About El Momma

Monday, July 7, 2014

We Made It! Day 4 of Escape to the Lake and Encouraging Others

The last day has come and gone. Escape to the Lake was an escape. Escape from everyday reality. Escape from the city. Escape from the summer heat. 

I read an article in the Onion today making light that moms still do all of their normal household activities even while on vacation. It's so true. Dads do too. At least in our family. So, without extra help, vacations aren't really that vacation-y for us. So, what I'm saying is that we didn't have an escape from parenthood this week. And, that's ok. But, we'll probably need one after this! 

Our final day at Escape to the Lake was one full of reflections, happy memories and goodbyes to new friends. Caroline led worship and Justin gave a closing talk before communion and memories from Dave and Christiaan. I'm hopeful that these connections will remain and be lifelong. 

I'm also leaving with a renewed view of myself as an artist. During one of the breakout sessions the day prior Sarah Masen referred to me as a "visual artist." She had seen my handwritten lyric sheets and drawings on the merch table. It's interesting how I often don't see something in myself until it's said out loud. 

It reminds me of a time I was having coffee with my friend and pastor. He told me that I was a "direct person." I remember feeling surprised and hurt as he described me as a person who means what she says. Upon more reflection, I found this description to be true and something I am thankful to be. I've learned and am still learning to be careful in my directness. But, I see the fruits of this quality in my work every single day. People know they can count on me and if I say I will do something that means I will and I'll do it to the best of my ability. I'll put my heart and soul into it and even take lessons or get help if I need it. So, when Sarah called me a "visual artist" it took me by surprise. Pleasant surprise. I like to draw and I've been doing calligraphy since my mom bought me my first set of calligraphy pens in middle school. Thinking of myself as an artist: singer/songwriter, performer, and visual artist gives me more freedom to explore that part of myself. I know I've said it before, but I'll say this again: "encourage the gifts in others." It's truly life-giving. 

Hebrews 3:13(NIV) says "But encourage one another daily,as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."

So, I encourage you to live this verse out in your lives. Encourage others. Take this encouragement to heart today. You are gifted. You have purpose and your life is intended to be meaningful. You are so very loved.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

The TravELs' Adventure Continues

Day three of Escape to the Lake! 


The Fourth of July in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. What could be better? It has been an amazing day. We started with our usual late arrival to the camp breakfast. We cannot get to breakfast at 815am. Not possible. And, that's ok. Next, it's Playground time. A walk around the grounds. Justin McRoberts ( pastor, singer, songwriter, artist) did the morning talk about being in community and how there are people in life that we choose to spend life with. An obvious one is our spouse, but we also have other friends that we don't want to imagine doing life without. We don't say it out loud like during a wedding ceremony, but no matter the distance or time or space that comes between us, we are never going to let that separate us. I loved this message. It was especially poignant for me, as I knew I was going to see one of those lifelong friends today. My friend, Holly is one of my college roommates and dearest friends. She, her husband and children are vacationing with friends 30 minutes from us. They live in Ohio now. So, to get to see them in Wisconsin was a real treasured treat! 
After lunch, I joined a discussion group about infusing creativity into families. It was great hearing the ideas and struggles of others as well as being encouraged to keep doing what we're doing while being flexible. We may have grand plans with our kids, but sometimes you just have to let go! And, that's okay.

I came to this year's Escape to the Lake, traveling by minivan with my entire family, because I was invited as an artist to be included in the first ever ETTL Artists on the Rise Showcase. I was honored to be asked and really happy that my family wanted to make a vacation of it! So, the showcase was on July fourth with four other very talented artists: Son of Laughter, Tanya Godsey, Adam Whipple and Matthew Clark. And, it was emceed by the amazing Andrew Greer. I have to say that Andrew did a wonderful job telling a little about each artist when he introduced us and made us all feel special. I really appreciated it. Tanya said this in her set, but it is so true that as an artist, the best gift someone can give you is to listen/ see you and your work. Everyone who attended our show gave us that gift. Thank you! We each had about 27 minutes to play. I was missing playing with a band, but loved getting to share the music of my heart.

So, remember my friend Holly? Yep, she was there with her family. It was such a wonderful treat! After the show, we went into Williams Bay and grabbed a quick bite and some good conversation. 
And, our kids, especially our girls became fast friends!


We made it back to camp for the night concert: Andrew Greer, Caroline Cobb, Justin McRoberts, and Jason Gray. Caroline and I became twitter friends about a year ago. We're both from Texas, we're moms, believers and songwriters. Caroline's last album was featured as "new and notable" on iTunes and I love supporting her and her gifts. I'm so glad we were able to finally meet! 

The concerts were great and then we all moved down to the beach for fireworks . 

It was a very full and lovely Fourth of July. My heart is full and happy. Hope yours is too. xo, El Momma 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Music Festival day Two






It's been described as a spiritual, music retreat/ festival for the whole family. Escape to the Lake #ETTL14 is that and so much more. There is a community feel to this camp experience. Lots of artists, lots  of families, singles, couples, empty-nesters, rest-seekers and people who long to be in community. Isn't that true of all of us? We want to connect and be in community with others. It's in us. That desire to do life with others. 

Last night, we were greeted by a downpour of rain, smiling faces and gourmet music by Mercy Child, The Gray Havens, Eric Peters and Sarah Groves. Even with the rain, the night was beautiful. 

Today, the Els participated in an art class led by Julie Lee. They made sunlight prints using flowers, twigs, and leaves. 

After lunch, I was asked to be on a panel of songwriters and share stories behind the songs with live acoustic performances. It was a real gift to sit alongside and share with these talented artists. Honestly, I felt honored and grateful to be included. Steve from Burlap to Cashmere, Tim Coons of Giants and Pilgrims, Matthew Clark and me. Me. These guys were so funny, smart and their songs and voices are inspiring. And, I was asked to share next to them. It was a gift to listen and to share. I'm thankful. 

In the afternoon, we played on the beach at the lake as a family. The Els loved it!
After dinner, the concert was on the lake. 

Tim Coons and Giants and Pilgrims opened the show followed by Julie Lee and Sarah Masen, Waterdeep and Burlap to Cashmere. A lot of really great, thoughtful music. I can't say enough about the experience of being in community like this. It is a beautiful thing. We met other families, worship leaders, artists, bloggers, moms, dads, kids...others that are in similar life stages as us. Just sharing blanket space on a hill, listening to music while our children played together started a conversation. Hopefully it's just the start of what God is doing through this experience. I certainly hope and am excited to see God's mighty hand at work.
Thankful for this life. Glad I get to walk alongside my dear husband, my children and you. 




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Trav-ELS have begun

Morning smiles 
Me and Bakri
After dinner stroll 
Arkansas 

Yesterday we piled into a rented minivan- And headed on a big road trip. Our goal departure time was 5am. We left at 7am. Destination: lake Geneva, Wisconsin for Escape to the Lake 2014. We drove and drove and drove all the way to Wildwood, Missouri. We grabbed a quick dinner upon arrival and headed to bed.
We've had our not so good moments and we've had great ones. Let me pause to brag on the ELs for a minute. These kids are amazing travELers. Seriously amazing. They hardly ever complain and as I write this they've spent approximately 17 hours in the car over the last two days. We didn't plan to watch movies. But, we lucked out with our car rental. I can't complain. It's worked out great and Three out of the four Els have slept a lot. And El Dad has done all of the driving. Not that I don't want to drive. He seems to like it and I'm a great passenger.
We will arrive at ETTL in the next hour in the final minutes of registration. Oh how I hope our cabin/ room is ready for this family to do a quick change before the first session and dinner. So far, it's been a great experience. Seeing America like this is inspiring. PS. I think I'm in love with Missouri...