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  • Vacation Bible School 2014

Tag Archives: Francesca Battistelli

  • The Franny Facebook Takeover

    Posted on April 14, 2014 by Family Christian

    Join us on Thursday, April 24th (6pm EST) as Franny takes over our Facebook page.

    Are you joining us?


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Francesca Battistelli

  • Blog Summary for March 2014

    Posted on March 28, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!

    Redeeming Love from Francine Rivers

    Alex Stafford was just like Mama said. He was tall and dark, and Sarah had never seen anyone so beautiful. Even dressed in dusty riding clothes, his hair damp with perspiration, he was like the princes in the stories Mama read. Sarah’s heart beat with wild joy and pride. None of the other fathers she saw at Mass compared to him.

    He looked at her with his dark eyes, and her heart sang. She was wearing her best blue frock and white pinafore, and Mama had braided her hair with pink and blue ribbons. Did Papa like the way she looked? Mama said blue was his favorite color, but why didn’t he smile? Was she fidgeting? Mama said to stand straight and still and act like a lady. She said he would like that. But he didn’t look pleased at all.

    “Isn’t she beautiful, Alex?” Mama said. Her voice sounded strange…tight, like she was choking. “Isn’t she the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen?”

    Read the whole book excerpt here.

    The Unstoppable Kirk Cameron

    Kirk Cameron wrote, "It's easy to get excited about your faith when things are going well in your life. But when your whole world comes crashing down on you, the questions start: 'Where is God when I need him most? Why do bad things happen to good people?' Unstoppable is a journey, based on a true story, that has become the most personal and transparent project I have ever made regarding my faith."

    I recently had a video chat with the man-formally-known-as Mike Seaver. I wanted to know what was behind his latest DVD, Unstoppable. What follows are his honest answers.

    Read the whole interview here.

    The Life, Legacy and Music of Bill Gaither

    The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual… an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.

    An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time… yet. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.

    That's where it all started.

    Read the full interview here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    I was born in Houston, Texas to essentially a single parent household. We moved from Houston to Denver, and then, just because my mother was single and was just kind of struggling to make ends meet, I would stay with my grandmother quite often in San Diego, California. So between Texas, California, and Denver, those were the places I bounced around. I was just a sponge. I picked up so much in all that time. Obviously not having a strong male influence or role model, I gravitated to anyone who would pay attention. Most of the time those were terrible influences [who] influenced me to run in the wrong direction quite often. I grew up with a great sense of insecurity in figuring out what I was and where I belonged. Not growing up in church didn’t make it any easier. So I pretty much wrestled through that my whole life until my senior summer in high school. I got into a lot of trouble and [things] really exploded. I had to say “God, I need your help.” That’s really when I began to sense that God was drawing me and [I] later became a Christian after hearing the Gospel.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us.

    Read the full q&a here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses

    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now

    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and

    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet

    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine

    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s

    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.

    “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in

    the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole

    would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read all the q&a's here.

    In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day from Mark Batterson

    Locking Eyes with Your Lion

    You are responsible forever for what you have tamed.

    --Antoinede Saint-Exubery

    There is an obscure passage in Scripture that I doubt any Sunday school teacher has ever assigned as a memory verse. It wasn’t exegeted in any of the systematic theology classes I took in seminary. It has absolutely no bearing on any major biblical doctrines. You may have read it a few times in a one-year Bible, but it probably didn’t even make a blip on your radar screen.

    Buried in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, the twenty-third chapter, the twentieth and twenty-first verses, is one of the most inconceivable and inspirational passages in Scripture:

    Read the full book excerpt here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.

    Read the full interview here.

    Shane Harper on Living Out the Gospel

    Shane Harper established himself as an artist with a quadruple threat—singer, actor, dancer, and songwriter. He began working as a professional dancer in the entertainment industry when he was just 13, appearing as a principal dancer in High School Musical 2, and in Nickelodeon's show, "Dance on Sunset".

    Shane transitioned easily into acting, and is recurring on the hit Disney Channel show, "Good Luck Charlie", for all 4 seasons. He guest starred on "Wizards of Waverly Place", and "So Random". He also guest starred in a 4 episode arc for the scripted MTV series, "Awkward."

    Shane has a principal role in the feature film, GOD'S NOT DEAD and recently, I sat down with him to talk about faith, Hollywood, books music and coffee.

    Read the full interview here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before.

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Read the full interview here.

    So which blog post was your favorite? Is there an author or an artist that you would like us to interview? Leave a comment below and let us know.

     


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Francesca Battistelli, Nick Vujicic, Capital Kings, Bill Gaither, Skillet, Mark Batterson, Francine Rivers, Shane Harper, Kirk Cameron

  • He Knows My Name - Behind the Song

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Francesca Battistelli returns with her fourth album, If We’re Honest. Featuring her radio hit debut song “Write Your Story,” this CD perfects the soulful, pop sound that began with her gold-certified debut, My Paper Heart, and its best-selling follow-up, Hundred More Years. If We’re Honest is full of bright, upbeat songs and personal, thought-provoking ballads that will inspire, encourage and challenge you in your daily walk with God, and ultimately point you toward the hope that is only found in Him.

    In the video below, Franny talks about her new song He Knows My Name.

    What do you think of it? Are you excited about her new album?


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Francesca Battistelli

  • Coming soon from Francesca, MercyMe and the Robertsons

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Read our interview
    If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli
    If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli
    Welcome To The New by MercyMe
    The Women of Duck Commander by Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica & Lisa Robertson with Beth Clark
    Good Call by Jase Robertson with Mark Schlabach
    Save 33% on “Duck” items 4/1–4/5 Plus, enter to win the grand prize! Learn more about Duck Days><br />
    The iDisciple app makes it easy to receive personalized Christian content.  Sign up.

    This post was posted in Music, Books and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Kay Robertson, Duck Dynasty, iDisciple, Jase Robertson

  • Blog Summary for February 2014

    Posted on February 27, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!


    Diving Deep with Casting Crowns

    Like a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8) we should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.

    I caught up with Mark, Melody and Juan from Casting Crowns at a summer festival this year. I wanted them to feel me in on their new album and what has been going on in their life as a band.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Read the full q&a here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    I had gotten into trouble my senior summer. Financial trouble, trouble with other people, trouble with women – I was just running myself into a dead end. So I’m thinking, “I’m seventeen, let me do the mature, adult thing, and go to church.” Grandma was a Christian so the roots of the foundation I had established of the Christian God were through my grandmother. And that was where I needed to go. By grace, there was a young lady that I went to high school with that invited me to a Bible study. I went, and I had never seen Christians who dressed like me or talked like me, so I thought they were Martians from another planet! When I saw them, I said, “Oh you guys are human!” They loved me genuinely and that’s really what started it.

    To read the full interview, click here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full q&a here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    Read our full interview here.

    Saying "I Love You"

    Many people say that Valentines Day is a made up holiday, put in place by the greeting card companies of the world. Well, truth be told, I don't care. It is a day to help us remember to say "I love you" to those around us. Taking the time each day to show love is certainly important, but it's also fun to get caught up in a holiday such as this day.

    So how do you say "I love you" to someone you love? Perhaps it's packing two cookies in the kid's school lunch. Maybe it's a surprise delivery of flowers for your spouse at work. Maybe it's even a call to your mother-in-law. How do you say "I love you?"

    Read the full blog post here.

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith. With

    Read the full blog post here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"

    Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.

    Read the full interview here.

    Matt Maher. On Being Christian.

    Matt Maher's newest album, All The People Said Amen," fuses the popularity of his vibrant live show with several new studio cuts, offering fans an assortment of writing and performance styles.

    “This project,” offers Maher, “is a real collage of who I am musically. You’ll hear intimate worship songs, anthemic praise tunes often sung and shouted aloud together in unison, and celebratory songs that inspire the whole church.”

    I chatted with Matt on cold winter day.  What follows is a conversation on who Matt is, what he hopes to accomplish and how he just wants to sing about Jesus.

    Read the full interview here.

    So which blog post was your favorite? Is there an author or an artist that you would like us to interview? Leave a comment below and let us know.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Francesca Battistelli, Nick Vujicic, Casting Crowns, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Matt Maher, Skillet, Sheila Walsh

  • Shedding Light On the Story

    Posted on February 24, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John van der Veen

    Several years ago, when Matthew West invited people to share their stories to serve as inspiration for an upcoming album, he had no idea it would be the start of an amazing journey that would forever change his music, ministry and life. Armed with more than 10,000 stories from fans all over the world, the floodgates of inspiration opened and West crafted a landmark album, The Story of Your Life. Suddenly people were given a voice and a chance for their stories to be heard. It started a powerful wave that continues with even greater momentum on West’s new album Into the Light.

    “On every level it has been the single most fulfilling thing that I’ve had a chance to be a part of in my career,” West says. “It’s just the added element of emotion that I feel by having a chance to be a part of this person’s story and to share their story with an audience. Something really special is taking place and I’m along for the ride for as long as it needs to go. As long as those stories come in, I think I’m going to keep making these kinds of records.”

    I ran into Matthew at a recent festival and we decided to talk over what has been happening in his life.

    John:               Matthew, on your album The Story of Your Life you had letter after letter, story after story filling you with ideas for a new record. You went back to all those letters that were written to you and continued to go through that process of writing songs based on what people were telling you.

    Matthew:       Sort of, yes.  Well, what’s interesting is instead of going back to all the stories that I had read, the stories never stopped coming in, and so I really didn’t plan on making more than one record of songs inspired by peoples’ stories, but what happened is, after the first 10,000 or so came in, I release The Story of Your Life, which had songs like “My Own Little World” and “Strong Enough.

    What I began to notice is that as one story is told, two more were coming out and saying, “Okay, I want to tell my story now,” and people just began to come out of the woodwork, and at my concerts, it still happens now, at the end of a concert, I’ll go back to the bus with a handful of handwritten stories, and I began to just really feel it press upon me that what was happening by not just putting out a CD, but to put out a CD of songs really putting a new emphasis on, hey, these are the every day true stories of peoples’ lives was beginning to stir something within people, and it really kind of began to refine what I feel my calling is, which is to encourage and empower people to realize that God has a unique one-of-a-kind story that He’s telling through each and every life.

    In the last three years, we’ve received well over 25,000 stories.  In fact, I was just showing my friend this morning some new stories that had just come in, so I can read stories every day, and in many ways, this has just become … it’s not really volume two or volume three.  This is just part of my process now, and I've made a promise that as long as people share their stories with me, I’ll read their stories and turn as many of them as I can into hopefully inspiring music that will challenge and inspire other people.

    John:               Matthew, when read the stories, do you ever feel like a huge weight on your shoulders?  I mean, do you feel like, “Oh my goodness, these people are just pouring their hearts out to me.”  How do you …

    Let me just backtrack a year.  A friend of mine, he works in the ER, and there is a process you kind of have to go through as … things, for different patients that were kind of coming in that didn’t go the way the family were all hoping it would go.  I’m sure you encounter those same type of situations where you’re getting a story that is just like … this is wrong.

    Matthew:       Yes.

    John:               How do you deal with that?

    Matthew:       I think it’s funny you mentioned someone who works in a hospital, or I think at one point in time, we could all say we’ve had a doctor that maybe didn’t have the best bedside manner, or maybe they seemed cold or distant, and I think I've begun to understand how maybe there is that need for a doctor to separate his own personal emotions from a heartbreaking story because he’s seeing it so often.

    And yet, what I've noticed is in my reading, as a songwriter, you’re not a good songwriter if you’re not completely connected with all of your heart when you’re writing that song.  I’m not really afforded that luxury of detaching myself from any emotion.  I have to be running full-speed ahead towards that and embracing what people are writing to me, and I think the only way I can really answer how that’s been able to happen is just I feel like God has really given me different eyes to see these stories.

    What I mean by that is the vast majority of the stories that come in, I’m not going to lie … people will … what I've realized is when you ask somebody “What’s your story?  What was the defining moment in your story?” very few people are going to point to the money in their bank account or their college diploma or what kind of puppy they had when they were growing up.  Instead, they’re going to talk about some of the most difficult moments of their lives or their battle with cancer, or their financial trouble, or their marital trouble, or the abuse they suffered as a child.

    You’re exactly right.  One by one, I've read stories that can be seen as heartbreaking, and yet somehow, some way, and this is no joke, in every story I read, what I can sense is God is still at work, and just in the fact that that person wrote to me, even if that person is writing to me saying, “I’m struggling to see where there’s any hope in my story,” the fact that they’re writing means that they’re searching, means that they’re reaching out, and so while it may be at different stages, God is at work in each and every one of these stories, and his work is not finished yet.

    I really feel like my job is to extract the hope from these stories and to be accurate and authentic with what I’m writing about.  For example, there’s a song on my CD.  It’s called “Two Houses” inspired by a teenage girl who’s dealing with the reality that her Dad just up and walked out, and now she’s having to go back and forth and learn what life and love and trust and all those words are starting to kind of be redefined for her.  Well, I’m not going to just tie a bow on that story and just make it neatly wrapped like the end of a Brady Bunch episode, but I want to be authentic and real and genuine, and yet just as real with the pain, I want to be just as real and authentic with the hope that I believe we all have no matter where we’re at in our stories, and that hope comes from one source, and that’s the hope we have in Christ that he somehow, some way, works all things for the good.

    John:               So life is not summed up in a Brady Bunch episodes.

    Matthew:       It is not, and I’ll tell you what, I’m 25,000 stories and counting.  I’m reading, and I’m realizing that, man, people walk in the doors of the church, and everybody’s trying real hard to act like they’ve got it all together.  These stories I've read, I didn’t advertise that I was collecting stories in People magazine.  There were no posters in bars downtown.  These were people who walk into family Christian stores.  These are people who listen to Christian radio stations or go to church on Sunday, and yet they’re carrying some pretty heavy weight.  They’re carrying some difficult parts of their story, and many of them are struggling to figure out how to move on and how to find healing for those broken places in their story.

    In many ways, I feel like these songs that are coming out of the experience have become sort of a soundtrack for broken people and kind of realizing that, man, there’s community here, and it’s not the fake “everybody’s got it all together” community.  What if it was, “hey, we don’t have it all together, but we all have a story to tell, and we realize that God loves us, and he's not finished with our story yet.”  That’s what fires me up to make music this way.

    John:               You’re a dad … are you a dad?

    Matthew:       I am a dad, yeah, two kids.

    John:               You’re married.

    Matthew:       Yes.

    John:               You’re …

    Matthew:       You’ve got … like how many kids do you have?  Like 12?

    John:              You’re a successful singer/songwriter.  You’re nationally known.  Your face is on a can of Pepsi (so is Franny's, Matt Maher's, and TobyMac's - but still!).

    Matthew:       (laughs) Yes, it is.  I’m infamous, as the Three Amigos once said.

    John:               Infamous.  When … talk to the average Joe who’s just … you know, he's living life, and maybe he’s married, maybe he’s not.  Maybe he’s a single dad, single mom, whatever, and college student, just trying to get through life, and looks at you and says, “Oh yeah, Matthew West, man, he's got it all together.  If only I could be like that guy.”  I mean, how do you live your life on a day-to-day basis, because we know that, you know, being up on stage is not necessarily … that's not life.  I mean, it is who you are, but yet at the same time, how does someone like in your shoes pursue Jesus.

    Matthew:       To start off answering that question honestly, I would say that I've lived much of my life trying to present an image to people of not imperfection but that I've got it all together.  So here's my story.  I grew up as a preacher’s kid and felt an intense pressure as early as I can remember from the people in the church who were looking at me and maybe holding me up to a higher level of expectation, a higher standard, and I constantly just felt like I was living in a glass bubble, and everybody was watching me.

    No lie.  I got to this point where like I felt like I could manipulate and act a certain way.  I knew how to look and talk and act and say all the right things.  I knew that if I … I wrote about this in my book recently that I knew if I raised my hand to worship during the slow song in church that because I was in the front row that the ladies … yeah, everybody behind me would go, “Oh, okay, he’s okay.”

    I saw that as a way of, like, one, that’s a dangerous path to be on, because the authenticity continues to get edged out of your life, and the presentation becomes much more important, much more significant, and then that’s just an open door for sin to creep into your life and for you to realize that you can cover and that you don’t have to be the real deal as long as everybody sees you as the real deal.

    Honestly, reading the stories that I've read, they’ve actually challenged me.  Instead of me getting up on stage and wanting to present myself to somebody who’s got it all together, because guess what?  That preacher’s kid grew up to become a professional singer.  And what do we do?  We’re on stage all the time.  And what do we do when we’re on stage?  Air our dirty laundry?  No, we want to sing well, and we want to look good, and we want to perform.  We want people to applaud us.  These stories have begun to challenge me to realize that’s not what it’s about.  It’s about being authentic, it’s about being real, and it’s about telling your story.

    One of the things that I share from the stage is one of the things that God’s begun to teach me in my life over and over again is that a long time in my life I've spent holding up parts of my story to God, and saying, “God, here, you can use this part of me,” and so I would pick what I think are the best parts of me, and I would put only that under his care.  What these peoples’ stories have taught me and how good things have come out of broken beginnings is that all the while God’s looking at me and everybody else who tries to make everybody think they’re perfect and saying, “I know about your good stuff.  I’m the one who gave it to you.  Give me all the rest.  Give me the worst mistake you’ve ever made.  Give me the junk in your story and watch me work something amazing out of it.”

    I guess one of the songs I’ll be singing on stage tonight is called we are the broken.  That’s kind of like my anthem of going, “I don’t want the audience to look at me and see someone who’s got his act together.  I want them to see somebody who’s realized that we’re all the same, we’re all broken, and yet God somehow isn’t done with us, and when we show the world that we’re broken, the worlds not going to look at us and applaud us anymore.  They’re going to look at God and say, “Wow, God changed his life?  Maybe he can do the same with mine.”

    John:               Why do you think people are so apt to putting on a mask?  Why do you think followers of Jesus … we can understand that maybe somebody who does not know Christ, why they would put on a mask, but I mean, the Gospel calls us to be secure in Christ, but yet at the same time, we are scared to death to expose ourselves to our brothers and sisters in the church?  Why is that?

    Matthew:       For one, I think that’s one of the reasons why somebody who doesn’t have a personal relationship with God would be turned off by the church, and I've heard a lot of people say that.  It’s like, “Man, Christians are two-faced,” or “They’re not authentic,” and I think we could all agree that there’s times where I see more what looks like authenticity in the world.

    John:               Right.

    Matthew:       People that aren’t going to church because they’re not claiming to be anything, do you know what I mean?  I think one of the things that my dad always shared with me that has stuck with me my whole childhood and now where I’m at today because I grew up in church, and at times, I would be hurt or offended or turned off when I saw somebody who out of their mouth was claiming to be a Christian but by their lifestyle and the way they acted and the way maybe they treated my dad or my parents, they didn’t back it up.  It felt like it was two-faced or a double standard.  My dad always said to me, “People inside the church, they’re just as flawed.  The church is filled with broken people who don’t have it all together, and so you can’t let your relationship with God be defined by other Christians.  It has to be between you and God, because people will always let you down.”

    Yet, I think one of the things that I notice, and I travel around churches all the time is I see that sign on the door that says “Come as you are,” and yet when you walk inside, it oftentimes doesn’t feel like the people really believe that.  I think that’s one of the missions that I’m on in having people tell their story is that one of the enemies greatest tricks in our lives and tools is isolation.  If he can get us to feel like, one, you’re messed up, and two, you’re the only one.  If you get that in your head, you start to go back into the shadows, and you start to retreat, and what you do is you retreat in the shadows, but you still have to function in every day life.

    You come to church, but your heart, your soul’s still in the shadows, and you clean yourself off so that nobody will know that you’re in the shadows, and there that isolation goes, and I know that all too well, and that's why I feel like I’m encouraging people to tell their story because I feel like when one person steps up and says, “All right, here's my story, no more mask,” it draws other people out into that light just like that person saying, “I want to find the freedom that that person has.”  How else do you explain 10,000 stories becoming 25,000 stories, becoming what I believe is going to be a million stories?

    It’s not just about a million stories.  It’s about the fact that we’re going from a story-haver to a story teller.  We’re going from being a Christian to being a disciple, you know, to being somebody who believes in you’re head that you’ve been set free to somebody who’s willing to really step into the light and say, “I’m so set free and I've found such freedom in my life because of God that I’m willing to let him even use the not-so-good parts of my life.”

    When that starts happening, a powerful thing takes place in our world, I believe.

    Here is one last story to illustrate that, and it’s a story of a woman named Jenny, and she wrote to me, and she said, “I've never told this to anybody before, but I heard you in a conference talking about telling your story and finding freedom.”  And she said, “Thirty-five years ago, I was a scared teenager, and I got pregnant, and my boyfriend at the time didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby, and I was too scared to tell anybody because I was afraid I'd be judged.”

    So she terminated the pregnancy and never told anybody.  For 35 years, never told anybody, but that isolation made her feel separated from God because she just felt so much shame in her life, and she somehow just felt like, “I need to set this free,” and maybe she felt like sending her story to a complete stranger would be a safe thing.  In fact, I called her and I said, “Why did you send it to me?” and she said, “I never thought you’d actually read it.”  But I did, and I wrote a song about it called “The Healing Has Begun.”

    That woman in the progression in her life to me is a beautiful example of what can happen to all of when we stop wearing the mask and when we step out of isolation and begin to seek out community and mostly communion with God, is now, she just finished her training, and she’s a counselor at the crisis pregnancy center in the town where she lives in.  You see how God is uniquely redeeming her story.  That’s a full circle.  No more mask.  No more isolation.  After 35 years of feeling weighed down, she’s found freedom and joy, and now she’s seeing a purpose even for that most difficult part of her story.

    That’s an example of what I’m hoping to encourage people, and not just other people but myself to walk in that and to realize that, man, God’s going to change your story.  He's going to heal your most broken parts, and he's going to use it in powerful way if you'll let him.

    John:               Awesome.

    For more from Matthew West, click here.

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Matthew West, Francesca Battistelli, Matt Maher

  • Today's New Releases (2/11/14)

    Posted on February 11, 2014 by John van der Veen



    The middle of February brings out some great new releases. New books, new music and new DVDs. There is enough here for your whole family to enjoy, for personal growth or to give as a gift of encouragement.

    WOW Gospel 2014

    Filled with songs that lived at the top of the gospel radio charts in 2013, this double CD set is chock full of hits, including songs from Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs, Deitrick Haddon, Lecrae and more. WOW Gospel 2014 is a must-have for fans of modern worship music, and it's perfect for singing along to all year!

    Don't forget the companion DVD as well.

    Grace Unplugged

    In Grace Unplugged, Grace Trey aspires to more than just singing at her church, where the worship leader is her former pop-star father. With the help of Mossy, her dad's former manager, Grace records a cover version of her dad's old Top-10 hit, runs off to Los Angeles and begins to experience the kind of fame she's always dreamed about.

    Stardom offers Grace a hit song - but will the fame be too much for Grace to handle and blind her faith? Or will she rediscover it? Starring actress and musician A. J. Michalka, Grace Unplugged is an inspiring story about chasing your dreams.

    Soundtrack for the movie can be found here.

    The Storm Inside

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith.

    In The Storm Inside, you will find strength in the most profound truths - that you are always a child of God no matter how you feel. This simple teaching will be the difference between a life of joy and one of despair. Sheila powerfully reminds us that God offers no guarantee of a life without storms, but He does provide the strength and grace to make it through them.

    Glory

    When a band’s first priority is to declare God’s glory through song, it doesn’t worry too much about fitting into one particular genre of music. Perhaps that’s why some fans have alternating definitions of Kutless, the best-selling rock . . . , no, worship . . . no, rock/worship hit makers from Portland, OR. On the inspiring new studio album Glory, its eighth with BEC Recordings, a perfect balance is struck as lead singer Jon Micah Sumrall, guitarists James Mead and Nick de Partee, and drummer Kyle Peek celebrate with electrifying abandon not their collective identity but the mighty name of Jesus.

    “Our goal with Glory was simply to worship louder and clearer than ever before,” de Partee says of the amped up and sometimes stripped down set. “We felt led to create original songs that could be sung on an acoustic guitar in a Bible study or in an arena with the masses shouting God’s praises.”

    Kutless kicks off 2014 with Glory, featuring the single "You Alone." Continuing their transformation from "new band" to established act that began with 2012's Believer, the album showcases the band's massive range, featuring a more mature tone and stunning performances.

    Crash the Chatterbox

    Inside your head and heart is a chatterbox. Its lies are keeping you from realizing your God-given potential. What can you do about it? In Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God's Voice Above All Others, Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement. He asks, "What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?"

    With personal stories, inspiring examples, and practical strategies, Pastor Furtick shows you how to silence the lies and embrace the freeing affirmation of God. You'll learn how to crash the chatterbox - and hear God’s voice above all others.

    City Harbor

    City Harbor presents their debut, self-titled album, featuring their first radio single, "Come However You Are." The duo of Molly Reed and Robby Earle brings a unique creative, organic pop sound, which skillfully showcases their songwriting, dual lead vocals and playing. The songs on City Harbor come from a desire to know Christ and to make Christ known to the world around.

    Besides the new releases, there are plenty of prebuy opportunities as well. New music from MercyMe and Francesca Battistelli. New DVD from VeggieTales and a new movie from Kirk Cameron. Click here to see them all.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe, VeggieTales, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, WOW, Grace Unplugged, Sheila Walsh, Steven Furtick, City Harbor, Kirk Cameron

  • Blog Summary for January 2014

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of January.

    MercyMe's Shake - Q&A

    MercyMe's new album, Welcome to the New releases later this year. Their first single from the album, Shake, hit stations already and is climbing the charts.

    We thought we would ask a few questions about Shake and their new album.

    Your new song, Shake, is a bit of different path for traditional MercyMe singles. What is the inspiration behind the song?

    Read the full q&a by clicking here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    Lecrae, how much was music or the arts part of your life growing up? Did you realize early on that there was some talent in your life, or did that come later?

    "Absolutely. I was a latchkey kid so I would sit at home for hours while my mother was at work. I had to use my imagination. I’d sit in front of the television so much. Sometimes she would allow me to watch television and she would come home to see if it was warm so I had to figure out what I could do with my time. It just became an outlet to start writing, experimenting, and just trying to be creative. I knew I had a passion for the arts, but we didn’t recognize it. It was one of my fifth-grade teachers who recognized it and suggested to my mother that I be put in a special class. That special class led me to audition for a special school so I actually went to a performing arts middle school for a couple years. That’s really where I started to hone my writing skills."

    Read the full interview here.

    Free Wallpaper for Your Mobile, Tablet or Computer

    February is also a month for love. We would be amiss if we didn't mention Valentines Day and what that stands for. As followers of Jesus, Valentines Day is much more than a once-in-three-hundred-sixty-five-days type of holiday. For we have been loved well, so we are compelled to do the same to all around us. AND not just on one day, but every day.

    Look below for some free wallpaper to decorate your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. These are completely free to download. Just right click on the size that you need and you will be all set. To find out which size you need, click here.

    Both images are taking from our Coupon Calendars that we sell online and in our stores. Click here to find the Growth in Faith Calendar and the He Refreshes My Soul Calendar.

    See the whole selection of sizes here.

    What if the Trouble Is in Me?

    "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33b (NIV)

    When Barry and I were first married I came up with a nickname for him: "Velcro-Boy."

    He earned that title because every time I turned around, there he was. In the beginning, I thought I might suffocate from lack of oxygen!

    If I went out for an hour to buy groceries he would call me: "Hey honey, where are you?"

    "I'm at the grocery store ... remember, I told you right before I left."

    I might on a good day make it to the cereal aisle before the phone rang again: "I'm missing you. Are you almost done?"

    I'm sure some of you are thinking what a blessed woman I am. But while it's lovely to have someone enjoy your company, I subscribe to the old adage that, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." My heart was never going to have that opportunity!

    Read this whole devotional from Sheila Walsh here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us. Read the full blog post here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.
    “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in
    the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole
    would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full q&a here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.


    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Read the full interview here.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael, what do you think that the lack of family type of entertainment has done to the family unit, you know, the idea of sitting down and all watching stuff together on a regular basis? What do you think that that causes in a family dynamic?

    "It's hard to probably calculate exactly what the repercussions are. I can't imagine it not having some detrimental effect to the family. I mean, technology is amazing, the way we use it, the way we can quickly disseminate information back and forth between each other. But at the same time, obviously, there is this fragmented aspect of being together, where everybody is in the same room and yet not really present with each other. They're on their phone and tweeting, or emailing or texting their friends. It's definitely breaking down the family unit in a way. It doesn't allow for intimacy to really grab hold of families. And also, I can't imagine that the increased and different content isn't breaking down the family unit as well. It clearly is. The messaging that's coming out of a lot of these shows sometimes is sexually promiscuous or shows a lack of respect for authority whether it be for parents or teachers or whoever. I mean, these are messages that our children are being bombarded with constantly--no holds barred. It seems nothing is really off limits. If you advocate limits, then you're against freedom of speech. It's always spun off in a very kind of negative tone."

    Read the full interview here.

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith. Sheila shares insightful biblical teaching, intimate stories of her own storms and the chaos other women have faced and overcome.

    Read the full blog post and watch a video from Sheila here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.

    Read our full interview with Phil here.

    If you like these blog posts. Make sure that you check out our blog regularly. Or add our blog url to your blog reader.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Interviews, Proverbs 31, Alex Mosoiu, Dan Hubka and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Nick Vujicic, Capital Kings, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr., Wallpapers, Sheila Walsh

  • New Releases for January 28

    Posted on January 28, 2014 by John van der Veen


    Ahhh, the doldrums of mid-winter are over. At least that's what it seems like in our stores today. There are a slew of new releases available. Many people of all ages have been waiting for these. From Casting Crowns to Kirk Cameron. From a modern day parable of the story of Joseph to a Bible that points to Jesus throughout the whole book.

    Here are the new releases for today, January 28, 2014.

    Casting Crowns - Thrive

    So many of us today are simply surviving. But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive! We should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.

    Thrive, the seventh studio album from Casting Crowns, is packed with the band’s signature style of songs about real life that redefine our identity in Christ, pointing us to our purpose from Him so that we may carry it out through Him. Featuring 12 brand new songs, including the lead single "All You've Ever wanted," the album centers on the themes of "Reaching Out" and "Digging Deep."

    Jamie Grace - Ready to Fly

    In 2012, Jamie Grace received her first GMA Dove Award - for New Artist of the Year - and now she returns with her second album, Ready to Fly. The record's first single, "Beautiful Day," continues her message of staying strong and experiencing life to the fullest. Ready to Fly is about waiting, yet while you’re waiting being ready to move - ready to fly - when the timing is right.

    The Jesus Bible

    Jesus isn’t just found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His presence can be felt throughout the whole Bible, even in Genesis. The Jesus Bible contains the complete New International Version (NIV) with daily study helps that point to Jesus and show how he fulfilled the prophecies for the Messiah found in the Old Testament.

    Kirk Cameron - Unstoppable

    Kirk Cameron presents the follow-up to his bestselling film, Monumental. In Unstoppable, Kirk takes you on a personal and inspiring journey to better understand the biggest doubt-raiser in faith: Why? He goes back to the beginning - literally - as he investigates the origins of good and evil and how they impact our lives and our eternities.

    Reminding us that there is great hope, Unstoppable creatively asks and answers the age-old question: Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?

    Seasons of Gray - A Modern Day Joseph Story

    Seasons of Gray is a modern day retelling of the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. This uplifting feature film is quality family entertainment with strong morals and an enduring message of hope.

    What man intends for evil, God intends for good . This simple, yet powerful, message is all Brady Gray has left. His brothers, driven by jealousy, cast away their own flesh and blood in the same way that Joseph was sold into slavery by his siblings. Heartbroken and separated from his family, Brady holds tightly to his faith and begins to build a new life for himself - but there are more challenges in store for this servant of God.

    False accusations land Brady in prison, where his God-given gift of interpreting dreams helps him forge friendships that will play an important role in his ultimate salvation. Upon his miraculous release from prison, Brady discovers, as his dreams predicted, that his brothers direly need his help. Despite the pain and suffering caused by his betrayal, Brady must find the strength to embrace one of the Bible’s most important messages: We forgive because we are forgiven.

    Girls of Grace - Live. Love. Lead.

    Girls of Grace: Live Love Lead is an in-depth look at God’s grace and how it marks our daily lives. Simply put, a Girl of Grace is a girl who lives freely, loves fiercely and leads fearlessly. To live freely means to live in the light of the Gospel of Grace; to love fiercely is to actively demonstrate Christ’s love to the world around us; and to lead fearlessly is a charge to be brave and to take a stand.

    A soundtrack to the "Girls of Grace" conferences held nationwide, Girls of Grace: Live Love Lead is full of chart-topping hits that will inspire and encourage teenage girls everywhere. With popular songs from top Christian artists, this compilation is the perfect soundtrack for her life as she finds her way in the world through faith.

    Besides the new releases, there are plenty of prebuy opportunities as well. New CD from Francesca Battistelli. New DVD from VeggieTales and a new movie from Kirk Cameron. Click here to see them all.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Bibles and was tagged with Featured, VeggieTales, Francesca Battistelli, Casting Crowns, Jamie Grace, Kirk Cameron, NIV, Girls of Grace

  • Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    Posted on January 6, 2014 by Dan Hubka



    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Dan:                Is there anything you can tell us about the new album?

    Francesca:     Yes. It will be out April 22nd hopefully, and it's called If We're Honest. It's going to be amazing. I'm so excited about it. It's my favorite one yet. I think that's probably normal, but I really feel like these songs are just right and the timing is right for them. There's just a lot of energy on this record which I feel like the last one lacked even though I love it. I think it's going to be really good and a whole new season.

    Dan:                If we're honest.  What does that mean?  At least on this particular record.

    Francesca:     Well, it's the title of my favorite song on the record which is just a very honest song about really just that.  If we were truly authentic with each other and honest with each other all the time and kind of not tried to hide behind the facade of everything's fine and I'm perfect and life is great.  I feel like that is sort of what the enemy wants us to do to isolate ourselves and keep us from true community and truly being the body of Christ.

    It just came from some experiences where I felt like the song is personal because I really feel like that's just all too prevalent not just in this industry but in Christianity especially in America of just everything's fine, and I'm not really going to be myself with you.  I'm not going to let you know really any of my junk, but you can't get healed of anything unless you confess and kind of are out there.  It's sort of a heavy song on a very lighter record, but it's needed I think in it's truths.

    Dan:                Absolutely.  I've found that it can be a very scary thing to reveal those things, but what evil wants us to believe is that we're alone and that nobody is going to relate to those things if we're honest so a very relevant topic.

    Francesca:     Totally, because I think when you are honest that's when you are sort of just real with whatever is going on in your life.  That's when grace comes in.  We naturally want to give grace and support and encouragement to someone who says, "This is the truth.  This is what I'm going through."  But, yeah, you're right.  The enemy tries to tell us the opposite.  "They're going to hate you." Which is not true.

    Dan:                You said something that I didn't think any artist was allowed to say which was, "My favorite song on this record is ..."  I thought people weren't allowed to say their favorite songs, but you actually have favorites.

    Francesca:     I do.  I always have favorites.  Yeah.  I love every song on this record.  I'm so excited about it, but this one from the moment we started writing it, I just knew this was going to be the one that was my favorite and it is.

    Dan:                Was the recording process different for you at all this time around?

    Francesca:     Yeah, it actually was. The last two records if you do count Christmas, we lived in Atlanta instead of Nashville and I was pregnant for both of those recording processes. It was just a lot more stressful and I felt a lot more pressure to sort of get it right and get it done quickly especially with Hundred More Years. That was a follow-up to a record that sort of exceeded everyone's expectations so I thought I got to do it again. I think you can sort of sabotage yourself by getting too inside your head.

    This time I just didn't feel any of that. We had just moved back to Nashville. It was the summertime. I had plenty of time and I just wrote three or four days a week which again has just not been the truth for the past couple of records. It's been really just fun and relaxing and for me it's always been my favorite part of the process, of the creative process because I'm sort of an introvert and artsy type. This was the first time since I think the first record that I really felt like this is fun again. Like this isn't just busyness and work. This is actually really awesome. I'm excited to share.

    Dan:                Have you noticed your audience transition at all?  From my perspective, those first couple records your audience was younger girls and now you're transitioning into a new stage in your life with the role of being a mom.  What I've heard from your music, it relates at different levels now and different areas.  Are you experiencing that transition of a wider audience because I think that your music still does speak to a younger demographic, but now you're capturing the hearts of moms and more.

    Francesca:     For sure.

    Dan:                Are you noticing that now?

    Francesca:     Yeah. It really is. It's interesting and every tour is a little bit different. I feel like that's where I see that the most. There's definitely still so many young girls, and I love that. There is something cool whenever I'm at the table and a girl comes up to me and she goes, "I love your music," and I sign her thing and her mom says, "I really love it too." It's like their little secret. I think that that's awesome. I love to be something that a mom and a daughter can listen to together and older sister can too. Hopefully, that audience is growing. I think this record will do that for them.

    Dan:                Is there a time that you can come to where you have seen your faith in action?  Or a time where you've felt a call that you needed to respond to?

    Francesca:     Is this the stories that you ... Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I have a great story to answer that question. Funny you should ask. Back this past summer we got an email from a little girl who, she is 13 now, but when she was 11 she started an organization called Project Jesus that ministers to girls and women in Uganda. She wrote this email and said basically, "Everyone's telling me that I'm crazy for writing you that you're too busy and you'll never write back, but I have this organization," kind of laid it all out and said, "And I'm hosting a benefit concert, or I'd like it to be a concert. It's a benefit luncheon on Orphan Sunday and I would love Francesca to be there. I totally understand if she can't. You'll probably not write me back, but maybe she could just send a signed CD or something."

    I remember just reading these words or I think my husband was reading them to me, and I was just so struck by her faith because she said, "Even though everyone's telling me that I'm crazy, the one thing I've learned over these past two years," I mean she's 13 years old, "Is that when we step out in faith, God does fix things." I was just so blown away by that because how many of us say that, but to actually believe it and act on it and sort of live that crazy faith life that she was living at 13 years old just blew me away. I kind of wanted to tell those naysayers that they were crazy and they were wrong. We just really felt like we needed to ... I felt like I needed to say yes.

    Actually I had a couple of other things that week that I just said, "We need to put these off. I want to be there for this girl." What ended up happening is a couple of days after I got that email, I was in the studio writing with a couple of friends and I was telling them that story and then they said, "What do you want to write about today?" I said, "I want to write about that. I want to write about Mallory." We wrote this song called Giant's Fall which is a song about Mallory. It's really just a song about don't be afraid of giants in your way. That whatever obstacles are facing you, God is with you and it doesn't matter if what you have seems like a little, he can turn it into a lot.

    I wrote this song for her, but didn't tell her. We've since recorded it and it's going to be on the record and back a couple months ago when we went to sing at the benefit we were nearing the end of the afternoon and I started explaining that I wrote this song, I just saw her mom crying, and she's crying and I'm crying. I got to play the song for this roomful of people the first time I ever played it. It was just a really powerful moment and just reminded me that when we're obedient, God does amazing things. That goes for Mallory. That goes for me writing the song. Being there, I think that if nothing else, I think she'll be able to look back and say, "That was one thing that I asked God for that He did." He's done many things like that for her, but how cool to be just like a tangible answer to prayer for someone even though it was little and I just showed up and sang a couple songs. It was cool.

    Dan:                The last time we talked, your label was circling in on trying to figure out which one of nine songs may be the first one to release to radio. Do you know which one has been selected for that?

    Francesca:     We do.  Yes.

    Dan:                Can you share it?

    Francesca:     Yes. It is called Write Your Story. They have already ... It doesn't go officially out for us until January where it's already been picked up by a couple of networks. It's amazing to see just the response to it. I think somebody up at The Fish heard it over the phone and said, "Okay, we're going to add it." That's just amazing to me and just sort of that affirmation that, "Okay, I think you picked the right song, and you're going in the right direction." I'm just so excited and people are already hearing it, but I haven't really announced it so I don't know what to say on Twitter except, "Thanks. I'm glad you like it," when people hear it. I can't wait for January and it's official.

    Dan:                Can you give us an idea what the song is about or what was behind it?

    Francesca:     Yeah, absolutely. It's funny because I didn't even realize it until somebody said something in passing after we had written the song that it was sort of like a follow-up to My Paper Heart which is "I've never been the same since you wrote your name on my paper heart." This song is just about basically saying, "God, I am an open book. I am just here, willing, available to do whatever it is that you call me to do. I want you to write your story on my heart." I think it will speak to so many different people I think to the girl who is waiting for her husband and saying, "God, write your love story for me." To the people who are just saying, "Okay, God, I know that you have something for my life and I don't know what it is, but I want to be open to whatever."

    Even for me, doing what I'm doing, it looks like you've got this path laid in front of you, but if God says, "No, I want you to stop all that and go do something else," I want to be able to hear His voice. I want His story at the end of my life to look back and say, "God, you wrote it. I just was there for the ride." It's a really fun song, but that's sort of the message or the story.

    Dan:                You're on your fourth record. You've established a career. I was talking to a co-worker of mine of what does it feel like as you transition from a place where you're an artist and you're trying to make it and you go from wanting people to hear your music and doing everything you can to get people to hear your music, to the place where now you're requested to come play music for them?  But they're now asking you instead of you asking them.  What is that journey like?

    Francesca:     Yeah.  It has been so interesting for me because at the beginning there it was like, "Okay, I don't know what this is going to look like."  Like you said, just playing for everybody, and then for even me it just all sort of took off really fast and I didn't know what to do and was just sort of saying yes to everything and then sort of slowed down again and I'm sort of I feel like just now finding my feet and like, "Okay, those past five, six years have been a little bit of a blur.  Now what do we really want to do?"  God has made it so that my husband is able to play drums for me and manage me and just be very focused and very intentional.

    I feel like for the first time this year it's like we're finding our legs.  But, yeah, it is amazing.  Anytime someone asks it's still like, "Oh, really?  We didn't have to call them to play a concert like they want us to come?"  It's always scary still.  It's just an honor and crazy when I think about it because there were so many years that were goodness gracious it was a very a awkward time.

    Dan:                Can you say who you're touring with yet?

    Francesca:     I think so.  Yeah.    We're doing the Hands of God tour with Sanctus Real in early spring and Hands of God is a song that I wrote with Matt Hammitt from Sanctus.  We're excited to take them out and do that tour.  I love those guys.  Then like five days after that ends, we go out on "The Bible: Son of God" tour, which we're really excited about and that is basically The Bible Miniseries was seen by millions of people.  It was mind-blowing.

    So Mark Burnett and his company have sort of said, "We want to take this experience into churches and venues around the country and sort of turn it into this interactive experience with the film, and with the artists, and with sets and all sorts of things that I'm not really even sure what the scale is like yet because it's the first year, but I'm really excited about that.  That will run up until, I guess, right before Easter, right before the record comes out.  We're really excited and it's going to be a busy year, but I'm ready for it.

    Dan:                Did you write that song?

    Francesca:     I didn't write it.  No.  I just sang on it and it's very beautiful.  So they've talked about things I know they're doing like an inspired by project, but beyond that, who knows?  Maybe it will make it to the live show.

    Dan:                Thank you so much for your time.

    Francesca:     Yeah.  Thank you.  It was fun.

    So, about her new album? Well, as stated above, Francesca returns with her brand new release, If We’re Honest.  Featuring the radio hit “Write Your Story,” this new CD perfects the soulful pop sound that began with her gold-certified debut, My Paper Heart, and its best-selling follow-up, Hundred More Years.  If We’re Honest is full of bright, upbeat songs and personal, thought-provoking ballads that will inspire, encourage and challenge you in your daily walk with God, and ultimately point you toward the hope that’s only found in Him.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Francesca Battistelli, Sanctus Real, Bible MiniSeries, The Bible, Mark Burnett

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