RSW Blog #7: From Death to Life

It’s official: I am a 2019 graduate of the Radiant School of Worship.

This past weekend, on the day after I graduated, my friends took me out to Gull Lake and baptized me. Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of the old life and the resurrection of new life in Christ, and I can’t think of a better way to sum up what God did in me at RSW this past year.

When I arrived in Kalamazoo 8 months ago, I was a completely different person. I wasn’t interested in opening up to anyone. I actually prided myself in my cynical sense of humor and excessive sarcasm. I used my introversion as an excuse to intentionally isolate myself. I humble-bragged on social media constantly. I recorded and released music just to prove to the world that I could. I was obsessed with my image. I could go on… I was extremely selfish and prideful, to say the least. My expectations going into RSW were to get better at studio production (so I could release more music, of course), learn from Cory Asbury how to write really great songs, and make connections that would move me forward and get me noticed in my music career. That’s it.

God’s plans for the year were vastly different. Right off the bat, he started revealing ugly stuff in my heart. I began to realize how much of a sinner I am and how much I truly need Jesus. He started showing me how much he loves me like a kind father. He allowed a lot of stuff to go wrong in my life, which forced me to lean into him for strength and peace - and because of that, through every tough circumstance I experienced his love and goodness so much more than I ever have before. He taught me that I am infinitely loved, regardless of how well I’m performing or how good my music sounds or what I do. As a bonus, through it all, he surrounded me with people who became like family. I was supported, encouraged, and prayed for all year. I learned how to open up to people, ask for help, and receive love. I also learned how to love selflessly, pour myself out, and serve others wholeheartedly.

Above all, I got to know a God who has been the greatest Father and friend. I learned his voice and heard him speak to me over and over again. I felt a love and a grace that I could never earn or deserve. And what blows my mind the most is that He orchestrated things perfectly to break chains and strongholds that I assumed I’d have to struggle with for the rest of my life. He is so worthy of everything I have, because he gave everything to set me free. He is so good, so kind, so incredibly personal and loving.

Getting baptized this weekend was my proclamation that the old Alanah is truly dead, and the new Alanah has been raised to life in Christ Jesus. The cynical, insecure, depressed, anxious, isolated, hopeless Alanah has passed away, and a confident, joyful, free, colorful Alanah has come to life.

———

As this season comes to a close and I step into a new one, I look back on the past 8 months with tears in my eyes (literally, I can’t stop tearing up as I write this). I never expected any of this to happen, but it ended up being better than anything I could’ve asked for or imagined. I’m so, so in love with Jesus, and I’m so excited to walk hand-in-hand with him into whatever the next chapter of my life holds.

“When I was at my lowest, You still were on your throne.
When I was still a long way off, You ran to bring me home.”

- “Egypt” by Cory Asbury

New Song "Sun" Available Now!

Album art by Micaela Frakes-Zieger

Album art by Micaela Frakes-Zieger

This song is massively different than any song I’ve ever released before, not just in terms of its sound, but the heart and story behind the song also. It’s a monument and testament to everything God has done in my life during this incredible season of my life.

In the past 7 months, I learned how to love and pour into others, I discovered what it’s like to walk in real joy and freedom, I found my voice and my confidence, I was miraculously healed from debilitating daily headaches, I walked through some really tough circumstances and discovered whole new levels of God’s love in the process, I found freedom from deeply-rooted issues and childhood wounds that I always thought I’d struggle with for the rest of my life, and most importantly, I entered into a very real friendship with Jesus, which has been the greatest thing ever. This song reflects and represents all of this, and that’s why it means so much to me. Every word was squeezed out of a season of very real growing pains, learning curves, and new revelation.

Friends, it would mean the world to me if you played this song and really listened hard to the lyrics. “Sun” by Alanah Sabatini can be found on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and wherever else you get your music online.


“The Lord God is a sun.” - Psalm 84:11

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things.” - Psalm 103:2-5

Support me on Patreon for just a dollar a month!

Big news! I just launched a Patreon page for WAVECAT, my new music project!

What is Patreon, you ask?

Patreon is an awesome service that allows people to financially support their favorite content creators and get exclusive content in return. Creating content, such as music or videos, is very time-consuming work and almost all of it is unpaid, so Patreon seeks to help creators make a living in return for their hard work.

Why does WAVECAT need support?

Within the first month after the release of WAVECAT's debut EP "Beginnings," we shot up Reverbnation's regional charts and already have received numerous requests to play shows in the area. Needless to say, WAVECAT's future looks pretty promising, and I want to keep this momentum going. However, it can't keep growing or getting better without some help.

Here are some specific areas my Patreon contributions will go to:

Music Production Costs
Some of you may know that being a musician isn't cheap. Everything from software/plugins to instruments is an investment. I cut down costs tremendously by using my own home studio for all my recording, but that comes with its own set of costs: plugins, software upgrades, gear repair, etc. Additionally, in order to make tracks sound as good as possible, I hire third parties to mix and master most of the music I release, as well as hire a graphic designer to design a good majority of my album art.

Online Store Fees (iTunes, Spotify, etc.)
In order to have WAVECAT's music available for you on major online stores and streaming services, I get charged $50/year for each album or EP and $10/year for each single. The money I make from music sales and streams on these services is negligible (1 stream on Spotify is worth about $0.006), and because WAVECAT is still trying to get off the ground, I need help in order to keep this music online.

Software & Service Subscriptions
Thank goodness that my music production software and plugins were one-time payments, but other tools I use, like Photoshop (for some album art and social media graphics), SoundCloud Pro, and SquareSpace, charge me monthly or annually. Without these services, WAVECAT's online presence wouldn't be nearly as effective.

Advertising
This is something I don't do yet, but will be able to once I have Patrons. Patreon contributions will help me boost posts to get the word out about WAVECAT on platforms like Instagram, ReverbNation, and more.

WAVECAT's Future
With Patreon’s help, I'll be able to move towards some exciting goals, such as playing local live shows, supporting independent graphic designers and videographers, and continually improving WAVECAT's quality of music. I'd also love to start making music live on Twitch or YouTube Live one day, so you guys can hang out with me in the music-making process. The possibilities are endless!

If you enjoy my music (or if you want to help support me financially as I finish school), consider signing up to be a patron of WAVECAT. The pricing tiers are easy ($1, $3, $5, or $10/month), and you will get exclusive merch and behind-the-scenes content in return for signing up. WAVECAT is something that I’m very proud of and that I see a lot of potential in, so I’m really excited to partner with you guys to keep it growing.

Join the WAVECAT fam and become a patron today!

RSW Blog #6: Happy birthday 2 me

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This blog post is gonna be a video, because writing is exhausting sometimes. Lol

So listen, I’ve been wanting to update this blog for a while because there has been a TON going on on my life that I’d love to tell you guys about. I tried sitting down to write on multiple occasions. But every time I try to get my thoughts out, I can’t formulate it in a way that would make sense to anyone, and then I get tired and give up. Lol, it’s a struggle.

Instead, I made this video on my YouTube channel this past weekend, and I’d say it does a pretty good job of bringing you up to speed on what has been happening over the past 4 months. Enjoy!

RSW Blog #5: Delight

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Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4 ESV

Psalm 37:4 is a verse that I always interpreted wrong as a teenager. My mindset was “I want x and y to happen, so I have to seek God in order for him to give it to me.” Looking back on that time of spiritual immaturity makes me laugh now, but I remember being incredibly frustrated as a young Christian, never seeing prayers answered and wondering what I was doing wrong.

I’d always be asking, “Aren’t you supposed to give me the desires of my heart, God? Am I not seeking you correctly? Worship in church yesterday was really good, and I feel like I really connected with you. What else do I need to do for you to make this happen?” It led to years of anger, doubt, and discouragement.

The truth is, my focus was all wrong (which should have been obvious, lol), and I removed delight from the process altogether. While I was so busy focusing on how to attain the “desires of my heart,” I didn’t realize that the joy of spending time with my loving Father was right there in front of me the whole time.

This is something that I learned embarrassingly recently, after I started school here at RSW. In just these 2 months of school so far, my understanding of God (and of myself) has been flipped on its head. The God who I once saw as distant and forgetful keeps proving himself to be fiercely loving, kind, and attentive.

Allow me to illustrate this in a story. Yesterday (Friday), I went grocery shopping in the morning, and my car randomly started making a very loud & scary rattle sound. I reacted in a panic because I’m planning on driving two hours away for a Julien Baker concert on Sunday, and so I needed a working car to get me there safely. On top of that, because I moved here less than 2 months ago, I had NO idea where to take the car to get it fixed. I took a deep breath, asked my landlord for advice, and began looking up phone numbers for local car repair places. The first place I called was completely booked for weeks. I called the nearest dealership next, which also told me they were completely booked this weekend and couldn’t schedule an appointment for me. They told me to bring the car in anyway, and they might be able to keep the car overnight and look at it when they have a spare moment between appointments. That seemed like my only option, so I rushed to put my groceries away, said a frantic “God, please let this go smoothly” prayer, and carefully drove my noisy car to the dealership 20 minutes away.

The whole time I was driving there, I was in a constant state of anxiety. My thoughts went like this: “please God, don’t let something fall off the bottom of my car on the way there.” “God why would you let a car problem happen just DAYS before a road trip?” “God, I’m choosing to trust in your goodness even though I’m really annoyed at you right now and this is stupid and scary AF.” “WHY IS MY CAR SO LOUD?” “omg I might die today. My car will explode and someone will have to clean up my dead body. God, please don’t let that happen.”

Talk about messy prayers, right? Well, God listened and cared about ALL of those poorly-worded panicky prayers. I got to the dealership safely and was greeted by the most helpful and friendly staff member who chatted with me about my upcoming road trip. Turns out he used to be a concert promoter, and he likes Julien Baker too! When we got into the service garage, they happened to have a technician available, so they took my car back right away. As soon as I handed them the key and signed the estimate, my sweet friend Gretchen pulled into the garage with her car (what are the chances??) and she sat with me for a half hour or so. We got to talk and laugh, and it completely took my mind off of the stress of the morning. My car ended up getting fixed in just over an hour, the issue was minor, and the final cost was almost 20% less than the estimate they gave me.

I drove home with a huge smile on my face, thanking God out loud the entire way home. Not only was I thankful for the smoothness of the morning—I was thankful that the whole stressful ordeal was just a way for God to prove his trustworthiness. My messy “God, I’m choosing to trust in your goodness even though I’m really annoyed at you right now and this is stupid and scary AF” prayer was a pivotal moment in my heart… a moment of honesty with the Father that he was able to honor and use to actually build my trust in him.

My time at RSW has been full of these kinds of stories. Stories where I pray a messy, angry, poorly-worded, honest prayer, and God answers in a way that reveals he’s listening intently and loves to help.

That’s how the delight started happening. Once I began to see that he listens and cares about every word I say to him, I found myself starting to enjoy talking to him about everything. Once I looked back on the past year and realized that he held every moment and orchestrated everything to bring me to where I am now, I found myself getting excited about trusting him with things. Once I realized that he literally smiles at me and sits with me when I choose to spend time with him, I found myself loving every moment I get to spend in his presence.

And it’s a chain reaction—The more I delight in him, the more he reveals his delight in me. The joy just keeps on increasing. Last night, I was in tears as I talked to him in the shower, because I was overwhelmed by the fact that the God of the universe actually loves listening to me and isn’t annoyed with me.

So then, there’s the part of the verse that says “…and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I’ve found that when you truly delight in the Lord, you kind of completely forget about the stuff you want for a bit. I think, when I was a teenager, I sort of knew that, and I didn’t want to forget about the desires of my heart for fear that God would never give them to me. I believed that it worked this way: you delight in God so that HE becomes the desire of your heart, and then the promise of that verse is fulfilled already, so he doesn’t have to give you anything else.

But that’s not how God works at all. As I fix my eyes on my loving Father and my little human desires seem less and less important in comparison, he takes such great care of my heart. I look around at my life once in a while and realize that, the whole time I was busy looking at him, he sneakily and generously surrounded me with blessings and answered prayers.

Here’s a specific (and personal) example: I used to wish all the time for a friend who was around my age, truly understood my weird brain, was on my same musical skill level and could make music with me, enjoyed spending quality time with me, and gave me a safe place to be 100% myself. I had a really hard time making friends as a teenager; it was a really tough and lonely season of my life, so I thought about this constantly. It never seemed to happen though, so eventually I gave up on praying for it, and I forced it into the back of my mind where I eventually forgot about it. Fast forward to now; RSW helped me discover God’s kindness and love for me, and as he became my main focus and I began to really enjoy every moment I spent with Him, I looked around at my life a few weeks later and realized that I had become surrounded by an incredible group of friends that felt like family, and one of those new friends has already checked off every single thing I wished for in a friend. That particular friendship has felt so God-chosen and anointed from the beginning, and it seems like a PERFECT example of the Father giving me one of the desires of my heart while I was busy delighting in him.

When I was younger, that friendship was the goal, and my relationship with God was essentially just a means to an end. But now, the Father has become my goal. That friend is just additional joy on top of it all. It’s like the dessert after a delicious meal.

I’m also realizing that my delight and dependence on the Father has given me the maturity and strength necessary to even handle having the desires of my heart. Viewing my relationship with God as a means to an end was like begging for the dessert before eating the actual meal; if he gave in to my plea and gave me what I wanted before I entrusted him with my heart first, all it would’ve done is make me sick and cause me to expect nutrition from something that has none. Not healthy.

Bottom line: the Father is so good. The joy that comes from an intimate relationship with him far surpasses anything else, but at the same time, he loves us so much that once we entrust him with our hearts, he takes such good care of us and gladly pours out blessing. It’s amazing.

I’m so thankful for this season of my life, where I’m discovering his realness and kindness for the first time.

RSW Blog #4: Feels like home already

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It has been 2 weeks since I moved to Kalamazoo, and 1 week since I started school. So much has happened during that time. I won’t be able to go into all of it, but I’ll tell you about the most important part: the people.

I’ve always had a hard time making friends and connecting with people, so naturally, one of my biggest fears about moving was the possibility of not fitting in here at all. But from the moment I arrived here 2 weeks ago, I have been making deep connections with everyone. That’s not an exaggeration— every classmate, every staff member, and even my landlords and I have shared some really great conversations and moments.

  • My landlords are the sweetest and most helpful people alive. They occasionally texted me to make sure I was doing okay during the few days after I moved in, and they were kind enough to invite me over and make me dinner last week. They have also been extremely helpful with recommending places to eat and stuff to do around town. It’s really cool that I can call these people my friends. :)

  • The RSW staff members are all so genuine, humble, and caring. I have been prayed over so many times since starting school, and every word prayed has been prophetic and life-giving. I already feel seen, valued, and loved here.

  • My classmates already feel like my best friends. Never before have I experienced true unity in Christ like I have with these people. At our fall retreat this past week, we came as 21 strangers with very different backgrounds, interests, and stages of life—but we prayed together, worshiped together, studied the Bible together, and enthusiastically supported each other for 3 days, and we came out of it feeling like family. I am genuinely so excited to do life with them and grow together over the next 8 months.

This is clearly where God wants me to be, and if I had any doubt about that before moving here, all of that doubt is gone. Sterling Heights, MI was a great place to grow up, but Kalamazoo has already given me a feeling of “home” that I have never experienced before. Not at all what I was expecting to happen :)

RSW Blog #3: Ready to Go

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It's already the end of August, and I just can't believe it. When I found out I got into RSW in June, the first day of school in September seemed such a safe distance away. But I blinked, and somehow the summer is almost over. I move in just 2 weeks. My official move date is September 15th.

One thing I did not anticipate was the emotional toll this was going to take. Packing has been physically exhausting of course, but also emotionally exhausting, and I've ended up crying multiple times this week. I like change in general, and I know I'm going to end up loving this change too, but the messy transition process has been painful. Back in May, I remember God telling me that this year was going to get difficult for me but he'll be with me through all of it. I've been reminding myself of that constantly.

Luckily, I'm pretty much done packing, and the move day is getting closer. My back hurts, I'm experiencing a lot of emotions, and I'm EXHAUSTED, but I can finally see the light at the end of this long tunnel.

Despite the emotional crap I've been dealing with, God is still taking good care of me. Get this: my neighbor down the street asked me to move into their house to house-sit while they're away, from today (September 1st) through the 14th. My first instinct was to immediately say no, but I ended up saying yes for a whole bunch of reasons. First and foremost, it gave me a reason to get my packing done before the end of August, which is a huge relief. It also will give me a chance to get used to living on my own a little, cooking for myself, and taking care of the place, while still being right down the street from my parents' house. Lastly, and most importantly, I have house-sat for this neighbor before, and their home is full of books and windows and is surrounded by trees, so it's a perfect place to think and create. The place is just really good for my mental health in general. So because of that, and because my packing is mostly done, I'll really be able to rest and take care of myself before the craziness of the move date. It seems like a gift from God. He knows me and takes care of me so well.

Over the next 2 weeks, I'll be finishing up some stuff at my job, getting the rest of my packing done, planning the logistics of the move date, hanging out with my family/friends and saying goodbye, and being intentional about self-care. I'm hoping to write some songs and make a video or two during my time at my neighbor's house too, but who knows. It's gonna be good.

No matter how hard this gets, I'm already growing a lot, and I'm thankful. I have a feeling my entire experience at RSW is going to be similar: full of difficult growing pains, but I'll be a brand new person by the end of it. I'm choosing to cast off my fears. I'm excited for what God has in store.

RSW Blog #2: I guess I accidentally prophesied this whole thing

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Back in November, I released my second full-length album, "Overflow." This project consists of 9 songs written over the course of 2016 and 2017, and it was the very first time I wrote lyrics to my songs and released it into the world. While it was a significant milestone in my musical career to release my own lyrics, at the time I didn't think it was any more than just a bunch of words thrown together. But somehow, God had plans to use it and turn it into much more than that.

It wasn't until this summer that I started noticing a trend as I listened to the songs in Overflow. As I began preparing to move for the very first time to an unfamiliar city, I immediately saw a shockingly strong connection between the lyrics I wrote and what I was feeling in anticipation of RSW. I wrote these songs way before I had any idea what 2018 would look like, let alone what I might be doing or feeling.

Because I am a list person, let me outline for you exactly what I mean:

  • The song September was written in September 2016, when I simultaneously started at a new job and joined a new band. The only lyrics are: "I thought I knew my plans, but I was wrong. I thought this was my home, but now I'm gone."
    Fast forward to now... I was sure of my plans to go into marketing, but I was wrong - God is definitely leading me straight to a School of Worship. And I thought Metro Detroit would be my home for a while, but I'll be gone in less than a month.
    "I thought I knew my plans, but I was wrong. I thought this was my home, but now I'm gone."
    Plus, I'm moving and starting school in September. Perfect, right?
  • Past The Wall is a song that I wrote right after deciding to let go of some toxic friendships, stop caring what they thought of me, and really embrace who I'm meant to be. The whole theme of the song is basically that life is safer inside your expectations and comfort zone, but when you leave those boundaries, you find life and color and joy all around you.
    As I prepare for RSW, I find so much encouragement in those lyrics. Sure, leaving the safety of my home and friends is scary as heck, but things are going to be so much more exciting when I'm free from the walls of my comfort zone.
    "To be real, back inside the walls it's safer, but it's clear you never meant for me to hide behind my fear. So I left it all behind, and I can see you're here with me."
  • Restarting Point is an instrumental song I composed in the beginning of 2016 right after releasing my first album. RSW marks a completely new chapter in my life and I can't help but mark it as a fresh restarting point in my life.
  • Moment By Moment... Alright, listen guys. Moving has been stressing me the frick out, and it has been just a long to-do list of things that give me anxiety when I think about them (like figuring out financial stuff and getting new tires on my car, for example). But God has been teaching me to take each day & each moment as it comes, without worrying about the next. Before I know it, my long list of stress gets much shorter as I take things one at a time, moment-by-moment. There's a lot more room to trust God with the future when your main focus is on the present moment.
  • Shift actually made me cry the night I found out about RSW in the first place. After finding out about RSW in April and feeling a strong push to apply, I felt a lot of fear and doubt - I kept asking, "is this really God speaking to me? I can't do something like this. This can't possibly be right."
    I spent some time with God that evening, and as I was shuffling a worship playlist on my phone, Shift came on. The entire song's lyrics suddenly felt like God speaking directly to me. Here's a few of them:
    "Ready for change, for something more. You lead the way, I step through the door."
    "I'm casting off my doubt and fear; as I step out, I feel you near."

    "I'm facing fears. I'm crossing seas. You dry my tears. I'm breaking free."
    It was mind-blowing. Still is mind-blowing.
  • New Light became the cry of my heart right after I found out I got accepted into RSW. I mean, seriously, who am I that God would call me to all of this and take such good care of me every step of the way? I don't deserve any of it.
    "Oh, who am I that you'd give me this life? All my days I will sing for your glory."
  • Oh man, Overflow always has meant a ton to me. It's the album's title track for a reason. The melody, feel, and even the key it's in all resonate so strongly with my soul. I always meant for it to represent an outpouring of God's love, similar to a person standing under a waterfall - and as I navigate the preparation for RSW, it's reaching a whole new level of that love. Every step of this moving process keeps falling into place as I take steps forward in obedience, and I can't explain any of it except that it's Jesus providing and caring for me. I'm experiencing an actual overflow of His love over my life to a degree that doesn't even make sense. Listening to Overflow only makes me become overwhelmed with gratitude and awe.
 

I know this blog post was a lot to take in, but I really wanted to share it with you. One of my favorite parts of being a creative person is that the things I create ultimately come from God, not me - so sometimes, he just completely takes over my music and turns it into something that I'll need to hear later. It's bizarre and wonderful, and it's just another reminder that I'm literally nothing without God.

If you haven't heard any of these songs yet, they're on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Bandcamp, and basically everywhere else. Or you can click the button below to listen :)