There are hundreds of news articles and gifted writers that have said this more eloquently than I ever can. But here is what I got. We are looking at the worst refugee crisis since WWII. Hearing that hit me hard. You might not know but I love studying WWII. Let me tell you this. In WWII there were 15 million military deaths and 45 million civilian deaths! (Click this link to read about death tolls of each country for WWII.) Right now 11 million people are displaced. Syria is in mass chaos and violence. And other countries in the Middle East are in turmoil. They don’t have a place of rest and comfort.

Ann Voskamp wrote an article titled “5 Ways to Stand Up and Be the Church” that woke me up. Read it. Also has great links explaining how this happened and different organizations that are helping.

I’ve often thought what would I have done if I had lived during WWII and known about the concentration camps in Germany. Would I have sent money? Would I have spoken out and talked to my friends, local church, my city, and my government? Especially when some of the persecuted practiced a faith I did not. Because that’s what I would want to do. I wouldn’t want to live in regret. I don’t want to live in regret now over the refugee crisis. What if this moment is in our history books? What if it gets worse? And what if I did nothing?

I’m a Christian and I believe in the Bible. Jesus was very clear about helping the helpless. Open the Bible and you can’t miss it. Here’s Jesus in Luke 14:12 – 14

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

But even if you aren’t a Christian, whatever you believe, if you love people, your heart can’t help but hurt seeing this unfold.

So I’m going to act. I want us all to act. Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” That is what is needed.


This Thursday and Friday all profits from my etsy shop will go to World Relief to help the refugee crisis. They are a wonderful organization that is helping tremendously.

I also reached out to my friends who are small business owners to see if they wanted to help! Salt of the earth people. And if you run a small business and want to do something like it, start it! And please let me know! I’d love to share it!


Kristen Ley’s powerhouse company thimblepress is going to donate all profits this Thursday and Friday to World Relief!


Jessica Maloan of Pine Street Makery is donating 50% of her sales for one week (starting Thursday) to Migrant Offshore Aid Station.


Sarah Jo Burch of Sarah Jo Knits is donating half of her sales for all of September to World Vision.

Please share with your friends! And if you want to get involved, visit wewelcomerefugess.com!



The 30 Days of Hymns Etsy Campaign


On Wednesday morning I launched a campaign on Etsy. Yes they started their own platform to crowdfund campaigns. They contacted me a few months ago to be included in their beta run. I said YES! I came up with the idea to make a hymn calendar that wouldn’t expire. And I thought of the flip calendars that Hallmark would sell with “365 uplifting quotes or whatever.” And I wanted to make it cool – with my artwork combined with old hymns. So I worked with my printer to make a prototype and figuring out the cost of these. Then we bought a house in East Nashville in May! We’ve been saving for it for a really long time. We knew we wanted a fixer-upper because we wanted to do the work ourselves and do it well. So many house flips are done poorly and you end up having to repair all the work that everyone else did. So here is our 1938 stone English Tudor home.


We are absolutely in love with it. We aren’t sure when we are able to move in because we are still doing a lot of work to it. I’ll have to share the before and after photos once life settles down.

Okay back to the 30 Days of Hymns. I knew I needed to raise money for to make the calendar happen. And Dave and I both don’t like debt (except for the house and we are going to hustle to pay it off!) The campaign launched two days ago and the funds have already been raised for it! I am hoping to raise at least $6,000 now so that I can order more desk calendars.

Here is the promo video for the campaign. Emily Capo made the video. It’s only 3 minutes long. Click play. I think you’ll like it. Emily wrote the script. She did an absolutely amazing job. If you are in Nashville and need video work, call her.

To support the campaign, you can click here to pre-order the calendars. I’m in the midst of making the artwork for the calendar. I created a separate instagram account JUST for the campaign. I post a lot of process photos. I still haven’t decided on the border for the cover and the colors of the calendar. If you want to be in the know, follow on Instagram.

prototype drawings-hymns hymns1

Thank you for your

Hymn of the Month – For the Beauty of the Earth


I know I’m running 19 days behind on posting this Hymn of the Month story. This month has been quite busy. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work including filming a music video! More to come on that. And Dave and I have had a lot going on that I’ll share in a few weeks. So that’s why I’m running so far behind on my hymn of the month story.

May’s hymn is For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. Before I go any further I have to be honest with you. I was on the fence about including this hymn in the hymn calendar. But there were two reasons I wanted to put this in. First this was sung in the Winona Ryder version of Little WomenIt’s one of my favorite scenes when the sisters sing this hymn in a circle around Meg at her wedding. The second reason is just the very name Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. It’s just so grandiose.

Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, son of William Home Pierpoint of Bath, was born at Spa Villa, Bath, Oct. 7, 1835, and educated at Queen’s College, Cambridge, graduating in classical honours in 1871. He was a classics schoolmaster and a poet. I tried to find more information about him but I couldn’t find anything.

The story goes that in 1864 when he was 29 years old, he was walking in spring on the grounds of his parent’s home in Bath, England. He was overwhelmed with the beauty he saw and wrote For the Beauty of the Earth. Below is an old postcard of the countryside of Bath. And I did a google search for “Bath England Countryside” and it’s simply breathtaking.


This hymn was originally intended to be a communion hymn in the Anglican Church. The chorus was originally “Christ our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.” But over the years the hymn refrain has changed to “Lord of all, to thee we raise, this, our hymn of grateful praise.” It was first published in Rev. Orvy Shipley’s Lyra Eucharistica, 1864. And there were originally eight verses. It has been condensed down to five or six, depending on the hymnal. Here are the two less known verses.

Here is the original hymn of 1864:

1. For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the Love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and brain’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

5. For each perfect Gift of Thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and Divine,
Flowers of earth, and buds of Heaven:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

6. For Thy Bride that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
This Pure Sacrifice of Love:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

7. For Thy Martyrs’ crown of light,
For Thy Prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold Confessors’ might,
For the lips of Infancy:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.

8. For Thy Virgins’ robes of snow,
For Thy Maiden Mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesu, Victim undefiled,
Offer we at Thine own Shrine
Thyself, sweet Sacrament Divine.

For the download, I’m using the version I grew up from the United Methodist Hymnal. Click here to download the lyrics to this sweet hymn. And you can purchase a print of it in my shop if you’d like.

Hope you enjoyed these stories. I’ve really loved writing them. You can view all the previous hymn stories here.


Hymn of the Month – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross


isaac-wattsI planned for this rich hymn to fall on Easter. And it just worked out divinely that I’m sharing this story with you on Good Friday. I have been looking so forward to sharing the story of the man who wrote this hymn. I’m going to start by telling you about Watts’ life then focus on his hymn writing and how he changed church history.

Watts was born July 17th, 1674, in Southampton, England. His father was a deacon of a Congregational Church (a Protestant church which was a system of local independent churches not associated with a larger church government.) England was very strict on this so his father was incarcerated twice for his views that did not align with the Church of England.

abney_house_stoke_newington_dr._watts_residenceHe was unable to attend Oxford or Cambridge because he wasn’t an Anglican (Church of England.) He went to the Dissenting Academy in Stoke Newington (which is now part of inner London.) At twenty after completing his studies he returned to his parents house, spending two years in study to prepare for ministry. Then he lived for several years with Sir John Hartopp as the tutor to his son.

In 1702 at 28 years old, he became the successor and assistant of  Dr. Isaac Chauncy, pastor of the Independent Church in Mark Lane, London. During this time he battled a dangerous illness which left him so weak that he required an assistant of his own. abneypark-statueHe was invited to the palatial home of Sir Thomas Abney for a week. He stayed there for 36 years at Abney House. The house burned down in 1843. I could only find this drawing which I hope is accurate.

He particularly loved the grounds of Abney Park.  Watts often sought inspiration there for the many books and hymns he wrote. And there is now a statue of Watts in the Park. Lady Abney watched over Watts with unremitting care. He died after a long illness on November 25, 1748.

Hymns and Spiritual Songs

page-of-watts-first-hymnalThe hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, was written by Isaac Watts, and published in Hymns and Spiritual Songs in 1707. He was just 33 years old when he published the book.
The first edition contained in all 210 hymns, arranged in three books, together with doxologies. in the 3rd book, containing hymns to be used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” appeared as number 7. Within two years he wrote 147 more hymns and included them in the second edition that was printed in 1709. We don’t know the specifics of when he wrote When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

It is hard for us to comprehend how revolutionary it was to write a book hymns. It simply wasn’t done in 1707 in England. All denominations in the church were only singing Pslams. There had been writers of hymns before Watts, but none had established a precedent for which he was supposed to conform. It was Watts himself who became the precedent.

Since the Reformation, the idea being that the Psalms of the Bible were inspired by God to serve as the hymn book of His Church for all time. Watts printed these hymns with an essay, arguing that it was the duty of the Church to make new hymns that should express Christian faith in the same degree that the Psalms had expressed the Jewish faith. As you can see in the title page explaining the essay, “Towards the Improvement of Christian Pslamody, by the Use of Evangelical Hymns in Worship, as well as the Psalms of David.” This man is the reason we sing hymns and not just Psalms! What a wondrous legacy he left us with. And with such a rich hymn.

He is recognized as the “Father of English Hymnody,” credited with some 750 hymns. Another famous hymn of his is Joy to the World. He also wrote a book on logic published in 1724. The title is quite lengthy which kinda makes me laugh: Logic, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. He also wrote a book of songs for children. You can still purchase a copy, or download a free copy with beautiful illustrations. In the children’s book, his best-known poems was an exhortation “Against Idleness and Mischief” in Divine Songs for Children. This was parodied by Lewis Carroll in the poem “How Doth the Little Crocodile”, included in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. His parody is better known than the original Watts’ poem.

You can print off a copy of the here. Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Hymn of the Month – It is Well with my Soul


Horatio Gates Spafford

Horatio Gates Spafford

This month is the much beloved hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” And this is a very heavy story. And I’ll start by saying most of my information is coming from the Library of Congress. There was an exhibition “The American Colony in Jerusalem” in 2005 on the history of the American Colony, a Christian utopian society that formed in Jerusalem in 1881. And Horatio Spafford (the hymn writer) was a part of it, so this exhibit included the full story of this hymn. There is so much more to the story that I won’t tell so I do encourage you to read further about the exhibition.

Horatio Gates Spafford was born in Troy, New York, October 20, 1928. He married Anna Larsen of Stavanger, Norway, in Chicago September 5, 1861. He became a very successful (and wealthy) lawyer. He was a senior partner of his firm. They were very active in their church. They became close friends with famous preacher Dwight Moody. And they were very active in abolitionist crusade.

Ten years later in 1871, their only son died of pneumonia. And the Great Fire of Chicago happened later that year, destroying Spafford’s investments. All their fortune was gone. That alone is more than enough for one family to endure over a lifetime. But it does get worse.

This was his business card in Chicago.

This was his business card in Chicago.

In 1873 to benefit Anne’s health, the family planned an extended trip to Europe. But at the last moment, Horatio was detained by real estate business. Anna and their four daughters Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta, sailed to Paris on the steamer Ville du Havre. Within 12 minutes on November 21, 1873, the steamer sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after it was rammed by the British sailing ship Lochearn. 

The crew of the Lochearn picked up Anna who was unconscious. They did not find her daughters. A cargo sailing vessel Trimountain arrived just in time to rescue the survivors from the Lochearn. Nine days after the shipwreck, Anna landed in Cardiff, Wales. She sent a telegram to Horatio that said, “Saved alone what shall I do. Mrs [Daniel] Goodwin [friend] Children [Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta Spafford] Willie Culver [neighbor boy] lost go with [Rev.] Lorriaux [French minister, a fellow survivor of shipwreck] until answer reply . . . Paris. [Anna] Spafford.”

Telegram from Anna Spafford

The telegram from Anna Spafford to Horatio

Horatio immediately left Chicago to bring Anna home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain called to Horatio to tell him that they were passing over the spot where his four daughters had been lost at sea. The story goes that he wrote “It is well with my soul” while passing over that where he lost his daughters. He wrote to Rachel, his wife’s half-sister, “On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs, and there,before very long, shall we be too. In the meantime, thanks to God, we have an opportunity to serve and praise Him for His love and mercy to us and ours. I will praise Him while I have my being. May we each one arise, leave all, and follow Him.” Below is the hymn “It is Well with my Soul” that Horatio wrote while crossing over the Atlantic. Phillip Bliss wrote the tune to the hymn and named it Ville du Havre after the ship which his daughter’s died.


Horatio and Anna return heartbroken to Chicago. In 1878 their daughter Bertha was born, two years a son Horatio. An epidemic of scarlet fever broke out and their baby son died. Sadly rumors spread all around their church about what had the Spaffords done for God to punish them. (Which allow me to pause. That is simply wrong. I immediately think of Job and his suffering. Also Jesus suffered beyond human comprehension and he was blameless. God used it for His glory and his Kingdom to come. There has always been suffering with the Church and always will be. So I hate to hear that for them. I’m sure they needed their church to support and love them, not judge.) So they left their church Fullerton Presbyterian Church. Along with a group of close friends, Horatio and Anna decide to set out of Jerusalem in August 1881. They left right after their daughter Grace was born.

Thirteen adults and three children make the journey to Jerusalem. They rent a house in the Old City and began philanthropic work. Their neighbors called them the “American Colony.” They envisioned living a communal life like the model of the early Christian church. Over the years the colony grew, past Horatio’s death in 1888. The history of the American Colony in Jerusalem is quite fascinating. Their daughter Bertha Spafford Vester founded the Spafford Children’s Center in 1925 after she took in a baby in need. The organization is still very active today caring for all people in the area.

Help is given to anyone in need, regardless of race, religion or cultural background. The Center is unusual, in an area of sectarian conflict, in having staff of different faiths working together for a common cause – the benefit of deprived and sick children.

I didn’t know about the legacy of Horatio and Anna before researching the hymn. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can print off a copy of the hymn here. And you can buy a print of the hymn in my shop!