Through the ups and downs of life,

God has always prevailed! Lisa Hartley's Testimony


Since I was a little girl, I've always felt God's presence in my life. As the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, I have been in church since I was conceived, and I asked Jesus to be my Savior at the age of five. As I got older, I also learned to follow Him as my Lord. After my parents' divorce, my life took a turn that brought with it some challenging and unfortunate experiences -- the beginning of many I would encounter. God has taught me many valuable lessons, often through pain or disappointment. But the one consistency through life's chaos is that God has always been right there with me, through the good times and the bad. Praise God for His faithfulness!

As I write these words, I am reminded of a time a number of years ago when God began to breathe His music into my soul. I never considered myself to be a songwriter, but oh, how I loved to sing. Having been raised in the church, I have been singing songs about Jesus since I could utter my first words. But something happened in my life that put music in a whole new realm for me. I learned to worship.

During the spring of 2006, I began seeking help for some emotional struggles that I had been fighting for quite some time. As I started becoming more aware of my emotions and learning to understand them, I suddenly began to relate to spiritual songs on a much deeper level than I ever had. And I began to worship our amazing God in a way that I never before understood -- not just amidst the many members of our church congregation on Sunday mornings, but in the privacy of my own bedroom, where it was just God and me. I took to heart the words of the wonderful hymn, “I Surrender All,” and that became my daily prayer: “Father, I surrender my all to You today.” I gave up trying to manage my own life and make sense of the emotional turmoil in which I found myself, and I finally released it all into the hands of my Heavenly Father. That was the beginning of an amazing journey for me. And all it took was SURRENDER.

It was during these initial steps of my journey that God began to give me words and melodies to many of the songs you will hear on my album, "Surrender." God has been faithful to walk with me through the hills and valleys, carrying me when necessary, and I would not trade a moment of it for anything. Looking back over my life, I realize that I have always felt His presence, especially when I needed Him the most. God was the Shelter I turned to when I lacked security. He was my Father when mine wasn’t there, and my Friend during my loneliest hours. He was my Strength when I was too weak to stand. He has been my Healer, both physically and emotionally. He has been my Comfort through loss and sorrow. He was my Provider during my times of need. He has been my Master, giving me direction when I couldn't find my way. When I felt like hiding in the shadows, He gave me a reason to hold my head up high, because I am a royal child of the King of Kings, redeemed by the blood of Christ!

God has blessed me greatly over the years, including giving me a wonderful husband and four incredible children -- two by birth and two by international adoption. In 2010, one of my adopted daughters was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). She was almost 8 years old at the time, and this diagnosis came with answers to questions we had been asking since she was an infant. She had always been a difficult child, to put it mildly. She was filled with rage and was unable to bond with or trust anyone, especially me. Her anger combined with oppositional and destructive behavior was tearing our family apart. None of the children could get along and my husband and I were trying so hard to keep our family afloat that our marriage began to suffer as well. Then, by the grace of God, came our answer: Reactive Attachment Disorder. And with that diagnosis came the revelation that she could overcome it with proper attachment therapy and therapeutic parenting. Six months after beginning therapy, my daughter learned to bond with me for the first time in eight years. Oh, what a special time that was! About six months after that, she also bonded with my husband. In the months that followed, my daughter bonded with her siblings as well and became an entirely different person. Instead of being overcome by anger, she was learning to allow love into her heart. God had healed her heart and her mind. And, as a result, He healed our family. God is so good!!

What I failed to mention thus far is that during the time we were beginning my daughter’s therapy, my vocal chords became swollen and I went on voice rest. For a year-and-a-half I could not sing a single note. In the months and years that followed, I began being able to sing at half-strength for short periods of time, but I was a long way from where I once was. After many doctor appointments and several minor procedures, there was no definitive answer as to why I couldn’t sing. It became very clear that God wanted me to focus strictly on my family for a while, and on my daughter’s healing – not on music. So for five years, I did just that. No singing. No choir. No music. During those years, God performed miraculous healing within our family. The anger, stress, and frustration was replaced with peace, hope, and love. After witnessing such a drastic change in our daughter, our marriage, and our family, my husband and I agreed that it was time for me to return to music, although I still could not sing at full voice. I rejoined my church choir in 2015 and spent the next year-and-a-half singing with half of a voice and doing a lot of lip-syncing.

In spite of my vocal challenges, I enjoyed being back in choir. I was able to lead in worship again and it felt great. While still waiting to see if God would restore my voice, and not confident that He would choose to do so, I found another avenue to use the musical gifts God had given me. I began writing a worship-based children’s musical and proceeded to help teach the children’s choir in our church to present it to our congregation as part of a kids' night of worship. As the children began rehearsing the music in the spring of 2017, another miracle took place. After nearly seven years, my voice was suddenly back and it was stronger than ever before. The timing couldn’t have been a coincidence. I had finally become content without my singing voice and I was truly happy in this new calling producing children’s music. Yet once again, God proved Himself as sovereign and restored to me that which I had learned to live without. He is Lord over everything! All in all, my singing voice never belonged to me to begin with. It is and always was His – to give and to take away as He chose. I rejoice daily for the ability to sing God’s praises again, with His voice. To Him be the glory!

So that brings us to today. I am once again singing on our church praise team and in the choir, and I sing solos when given the opportunity. I also am still writing music, I've begun writing a book, and I am preparing to speak to groups and congregations. But, more importantly, my family is whole and happy and my once RAD child is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I give all the glory to our Lord God for all He has done in my life, in my daughter’s life, and in my family. I know not what the future holds for my family or me, but knowing Who holds the future makes all the difference in the world. We are God’s. We are in His hands. Regardless of the circumstances, there is no place I’d rather be.