My Story

  

                       THE MUSIC AND ME 

Babies hear in the womb.  I must have heard a lot of music, maybe even the symphony with my dad playing viola.  I remember watching my mother’s feet dancing on church organ pedals.  She loved me but couldn’t take care of me.  She was soon diagnosed as an incurable schizophrenic. My dad re-married. Mom’s ailing parents took me in and later, my aunt, my cousins, even a boarding school. 

But God always knows what He is doing when He brings a child into the world.  My grandmother made sure I went to church, lots of different churches,  as we moved down the economic ladder. Children’s choir, piano lessons, hymns, gospel songs, and the cadences of the Psalms sang in my soul.  

When I was eight, I prayed to Jesus and accepted Him as my Savior.  This faith in God as my Father got me through Nana’s death and difficult teen years when I was verbally abused by an uncle.  I struggled with depression and an eating disorder as I moved from home to home, school to school.  Then, with a great sense of relief and adventure,  and a bunch of scholarships, I enrolled in a Christian college.  

Right away I literally bumped into an answer to prayer, Bob Satterfield.  That was the first time I heard God speak in my heart.  God said clearly, so I couldn’t make a mistake:  “He’s the one.”  Two years later we married and then graduated. I earned an English degree and worked in journalism, later as an English teacher.  I studied voice and sang solos too, never dreaming the Lord might use my musical talent. 

It was the era of hippies and the Jesus Movement.  People were getting “filled with the Spirit.”  We were just trying to keep groceries in the fridge.  We  had moved to the seminary where Bob took classes for the chaplaincy.  I was so happy with our newborn daughter.  But when Bob left  for an internship, my old acquaintance FEAR came to visit.  Suddenly I was afraid to be alone with my baby at night and barricaded myself in our tiny house.  

About this time I visited a cousin recovering from a rattlesnake bite.  He told me he hadn’t been afraid to die.  That amazed me!  I had been afraid of death since my grandma died.  

I prayed with my cousin that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I didn’t ask God to remove the fear, but it disappeared–for two weeks.   Then came a day I can only describe as my first time to “walk in the Spirit,” as I prayed and the Lord led me from one person to another who needed encouragement and prayer. 

That night at church a friend urged me to share my unusual experience.  But after I spoke, a different kind of spirit manifested, a palpable anger that spread like a thundercloud overhead.  Suddenly, a man known for his temper took offense at some innocent comment on the scripture.  Scarlet with fury, he sprang up  bellowing at an old man in the back row.   The meeting broke up; people hurried out into darkness.  I wondered if they even remembered my testimony.

I carried my baby into the house and shut the door.  But FEAR had returned.   I could feel its presence and sensed the irrational thoughts in my head were not from within but from the evil one.  So I rebuked it out loud in the name of Jesus, and it fled!  That was the first time I understood that fear, anxiety, and depression are not only afflictions but also temptations and attacks to keep us from trusting and serving God. 

I would love to say I have never been attacked by FEAR or its associates again.   But I learned to replace my fear with truth and promises from the Bible.  Later I wrote a musical based on Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. In one scene Christian is held captive in Doubting Castle till he remembers the truth will set him free.  (I mailed a copy to my mom in the state hospital .  She played it on the piano there and told me the song “Giant Despair” was her favorite!)

Writing music was something I never thought I could do.  But after that summer battling fear, I asked the Lord to give me something to do that would touch people’s lives.  Three nights later I found myself singing a new song to the Lord, words and music all coming at once.  Soon I was singing my songs in churches and studying music again.  But the best music was the Lord singing in my heart!

Our son was born, and we began a new life with the military.  I helped lead children’s ministry and directed chapel choirs. I took classes at universities near every base to complete the requirements for a teaching credential in music education.  I studied voice with famous teachers such as Marjorie Lawrence, who had performed at the Metropolitan Opera.  I loved to sing arias but not as much as the songs of the Lord.  I had a family and a Savior to serve. 

My children learned to serve God too as we got involved with children’s musicals.  It was so much fun, a way for them to sing and act out eternal truths from God’s Word.  One day I read a book that inspired me to compose my first kids’ musical.  I prayed hard every morning for a month, getting up before my kids did to write  Follow the Star.  We produced it at church, and I was hooked on writing kids’ musicals!

One year the military moved us three times!  Those moves became adventures with the Lord, though I had a hard time leaving people and places I loved.  My husband was often deployed.  I fought depression and loneliness with my Bible, confided in friends and wise counselors, and stayed involved in ministry. 

I always felt guilty I couldn’t take my mother with me as we moved. When she died, I was so blessed by the support from family members.   I didn’t realize how much they cared about me until they all came from out of state for her funeral.  My mom lived most of her life in institutions.  Yet she was a sweet-spirited believer, whose love for her family helped make us all better, more compassionate people.

Sometime before her death I looked up my dad, whom I hadn’t seen in 35 years.   He had become a Christian and was playing his viola in church every Sunday.   God helped me work through feelings of abandonment to forgive and love him.  To forgive and be forgiven is a miracle only God could work in my fearful heart.

One Christmas I received Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby as a gift.  As I started working through the book, I knew it was a gift for the church where I was worship director.  So I shared it with the pastor, and soon a large number of adults and youth were learning to see God at work and join Him, as Blackaby puts  it.  That book changed my life and changed the church.  Our worship choir and orchestra were the first to present the Experiencing God, the Musical in our area, and we saw many professions of faith from those performances.  The Lord was working through me and also working on me.  I grew spiritually and emotionally in many ways.  And the fun with kids and music went on and on! 

My husband retired from the military and began work as a counselor and pastor of recovery ministries.  A few years later,  he became a hospital chaplain and then a chaplain to veterans.  We both battled FEAR  as our marriage was stress-tested by all the job changes.  Then our kids came under heavy attack too.  But somehow, no matter how heavy my heart was, whenever I stood up to lead worship, the Lord poured His strength and joy into me.    

God was faithful and answered our prayers for our kids.  After they graduated from college, both of them married outstanding Christians.  They followed their own callings to teach children and use their musical talents in ministry.  

During those years I started having health problems.  I was not taking good care of myself, driving 120 miles a day and coming home late after rehearsals for fourteen years.  I had been on the front lines of spiritual warfare both at church and home.   Then the Lord opened a door at a church not far from my house. During the years I served there, I had some surgeries and injuries.   But I had a great time leading the choir (even when my conducting arm was in a splint) and producing more children’s musicals!

Now I hadn’t told anyone about my enlarged thyroid.  A hereditary surprise, the goiter had become a dark lump at the base of my throat.  I had a biopsy and worried about losing my voice.  So I began claiming  promises from God, especially Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the Lord all my life.”

On August 16, 2007, I was flipping through channels when I discovered the 700 Club on CBN. After the news section Pat Robertson announced it was prayer time.  His very next words were, “Someone has a goiter.  Lay your hand on the goiter, and we’ll pray that it will shrink.”  I was so startled, I said out loud, “Lord, that’s for me!”  I laid my hand on my throat and prayed while Pat prayed on the prerecorded program.  I felt nothing, but I looked in the mirror.  No dark lump.  I swallowed, felt my neck, tried everything to find that goiter.  It had shrunk!

At my next appointment the doctor was going to make an exhibit of me so an intern could see what a goiter looks like.  She tried her best to find it.  Her eyes opened wide as she exclaimed, “It shrank!”  Of course, I had to tell her God answered my prayer.  Now that doctor reminds me God shrank my goiter.

That was not the first healing I’d experienced, but it reassured me once again that my Father was in control and concerned with every detail of my life.  The Lord was preparing me for an even bigger battle with my old enemy FEAR.

It was the Big C, breast cancer.  In 2008 I was diagnosed with invasive carcinoma.  A small but aggressive lump.  “Caught just in time” in stage one–but I still needed surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.   The day I got the the biopsy report we drove straight from the hospital to dress rehearsal for my children’s musical Pilgrim’s Progress.  My husband had the role of Giant Despair, and my son was playing euphonium with his band buddies.  As I conducted the exuberant finale, “Death! Where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory?” I knew Jesus was singing through those children to encourage me and my family.  The Lord’s timing is always perfect.

My husband likes to tell how one morning after the diagnosis I sang and danced before the Lord in total surrender.  I put on the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir CD I’ll Say Yes.  I sang and danced with my hands stretched to heaven, tears streaming down my face.  I prayed for healing, but I also prayed, as John Piper put it, that I wouldn’t “waste my cancer.”  I prayed God would glorify Himself through my cancer.  Now I pray He will be glorified through this testimony.  I can tell you, if you belong to the Lord, He will be with you whatever comes your way.

But it was hard.  I did my best to keep going in ministry and music.  I had so much prayer support, so much help and love from my husband, family, friends, church, and students.  I went to church every Sunday I could, even when I could only sit and cry as my son led worship.

Finally I was so swollen with steroids, burned with radiation, weak and in pain, I couldn’t walk.  But soon I was in physical therapy and remission.  I know the Lord healed me not by one miraculous prayer but through thousands of prayers.  He healed me through the brilliant minds and skilled hands of  my doctors and nurses and the researchers who labor to “find a cure.”  How God coordinates any healing, bringing us safely through the valley of the shadow of death, is always a miracle!

Now do you think my enemy FEAR let me alone because the Lord gave me so much faith and assistance?  Not at all.  One night I felt FEAR in the bedroom.  I sat up and started verbalizing the panic in my head, working myself up.  I was going to be sick, suffer, and die.  As soon as I said that, I realized what was afoot.  I rebuked myself and the FEAR out loud, laid myself down, and instantly went to sleep.  When I saw the effect of my outburst on my husband, I promised myself  to never say those things again.  I kept that promise, though I did go through a gamut of emotions.

I have heard the words of the Lord again and again:  “Be still and know that I am God.”  “Wait on the Lord.”  The Lord is calling me to spend more time with Him in His Word, in prayer, and in worship.  More time encouraging others as He has encouraged me.  

He has been my song in the night. 

If you’ve ever been in love, you know how you long to see THAT FACE.  I am looking forward to seeing the face of Jesus in the Celestial City called Heaven.  But I am also so grateful for more time here!  The Lord is still working on me and, I pray, through me.  Sometimes I still get too busy, pushing myself perfectionistically to be a “thriver” and achiever, not just a survivor.  I have some anxiety but a lot more joy.

When I turn my eyes on Jesus, I stop looking at myself. 

And when I am quiet, I still hear His music.