Music for a Pandemic

Hey, friends. I’m back!

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It’s been quite a bit of time since we last crossed paths, I know. Please excuse the hundreds of typos that will probably appear in this update–I am typing with one hand and my baby in the other.

I spent most of last year pregnant, visited the Philippines for a ministry trip (yes, while pregnant), and I simplified a lot because being pregnant is exhausting. I acquired carpal tunnel as a symptom, which made it so I could barely do anything musical until after giving birth. Thankfully, my hands are no longer in pain and I am able to play piano once again.
 
Right from the start, day two of 2020, my husband fell at work and was seriously injured with a head trauma. A real-life nightmare. As I stood there with our newborn baby, only a couple weeks old, feeling completely helpless and afraid, telling my best friend and husband of almost three years, who I was and where we were. Over and over. I vividly remember the day he couldn’t remember me at all and I thought I lost him. 
 
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This was not where I thought this year would begin. This is not where I ever imagined we would end up. I am so thankful for those who rallied around us with prayer and encouragement. For friends and family who came and stayed with me during the day and night. For God bringing redemption and light into a dark and terrifying situation.
 
It has been a long few months, and I am so thankful for all the progress my husband has made. God has truly shown Himself as our healer through this. We may be stuck in our home, sheltering-in-place at the moment, but I am happy to have him and our beautiful baby girl here with me. Also…
 
COVID-19. I did not see that one coming. What a weird turn of events, right? It feels like we are in a movie. A very crazy movie that keeps getting more dramatic and unreal.
 
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So, in the midst of the odd scenarios that have been playing out in 2020, I recorded five new tracks. Most of which I recorded with my baby nursing, sleeping in my lap, or attached to me in a carrier. It has not been easy, but it has been therapeutic and has kept me sane.
 
I’ve been challenged by the lyrics of these songs, in so many new ways. Trusting that God is God and that He is good, no matter what is happening around me or to me. Trusting that He is in control, no matter how much my heart hurts, and no matter how much my head hurts from trying to process the weight of things. Every lyric I sang into this project, every note played, is straight from my heart.
 
Today, I am releasing my first music project of the year. It’s a soft-release. Meaning, I chose to release it before it is available everywhere to stream and download. For the time being, you can find it on my BandCamp page and download it for free or for a donation—if you feel so inclined. A donation is not necessary though. It is a gift from me to you. I hope that it will bring you encouragement and also give you something new to listen to during this pandemic.
 
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[Click “Buy Digital Album” and it will give you the option to download for free or give a donation. Again, no donation necessary, it’s my gift to you.]
 
I am sitting here in the middle of a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know what is next for us this year. As with many in the world, the current situation has great potential to impact our finances, employment, our living situation, to start. Things look very bleak, but we are choosing to believe that God has always taken care of us and that He will show Himself strong even in this.
 
Stay safe and hold onto hope, friends. I hope these songs bring encouragement and light into your day.
 
 
You will be able to stream Your Face Shines Upon Me on all music platforms in the upcoming week or so. I’ll keep you all updated on Instagram and Facebook.
 
Talk to you soon!
 
-Steph Baker
 
 
 

New Year, New Colors!

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Happy New Year!

I know it’s been quiet over here since the release of Black and White, but my life has been far from quiet.

I hope you all had a lovely time during the holidays.  I’ve been playing with some new sounds and colors ever since the day after Christmas.

My studio also has a fresh new look for the new year….

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and I have released two new singles to kick off 2019.

Limitless: A mostly-instrumental track, with some vocals here and there.

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The Outside: I can only go as far as my own limits, but together we are limitless.

(As a bass player to-the-core, I am very pleased with the heavy-bass-track that is The Outside.)

the outside art

 

So we ended 2018 in Black and White, and now we celebrate 2019 in crazy colors.  As usual, I am having a blast creating new music and I love being able to share what I create with you.

You can now stream and download both songs on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon, Bandcamp and beyond!

 

 

Now Playing: Black and White

Today is THE DAY!

My new album has officially arrived and is ready to stream, download and purchase!

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You can find it on Apple, Amazon, Spotify, GooglePlay and all those other places we use to listen to music!

You can also purchase the physical disc from my merch store.

Don’t forget, I’m running a Black Friday Deal through Sunday!

Black Friday Deal Website

Also, check out the new music video for the title track!

Thank you so much for listening and watching!  I appreciate your love and support.

Let me know if you enjoy the album!

Please comment, like and share!

Thank you!

Behind the Scenes: Black and White

I feel like a hermit returning to civilization, after living in a cave for the last month.

That’s a little dramatic, but realistically I’ve been camped out in my studio since I released Facedown, and I am just now emerging to post an update over here.

 

I’ve been posting a lot of behind the scenes videos on Facebook and instagram.  I spent all month finishing the writing, recording, mixing and mastering process of my next album.

I finished way before my deadline.

Black and White is ready for distribution.  That’s the next step.  I’m now working on album art, videos and promo stuff.  All those little details that I need to get done before release day, which will be on Black Friday (11.23.18).

 

I am excited to be done, even though the process was quite lovely and adventurous.  It was also full of new challenges and emotional hurdles to jump over.  The process brought growth and I’m thankful for that.

Now, I am typing this to you, while I listen to Classic 80’s Indie Rock and drink my coffee.  It feels good to be done.  So good.

 

Summer Tunes & Beach Trips

Good afternoon, friends!  I am currently sitting in a coffee shop, drinking an iced chai and brainstorming ideas.  I am also now writing this blog post. 😉

A few minutes ago, I hit the send button and sent off a new single for distribution.  Check out this promo video I posted yesterday!

 

I wrote Tidal Wave a couple weeks ago.  Unlike my usual songwriting methods, I composed the music first and then went from there.  It was a fun challenge.

There’s been a lot on my heart lately.  Life can be overwhelmingly dark at times, am I right?

So much so, that I found myself having a hard time finding the words to say.  Even in prayer.  It was difficult.

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So I asked God how to pray and to help center me during this time, when certain parts of life seem dim and grey.

That’s where Tidal Wave came from.  A very sad Stephanie, on a very sad day.

I can’t help but smile, as I write this.  The song is very bright and energetic.  It’s not a sad ballad, but more of a celebration.  I can’t wait to share it with you on August 1st.

The moment I finished the track, I knew I needed to get some shots of the ocean for the video.  The following week, some friends decided to take a spontaneous trip to Santa Cruz and invited me to come along.

Not only did I get all the footage my heart desired for the video, I was very refreshed from the change of scenery and fresh air.  It was good.

Also . . .

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In case you haven’t heard, I am giving away a song for FREE.  You can get your digital copy of Brighter Than the Sun in my music store!

Words like Arrows

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“Lord, I ask that today, when I open my mouth to speak, my default is encouragement and not sarcasm.”

 This has been my prayer of late. It’s a desire that my heart is chasing on a daily basis.

Believe me when I say, I have come a very long way over the years. A few years ago, in particular, the Lord began to speak to me on the topic. He showed me the impact that an encouraging word brings and how they open a door for the recipient to receive His truth.

Words that heal and not harm.

Words that build up and not tear down.

Words that shift atmospheres and cause the darkness to flee.

This is what I want.

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I look back and think about the times when I have been the recipient of sarcasm. Sure, some of those words made me laugh in the moment, but there’s always those moments that linger. The ones that make you wonder if there was any truth behind them.

And yes, it’s usually something really stupid, but . . .

You can’t help but think to yourself, when the lights go out and you’re alone, staring up at the ceiling in your bed,

“Is that how they really see me? Is that who I am?”

 Of course, it’s not like we can control how people receive our words. But I suppose what I’m getting at is this:

“Lord, give me strategies on how to speak in a way that is intentional and with grace.”

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 We all experience times when the enemy seems to be shooting lies, like arrows, over and over. Attacking our insecurities and identities.

I don’t want to contribute to THOSE arrows.

I want my arrows to be the ones that attack the arrows of the enemy. Strategically sent out. Splitting the lies before they hit their target.

This is something I know can only be accomplished if I am taking the time to sit with the Lord. I need His heart for people.

His heart.

That’s where you get the power to shift atmospheres just by walking into the room.

His heart.

I want His heart.

I was reading in Matthew 12 this morning:

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

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 So, I cry out . . .

“Lord, I need Your heart.”

I may have shared this before, but a very dear friend of mine passed away a few years ago. It’s still sad, but I have such joy because the last conversation we had was epic.

They took the time in that moment to share how proud they were of me and what God has done in my life, and I was able to do the same and tell them how much they have contributed to my story in a positive way.

When I think about how they are no longer here, this is the memory I have.

On the other hand, not all of my last conversations with people have been this positive. I realize, I can’t always control that and sometimes it was completely out of my control because I was on the receiving end. But . . .

That one positive conclusion to my friendship with that dear person makes me want to take every opportunity to do that for someone else.

We don’t always know when a moment with someone is going to be our last. Sometimes life happens and you lose touch. Sometimes it’s with a stranger in Walmart and you may never see them again—as much as I rant about hating Walmart, I did have an opportunity to speak life into someone there the other day.

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The point is that we don’t know, which is why we should try (if we can) to not leave loose ends. To do our part, at least, and allow God to move through us.

I want His heart.

When the Secrets Come Out . . .

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This past weekend, I had the privilege of ministering at a women’s retreat.  To be honest, I don’t tend to go out of my way to attend women’s retreats.

Most of the ones I have participated in, I would find myself feeling very out of place and flooded with social anxiety.  As far as the women’s retreats I have ministered at, I would usually disappear immediately after the sessions.

Funny thing is, most of the women I spoke with this weekend had similar stories.

However, this one was different.  I expected God to show up and do amazing things—He always does!  But I did not expect Him to bring me so much personal breakthrough, as He did, starting the first night.

Toward the end of the first session, we were encouraged to ask God if there were any lies about ourselves (or Him) that we were still believing.  And if so, to ask Him to show us the truth, and then perhaps to share what He showed us with the women at our table.

I was sitting there, jotting some things down in my journal.  I asked the question, but I don’t think I expected an answer like the one He gave me.  In fact, I really expected I’d be mainly spending those moments that followed speaking into the ladies who shared what God had shown them.

I did not expect that I would be crying and sharing something so deep.  Something I had no idea was still lingering in my heart—I thought I had already dealt with this!

The phrase that popped into my head, when I asked the question, was this:

You are not disposable.

I felt the tears begin to form.  Everyone else was still praying around me.  A million thoughts rushed into my head.  Not in chaos, but in complete clarity.

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You see, I was in a very long, unhealthy, abusive relationship in my early twenties.  I thought I already healed from the roots that came from that time, but the reality was clear to me in that moment.

Because of what was done to me, and because of how it made me see myself, I still carried fear of being disposed, not seen, and rejected.

This weekend was my first time away from my husband since we got married over a year ago, and I realized that fear was still influencing me now.  Regardless of how amazing he is, I was still living in a certain state (at the back of my mind) of anxiety and fear of being disposed.

I started to write down scripture after scripture, and promise after promise.  I wrote about how God is trustworthy and that He will never leave me.  I wrote about how He will protect my heart and that I can let Him be in control.  I was never in control anyhow.  But I realized there was a certain part of my heart I wasn’t allowing my husband to see because I was still being affected by those lies from that previous relationship.

I looked up from my journal.  The ladies began to share.  I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt my feet try to drag, and I thought for a second,

“I don’t want to share this right now.  I am totally going to start sobbing.”

But I did share, and I did cry.  A lot.  And after I shared, I knew it was a defining moment for me.  I knew it was a necessary piece of my story and that God had shown up once again with His mercy.

The more I share this testimony, the more freedom I find.  I had no idea what these feelings were for years, but now that I have a label for them, they can be addressed.  There has been a certain level of inferiority I have been carrying around, and that has manifested itself in anxiety for way too long.

Praise God, He is so faithful.

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I am writing this because I know we all have stories and we all have things in our hearts that try to hide in the shadows.  But . . .

When the secrets come out, the enemy can no longer dangle them over our heads.

Once the light shines in, the darkness has to flee.

There is restoration in vulnerability.

Friends, I encourage you.  If there is ANYTHING, any lie, any struggle, that is keeping you from walking in the fullness that God has for you . . . lay it down before His throne of grace!

We were created to walk in His freedom.  Let Him into those deep and tender places.  Let Him heal your heart.

The Call of Love

I picked up a book this morning that I haven’t read in a bit. In fact, I finally unpacked my box of books a week ago for the first time since we moved last summer.

It’s called, “Come Away My Beloved” by Frances J. Roberts. My mother gave me the devotional for Christmas nearly a decade ago.   It is written in old English. So, bare with me if you are not as big a nerd as myself—I am, after all, the girl who decided to read all the works of Shakespeare one summer in high school (for fun).

I turned to the first section:

The Call of Love

I read it a few times, underlining a particular paragraph that I felt led to share with you today:

“Tarry not for an opportunity to have more time to be alone with Me. Take it, though ye leave the tasks at hand. Nothing will suffer. Things are of less importance than ye think. Our time together is like a garden full of flowers, whereas the time ye give to things is as a field full of stubble.”

I made a huge change recently. That change was unplugging from the internet more than 80% of the day. I used to multitask to the point where it was becoming detrimental to my routine.

When I left my day job to make Awake to Dream Studios my full time job, I had to eliminate everything that would keep me from staying focused.

It probably sounds odd.

I mean, everything I do is internet based and requires access to social media. But I learned the value of pouring all of my brainpower into the tasks at hand. I began to plan out my posts and online strategies well in advance. I scheduled my updates to post automatically, which freed up my hands to work elsewhere.

In the end, I didn’t need my phone pinging every time I had a message or notification. I found out I could be much more productive by checking my profiles and email at a specific time in the day, and then moving on with my projects.

What did I end up with?

Quality time in my studio and more finished projects.

Also, my prayer life has greatly increased without the added distractions. That, to me, is way more important than any of my other endeavors. If that area suffers, so does every other part of my life.

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So, I pondered that paragraph, waited on the Lord for a moment and turned to Proverbs.

I laughed as I read the title of the chapter in my bible:

The Call of Wisdom

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? 

If you turn at my reproof, behold I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”

—Proverbs 1:20-23

“Tarry not.”

All that we are longing for can be made fulfilled in His presence. Whatever we need, He already has supplied.

This is a call to a higher standard of living. He has already reached out, and is waiting, to meet with us.

The present is all we have, as we watch time melt away without delay.

These temporal things that capture our attention are nothing in comparison to the love and the wisdom that calls out to each one of us.

There is no promise of tomorrow. There is only today.

“Nothing will suffer. Things are of less importance than ye think.”