My father was a closet alcoholic and suffered from depression. He was in and out of the psychiatric ward in the hospital. If my mother happened to go away to the city for a couple of days, we would be left alone with him. I remember many times being at home, alone on the farm with my sister, wondering when our dad was coming back. He was usually out drinking with a neighbour.
One day my mother took me aside “Bring all your books home from school,” she said. “We’re leaving.” She left a note on the kitchen table for my Dad and we walked out the door. She took us to a townhouse we had never seen. She had it waiting, already furnished. We were shocked, but my mother had been preparing. My father’s psychiatrist had warned her that my father was in such a state he might decide to do away with all of us along with himself.
Six months later, my father did take his own life. I was eleven years old.
After my father’s death, we returned to the farm. It was hard going back to that small community and facing people who knew what had happened. I became tough, a little adult carrying a big burden when I should have still been a child. Before my father’s death, both my parents had been confiding in me. Accusations flew and I had to be the strong one.
Shortly after my dad’s death, my mother found out she had terminal breast cancer. Surgery and aggressive treatment followed. Mom knew she was dying and that she needed someone to look after my sister and I. The man my father had once accused her of having an affair with became a part of our lives. Eventually, they got married, but things did not improve.
He was a demanding, uncompromising man and made it difficult to have friends over or to go out. With my Mom sick I was responsible for everything from groceries to cooking to laundry. Once again, I had to be the adult. My mother fought a brave battle. She lived two years longer than the doctors thought she would. I was fifteen when she died.
In time I went to university in Ontario, and met the man there that I would marry. He came from a background similar to mine and we clung to each other for dear life. He believed in my music and my song-writing. He nurtured me and held me together. We funded my first album and set out on the road. Suddenly I was on the radio and on television. It was exciting, but frightening too.
I willingly gave this man control over my life and he took it. I found myself looking for freedom and began to step outside my marriage. I didn’t have the strength to leave my husband. My life was spinning out of control.
One night on tour I was driving our van – full of equipment – when I hit a patch of black ice. We went up and over an embankment and rolled several times. There in the ditch, I came face to face with the God I had been ignoring for years. I was vividly reminded of the temporary nature of my life. I was looking for answers for a life that could end at any time, and then . . . what? I remembered a youth rally I had attended years before where I heard about Jesus, and how He loves me. I remember praying a simple prayer.
I had forgotten about God, but God had not forgotten about me. We walked out of that accident without a scratch and I gave control of my life back to God. Everything about me had to change, but it was a process. God would change me if I would let Him.
Shortly after my dad died, I wrote my first song. It was as though God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’ve taken something away, so I’m going to give you something.” It was a song about a beggar who lived on the street near our townhouse in the city. The song was about how nobody listened to this beggar or payed any attention to him. He was out in the cold and one day he died. As I look back on that song now, I can’t imagine the eleven-year-old child writing it.
The song about the beggar was about my dad–I couldn’t understand why no one had tried to help him. Music is such a large part of my life and my expression–it’s how I communicate. God is directing me in some really exciting ways. I have videos and albums being played on country music stations, and I do most of my live performing in Christian venues. He is using my life, my story and my music to reach out to others who are hurting. He can heal you, too.
Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?
Living with hope
If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.
Is this the life for you?
If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.