Medicine For The Soul; Fire In The Sky

Not sure if you knew this about me but I’m a human connection junkie. I look for opportunities at every corner to connect whether through a smile, conversation about the weather, sharing of story or deeper moments of spiritual formation. Some circles call people with this trait an empath, others call it extroverted. Whatever you call it, traveling full-time suites my thirst for this connectivity. I know and trust that seemingly random moments are divinely orchestrated and I wake up with great anticipation of seeing and experiencing these amazing moments of exchange. Security, comfort, and money are unfruitful drivers and I tend to spend little time thinking about them, trusting that my daily bread will come. I wake up longing to speak words of peace and affirmation over those I meet and when needed, to share a hard word of truth in love. I wake up open to receive. I have learned over the years, that filtering (discernment) is essential to being healthy in my gift set. I have learned that I must allow for times of quiet and solitude in order for the Holy Spirit to fill up my empty vessel. It’s important for my well-being and those I am surrounded by. 

And so it was, thanks to Abba’s faithfulness in weaving us together with the Saints, that we were gifted a week of solitude on a beach in South Australia. 

We met Jacia, a beautiful young soul, in Northern Thailand and shared a night of song and story. Before we parted ways, Jacia mentioned that if we ever needed a season of rest, that her family owned a little beach shack and would be happy to share it with us. We exchanged info and tucked it away for a time that only Abba could bring; for South Australia wasn’t yet on our routing pattern. However, that timing came to fruition sooner than we thought as it proved to be the soft landing spot after a tender return from the US where I was caring for my mother. 

img_0159We arrived to what truly was the cutest little beach shack, and a warm welcome from Luke and Diane Hopton, Jacia’s parents. They had us over for dinner and we were delighted by their faith stories. We found a few other times to connect with them and with some of their dear friends, but my normal capacity for friendship was low so as tempting as it was to fill our week up with meals and visits, I reluctantly declined.

img_0148The honest truth was that I was wrecked in my spirit, numb really. I tried to force any sort of feeling in the physical, nearly attacking my husband with affection, dancing wildly on the deserted beach, convincing my sweet son to walk miles and miles with me searching for seashells, trying to work up a sweat, just trying to feel alive. But it was in the stillness of the evenings when the sun was setting that benevolent rays of mercy would shine on me. Craig would bring out the guitar and strum gently or make a lovely cheese platter and we would just sit, quietly, night after night, watching the sun set on the horizon. It was in those moments, that I laid down my pride, laid down my sorrow, emptied myself out and opened up. It was in those moments that waves of Abba’s unending love and faithfulness came rolling in; dividing my soul from spirit, exposing the attitudes of my heart, and washing over me with precious words of healing. 

Words like: 

*The Great Physician is a faithful healer and can be trusted with even the most aggressive aliments. Tonight’s tonic included an epic sunset in the South Australian sky.

*In the stillness… in the quiet hour… You are with me.

*Faith is not a feeling. Faith is not an event. It is not a mystical or magical experience. Faith is not hope. Hope operates in the natural. Faith is the language of the supernatural. It the tether between us and the living God.

*Abba sees the things you and I can not see. You are going to recover. There is a level above science, there is a level above technology. It is the level where faith hovers and with the Creator of the Universe all things are possible.

*Faith goes into the future, secures the future, comes back to get you and leads you into that future.

img_0165I’ve written songs about the beach, about the living water that sustains me, and I’m so thankful that my Creator knows that this is a place that really fills me up. I love going to the beach with God! I’m also thankful for kinfolk like the Hopton’s who graciously care for us along the way, allowing us the time and space to allow the Spirit of God to care for us along the way. 

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Catch a Ray

As a family, catching a sunset is one of our favorite things to do. We bring out the fine china, the crackers & cheese, the instruments & toast to life everlasting.

A few shot from our favorite sunsets in Australia, thus far…

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Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Picnic Sunset at Lennox Head, NSW Australia
Picnic Sunset at Lennox Head, NSW Australia

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The Hart of South Padre

10430411_736857576429026_7311618442923585049_nEvery town needs a little Hart, Aarin Hartwell that is. We met Aarin at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (aka SWRFA) in Sept. We noticed her immediately as she literally floated around the conference from room to room with a huge smile and a welcoming spirit. She came to our midnight showcase and danced the whole set. Afterwards we sat with her for a moment and were impressed by her sense of engagement and her excitement for community. She gave us information on The Island Folk Festival in South Padre Island and made note that she’d love to have us come down for it. We were delighted but our assumption was that she was an intern or on staff with the festival, and so we weren’t really sure how concert the offer was. It wasn’t until after the conference that we struck up a conversation online about a possible Hollands concert with her production company Hartwell Talent and Production, that we realized that this little darling was the founder and operator of the whole big festival. And so, we set a date to perform for her Island Folk Concert Series on Feb 13 and she arranged for us to come down a little early to enjoy her hometown.

We arrived with a welcome text, making sure we were all settled in and the next day she popped by to grab Graciana for a day of Kiteboarding and exploring, while the rest of us10600532_1397175867189728_8344541029171900161_n went to visit the Turtle Rescue and the secluded north shore. Later, we met up for a meal to talk over logistics before our show.

Through the course of our time on the island, Aarin shared her story of growing up in Brownsville, just down the road, surfing South Padre Island (which the locals call SPI) and was committed to SPI as her home. She is involved in city counsel and chamber meetings, and working towards getting her brain child of a festival up and running. Aarin is a self-appointed ambassador of the island and she is most certainly a visionary. If you just sit down with her for five minutes you’ll feel inspired to dream with her, hoping on board and lending a helping hand.

IMG_0657South Padre Island is a barrier island in the U.S. state of Texas. It’s 1.9 miles long and has a population of 2800. South Padre is a beach resort town and every year experiences a large influx of winter Texans, mostly from the mid-west and spring breakers from universities all over the country. The island also attracts a large international population. At its core, its economic focus is on the outsider. So, Aarin’s vision to make it home for folkies all over the country is on par with the ethos of the island. However, her vision goes beyond the tourist to the heart of those 2k plus inhabitants, of whom she knows almost everyone. Her vision is to bring art and music to the island, as well as, give a cultural voice to those local folkies who meet regularly for jams and community gatherings.

IMG_0666Aarin created the Island Folk Concerts to showcase some of the artists that she hopes to bring back for the Festival. We kicked off her spring season at the SPI Birding Center and had about 40 kinfolk in attendance. It was chilly winter night at about 52 degrees but everyone seemed ready for the chill and brought sweaters. We did two solid sets offering our original Folk/Americana sound, including a few new songs that our daughter, Graciana, wrote. She also debut her Nord keyboard on one of the songs. After the show folks were generous in supporting our music by purchasing CD’s and our son, Banjo scored a big profit with his handmade “bottle cap” percussion instruments.

We finished out our last day on the island biking up and down gulf road. We explored the local shops and in the afternoon, Aarin taught us to make a proper sand castle. We had aIMG_0675 blast learning the tricks of the sand art trade. That evening we rode our bikes to the bayside to enjoy the sunset. Aarin and Graciana had some fun doing a little modeling shoot for Graci’s blog, Dutchy Gazelle and then we finished off the night with a bbq at Aarin’s and Valentines Fireworks. The next morning we went to a little Baptist church with Aarin, that was chalk full of Winter Texans. We sang a few songs, shook a few hands and heard a bit of classic fire and brimstone. For lunch we stopped by the local farmers market and met Aarin’s dad and fellow musician, Jack Hartwell. He invited us to sit in for a song or two and we couldn’t pass it up. We sang a few songs, got a few veggies for the road, fired up the bus and said goodbye for now.

We enjoyed our week of Hartwell love. If you’re a beach combing, folk music lover and are looking for the next hot ticket, think about adding The Island Folk Festival, Sept 4-6 to your calendar. You’ll be glad you did!

Park Farm Winery

Park Farm WineryRecently, we performed at the picturesque Park Farm Winery for their “Toast and Jam” concert series. Established in 2005, Park Farm is a family owned and operated winery set atop the rolling hills near Bankston, Iowa – just west of Dubuque.

The Hollands! Bus at Park Farm Winery We were welcomed and well cared for by our host Bri. We were treated to the winery’s wood fired artisan pizza’s along with our favorite tasting of the night, the Vintners Reserve Marechal Froc 2009.

Typically the series books local bands, but they took a risk on us and seemed to appreciate our offering of original Holland’s tunes intertwined with some of our favorite old timey songs. The concert goers graced us warm smiles and listening ears, as children danced and frolicked about.

The concert ended just as the sun was setting over the horizon. There is something pretty fantastic about the sunsets in Eastern Iowa. They are powerful and embracing. Rolling green grass surrounded by the wide open sky. It’s breathtaking!

Park Farm Winery SunriseBefore we left the next morning I went on a walk around the property. Following the grape vines down a path that lead to the valley below, I found a little treasure shack. The doors were open and when I entered I found it a bit ramshackle, with decor on the floor, dishes, chandlers lying about, a birds nest on the window sill and I couldn’t help myself. This was a prime opportunity to “Bedeck bomb” the place. (That’s my new word for redecorating on the fly)

Park Farm Winery Cabin

I began to rifle through things, placing this chandler here and that picture there.  I was tentative at first but the longer I was there, the more confidence I got.

It was unasked for but I couldn’t help myself.  I saw an opportunity to do what I was built to do, create and recreate. It was pure bliss and I look forward to swinging through Eastern Iowa next summer to play a few songs, see our new kinfolk at the Park Farm Winery as well as visit that little shabby chic cottage and dream.