For the Love of Music!

After a few months of hiatus in sharing blog posts, I’m back to writing again. In several previous posts, I wrote of how music has been such an important part of my life. I grew up with a mom who probably played music daily on the record player. She would teach us the jitterbug and other dance steps as we bebopped around the living room. I learned just about every Elvis Presley song during those years, as well as tunes by Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash and so many others. I didn’t embrace my mom’s love of country music as a teen or young adult, but instead enjoyed the sound of what is now referred to as Classic Rock. For years, I didn’t venture far from that particular genre of music.

Beginning in the mid to late 80s, though and in my early years after becoming a Christian, a change occurred. Contemporary Christian music became a favorite of mine and was instrumental in my growth as a new follower of Christ. I was greatly influenced by the music of Keith Green, Carman, Michael W. Smith, Petra, Phil Keaggy and Second Chapter of Acts. Their music ushered me into special times of worship and prayer to the Lord and helped to form my early Christian experiences and worldview.

Music has always played a big role in my and my husband’s lives. In fact, it was through music that we met…a long time ago….in Jr. High school…in band class. He, the ever-so-slightly rebellious baritone player, and me, the goofy immature young clarinet player. The rest is history. But in any case, music always remained important. From the 8-track player in Scott’s International Scout blasting tunes by Boston, Fleetwood Mac and Lynyrd Skynyrd to my vinyl collection to cassette tapes to CDs. My interest in and love for music even led to taking a few guitar lessons as a young mom which never went anywhere in the midst of a busy military lifestyle. Later on, my desire to play guitar was resparked, so I purchased a classical guitar and started practicing again which led to an opportunity to lead a school music program where I teach basic guitar and music appreciation.

Our love and appreciation for music was passed on to our 2 sons. We often sang songs together and played kids’ music tapes during their early childhood. When they were old enough, they were enrolled in piano classes. Our younger son Simon took up the clarinet in the school band and both boys began singing in church and in elementary school choirs which led to performing solos on stage in high school. More instruments were added, actually, many more. Our sons took their love of music and their God-given musical talents to levels beyond what we had ever done ourselves or ever thought might happen with them. They used their musical talents to serve in various church ministries. Their involvement in music led to what they would say as musicians were some of their most enjoyable and memorable times of life, when their old-timey band was formed with friends from church.

Laurel Mountain Jug Band busking in the streets of Pittsburgh PA (Chuck, Simon, Nathan, Nick)
Wagon Wheel cover by Laurel Mountain Jug Band, our sons and their friends (Click on the link to listen!)

While still in high school, our older son Nick was introduced to the music of a little known band by the name of Old Crow Medicine Show. The music of Old Crow is best described as old-timey bluegrass, their most famous song being “Wagon Wheel” which become popular when covered by Darius Rucker. The music of Old Crow become so loved by our sons and their band that they covered many of their songs for the shows which they played at local car cruises and community events, with “Wagon Wheel” considered to be their signature song. Recently, Nick’s interest in Old Crow Medicine Show led him on a journey to learn more of the band’s history. After many months and hours of research and gathering resources and documentation and video editing, Nick arranged and narrated a video containing that information. It’s a very interesting, informational and well done documentary video that would especially be enjoyed by fans of Old Crow Medicine Show.

Music documentary of the history of Old Crow Medicine Show, by my son Nick (Click on the link to listen!)

In a way, I guess you could say that my love of music has come full circle. From country music songs being played in the living room as a kid to enjoying hearing our sons and their friends perform wonderful cover versions of Johnny Cash and Old Crow Medicine Show, our love of music remains. It is a gift of God. A gift that we’ve enjoyed for over 50 years. A gift that we often use to offer praise to Him, the creator of the blessing of music.

HOPE NUGGET: “…addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…” [Ephesians 5:19]

Mentored by Music

Music has always been an important part of my life. In the early years of my Christian walk, during the mid 80s to early 90s, Christian worship music had a significant spiritual impact on me. Through Christian radio, I was introduced to Petra, Keith Green, Rich Mullins, Michael W. Smith, Audio Adrenaline, 2nd Chapter of Acts and DC Talk. I had not grown up in the church, so was familiar with only the more well-known hymns that just about everyone knew. The style of Christian music offered by popular contemporary artists at that time was very appealing to one like me who enjoyed listening to 70s rock.

You could say that I was mentored by the lyrics to “Awesome God,” “The Battle Belongs to the Lord,” “The Easter Song,” and “You are the One.” Through those songs and others like them, sermons were preached and the word of God began to be imbedded into my heart through lyrics which were often taken directly from the Scriptures. Some of the most meaningful worship experiences that I’ve ever had occurred while listening to or singing Christian worship songs.

Special friends and I at a recent Casting Crowns / Zach Williams concert

Since those early Christian years of my life, I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate a wider spectrum of spiritual music, from Gregorian chants to gospel to Christian rap to more contemporary styles of worship music. David Wesley’s beautifully arranged and wonderfully performed “Evolution of Worship Music” video, beginning with “Be Thou My Vision” from 560 and ending with “Do It Again” from 2017 is an 8 minute a cappella medley with samples of worship music from the past 1500 years. It is a great example of the styles of Christian music from the earliest known to the contemporary music of today. “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Evolution of Worship Music, David Wesley: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=2SaBhN2idbM

Hope nugget: Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD! [Psalm 150: 1-6]

Sacrificial Love

This past weekend, our family spent an afternoon at the movie theater watching “Toy Story 4.” It was an enjoyable day and if I were to do a movie review, I’d give it a two-thumbs up! On the drive home, my husband pointed out that a strong pro-self-sacrifice theme was woven throughout the story. I won’t share any spoilers, but recommend that you go see it for yourself.

It is easy to draw an analogy between the self-sacrificial content of the movie and the self-sacrificial life of Christ. While the characters in Toy Story are imperfect and flawed and develop self-sacrificing and other positive characteristics over time, Christ is the ultimate and perfect example of sacrificial love. Christ went as far as to lay down His life even for His enemies. That means us. We were all at enmity with God. Separated from Him by sin. The gulf was wide and impossible to cross. Good works couldn’t do it. Religion couldn’t do it. Our righteousness (never mind, it is as filthy rags) couldn’t do it. The perfection of Christ as the Son of God gave Him the ability to take our place as a sacrificial substitute. Even when we were His enemy. Even though we didn’t deserve it. The cross offers Hope. To all. You can hang your hat on it.

Hope nugget: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   (Romans 5: 6-8)