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“There is a Balm in Gilead” Song and Silkscreen Print

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For February we’ve explored the theme of “balm”, asking what does it look like to be a healing balm within the world and serve places as a family.

We thought this would be the perfect month to release one of our favorite new songs. Here is the fully produced, beautiful “There is a Balm in Gilead”. You can listen below (and feel free to share it with folks!):

Using the lyrics from the song, Betony has designed a limited edition of 50 silk-screened posters. With metallic-gold ink on heavyweight, navy-blue paper, it will be an incredible and framable 12×16 print.

Because of the silk-screen process we are only taking orders until March 7th! If you’d like one you can order it now by clicking right here (it’ll take you to our store).

About Bellwether and Our February Theme

At the beginning of the year Betony and I announced we’re working on a new project. Titled Bellwether, it will be an album and art series that explores belief (to be released November 2016).

Instead of just keeping the creative process to ourselves, we’re making it a bit more open; hoping to explore belief each month in ways that contribute and form the project being released.

So every month we’re doing a Practice & Process, choosing a spiritual practice and, in response, sharing the creative process.

For February our theme is Balm and we wrote all about the Practice we took on

Our plan is to continue releasing songs and posters throughout the calendar year- an ongoing process to these practices. Keep watching for more as the months progress!

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February Balm: Practice and Process Part 2

PRACTICE:

As we are making our way through February, Betony and I have been staying true to practicing the two things we put forward at the beginning of the month:
Praying for people each night as a family
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Exploring where our family can do service work (especially looking in to “Turn Around Bikes” in Greeley).

Volunteering

So we met with Liz Young and her intern of Turn Around Bikes last week just asking, “What all do you guys need this year?” Since Betony and I have experience with putting on big events and art shows we volunteered for the “Turn Around Bikes” fundraiser committee. Be looking for a that event come July! It should be an incredible time of biking, live music, food, and Weldwerks Brewing Company will hopefully be involved.

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We also decided to do a special for the next two weeks on our site: 100% of proceeds of sales of this print go to support Turnaround Bikes!
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PROCESS

I’ve been performing a new song this year that has really good energy when I sing it for people. I’ve been ending sets with it. “There is a Balm in Gilead” is a song about deep hope and it feels like a proclamation every time I sing it. It felt right that we would record this song in February and release it with this theme being lived out… More to come on that in a couple days!

Betony put up some versions of this incredible poster last week on Facebook. (True to Giants & Pilgrims projects, it coincides with the song.) You all voted and chose this version! It will be up for sale alongside the song in a couple days as well!
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Some folks that helped make “There is a Balm in Gilead” happen (Charla Bultman, Brian Claxton, and sound engineer/ producer David Wilton):

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My friend Jeff Cook and I released a teaching/song meditation for Lent called Observance.lent

FURTHER EXPLORING “BALM”

We read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” out loud as a family this month. There are so many beautiful and interesting spiritual archetypes in this book: baptism, desert, resurrection, etc. The whole of the book explores LOVE as an act of giving and sacrifice that shapes someone for the better.

Betony has also been reading “Home Grown” and “Man’s Search for Meaning”. She is highly recommending them for me as well!

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This month I helped friend and Giants & Pilgrims band member Mary Claxton do a songwriting intensive, while Betony designed a set for Frontier Academy Elementary’s performance of Aladdin and volunteered to help with a art show fundraiser at our pre-school (check out those Lorax trees)!

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The family took a trip to see the orchids at Denver’s Botanic Gardens.


And we had lots of fun with Valentine’s shenanigans:

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And, speaking of “Balm”, I have been batching my newest set of colognes, beard oils, and aftershaves!IMG_5129

That’s all for now! March is going to be all about “Ground” so be watching for that soon!

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Song Story: “Ghosts for Tinder”

Betony and I are both from Kansas. When I tell people this they often comment with something Wizard of Oz related. I usually joke with them back and say, “Have you ever driven through Kansas? It’s like driving through Purgatory. There is NOTHING on I-70. Its a sea of blue and brown.”

But then I assure them with something I also truly believe. That Kansas does have an incredible beauty; like enormous, open skies that hold vast sunsets or intense changes of season. When Betony and I are in Kansas we feel home, we feel safe, and we visit often (we currently live in Colorado).

Being from the midwest I remember being taught something fascinating about the plains ecology: that it’s actually adapted for wildfires to burn through. It happened so much in the thousands of years in our region that plants and life have evolved to assume it’s likelihood. (The government actually pays money for certain acres of prairie to be burned. The CRP program helps all the ecology to have areas remain native and they do controlled burns to preserve that correctly! It’s amazing to watch!)

Here’s a science-y run down from a museum site of how fire actually helps the grasses of the plains:

“The roots and growing points of prairie plants form thick networks underground, where they are protected from fire. Prairie fires move quickly, so the soil acts as a buffer protecting prairie plants’ underground growing structures.

After prairie fires, the dark surface of the soil is warmed by the sun, and in the spring this helps seeds germinate. Existing plants grow stronger after fires. New seeds carried into the burned soil start new plants. For some plants with hard seed-coats, fire burns some of the seedcoat off the seeds and actually helps the seed germinate faster.”

I think there is something profound here in this story of nature. That fire can actually lead to better growth.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/prairie/htmls/eco_fadapt.html

How many of us know this scene: In order to get over the relationship, in order to move on, the broken-hearted takes all the love-letters and keepsakes and momentos and, in ceremony, collects them in the pile outside. Slowly and deliberately a match is lit, maybe a prayer is said, and the fire begins- a fire that will hopefully clear things for new growth. In the pain of letting go there is the hope of new life.

How many of us know this scene? but a bigger question is How many of us have lived it?

Betony and I’s album and art project Becoming looked at this metaphor and saw truth in it worth creating from. She created a stunning piece of a prairie fire after I wrote the song “Ghosts for Tinder”.

It begs the questions,
Have you let things go that hurt like a fire, but now with distance you see great life came from it?
Are you in the process and pain of letting some of that go now?

Here’s the lyrics to “Ghosts for Tinder”. And you can listen to it here as well.

GHOSTS FOR THE TINDER lyrics by Tim Coons

Come and keep by my lovely fire
I’ve got pieces I’m scheming from the liars with in me
You’ve replayed in my darker mind
You’re re-lived in the days I have assigned without you

Yes, I’ll leave it behind
Yes, I’ll leave it behind
Yes, I’ll leave it behind
Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Burn it down here
burn it down
it will come again
come up, on up from this ground
Up and around
So burn it down

I’ve got ghosts for the tinder glow
I’ve got pages to wash clean as snow to warm me
I’ve got memories for matches now
I will lighten the load so sad and loud for
When I see you

Heaven knows it will light
Heaven knows it will light

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Sending a Little Love Your Way…

We always like to get a little creative with our Valentine making around here. This year we played with sorting old stamps (duplicates from my childhood stamp collection) by color. We used vintage stamps, but you could just as easily do this by collecting them from your mail. I love how these turned out. Pretty simple to put together too.
For more Valentine making inspiration, here are last years stitched valentines.

Here’s a great Valentine mix to listen to while you work 🙂

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To make these, we first sorted stamps by color –IMG_0841

Then traced a simple heart shape in pencil on some white cardstock paper and filled in with stamps (we just used a gluestick)IMG_0839

Ta da!

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A Work of Art for Lent

Tim Coons writing:

I teamed up with Jeff Cook, the pastor of Atlas Church in Greeley, CO, for this project. (Atlas is a wonderful community we started with a group of friends and we’re all still connected to this day.)

We’re calling this Atlas Observance: beauty for the spiritual season. Basically, Jeff wrote and performed this six minute teaching piece about Ash Wednesday and Lent and I scored it so it leads into our new Giants & Pilgrims’ song “Empty”.

We hope it holds spiritual resonance for all types of travelers and fellow observers of this season.

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February Practice and Process: “Balm”

(image is from a Chinese cloisonné painting factory we visited in China 2008)

In creating our new project, Bellwether (an art series and album due winter 2016) we’ve decided to share what we’re doing each month before it’s released.
We’re calling these posts “practice and process“.

They will detail the spiritual/life practice we’re doing,
give a look at our in-process art that we’re creating in response,
and then include a whole host of resources and activities! (like the new desktop wallpaper, book/music/movie lists, recipes, explorations for kids, etc. This is so as a entire family we can engage in this year’s exploration of “belief” we’re calling Bellwether. 

FEBRUARY Theme: BALM

February is in the heart of winter, close to the edge of a hope for spring. And with Valentine’s Day sitting in the month we’ve often treated February as a time to put into words the way we feel about the ones we deeply love. It’s a way to warm up the cold. We’ve chosen our theme of “balm” with some of these lines drawn.

Practice:

The very definition of balm is “something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect.”

This month we are

  1. exploring what service looks like for our family. We want to start being restorative in an intentional way. For us that looks like partnering with a local charity called “Turn Around Bikes”. They restore donated bikes and give them to people in need. Honestly, since having children we’ve had a hard time being consistent and feeling effective when it comes to giving of ourselves in this kind of way. We’re open to getting better at service. Furthermore, it’s our hope to instill a great sense of compassion in our children. This is at least a first step.
  2. For our second spiritual/life practice we’re setting up a table altar like we did last month. This time before dinner we’ll be praying for people in need of “balm” or some extra love and care. Then on Mondays we’ll be writing and mailing postcards, sending that love out in words.

Here is a really cool free printable postcard designed by our friend Kyle Steed, if you’re needing a great design:

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Process:

Tim is working on recording a song called “There is a Balm in Gilead” this month while I’m gathering ideas and paper tidbits for the overall series.

Resources for “Balm”:

FEBRUARY Dates to Take Note of:

February 7th – Superbowl 50 (with the *ahem*, Denver Broncos! Bake these, I promise you won’t regret it.)
February 8th – Chinese New Year (year of the monkey!) – We love to celebrate by ordering Chinese takeout and reliving our China trip 🙂
February 9th – Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday – we love to listen to this sweet mix curated by Starbucks
February 10th – Ash Wednesday
February 14th – Valentine’s Day
February 15th – President’s Day
February 17th –  Random Acts of Kindness Day
February 28th – The Oscars

Local: Greeley, CO events:

February 5th (and up through the end of the month) – Soundscape a group art show at the Atlas Theater that pairs music and art (right up our alley don’t you think?)
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February 27th – Tim and Charla are opening for the lead singer of Everclear at the MOXI theater!
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Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

EXPLORATIONS:

Here in Greeley, CO we have had just buckets and buckets of snow. We haven’t seen the ground since December 1st. I don’t even remember what it looks like. During winters like this, I think the best possible plan of action is to find a warm tropical greenhouse to visit. Usually we make a trip to the Butterfly pavilion. This year, I am thinking we are going to visit the Orchid Showcase (Jan. 8-Feb 22) at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
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Participate in Turnaround bikes workshops this month and other service related activities.

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Make a visit to the Cranford Cove to get a new selection of looseleaf teas to enjoy this month.

Speaking of tea, the girls and I are planning a lovely Valentine’s tea party with lots of tiny delicacies, fancy china, and, of course, hats and dresses.
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ART:

Spend some time digging into Picasso’s works and share with the girls.
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Their are some really fun art activities in this book.
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Make all sorts of homemade valentines

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READING lists:

Here are some of the kid’s books I have on reserve at the library this month. I was looking for books that deal with Compassion. I would love to hear your recommendations if you have any.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton, The Lion and the Mouse,  and A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee

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I am also reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane out loud to Lucy. It is an absolute favorite of ours. The themes are nested in kindness and compassion and the journey of self-discovery. It’s a good one for adults too.
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Mary Oliver poetry books – these are ABSOLUTELY balm to my soul.
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As a little personal “balm” against the dreariness of February, I love to order my garden seeds. (my favorite is Baker Heirloom Seeds – just reading their catalog is therapeutic)
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LISTEN:

Oxygen by Willy Mason. The video is only ok, but the song is so good.

This Great Valentines Mix curated by Personal Practice

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February Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

Both my mom and grandmother are wonderful cooks. I grew up eating all foods made “from scratch.” For big meals and special occasions, they would get out the fancy dishes – their collection of transferware china – my mother’s were blue, my grandmother’s brown. It always meant that we were about to celebrate something special. To this day, I love all transferware. The patterns for February’s desktop are inspired by those dishes and the colors they come in. The plant in the middle is Lemon Balm, a nod to our theme this month – “Balm”.

For more inspiration for this month – make these rich chocolaty brownies, read this poem and this one, and dig into everything Letters in this February list from last year.

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen.

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:

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