When I was nine years old, I dreamed of one thing…writing music like the songs Amy Grant would sing to me every morning as I woke up — songs that would drift up the stairwell and into my bedroom from my Dad’s old record player. The first song I wrote at that young age was a far cry from radio worthy material…but once I got a taste for that creative outlet, I was hooked. I grew up the red-headed middle sister of three preacher’s daughters, blessed with loving parents and the bliss of spending early childhood days on the lawn doing gymnastics with my neighborhood friends or playing on the beaches of Santa Cruz, CA. But there was no greater joy than the heritage of music in my family…it was a part of life. Even in my extended family, most of us began piano by 5 years old and were singing on stage before we knew how to hold a microphone. I can remember how my Dad would kneel beside me and hold my mic, helping me feel confident in front of an audience while I mispronounced the words to songs like “Jesus Loves Me”. From my very beginning, faith and music were as regular as breathing.
Much to my heart-broken objection, we moved from Santa Cruz where I left behind the beaches, the gymnastics lawn, my best friend since Kindergarten, my large bedroom I had all to myself….but at least I didn’t have to leave behind the music. We ended up in Vancouver, WA when I was 13, where I found life-long friends even in the midst of those difficult adolescent days — those days that flooded my journals and inspired lyrics that were important to me — like friends you can trust, crying to Jesus, and boys. We were schooled at home from the time I hit 6th grade and it honestly worked out fabulously for me — the contemplative, over-achiever who wears her heart on her sleeve — because I could write and write and write. I loved having all that time to myself. Sitting at the piano, trying to arrange the notes like one of Michael W. Smith’s Christmas pieces – those were the days. It did not surprise my parents that I attended college to study music and earn a degree in music composition. I never had plans to do anything else.
Today, I still write about the same things I did as a young girl: relationships, trust, Jesus, and my life is still focused on boys — now being the mother of sons. It’s just that now I know more of what I’m talking about. The pain and sorrows of adult life have taught me a lot, which lightly put is good food for better lyrics. Gone are the days of simple childhood life. Years and years were spent in my early adult life just trying to keep my head attached and my heart beating. But experience taught me that heartache redeemed can bring about a beauty that the beaches could never possess, a joy that turning cartwheels cannot produce. Adversity hit hard but God brought beauty from the ashes and a deeper relationship with Him, a peace that cannot be explained. After a devastating decade early in my marriage, for my family and myself – a time I was too numb to write – I am so grateful to be a songwriter again. It is a privilege to do now what I enjoyed through childhood. With the help we have gained from our mentors and coaches, my husband and I love connecting with and cheering on those who have walked similar journeys to our own and are still longing to believe there is hope on the other side of a steep hill. My recording project called “Restore” (released 2011) was lyrically penned straight out of excerpts from my journal during a long healing process and speak directly to areas of restoration, daring to hope, and running straight into the freedom of truly living life to the fullest, being who God created us to become. All humanity has experienced what forgiveness is or is not, what it means to hope, to desire, or to be numb. It is my greatest privilege to be allowed to set those experiences to music. I hope it will be enjoyable and meaningful to you as well.
I feel so fortunate to be the mother of two vibrant and tenderhearted sons and the wife of a restored man who has truly come full circle on one of life’s most difficult roads. How could I NOT have something to write about? My life may not be as glamorous as I had imagined at nine years old, but it’s very rich and maybe a little too full. If you spent a week in my home, you’d experience the reality of a very busy mom who teaches music privately, while relentlessly pursuing the art she loves. If I’m not teaching music from my living room to over a dozen students a week or carting my sons to their schools, musical endeavors or sporting events, I’m carting my mandolin to duo-folk shows and occasionally recording sessions with my younger sister, Tiffany, as the band “Carlson Wells”, or leading worship from the piano at various conferences and festivals — all while finding every moment possible to write and travel to Nashville or LA to work with professionals in the music business that I’ve been blessed to meet and call friends. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.
I love being a songwriter. I’m inspired to write by those around me and welcome your stories — a chance to hear about your dreams. You never know, they may wind up in a song one day. Periodically, I write on my blog or send out updates through my mailing list. I don’t write those in great quantity, so I hope you’ll want to sign up, knowing they won’t overflow your inbox. I enjoy sharing my story with people who find it encouraging and I would love to have you share yours with me. Let’s take this journey together.