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!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

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

31 days of Enjoy square

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.

theburningedge

2. “Behold the Lamb of God” tour

peterson1

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.

IMG_33222

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.