I wrote “Disarm” to remind myself that the point isn’t to win arguments. That to have honest conversations—and live in peace—with those who don’t share my perspective I have to let go of my arsenal, and my defense mechanisms, to listen, learn, and let love have the last word.
On a warm Friday evening, June 1, 2019, Staci Frenes & Band teamed up with the high school ministry YoungLife to play a benefit concert in the Livermore Wine Country. The band performed a set of old favorites, recent songs and cover tunes amid the backdrop of a setting sun over vineyards that stretched in every direction.
Frenes’s personal connection with YoungLife runs deep. “When I was a 12-year-old, painfully shy wallflower who had just moved from Grand Forks, North Dakota to California I was invited by my 7th grade gym teacher Miss Lopez to go to a YoungLife winter camp where I heard for the first time that God loved ME,” Frenes told the crowd “That one invitation changed the entire trajectory of my life.”
Concertgoers raised $25,000 to send kids from area public junior high and high schools to similar camps like the one Frenes attended. Talk about full circle, says Frenes, who also said she was grateful to be a part of this life-changing work.
Staci will be leading worship at the Body, Mind and Spirit Women’s Conference on April 27, 2019 at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, CA. Inspiring speakers, luncheon, boutique and more will make this a soul-nourishing getaway in the beautiful Santa Cruz area.
Same day registration and check-in available HERE
I read some great books in 2018, so I thought I’d share my favorite non-fiction picks with you. Book nerds, you’re welcome!
Tell Me More : Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning To Say - Kelly Corrigan
Short, profound, hilarious, heart-wrenching and practical. I read it in two sittings, couldn’t put it down.
Everything Happens For a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved - Kate Bowler
Kate is a new mom, a divinity professor, and has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Gorgeous writing, unflinching honesty about how we can live well in the face of unanswered questions.
Learning to Walk in the Dark - Barbara Brown Taylor
Barbara writes eloquently, poetically, about a depth of seeing, a grounded way of being, that we can’t learn anywhere else but in the dark. It’s a gift of a book.
What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything - Rob Bell
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again - Rachel Held Evans
Both are refreshingly honest, human conversations about this messy, beautiful, inspiring book I’ve grown up with and love so much.
Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole and Living Free From Shame - Vicky Beeching
Ever since my daughter came out several years ago, I’ve been drawn to stories about real people navigating the world of faith and the LGBTQ topic. This is such an important book for Christians to gain a more human perspective on a complex topic.
Out of Sorts: Making Peace With An Evolving Faith - Sarah Bessey
Sarah’s from a pentecostal background, and talks about the challenge of abandoning some of the teachings and practices she grew up with while staying true to the heart of why she’s a Jesus follower. It resonates so deeply with my own experience.
The Art of Memoir - Mary Karr
Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott
I set out to write a memoir of sorts myself in 2018 and wanted to read a little about the craft by a couple of the best. Mary Karr is technical, shrewd, insightful. This book, along with the ageless wisdom and humor of the relevant and profound Anne Lamott, were incredibly helpful in my own process of writing.
We're excited to release the new music video for Staci's song "Storms" this week! The video captures the timely, poignant theme of hardship as a necessity for transformation and growth. A timely message, as it follows on the heels of some of the worst storms our nation has seen. Filmed at the iconic Sutra Baths Ruins in San Francisco, the video was filmed and directed by Staci's daughter, Abby and it features stunning footage of the area's rocky cliffs, coastline fog and the Golden Gate Bridge.
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!