Weekend Coffee Share: Let’s Catch Up

If we were having coffee, I’d begin by telling you how much I’ve missed you.  The past couple of weeks have been busy and and blogging has been the last thing on my mind.  For the past few days, I my body has been fighting off a cold.  I’ve been storing away post ideas, but haven’t had the energy to write them yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I got to see a fantastic production of Sense & Sensibility at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis a few weeks ago.  Although I’ve read all her works multiple times, seen all the adaptations, and even visited Jane Austen’s house in England, S&S is the only one of her works that I had the opportunity to actually study while in college.  Because of what I gleaned in class, Elinor Dashwood has become one of my favorite Austen heroines. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Fall is in Full Swing

If we were having coffee, we’d be wrapped up in sweaters and scarves wandering through the woods with no clear destination.  We’d look up into the golden and red leaves and let out a long, contented sigh.  Fall is at it’s most beautiful point here in Minnesota and I am loving every minute of it.

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Walking in our woods last weekend

If we were having coffee, I’d apologize for being absent from the blogosphere.  Today is my first full day off in three weeks–although I may have to go over and help give staff lunch breaks if the orchard is busy.  Between working full time at the library and helping out at the family apple farm, free time has been sparse.  When I DO have time to relax, the last thing on my mind has been writing.  Which is okay.  I miss you all, but sometimes you just need to step away from things if you don’t have the energy.  I’m hoping to give blogging more attention when things settle down–and this includes finally updating my WordPress account to premium, getting my own domain, and customizing my site. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Late Night Live Music & Early Mornings at the Library

If we were having coffee, we would most likely be in a car cruising down the interstate clutching cardboard Starbucks to-go cups.  I’d be tired and not super coherent–not that it matters due to the fact that the music would be blasting.  (Why I’m in this state will become clear later in the post.)

It’s been a busy week.  Well, the first of what will be many busy weeks.  When I’m not working my day job, I’m helping out at my family’s apple orchard.  We’re on the verge of peak apple season, which means that crowds are coming and no one in the house gets any rest.  I don’t have a single day off in the next month.  I’ve managed to squeeze in fun activities with friends here and there, which doesn’t do much for my overall energy levels, but completely worth it. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Tired, Overwhelmed, and The Oh Hellos

If we were having coffee, you’d know right away that I am a mess.  My week was awful.

You see, I’m not a crier.  I’ll go for months and months without shedding a tear.  This doesn’t mean I’m not emotional–I definitely am.  My emotions just don’t manifest in tears very often.

That being said, I’ve had FOUR meltdowns this week.

Three happened in my car.  The first of these took place after the first training session for my new job.  The second was this morning on the way to church.  The third was an hour or so ago on my way home from church.  The other sob-fest happened over my bowl of Rice Krispies cereal on Tuesday morning.

As I said, I am a mess.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my new job is proving more stressful than anticipated.  I’ve finally got most of the day-to-day things under control, so my time in the office goes fairly smoothly.  But there is so much I don’t know or understand.  I have zero experience with finances, bills, invoices, payments, etc.  And, suddenly, I need to know how to do all of these things.  The people who are supposedly there to help me have proved only marginally useful.

I spent the entire week doing my best to stay positive and keep afloat.  Two of my nights were sleepless ones.  The while time, I thought that, if I could just get to the weekend, everything would be okay.  HA.  JOKE’S ON ME.

On Friday, I had to go in for my second training session while the rest of my family went to the movies.  Which TOTALLY sucked.  My little brother was home from college and I wanted to spend time with him.  I got to the office a bit before seven, as planned.  At 7:08, I got a text from the lady training me (who used to be in my position) saying she would be there by 7:30.  She didn’t end up getting there until almost eight o’clock.  Which meant I spent an HOUR of my Friday night sitting alone in a cold office playing games on my iPhone because I forgot to bring a book.  Because of her tardiness, we weren’t able to cover all the information and now have to meet again on Tuesday evening.

So that all sucks.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that my fourth and final meltdown of the week happened because I almost got into a car accident on my way home from church this morning.  But thinking about that just makes me more depressed, so we won’t go into details.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I saw the band The Oh Hellos live on Thursday.  It was, by far, the highlight of my whole week.  The show was INCREDIBLE.

The first opener was a band called Family & Friends and it was obvious that it was their first tour.  You could feel their enthusiasm oozing from the stage.  Their expressions were wild and excited and you couldn’t help feel it too.  It energized the whole crowd and set the tone for the entire night. When the headliner finally took the stage, we were all screaming before they played a single note.

If I could transport myself into the past, I’d go back to being in that crowd on Thursday.  It wasn’t very relaxing, but boy it was fun.  My friend and I let loose and went crazy.  We sang along to all the words we knew.  We cheered.  We raised our hands and clapped.  I completely let loose and danced, jumping and flailing awkwardly, losing myself in the music.  Gosh, it was a blast.

You see, The Oh Hellos are a phenomenal band.  They make music not for profit, but because they’re passionate.  Their passion is evident in every note.  Their music is clearly rooted in Christian faith, but they’re not a Christian band.  Their instrumentals are rich and flavorful and all the songs have deep, sophisticated lyrics.  I’d gush about how awesome they are more, but it might be better to write about them in other posts.  (So stay tuned for that.)

So, yeah.  Aside from going to the show, it’s been a pretty crappy week.  On the bright side, things can’t get much worse.  If you don’t mind, I’m going to go curl up under a blanket with a comfort book and go into hermit-mode during the remainder of my day off.  Later, though, I’ll come back on WordPress and would really love to hear how your week has been.  What would you share over coffee?

The Oh Hellos during the finale of their set.  SO GOOD.
The Oh Hellos during the finale of their set. SO GOOD.

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share: The Last Summer Day

If we were having coffee, we’d probably be lounging on a blanket in my backyard basking in the sunshine.  I’d be favoring something cold–an iced mocha or frappuccino–behind my floral sunglasses.  An occasional leaf flutters from the maple tree above us.

In Minnesota, we usually have one last day of summer before the season shifts.  I think it’s today and am very thankful it fell on my one day off.  I’ve been ready for Fall to arrive for the past month, but can’t deny that today is absolutely perfect.  The air is fresh, no humidity whatsoever.  The trees are just starting to change colors.  I actually spent several hours on the aforementioned blanket alternately reading and napping.  It was absolutely glorious.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about the concert I went to last week in Minneapolis with a friend.  Maddie and I met during our semester abroad in London and she recently moved to my area and has been aching to go to a show ever since.  We went to see Ivan & Alyosha and Noah Gundersen.  I wasn’t overly familiar with either band, but it was a wonderful show.  Musically, both bands were a real treat.  Ivan & Alyosha were my favorite act (I’ve been listening to them nonstop ever since).  They’re really peppy with a California vibe.  Noah was much more serious–his whole band wore black and oozed angst.  I like his earlier music, but he mostly played stuff from his most recent album which is really existential.  It was hard not to be depressed after the show as I drove the hour home well-past midnight.  But I cured the overflow angst by listening to peppy pre-pop Taylor Swift songs.

If we were having coffee, you would know that I’m frustrated.  For the most part, things are going very well for me right now.  I have a job, a roof over my head, and get to spend lots of time with family.  But a big portion of my life, my Christian faith, hasn’t been doing well.  I’m not struggling, but I’m not thriving either.  One of the problems is that I feel like I have too much history with the churches in my area.  Most people my age go to the church I grew up in, which I no longer attend for some very painful reasons (which I discuss in this post).  My family usually goes to a mega-church in the cities, which was great for in college for weekend visits and long breaks.  But it’s not the kind of church I actually want to go to long-term.  There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not the right fit for me.  I’ve looked into trying some other churches, but I either know too many people who go there or have been turned off by hearing about people’s bad experiences.

The thing is, Christian culture tends to be extremely conservative.  And I tend to be more liberal.  When I’m around other Christians, even those I love and admire, I generally keep my opinions to myself.  Usually, this is because it’s not the time or place.  But another factor is that most people will strike up an argument.  I really dislike arguing–it does more harm than good.  In arguments, people tend to spend most of the time defending their own perspective without actually caring about what the other person has to say.  I don’t mind if someone thinks differently than I do, but it bothers me when others don’t respect my perspective in return.   So I don’t go there.

I’m in a bit of a rut, you see.  My relationship with God is one of the most important things I have.  I long for Christian community who will accept me without judging me based on the way I think.  I long for supporters who will spur me on in faith.  I known it exists–I’ve had it before in Morris and at camp.  Here, though, I feel very much alone.

If we were having coffee, though, I hope we don’t argue.  Because I’d love nothing more than to spend the afternoon sipping cool drinks on that blanket with you.  How has your week been?  Anything you’d like to share in return?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster.

Sonshine 2015

When one of your favorite bands plays at a music festival a mere twenty miles from your house, you can’t not go.  Right?

Yesterday, I attended the annual Sonshine Music Festival with my old roommate, Alli and one of her childhood friends.  I’ve wanted to go for a long time, but this was the first summer I’ve managed to be in the crowd.  Usually, the festival takes place in Wilmar, MN–near where I went to college.  This year, the event moved not only towns, but states!  It’s now in Somerset, Wisconsin–just across the river from home.

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Alli and I after Rend Collective’s set

Although the festival goes for many days, I only went for one.  Because of the location shift and a brutal thunderstorm in the middle of the night, attendance was low.  Alli, has been to Sonshine many, many times and was shocked at how small the crowds were.

It was a perfect July afternoon–hot and sunny.  I dressed for the weather in breezy shorts and a tank top, but still managed to sweat gallons.  I can’t count how many bottles of water I consumed just to keep hydrated.

Heat complaints aside, it was really fun to see all the different bands.  I got to see Remedy Drive, a group that played at several youth conferences I attended in high school.  We watched Children 18:3, who hail from Morris (my alma mater).  I’ve seen the band’s members lead worship several times, but never perform.  They went CRAZY.  We hid in the back of the crowd to prevent getting trampled by overly enthusiastic fans.

The best part of the day, though, was Rend Collective.  Hailing from Northern Ireland, their music is folksy and hard not to dance to.  Although they’ve become pretty famous in the Christian music sphere over the past few years, it hasn’t affected their heart for worship.  Their concerts aren’t performances.  They’re all about celebration, authenticity, and family.

During Rend Collective’s time on stage, all my troubles melted away.  We were lucky to be in the front of the crowd, as close to the stage as possible.  As they played song after song, I couldn’t stop smiling.  Despite being relatively reserved most of the day, I jumped and shouted and danced without a care in the world.  The set wasn’t about putting on a good show–it was about celebrating the honor of serving a wonderful God.

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Rend Collective

We didn’t stick around for the big closing act–the Newsboys.  I know they’re one of the biggest bands on the Christian music scene, but honestly… I’m not really a fan.  We watched a few of their songs, but they completely lacked the heart and soul of Rend Collective.  So while the other Sonshine attendees screamed and shouted excitedly, we packed our chairs and headed to the car.

All in all, it was a day well spent.  I love attending concerts and they’re even better when they’re bands close to my heart. I ended up with my worst sunburn of the summer, but wouldn’t change a thing.

Want a taste of Rend Collective’s style and philosophy on music?  Check out the following video.  It’s got the same spirit as their live shows.

Jenny & Tyler @ Art House North

If you remember back to my second “Influential Albums” post, one of my favorite bands of all time is Jenny & Tyler.  Well.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see them play live!  On Saturday, I drove to the Twin Cities from Morris, kidnapped my friend Ruth and, after a delicious Chipotle dinner, headed to the show.

The show took place at a venue called Art House North, a renovated church owned by Troy and Sara Groves.  The Groves’ vision is to create a place for artists of all kinds (painters, writers, musicians, photographers, actors, designers, etc.) to “express themselves and wrestle with questions of faith, culture and beauty”.  It’s a place for collaboration and community, for people to “foster creativity inspired by the pain of the world and the beauty of the gospel”.  It’s a place to “demonstrate the way of Jesus by seeking justice through art and living as creative advocates”.  (Information taken from their Facebook Page).

It was my first time at Art House North, and Ruth and I were both impressed by the environment the Groves have created.  The space itself, with the church pews, Christmas lights, and fall decorations, has all the nostalgia of old-time-religion.  All the while, the atmosphere is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even though Ruth and I entered the doors as strangers, we left feeling like we had forged new friendships.  There were so many kind souls at the event, and it was a pleasure getting to know people who had been strangers.

Now on to Jenny & Tyler.  I discovered them by accident several years ago.  In fact, I found them via an ad on Facebook.  Upon clicking said ad, I found myself on NoiseTrade where one of their albums was available for free.  I downloaded said album and immediately fell in love.  Their music soon became a staple in my life, carrying me through and over many spiritual hills and valleys over the past several years.  I listened to them in times of grieving, in times of loneliness, and in times of bold adventure.  Their music filled me with the courage to fly to London for a semester abroad.

The husband and wife duo simply emanate the Holy Spirit.  Their harmonies are saturated in the love and peace of God.  Their website describes them in this way:

In a crowded industry glutted by banality, Jenny & Tyler stand out as true psalmists. Their music holds a mirror up to nature, culture and all the reckless passions of the human heart and points ultimately toward a Creator. Their songs mark them as modern-day contemplatives and troubadours, rooted in age-old wisdom set to new melodies.

IMG_2942Because their music means so much to me, the concert was a perfect one.  They were a bit awkward on stage between songs, but that added to their charm.  Jenny is the image of sweetness and Tyler is deeply passionate.  Even though they perform the same songs week after week, it felt like they were singing for the first time.  When they sing, their love for God is so evident.  They performed a song about their 15 month old daughter and their love for her shined.  And when they told the story of how they met and performed their love song “One Eyed Cat”, they kept giving each other these adorable sideways glances that showed how much they continue to adore each other.

Ruth said to me after the show, “I kept looking over at you and you were absolutely beaming!”

It was true.  The evening filled me with so much joy that it was hard to stop smiling.

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Ruth and I on the stage area after the show.

Seeing the following song live was one of the highlights of the show.  It had never been one of their standout numbers for me until now.  Tyler described it as a “divine love song”–words stood out to me, and have helped me fall completely in love with “Song for You”.

Ufda.

Whew. To say my weekend was uneventful would be a severe understatement. I spent half of it in the car driving to the cities and back to Morris. I met up with various friends for coffee. I attended another concert (post to come!) and crashed on an oversized bean bag chair in a friend’s dorm. I went home for part of a day to hang out with my brothers (who I won’t see again till Thanksgiving). I also went thrifting as I travelled from place to place.
Whew. I’m feeling kind of sort of really exhausted, but the time has come to gear up for midterms. My next two weeks consist of two huge tests, a quiz, a project, a persuasive speech, an article response, a 6-8 page paper, and a ten minute presentation. As we say in Minnesota… Ufda!

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(In which my cat, Paco, takes full advantage of my fatigue.)