Well, 2016 has been ALL the things as they say, in the world and our corner of it: beautiful, complex, exhausting but exhilarating. We've never worked harder this year and I'm thankful for the God-given redemptive collection of moments. But time is made up of seconds, hours, days, weeks and months that all add up to this one grand collage we call life. As the pieces take their place throughout the course of a year it can be near impossible to see the work of art that's forming or the hands that put it all into place. So, at the end of all things 2016 let's open up the vault and look at some bright spots that were inspirations this year, the ones that helped us dream bigger dreams and let's also look at some new discoveries. I hope you'll tap into some resources here that will make your 2017 even richer.
I LOVE podcasts. They are wonderful commute companions and I've been known to save a few episodes to chew on during flights, meal prep and much of the space in between. My favorites would comprise a list too long for this blog but I've narrowed down my top 3 here and I hope you'll share yours too! I'm always on the lookout for new discoveries. On a side note I'd like to state that if you plan on checking these resources out I'd encourage you to dive in with a 1 Thessalonians 5:21 state of mind. My inclusion of these isn't a ringing endorsement for every single comment or every single guest or every single post. Examine everything and retain the good as it applies to you and your own personal faith and journey! Enjoy!
Favorite Podcast Discoveries of 2016
I've been a proponent of self awareness for a while now. I have a Psychology degree with an emphasis in Christian Counseling and I've been a student of human behavior for a long time. Recently, I've found the Enneagram to be an amazing tool that has helped me delve deeper into how God uniquely wires each of us. This is an insightful and thought provoking podcast that may help you understand yourself and those around you even better.
While I was on the road this year, Matt Chandler and his pastoral team at The Village Church in DFW shepherded me without ever knowing it. Traveling alone is both wonderful (for an introvert like myself) and challenging and I was grateful for the consistent teaching I found in this podcast that helped strengthen my heart and spirit along the way.
This podcast accomplishes something rare. It's hosted by a woman but non-exclusive in its appeal. I love that Annie Downs has interviewed everyone from the hilarious Dave Barnes to the profoundly insightful Ann Voskamp. I've laughed, prayed new prayers and yes, I do believe Annie and I would be BFF's if we ever met.
Favorite Organizations I was inspired by this year
Missional organizations have always had a special place in my heart. I grew up as the granddaughter of Missionaries and as a Pastor's daughter so I have a soft spot for this kind of work. So I wanted to feature the organizations this year that intersected with my journey and pulled on my heart strings. These people are doing redemptive work for the kingdom and spur me on to do the same.
I first had the opportunity to hear the heart behind the mission of IJM when I led worship at an IF:Gathering retreat earlier this year. I was cut to the heart. They are doing amazing social justice work that is impacting real lives in countries around the world. I urge you to consider getting involved and supporting them in any way you can.
This is truly a rare organization operated by the sheer passion, calling and love that founder Dave Trout and team have for offering "gourmet" music while also facilitating authentic community among faith based artists and listeners searching for a musical alternative to mainstream CCM. If you want to hear more inspired and "gourmet" music I encourage you to plug in to the UTR community and get involved in any way you can!
I have watched, along with the world, the heartbreaking events of Aleppo. I was profoundly moved by Preemptive Love's presence on the ground there where they are providing aid, food and care to this marginalized community. They have been the hands and feet of Jesus to this hurting community and I'm so inspired by their tireless and courageous work.
Favorite Instagram Accounts
I've always been a highly visual person. Aesthetics, design and images are really important to me in conjunction with art and communication and have always been a part of what I take in to replenish myself creatively. I've got a soft spot for good films, unique graphic design and interesting photography. Here are a few accounts that have inspired me on both a creative and heart level.
I think my heart skipped a beat the first time I accidentally stumbled upon Linda Lomelino's photography and work. From the beautiful images taken in stunning settings to the way she incorporates light and dark (some metaphorical goodness & meaning implied here)...everything about her artistic point of view spoke to me this year.
Humans of New York
This is a really special but raw account offering an unfiltered glimpse of the entire spectrum of humanity. It's not for the faint of heart or the sheltered. I found myself revisiting this account this year when I felt discouragement or apathy creeping in. The world is much too homesick to give up the fight for hope and redemption. The images and stories represented by the HONY platform often deepened my compassion and fueled my perseverance to continue to do my part to push back on the darkness in the world. I hope they will have the same affect on you.
The House That Lars Built
Everyone should have at least one place they can go to get a JOY fix : ). This account is my special place. It's all about living an "artful life" and it's for those of us who want to be inspired by happy, whimsical, left of center images, designs and projects.
My top 3 moments of 2016
Releasing my new record, Love Lines The Last Horizon & The Wild Love Video to the World on the same day was just pure joy and gratitude for me. When you take a year and a half to build a project you don't fully realize how much the process will change you. September 30th was a day when emergence and celebration converged. Watching the Wild Love lyric video connect with tens of thousands of people on a heart level in the weeks and months to come was just more than I could ever have hoped for as an Artist. Deeply grateful.
Hearing thousands of voices worship and sing Foundation at Fielder Church in Arlington on the LLTLH tour this Fall was a pinch me moment. When I wrote this song with my friend Sarah Hart we dreamt of this moment and to have lived it on such a large scale was so unexpected. I couldn't look out into the crowd much because I wanted to just weep. It's a moment I'll never forget.
Filming footage for the new "Quiet Street" video in Joshua Tree National Park with my hubby was an other worldly experience. We've never seen such wild and untouched beauty in our lives and the way this opportunity came about was nothing short of divine intervention. California is also officially my dream state. This video is in production with plans to release in early 2017.
Top 3 Life Altering Quotes of 2016
"If you could dream what would you dream?"
When a new friend asked me this question in early 2016 I didn't have an answer because my dream-o-meter had been broken by the process of making the record and the events that inspired it. I was just surviving. Through the process of this year, the healing and the beauty of it, I've discovered that (for me) there is an important link between my overall emotional, mental and spiritual health and my ability to dream and trust God for those dreams. As renewal came and I began to dream again I started to see the connection between renewal and hope...between hope and dreams...between dreams and the courage to pray for those dreams. It's been a healing year and I've seen God fulfill some of the deepest dreams and desires I've had...even the ones I didn't have the courage or insight to dream for. Glory be.
"Pay attention to what makes you cry...the good cry."
I heard this on a podcast at some point this year. It may have been from Annie Downs. I was immediately struck by this statement and the connection between what moves us and how that connects us to possible desires God has embedded deep inside of us. I've been contemplating this in 2016 and have realized that (for me) the connection is both clarifying and helpful. What moved me and made me cry at the age of 6, 18 and 30 has often been indicative of how God has wired me and even a foreshadowing of the path He would eventually call me into.
"To love the person who crucifies you is staggering."
Lisa Gungor (of Gungor fame) tweeted this late this year and it cut deep in the best most convincing and convicting way. I'm not sure I have the words to convey exactly why so I'll just let her words speak for themselves here.
I hope you enjoy some of these new discoveries and I hope you're inspired to continue your journey into 2017 with courage and perseverance. Our world needs so much hope and so much healing. So I wave goodbye to 2016 with " the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too" in the words of the great Frederick Buechner. There's so much redemptive work to be done and I hope we can lock arms and encourage one another in 2017 as we all do our part to redeem the days God has given each of us.