Phew. Lately I feel like I’m running just to catch my breath. I know I’m blessed to be able to be on the road so much. I know some new artists would kill for some of the opportunities God has given me this year. I know. And I’m grateful. But all this travel has definitely taken a toll on my heart. I’ve been away from my church home and my community of friends. I’ve had to learn to relish days off the road and find routine in the most un-routine lifestyle there is. Still, I press on with joy remembering that God knows exactly what I need. And He has blessed me immensely by bringing great people into my life from all over the country.
I’ve been praying about what to write to you all this month, and I came across an old journal entry from last summer that I thought I would share with you. I was in a different place last year, but the things I felt were so similar to how I’m feeling lately. I hope it blesses you. Here it is:
“It's amazing to me how God always knows everything, and I know nothing. Really. He is so much greater than I could ever be, and His thoughts are MUCH higher than my thoughts. I feel so tied up sometimes...unable to make any change or do anything about people's feelings or actions or change anything too soon. It’s like I want Fall to be here so badly—changing leaves, Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, scarves and sweaters and opening the windows—but I have to wait for summer to end no matter how badly I want Fall to come. Fall is on the schedule of seasons, and it’s coming when it’s coming. I can’t do anything about it. The same goes for every season I want to experience in life—marriage, motherhood, touring, writing, ministry, etc. All these will come in their appointed time. And even though I want these things but don’t have them all yet, I know I can still be completely satisfied in God. The things He offers me are heavenly, eternal, weighty, lasting, and significant. What I long for on earth, no matter how great, is still temporal.
God, I know You love me so much, and I believe You do want to give me these things I desire, but I don't have a clue how and when You will do them all, and it's silly for me to waste time wondering or worrying over when, why, or how. I must trust You and let go of the need to know. I will let You bring them all. And in the mean time, I will enjoy being where I am. I am learning what contentment means. I don't need all that the world has to offer. I need You, Lord. Thank You for never letting me go but for always holding me close to Your heart. I need You alone. You are my life!”
Well, that pretty much sums it up! God is so good, friends. He loves you, and He’s never left you. Ever. Don’t forget that.
Here I sit in my “office” (it’s really just an extra room upstairs in my house that desperately needs a bright coat of paint) about a week into the release of my debut album, and there is so much going through my head and my heart. I will attempt to share some of it with you. First things first: I am SO excited to have a finished record in my hands and to know that it’s reaching many of you too! This is the first time I’ve had an album release nationwide, and it’s amazing. Dreams do come true, friends. If that’s all you take from me today, take that, because it’s true.
I visited my local Target a few days after the album came out to see if they had it in stock. When I got to the media department, I found the Christian section (small as it may be) and scanned the headings for my name. When I found it, I literally squealed. I let out a second squeal when I saw that there was only one record left! Pretty cool. There was a girl next to me checking out the latest Toby Mac or Tomlin record, and I thought maybe she would notice my squeal, look at the picture on the cover, look back at me, and ask, “Is that you?” Oh, but she didn’t. Nope. Not at all. It didn’t hinder my excitement, but it did make me think.
Humility is not a four-letter word, friends. In fact, it’s a really good word. It’s scary to write this to you because God doesn’t let me write about or talk about or sing about things He doesn’t first make me walk through…and continue to allow me to walk through. For example: I played a CD release show in Orlando the day after my album came out, and over 1,000 people showed up! You don’t understand—this has never happened before. I was thrilled. But I think God allowed me to play my very next show to 70 people just to remind me that it’s not about the size of the crowd. Oh how I wish it were easy to remember that.
I wish every day that the call of God was easier to walk out. I wish I loved traveling as much as some people I know. I wish I wasn’t such a homebody—such a domestic diva who would rather bake cookies and pick out rugs for my new house than get on an early morning flight to go to a city I’ve never been to before. But if all of life were perfectly satisfying, when would I take time to talk to God? If I was 100% fulfilled by my life, I would be so self-sufficient that I wouldn’t need Him—or at least, I would think I didn’t need Him.
I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy or get satisfaction out of what I do. I absolutely LOVE making music and sharing it with people all over the place. I have been enormously blessed, and I am beyond grateful for the call of God on my life. What I’m trying to say is that even when you are in the will of God and are doing exactly what He’s planned for you to do, everything is not a bed of roses. Or as I usually say, everything is not cake and ice cream. (I don’t know where I got that expression from, but it’s entirely possible that I made it up. You can use it if you’d like.) I love my job, and God has equipped me for the task at hand, but I am still human. I still bleed, and I still hurt, and I will never stop needing Him more than anything else.
I’m also learning, through all the changes taking place in my life right now, that transition is a way of life. Change happens. We’re never completely ready for it, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s in the transition that we detest that God celebrates the growth that, if we let it, is taking place inside our hearts. Hallelujah!
So no matter where He has you right now, friends, try to shake off the hurriedness that wants to grab hold of you, and remember that the season you’re in is not a mistake. He will take you to the next place when it’s time for the next place. Live right now with all the fervor you can muster, and expect great things to come.
I hope this wasn’t too all over the place. I told you I had a lot on my mind! J Keep it real, friends. See you soon! -FB
Let me first say how excited I am to meet you. My name is Francesca Battistelli. I know, it’s a tough one. Let’s try it together: Fran-ces-ca Batt-is-telli. Lovely! What’s your name? _______ You can fill it in here, or just say it out loud. Or perhaps I’ll meet you on the road and you can let me know you introduced yourself in this blog. Ha! Well now that we’ve gotten the introductions out of the way, let me say thank you to those of you reading this slice of my life. Hopefully that’s what these blogs will be—slices of true, honest life. The good, the bad, and everything in between.
I think today's slice is mostly good. I went to see a show last night that really inspired me. I've lived in Nashville for over a year now, but I can probably count on one hand the number of live shows I've seen since living in Music City. Crazy right? Well I have some new friends who are really into supporting local musicians, and I've caught their bug. Last night's show gave me a shot of musical adrenaline. I feel like I could write 100 songs today. And for a songwriter, that's a little more rare than you might think, at least in my experience. I've learned that songwriting is a skill that is learned, just like computer programming or algebra. Yes, yes--it's more than just a skill. It requires an enormous amount of creativity and most would argue inspiration too. But what I've learned after a year in Nashville is that if I sit down to write--inspired or uninspired--I will write. And that's a good thing! It is in the discipline of writing that the inspiration comes. And thank God it does. Still, when I hear heart-wrenching, well-crafted songs like I heard last night, I start itching to grab my guitar or sit behind the keys and pour my heart out in a million new songs. And that is invaluable. So today I am more grateful than ever that I get to do what I do for a living.
I’ve been playing and singing and writing songs since I can remember, but it’s only been a year since I’ve been doing it full time. I graduated with an English degree from the University of Central Florida last year, and I’ve been making music exclusively ever since. Praise God! I wrote about 30 songs last year for the album, and only 11 made it (obviously...who wants a record with 30 songs?!). But since we moved out of album-mode, I’ve spent more time on the road and less time in the writing rooms the past few months. Now, don't get me wrong--I love touring. There's nothing like connecting with an audience and with individual people after shows. I love playing music live and seeing what God can do in that kind of charged atmosphere. But deep down, I am particularly attached to songwriting. I think it's because I've always loved the Psalms. I turned 23 this year, and every year on my birthday, my mom reads the Psalm that coincides with that year. This year it's Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." That's only verse 1, but there is so much packed into this piece of Scripture. The Lord is my covering, my protector, my guide. I won't lack or be in need because He will always provide. Wow. I could write a song about that.
What is it about music that strikes a deep chord in all of us? No matter who you are—poet, artist, lawyer, accountant, stay-at-home mom—I know there is a song that moves you. Some piece of music that absolutely tears you up inside, in a good way. I know it’s true because we’re all the same. God created music as a form of worship—it’s passionate, it’s intimate, it’s personal. I’ve written songs about the most gut-wrenching emotions and moments in my life. They haven’t all mentioned God’s name, but songs, for me, are worship no matter what they’re about. Obviously, that’s not true for every musician in the world. It’s evident that plenty of artists are making music for their own glory. So what distinguishes the worshipers from the non-worshipers? I believe it comes down to this verse… “the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David was an imperfect sinner who was anointed King of Israel because he had a heart after God. I think I've always loved the Psalms because they are true slices of David's life. (I know, David didn't write all 150 psalms, but he wrote a lot of them, so I'm focusing on him. It's my blog, I can do that. Ha!) He wrote about his frustrations, his despair, his trouble, and his great joy. But it always came back to his heart. His heart was captured by the Lord, and no one could rip it out of God's hands. That's what made him a worshiper, even when he was writing about the dark and difficult places in his life. Because truly, it's in those places that God meets us in the most tender and personal way. And the songs that come from those places are usually the ones that minister the most.
So be encouraged, my friends. Love God, love people...love music that comes from hearts that are ablaze for Christ. Here’s to more slices of life! -Francesca