Songs for Life

Songs for LifeIt’s been so long since I’ve sat down to write, to truly type out words of the heart. I’m aching for it, but pregnancy exhaustion and the depths there are to delve hold me back. Soon, I think. I hope.

There are words waiting.

When words are absent and slow, let the poets, the songwriters, the Truth proclaimers speak for us. For me, that happens in song.

I have playlists for everything—seasons, birthdays, getting dressed, parties, moods. This one I originally named Mother Artist, which makes sense to me in my life, but…they really apply to everyone.

I’m not a fan of most mainstream Christian music (including worship music), on the whole I don’t feel it gives an honest portrayal of life, especially when you consider how wide the spectrum of a life of faith is. Here you’ll find some of my favorite songs for life, for when life is a struggle, depression and sorrow loom, for love, for all those bits and pieces of life that don’t always fit into a neat category. 

And, of course, I had to include some of my favorite lyrics.

You’ll find a lot of repeats from Sara Groves, Christa Wells, Andrew Peterson, and JJ Heller. These are artists I love who write and sing the struggles and joys of life, loss, apathy, depression, thanks, love, redemption, and identity in a beautifully truthful way. I’ve said it before, but Sara Groves has done more for my theology than probably any one author or theologian.

You can find the playlist on Spotify: Songs for Life.

Just click shuffle and you’ll be set.

Songs for Life

10553633_10152188421137190_2649990657033543279_nFor When the Darkness Will Not Lift & It’s Difficult to Breathe

  • Maybe There’s a Loving God, Sara Groves, “Maybe this was made for me, For lying on my back in the middle of a field, Maybe that’s a selfish thought, Or maybe there’s a loving God”
  • It’s Going To Be Alright, Sara Groves
  • It Might Be Hope, Sara Groves
  • Peace, Peace, Sara Groves, “Peace, peace, it’s hard to find, Trouble comes like a wrecking ball to your peace of mind”
  • This Thing Is Not Going to Break You, Christa Wells
  • Who You Are, JJ Heller, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know who You are. You have a Father’s heart and a love that’s wild and You know what it’s like to lose, yeah, you know what it’s like to lose a child” 
  • A Thousand Things, Christa Wells, But in the midst of the most exquisite pain  you’re drawn into a peace that you cannot explain and the praises you sing of a sovereign God reach the girl whose last hope is gone she never thought there was purpose in anything here now the seed has been planted and it’s taking root there”
     (This song’s not on Spotify, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.)
  • How Emptiness Sings, Christa Wells, “Sister carries her loneliness,In a hidden hollow inside her chest, And sometimes all that she wants is an end, To the long, long night, But ooh her bow is on the strings, And the tune resonates in the open space to show us how emptiness sings, Glory to God, Glory to God! In fullness of wisdom, He writes my story into his song, My life for the glory of God.” (Also, not on Spotify. But so, so good.)
  • Even Though, More Than Rubies (Christa Wells/Nicole Witt), “Even though we lose it all, we’ll not be lost, Behold this love of God has ransomed us, He’s ransomed us”
  • You’ll Find Your Way, Andrew Peterson, “And I know you’ll be scared when you take up that cross, And I know it’ll hurt, ’cause I know what it cost, And I love you so much and it’s so hard to watch, But you’re gonna grow up and you’re gonna get lost, Just go back, go back, Go back to the ancient paths, Lash your heart to the ancient mast, And hold on boy, whatever you do, to the hope that’s taken ahold of you”  This is my prayer for my children.

1422462_10152212924402190_6924853881215478006_nFor When You’re Ready to Wake Up & Fight…for Life, for Joy, for Purpose

  • Wake Me Up, Aloe Blacc, “Feeling my way through the darkness, Guided by a beating heart, I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start”
  • Just Showed Up for My Own Life, Sara Groves, “I was in love with an idea, Preoccupied with how a life should appear, Spending my time at the surface repairing the holes in the shiny veneer, There are so many ways to hide, There are so many ways not to feel, There are so many ways to deny what is real”
  • Eyes on the Prize, Sara Groves
  • Painting Pictures of Egypt, Sara Groves
  • Redemption, JJ Heller, “Someday we will remember how to fly and we will rise like embers burning bright, everything broken will be whole again” (this is what I wear on my wrist)
  • Set Free, More Than Rubies (Christa Wells/Nicole Witt)
  • Keep Breathing, Ingrid Michaelson
  • Run, Delta Rae
  • Dog Days Are Over, Florence + The Machine
  • Learning to Love Again, Mat Kearney, “‘Cause that was the real you running through the fields of gold wide open, Standing in places no picture contains,That was the real you, windows down, we could smell the mint fields crying”

10570505_10152212925102190_4366846145370972846_nFor When You Need to be Reminded You Actually Like that Guy You Married

  • Dancing in the Minefields, Andrew Peterson, “We bear the light of the Son of Man, so there’s nothing left to fear, So I’ll walk with you through the Shadowlands until the shadows disappear”
  • Home, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes
  • Different Kinds of Happy, Sara Groves
  • Boat Song, JJ Heller
  • Wherever Is Your Heart, Brandi Carlile, “Wherever is your heart, I call home” 

For When You Need Grace for Yourself

  • Thy Mercy, My God, Sandra McCracken, “Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own, And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son; All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine, Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.”
  • Control, JJ Heller
  • The Broken Beautiful, Ellie Holcomb

10268662_10152607539867190_3343918001854171576_nFor When You Need to Be Reminded of Truth & Beauty

  • Something Beautiful, NeedtoBreathe
  • Don’t You Want to Thank Someone, Andrew Peterson, “Don’t you ever wonder why, In spite of all that’s wrong here, There’s still so much that goes so right, Beauty Abounds”
  • Add to the Beauty, Sara Groves, “And I want to add to the beauty, To tell a better story, Shine with the light, That’s burning up inside”
  • When the Saints, Sara Groves, “And when I’m weary and overwrought, With so many battles left unfought, I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard, I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars, And when the Saints go marching in, I want to be one of them”
  • Feed Your Soul, Christa Wells
  • Shine Your Light On Me, Andrew Peterson
  • Sparrow, Audrey Assad

10437560_10152596173737190_1415132247035116072_nFor When You Need to Come Into Your Own

  • I’m Gonna Fly, Amy Grant
  • Shine, Christa Wells, “He shines his light through a prism, We give back what we’re given to color this world”
  • Brave, Sara Bareilles
  • Sooner or Later, Michael Tolcher
  • Loved, JJ Heller, “Do you keep your thoughts inside your head? Will you regret the things you never said? You have a voice, You have to use it, You have a choice”
  • Fool With a Fancy Guitar, Andrew Peterson

For When You Need to Raise Your Eyes to a Higher Purpose

  • Kingdom Comes, Sara Groves
  • Love Is Still a Worthy Cause, Sara Groves
  • Planting Trees, Andrew Peterson, “So many years from now, long after we are gone, these trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn”
  • You are the Sun, Sara Groves
  • Visible Invisible, More Than Rubies, “The broken wait for healing, the orphans long for home, the slaves all cry for freedom, There is hope, There is hope. We are the visible invisible, We are the flesh and bone of Your redeeming love”
  • We Will All Be Changed, Seryn

For When You Need to Know This is Not the End

  • Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson
  • Kingdom Come, JJ Heller, “Life is but a dream at best, Morning’s coming soon, Kingdom come will bring us rest, All will be made new”
  • The Reckoning (How Long), Andrew Peterson, “And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight, You see the teardrops as they roll tonight, Down the faces of saints, Who grow weary and faint in your fields […] I believe You will come
    Your justice be done, but how long?”
  • After the Last Tear Falls, Andrew Peterson, “We’ll see how the tears that have fallen, Were caught in the palms Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all, And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales”

For When You Need to Know You’re Loved

  • You Cannot Lose My Love, Sara Groves
  • Everybody, Ingrid Michaelson
  • The Pretty & The Plain, JJ Heller, “I know you came for the pretty and the plain, I hear you calling out my name. I know you came for the sinner and the saint, and I will never be the same”
  • Being Loved, Christa Wells, ” ‘Cause being loved is a hard thing to take, We are born unclothed, As we came, we will go, From the first we are known”

For When You Just Need to Get Up & Dance

  • Shut Up & Dance, Walk the Moon
  • Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
  • Hey, Soul Sister, Train
  • Just the Way You Are, Bruno Mars
  • Hey Mama, Mat Kearney
  • She Got the Honey, Mat Kearney

My current favorite playlist is Midsummer Night, just be warned it’s full of bluegrass, folk, and indie goodness. If you’re in a season of sorrow, Songs for the Brokenhearted is a playlist I put together last summer after our third miscarriage. I wanted music that would allow me to grieve, but still point me to Jesus.

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2013: The Year of Fiction & a few Other Reads

A Wrinkle in Time quote

When it’s the new year and you haven’t done the compulsory “one word” post, what do you write about? Books.

Last year was the year of fiction with a heavy dose of YA. And I don’t regret it.

I can’t even tell you if this is an exhaustive list of books I read, but it’s at least the ones I remember!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I started the Harry Potter series (for the first time!) after Olivia was born and finished the series

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L’Engle, Before this the only other L’Engle book I read was Walking on Water, which I highly recommend. A Wrinkle in Time was brilliant and I can’t believe I haven’t read it earlier. It’s definitely on my list of favorite books of 2013 and I’m eager to read the rest in the series.


The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Dectives (Bk 1) & The Unusual Suspects (Bk 2)  by Michael Buckley, I found this series perusing the children’s section of the library. They’re fun short reads and interesting to see another take on fairy tales. There are nine books in the series.

 

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center,  I really enjoy Katherine Center and her novel Everyone Is Beautiful is usually one of my first recommendations when people ask what to read. The Lost Husband is her latest book full of charm, fit, mishaps, and heart.

 

 

               

Every Sarah Addison Allen book. No, seriously. I’m a fan of magic realism, but it’s a narrow genre and heavily populated by South Americans–while good, can be heavy reads. I’ve been eyeing Allen’s books for years, but just didn’t know if they’d be worth my time.

My husband bought me one on a bookstore date night whim (thanks Joe!) and halfway through I requested copies of the rest of her novels from the library. In the span of a week, I read every Sarah Addison Allen book. New favorite author. Also, her latest book is coming out in February!

My favorite of Allen’s? Hmm…probably Garden Spells and then a tie between The Peach Keeper and The Sugar Queen.

Book Post Collage 2

It was also the year of Rainbow Rowell.

Eleanor & ParkAttachments. Fangirl. All great. E & P is definitely the landslide standout book. It’s first love and all its awkwardness and quirks, add in high school, and harsh realities of real life. This book will make you cry. I loved it. It’s another one of those “You’ve gotta read this!” books.

Attachments and Fangirl didn’t hold up to E&P, but both entertaining, curled under a warm blanket, smile to yourself type of reads.

Oh, and Rowell also has a new book coming out…in June.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, A long, but good read. A little slow at times, but if you like a mystery and can hand the point of view changing it’s worth it. And if you’re a fan of The Secret Garden, then even better.

 The Mark of the Lion Series: A Voice in the Wind & An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers, These were both a little slow to get into. I kept texting my friend I borrowed them from to ask if they were going to ever pick up. She assured me it was worth it and after a left it alone for a month or so, it was.

Book Post Collage 5

If E&P doesn’t make you cry, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars surely will. It was an honest, provoking read that had be ugly crying near the end. So good. Also, the movie’s coming out this spring, so read it before you see it.

I reread Catching Fire before seeing the movie, just so I could remember all those little details they leave out of the movies.

After months of a friend pleading with me to read Divergent by Veronica Roth, I did. And then Insurgent. Now I’m halfway through Allegiant and a tad bit disappointed the internet threw an uproar about the ending, so now I’m not so motivated to finish. But I will!

It’s another dystopian and I like it, though I felt there were inconsistencies in the character’s voice at times and some events weren’t as believable in the world as others. I enjoy another dystopian perspective and after Divergent thought it could be better than Hunger Games. It’s hard to say what I liked and didn’t like without giving too much away, so just go read it and see for yourself.


Okay. I don’t even remember how I found The Selection by Kiera Cass, but this may be the only one I’m slightly embarrassed by. Except I’m not.

Another dystopian, but with a reality TV style pageant to find the prince a bride. A caste system. Rebels. Old and new love. Secret passageways. How is that not interesting?

But, yes, this is probably the most fluff read of them all. I read these way into the night. And when I finished The Elite (book 2) and tried to find book 3…well, it was a 2am disappointment, because it doesn’t release until May. It’ll be a nice summer read.

Books I Read That Weren’t Fiction

{aka The Short List}


Parenting with Love & Logic by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. If you’re looking for practical how-to’s in parenting specific issues

and ages, I found this book very helpful.

 

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

This is a good book, eve as review, if you’re interested in raising your children with less,

getting off the hamster wheel, or simply desire an intentional life and more room for your children to breathe, live, grow, become—read this book.

 What did you read last year? Or what are you hoping to read this year?

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through a link it’ll support this little, old blog…and my reading habit. 

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Take Your Insecurities & Dance in the Rain

Interrupting 31 Days to Find Your Voice for a little soul revealing healing. Sometimes it’s the little revelations that hit you and you have to be brave and share.

* * * * * *

Take your insecurities and dance in the rain.I have this picture my son took of me dancing in the rain. It’s my internal insecurities that are rising up today. But it’s my outward insecurities that are keeping me from sharing this picture. I thought it’d be a good truth message to share,

“Take your insecurities and wash them away in the rain.”

But now, it’s my insecurities who are dancing.

Here I see just how very wide I am, how the rain has made my hair fuzzy, and the Indian in me casts my armpits gray no matter how clean shaven they are. My width is on full display here…there is no hiding the toil stress has take on my body.

My glasses, the marker of how blind I really am. Four eyes has never really been deemed pretty. Pretty is perfect, right? At least that’s the slaughter we’ve been led to believe.

If I share this people may assume the worst about me—and it may be true. They may rejoice in my faults and failings. They may laugh, adding fuel to the insecurities.

But, but—

If I am to be who I truly am. If I am to make art without mimicry, then this is me.

Ragged. Tired. Stressed.

To accept myself, to pursue true life even though my outward appearance may deny me acceptance, may invite ridicule.

This is me.

Vulnerable. Brave. Joy-pursuer.

If I want to be free, I must let go of my insecurities, let loose others opinions. I must break the chains one twirl in the rain at a time.

This is me. 

Freedom fighter. Storyteller. Beauty Seeker.

For I am large. I contain multitudes

and sometimes I dance in the rain.

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Control & Contentment in Pursuit of Beauty

I think when it comes down to it, seeing and savoring our lives as beautiful, is less of discovering hazy lit corners of our day to Instagram and more of a quiet contentedness.

{I’m still thinking this all through and noticing the 101 tangents that could be taken, so bear with me.}

But when I am frustrated by how my day is going, like this morning when my two-year-old woke up the sleeping baby who’d hardly slept the night before. I wasn’t the happiest of mommas. I could feel the tailspin.

I even told my husband as he was leaving for work that today was going to be a horrible day. Soon after he left, and before my lid boiled off, I remembered something I say regularly to my kids,

“Your brother isn’t making you angry,

you are choosing to be angry.”

My situation wasn’t ideal, a sleep-deprived momma and baby never is. My two-year-old knows it’s against house rules to open the door to his baby sister’s room (closed door = sleeping). But those two ingredients do not force me to act and speak in bitter, angry frustration.

I am in charge of how I respond. No matter the outside stimuli I can still control my reaction. It’s not always easy. (Seriously, it’s rarely easy.)

But withholding love, respect, and grace never brought anyone closer to Christ. Even if my children disobey or someone cuts me off, even if someone degrades my character or inconveniences me I can control my response. (Whether or not I will is another thing.) We know because of Jesus we can be tempted to sin, yet still refrain. Sin is always a choice.

[Just an aside: It is good to feel emotions. To be sad, happy, frustrated, angry, depressed, etc. I think we all too often err when we too quickly brush past our emotions. They are more often than not indicators of something deeper. It’s good to question why we’re feeling the way we are and to let ourselves feel–mourn, rejoice, be melancholy. But our emotions are not license to sin. I see them as a way to examine ourselves and dig deeper into who we are and how we need Jesus.]

Okay. Back on track…

How do these less than ideal circumstances and raging emotions connect to beauty?

There’s two places my mind goes:

1. Contentment. (I’ll come back to this later.)

2. I’m the boss of me.

I'm  the boss of me. How I react to things out side of my control says much of what I believe. If I preach grace and say Jesus’ kindness leads us to repent, but blast my kids (or anyone else for that matter) when they don’t live up to my spoken (or unspoken) expectations, I’m sending them two separate messages:

1. God is loving and gracious and desires to show us mercy.

2. If you do wrong in my house or to me there is no grace. The standard is perfection every time.

I may not mean that but how I respond with my words and actions can easily convey that message. I’m wrong but wish to God I was right, so I’m going to belittle your position. Or you have a different opinion, so I’m going to tell you how mine is “biblical.” If you don’t serve me or others to my standard I’m going to call you selfish and lazy…at least in my head. And on and on…

{we can be such a bunch of ugly sinners, can’t we? thanks be to Jesus for freely giving us grace!}

You know what I notice in all these responses? They take all the responsibility of my response off of me and place it on my “offender.” Which brings me back to #1.

Contentment

When I choose to respond

I am trusting that God’s ways are better. That I have been forgiven much and will extend the same forgiveness God showed me. I am walking in faith when I choose to walk on the truth of the Scriptures, I am effectually saying,

  • I consider another better than myself
  • I aim to walk in a manner of humility, gentleness, and patience “bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2)
  • I am letting go of all bitterness (Eph. 4:31)
  • I will choose to be tenderhearted and forgiving as God has forgiven me (Eph. 4:32)
  • I will respond without grumbling (Php. 2:14)
  • I desire to seek the interests of Christ (Php. 2:21)
  • I desire my speech to always be gracious (Col. 4:6).

When I do this I am letting go of the reins, letting go of my assumptions and false impression of control and choosing to walk the path of light and life with Jesus. This is what it is to be content.

And it’s here in this contentment where we can really trust Jesus that our lives open up to the endless possibilities of beauty.

Is this the secret Paul spoke of to be content? Releasing control?

May it so be with us.

What do you think? What’s contentment mean to you?

Do you see control as the antithesis to contentment?

 

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Conversations on Beauty, Life, & Jesus

{before we talk about beauty: I know some will say it’s idealist, ridiculous, superficial, or whatever else their jaded, bitter, or hurt hearts might say…because really, there isn’t an adverb or adjective I haven’t already used when thinking of life and beauty and joy and peace…it can all feel superficial at times…more because of where our hearts are than what is true}

Conversations on Beauty, Life, & Jesus @ The Reluctant Sojourner

Beauty isn’t perfect.

Beauty is wide and deep and free.

Beauty travels after the Creator. Beauty is dangerous. It asks much. It’s adventure. It’s taking a chance, saying yes. Beauty is laughing at yesterday’s foils and embracing today’s mercies. Beauty stands tall in truth and grace, washed in blood knowing freedom’s lingering taste.

Beauty laughs at the days to come and embraces the chance to start a new. Beauty is okay with being misunderstood. Beauty takes a breath and stops to soak in the sweet moments. Beauty lives, not clean and polished on a shelf for all to see, but wild and free running in the open air, come rain or shine.

Beauty understands life is to be embraced in all its messy and wondrous glories. Beauty sees the pain and sorrow and feels it all. Beauty is warm and inviting, ushering in friend and stranger alike.

But–you may say, beauty looks through rose-colored glasses.

So?

We call them kingdom lenses. The kingdom of God is dusted in that rosy hue.

Sure, beauty can be called idealistic. But what would you call a king who envisioned his scattered and captive people set free? And not by a mass of marching men, but by a single man dying a criminal’s death? And that same man coming back from the dead—too idealistic for you?

I think the problem many have with this rose-colored, “idealized” beauty is that it’s happy. It smiles. It is hopeful. Beauty hopes.

And for many that’s offensive. They feel jilted, stilted, disappointed, and left at the altar. They don’t see beauty in rays of light through a window pane or the colors laid across a cutting board. {truly beauty is more than that} They don’t see life as moving. They see life as an event, something to do, to get dressed for…not something to live. The mundane becomes offensive, horrible, a trap, a jail. Life becomes idealized as BIG and EXPLOSIVE. It has to change the world or at least be seen as tantalizingly alluring.

We forget that beauty is more often quiet than loud. We see the disconnect between the promises of the gospel and the frustrations of our lives and the mess in our hearts. It’s there unbelief crowds our hearts. Beauty becomes something we disdain and ignore for the practicalities of life.

But beauty is rejoicing in the simple graces and coming to terms with redemption’s long road. Beauty is dancing barefoot in the kitchen because the right words fall from the sky like manna from heaven. Beauty is the long faithful in the same direction. It’s the hand that cups your face when you’re feel low and haggard and a mess. It’s the eyes that smile at your crazy and the adventure that exploded in your living room.

Beauty is joy and joy is beauty and all true joy and beauty are forged from the same fount and His name is Christ and Christ alone.

{amen}

Let’s appropriate the gospel. And by appropriate I don’t mean early morning quiet times.

I mean, let us take the gospel and LET EVERY BREATH PRAISE THE LORD!

This is it, right here, folks. Our understanding of beauty and life comes to a head at Christ and how we understand Jesus will direct how beauty shapes us…how we live.

The gospel is beautiful. But it’s not just Easter morning beauty with its flat-ironed pleats, rainbow pastels, pleasant smiles and “How do you do?”

It is a glorious, unhindered laugh out loud joy, undignified dancing kind of beautiful. It is a joy that cannot be contained, truth that cannot be quenched, and it is gritty. 

The gospel is the story of our failures in the face of perfection, the turning of our backs on the quiet plea “Stay with me a little while longer,” it is our disappointments calling out “Liar!” and our hope being painfully realigned to a salvation we did not quite understand.

In the dismantling of our presumptions we find the messy glory of a God rising from a tomb and all we now know is our Hope became flesh and dwells among us, our sins forgiven, and He leads the way into peace and joy.

And that, ya’ll, is beautiful.

So let’s start this: Conversations on Beauty, Life, & Jesus. 

What does that mean to you? What swirls around your head when you think of your day to day, Jesus, and beauty? 

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