Wake Up

We sat down one evening, a few weeks ago, to have what has become our traditional “Dream Talk.” Over the years it’s been fun to see what dreams have been birthed through these conversations and how the One who gave us the dreams brought them to fruition.

When we arrived in Austin to rest, it seemed like we were at a cross roads. After three years of traveling and converting our bus, the bus was finished (although, there is always more to do). At the same time, our daughter began turning a corner towards adulthood and much attention was and is still being given to that process.

We floundered for a bit, wondering if we were going to move forward as “The Hollands!” or was there a new vision or dream? We tried to be open, paying attention to anything we might be holding to tightly, as we explored an¬†inkling of desire to travel globally. Then there were stirrings in our hearts to continue to offer our merrymaking, in whatever form, to those who would listen. We were especially drawn towards stories of those who have lost everything and wandered through foreign lands as refugees. We spent a bit of our practical time in Austin sharing our music and selves with the homeless, as well as, young adults who we would meet out and about, who had homes but longed for a deeper sense of community.

Our minds stirred with ideas of starting a new musical project, a community, new business, and there was even talk, well maybe whispers, of potentially staying even longer. The closer the new year came, the more restless we became, as we still had no clarity or direction for our future. And, the calendar was certainly empty.¬†However, as we moved into the mystery of the unknown, our conversation shifted from our future to remembering. We started at the beginning. Remembering the betrayal and reconciliation that God brought us through and how the freedom that came through that process led us to the vision to bring that reconciliation and joy to those we’d meet along the way. We remembered the launch in our bus and how we had no idea what was to lie ahead, only that we must continue to move forward. We remember how God wove us together as a family, healing many wounds and giving us a new song. We remembered how our needs practically were always met whether through a friend offering a helping hand, or a stranger blessing us at just the right time.

I once heard that if you have been giving a task, vision or direction, that you continue on in that until you hear something different. We realized that although somethings seem to be shifting, that our call and our vision was still the same. “We are The Hollands! We are a Mother, Father, Sister and Brother. Bound by blood and vision to travel about this earth, spreading a message of reconciliation through LOVE. We make our way sharing the gifts and talents given us; Music, Craftsmanship, Mentorship and Instruction, Merrymaking and Community building. Our desire is still to connect with those we find along the way and encourage community and growth in relationship.”

We did some practical dreaming, like where did we feel a leading to go after Austin, but the reality of this season was more about moving deeper past the dreams and desires to the core of our faith. After three years on the road, we see that this rest was needed to offer our bodies a chance to recharge, as well as, put emotions and memories back into working order and heal in areas we didn’t even know were wounds.

IMG_0937And then, our friend, Billy Hollis, gave us these words of encouragement. He said, “you guys are like a river – a river that flows from a great source (ocean – God’s love) and as the river flows it changes the ecosystem of everything around it – it changes the land… a metaphor for your travels together, but now it’s time to make a damn and let the river fill up so you can enjoy it and just rest.” He said that he saw a deep lake that was created for the purpose of drawing from. (We just happened to be resting on Lake Austin, which is on the Colorado River!) He said, that as we began to travel again, we would have these waters to tend to us during difficult times and drought. Then he shared these beautiful words from Hosea about a place where the Lords speaks tenderly and restores.

But once she has nothing, I’ll be able to get through to her.
        I’ll entice her and lead her out into the wilderness where we can be alone,
        and I’ll speak right to her heart and try to win her back.

We’re beginning to rouse from our rest in Austin, TX.¬†It feels like the early morning hours of waking, as we stretch our limbs, and slowly open our eyes to the twinkling of dimly lit lights. We reflect and remember. Knowing that the Lord is faithful and knows the plans waiting for us. There is hope on the horizon. There is purpose. And in that remembrance, when the time is right, we will move forward with this promise from the ancient text of Isaiah.

The Eternal One will never leave you;
    He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless,
    God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended;
    you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.

IMG_1083 Merry Christmas!!

Contra Dance

Contra dance (also contradance, contradance and other variant spellings) refers to several partnered folk dance styles in which couples dance in two facing lines or in a group of four. It has mixed origins from English country dance and French dance styles in the 17th century.

Our introduction to Contra Dancing was in Bishop Hill, IL, 2013. We were invited to the tiny historical town to perform at their Midsommer Music Festival. After our performance the festival moved indoors for the finally, a contra dance, (also known as a Barn Dance, but not the same as country line dancing.) We had never been to a contra dance so were unsure of ourselves but delighted to find that it was a welcoming community and easy to learn.

The¬†evening began with a caller,¬†who explained and guided the group through a dance. Then once everyone had the general gist, the music began. It was fiddle based tunes, with piano, guitar, banjo and bass accompaniments. It was festive and the energy level was brilliant as we flowed from one partner to the next. The movements were whimsically smooth and spirits were high. One thing that caught us off guard however, was the intense eye contact.¬†Contra dancers make eye contact whenever possible. This adds to the connectedness of the dance, and as we found out, helps reduce dizziness, especially during “the swing.” There were no costumes or role playing, it was just pure dancing pleasure.¬†

Austin Contra Dance Fast forward a year and we are on our way to Austin, TX  May 2014, with our fellow bus riders, Greg and Jeffrey. Somehow Contra dancing came up and we decided to look up a dance in Austin. We discovered the Wednesday Night Contra Dance that was open to the public and also allowed musicians to sit in with the band, which they call the Local On-Call Orchestra (LOCO) . It was a win/win, so we took our friends, taught them to dance and played music!

It was such a great time that we went back one last time before our departure, north where we would sit in Wisconsin for the summer. Then as we began to make our way back south for the winter, we told Rhys, our Australian bus rider, about Contra Dance. He smiled that sort of, “yeah, I’m probably not gonna dance,” smile. But we were convinced he’d try it once he saw it. Ha! We joined the Wednesday night Contra Dance as soon as we arrived back in town. Rhys was happy to play music with the band but reluctant to try the actual dance. We got him out there eventually. He was a good sport and in the long run, he can at least say he’s tried.

 

 The History of Wednesday Night Contra Dancing, Austin TX

Contradancing in Austin originated when¬†AFTM¬†(Austin Friends of Traditional Music) started a jam session at¬†Hancock Recreation Center¬†over 30 years ago or so. Somebody (the name was lost in time) said “Hey, this is a good dance floor so let’s dance!” and thus the dancing started. The dancing went through several variations and around 1990 became predominately contradance.

To this day the Wednesday night dance at HRC is still a community dance with an average of 40-60 dancers and occasional 75 dancing to the music of LOCO (Local On-Call Orchestra) – an open band of 3-10+ members with many excellent musicians, where anyone is welcome to come and play. The callers will call a variety of dances, whether it be contras, squares, circles, or whatever. This is a free dance courtesy of the City of Austin and Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

If you’re near Austin, TX we highly recommend a Wednesday night with the The Austin Barn Dancers. They meet every Wednesday night at Hancock Recreation Center from 7:30 until 9:45.

If you aren’t in Austin, do a search for Contra Dances in your area. Fun for the whole family!

Rest Doesn’t Come Easy

IMG_9969We’re in Austin, TX for four months, resting. Well, that’s what we tell people.

But, after three years traveling two different continents at a relatively active pace, I would say we are here in Austin to learn to rest.

Rest doesn’t come easy when one’s value is based upon what one accomplishes. Poet, David Whyte writes; “Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest it to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange‚Ķ”

Oh! It it is nearly impossible to engage in. All of the elements are in place, our desire to seek rest initially lead us to have conversations with kinfolk in Austin when we were here in May. They in turn began to share our need for rest with their neighbors, etc… We prayed and asked for this rest. Then a friend spoke with a friend, who had a friend, who had a precious plot of land right on Lake Austin. He was happy to gift us with a place to park our rig, allowing us amenities of sewer, water and electricity. He met us when we arrived and welcomed us, stating he hoped that we would use the property well and that rest would come. He then took us for Texas BBQ and went on his way.

So here we are with this beautiful setting, the sun shining on cue each day we wake, and just enough in our fridge to fill our bellies.

The first week, Rhys was still with us, finishing out his four weeks on the bus. So, much of our time was spent showing him the amazing sights and sounds of Austin, including Barton Springs, Torchies Tacos, Congress Street, the University area, Contra dancing and a day for packing and swimming at the lake. It was a great week and I’ll write more about it later.

The second week there was an inkling that rest was upon us, but the slow down was going to take time. Our bodies were ready, but our minds were still consumed with outpouring and giving. We volunteered with our kinfolk at MLF, we sought new friends on street corners, and through our social media and began hosting gatherings at the lake.

Then in the third week, we were scheduled to attend a folk music conference. We went, engaged with our fellow folkies and shared music. We met Matt Nakoa, a fellow muso from NYC, and quickly found kinship with him. We were careful though, as we didn’t want to distract him from benefits that the conference had for him.

All the while, we could feel a wooing happening in our hearts towards rest and the desire to give in to the rest was coming upon us like a wave far out in the ocean, building and building. What a dichotomy to have a spiritual awakening in such a physically driven place. It started to feel like we were trudging through mud, we were meant to be networking and gleaning wisdom about the music industry. Instead, many conversations, which started with practical ideals about traveling and touring full-time, ended in philosophical and spiritual musings about faith and purpose. Some of the conversations where so beautiful, and others were met with a deer in the headlights stare.

You’d think after that weekend we’d finally give in, but instead we had another party at the lake. (And, I should mention, that we all were feeling different levels of this pull towards rest, however, I was the one most resistant) The party was relaxing and some really great conversations happened. Another weekend passed and then it hit. My mind started to spiral after a few misses from friends who we still hadn’t seen in Austin, all whom had worthy excuses. None the less, it brought up insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, and lack of purpose. On Saturday night we shared sacred space with a group of folks we met a few weeks earlier. It was refreshing, yet I struggled to maintain composure. We went to church on Sunday and the minister talked about how important encouragement is to the soul. He talked about how we need to encourage one another day after day, so that we won’t lose heart, leaving us vulnerable to temptation. I could feel my heart slipping. I wanted rest, but rest seemed to represent loneliness, a feeling I know all to well.

IMG_9971So, here we are one month into our stay and this morning, after weeks of mind battles about rest,¬†white knuckling, running here and there on supposed errands, worrying about this and that, I woke with an ever-present monkey on my back. I knew it was there all along, but I finally decided to let it go. I spoke, “I want rest. Real rest.” I needed worship. I needed a moment of intimacy with the one who offers rest. I downloaded “All Sons and Daughters, Tonight” and as I listened and sang along I allowed the wave of rest to wash over me, remembering and¬†releasing the need for an inner sense of accomplishment or even an imagined state of attained stillness, but rather to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of super natural exchange. I’m sure it will be a journey but as these waves wash over us through the next few month, I trust that we will slowly, rest easy.

How do you define rest? And, how do you find it?

Happy Birthday Drummer Boy

IMG_8075Austin, TX was the place to be late May¬†as we celebrated our Drummer Boy’s 13th birthday. It was a celebration to be sure with all the fixings but most importantly awesome community. There are a number of¬†precious people and families in Austin, TX who really care for us when we roll through. Many of them¬†have children who love our son and we couldn’t have asked for a better stop to celebrate his life.

IMG_8047The celebration kicked off the night before the big day at our Persian friend Mehrdad’s home. We met Mehrdad last spring at a house concert that we performed and he kept in touch with us, often times sending little notes of encouragement. When we returned this time, we were so excited to see him and when he found out it was our son’s 13th birthday he was even more excited. He was so happy that he invited us to his home for a special Persian meal and to meet many in his community. The food was amazing and the conversation was even more fantastic as¬†different folks shared their stories. We learned about the history and traditions of their Bah√°’√≠ faith,¬†as well as, the persecution they faced in their homeland of Iran. They shared their journeys of coming to the US and gratitude¬†for being able to live and worship peacefully now.

Dony Wynn, Torchys Tacos, The HollandsThe next day, the BIG DAY, was full of adventure, starting¬†off at one of our favorite Austin taco stands, Torchy’s Tacos¬†where we met our friend Dony Wynn, who last year spent time mentoring our son, encouraging and sharing musical talents.

We fell in love with this ol’ fella after hearing his amazing story growing up in New Orleans, his time as a professional drummer in the rock and roll world, working out the meaning of life as a hermit and now finding passion in the visual arts.

From there we went to a matinée and saw the action packed Spider Man 2 and of course, enjoyed movie theater popcorn.

IMG_8093We concluded our festivities at¬†Zilker Metropolitan Park, which is situated near downtown Austin. It’s a fantastic park and the home to Barton Springs watering hole.

With temps of 90 degrees we were ready to cool off in the fresh spring water. The kids went to the free side of the park and found a large tree along the bank to climb on and jump into the water.

They frolicked for about two hours and then rallied for Texas BBQ from Green Mesquite BBQ, which was just a mile down the road from the park. It was awesome! We ordered take out including a variety of meats for about $60 and everyone brought a salad/drinks to share.

The evening wound down with a red velvet cake that the Malik family made, at our sons request and one last swim. Honestly, we could never have pulled off such a fantastic birthday without our friends, Mehrdad, Dony, The Maliks, The Heikkilas and the Newells. So thankful for community!! In the end, our Drummer Boy felt loved and appreciated. This will be one to remember!

Austin, TX

IMG_8113On a side note: A few months ago we asked our little Drummer Boy, what would you like for your birthday and he responded confidently and quickly, “a Bob Marley CD and a bag of chips.” What? He totally stopped us in our tracks and we all just looked at him dumbfounded. First off, we were totally expecting some expensive video game request and secondly, he had never shown interest in Reggae or anything acoustic before. I mean, he plays in our Folky/Americana acoustic based band but has always drifted towards heavier sounds. For the first time, our little dub step, metal core son was speaking our language! Who knows how and when kids pick stuff us, but the request totally cracked us up and we couldn’t resist.

 

 

 

South Texas, The Land of Milk and Honey

20130325-144311.jpgAfter a few months in the browns and reds of the desert, the lush greens, slight humidity and rolling hills of Austin were a welcomed sight. Our time in Austin was eclectic with opportunities to be in community with our hosts, the Newell family and friends, connecting with new friends, sharing music, sharing sacred space, lending a helping hand with projects and enjoying some quality family activity, including paddle boarding, kayaking, dining out and a little bit of shopping.

20130325-144300.jpgOur first weekend we enjoyed the sounds and sights of SxSW, which was significant in and of itself. However, our week with the Newells was when all of the magic happened. Our favorite restaurant was Torchie’s Taco’s! Pete, Lori and their three darlings took us there after church our first Sunday in town and we fell in love. Torchie’s started out as a food truck and now has about four locations throughout the city. Through out the week we made it to three of the locations. ūüôā Monday evening we shared our first BBQ on the grill with them. I made my Grandma’s potato salad, the sun was warm and there was a cool breeze. The kids had fun running and jumping on the trampoline, listening to music and taking a load off.

Tuesday we helped Lori set up the house for a house concert. They invited all sorts of friends and neighbors and acquaintances. The energy was high and all of their guests made the evening so lovely.

Wed. it was 91 degrees and we decided to hit the water. We went paddle boating and kayaking down on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake which is part of the Colorado River. It’s calm, pristine and offered us relief from the heat. We floated for about an hour, watching the University of Texas rowing team practice along side us.

Later that evening, we all meet the Newell’s at Rudy’s BBQ for a Texas favorite. I’ve seen Rudy’s sauce in the grocery story but it was fun to actually be eating where it was created. And man, is it good!

Jesse and Janae
Jesse and Janae

The night didn’t end there, after dinner we trekked about a half hour southwest to Dripping Springs, TX to visit with the Heikkila’s who we had met through the Newell’s. Jesse, Janae and their four children live on a beautiful property with his Sister and her family. The Heikkila’s moved to Austin a few years back and have been building a “Tiny House”¬†on the property. We entered their warm home with delight and amazement. We were excited to hear about their journey in marriage, family and building this fun home. Janae made the most amazing candied nuts to top ice cream sunday’s and Jesse and Craig talked shop (building). ¬†We love meeting kinfolk along our way, especially those who are taking risks and swimming upstream.¬†It was so encouraging to be with them.

20130325-144832.jpgThursday was our last day in Austin and it was equally as delightful as the days that ran before it. I met a woman named Ruby James. We had actually met at Steel Bridge songfest in Sturgeon Bay, WI the summer prior. She had approached us after we played our set and thanked us for waking her up gently. Later that summer, we saw her again at another venue and had an opportunity to chat a bit more. There was something about her bright spirit and so when we arrived in Austin and I saw she was living here, I thought it would be great to see her again. There was an ease when we chatted on the phone and through the course of our conversation I shared some of the struggles we were having with our son. His transition from adolescents into manhood were taking a toll on us as parents and her listening ear was kind. She had an idea, a way to maybe encourage our son and lined up an opportunity for him to meet a fella named Dony Wynn. Dony is a world-class drummer and has worked with folks like Robert Plant, Patti Griffin and Robert Palmer. He met us at his front door with a bright smile and invited us into his space. There were percussion instruments everywhere and Dony was open and inviting, engaging our son in conversation and sharing his story. It was an honor to meet him and I’m sure will be an important part of our son’s story down the line.

20130325-144740.jpgLater that night we were invited to share in sacred space at a Bahai’ New Years celebration. We met Rose, our host, at the Newell house concert a few days prior and she gave us a little overview of her vision to bring together community in her neighborhood and her efforts to host weekly multi-faith gathering. This week they were focusing on music. We shared with her a potential offering/workshop we call “sound scape” which is an exercise that allows even the laymen and opportunity to be creative. She loved the idea and so we arrived, ¬†shared a few “Hollands!” songs and then had folks break into two groups. Because the gathering was meant to have a spiritual bent we used sacred passage from the bible as the inspiration and each group began to create a sound track that would be played behind the reading of the passage.

Craig’s group choose John 1:1-22, “In the beginning was the Word,¬†and the Word was with God,¬†and the Word was God.¬†¬†He was with God in the beginning.¬†¬†Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.¬†¬†In him was life,¬†and that life was the light¬†of all mankind.¬†¬†The light shines in the darkness,¬†and the darkness has not overcome¬†it…” My group choose Revelations 22:1-5, ¬†“Then the angel showed me the river¬†of the water of life,¬†as clear as crystal,¬†flowing¬†from the throne of God and of the Lamb¬†¬†down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life,¬†bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.¬†No longer will there be any curse.¬†The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.¬†¬†They will see his face,¬†and his name will be on their foreheads.¬†¬†There will be no more night.¬†They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.¬†And they will reign for ever and ever.”¬†Each group entered into the exercise wholeheartedly and the creative interpretations that they each offered was so inspiring. We topped of the night with Persian Tea and lots of hugs and well wishes.

20130325-144823.jpgFriday morning before we set sail we invited Dony and Ruby over for farewell scones. And then we said goodbye to the Newells!

There is such a richness in this life that we lead. Joy is full, pain is real and we accept it all, knowing there is hope and we are not alone. Our week in Austin is proof of that richness and we hold fast to these moments as examples and encouragement for our lives.