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

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.

Sarah Freeman - Artists Who Influence

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 Titanic sank and only a year before World War I began. She’s John’s grandmother, and we call her Budder because years ago, one of the grand kids couldn’t say grandmother. Instead it came out budder and that’s what stuck.

She lives near Memphis so we don’t see her as often as we’d like to, but every time we get together, we end up asking her to tell us stories about her life. She’s delighted to share even as she doubts it’s very interesting. Like the time she told us when Elvis used to ask the football coach at the local high school if he would turn the stadium lights on late at night so he and his friends could throw the football around.

“So if you drove by the stadium late at night and see those lights on, you’d know Elvis was in there playing football with his friends.”


Sharing her with you today, I can’t possibly sum up over a hundred years of life. She doesn’t have a cool website, an impressive bio, or a slick headshot (although she bears a striking resemblance to Maggie Gyllenhaal if you ask me).

budder and maggieShe loves her family, prays for each one of us every day, volunteers in her community, and is happiest when she is simply be in the room with those she loves. Budder is famous in her own community and in our family simply by being herself and faithfully supporting others in prayer.

When she turned 100, her local news station featured her and that story ended up being seen and shared by hundreds of thousands of people. So they went back to get her reaction on her story going viral. The video below is what she had to  say about that:

FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

(If you can’t see the video, you can watch it here.)

The end of the video sums up Budder’s life perfectly. As she walks away from the camera with two workers at the hospital, you can hear her say, “I want y’all to be interviewed!”

That’s why Budder is an artist who influences.

Today is the 16th post in a month-long series called Artists Who Influence (click for a complete list of artists).

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]

G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton - Artists Who Influence

I don't know a lot about G.K. Chesterton and I have only read one book of his. I thought I had a vague idea of what he looked like, so I google imaged him just to be sure and immediately saw he bore a striking resemblance to Mad-Eye Moody. No? Even so, I read his book Orthodoxy (you can get it free for your kindle) at precisely the right time for me. I can't possibly summarize the book partially because I'm still trying to unpack it. Mostly when we read books, they say things we've heard … [Continue reading]