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Audrey Assad’s Heart: A Review

Audrey writes from her heart, and through her music God speaks to my heart. What seemed like a random click on an album link over a year ago now appears as a divine provision of encouragement.

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While surfing the internet last year, I clicked on a link to an album and heard a clip of Audrey Assad’s music for the first time. Wow, I thought. This is different.

Most Christian music fails to connect with me at a very deep level. For better or worse, I tend to fuss over musical styles or lack of lyrical artistry. But when I heard Audrey, I felt like I’d met a friend. Her clear, soothing voice and poignant lyrics immediately struck me.

Audrey’s debut album, The House You’re Building, played on repeat in my CD player for several months with only brief breaks for other music. I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, last spring to visit a friend — and to hear Audrey in concert.

So when her second CD, Heart, released on February 14 this year, I was prepared to like it. From the quirky instrumentation and catchy tune of the first song, I was hooked. “Blessed Are The Ones” is a joyful anthem and a realistic picture of marriage. In collaboration with songwriters Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken, Audrey wrote this song shortly before her own wedding. Its lyrics speak to the humility and generosity that marriage requires, and the chorus presents a declaration of beautifully stubborn love:

So further up and further in
We have nowhere else to go
We’ll plant the seeds of toil and tears
It’s beauty we will sow.”

The second track, “Even the Winter,” continues the theme of commitment in a relationship, asking difficult questions:

What if we find ourselves beneath the snow
Our warmest words all frozen our throats?
And all we feel is left out in the cold…
What if the days grow short and lose their light?
What if the coals burn back and the embers die
And we can’t find each other in the night?”

Audrey answers the questions boldly, asserting that:

Even the winter won’t last forever
We’ll see the morning and we’ll feel the sun
We’ll wake up in April, ready and able
Sowing the seeds in the soil of our love.”

In the midst of recent complications in a dating relationship, the lyrics of “Even the Winter” struck a hopeful chord deep in my heart. Audrey writes of the kind of committed love that works through issues and emerges renewed, again and again. It’s the kind of love that reflects our Savior’s faithful love for us.

Heart’s third track, “The Way You Move,” also speaks directly to my situation with a voice that’s clear and hopeful. With its subtle R&B flavor and passionate vocals, this song is possibly my favorite on the album. Audrey accurately captures a sense of complete dependence on the Lord and powerlessness against His working. The song is a white flag of surrender, acknowledging that God is the one moving, changing us, and loving us. At one point she describes Him as a “Lion standing in my house … taking off the doors on [His] way in.”

Later in the album, “Breaking You” speaks directly to the brokenhearted. The lyrics, as usual, are deeply honest and equally hopeful, not underestimating the pain of heartbreak yet offering hope to emerge from it and live again. I listen and think, This is how I feel, and also, She must have experienced these feelings. The pain is real, and the hope is real.

“O My Soul” is a hauntingly beautiful, a contemplative prayer to abide in Christ’s love rather than holding onto anxieties. With increasing vocal intensity, Audrey declares in the bridge:

Your worries will never love you
They’ll leave you all alone
But Your God will not forsake you
O my soul.”

Next, Assad presents a contrast to quiet contemplation with a pair of catchy tunes that declare a loving relationship with God. The upbeat chorus of “Won Me Over” gets stuck in my head:

I was full of fear and prone to wander
Lost and lonely ’till the day You won me over
You won me over
I was halfway gone and going nowhere
Half alive until the day You won me over
You won me over.”

The eighth track, “No Turning Back,” is just as upbeat as “Won Me Over,” and cleverly punctuated with clapping and snapping. Instead of singing about the joy of initial salvation, though, Audrey explores the joy of an ever-deepening relationship with God as we stay close beside Him, captivated by His love and laughter. It’s the stubborn love from the first two songs about marriage applied to a relationship with Jesus. My heart sings along, especially with these verses:

I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to find
There’s something in Your laughter that keeps me running after.”

It is His laughter that keeps me chasing: because I know He is ultimately a God of joy and love, and that one day all the sorrow of sin will disappear and there will be nothing left but His laughter and us to join it.

In “Wherever You Go,” Assad introduces the idea that God follows us down every path, even when we are running from Him. Unlike a parent or a lover, He is faithful despite our faithlessness:

Fathers and mothers don’t always come through
But I’m never going to stop following you.”

This is God’s stubborn love, the commitment that is so committed it doesn’t make sense to human minds.

“Slow” is musically interesting, with a sound reminiscent of 1980’s piano ballads. Its lyrics also speak clearly to recent situations in my life, painting the need for patience in a beautiful way:

Faith is not a fire as much as it’s a glow
A quiet lovely burning underneath the snow
And it’s not too much,
It’s just enough to give me hope
‘Cause love moves slow
Love moves slow.”

As I listen, I take a deep breath and remember that His ways and His timing are paramount — that they are what I want, despite the impatience I feel.

To finish out the album, Audrey sings another poem in “New Song,” essentially a prayer for inspiration. The final notes of the album are Audrey’s clear voice, haunting and soft, acknowledging the mortality of our bodies and our complete dependence on God to supply our needs:

All I am is breath and vapor and shadow
And all I have is what I need
And this I know.”

Audrey writes from her heart, and through her music God speaks to my heart. What seemed like a random click on an album link over a year ago now appears as a divine provision of encouragement.

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Jessica spent the first 23 years of her life in Tennessee, and the next two serving as a resident assistant at a missionary boarding school in Germany. Now back in Tennessee, she lives in a little yellow house and works a plethora of part-time jobs. Her favorite is running a homeschool cooperative based on Charlotte Mason's educational ideals. Learn more about Jessica by visiting her blog, I Wonder as I wander.

3 Comments
  • joanne

    Thank you for that review! What a beautiful voice and spirit Audrey has. I will be getting the album:)

  • Karen

    Jessica!
    Wow!
    I am so blown away not only by her voice but the depth of her lyrics. And her willingness to share what she is learning. A perpetual student. I can see why you drove around for months with the repeat button on. I look forward to purchasing her music and sharing with others as well.

  • Rebecca

    I discovered Audrey Assad before the release of her first album, when she did a small concert at a church in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I fell in love with her voice, her talent, her style, and her way with lyrics that spoke to my heart. Thank you SO much for this review! I hope everyone will give Audrey a listen. Her music is a constant in my house too, and my three daughters (7, 5,and 2) love her music, too!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Audrey Assad’s Heart: A Review

by Jessica Boling time to read: 4 min
3