Story behind the painting “On Becoming and Artist”

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.
And, you can listen to the song, Eventually, here.

ON BECOMING AN ARTIST
24X18 mixed media on canvas
Companion Song: Eventually
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I grew up in a very artistic family. My mother is an amazing artist and she dedicated many hours of our homeschooling to magical projects with artistic bents. But I never considered myself an artist. My older sister was always the one who could draw elaborate characters and scenes from her head. I was the kid that was good at math and science. It wasn’t until H.S. – when my sister went off to private ballet school in Canada – and I took my first structured art classes, that I even considered that I was good at art as well.

Little River H.S. is a tiny rural school in Kansas only accessible by dirt country roads. There were 32 kids in my graduating class. The year below me had 12. Beth Myers is the art teacher there and she has this amazing little “attic” art department that smells like wax and sunshine. It is the only room on the second story and had a door to the rooftop. She let me set up my own work table under a window in the corner where I could leave my scattered in-progress works out. It was this glorious little world all in its own. It was the first time I started to see my self as an artist separate from my sister.

In college, I was majoring in the sciences – computer programing and biology (believe it or not), but would still take art classes for fun. The art rooms were always where I wanted to be. Walking in felt like home. I was working several jobs – scooping ice cream and delivering papers and I hated it. But I was teaching little art workshops for my friends. Then, in the classified ads I saw an advertisement for a M.S. Art teacher. I applied, and through uncharacteristic boldness and luck, I got the job.

And slowly, I realized that the thing I loved most, and the space I loved most was creating. Sitting in a sunshine filled place with a steaming mug of coffee, tools of making in my hands, excavating beauty from the stories that make up our lives.

To me this piece is about the pull. About how all these little tidbits and disconnected themes in your life have direction and movement. You may not see the image they are forming until you reach the destination. But, your passions, your curiosities, your dreams – they all are leading somewhere.

 IMG_2109 IMG_2115 On becoming an artist_web

EVENTUALLY lyrics by Tim Coons
My hourglass, my calloused hands

My furrowed brow in all my plans

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

The distance I have traveled

The wool that I have gathered

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

Heaven’s ship sails low

All the while, it’s ever close

You know you know…

You’ll never have that time you need

You strike the rock but nothing bleeds

You’ll come into your own

eventually

the distance you have wandered
The fabric torn asunder

You’ll come into your own, you’ll come into your own

Heaven’s ship sails slow

Give it time, it’ll show

before you go, before you go

you know, you know, oh

“Is There Beauty in the Monotony?” or “Why I Wrote the song Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise”

Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise

We have a window in our bedroom. Each morning the sun shines through in various colors, depending on the season and cloud cover and make of the light. It falls onto our hardwood floors.

Honestly, most mornings as I awake to this light and find myself next to my best friend (and often with a baby or child in our bed as well) I have a strong sense of gratitude. It is the birth of another day. And I get to spend this day with my Love and my family.

Then at the end of the day we are spent. It’s not easy raising kids and doing the daily, monotonous business of all that needs to be done. Many nights as we lay together in bed, exhausted, the moon brings soft light to this closing. That light glows through that same window and on those same hardwood floors.

There are many songs about living the day in and day out life, a poetic look at the sacred rhythms that, when stepped back from and observed, are quite beautiful. I wrote the song “Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise” with this idea in mind. Even the title exemplifies the theme I was going for.

On an additional note I was also inspired for this song by a strange source. And you all can make fun of me for this.

When I first heard the big, overly-dramatic song from Fiddler On the Roof “Sunrise, Sunset”, I was moved; even as a sixth grader. I loved the idea that day to day, season to season, life moves fast and it’s so good to share that with the person you love. I was moved in sixth grade hearing this song.

Now I hear it as a 37-year-old and WEEP. I mean SOB. No kidding. The bittersweet truths represented in the tremendous arc of this music takes me out.

So I wrote the lyrics of this song with the same premise. Together we have each day. We’re watching our kids grow and leave the house, we’re dancing and taking it from sun to moon until our last days. And we’re so blessed.

Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise (Lyrics)

Will you wake with me, In the sunrise
Will you wait with me in the moonlight
How we’ll lay, And both be held
Folding limbs
As last lights fail –

Oh you’ll walk with me
In the one light
Oh you’ll sing with me
The one line
How you’ll smile
How we’ll laugh
How we’ll stand
As oceans pass —

Oh you’ll dance with me
At first sight
And fall asleep, beat
After night after after night
How we’ll watch
Them fly away
How we’ll say we love the race that they would take –

Won’t you wait with me
For the sunrise
Holding close to me
In the one light
We’ll all move on Far from here
My dust to dust And your dust near –

Why I Wrote the Song “Boxing Shadows” or What Happens When You Get What You Want?

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“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”

-Jim Carrey

What happens when you get what you want?

Let me tell a personal story.

I had a strong, single-minded dream for several years of my life. I desperately wanted to achieve this dream. It was a goal that I hoped for and prayed for and worked towards. Honestly, it was really a strange and simple dream.

I wanted to release an album with Worship Circle Records. (I’m sure many of you are wondering who Worship Circle Records are…)

I had been writing and leading worship music for many years and Worship Circle Records had put out my favorite album of all time in this genre. Their album “Enter the Worship Circle: Circle One” was a stripped down, raw collection of great songwriting and expression. This little, independent record company was being led by great people and I wanted badly to be a part of it.

Well, I got the chance to do it. After a songwriting intensive and through good relationships (and this is many years later) I released an album with them. I had done it. I had achieved this goal.

Rewind just a bit. Before anything with the album went forward I remember my wife turning to me and saying, “You know, if you get to do this and release an album with them you’ll just find something else to obsess about afterwards. This isn’t really an end-all goal that will make you happy”

As the record was coming out I smiled and enjoyed it all, but my wife’s words stuck with me. It wasn’t but a few months later that I started thinking: Now what? I know this is an arrival point but… what’s next?

What happens when you get what you want? What happens when you reach that goal or achieve that victory? After the initial joy and sense of success, what are we left with?

Nothing. Not really. That sounds so defeatist but it rings true to me. After you climb that peak you deeply enjoy the moment and then you climb back down. And you start dreaming about other peaks.

That’s okay.

I think what that teaches us is that it’s not about the peak. Life needs to be about something more expansive and all encompassing, something bigger than our goals.

There’s an incredible remake of the cartoon Wile E. Coyote (NOT done by Looney Toons) in which he CATCHES the road runner. He’s floored that he’s actually done it. He has his friend over and they have a feast. He’s says something like, “You know, it just tastes so good when you work for your food…” But then his friend asks him, “Now what are you going to do?” Even WE know this is a big deal for Wile E. We’ve seen him make countless tries (and loved seeing the failures) to achieve this goal.

The rest of the cartoon we see Wile E. spiral into deep depression and a directionless listlessness. (The gag ends with him strapped into a catapult of his own creation then it quickly cuts to him with his buddy again and Wile E. has become a born again Christian. A cutting joke, but perhaps appropriate?)

I wrote the song “Boxing Shadows” to work through the tension of these questions. What happens if I actually get what I want? What happens when I fail? What happens after each peak is conquered? Will my desires become less? Will I feel like it was all worth it?

On a musical note I did something very on purpose in the song. It begins with janky toy-castle. This is actually a toy my daughters own and they LOVE that I use it. The sound represents to me that thin, immature idea of ourselves as kids. The self-importance of our singular heroics trying to sound strong.

Then the song actually ends with a real trumpet blast (my friend Craig Basarich is incredible). I wanted the song to close with this feeling of maturity and joy that we have in the trials and tensions. That we DO achieve but that’s not what it’s about. It’s that we keep on growing and becoming. That’s where the true adventure lies.

Oh, you won the war, you won the war
and now you’re wandering how you’re so alone
You got the part, you got the part
but why are all lines so damn short?

You’re boxing shadows, you’re not the hero
of great renown, there’s room to grow

Oh, when do you know, when do you know?
That all the work was worth the pay in tolls?
My dreams still howl, my dog still growls
the pack is running faster every hour

You’re boxing shadows, you’re not the hero
of great renown, there’s room to grow
You’re boxing shadows, you’re not the hero
of great renown, there’s room to grow

Documenting the Creative Process: a Weekly Photo Series

We are excited to start a new series of posts on this site dealing with our creative process. These will mostly be pictures of tidbits; the art we are creating in our family. I love seeing other people’s process in their work, so we’re sharing this, a few times a month, here this season!

This will also be our way of taking a bird’s eye view of the fields we’re involved in… It’s easy to feel scattered and lose sight of the what’s being made in all the messes. We’ll be able to post these pictures and say, “Hey, we ARE doing stuff! The process is slow, but good!” I’m sure MANY of you relate.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Laying out all the pieces of a new series and seeing how pieces work together.IMG_2347
Planning and dreaming about what is going to go in this space at our local library.IMG_2366

Drawing portraits of their baby sister.

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Still to be revealed, but spending lots of time on my newest children’s book project!

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Giants & Pilgrims’ New Project: “Becoming”

(Above: a piece in process from Betony titled “On Becoming an Artist”)

I’ve been surprised by something recently- I’ve been surprised that I am still growing.

Now, in all physical ways I’ve actually stopped growing. In fact, my body has peaked and I am really in the process of dying. I am no longer a youth heading to adulthood.

But you understand what I mean. I’m still growing: as a human being. I feel like I’m in this deep process of “becoming” the person I’m longing to be. Is it strange to be surprised by that?

I had the understanding, since I was young, that one day I would grow up. That I would be a wise (and, of course, boring) adult. That was the arrival point- to become a static human with a family and a job and a spouse, contributing to the civilized world.

Here’s where I’m surprised, and delightfully so. None of us are static. We are SO dynamic. In my family, in my wisdom, in my work, in my soul, I am still growing and reaching and enriching and stretching.. and becoming. We are always growing IN to these things, not UP to a stopping place. I find such comfort in that: there is no arrival point for the soul. Even in the deepest heavens we will always be reaching “further up and further in”, as C.S. Lewis writes when closing his Narnia series.

This view of a dynamic soul has only been compounded since being surrounded by my children. I’m captivated watching them come into personhood in such powerful ways. Not just everyday- Every moment. They are fountains and explosions of rapidly growing soul. I believe this is one of the greatest parts of parenthood. It’s a rebirth of wonder from the place of joyous spectator.

So it is from this “surprise and delight” over continued growth where Betony and my new Giants & Pilgrims project starts.

I have the beginning of an album and she has the start of a painting series. We are, together, sharing our discoveries of “becoming”. Currently I’m capturing the first recordings of songs in the basement. The lyrics and acoustic-driven arrangements are saturated with children’s toy instruments. Betony has been organizing bits and pieces of collage elements (hundreds of bits and pieces!) and has started the process of creating with them.

We’re excited to share this project with you all soon. Be looking towards the fall of this year, but that’s a loose date. We just wanted to share what all we’ve been dreaming, while the process is still fresh and crackling with formation; while it’s still becoming.

Thanks for your support and love,

Tim & Betony
Giants & Pilgrims

My Memories of Winter (Needing What’s Real pt. 2)

Above: The original wood-burning stove from our house is now in the barn. I enjoyed it so much this last Christmas (and so did my dad, brother, and niece).
From Giants & Pilgrims artist Betony Coons:
When I was a kid, we had a cow; a big, beautiful swiss jersey mix with carmel colored fur and deep pools for eyes with the longest lashes. She was a walking soul.
Her pasture was a brisk walk from our house, past the pond and through a tree-lined lane. On winter mornings like this one, we would load up a wagon with sweet smelling alfalfa hay, and walk down to her where she would be patiently waiting for her breakfast. Often, we would have to take a sledge hammer to break the ice on her water trough. This was always the worst part of the chore. The ice cold water would splash on your already chilled hands and face. It was messy hard work. But, there was no choice of not doing it. She had to have fresh water.
After feeding and watering the animals, we would hurry inside, strip off our snow suits and warm our hands by the roaring fire. There is nothing better than being out in the bracing cold, working hard, followed by the smell and feel of a roaring wood fire.
By roaring fire, I don’t mean your ordinary fireplace. My parents had a tank. Our house was a large, poorly insulated barn, so to heat it, it needed more than your typical dinky fire place. My dad got one of those large metal storage tanks like you would see in a farmer’s field and welded it into a forge of sorts.
I have been recently thinking about fireplaces  this winter. In my mind I’ve been comparing the fire place I grew up with to the ones I’ve encountered since.
My parents’ fireplace was messy. First you had to shovel out the ashes, dusting anything nearby with gray powder. Due to the size of the door, you next had to use a splitting maul to break logs into smaller pieces – a process that made an ear shattering sound that will forever be in my memory of groggy morning wake ups. In the process of making a fire, your hands would get soot covered, your arms would be sore from hauling logs, and it took time as your stomach was growling for breakfast and your feet were like frozen blocks.
My sister just moved into a beautiful house in Lenexa, KS. It has one of those sweet gas fireplaces that you just have to turn a switch and it’s on. It still has flames, but you don’t have to fuss with the mess of ash and wood. I would love to have this in our house which has no fire place.
But, call me crazy, if I had the choice I’d take my parents’ fire place over this new one.
Because when you sacrifice the wood for the convenience of gas, you lose the smell. And what is tied more closely to memory than aroma?
Going much further into invention, I have also seen those inexpensive “fireplaces” that essentially are a projection of fire. They flicker pretty shades of orange and red, but you don’t have to worry about anyone getting burned and definitely don’t have to deal with the mess.
But, when you sacrifice the actual flame for a projection because it costs less and can’t burn you, you loose feeling. And what is more intimate and comforting than touch?
For that matter, there are even iPad apps made to look like fire place fires.
But, when you sacrifice messiness for convenience, something is lost.
Its more than just an experience of the senses. It speaks of our souls and our understanding of the world around us.
I am reading a book right now about running. One of the things they have discovered is that running shoes are bad for you. The nicer, more cushioned the shoe, the more likely you are to get hurt. The reason? The more separated and disconnected from the ground your feet are running on, the less awareness and understanding they have for it.
The thing about a real fire is that it burns, it makes ash, you can get hurt, you have to haul logs that hurt your arms. But it is one of the most beautiful complex constantly changing sights, it smells like real wood and smoke, you can taste it in the crisp air, you have to work your muscles to build it, you can feel the heat on your skin, you can hear the crackling of the tree burning. A real fire feeds our senses. A real fire feeds my soul.
I have three small children. I can certainly appreciate anything that makes our already chaotic life easier. But, in my story, I want to remember to choose the messy. I’d rather not be wooed by convenience. I want to search out the real, to soak up experiences with the wholeness of my senses. I want to be able to feel the ground I am running on.

 

Why Did We Get a Live Tree? (Needing What’s Real pt. 1)

From Giants & Pilgrims artist Tim Coons:

Every year about this time I question why exactly we get a live tree. The picture above says it all. This is a pine needle I found in our bathroom… upstairs. How in the world did this tiny piece of our Christmas migrate up the stairs and into our restroom?

Much of having a real tree over the holidays is hard work. It takes a trip out into the cold to purchase the tree, you have to water it (it still dries up),  you have to clean it up with remnants of its branches being found throughout the year (and years to come), you can’t just throw it away, and it costs more money every season.

I truly don’t judge my friends when they’ve got a fake tree in their living room. I think it can be quite wise.

So why do Betony and I do this to ourselves every year? I’ve been thinking about this over the last couple weeks while we’ve been in full clean up mode and I think I have an answer.

We do it because, every once in a while, we need something real.

It sounds strange, but I think it makes since. Surrounded by so much plastic, so much comfort, and so much insolation from everything… I, personally, need something real and alive and very messy. It helps me feel alive and connected to the world around me.

Getting a tree every year means tramping through the cold and snow with my kids. It’s uncomfortable but invigorating, like most adventures. Then I bring this sticky, live thing into our home and it’s smell is wondrous and speaks everything holy of the season to me. In the work of the constant watering I’m reminded of the great and terrifying responsibility I have in raising children, being married, owning a home.

I think this is why people run 100 mile races or head to the mountains,
have a natural child birth, laugh at plastic surgery,
tear up the carpet for hardwood floors,
work a fulfilling job rather than a lucrative one.
It’s why people demonize fast food or raise chickens.

It comes with this need to do things the hard way as long as it means doing things that make us feel more alive with every range of emotion there is, good and bad.

Like I said, this isn’t about judging people on whether they have a fake tree or a live one. This is about recognizing those places where we sense the disconnect; where we’re tired of the medicine that numbs it all, because we just long to feel something… joy and pain and warts and all.

I’m blessed I’ve married my wife, Betony. She’s constantly pushing me into this place. I’m much more easily prone for comfort and ease, for sure. Then she challenges me to do these real things, these adventures. And it’s like I’m waking up. A lot of the writing on our album Almanac No. 1  has this theme running through it. It’s been a constant exploration since becoming a family.

So, where do we long to experience more “real” this year? Because here’s the truth- it will be a “real” pain.

The Christmas tree can be a metaphor in that way. It will be messy and take more energy than the easy way and it will take upkeep and you’ll wonder why you went this route and people will question you on why you’re doing it the hard way.

But in the end…

in the end you’ll experience something real. And in all that fullness you’ll realize it was all worth it.

Let me say that again.

You’ll realize it was all worth it.

The Story Behind the New Comic Book

Illustrator Rick Destree has created something special: the world’s first comic-book-video.

Using the lyrics of “Paint Your Tigers Gold” as an esoteric launching point, this comic features the trials and tribulations of “Lucy the Mouse”. Will she be able to face her fears and take on the cat that stalks her home? With the help of her friends and great courage she just might.

You can support the work of the Coons Family (Giants & Pilgrims) by picking up a booklet or two of this new project here:
https://s28969.p27.sites.pressdns.com/store/

Here’s the full story of how this comic came about and what’s at it’s heart:

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Bedtime is filled with rhythm and routine at our house.

Every night that we put the kids to bed is a liturgical cadence of repetition-
bathroom, bath, brushing teeth, jammy-fying, gathering comfort objects, stories, lights out,
a hug,
a kiss,
and a high-five,
and a verbal goodnight paragraph that is a benediction in and of itself:

“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.
I love you for always and forever.
No matter what, no matter when, no matter where,
I will always love you.”

In the thick of the litany there was a year or two when I told “Lucy the Mouse” stories. This little mouse found a home in the body of an acoustic guitar and every time she left for an adventure she would pluck a couple of the strings on the way out and make the instrument sing.

When our oldest daughter started having night terrors, these stories were filled with moments of courage and bravery for Lucy the Mouse.

It seemed fitting that when artist Rick Destree pitched that we make a comic book for the song “Paint Your Tigers Gold” we should simply tell a “Lucy the Mouse” story.

The song “Paint Your Tigers Gold” was written in the same year, when our daughter, Lucy (then 2 years old), was having these night terrors. She would erupt into screaming and crying anywhere between midnight and 4 AM. And we couldn’t wake her up to calm her down.

Being in that helpless place and not being able to fix the problem was extremely hard for me as a dad. Exhausted, I would hold my frantic daughter and be completely unsure what to do.

After several weeks of trial and error, turns out she just had to go to the bathroom as a part of the bedtime routine. That was a tiring lesson to learn and best remedied at 7 PM rather than 2 AM.

I wrote the song as a prayer- processing what it means to come alongside someone (when that’s really all you can do… just be with them) when they experience darkness. There’s such strength in coming alongside them to tell them you are with them; that they are brave and can do it.

The sound of the song is purposefully both circus/ kaleidoscope joy and vesper/lullaby hush- a call to courage and a calming comfort. And all that wrapped up in hope.

With the purchase of this comic book you will receive a download of “Paint Your Tigers Gold” for FREE..

And we hope this artwork and song become somehow a part of your routine this season. And that all the deep plays of courage and bravery would be stirred in the encounter.

Here again is the link to pick yourself up one:
https://s28969.p27.sites.pressdns.com/store/

Here’s to a brilliant new year,
Tim Coons
Giants & Pilgrims

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The Odd & Random “Best of 2014” List

Betony and I have been loving the “best of” lists for 2014. It’s fun to see summations and high-lights of an entire year. It’s like distilling a story into a brilliant, concise single sentence.

We started thinking about our own favorites of the year. They ended up being strange bits and pieces of the good life we’ve been (and always are) discovering. So here now is the “best of 2014” list as curated by Giants & Pilgrims:

BEST SMELL of 2014:

This year I found my signature scent. Go ahead. Laugh at that ridiculous sentence.

But I have friends that always smell a certain way. Truly, specific colognes or Bath & Body Works lotions will always remind me of  various people. I’ve been on the search for a cologne that I could wear as my own, but each name brand I’ve tried never quite feel like me. Then I discovered Portland General Store.

Portland General Store are out of Maine and specialize in homemade men’s colognes and shaving items. Sounds like a disastrous business plan to me. But I ordered an expense cologne sampler regardless.

I cannot believe how awesome these smells are. They come in great marketing names like “tobacco, whiskey, farmer, saltwater, professor”. And they smell amazing- smokey, fresh, with a manly depth. That’s the way I want to smell. But best of all, Betony loves the scents too.
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BEST PASTA of 2014:

This category could also be “best new restaurant find”. Betony and I had heard good things about Pellegrini’s Italian but had never been. It ended up being a magical date night there. Our favorite dish was the BOSCAIOLA- a house-made pappardelle pasta sautéed in white cream sauce with Cremini mushrooms, home-made sausage and tomato. There’s several words in that sentence that I don’t know. I just know I want to put them in my mouth.

We’ve been back several times since. If you’re around Greeley, CO you should hit it up too!
pellegrini-ristorante

BEST CULTURED LAUGH of 2014:

Every line from The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Monsieur “Gustave H.” wins this category we just made up.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson, gave Betony and I something rare- big laughs that also made us feel smart and cultured because we felt like we “got it”.

But seriously, watching this movie brought such joy. There was real variety in the comedy- from funny one-liners:

Gustave H. (played by Ralph Fiennes) to a dead, ex-lover-

“You’re looking so well, darling, you really are… they’ve done a marvelous job. I don’t know what sort of cream they’ve put on you down at the morgue, but… I want some.”

to random:
seeing an old man’s bare behind getting pelted with hot water in the hotel’s basement hot springs… for no real reason. This movie was really, truly funny.

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK as CHOSEN BY A CHILD for 2014:

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak! Lucy chose this one. She requests this book be read to her serval times a day… by any individuals she comes across.

It’s a clever and funny book. My favorite part is the hippopotamus named “Boo Boo Butt” part.
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BEST NEW PODCAST THAT MAKES ME CRY of 2014:

This one doesn’t go to Serial. Hahaha.

It goes to “The Liturgists” Podcast put on my Science Mike, Michael Gungor and various guests. They take on different subjects through the lens of art, science, and faith. I’ve loved each hour-long episode produced and find myself tearing up often as they explore some of the deep issues close to my heart.

I say this with some gravity that no book, sermon series, song or media has enriched my faith more this year than this podcast!
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BEST PICTURE OF THE BEAUTY OF HUMANITY of 2014:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a Young Adult book about a middle school boy with a facial deformity. It is mostly written from the boy’s perspective, but it also jumps into first person accounts from other characters in the story. One of my favorite quotes is “Always be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” For me, this book captures that idea beautifully. It showcases that as humans we are more good than bad, more light than dark. (The fact that it has a perfect 5 stars on Amazon speaks for itself).
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BEST APP TO PLAY AS A GROUP of 2014:

Monument Valley is so beautiful and fun and artistic and creative. It was named the number one game from Apple this year! You are Ida, a forgotten princess, who makes her way through the ancient monuments of men- which are crazy, M. C. Escher-like, perspective puzzles.

The rule was, as we played it, we had to play as a family. No one was allowed to sneak playing the next level without ALL of us watching. We got the iPad out and only played with all four of us (baby Bea was uninterested) crowded around it. It became a really wonderfully family activity.
Monument-Valley

BEST LIQUOR of 2014:

Every Thanksgiving I try to make a new, creative cocktail to go with the feast. This year I mixed a “martinez”, which is a play on a martini, using sweet vermouth rather than dry. But the recipe I used called for Maraschino liqueur. I immediately thought about the gross, fake red things put on top of sundaes. I was oh, so wrong.

Maraschino liqueur, made by Luxado and imported from Croatia is bright, clear and complex and is woody and sweet with hints of creamy cherry. It’s now become one of those “secret weapon” ingredients that surprise the mouths of those we have over for dinner.
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BEST WATERFALL of 2014:

Betony and I were extremely blessed to get to go to Iceland this year for our 10 year anniversary. We had been there several days and seen wonder after wonder. (I’ve told people it’s like a harsh middle-earth: foreign and brutal, from another realm.) We’d experienced geysers and continental divides and lobster soup. Then we accidentally ran into this waterfall, the second accidental waterfall find of the day.

Skogafoss is what it’s called. It’s massive and, as Iceland doesn’t really worry about hazard ropes anywhere, you could walk right up to it’s base.

As the roar and noise and mist rose over me I had this great sense of how small I am and how immense the nature, life, love, God, power, and blessings that I get to witness are. I felt poured into in such tremendous ways.

I’ve called it BEST WATERFALL but I could also say BEST SPIRITUAL MOMENT of 2014 as well.
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Where would your awards go to for that category? What odd categories would you make up to highlight interesting things in your life? Feel free to leave comments below and add to our “best of” list.

The Practice of Remembering a Year

 

 

 

hattie in snow

 

I LOVE the first week of January.

Very rarely do you get such a strong overlap of everything ending and at the same time, beginning. It’s captured in that moment of Midnight on New Years Eve. Then the week that follows is filled with putting away ALL those decorations and presents (and definitely turning off all the Christmas music) while the paper and pen is out to fill the blank page of the year to come.

The Calvin and Hobbes comic above is one of my favorites because of just that. It’s the last one that the brilliant cartoonist, Bill Watterson, ever did for the Calvin and Hobbes series. But it gives you the sense that at this ending, everything is just beginning. The real adventure for both Calvin and Hobbes will continue on.

THE PRACTICE OF REMEMBERING THE YEAR

Betony and I have a tradition that we’ve done, I believe, as long as we’ve been a married couple. (So, ten some years?) Before we jump into the planning and dreams of the next year, we spend time remembering the previous one.

We really take our time with it. In year’s past we did this practice right at midnight on New Years Eve. After having kids it’s now usually on the drive home from visiting family. Regardless, we give ourselves an hour or two to really dig in.

We start in January and begin asking questions,

“Ok, where were we last year on New Years? What were we doing? What special events were happening that January? Who were we hanging out with? What happened?”

This year we used Instagram as our crutch to jog our memories (in other years we’ve pulled out planners). We moved to February then all the way to December. We recalled our Iceland trip, the concerts and tours, starting new jobs, special meals, our small group times, when Hattie hurt her leg, Betony finishing the library mural, the birth of baby Bea… It was SO good to remember this intensely special time.

We look forward to doing this every year. Often, in remembering, the most cherished moments of the year are brought to mind, dusted off, and enrich our understanding of just how sweet life really is. The stepping back and recalling the past reminds us of just how blessed we are. It helps us feel centered in who we are and what we’re doing as a family.

And when the hard times are remembered, we’re surprised by how much those difficult seasons have shaped us or led us to better places. That can be seen when it’s hindsight much more easily.

So allow me to suggest this practice to you: Take time to remember you year. Really give yourself time to do it. Recall the good and the bad and let this remembering enrich and center you, teach you, and remind you of how sweet life can be. Let it all shape you as you take on the magical world to come.

Tim Coons
Giants & Pilgrims