For When You Fear Your Art Isn’t a Thing

Kendra Adachi - Artists Who Influence

I know it’s easy to call the painters, the singers, and the dancers artists. And they are. But you know by now that the kind of art we talk about here is broader than that.

Kendra is one of my favorite examples of an artist because she has taken brave steps to uncover what it is that makes her come alive and she has found a way to package that up as a gift for others. This didn’t come quick or easy.

She loves to bake, she loves movies, and she loves to create environments for people to connect with one another. How can all those different passions make up a thing?

In the spirit of a true creative, she took all of those seemingly unrelated things and decided to put them in a box – literally. She created The Sugar Box, a monthly box of happiness filled with sugary treats all inspired by a different Hollywood theme.

Our local news featured The Sugar Box in a story that aired last week, so you can hear Kendra share in her own words from her own kitchen in this two and a half minute feature.

This month’s box theme was The Wizard of Oz. Here’s a peek at mine:

Wizard of Oz Sugar Box

And then (then!) she hosted a Wizard of Oz party last night. A costume one.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

And she dressed up like the Mayor of Munchkin City (in the county of the Land of Oz):

The Mayor of Munchkin City and the Wash and Brush Up  Company Girl

I left the party last night so happy that someone cared enough about fun and togetherness to create an environment where we could all share it. And the fact that I got to dress up like one of the Wash and Brush Up Company girls and eat cake with a rainbow on it and listen to Judy Garland’s voice signing in the background? Bonus.

Remember, art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are; when what is most alive in you is offered as a gift to others. There are no rules for that – no matter if you think your thing is silly or unimportant, the truth is if it’s important to youthen you have to pay attention to it. If you don’t, we’ll all miss out.

Just like it’s work to host a party on a Tuesday night, it’s a fight to keep a light heart in a sorrow-heavy world. I’m thankful for artists like Kendra who have made it their job to become wonder-fighters. And I’m even more thankful they bring us along. That’s why Kendra is an artist who influences.

Those of us who are local are loving this monthly box of sugar. And if you are local and haven’t yet ordered a box? Orders open for next month on November 1!

Now listen, I know you want to get your hands on a Sugar Box. Right now it’s only available for pick up (no shipping), which means if you live in Florida you probably can’t order a box unless you want to drive to Greensboro on Sugar Box Day (which you are more than welcome to do).

But you can still enjoy some of the happy Kendra creates because she writes regularly on her blog at where she shares delightfully hilarious lists, recipes, recaps, and obsessions (of both the food and fangirl variety). For example:

You can also join the Sugar Mob and get all kinds of fangirly-ness delivered straight into your inbox for free.

There’s Something About Judy

Judy Garland - Artists Who Influence

As you well know, The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie of pretty much all time. Because it’s had such a huge impact on my life, I knew I had to include it somehow in my month of highlighting artists who have influenced me, but it has taken me some time to tease out why.

As I thought about how I felt looking forward to the movie coming on TV every fall, how I felt the night before it aired, and my experience watching the movie, all (yellow brick) roads led to Dorothy. I adored her.

For this series, I couldn’t decide if I should highlight Judy Garland the actress, or Dorothy Gale the character. In the end, I chose Judy simply because I think she brought something special to the character of Dorothy Gale that no one else could bring.

It was her rich, velvety voice that delivered Somewhere Over the Rainbow to my living room year after year and her deep brown eyes that told stories of adventure, friendship, and home. Judy’s Dorothy was approachable, kind, and brave.

You can have your Wonder Woman and your She-Ra: Princess of Power. I’ll take Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale any day. An actress who can bring out the kind of admiration, excitement, and wonder in a child as Judy brought out in me is an artist who influenced. And I’m deeply grateful to her for that.

You can see all the artists in the series so far this month here. And incase you haven’t noticed, I’ve backed off from posting every day for this series. I’ll still share artists, but probably won’t have one every day. We’ll eventually get to 31!

One Hundred Years of Budder

Sarah Freeman - Artists Who Influence

This month I'm sharing people who have influenced me in big and small ways. I call them artists, using this definition of art: Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are; when what is most alive in you is offered as a gift to others. When we asked her what Presidents she remembered, she starting thinking back. "Well let's see. I remember President Wilson . . ." and I immediately had to Google the dates of his term: 1913 - 1921. She was born in 1913, barely a year after the … [Continue reading]

The Kindness of a Stranger

Julie Silander-2

I only met her once, at the end of an event in Charlotte back in August. She came up to my book table and we started to talk, somehow coming around to a website we both read and one she contributes to. I told her I wanted to attend their yearly gathering but I know tickets are so hard to get. She paused, a thoughtful look on her face. I have an extra ticket for this year's gathering. Would you like to have it? She wasn't able to attend this year, but later she told me she had been paying … [Continue reading]

How a Calm Baker Kept Me Sane on a Plane

Joy the Baker

Whenever I feel overwhelmed with my own work, I like to immerse myself in someone else's, preferably someone who does work really different from mine. Enter Joy Wilson: aka Joy the Baker. Sometimes it's good to put yourself under the influence of the beautiful work of someone else, to let their art do it's thing. I know so much work goes into what she does, but I dare not peek behind the curtain. Some spaces you want to enter into and simply let it speak for what it is. It's like when John … [Continue reading]

The Kind of Hope Most of Us Need

Charles M. Schulz - Artist who Influence

"Charlie Brown must be the one who suffers, because he’s a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning. Winning is great, but it isn’t funny." - Charles Schulz It's easy to create a hero who is lovable, admirable, and dashing. What isn't so easy is to create a layered character (especially a cartoon one) who is chronically embarrassed, rejected, and made to look like a fool and still have him come out as the hero. But that's what Charles Schulz … [Continue reading]

The Art of Sharing

Reeve Coobs - Artists Who Influence

When we asked her to play a little something, she chose to move rather than hide. She chose to say yes even though it was last minute, even though we only had an old, out of tune guitar in the room, even though she wasn't prepared. She said yes and shared her gift with us. Here's what happened next. You may need to click over to the blog to view the video. The owl pillow in the background was purely coincidence. Though we had a videographer there, it was for something else we were doing. … [Continue reading]

When Friendship Makes the Art Better

Andrew Peterson

"I believe strongly in the value of the artists in this world. I believe that when someone who was made to strive to create beauty in the world is - as Brennan Manning said, ambushed by Jesus - the art that results bears a God-given power that draws men and women to Christ. I have encountered that power in the sub-creations of Christ-followers countless times. (I’ve also encountered it in the works of those who haven’t yet succumbed to the source of their gifting.) Those works of art have … [Continue reading]

Finding Hope in a Dark Place

Chief J. Scott Thomson - Artists Who Influence

While Mom made dinner in the kitchen, I finished up responding to some email in her living room. I was in Charlotte for a few days to do some promotion for A Million Little Ways  and stayed extra to see Mom and Dad. We had the evening news on in the background and I hardly paid attention. Until I heard Brian Williams begin reporting from his home state of New Jersey, specifically Camden - a city he called the most dangerous in America. In the report, he interviewed J. Scott Thomson, Chief of … [Continue reading]

Artists Who Give Us Room to Breathe

Leeana Tankersley-2

 Today's artist is a relatively new influence for me. I read her book, Breathing Room, at a time when I really needed some. She speaks the kind of soul language I'm always looking for but rarely find, the kind that comes from thoughtful silence, faithful waiting, and long, dark nights. When life feels like an airplane emergency, Leanna comes along and reminds us - put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others. I needed that reminder. She is a writer who encourages us to be fully human as … [Continue reading]