My Story...

The sounds of Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, and Judy Collins were the norm in our household. I grew up the second of four daughters on a big farm in eastern Pennsylvania. We all learned to play guitar and write songs at an early age because our dad played guitar and was a writer by trade. A neighbor farmed our land. It wasn’t unusual to hear four, five, six part harmonies wafting from our kitchen window as we cleaned up the dinner dishes. Those early days were fun and carefree.

My guitar became my best friend and solace in my early teens. My parents were divorced and our happy little household disappeared. I took walks in the fields and woods just to get away from the craziness. It was there the presence of God became very evident to me. I sensed a peacefulness deep in the woods... an order that was in striking contrast to the man-made mayhem at home. I wanted to be a part of God’s world, and not man’s. I took walks whenever I could.

Although my mother was a kind and gentle woman, my father took my sisters and me away from her and moved us to Maine when I was sixteen... he told us she didn’t want us anymore. Even though the divorce was past, my father’s heavy drinking and emotional abuse were very present.  During the summer, I got a job as crew on the Windjammer schooners that sailed week-long cruises from Camden Harbor.  I think my musical skills got me the job so I spent many evenings singing songs for the passengers.  When I graduated High School in Maine, I opened up a small folk music shop in town. I loved being around music all day long. I learned to play the instruments I sold: guitars, banjos, mandolins, penny whistles and dulcimers. Coastal Maine had a large Celtic and Irish influence so much of my style was influenced by the music around me. I also learned ragtime guitar and began playing with other musicians in the area.

I left home when I was twenty, but by the time I was twenty four I had managed to make a royal mess of my life.  Among many indiscretions that began to burn on my conscience, the one that haunted me the most was an abortion I had at age nineteen. Unable to come to terms with whom I had become, I chose to leave Maine, my music store, my family and any semblance of myself behind. I knew I had to find God or I couldn’t live with myself any longer. I planned to head out for Seattle. I thought that maybe if I lived a good enough life out there for about twenty years, God might forgive me. I stopped in Pennsylvania to say goodbye to my mom … but that was when the plan changed. My mom asked me to stay. No words can describe what her unconditional love did for me. I never left Pennsylvania. I renewed a long awaited relationship with the mother I had missed all these years. My mother took me to church and showed me that despite my mistakes, God still loved me, and He wanted to welcome me with open arms too. I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior of my life, which brought on a wonderful time of healing with my mother and my own soul. Once again I was able to take walks with God in the woods and find peace with Him.

Having been a barroom blues singer, the transition to Christian music was a bit rocky. The current Christian music just didn’t quite fit for me, but I didn’t have the blues anymore (and it's hard to sing the blues if you don't have the blues!) So I began to write a recipe for my own Christian music… sort of a folky, ragtime with some blues flavoring. I also started to play with a bluegrass gospel band named, “Sunnyside.” I was not a bluegrass musician, so I learned to play bass and sing high tenor. In time, the band backed me up on a few of my original songs, and then I would tell my story to the audience. My songs and testimony were so well received, I started to present them on my own for churches, retreats and women’s groups. I wrapped my songs around my own story with an outcome that showed my healing came from Christ. I started presenting musical workshops in prisons, hospitals, libraries, parks and festivals.

A year after leaving Maine, I met and married a wonderful Christian man named Guy. Three years later, our daughter, Amy was born. I was living a whole new life now that I had never dreamed could exist for me, and it was all because of God. My mother was delighted to have us nearby and to hold and know her first grandchild. However only two and a half months after Amy was born, God suddenly called my mother home. Mom was killed in an auto accident by a drunk driver. Some people question God during such times of grief. I remember thinking I just needed God even more. I miss my mother terribly, but I know she is safe with Jesus until I join her there someday. Then we’ll never say goodbye again.

My father died in 2003… I have learned that despite the pain my dad caused me and my family, God loved him too. When Jesus died on the cross to save the world from their sins, He died to forgive my dad's sins too.  Although that seems a simple thought, it was one I wrestled with for a very long time.  Jesus asks me to forgive my dad for the things he said to me over the years. I finally realized if Jesus asks me to forgive, then I need to forgive. I am in no position to hold back, because Jesus didn't hold back to forgive me.  When I came to that realization, it was only then that I was set free from that terrible destructive sadness that had plagued me for decades.  But I know I would have never come to that conclusion without the still small voice of God patiently loving me and helping me every step of the way.  We have at our fingertips a mighty God Who is more powerful than any sin, yet loving enough to gently lead us back to Him.

My first CD of original music was completed in December 2000 titled, "Beyond This Place". Many of the songs that helped me through my childhood up till then were on that CD.  It was a very successful release.  I still receive emails and letters from people who have been encouraged by the music and words.  Thank you to all who have encouraged me.  However, not long after that CD was released, I got distracted.  Isn't that one of the enemy's favorite tactics?  All satan has to do is distract us from using the gifts we have from God, and that is just as effective as us not having that gift at all. I got worried that something as wonderful as being a singer, songwriter was just a self-centered dream. So I pushed the music down, went to school and became a nurse for twelve years.  I kept pushing the music down again and again as I struggled to be somebody I wasn't.  I pushed the music down until I was so clinically depressed the doctors couldn't give me enough medicine to keep me from having an emotional breakdown at work one day.  I collapsed in my supervisors office and cried for ten minutes before I could even get one word out - and when I did say something, I told her I needed to go home and write a song!  Maybe it was an act of God, but she believed me and let me go home. When I got home, I put my head down on a table and cried out to God, "What do I do now?"  Then ever so quietly, a simple picture of His creation came to mind. A picture of a seedling breaking out of the ground.  This seedling didn't have a plan of its own, it was just reaching for the light of God and trusting God to do with it as He saw fit. Nothing was complicated. There was only trust. I realized I needed to do the same thing.  I needed to let go of my plans and just trust that God knows what He's doing with me.  I wrote a song that day called "Rise".  Everything has changed since that day.  I never went back to nursing.  My new CD, "Rise" was released in April 2012.  I'm a singer songwriter now - I always was, but now I don't pretend I'm not.  The future may not look the way I imagine it to look, but I am confident it looks exactly like Jesus wants it to look. All I need to do is keep trusting Him to be God, and I will be infinitely happier in His plan than in any plan of my own. 

His plan became more evident in the fall of 2010. For years I believed the feelings of worthlessness that still managed to plague my soul were just left over from my childhood.  God knew the real reason.  He led me to a Bible study for post-abortive women at a nearby crisis pregnancy center.  I had the head knowledge that God had forgiven me, but deep inside I just couldn't allow myself to accept that forgiveness in my heart.  In that study I was gently led to face and accept every aspect of that terrible decision, but all the while I was reminded, through scripture, that God still loved me.  It was only then that I got a glimpse of what His mercy really means. Since then I have hosted or co-hosted post-abortion Bible studies at the crisis pregnancy center, in the county prison and women's rehab, with women in small groups in my home, and through my church. Truly, I am still awestruck that God loves someone like me, but I am so grateful.  Now the feelings of worthlessness are gone.  I am a new creation in God.  Thank you, thank you, God!

I pray I can reach out to people with troubled lives and show them that no matter what they have done, or where they have been, Jesus knows the way out of whatever mess they are in.  Take it from me, when you seek the truth ... the real truth and not your own version of truth ... Jesus, who is the Way and the Truth and the Life will hear you.  He will show you the way back to Him.  It is a gift we will never be good enough to earn, Jesus just offers it because He wants us to come home.  We may never know why He loves us that much.. but He does.  And for me... that is something I just had to tell you about... and it surely is something worth singing about!  Thanks for reading, and God bless you! - Wendy
© 2010 Wendy Schettig. All rights reserved.