What was the central theme in your mind while writing the songs for I Had No Idea?

I didn’t necessarily have any theme in mind when writing the different songs for this project. I just write songs from my heart as certain ideas come to me. Often I am just reflecting on some aspect of God’s work in my life, or I am just trying to express my worship and praise for God’s faithfulness to me. In most of my songs I am just talking to the Lord and hoping that others can relate to the feelings I’m trying to express.

What are your musical influences?

I didn’t become a Christian until I was 19, so I had a lot of influence from secular music during my formative years in learning to play guitar and sing. I liked Bob Dylan, John Denver, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel, and many other similar artists – mostly folk type. I also liked the Eagles, Jackson Brown, and Cat Stevens (I believe these were mostly 60’s and 70’s artists). After becoming a Christian I was really touched by Keith Green’s music, and by his passion for the Lord. If I could put even a small bit of Keith’s passion into my music, I would feel that I have achieved my goal in ministering to others through music. Other than these I’ve mentioned, I can’t really think of any particular artist that has influenced me.

What are your lyrical influences? What books have influenced your writing and beliefs during recent years?

I’m not aware that I’m particularly influenced lyrically by any particular person other than (hopefully) the Holy Spirit. I spent a lot of time as an early Christian memorizing large portions of Scripture. I find that when I’m writing, the Holy Spirit just brings some of these Scriptural truths through in my lyrics. I sometimes surprise myself with some of what comes out. I really don’t have a lot of time for extra reading. I read short articles of interest to me, but I hope my major influence in writing is the Bible. I appreciate other writers, but I know that we all are tainted in our understanding of the truth, so I’d rather be directly influenced by Scripture. However, I do appreciate much of the good preaching that has helped me to understand the Scriptures better and to apply them to my life. I’m blessed to have a husband who is an excellent expository teacher of the Word. I also like preachers like David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, J. Vernon McGee, and many others who teach the Word with understanding and conviction.

How do you write your songs?

Sometimes I’ll have a complete song just roll off my pen, melody and everything. Often the idea for it might come while I’m washing dishes, sitting on my front porch swing watching the kids play, or while doing some other routine activity of a normal day. I might go back through the song and change a few things and sometimes the second verse comes with more difficulty than the first, but it usually doesn’t take too long. Other times I try to think of an idea that I’d like to convey and try to think of a particular phrase to build my song around. I can’t really explain the melody part, it just kind of comes. Unfortunately, the melodic phrases sometimes sound the same as in many of my other songs, so I’ve appreciated being able to collaborate with other writers like Dan Clark (arranger/keyboards/guitar) and Donald Johns (producer/engineer), as well as with my 18-year-old son, Sam. They have helped bring a fresh sound to some of my songs. Songwriting is still a mystery even to me. I just appreciate that the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to do this.

What is your hope for this album? How would you like to touch your listeners?

Well first of all, like most songwriters, I would love for the Lord to open more doors for this album to reach as many people as possible through radio, the internet, and any other avenue available to me that wouldn’t compromise my convictions of being a stay-at-home mom. There is a possibility that we will do more travelling and ministering as a family, but it won’t be a solo thing for me; it will include the family because my husband is an excellent speaker and many of our eight children are gifted musically. I don’t want to lose my commitment to the Biblical role of a wife and mom while seeking a fleeting career in music. I hope that my music will be something I can do over the long haul as I continue to fulfill my first calling to the home. Secondly, I hope that people can relate to the feelings that I try to convey in my music and that they will receive the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit as they listen. I couldn’t write it if I didn’t experience it myself – God is faithful!

How has your family influenced/helped your music?

I might have answered some of this question in the previous question, but my family has influenced my music in many ways. Sometimes struggles with my children have actually given birth to some of my songs such as “My Hope is in You”. I endured a tough time with my oldest daughter and there was a time I had to give up trying to fix it myself and put my hope in the Lord. Another song speaks of the joy that my children are to me – “God Says They’re Gifts” is a statement about what a blessing children are and how I believe that we should trust the Lord to give us the number of children He wants us to have because He is in control and He says they’re gifts from Him. Now that I have some teenagers, a couple of them (Sam – 18, and Hannah-17) have helped both in writing and singing background vocals on this CD. They truly are an asset to my life and ministry. My husband is a constant encouragement, as well as a barometer of what I should and shouldn’t be doing in terms of my music. He keeps me in check.

Any final comments on the album?

I keep hoping that the title of this album (I Had No Idea) will be true in more ways than one. I can already say “I had no idea” that God would give me the opportunity to minister in so many wonderful ways. Through radio, Above Rubies ladies’ retreats, and the blessing of being able to record and work with such talented musicians in project, I have been greatly blessed by God. He is truly awesome, wonderful, and the giver of every good and perfect gift!

Have you always been a Christian?

I was raised in a church-going, moral home, as the youngest of 4 children. Even though good works and believing in Jesus were taught to me from a young age, I had no understanding of having a personal relationship with Jesus. I remember having a strong love for God and a regular night time prayer, but I always lived in fear of God, since I was taught that I had to be good for him to love me.

I soon figured out that I could never be good enough to please God, or even myself. So as I went into my teen years, I pretty much gave up hope of ever measuring up to God’s standards. It was easier to just forget about God, than to live in constant guilt. I still wanted to be good, but couldn’t seem to fight all the temptation that was around me, in terms of experimentation with drugs, promiscuity and all that goes along with that life style. Most nights I went to bed feeling guilty, but at a loss for what to do about changing my life.

Where did you look for meaning in your life?

When I was 19 years old, I really set about finding a reason for living and for a way of having eternal life, which I already believed was possible. I got involved in eastern religions, transcendental meditation, and many other new age philosophies. I still knew in my heart that Jesus was God and since these religions at least acknowledged Jesus as one of the many ways to God, that was okay with me.

Who influenced the way you looked at Christianity?

My brother came home from college and began sharing with me about having a personal relationship with Jesus. I rejected him as being a Jesus freak at first, but his persistence finally convinced me to at least go to a church service. The theme of the sermon that day was about there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I could hardly believe it! Could it be true that I could really be accepted and not condemned if I only believed in Jesus?

What happened when you sought greater understanding?

The more I read the Bible, the more I understood that salvation is a free gift, not earned as a result of being good enough. This understanding totally changed my life, filled me with such peace and joy. I wasn’t guilty or ashamed any more. I immediately got involved in the church where I heard that sermon and joined the college age choir, began playing guitar and singing for the youth group, etc. Music had always been part of my life since childhood, it became a natural part of my Christian life too. But the greatest thing for me was that, for the first time in my life, I had an overpowering inspiration to write songs for the Lord. I had dabbled in song writing before, but nothing really inspired me. Now I couldn’t keep from singing about all the Lord had done for me.