Songwriter shares pain but also God’s hope through song

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Sometimes there are no answers and even when there are, they aren’t always easy, Staci Frenes said.

“For me the past five to seven years have been a season of very difficult challenges,” she said. “It was a number of life-altering changes all in a row and we weren’t expecting any of it.”

She lost her home to the housing market crash.

On the heels of that she lost her dad to cancer and her brother to a sudden heart attack. Then her teenage daughter announced she was gay.

“I started imagining life as a river, moving water that we don’t know what’s going to come around the next bend,” Frenes said. “For me it had become a big twisting, curvy, tumultuous ride and I’m only just starting to be able to come up for air.”

And for Frenes processing life equaled songwriting.

“I really felt a nudge in my spirit that this was the time to begin writing,” she said, noting she wanted to write songs “that reflected not only my own despair and pain and confusion but also the incredible hope and presence of God in all of it.”

She wanted it to be raw and real, she said.

“I didn’t want to wrap up every song with a pretty bow but instead write songs that say ‘this is what it’s like to be human,’” Frenes said. “I was inspired by the Psalms and how David was so honest. One minute he was crying out in anguish and the next minute praising and exalting and magnifying God.”

That’s exactly what it’s like to be human, she said. “We trust that God is good but we feel the pain.”

That’s the truth she said she aimed to portray in her ninth independent album, “Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores,” which was recently released.

“To me it really is a beautiful record that represents the soundtrack of my life and that season,” she said. “I’m still learning the songs in my life and still digesting the truths that they convey.”

One song Frenes said has particularly resonated with listeners is called “Storm,” a track she wrote for her young adult children as they try to navigate life for themselves.

“It’s the struggle of wanting to pray, ‘Oh, God — keep them safe,’ but at the same time knowing that it’s in my own struggles that I developed the deepest character traits and relationship with God,” she said. “I want my kids to be kind and compassionate and to have grit and mercy and patience. And I realize those things get developed in the storms.”

So in the song Frenes tells her kids that she wishes them storms — beautiful storms.

“I wish for them the kind of storms that wreck them and make them more beautiful than before,” she said. “It’s a hard song to write as a mom, but if we never go through storms we never become the people we were meant to become.”

In her own life Frenes said she started this album in a place of deep sadness, but as she wrote the songs she realized how much comfort could come from the freedom of being transparent with God.

“He is the Comforter; He is our peace,” she said. “But it’s almost like we can’t experience that from Him until we’re honest about where we are.”

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