iola deep playlist

iola magazine deep playlist

We are excited to let you know that the new issue of iola is coming in January 2019 and this is the playlist we have made to go with the theme of the issue.

iola magazine: living life well – even in the deep is an issue that explores how we live when we feel stuck or buried or when we want to go deeper with God and what that means. Now you have a playlist to listen to when you are thinking about this new year, plans and dreams. Maybe last year was not what you hoped it would be, maybe you have a change coming, perhaps nothing feels like it will ever change. This issue will treat you kindly with articles from women that have travelled similar paths to you.

We love these songs by these artists and think they suit the themes of articles coming in iola: deep but the inclusion of these artists in the playlist doesn’t suggest they have endorsed the magazine!

You can listen to the playlist on spotify here:

iola magazine playlists

For the sake of beauty: How to invite beauty into your everyday life

When I was a little girl, I spent most of my childhood hidden away in the pages of a book or wandering in the woods listening to the birds and trees whisper stories. I was drawn to beauty and mystery in equal parts. I liked to think I was unique, set apart somehow by the things I loved, my senses alone tuned to beauty.


I know now that I was never alone in my loves, and certainly not the only one attuned to beauty. We are all hardwired to seek it, know it, and name it. Like many children, I was drawn to stories and art and the natural world. Others are drawn to bodies in motion, bounty at the table, or the beauty of friendship and intimacy.

By nature, we desire what is beautiful, having an innate awareness of it. We’re drawn to the lovely, the sublime, the evocative. Beauty fulfills our longings, however imperfectly, providing a feast for our soul and our senses.

Our love for imperfect beauty arises out of our desire for perfect Beauty itself, which is the beauty of Christ, the Kingdom of God in its fullness.

As an adult, it’s easy to overlook the beautiful in life for pressing daily tasks and imagined urgency. I find I have to work at beauty, both in seeking and creating it. I must offer it an open invitation. I return to these simple steps when my vision clouds and I imagine I need to overhaul my life. Instead, I open my eyes to the beauty in front of me.

Perhaps you need to issue an invitation to beauty as well? Here’s how:

Kimberly Coyle

Expect Beauty:

Live expectant, open handed, wholehearted in all things. Allow Philippians 4:8 to guide you as you extend your invitation. “…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Perhaps you’ll discover beauty in nature, in a circle of sister-friends, in the work of your hands, in cooking, in children, in stories, in order, in design, in peace-making, in justice, in art.

Not all beautiful things carry an obvious form of beauty at first glance. Truth may be painful. Light may expose what’s hidden in darkness. Justice may reveal wrongdoing. But, beauty is what happens when the Kingdom of God enters in, when we see with the eyes of possibility, when redemption is at the end of the story.

Capture Beauty:

Practice new ways of capturing surprise or smallness or symmetry. Look for the odd, the original, the otherworldly. Photography, journaling, letter writing, old-fashioned crafts, collections, or capturing snippets of life using social media can help us focus and capture the beauty we might ordinarily walk past without thinking.

Return to your first love. What did you gather and collect as a child? What shimmered in the rough of everyday life and caught your eye like a magpie? Did you squirrel away small collections of shells or pressed flowers or scribble long lists of favorite lyrics? Did you write terrible teenaged poetry? How did you capture beauty when you were half-formed? When the earth and sea and sky and friends and fireworks and uninhibited play left their fingerprints on the wet clay of your soul?

How could you invite those loves back into your life today?

Practice Beauty:

The more we embrace and capture beauty, the more inspired we become to create. We are made in the image of God: the original Life Artist, the Creator of all things. Embrace your role as co-creator—participate in the naming of the unnamed. Call the world around you beautiful with defiant acts of creation.

Allow your creation to complement the beauty you discover elsewhere. Reject comparison. There is nothing new under the sun, but your unique perspective offers fresh inspiration to the rest of us.

Give us yourself and your best work, for the sake of beauty.


Kimberly Coyle is a freelance writer and an adjunct professor of writing with an MFA in creative non-fiction. She has written for publications such as In Touch Magazine, Fathom Magazine, (in)courage, and Grace Table. When not writing or teaching, she dabbles in photography and can be found on Instagram as @kacoyle.

She writes regularly online at

iola magazine articles

On having a heart of thanksgiving

Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord,
all the earth. 
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.

In the hustle and bustle of life, shouting for joy to the Lord doesn’t feel like it comes naturally. Entering his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise can seem like a strange concept in our fast-paced world and busy lifestyles. How is this shouting and joyfulness supposed to fit into our daily lives? Thanksgiving, however, is vital to our relationship with God and was designed to be our lifeline. It is not merely a word of gratitude but true thanksgiving is our spirit agreeing with all who God says He is. It is our need and God’s supply lining up perfectly. This is what we were created for. Our hearts align with His when we come before Him joyfully. When we worship Him with gladness no matter what comes our way, then we are able to take advantage of our circumstances rather than our circumstances taking advantage of us. 

Our default mode can be anxiety, worry, fear, anger or frustration because of our situations and oftentimes those things become greater than Christ in us. However, when we intentionally fill up with thanksgiving, then it begins to rise up out of us. As it rises up out of us, it leaves little room for the overwhelm of negativity. It doesn’t mean all the problems go away but rather, they are put in their proper place. They are no longer shackles that hold us, prisoner. When we worship with gladness, it is the ultimate form of engagement with God and we are set free from the lies that bind us. All else fades away when we come before Him with thanksgiving until it is only us and Him left. It is there where our hearts are able to receive the revelation of knowing He is the Lord our God.

This portal to our hearts to receive allows faith to rise up in us and we can experience the revelation of how wide and high and deep His love is and always has been for us. His perfect love is what drives out the fear, the anxiety, worry, anger or frustrations about our life’s situation. Be intentional and ready to give thanks. I’ve created a playlist to help do exactly that. Take some time to come before Him with joyful songs. Do not hesitate to give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever. Know He is the Lord your God and you are His.

Give thanks playlist

Libby John

Libby John is a creative artist of many forms. As a singer/songwriter, she debuted her first EP in 2016 and her first album in Oct. 2017. Libby is also a choreographer who works for local universities and high school musicals and she teaches hip hop and modern dance classes. She has a passion to spur others on to be an influence on the culture through their faith & artistry which led her to create the podcast “Art & Faith Conversations”. Libby is a lover of small beginnings and finding beauty in the ordinary.  She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband and 3 daughters.

Libby can be found sharing her creative journey and prayerful devotionals through songs at