The Art that Pours In

Everyone gets asked the question: What is your favorite album of all time? And we always want to set some parameters- am I stranded on a desert island? Is it all I can listen to for the rest of my life? Because even the best can get old.

But I recently listened to an album the other day- my answer to the question- and realized that unlike most music I was obsessed with in my teenage years, this one has lasted through decades. I think, in fact, that if I had come across this music at any point in my life, I would have loved it, because it touches somewhere deep inside. This one doesn’t just connect me to one time in my life: it transcends people, place, and circumstance to continue to speak to me where I am. It spoke to me then; it speaks more to me now. The words are poetry. I learn something new every time I sing, and when it’s over, I’ve been seen and felt and understood. I have experienced connection, the foundational goal of art.

As a writer, I believe beauty has to be discovered before it can be created. We are not God. We don’t create something out of nothing. We discover something, and create something else. We require inspiration. This is why writers are readers. This album, along with countless others, but this album in particular, inspires me to create. I fill in the gaps of each song with a story, and then another, and another, because they give me the freedom to. The lyrics paint pictures enticing me to paint more:

When I think of heaven
deliver me in a black-winged bird
I think of dying
Lay me down in a field of flame and heather
Render up my body into the burning heart of God
in the belly of a black-winged bird

And this particular album is a two-disc live album in which the songs that are repeated vary significantly from one disc to the other. Our art is always shifting, and I am reminded when I hear these double versions, that my writing is never dead. I have watched, this semester in particular, the evolution of my work, and taken joy in its different facets. Revision can be a burden, but it is also freeing to know that there is no final destination in which the words cease to grow. We are, my words and me, never arriving. That is a humble and good place to be.

This album encourages the artist in me and the humanity. It sings me Beauty….enjoy.

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(Click the album to hear it for free on Spotify.)

Music that Moves

I have three little girls. Two of them are extremely high-energy. (Read that how you want. It’s probably true.) And two of them love music. We try to use every part of life to teach them about the Lord, and music is an easy one. The Austin Stone will always hold a dear place in my heart. It was there for us when we desperately needed it. My mom gifted me their new kids’ album and we all love it. All of us. Their website has each of the songs available to listen to for free, or you can get it on iTunes or Amazon. For weeks now we have been belting out these songs with fists in the air, or hands clapping, bouncing in the seats of the car. It has been joy, joy, joy! Then I found that each song has an accompanying dance video! This morning we stretched, got it up on the big screen, and danced through the entire album! We talked about how this is one way we can worship God in truth with our voices, our bodies, and our minds. Every part of us participating in the glorifying of God. The kids had a blast. And so did I. Give it a try!

 

Besides the free content on The Austin Stone’s website, there are other great resources available like chord charts, the theology behind each song, and a family worship guide to go along with the album.

[I’ve written before about how we’ve used Dana Dirksen’s music to teach theological truth to the kids. Questions with Answers: Volumes 1-3 have been family transforming. The Village Church’s kids albums have also been huge in shaping their understanding of the Lord, both at home, and of course, along with the lessons at church. I would highly recommend them both to you!]

Missy Higgins: Forgive Me

Missy is one of my favorite songwriters. A gifted storyteller, she blends word and sound to create a beautiful and moving impression. She can excite me to action, rest me to sleep, or as in this song, kneel me down. It brings goosebumps and tears.