, too.

starwars

After it stormed, we headed over to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland, where the Talent Spotlight stage was this year-which was awesome!! I got to hear a lot of great artists, but my favorite was an alternative rock band, Suddenly Still, with whom I got to connect while we waited to perform.

This group of guys from Melbourne, FL was so laid back and funny, hanging out with them quieted my nerves and helped me do the thing I was hoping most to be able to do- enjoy the moment. Plus, when they went on, they were so good, you guys. Go check them out here for their Facebook page and look them up on iTunes!!!

Then, it was my turn. And I love absolutely every minute of it. Even the awkwardness at the beginning where the mic stand wouldn’t stay where I put it, and the tech girl had to come out and work on it, and the awkwardness right after that when I introduced my first song… and the keyboard wasn’t turned up (and then it still wasn’t turned up, so I had to cast out my awkwardness into the dark crowd by asking if I could get some sound). I loved even those moments, because it made me laugh and not take myself so seriously. In fact, that dispersed any lingering tension so well that I think it would’ve been worse if it hadn’t happened.

And here, for your viewing pleasure, are videos of the 3 songs I sang (as edited by my amazing, super fancy-schmancy, tech-geniusy husband!):

These are by no means perfect, but I don’t care. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve never felt so right doing something! I feel like I understand what the runner, Eric Liddell, meant when he said, “…when I run, I feel [God’s] pleasure.” (Say what you will, do as many hilarious cheesy slow-mo-running-while-singing-the-synthesizery-movie-score moments as you want, Chariots of Fire is still awesome)

If you are one of the many people who overwhelmed me with love, support, prayer, encouragement (you know- all the feels), let me just say- THANK YOU. I’m so incredibly grateful for you all. I had no idea people would respond that way when I first started sharing about it. You guys are good.

I hope you enjoyed a thumbnail of this adventure; I hope it encourages you to be brave and remember you were made to do the thing that scares you the most, but is the most desperate desire of your heart.

Adventure… STAT!

I want to go somewhere. Somewhere beautiful. And I want to go there now!

Like HERE: (And click the pic to see lots of gorgeous places)

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Maybe this is a result of Spring Break being about this time of year… at least, for all those lucky people still in school and/or working for a school. However, in “real life” as they say, there is no Spring Break for the rest of us. We just keep working and working… barely acknowledging except in snippets of small talk how the weather is changing, and how we’d all rather be outside, etc. (It’s really unkind of the system, don’t you think? I mean, we get 2 weeks off at Christmas, one for Spring Break, 3 MONTHS basically in the summer, and even a few other days off throughout the year for about the first 20 years of our existence, give or take, and then all of a sudden, we are limited to 2 weeks of vacation the rest of our lives??? Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of this?)

Maybe it’s also because we woke to rain showering down this morning. I mean, in the moment I wasn’t exactly rocking back and forth, wide-eyed and ready to leap out of bed, but there’s something about rainy days that makes me positively ache for adventure. Especially at this time of year; it’s like the earth is- like me- longing for newness. It’s aching to burst into color, finally resurrecting, light and weightless after the long sleep under the heavy blanket of winter.

I’m aching for color, too! My family used to always travel down to Ft. Myers, Florida to visit my grandma either over Christmas, Spring Break, and some times both. When I was little, for some reason I was never that excited by this, because I knew it’d be hot and I hated hot weather. (Ok, I don’t strictly love it now… thus my disdain for August.) But as I got older, it revived me more and more, and I grew to love our traditional haunts- the very authentic Greek restaurant by the beach, the actual beach, Blackhawk Coffee Shop at Bell Tower Mall (with their Double Trouble Milkshake topped with the thickest, most delightful whipped cream you’ve EVER tasted), and even Grandma’s little kitchen table- the weird one with the glass top and the little TV, which often sounded with the Today Show in the morning… I’d even go jogging with Mom fairly frequently in those mega-humid days! (Which was definitely not the most fun part of the vacation, but jogging in sunny Florida is better than jogging in the gray midwest… plus I was with Mom which made it more fun, too.)

So, maybe I got used to this splash of beauty in the middle of winter, which was the shot in the arm I clung to in order to make it to spring… And now I don’t have that. At least, not in this phase of life. Don’t get me wrong- I’m SO thankful for all the beauty the fills up my days, but I just think the rollicking torrents of rain shook me awake this morning and made me yearn for adventure. And I found myself, as Ryan zipped up his jacket over his sweater vest, button down, and khakis for work, wanting to shout, “Don’t go to work! Let’s go to the zoo! And Starbucks! And maybe vacation!” or at least let’s stay home in our pj’s and look at pictures of beautiful places and watch one of the many TV shows we like that takes place in California or somewhere like that at least…

Of course, I can’t be too swashbuckling, considering I’m about to have this baby any day now-

Exhibit A- 39 weeks!
Exhibit A- 39 weeks!

– and even getting up and down hurts (courtesy both of Lucy exacerbating my low back issue, and then the evil icey sidewalk I fell on a couple Sundays ago- that’s another story… there was much sobbing and hyperventilating, but I’m fine, baby is fine, Ryan was freaked out but fine, doctor said all is fine… I’m just also bruised now on that part of my back that already hurt. What can I say? It takes talent, folks…). But as I stumbled upon Tsh Oxenreider’s blog (as well as her name… Yowza!) recently, my desire to go- somewhere- was fanned into flame even more, probably because she is a traveler/writer/reader/blogger and her blog is beautiful and colorful and you can read about her travels.

Here it is! You should check it out!

Tsh Oxenreider

So. What shall I do today? Probably work, and work hard, because I need to continue the momentum in my business before Lucy comes- and that’s ok! I’m excited to see what happens from the seeds I’m sowing! Sometimes you have to be patient, and you can’t go to Florida or the zoo or even Starbucks right now, because you’re working to create the life of adventure you want in the long run. There is beauty in that- and there’s even adventure in it, too! I will probably just need to reread this post every so often to remind myself of that, when a windy, rainy day gets me all riled up. Sometimes I feel like Frodo and Sam in the second half of The Two Towers, traveling through the grayest, most desolate, February-ish place in any world, real or fictitious, with rocks and bogs and Gollum the only company available. Don’t you? (And incidentally, WHY did Tolkien publish it like that? I know I can’t really say anything bad about Tolkien, but I always thought The Two Towers should’ve been broken up like the movie- alternating between the awesomeness of Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas’s exciting search for Merry and Pippin and the dismal, depressing, monotonous journey of Frodo and Sam through Mordor… I mean, Tolkien describes every pebble in detail, and that’s exhausting, because Mordor is made up of almost EXCLUSIVELY all pebbles and/or rocks!!!) But anyway- spring is coming, people!  *Side note: do you prefer gray or grey? I can’t decide which one… I hate it when words and/or grammar rules are ambiguous!

I will at least be listening to the music I’ve grown up associating with adventure. Here is some of it for you! If all you have is small talk with other coworkers bemoaning the need to stay in your gray/grey cubicle, I understand, and maybe by listening to some of this, you’ll feel like you’ve been somewhere today…

And… because I mentioned swashbuckling…