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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A Song for Christmas: Silent Night (Sweet Melody)

Today, I just wanted to share a song I wrote that I got to share at church recently. What a blessing to get to share something I’ve written live and not just in a YouTube video… But that’s what you’re getting today- ha. Regardless, I hope it encourages you!

 

Four of my original songs are available for download if you’re interested (free! unless you just feel like being super crazy nice and leaving a tip, but you definitely don’t have to!) on noisetrade.com here.

(Did you know I shared some fun Christmas decor earlier this week? You can see my attempts at a “cozy minimalist approach to Christmas here.)

Imperfect, Artful Living. {Sweet Days + iPhone Memories + Art}

Man. I can’t believe our 2nd baby girl is about to join us. Any day now… Really. Any day. *AHEM.*

I was looking through my phone and the RIDICULOUS amount of photos there, and saw the increasing fullness of this year- from my belly to our schedules- and back to my belly. It’s been dizzying (sometimes downright nauseating- ha), unexpected, miraculously productive, risky, and so good.

 

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I’ve been so blessed to work on multiple custom orders for the shopnew exciting illustration projects that hopefully you’ll hear about some time, whimsical thank you cards, and of course the autumn pieces I shared recently which are my happy place. All of this means I’ve not only created more items for the shop, but I’ve had more business- real, actual business- from the shop this year! Easily more than double last year! That’s such a huge blessing.

 

Beyond work or the shop or any measurable productivity, as summer wraps up- ANY DAY NOW please– I find the deluge of iPhone photos reminding me it hasn’t been all to-do lists and travels (though often it felt that way). 

There have been coffee shop visits, in which much prancing around in tutus occurred:

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There was the annual weekend lakehouse trip with our small group:

 

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There was the incredible and unexpected experience of getting to perform 8 months pregnant at Gospelfest in Kettering, Ohio alongside 9 other artists (and Sidewalk Prophets!)- all of whom had to audition back in June (except Sidewalk Prophets…obviously). That process alone was a risk for me, and definitely a challenge, considering Ryan had to take the afternoon off work and lug a keyboard and equipment and our toddler across town to make that even happen!

It was one surprising moment after another- not the least of which was being asked by one of the audition judges to be on her radio show the day before the performance! I’ve definitely never done that before. Lucy enjoyed it, too!

 

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Oh, don’t mind my crazy eyes and dorky face. I was just freaking out a little…

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The concert happened the next day in an outdoor venue. Naturally, the weather decided to helpfully be either 91 degrees with 200% humidity or crazy thunderstorms that caused a 45 minute delay- RIGHT before it was my turn to perform. So, just more time for me to feel nauseous backstage, no big deal… (My husband was so awesome; at one point during our wait, he said, “You’re gonna Adele the crap out of this place.” I just love that man.)

 

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In case you’re wondering what love looks like? It wears a raging bright orange poncho. And it runs through the rain to make sure all your stuff is okay.

Oh yeah! I had a booth there too… that’s the stuff to which I’m referring. All the artists had the option of utilizing a booth, and this was my very first time actually having all my Etsy shop stuff out somewhere for purchase!

 

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(Hey look- Bethany is totally hiding in the background! And WOW I’m so pregnant in this photo. Who knew I could get even more pregnant than this?)

That whole weekend was filled with such meaning and encouragement! Dear friends rode over with my parents- a 2 hour drive one way- to come and see me perform (and get totally drenched in sweat followed by torrents of rain). Not to mention people from our church who came out to support me, and even other extended family who I rarely get to see! I felt overwhelmed with encouragement and that they all took the time to come and be part of such a great experience with me!

Then, the last two weekends were occupied with two separate women’s retreats…at which I led worship. Because I’m super good at planning. Yet, in spite of how exhausting it is to really do anything at this point, all of those endeavors were such a blessing! I’ve prayed for God to open doors and provide opportunities for me to utilize the abilities I have, and I’ve even prayed for opportunities to risk!

This year has been chock full of those. Throughout the summer, I’ve just prayed desperately that God would help me get all the work done I needed to before Evie is born! But now, other than my desire for her to arrive, I’ve prayed that he would help me savor the sweetness of these days, of these answered prayers, and especially this time with Lucy before we go from a family of 3 to a family of 4.

Yesterday, I told Lu we were going to have special Mommy + Lucy time and do fun stuff. “Fun stuff!” she gasped, “For us??” Just like that, which was the cutest ever. I kept it simple, which is pretty much all I have capacity for anyway, and documented our “fun stuff” as follows:

  1. Fall Coloring Pages- free via Google!

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I decided to make it feel semi-preschool-ish and talk all about fall, because obviously. So, after we talked about pumpkins and acorns and leaves and colored several pages, we watched some youtube videos for kids about fall which she loved. (Notice: she is looking super adorable in Ryan’s old Cubs t-shirt from when he was a little boy! How cute is that?!)

2. Making Peanut Butter Cookies! This was a brave activity for me to do with her. It was the first time I’ve ever had her help me make anything, thus I picked the easiest thing I could think of that was also cookies. My mom’s PB cookies have literally 3 ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and BAM! Peanut butter cookie deliciousness. There is no possible way you can mess these up. Oh, and you can sprinkle sugar on the top of them if you want. That’s optional. However, making a criss-cross pattern with a fork on each one is mandatory. I’m pretty sure that’s what makes them so good…

 

Lucy was a great helper! She helped dump the sugar in:

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Then she got to help stir with the bright green “fa-tchua!” which pretty much made her life.

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And then that 10-minute wait, in which we could barely contain our excitement as the cookies baked… Then they were done!

 

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Then this happened so fast, I’m pretty sure she just inhaled it.

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These aren’t perfect pictures. They were not carefully curated to be part of a blog post. But they’re here because this is part of living beautifully.

This is part of leaning into the art made in the imperfect moments: when you still have storage bins in the middle of your living room that have been there for weeks or your little one is in mismatched pajamas, or you find yourself wearing the same top and leggings all the time because literally nothing else fits because of the new life preparing to arrive (as evidenced by this rare photo of my prego-profile… I don’t typically post lots/any of those).

 

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I’m happy sharing our moments of imperfect art with you. Freshly baked from my iPhone. With a criss-cross pattern and sugar sprinkled on top.

For a little while, I’ll take a breather from writing here. But rest assured I won’t be able to stay away long! See you soon- most likely with lots more iPhone photos. Much Love!

 

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P.S. I almost forgot!!! 4 of my original songs are NOW AVAILABLE on Noisetrade!!!!! Eeep! I’m SO excited about this!!! CLICK HERE to go visit the page and download them!

Day 7: Minstrels and Bards {A Song + Giveaway}

Welcome to Day 7 of the On Being Creative series! You’ll find links to all the posts as they’re added on the series’ homepage here.

Day 7

To wrap up this series, I’m offering a song I wrote about being a kingdom creative, someone who is a Christ-follower, who knows that ancient longing of every soul- for Home and for his presence.Lengthen-the-steps edit

No matter the manifestation of our creativity (painting, drawing, teaching, writing, parenting, baking, under-water-basket-weaving…), we are all story-tellers. We travel the world, never quite at home, telling about the goodness and glory of God. Kind of like those old-timey traveling bards.

That’s where this song came from. That’s what we are (minus the tights and feathered caps…or not. I don’t know your life). And I make jokes because it makes me nervous any time I share songs I’ve written. So let me straight up ask you for kindness and generosity as you listen and read the lyrics. Maybe- if it stirs you a little- maybe you’d share it with someone else?

We gather and scatter to tell the story
And whether together or apart
our hearts beat in time with glory
That’s how it goes on the road of sacred art

Creation sings haunting melodies
Of what was lost, a garden peace
Harmony turned to sorrow
The only homeland we know
Is the one in tales told
On coldest of nights they shine bright
Like a star we can follow

In rags and shadows we house a great light
We sing of seeing it conquer the night
Minstrels and bards pointing to what’s written in the stars
If you’ve got an ear, you can hear the song in our hearts

Have you heard
The good word
Grace and truth
It’s everywhere
Earth and air
And heavens too

It beats like a drum
Eternity a hum
Resonating
With every little beat
Of the songs we sing
It’s our remaking

Fiery words and holy tones
Hallelujahs burning in my bones
Of all of us the body and the blood of the redeemed
Minstrels and bards pointing to what’s written in the stars
If you’ve got an ear, you can hear the song in our hearts

When we sing our songs we
Fill with ancient longing
Those who stay find their way
When we tell our stories
We tell about his glory
Light has come, light has won
And it’s coming back for us

In rags and shadows we house a great light
We sing of seeing it conquer the night
Fiery words and holy tones
Hallelujahs burning in the bones
Of all of us the body and the blood of the redeemed
Minstrels and bards pointing to what’s written in the stars
If you’ve got an ear, you can hear the song in our hearts

(A little bit of my baby bump made it into this video… Hi baby!)

So what have we learned in this series? We talked about 4 Reasons We Make Artwe learned that it’s ok to ache and that art isn’t about resultswe hushed the word that kills creativity, some tips for cultivating creativity, why believing in yourself doesn’t work (and maybe when it does), and we took a deep breath of good music and encouragement.

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I mean, I know we said art isn’t really about productivity, but man have we been productive or what?! Anyway, if you’ve stuck with me through the whole series, let me just say- THANK YOU. It means so much that you would allow my words to come alongside you in your own story.

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Has this series encouraged you? Have you been reading along? Leave a comment and let me know! Which post most resonated with you? Which was your favorite?

Oh, and you’re probably wondering about that GIVEAWAY, right?

You can enter to win this printable from my shop for FREE!

Art is a Bell Mockup

Here are all the ways you can enter:

  1. Subscribe to the blog- it’s a great way to keep bringing encouragement, community, and inspiration to your creative soul.
  2. Follow me on Instagram @haylieallcott
  3. Like the blog’s Facebook page here.

(Subscribers will soon receive extras like free printables, extra content, + discounts for the shop. Yay!)

If you’re new to this space, here’s what you can expect from the blog:

  • I feature a new, unique artist every month (that’s coming up next week!) to inspire and uplift, as well as to expose more people to some excellent creatives out there!
  • You’ll also find a monthly How I Happy post, to remind you to live artful and unapologetic delight.
  • I also share music as well as illustrations for my Etsy shop, Ebenezer Designs and more! I only post at most 2 times a week, so your inbox will be happy to see me (versus being like, geez this chick AGAIN?!)

My prayer is that this series brought some encouragement and spoke some truth to some discouraged creative soul out there. Keep building that community around you. Keep making your art. Keep telling the story.

Giveaway now closed, but subscribe anyway to keep receiving good stuff for your creative soul!

Songs That Grief Sings {For You, Broken Hearts}

This week, two different families I know suffered loss of a loved one. The contexts differed greatly, but heartbreak does not discriminate. I know both families live- for now- in a moment heavy with grief.

As a nervous talker, I feel acutely wary when it comes to opening my mouth around those who are grieving. Especially if I’m not. Or even if I am. Basically, opening my mouth usually seems like a bad idea, and when I do it, I typically only allow a few phrases to come out of it in those situations. Mostly just an earnest “I love you” and a hug.

I love Christa Wells’ song “Come Close Now,” which articulates much better than I can this posture of awkwardness mixed with love when it comes to approaching someone else’s pain.

I love what she says on the bridge:

Lay down our plans / Lay down the sure-fire fix / Grief’s gonna stay awhile / There is no cure for this / We watch for return / We speak what we’ve heard / We sit together, in the burn

A friend also shared with me this incredible song by Jason Gray called “Not Right Now.”

Out of my own place of prayer and pain on behalf of these friends, I wrote my own song. Here is the rough video I took of it:

 

I believe a song of grief is worthy as any we offer in worship, and I believe God is big enough to handle it. He is well-acquainted with suffering. If you’re grieving, I hope these few songs can come sit beside you in your grief for a few minutes, offer themselves as companions while they last, and then be comfortable with the silence when it comes again.

 

Abide: The Sower’s Song {Andrew Peterson Concert!}

Last week, I talked about bearing fruit and performing, and how they are often seemingly at odds with each other. And also- that “perform” often conjures ideas of self-promotion and self-glorification.

Which is icky, right? And I don’t want to be icky. I just want to create meaningful beauty that somehow- impossibly- becomes more than it is.

I want the beauty of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Because when He is present in the moments of our art, heaven breaks through to earth a little more.

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I know it, because that’s exactly what happened on Sunday night.

A few weeks ago, my dear kindred spirit friend, Brooke, discovered free tickets to an Andrew Peterson concert outside Indianapolis, and texted me asking if I wanted to go… And then we indulged ourselves in much all-caps and exclamation points and emojis in our seismic excitement!

I left after church Sunday morning, drove the two hours to Indy, had lunch with my parents and some friends, and waited about an hour in which I attempted to pretend I could “rest” (at which I mostly failed) for awhile before leaving to meet up with Brooke.

We headed in the direction of the concert, stopping for an exceedingly fancy dinner at McDonald’s (as per McDonald’s usual), and found that eating was basically superfluous in light of our excitement and joy at being together and getting to experience such a soul-filling event together.

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(This is our we’re-so-excited-we-can’t-hold-the-phone-steady selfie.) 

It ended up being one of the last concerts on his Burning Edge of Dawn tour. If you haven’t looked up this album, STOP READING THIS and do it ASAP.

This is my favorite song from the album right now, namely because it is all about abiding. When I first heard it a month or so ago, it was such a kairos moment. (You know, the spiritual version of that epic moment in a story when you’re like, NO WAY- That was THAT GUY?!?! Oh, if you click that link, you mostly need to just skip to 1:39… Anyway, you know what I mean? Like, when the whole intricate plot is revealed? Harry Potter fans will here understand what I mean.)

 

 

He talked about gardening, and how much he’s learning about God and humanity through it. He mentioned the way you literally have to tear open the earth- like a wound- but that the wound is not the last step. It’s the first. Then comes the seed, which must die in order to bear fruit. And then seasons of waiting and winter and rain must come before the sun warms the earth, before the yield that the gardener harvests.

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(Oh, and that’s his 15-year-old son in the middle. How awesome is that?!)

That’s what God does with us, too. And as Andrew (Peterson? Mr. Peterson? Why is that always so weird for me?) said, you don’t often hear a lot of sermons about God the Gardener. We often hear about God as the shepherd, or the fortress, or the savior. All of which are just as true!

But gardener. That paints such an articulate picture of patience, of the steadfast love that tends the rocky soil of the heart.

If we don’t let him dig down deep- if we don’t let him open us up, we can’t let him plant seeds in us. And if the planting happens, so must the dying- of something.

What must die in me, God? Let me give it up! Let me be soil that receives everything from you as good.

Right now, for me, it starts with an inhale. And then an exhale. And then a reading and rereading of these words:

[God] redeems your life from the pit, he surrounds you with grace and compassion, he contents you with good as long as you live, so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.” – Psalm 103:4-5

Contents you with good. In all my frazzled, frenetic tendencies, God reminds me to breathe. To let Jesus show me himself in each moment- even and especially my ugliest darkest ones. It’s helping me dwell in this garden, which is more than a season of peace- it’s a place of peace. That doesn’t pass away.

Lately, I’ve been wanting to reorganize and rearrange everything in my home. I realize this sounds like it’s unrelated, but once you start reorganizing, you start Pinteresting organizing methods and looking up the endless cavern of organizing bins and carts and whatnot at IKEA  (insert the onslaught of impossible expectations). 

And I keep seeing with the sight of scarcity. Looking at what I don’t have and feeling like if only I did have x,y,z then I could achieve what I want. But a) I already have the means to rearrange and reorganize with my current possessions (which number too great for our two-bedroom apartment as it is), and b) even if I did get the things I “need” God has reminded me that it won’t satisfy.

As Brooke and I talked about these things on our way to and from the concert, she said, “Jesus is the ultimate goal.” And it’s SO true! Jesus is the only thing that will satisfy. Not things, not systems of organization, not perfect appearance or perfect performance, not even my “wildest dreams” which I’d imagine look considerably tame next to what God can do through me. He contents me with good.

All this is not just what happened in my heart at an Andrew Peterson concert. But rather, the concert was all part of this movement that God has orchestrated around me lately.

And along with that? I got to witness what it looks like to allow God to bear fruit through a person’s story, through their times of darkness and light. Andrew is a singer-songwriter. And many of the songs on this album were born out of seasons of winter and rain and darkness. But he always proclaims the hope, too. He said, “There’s always a good end to the story.”

This is where a performance is so much more than a performance. It becomes something holy, a safe space for the soul to listen for the Holy Spirit. When a lot of souls do that at once, it’s a kind of communion.

This is so encouraging to me as an artist! In light of it, I feel unencumbered by all the whys and worries about my motives and my appearance and my results. Turns out, the pressure really is off, because results are the business of the Father. My business is to be a faithful, available servant, and to continue creating. Sometimes, what you create isn’t only about you. (Often it isn’t.) Just look at The Sower’s Song, and how God has used it in my life.

And that’s just one song!

I hope this encourages you and me- not just as artists, but as humans- to allow God to tear open our sometimes rocky, sometimes barren, earthy hearts; to plant a seed; to allow a dying so that we can give way to new life. His work does not return void.

Remember- I am not the gardener. And neither are you. Here’s what He has to say to us seedlings, waiting for the sun:

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

 

Will you abide with me in this today? May our souls be tilled with the tender hands of our Father; may we bear fruit.