Staci was recently in Nashville to promote her new album, Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores, and did a live performances of two songs ("Disarm" and "Undreamed Shores") at NBC-affiliate WSMV's "Today in Nashville".
Staci was recently a featured guest on Cornerstone Television Network's television show, Real Life. Staci talks about her book Flourish, and sings songs from her new album, Unpathed Warers Undreamed Shores. You can find Staci's segments here:
Flourish interview 17:10 - 30:00
Staci was featured recently in the podcast "On Faith's Edge" with Joe Taylor. The two discuss Staci's new album, and how she chooses to believe God is good even when life gets hard. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the show link or the image below.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers...
Their bright faces,
which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!
hope for a deeper acquaintance...
Each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,
the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy.
(Mary Oliver "The Sunflowers")
This poem has been on my mind all week heading toward Resurrection Sunday. Especially this line: the long work of turning their lives into a celebration is not easy.
Jesus' resurrection is at the core of what we celebrate--it is hope and grace, and love triumphing over evil. But the day-to-day living out of that celebration takes heart work. It takes continually choosing faith over doubt, believing that we're loved, forgiven, and heirs to an abundant life, a life worth celebrating.
For each of us that work looks different. Our inner landscapes are filled with obstacles that are unique to our perceptions and personalities.
I battle a constant low-grade melancholy. You could say it's the artist in me, but if I'm not careful, it turns into full-blown depression. I have to remind myself that my feelings don't define my reality. That while my circumstances in any given moment may feel hopeless or discouraging, the truth is I have much to be thankful for. And when I pause and make a list of those things--in my head or on the page--I see the goodness of God overflowing, spilling over all the edges.
I don't know what the work of turning your life into a celebration looks like for you. But I do know you're not alone. We're side by side in the Father's field together. And like sunflowers lifting our faces, following the sun across the sky, we can turn our thoughts toward life and all the beauty and warmth it offers us.
This resurrection weekend, and for all the days to come.
Staci will be speaking from her book, Flourish, and singing songs from her latest CD, Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores, at a women's luncheon Saturday, May 6th at 11:30 am atTess' Community Farm Kitchen. Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit local women's shelter, Shepherd's Gate, in Brentwood, CA. See image for details.
I'm excited to share some of the stories behind the songs from my new album, "Unpathed Waters Undreamed Shores." What inspired them, the core emotions I wanted to convey, and the real-life experiences they reflect. I hope these short videos help make the songs come alive in new ways for you!
Singer/songwriter, author and speaker, Staci Frenes, just released her ninth independent album, Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores that is available now on all digital music outlets. Produced by long-time friend Nate Sabin (Jason Gray, Sara Groves), the collection of nine songs have a more textured and lush pop sound with lyrics that reveal a deeper look into Frenes' life. It involves navigating some messy and unpredictable changes that include deep personal losses and the ever-shifting roles of career and parenting. Frenes and Sabin co-wrote all of the original songs on the new record that delivers the music in her now familiar acoustic folk-pop style.
"I had worked with Nate on my last two albums, so we have a comfortable trust that allows us to take risks and try new things, creatively," said Frenes. "We recorded the new album at his studio in St. Paul, Minn., building the songs from acoustic demos to full-blown arrangements. We brought in some of my favorite musicians to add layers and color to the tracks, Aaron Fabbrinni (bass), Tyler Burkum (guitar) and David Thulin (keyboard). I'm thrilled with how the project turned out. The music beautifully helps tell the story of my heart during this season. My prayer for this record is that people will feel God's presence and hope all the way through it."
Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores presents the most honest and vulnerable side of Frenes, more so than any other recording in her career. The album launches with "Undreamed Shores," that deals with accepting change instead of resisting it and is the heart of the project. Over the past few years, Frenes has dealt with traumatic circumstances of losing her father and brother within months of each other, losing the family home in the 2007 financial crisis and the unexpected shock of her teenage daughter announcing that she's gay.
"You think you know what the next day, month or ten years will look like, and in a moment something happens that changes everything," explains Frenes. "That's the terror and the beauty of it. Sometimes you go through times that feel like hopeless, dark, dead ends, and they turn out to be passages that lead to a new way of being, or a new understanding. We can't get to that new place without the loving presence of God, who guides us and is our peace in every storm."
The song that Frenes wrote for her children, "Storms," is a perfect example of realizing that difficult times lead to spiritual growth and the Lord will guide them through any uncertain future. Everybody wishes you the sunshine/Like it's magic, some kind of wonder drug/Everybody wishes you more blue skies/Like being happy is good enough/My love, I wish you more/I wish you storms.
Frenes is based in San Francisco and has been writing and recording for several years through her publishing company, Stones Throw Music. Her songs have had placements on The Biggest Loser, America's Next Top Model, Nashville, along with national ads for American Airlines and the Gap and feature films that include the 2016 "Faith of Our Fathers."
Frenes is a former English teacher who loves words, and is an author who released "Flourish: Cultivate, Creativity, Sow Beauty, Live In Color" in 2015. Being an in-demand speaker also, Frenes has developed "Flourish" events in conjunction with the book and they focus on giftedness, nurturing those gifts and finding joy and purpose in life. To keep updated on Frenes' upcoming speaking and performance dates:
For those of you who feel compelled to create--not just for others but for the sake of your own heart-health, I'm excited to be doing two Flourish retreats this Spring for women (sorry, fellas!)
March 17- 19 and April 21-23
Both are in the Nor Cal area, and both still have openings. For registration info go to my SCHEDULE PAGE and click on your preferred date/venue for details. I'd love to see you there!
Staci's new album: Unpathed Waters Undreamed Shores is now available HERE and wherever music is sold.
This new collection of songs joins Staci with her longtime songwriting collaborator and producer, Nate Sabin and is inspired by what Staci calls 'big life changes' including deep personal losses, and ever-shifting roles of parenting and career. Lyrically, the songs rely on the imagery of rivers and oceans to explore the messy, unpredictable and ultimately hopeful process of transformation.
The first line of the title track conveys with cheerful resignation the necessity of letting go of what we can't control: Change is a river and it keeps on rolling/You never get to where you think you're going, This realistic optimism, along with an acknowledgement of the constant tension between disappointment and hope, are themes running through the entire album.
In Storms, a song written for her young-adult children, Staci expresses this tension poignantly: Everybody tries to stay protected from the dangers of this uncharted life/but beauty is never where you expect it and in the ruins treasures hide/So my love, be warned/ I wish you storms.
One reviewer writes, "There's a hopefulness to this record that people need to hear now more than ever. The songs don't shy away from the realities of pain and loss, but there's an underlying reassurance in all of it that says: it's going to be okay."
I'm thrilled to invite you to get involved in the recording and launch of my new album: To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores! Watch the video here, then follow this link to pre-order your copy and pledge for some cool swag and rewards! http://kck.st/24muD2J
Robert Frost said, "A poem begins as a lump in the throat."
So do songs. And I've got a few on the way. Enough for a whole album, as it turns out. At the heart of this new album is not just a lump in my throat but a full-on wail. I've experienced a few Big Changes in recent years, many involving loss. I don't like those kinds of changes. But I can't stop them from happening, any more than I can stop a river from flowing. The process of becoming whole is messy and sometimes painful. But sometimes glorious and beautiful, too.
So I'm writing songs about change: our resistance to it and the work it does in us. The reasons not to fear it. The unexpected acts of grace we experience in the midst of it. And most of all, about the faithfulness of God--the author and finisher of our faith--who is committed to transforming and perfecting us all along the way.
So far, the working title is "To Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores" -- I love the imagery it evokes of our lives as a moving body of water. Lots of song ideas are coming and I'm trying to write them as I receive them. Can't wait to share more SOON!
It's no exaggeration to say that my life feels empty when I'm not reading. I've got stacks of books on my nightstand, desk, coffee table, kitchen countertop, and family room floor. Don't even get me started about the bathroom.
I've usually got 2 or 3 going at once - a novel or short story collection (to escape), a memoir, how-to or self-help (to learn, stretch), and a book of poetry (to be inspired).
Here are my faves from 2015 in no particular order!
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
- Tenth of December (short stories) by George Saunders
- The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Rising Strong by Brene Brown
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue
- M Train by Patti Smith
- Rumi: The Book of Love (poetry) translated by Coleman Barks
Currently I'm reading (and loving) 13 Ways of Looking a short story collection by Collum McCann, who wrote Let the Great World Spin.
Tell me what you're reading -- or have read and loved! I'm looking for some good reading material for the new year!
This month I'm celebrating the one-year anniversary of my book Flourish with the release of the audiobook, narrated by yours truly! I'm thrilled to to offer the book in audio form for those of you who listen during your work commute, when you're exercising, or (like me) when you're cooking dinner or working around the house!
I was in the Santa Cruz Mountains not long ago, speaking and singing at a women’s conference. We were focusing on the theme of loving others in practical ways through our gifts, and something in particular happened during one of the sessions that will remain imprinted in my memory as a beautiful illustration of this practice.
A young Syrian woman (“Lilith”) had been invited to the conference at the last minute, and everyone seemed surprised and delighted that she’d actually come. Just a few days earlier, Lilith had fled her country and found refuge with one of the women attending the conference. As an Orthodox Christian in Syria, she and her loved ones had become targets of violent atrocities from radical terrorist groups in the country’s ongoing civil war. Lilith had witnessed horrors no one her young age should ever see. Despite the further danger it presented, she’d decided to leave her home and her family to find safety here in America. Knowing some of her story, and seeing her sitting through the sessions at the retreat, head covered in a scarf, face bowed toward the floor, broke my heart.
Lilith’s story touched all of us, including Pam, an attendee who was a quilt maker. Beautiful, hand stitched old-fashioned quilts you don’t find too many people making anymore. Pam made quilts for Project Linus, an organization that donates handcrafted quilts and blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Pam told me she’d been making quilts for her friends and family for years, but it was when she’d studied the Parable of the Talents that she was moved to do more. She told me, “I saw how the two servants in the story used what they had and thought, ‘You either do it or you don’t. So I did it!’” I hugged her hard. She gets it.
Pam had just finished a gorgeous, intricately-patterned quilt she’d been inspired to create at one of the past women’s retreats, and had brought it with her. She, along with a few of the leaders, decided to give it to Lilith as a symbol of their comfort and love. Lilith had left her own mother behind in her homeland, and I can’t imagine how frightened and alone she felt. But in her absence I could see there were lots of “mamas” in this community of women who were more than ready to love on her.
During our last session together Lilith was called forward and prayed over, hugged, and wrapped up in that beautiful quilt. I thought of the many hours Pam undoubtedly spent working on it, unaware of the horrendous events that would lead Lilith to this moment—literally surrounded by the beauty and love the quilt embodied. I wept. When they told her it was for her, she wept. We all wept, honking our noses and wiping our eyes.
I thought about the words from 1 Peter 4:10: Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you, as faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God. The words particular and varied suggest to me that there may be as many gifts as there are people and personalities. A quilt wrapped around a ravaged young woman that says, “God is with you, and we’re here for you” is just one practical, loving act of service that demonstrates God’s grace.
Think of all of the multi-talented and variously gifted people you know. The ways they manifest strength, personality, and flavor in what they do. Now think of just as many hurting, suffering people you’re aware of—right now, today. Imagine the ways these gifts could intersect with these needs, and see the wisdom in Paul’s words in this verse. Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given you.
Paraphrasing one of my favorite writers, Frederick Buechner, I believe we find our true calling at that intersection where our greatest passion meets the world’s need. When we feel moved to compassion by something in particular that’s in tune with our personality and sensibility, we ought to pay attention. What breaks our heart is as much an indicator of our calling as what brings us our deepest joy.
It’s the particular things we do, as only we can do them, that we sometimes think are too small or inconsequential compared to the suffering we witness. But to do nothing when we see an opportunity—to serve, to comfort, to ease another’s pain—is to withhold whatever facet of God’s magnificently varied grace our gift offers.
My friends at Rustications Designs have created this durable, hand stamped, silver-on-copper riveted keychain with red heart inlay, inspired by my book FLOURISH.
Every time you grab your keys, I want this piece to remind you of two 'key' principles...
1) We've all been given gifts to sow into our own fields, gifts that will FLOURISH with use.
2) Like this keychain, we're all functional WORKS OF ART---hand made by the Master Creator Himself, created to walk in the good works He's prepared for us! (Ephesians 2:10)
Click on the photo to order yours now, and gift one to a friend!
I am loving this new lyric video by my girl, Abby! I feel the presence of God near the ocean like nowhere else on earth. Just watching this makes me want to hop in my car and drive to the beach. Hope you enjoy!
I thought it might be fitting—in light of the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states—to share about our daughter Abby’s decision to come out, and what it’s taught me about love.
I’ve not talked about this before because I haven’t felt it’s my story to tell. Abby is a strong, articulate young woman making her own choices and discovering her own voice. Until now, I haven’t had a reason to speak into the subject. And I’ve never wanted to simply add to the noise.
But I sense it’s time for more conversations. I believe there are parents desperate to hear from others going through this. Gay teens (and young adults) desperate to be understood. And countless Christians—like me—needing to be nudged toward understanding and away from pointless debates.
For someone with a conservative Christian upbringing I felt pretty enlightened about The Gay Issue by the time I started raising my kids. I had plenty of Christian gay friends, and had come to believe that being gay didn’t exclude someone from experiencing a deep, rich spiritual life.
I also knew there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what it looked like to be a gay Christian. I watched as some of my gay friends struggled with their sexual identity while staying in heterosexual marriages. Others chose celibacy. Some proclaimed their vows to a same-sex partner and have been monogamous for as long as I’ve known them.
And in all of these scenarios I always tried to be The Good Friend. The tolerant, understanding, empathic one. Not a judge-y Christian. I wanted to be open-minded, loving. I thought I was.
In my heart of hearts, though, I’m ashamed to say I had created a moral chasm between my gay friends and me. I was on the right side and they were on the wrong side. If push came to shove, I could quote chapter and verse pointing out how wrong, how broken, how sinful their choices and lifestyles were. It was like having a secret weapon I didn’t have to use. (After all, I didn’t want to hurt anyone.) Just knowing I had it made me feel a little more safe, secure, and righteous.
Then one day five years ago my 17 year-old daughter told me she was gay. She’d been going through a rough, emotional patch and unbeknownst to me, was in the middle of a painful breakup with a girl. She tried but couldn’t hold it in any longer; she told me the whole painful story—including the truth about her sexual identity--and we both cried ‘til we were hoarse.
Suddenly the chasm between ‘Us and Them’ was inconceivable and obscene to me. This was my daughter we were talking about. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. Nestled under my ribs for nine months, near my heart. I couldn’t accept that because she was gay she was somehow cut off from the grace, kindness, and mercy of God. Love plunged me headlong into that chasm and I wrestled hard with my own dark heart, and with the heart of God.
I sought the wisdom of trusted friends and found some of the most tender and valuable insight from my gay friends. I sought answers from Scripture and found differing interpretations of verses about homosexuality. Ultimately, what brought me peace and clarity in this unfolding story of life with our gay daughter was not theology, but the realization that if Abby was wrong, broken and sinful, so was I. She is US. And I am THEM. We’re no different in our need for love, belonging and redemption.
Here’s what I’m learning about love: if it has to shrink down to fit my theology or preconceived ideas it probably isn’t love.
We were cleaning out the garage for a move a couple of years after Abby came out. When I saw the specially-sealed box with my wedding dress in it that I’d been saving for her I sobbed with a force that surprised me. My wedding dress represented everything I wanted for her: marriage and a life with a good man. Kids. Letting go of that dream for her (and for me) was excruciatingly painful, but when it was gone I felt freed to love her better—in whatever future she chose for herself.
When I share our story with some people they say, “I’ll be praying…” and I know they mean praying for her to change. I don’t pray that, or even keep it as a possibility in my mind. Because no matter how I might try and disguise it, the unspoken message it carries is there’s something wrong with you that needs fixing. I won’t do that to her. I don’t think love just tolerates, I think it embraces fully, no strings attached.
I don't want to debate Bible verses with you, or argue about nature vs nurture. Abby’s coming out cracked my heart wide open and forced me to feel the pain of her struggle and my own lack of compassion and understanding. I pray your heart gets broken, too. Sometimes it’s the only way we learn how to love.
The women's summer mini-conference at Calvary Chapel in Portland, OR last weekend was an incredibly encouraging time of music, food, stories, LOTS of laughter and a few tears. It's always a treat to gather with women and talk about the ways in which we can dig deeper into the unique gifts that bring us joy and give life to others. Can't wait to come back to Calvary Chapel in Portland and revisit these beautiful ladies!