Hillsong United’s New Album: Empires

Hillsong

Empires is the 4th studio album from Hillsong United, the worship team that gave us the captivating praise songs “Oceans” and “From the Inside Out” and “Desert Song” and “Lead Me To The Cross” (I could on — I really could).

We don’t typically review music here. After all, we are a parenting blog. But when we heard it was Hillsong United, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

As I listened to the album, I must say that the production beautifully captured a worshipful environment. The well-produced textures of sound, the lyrics and the sentiment of each song was just what you would expect from Hillsong United. The heart of this team remains purely tuned to intimacy with God.

On the whole, the music production maintains the excellence that we have come to expect with each Hillsong release. There is no point where the vocals are lost or a prominent part is improperly mixed. The musicianship is flawless, from the actual performance to the interplay of instruments, vocals and percussion.

But I felt two things were lacking from this particular album — the energy and the unique sound that I loved in their earlier albums. The songs on Empires felt homogenized and formulaic. I felt as if I could predict when the dynamic would dip and rise. The bass is heard playing long notes and supporting the low end but not really establishing a groove or a pocket.

Across The Earth: Tear Down Walls was full of energy, and each song had a unique hook that grabbed the listener immediately and held their attention. It seems to me that with their third album Aftermath, their songwriting began to homogenize, and although that album was still full of great moments, their music began then to sound similar enough for one song to meld into the other. Sadly, that was true of Empires as well.

So, although so many of Hillsong United’s earlier songs will always transport me into a deep place of worship, I don’t think I’ll be adding Empires to my playlist.

But that’s just me. I want YOU to decide for yourself! If you are a fan, as I am. Take this opportunity to win a free copy of your own.

Simply leave a comment below with your email address, and you will be entered into a drawing for a free CD.

 


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): 

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Disney’s Tomorrowland Inspires Optimism

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Nicholas Murray Butler said, “Optimism is essential to achievement, and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Brad Bird — writer, producer and director of Disney’s Tomorrowland, which opens today in theaters — has this quote posted in his office somewhere because it is basically the message of the movie.

Tomorrowland is a story about the shared destiny of former boy-genius Frank (George Clooney), who is jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity.

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The two embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.

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Although the storyline of Tomorrowland is a bit bumpy along the way, everyone in the family will appreciate its message and its visual splendor.

If you were thinking about heading to theaters this weekend to see Tomorrowland, I have just a few warnings for the youngest ones in your family. There are a few mildly bad words (which were totally unnecessary, by the way) and some intense chase scenes with mild violence. Most kids won’t be affected by it, but I thought I’d give you a heads up in case you have a particularly sensitive little one.

I went to see it with my oldest son, who is a huge Disney fan, and he loved it! On the whole, I would say, that based on the story itself, Tomorrowland might be a better family movie night rental, but because it is such a visual masterpiece, you will wish you had seen on a big screen.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Are You Teaching Your Kids To Be Incompetent?

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I’m sure most parents don’t set out to overindulge their kids. I know I don’t, but sometimes it happens when I’m not paying attention. Overindulgence comes from a good place — it is born out of our deep love for our kids. We want to meet their needs and to make them happy and comfortable. We want to nurture them, and rightfully so — nurturing is foundational to parenting.

But did you know that we can overindulge our kids by OVER nurturing them? When we do things for our children that they can and should learn to do for themselves, we are over nurturing them. Every loving parent crosses this line occasionally, and when it happens once in a while, it simply sends the message to our kiddos that we love them and want to celebrate them in various little ways.

But when the occasional overindulgence becomes the norm, it can spell huge problems for our kids later in life.

Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz wrote, “The proverb warns that you should not bite the hand that feeds you. But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.”

When we do things for our kids that they should learn to do for themselves, we train them to be helpless and teach them be incompetent.

So what should our kids learn to do for themselves? Everything!

I remember once, as a younger mom, seeing a woman who had had her baby later in life and marveling at how she doted upon this little girl. The child was nearing a year old, and she had her strapped into a bouncy chair while she spoon fed her baby food.

From infancy, our goal should be gradual independence. So we help our little ones practice sitting up, and then we encourage them to stand, while we hold there hands. As soon as we see them grasping things with their thumb and forefinger instead of raking with four fingers, we begin offer small pieces of food for them to feed themselves.

Soon we teach them how to undress and dress themselves and how to clean up their toys. Two and three year olds can do simple little chores like folding wash cloths or putting their folded shirts into their shirt drawer.

As kids get older, they learn to make their beds, do dishes, take out the garbage. Our goal with housework should be to eventually teach our kids how to do everything we do as well or better than we do it.

When we are prescribing over-the-counter meds to our 10 year old, we can explain what we are giving them, why we chose that medication and how we determined the dosage.

Our kids can learn how to find experts who can answer their questions, make phone calls and leave detailed messages. They can learn how to make reservations, book airline tickets, cook for themselves, get directions, do their laundry.

Of course, we have to be mindful of their developmental level, but when we assume strength and competence in our kids, we gradually teach them to become capable, independent people. On the flip side, when we do things for them that they can learn to do for themselves, we are assuming that they are weak and incapable, and over time, we will train them to become helpless and incompetent. And who really wants that outcome?

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — May 1, 2015

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If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the first week in May.

Mastermind Monday

Talk briefly about the difference between a chain and a franchise. Not sure yourself? Just ask Mr. Google!

TED Talk Tuesday

Underwater Astonishments

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

Riots in Baltimore

Think Tank Thursday

Friends are like vitamins — each one provides something different but essential. Have each family member talk about how their closest friends bring something unique to their life.

Famous Friday

Rosalind Franklin

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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