Wild Card Weekends: Musical Inspiration for Beauty in Your Home

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I my recent post, Reclaiming the Beauty of Your Homeschool Days, I gave several ideas for things to do when your days aren't as "beautiful" as you would like.  For your weekend inspiration I'd like to give you a few suggestions for some music that always helps me to see the beauty in my everyday life.  Many folks (even people I know personally!) don't know that I was a music major in college.  I studied French horn performance for two years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and finished my degree at Spring Arbor University with a major in contemporary music ministry.  I love music of all kinds and listen regularly to just about everything under the sun.  At some point I would love to do a series on incorporating classical music into your homeschool, but that's a little bit more than I can chew right now!  For this weekend I'm going to share a few albums that consistently have helped me to re-orient my attitude toward truth, goodness, and beauty.

Add to the Beauty
By Sara Groves

This album is all about finding beauty in our everyday lives, and learning how to accept our lives as they are--to embrace the circumstances God has brought to us and live fully in them.  Take these lyrics from "Just Showed Up for My Own Life":

I'm going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel all that's honest and real until I'm truly amazed
I'm going to feel all my emotions
I'm going to look you in the eyes
I'm going to listen and hear until it's finally clear and it changes our lives

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I'm standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright

...and of course the lyrics of the title track, "Add to the Beauty"...

"We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

It comes in small inspirations
It brings redemption to life and work
To our lives and our work

It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it's worth

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
This is grace, an invitation..."
 

This whole album is such an enjoyable listen, whether you are able to sit in a quiet place and really take in the lyrics, or if it's just playing in the background of a busy day.  I've owned this album for over ten years now and I come back to it again and again.

The Burning Edge of Dawn
By Andrew Peterson

Oh, this album...I honestly don't know how I made it all the way to 2016 without knowing about Andrew Peterson!  His lyrics are so poignant, interlacing his real life experiences with scripture.  The first time I listened to "The Sower's Song" it was like little explosions going off in my heart.

"Oh God, I am furrowed like the field
Torn open like the dirt
And I know that to be healed
That I must be broken first
I am aching for the yield
That You will harvest from this hurt

Abide in me
Let these branches bear You fruit
Abide in me, Lord
As I abide in You..."

 ...and the song just keeps getting better and better from there, but I will let you go listen to it!

All of his songs have such depth and emotion that I often can't listen to more than a few of them in one sitting...it's just too much to take in (in a good sort of way).  Side note...I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to attend the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati again this year since I just went last year, but...they just announced that Andrew Peterson will be doing a concert there!  I think my decision has been made.

Well now, this album...find yourself a babysitter for an hour, or at least kick the kids outside for a while (ok, don't actually kick them...).  Get yourself a cup of coffee, get the lyrics in front of you, and listen to the whole thing.  In one sitting.  It's so worth it.  It is really unlike anything else I have ever heard.

"Let church bells ring
Let children sing
Even if they don’t know why let them sing
Why drown their joy
Stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours

May our jaded hearts be healed...
Amen"

My husband and I had the pleasure of seeing Gungor perform live a few years ago, and let me tell you, he is the real deal.  So musically talented!  His music often flirts with the line between classical chamber music and indie rock, often intermingling them in a way that few could pull off.  He and his wife record and perform together, and they are a powerhouse combination.  Her ethereal vocals over his complex rhythmic and varied instrumentation makes for a unique sound that draws you in and makes you want to listen closer.  Gungor has released several more albums since Ghosts Upon the Earth, but be forewarned that they went through a phase of really questioning their beliefs.  I don't know if they are still in that place, but their subsequent albums, though musically excellent and lyrically thought-provoking, are not the same sort of worshipful experience like this one.  

I should also mention that a couple songs on Ghosts Upon the Earth deal with some more "mature" themes...nothing lewd or provocative, but you might like to scan the lyrics of each song before listening with your kids.  For older students it might make for a great conversation, but you may not want to have to explain some of the concepts to younger children just yet.  

There are many other albums that have stuck with me over the years and brought beauty into some of my gloomier days, but I will save them for another day!  I'd love to hear what you think of these selections, so...

Take the Next Step:

Take a moment to check out a few songs!

Are there any songs that really spoke to you?

What are some songs, albums, or artists that you turn to for inspiration?