It's hard to go anywhere with four children under the age of six. It's just a fact. Even the most well planned outing to the park can end with a "world shattering" scraped knee before a single tiny foot steps onto the sod of a playground.
This present reality, coupled with the immense responsibility of homeschooling, keeps me somewhat confined to the home for much of my day. This is the season I'm in.
Thankfully, I am a natural homebody. I can be content and even comfortable within the walls of my house for a substantial amount of time given enough coffee and good books.
I would be lying, however, if I said that interacting solely with littles all day long, whose conversational artistry is characterized by a continual barrage of unanswerable questions and "I need this..." statements, can wear a woman down.
For this reason, I rely heavily upon podcasts and music to keep my brain engaged with the adult world. Podcasts like The White Horse Inn stimulate my thoughts toward God and his Word. They remind me of the gospel's impact on my everyday life - especially necessary after a challenging session of phonics lessons.
Others, like The Circe Institute's new podcast The Mason Jar provide inspiration for my role as a home educator and remind me to place God and my children's spiritual formation at the forefront of our family's educational goals. They help me to step back and breath when that phonics lesson ends in tears rather than triumph.
These resources, streaming from the bluetooth speaker in my kitchen, faithfully feed my intellect and point me to the Lord in the midst of the daily grind.
Music, however, is unparalleled in its ability to turn this - often frazzled and worn out - momma into a dancing, clapping, happy lady once again. Unlike podcasts, music doesn't require a smidgen of quietness. Great music has the power to break through the ever-escalating noise of our lively home. It is like fresh wind of joy and inspiration being sent my way from heaven.
I'm especially thankful for music that causes my soul to rejoice in the Lord's goodness and beckons my mind to revel in the deep, deep love of Jesus. It is most typical to hear one of Shane and Shane's Worship Initiative albums blaring in our home during lunch time, but lately I've been blessed by some really great music by some relatively "new" artists that I wanted to share with you - just in case you haven't heard of them yet.
The first artist I want to tell you about happens to be a personal friend of mine. While my husband was attending seminary in Fort Worth, we were members of the same church as Aryn Michelle and her husband. Not only did this mean that I got to enjoy her beautiful singing on Sundays (as she was often asked to help lead our church in worship), but more importantly, over the years I was blessed to develop a sweet friendship with her, as our first babes were born around the same time.
Aryn and I have spent many afternoons together discussing everything from breastfeeding, to potty training, to the sovereignty of God. She was one of the dear friends who sought to love me through my difficult second trimester miscarriage and one of the ones that I knew wouldn't shrink back from the hard questions - I didn't have to worry about her offering frivolous words of comfort when the pain was deep.
This is perhaps one of the things that makes Aryn such a unique artist. She is deep, which makes her music deep. She isn't content with putting out songs that sound like everyone else's or that dance along the edge of theological certainty. Her music is moving and at the same time thought provoking.
Fittingly, her album is titled Depth and it truly delivers on its promise to dive below the surface of typical Christian music. She covers topics like suffering, perseverance, and living in Christ in a style that is extremely moving. I've always admired Aryn's ability to emote through her voice and this album is a perfect example of this. I don't really know of anyone to compare Aryn's style to. The best I can do is say her music is sincere, beautiful, theological, and unique.
Here is a video of her song, "Do the Same":
This album is perfect for when mommy needs a time-out. Put on some headphones, take a sip of warm coffee, and let her songs seep into your soul as the chaos rages around you. You will be blessed, friends.
I was turned onto the next artist (or group actually) by Lindsay Swartz who mentioned them on Facebook. Their name is "I Am They," which gets its inspiration from John 17, where Jesus said, "They are not of this world, just as I am not of this world." Each of the band members seeks to live in the reality of the beautiful "they" verses found in this chapter of the Bible.
I Am They's music has been a true blessing to me recently. Remember that "wind of joy" I was speaking of earlier? This is that wind, friends. This self-titled debut album is filled with energetic and oh-so-happy tunes that you can't help but clap and sing to, such as this song, "From the Day":
One of my favorite songs on the album, however, is more somber and soul-stirring. It's titled "Amen" and is a declaration of submission to the Lord's will, even in the hard times. Being well aquatinted with grief, this song moves me every single time I hear it. I believe it will minister to many who are in the midst of pain, in the same way that Shane and Shane's beautiful song, "Though You Slay Me," has.
I heartily recommend this new album to anyone looking for some fresh and inspiring music to liven up their home. Find them on Spotify, turn up the volume and get to dancing, friends - for their is much to celebrate!