Behind the Music - I Need You

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It was the last week of my summer job at Ridgecrest Conference Center in 2006 when I got the dreaded phone call from my sister. My dad was leaving my mom. I sat and cried on the phone with my younger sister. Cried and cried. It was the hardest thing I had gone through at that point in my life. Being 10 hours away from home made the situation even more unbearable. I always believed my parents would be the ones still married for their 50th anniversary. Some would say we were lucky enough to have them together for 20 years… but I would say, marriage is for a lifetime. For better or worse. And they sure experienced both.

My parents met in a bar. My dad was a musician and my mom was a bartender. My grandma (my mom’s mom) actually introduced them. They met, fell in love and were pregnant with me after a short time… so they got married. For the first two years of my life we lived in an airstream camper, so my dad could travel from gig to gig. When my mom got pregnant with my younger sister, Courtney, more space was needed – so we moved into a double-wide. I learned at a young age that doing what you love didn’t come with out sacrifice.

Our lives were filled with tragedy for the first couple years. My mom lost her mom, brother and grandma within a few years. Two were ruled suicides. Along with the pain, came the search for hope. We attended Vacation Bible School while visiting my aunt one summer in Miami and I heard about Jesus for the first time. I was only six years old, but I knew that I needed Him in my life! I surrendered everything to Christ and was baptized along with my mom soon after.

Things slowly began to change after that. We joined a church back home and my sister and I were active all throughout our school age years in children’s choir and youth group. And my mom, well she made a complete 180. She quit drinking, quit her job as a bartender and took a job cleaning churches. She also taught preschoolers on Wednesday nights at church, taught Sunday School on Sunday mornings and eventually became a facilitator for a 12-step addiction recovery program. Meanwhile, my dad took a job as a truck driver to better support our family and only played gigs on the weekends when he was home. Gigs meant late Friday and Saturday nights – which didn’t mix well with early Sunday mornings. It was hard to have one parent so involved in church and the other not at all. My dad was supportive, don’t get me wrong, he just couldn’t find the time to make it a priority with his schedule.

So there you have it. My mom, now sober, living with my dad, not sober… I’m sure you can imagine how things began to go. This difference in lifestyle was the downfall of their marriage. And eventually my dad found someone else who gave him the time and attention that he was craving.

Or at least that’s what he told me on the phone that horrible night in 2006.

"I'm in love with someone else..." was what I heard when my sister finally handed over the phone to my dad to explain things. It was so difficult to not be able to hug my mom that night. That's all I wanted to do... hug my mom. She had been through so much in her life already. How could he leave her? I was so angry and hurt. But, that hug would have to wait. Like I said, I was 10 hours away working at a conference center. I only had three days left and then I had to drive back to college in Florida. No time to see my family.

During those days of separation and dealing with the news of my parent's divorce, I did what I knew best to release the pain... write. I wrote the verses of "I Need You" during this time. But the chorus I initially came up with went something like this...

I'm holding on to You when what's left of me is the part I'll never lose Yes, I'm holding on to You cause when all else fails, you still prevail And I hold to You

I sang the song this way for awhile. Until the affects of my parents divorce began to unravel in a way I never imagined... my mom relapsed back into alcoholism. After my dad left, she held on to hope for a whole year. She never signed the divorce papers and was willing to take him back at any point. But after a year, a divorce is finalized if one party still wants it. My dad did... so it was over. It came at the worst time. My sister left home for college soon after and then I got married. Leaving my mom all alone. This is when she fell apart. She ended up with a DUI and was put on probation. After violating probation a few times, she was placed in the county jail for five months. She lost her job. Her license. And worst of all, her ministry.

She was in jail during Thanksgiving 2009. That was the hardest year to be thankful. I was on my bed crying out to the Lord one night, when I heard a tug at my heart tell me to revisit this song. This song that I wrote in pain needed to be finished. It needed a chorus that could be the cry of everyone experiencing doubts, frustrations and pain in this life. I wanted to write this for my mom. Through tears, I wrote these words on a letter that would be addressed to a county jail.

I Need You

Empty silence, empty thoughts That's how it's been for awhile now Seems like all my hope is lost And I'm never gonna make it out

I need a hand To help me stand

When I'm weak, I need Your strength to help me get through it When I doubt, I need Your faith to see Your purpose When I fall, I need Your grace I need You

My cheeks are traced with tears I need You to wipe away And my dreams are filled with fears of facing another day

I need a hand To help me stand

I need You in the valley on the mountain, through the storm I need You when I'm drowning when I've forgotten my way home

It's been almost two years since my mom was released and she is still on the road to recovery. She is working as a waitress and saving up to pay her fees to get her license back. Her outlook on life is still bright. She says that the Lord disciplines those He loves... and that must mean He loves her a lot! :)

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Purchase "I Need You" here.