“Place-Making in Fast-Forward” (And a Playlist!)

That’s how a dear friend described the stage we’re in with our rebuild, and it could not be more apt. After making a place together for 18 years, Philip and I are re-making it–in nine months. And while much of that re-making has felt like an endless slog towards a never-to-be-realized dream, since the beginning of November things have been clipping along at an ever-increasing rate.  

It’s hard to believe, but I’m finalizing paint colors this week. We’re still a way’s out from getting back into our house, but every day brings such beautiful progress it feels like an accumulation of small miracles. I remember ordering that paint sample book back in July and flipping through it rather dazedly, trying to imagine all the light and color in rooms I didn’t recognize anymore. In August I put that book away in despair, realizing just how very long it would be before I needed it.

And now, the painters are here to begin priming and prep. It seems too good to be true.

Every day is absolutely jam-packed with decisions and details, and we’re desperately trying to source materials one step ahead of our contractor’s needs. The madness is hard to describe…but it’s intense. And exhausting. And terribly exciting.

But I did want to tell you that I’ve been curating a little playlist since the day after the fire back in May. These are the songs we’ve had on repeat over the past eight months; the tracks that have poured hope into our hearts and put praise in our mouths when we couldn’t find words of our own. There are songs of faith; songs of home; songs that witness to an unfailing Presence in the darkest hours, and songs that give voice to a dawning joy. There are also quite a few love songs, because learning how to care for each other in this place has been one of the most beautiful things that’s ever happened to our marriage. Philip and I are two very imperfect people, walking together through the hardest season of our lives. But, I’m telling y’all, God has blessed me beyond measure. Even the bad times are good with this man.

I thought that some of you might enjoy this list, so I’m making it public on Apple Music under the name Camp Marah (Or just copy this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/camp-marah/pl.u-V9D7v6pUP236A0). Every one of these songs has a story for us. Mancini’s “Two for the Road” is our penultimate Our Song, while REM’s “At My Most Beautiful” came out the year we were dating and always sweeps us back to that time with its first few chords. There are a number of songs by our friends Andrew Peterson and Eric Peters–I happened to send Philip a text version of “We Will Survive” at a moment in which he was literally plodding through rain and mud trying to route water for our RV hookup back in June. And in the early moments of 2018, we played Eric’s “The New Year” by the bonfire and sang along at the tops of our lungs–that song has been an anthem of hope for a number of years, but never more so than now:

This is the year when laughter douses charred and burnt-out dreams
This is the year when wrens return to nest in storm-blown trees
Is this the year of relocation from boughs of old despair?
This is the year to perch on hope’s repair.

It’s no secret how much we love The Innocence Mission. And Drew Holcomb has managed to write a nice crop of brand-new love songs for us. 😉 What’s more, Ellie’s “Find You Here” happened to come into my life on the very day after the fire. I remember driving back and forth between the house and that awful hotel playing this song as loud as I could, over and over again.

If you haven’t yet made the acquaintance of The Arcadian Wild, by all means, drop everything and listen to their self-titled album in its entirety. (And all of the rest of their music while you’re at it.) But I think you’ll know immediately why the track “Roots” is especially dear to us. We may both have teared up the first time we heard it. And Sara Groves’ “Why it Matters” is nothing short of a life-song for me. It puts me in courage every time I hear it. Every time.

At any rate, I do hope you enjoy it. Music has a way of reaching places that words alone cannot, so it’s my prayer that these songs would put joy in your hearts, a smile on your lips, and perhaps even a little laughter in your mouths. 🙂

I also wanted to say that I’ve written and dispatched the second in my newsletter series chronicling the restoration process, this one detailing the selection of our general contractor and some of the dreams that have informed our rebuild. If you asked to receive it and didn’t, do please let me know–I’m still getting a few bounce-backs on email addresses. And if you’d like to be included, drop me a line via the Contact form or in the comments below.

And now back to the work at hand. Thank you for your prayers, friends, and your wonderful notes and messages. God is doing something very beautiful here, and every single one of you are a part of it. 

Under the Mercy,


p.s. I thought y’all could use a couple of pictures of my pups. Because dogs are simply the best of all the things. 😉

Luna-Bear au repos.
Bonnie’s been helping us scour antique markets and reclamation centers for our restoration, and every now and then she comes across a deal that’s too good to pass up. She said that this dog-eared (ha!) print made her think of our sheep, so I let her buy it.


  1. Dear Lanier,

    The pictures of the pups are so cute! We had a sweet (feline) lady named Bonnie, so I’m partial to that name.
    I’m one of those who hasn’t yet received the newsletter. My e-mail address, if you are typing it manually, can be a bit hard to type accurately. It’s the first letter of my first name and my last name, all run together and lower case. I know I’ve subscribed successfully to your blog, so not sure what the problem is. Hope to get the newsletter soon! Christie

    1. Christie, I am so sorry that you haven’t received the newsletter! Yours was definitely one of the bounce-backs. It may be because the message size exceeds your inbox limit. Let me try again…

  2. Thank you for including the lyrics from Eric Peter’s “The New Year” Lanier. I’d not previously heard the song, and those words are so good. I’ll carry them with me – home – across the sea. This is a year of literal relocation.

    In my reply to your most recent newsletter, I was so excited about your vision for what’s to come at ‘Ruff House’ that I forgot to say how good it was to finally ‘hear’ the story of the wonderful way God brought Danny into your lives.

    “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” Psalm 18:30 KJV

  3. Lanier, I always enjoy learning about new Christian artists (well, new to me). The commercial business of CCM makes me a bit crazy, so these are delightfully real and refreshing.
    I’ve got this CD of Andrew P’s and Sara G’s new ‘Abide With Me’ but didn’t know about her Beauty Matters song/album.
    Thank you for these–I’ll be looking them up.

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