Natural disasters, survival, tour dates, and Bon Iver

What a week.

Earthquake. Evacuation. Hurricane. Basement Pajama Party. Strawberry Peach Pie (essential for survival…or at least it makes surviving a bit more enjoyable.)

Whew.

We were sad to see our shows in Jersey canceled. We were so looking forward to meeting some of you. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Don’t worry Jersey shore, we’ll be back next year!

In other news, though this isn’t newsworthy in the least, I bought a vacuum cleaner this afternoon. It felt like a very grown up thing to do. Especially after eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

Tyler and his friends made their way to the beach today for a final day of surfing. Supposedly the waves are pretty big after a hurricane. Tomorrow we will make the trip back to Nashville for a few days before we head out for our September tour. September is going to be one busy month, in a very good way. We just added Asbury University and Carson-Newman College to our calendar. You can see a full list of the cities and dates here.

And finally, is it terrible that I can’t seem to get in to Bon Iver? I’ve tried. I listened to both albums on Spotify. This morning I was doing some work at Barnes & Noble and they were playing the new album. I think the music is beautiful. I’m just not a fan of the falsetto. And it seems that it is sort of his “thing.” I’ve been scared to admit this for quite some time because it seems that all of the cool kids really like Bon Iver. Perhaps there’s something innately wrong with me? I’m kidding of course. Oh well.

Well this has been quite the random post. Just want to let you know that we’re still alive and well. Did everyone make it through the hurricane all right?

My earthquake experience.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but we had an earthquake over here on the east coast yesterday. I know you west coasters are rolling your eyes at me thinking, “5.8? That’s a piece of cake!” But for those of us who’ve never experienced an earthquake before, it was a pretty dramatic experience. I’ve heard that folks in NYC and DC thought that they might be under some sort of terrorist attack, which is completely understandable given our country’s history over the past 10 years. I think that would be incredibly frightening.

On to my story. We’re at the beach in NJ this week for our final hurrah of the summer. It’s not all vacation, but it sure is nice taking a two hour break from my work day to put my face in the sun and toes in the sand. Yesterday afternoon Tyler and I were in his parent’s beach house answering emails and working on songs. I decided it was time for a beach break so I grabbed a chair and walked down to the beach. The house is 2 blocks from the beach and it really only takes 3 or 4 minutes to get down to the ocean. When I arrived at the shore everyone was standing up, walking around confused. I found Tyler’s mom and she asked me if I’d felt the earthquake. Somehow, I hadn’t. Moments later Tyler was running down to the beach to see if we were alright. He said the house shook violently for a full minute.

Looking back, this seems silly, but we were on a beach, and we had no idea where the center of the earthquake was. We also really don’t have a clue about plates and where their located. This just isn’t something you think about on the east coast. I looked out into the ocean and felt a little afraid. No longer beautiful, it seemed eerily large and ominous. What if the earthquake was out there? Should we leave the beach? Should we leave the island? There’s only one way off the island.

We decided to head back to the house. On the way there someone texted Tyler and told him there was a tsunami warning. Again, we hadn’t been back to the house so we really didn’t know what had happened. It all seems silly now. I began to hurry back to the house, but Tyler kept stopping to talk with the neighbors. And this is when it happened. My huge moral dilemma. I kept thinking things like:

“Tyler come on, we need to get in our cars and to the bridge.”

“Wait, maybe we should warn people.”

“No, then we won’t get to the bridge first and we’ll never make it off the island.”

“But…all these people….”

“There’s nothing you can do for them, just hurry.”

It was awful. Moments later Tyler came in and informed me that there wasn’t a tsunami warning. The center of the quake was in Virginia. We’d been worried for nothing.

Sweet relief.

But then I got to thinking. My thoughts from the tsunami scare plagued me for the rest of the day. They made me question so many things about myself, but the biggest question I had was this: Do I really love people? I mean, after all, my first reaction was to get myself off the island. Immediately. Yes, I thought about everyone else a moment later, but my first thought was about ME. And the rest of my thoughts, while they included other people, really leaned towards only taking care of myself.

I felt terrible. And so confused. And I realized that I am so very small. And so very human. And so very much in need of Jesus to change my heart.

What a humbling experience!

Oh – and I did a little research this morning on earthquakes and epilepsy. Turns out many folks with epilepsy think that they’re having a seizure during the earthquake because the shaking of the house or the ground is very much like the shaking of a seizure. Having a seizure is hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m so glad I didn’t have a moment of thinking I was having one yesterday. What’s more, earthquakes can also cause seizures in many people with epilepsy. How amazing is it that I was walking outside and never felt the quake?  Maybe I was walking in rhythm with the shaking and didn’t notice it? Who knows? Praise the Lord!

Breathe in, breathe out. Today is a new day.

A little Fall update

We’ve got some pretty awesome stuff happening in the Jenny & Tyler world lately, and finally, I can share it with you.

We received an email a few weeks ago from Sara Groves. If you don’t know who she is, you should probably check her out, because her music is amazing. In the email, Sara invited us to join her on her tour this fall. I read the email and started freaking out. Tyler and I looked at each other in disbelief. Us? Sara Groves? A real tour? Really?

Yes, really. We talked through details. I didn’t sleep well for 3 nights out of sheer excitement.

There have been quite a few moments over the past few weeks when Tyler and I have looked at each other and said, “Do we really get to make music for a living? How did we get here? Is this real life?”

And it is real life. A real life that the Lord has blessed us with. That I too often take for granted. Why do I do that?

Our busy season has begun and this crazy, real life is taking us all over the place. Just a week ago we were in South Carolina. Then off to Delaware, Baltimore, Virginia, and now New Jersey. We’re working on songs. Oh how I can’t wait to share new songs with you!

In the next month or so we’ll travel just the two of us around the Midwest, down to Texas, and through the Carolinas. In October the tour with Sara Groves begins. You can get all of the details here.

For now I’ll leave you with the little video announcement we made about the fall tour in its entirety. And yes, I am wearing a seat belt.

A little review of The Tree of Life

Last Friday our friend Nathaniel (the guy behind the Faint Not video) suggested heading to the Belcourt Theater to see The Tree of Life. I was intrigued by the film, and I’d heard mixed reviews. Some folks thought it was life changing. Others thought it was plotless and boring. We decided to see for ourselves.

If you haven’t heard about it – The Tree of Life is a film that chronicles the story of a family in Texas in the 50’s. The family consists of the father, a man driven by the idea of material success who is always feeling like a failure thus having anger issues, played by Brad Pitt. The mother is an idealistic, carefree, childlike woman, played by Jessica Chastain. And finally, their three young boys, the eldest Jack (the main character in the movie), the middle boy (the family’s favorite, especially to the mother), and the youngest, who doesn’t get a whole lot of face time.

The beginning of the film talks about the idea of nature vs. grace, and this theme remains central throughout the film. The mother describes nature as being selfish and harsh, while grace is forgiving and gentle. I feel like this may have been the first time I watched a film that spoke honestly about nature. A lot of  the people I talk to want to believe that human beings are fundamentally good, and I think that our society tries to put forth that idea in general.

You see Jack trying to make sense of nature and grace throughout the film. His friend drowns in a pool when he is very young, causing Jack to question God, “Why him? Did he do something bad? Where were you?” He deals with his father’s anger, pointed especially at him as it probably is with a lot of eldest sons. He thinks, “He says not to put your elbows on the table…but he does.” Sometimes he even wishes his father were dead.

The entire story is centered around the death of the middle son. He dies at 19. The film never says why, but I think it’s probably in Vietnam or at war. The story flashes between Jack’s childhood with his brother, and his adulthood where he and his parents are still trying to make sense of the death. One thing I really liked about the film is that even while the family questions everything about life and God and “why bad things happen to good people” they never seem to fully lose faith. At least that’s how I interpret the story. They continue to believe in grace even when they aren’t able to fully see it in their own lives.

I loved that the film focused so much on the character of God. Was it a “Christian” film? No, not really. But it certainly made me think about God and his beauty (so many gorgeous creation and nature scenes), power, wisdom, and vastness, along with his interaction in the life of individuals. The film was very thought provoking. We left in a dazed state. We talked to a few people outside the theater and it seemed that everyone was in the same, “what just happened in there and did I like it?” place. I spent a few days deciding whether or not I liked the film. I think I’m only just now realizing that I did.

Was it too long? Maybe. Was it boring? It had its moments. Should you see it? I think so.

And don’t worry, nothing written here spoils the plot or gives away any part of the story. The film is constantly flashing between Jack’s childhood and adulthood, meaning that you know about the middle son’s death from the beginning of the story.

Now that I’ve finished my essay:

In other news, have you guys watched The Human Experience yet? it’s an absolutely stunning documentary. You must watch it. Now. I think it’s streaming on Netflix. Anyhow, we loved it. We tweeted about it and the folks at Grassroots Films (the company behind the film) were kind enough to send us a copy for free. Seriously. FREE. So now we love it even more.

And I’m done with films for today. You’d think we’re all hip and with it after this post when it comes to indie films. But we’re totally not. Any good suggestions out there?

Ice cream, photos, and songs.

Good morning friends!

It’s just about 9am here in Nashville and I’m sipping some coffee and surfing the internets.

A few fun things to report:

1. We successfully made ice cream! Yes! The plan was to make vanilla and throw in the most amazing blackberries that I picked back in Delaware, but alas, the blackberries had begun fermenting…and I wasn’t sure if that would work out well in ice cream. So we went for plain vanilla. The machine we bought came with an extra freezer bowl- genius, right? You can make two different flavors back to back. We opted for chocolate as a second flavor. So so so delicious. I can’t believe I come from a family of ice cream lovers and I’ve never made ice cream. Yesterday I had a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate together – ridiculous.

2. Our good friend Emily Troutman took some lovely pictures of us while we were in Delaware. Emily actually photographed our wedding, so it was really fun to work with her again. These are technically anniversary shots, but I think a few could show up in future album artwork or be used for promo purposes. We’ll see. Check them out here.

3.The  Song for You music video is being colored! Yay! That means that soon, and very soon, we will be sharing it with all of you. I’m so excited.

4. We’ve been writing a TON of new songs. If you’re coming to any of the shows this fall, be prepared! I’m sure we’ll play a couple for ya.

Well, that might be all. We go on the road so soon! Can’t wait to see all of you lovely people.

Maine photos

I feel like we’ve been pretty MIA lately. We’ve had lots of family stuff happening over on the east coast, and we just celebrated our friend’s wedding in DE. Finally, we’re headed back to Nashville for a couple weeks off before touring August starts back up again. This summer has been such a restful time. And it’s crazy to think that it’s practically over. It doesn’t seem possible.

We took some beautiful pictures during our vacation in Maine, and I thought I’d share a few today.

Tyler climbing the side of a cliff (don’t worry, this isn’t nearly as dangerous as it looks) :

 

At the top of Mt. Champlain. We took the easy way up.

 

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain:

 

Sunset on Cadillac Mountain

 

We are cheesy. And like silhouette shots:

 

And jumping:

 

Tyler and some beautiful mountains:

 

Amazing rock:

 

All in all, a truly amazing vacation. I’d totally recommend visiting Maine. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in Bar Harbor, but I think it’d be pretty fun to camp in Acadia too.

So, so, so much fun.

In other news, we bought an ice cream maker while we were in Delaware (tax free shopping = winning!). It’s a Cuisinart ICE-21. We picked a bunch of blackberries from my friend’s garden and I’m excited to make some ice cream with them when we get home. I’ll let you know how it turns out!