Wings of Glory: The Story behind the Songs

Dedicated to my children—
who taught me about real life.


Before I could begin the production of the album Wings of Glory: Songs of Hope and Healing from Addiction, I first had to deal with some of my own “compulsive behaviors,” such as procrastination, codependency, and fear, that had always hindered me in the past. Then I had to collect and sort through the rough drafts of my songs that I’d written on all kinds of scratch paper over the years. Finally, with my youngest child in tow, I said good-bye to the rest of my family and began the six-hour drive to the home of my son Ben and his wife, Shelley.

As I drove along, I began to question myself. I was concerned that maybe Ben wouldn’t like my other songs as much as he liked the first two he’d heard already. I was also concerned that, with my limited musical training, I couldn’t make some of the songs as powerful as I really wanted them to be. I was nervous and feeling unsure of myself.

When I arrived, Ben and I sat down on the piano bench together in front of his keyboard. I showed him the first song and told him to be honest with me and tell me if he didn’t like it. He played it and simply said, “It’s good, Mom.” I showed him the next song. Once again he played it and said, “It’s good, Mom.” After we went through all of my songs, I asked Ben if he thought we had enough songs to actually make an album. He said, “Definitely.” So what began as a dream finally became a reality.

I share this personal experience to tell all who suffer from addictions or compulsive behaviors that you can still accomplish great things with your life. Dare to dream new dreams. Look forward, not back. We all have regrets about our past and insecurities about our future potential. But God will use us all if we’ll turn our lives over to Him.

There is a Power in Heaven that will guide you in your own recovery. Take time to listen for its quiet promptings. Seek for a feeling of peace in every decision you make. The answers will come. You will know in time what you should do.

Your personal agony may break your wings as you struggle with your own addictions and compulsive behaviors. But hold onto hope. You will fly once again someday—on your own wings of glory.


My many thanks and great feelings of gratitude go to:

David Fales, my husband, who has always been my best friend, “sounding board,” and constant support.

Ben Fales, my son who caught the vision of what I wanted to do and then spent many months producing the album Wings of Glory: Songs of Hope and Healing while finishing college, working, and being a new father.

Shelley Fales, Ben’s wife, who made many personal sacrifices so the album could be produced and helped us with her valuable insights and beautiful photography.

Linda Parkin, my husband’s sister and a professional editor, who spent countless, unpaid hours helping me with this book while undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

Kat and Justin Serra, my daughter and son-in-law who gave up time together so Justin could create our Web site while going to college and working two jobs.

Marie Fales, my daughter who wrote some of the vocal harmonies and instrumental arrangements for the ALBUM and shared many excellent musical suggestions.

Robert and Birdell Litster, my parents, who have shown me by their example the importance of standing up for the values I believe are right.

All of my children—Alison, Jonathan, Andrew, Benjamin, Marie, Kathryn, Elizabeth, Rebekah, Angela, Matthew, and Michelle— who have been so encouraging while I have worked on this project and who haven’t complained (very much) about the many hours I’ve spent at the computer this past year.

My husband, children, and extended family members—Robin, Marge, Charity, Bill, and David—who carefully proofread my manuscript and gave me helpful ideas for this book.

The vocalists, musicians, and engineers—university students, most of them—who worked so hard for little or no money up front to make the dream of the Wings of Glory album a reality.

Introduction to the Story and Songs

Wings of Glory is a collection of songs inspired by experiences in my own family. They reflect the sorrow, the hope, and the healing that can come from addiction. These songs are not only for people who suffer from the disease of addiction, but also for their families and friends.

Each song has a heart-wrenching story behind it. Each song came at the cost of great personal pain. Each song speaks the truth.

Several years ago, my son Jonathan became involved with drugs and alcohol. Helplessly, I watched him struggle as he went from the experimental stage of drug abuse to becoming completely addicted. Year after year I saw his frustration and his hopelessness as he continued to relapse, even though he tried to change his lifestyle and stay away from drugs and alcohol. As I agonized over my son’s pain from addiction, I sought for answers as to how he could ever be free from this progressive disease. I also sought for ways my family and I could somehow help him.

As a novice songwriter, the songs I had written up to this point in my life had dealt, ironically, with the theme of family happiness and love. When I found out that Jonathan was abusing drugs and alcohol, new thoughts came flooding into my mind, steering me in a direction
I never thought I’d go. From the anguish of my own soul, I began writing songs about the pain and sorrow of drug and alcohol addiction. When I would share my songs with others, they would weep with me. Then the thought came to me that I needed to record my songs someday.

After several years, another one of my sons, Ben, approached me about recording the first two songs I had written, “They Weren’t Really His Friends” and “Because We Are a Family.” I was very grateful because I’d wanted to have these songs recorded for a long time. I told him I’d written several other songs he hadn’t heard yet. I shared with him my real dream to make an album of songs about recovering from drug addiction, which would have all of these songs on it. Without hesitating, he said, “Let’s do it.”

With Ben’s amazing musical talents, he took the simple words and melodies I’d written and turned them into beautiful songs. He edited the words, changed notes here and there, and composed the sounds that I had not been able to create by myself. It was as though he could see directly into my heart as he captured the feelings I was trying to express and put them back into my music. Where my talents ended, his talents took over.

My husband, David, a marketing executive, had wanted to help me publish my creative works someday. But with a large family and many expenses, we always put these projects on the “back burner.” When I told him my desire to record an album with Ben, he immediately said, “We need to make your album this year. Ben will be graduating in the spring, so we need to get started on this project right now.”

Financially, the timing couldn’t have been worse. But going forward with a lot of faith, we budgeted some money to begin the production of the album. We gave Ben the go-ahead without knowing if we would have enough money to finish the project. After months of hard work and a lot of prayer, my dream finally became a reality.

My purpose in writing the songs and stories for Wings of Glory was threefold. First, I wanted to inspire Jonathan with the confidence that he could break free from addiction’s chains of bondage. Second, I wanted to help each of my children, my husband, and myself heal from the pain and sorrow we have endured as a family the last several years. Third, I wanted to reach out with a message of hope to everyone who has suffered from the devastation and despair of addiction.

Telling my story has never been easy. It’s difficult to share things I would rather forget. Many times I have wondered if I really wanted my story to be made public. But something within me said I must.

My hope is that all who listen to these songs and read these stories will have their burdens lifted and gain the inspiration and courage they need to make real changes in their own lives.

My message is simple: Never give up

The Sorrow

They Weren’t Really His Friends
Tip of the Iceberg
 I See the Children

Story Behind "They Weren’t Really His Friends"

When my son, Jonathan, went into junior high school, I became more and more concerned about the friends he wanted to hang out with each day. They seemed so secretive, and I always felt uncomfortable when he would go places with them. I just didn’t feel like I could trust them. I found out later that these “friends” were the ones who introduced Jonathan to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.

When my husband accepted a new job and we moved across the country, I felt a sense of relief. I had hopes that Jonathan would be able to make some new friends and have a fresh start. To my great disappointment, the new kids he wanted to hang out with were just as secretive as the last group. My worries increased. I knew he was continuing his anti-social behaviors as before, but when I found out he had started using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs so quickly after moving here, I was shocked. I soon came to understand the expression, “There are no geographical cures.”

I talked to one of Jonathan’s counselors and asked her about the drug problem at his junior high school. She looked at me seriously and said, “If kids are looking for drugs, they will find them. It only takes about ten minutes for a new kid to walk into a school before he finds out where he can get drugs. And you don’t need money to get drugs. Their friends will share with them.” I couldn’t believe this when I first heard it, but I learned over time that everything she said was true.

When Jonathan was fifteen years old, we admitted him to his first month-long drug treatment program. As I drove one hour each way to visit him twice a week, I cried the whole time. I thought about his birth, his childhood, his teenage life now, his decision to isolate himself from our family, and his poor choice of friends.

Slowly, my anguished soul found expression as a song came into my mind. The words exactly expressed my raw emotions about drug and alcohol addiction. I was angry. I was confused. I was devastated. But most of all, I was scared.


He was young and strong, just fifteen.
He wanted fun. He wasn’t mean . . .
Just looking for some friends and to fit in.
The kids he met, he called his friends.
The things they did, he would defend.
They acted like they liked him. He liked them.
But, no, they really weren’t his friends.

They weren’t really his friends
Because they left him in the end
With an alcoholic body
And a drug-addicted mind.
They weren’t really his friends
Because they left him in the end
Still searching for life’s meaning
And trying to survive.

Now he walks alone as before.
The drugs have only closed the doors
To getting where he really wants to be.
He feels no joy . . . only pain.
He feels no love . . . it’s all the same . . .
Just longing for the next time he gets high . . .
Wishing sometimes that he could die.

They weren’t really his friends
Because they left him in the end
With an alcoholic body
And a drug-addicted mind.
They weren’t really his friends
Because they left him in the end
Still searching for life’s meaning
And trying to survive.

Story Behind "Shadows"

My heart would break repeatedly as I watched the continuing pain in Jonathan’s life. There would be times when I didn’t know where he was or even if he were still alive. All I could do was pray for him and hope that someday he would want to rejoin our family.

One night Jonathan came home very late. It was the first time I saw him completely drunk. I was sitting on the couch reading the scriptures, and he came and sat down beside me. He tried to talk to me, but the words just wouldn’t come. Then he started to cry.

I knew he was miserable, but I didn’t know how to handle his being in my home in this drunken state. I didn’t know if I should tell him to leave or if I should let him stay. As I sat there beside him, these words came into my mind: “Even a drunk needs a hug. . . even if the drunk is your son.” So I put my arms around him, and we both cried together.

It was a very difficult time for our whole family as we dealt with Jonathan’s addictions. We felt like we were being pulled completely apart. It seemed impossible to know if we were doing the right things for him. Every morning when I woke up, I felt like I was living in a nightmare. I could hardly drag myself out of bed each day.

One evening we rented the movie Peter Pan, and I was watching it with my younger children. As we came to the part in the movie where Peter Pan lost his shadow, Jonathan walked into the room. He had just returned home again after a very long absence. As I saw him, I hardly recognized him as my own son. He had changed so much.

A contrasting analogy to Peter Pan’s circumstances came quickly into my mind’s eye. I could see how Jonathan had given his life over to drugs and alcohol, and now all he had left was the shadow of the person he used to be. He was completely lost. After saying a brief hello, he left to go downstairs to his bedroom. As he slowly and dejectedly walked out of the room, this song came into my mind.


I gave up everything for drugs.
I gave up everything
I ever dreamed I could be.
I gave up everything
For what drugs were promising.
I gave up everything for drugs.

I gave my heart . . .
I gave my soul . . .
I gave my life . . .
Till the drugs,
They took their toll
And left me shadows,
Only shadows,
Always shadows
Of the me
I used to know.w all I see

Now all I see
Is the me
I used to know.

Story Behind "Tip of the Iceberg"

One of the most frustrating and depressing things for me during this time was the way Jonathan couldn’t see that he was not only ruining his own life, but he was also disrupting the life we were trying to create at home for our family. He would justify his behavior with the attitude that it was his life and he could do whatever he wanted to do. He refused to ever look at the long-term consequences of his actions.

One night I was sitting in the lobby of a rehabilitation center waiting to visit Jonathan. I could overhear the conversation of some other teenagers who were also clients in the program. I realized that my son’s attitude was no different from theirs. They all wanted to do exactly what they wanted to do without any concern for future consequences or caring about anyone else’s feelings.

I wanted to jump up and grab these kids and beg them to look at the big picture of what was really happening to their lives and to the lives of their families. But then I came to the sad realization that the drugs and alcohol had completely robbed these young people, and my own son, of their ability to look beyond today. They were completely focused on how they were feeling at the moment without thinking about all the pain that would be waiting for them tomorrow.

The image of an iceberg came vividly into my mind as I sat in that lobby. I could see that the people who abuse drugs and alcohol want instant gratification and are blinded to the realities around them. They only see what they want to see. Because they are so blinded, they won’t get out of the way of the gigantic iceberg of sorrow and deceit, even when it’s right in front of them and threatening to destroy them. All they can see is the tip of the iceberg, which they choose to ignore.

I knew there was nothing I could say to these teenagers, or to Jonathan, that would make them change their attitude. But I had the hope that perhaps the right kind of music might help open their eyes. I pulled a piece of scratch paper out of my purse and started writing down the words to this song.


You say there’s nothing wrong
With having a drink or doing drugs.
Yes, that’s what you think.
You say there’s nothing wrong if you want to get high.
It’s your life, you say!
Somehow you’ll get by—You think you’ll never die.

You say there’s nothing wrong
With running away or sleeping around.
Yes, that’s what you say.
You say there’s nothing wrong if you cheat and you steal.
It’s your life, you say!
It’s just how you feel—You think it’s all so real.

But all you can see is the tip of the iceberg.
For all you can see is what you want to see.
But if you look beneath the tip of the iceberg,
You’ll see the crime. You’ll see the grief—
Abandoned children, broken homes,
Ruined lives, feeling alone.
It’s all beneath the tip of the iceberg . . .
The iceberg of deceit.

You say there’s nothing wrong
If you party all night—then come home with lies.
You think it’s all right.
You say there’s nothing wrong with dropping out of school.
It’s your life, you say!
You’re nobody’s fool—You think it’s all so cool.

But all you can see is the tip of the iceberg.
For all you can see is what you want to see.
But if you look beneath the tip of the iceberg,
You’ll see the crime. You’ll see the grief—
Abandoned children, broken homes,
Ruined lives, feeling alone.
It’s all beneath the tip of the iceberg . . .
The iceberg of deceit.

Story Behind "I See the Children"

During the two years our house was a host home for the long-term rehabilitation program our family was involved in, we came to know many of the clients very well. Many of them had such sorrowful stories to tell about their past lives.

Some of these teens came from stable homes where they had been loved, but most of them came from broken homes where they felt unsafe. Many of them had parents who were addicted themselves. These teenagers had been scarred by divorce as well as the violence, neglect, and abuse that were all triggered by addiction. The miserable consequences of the breakdown of the family were evident in the lives of this seemingly abandoned generation.

I grew to love each of these young people as they joined our large family in our home. There were often seventeen or more of us sitting around the dinner table each night laughing and telling jokes. But my heart ached terribly for them when I heard them say that they had no hope that they could ever experience real love within their own families. How I wished that they could someday experience the commitment and love in marriage that my husband and I shared.

During the previous several years, three of my close relatives had divorced. Each one of these divorces had filled me with such great sorrow. Then, we received a Christmas card from some wonderful friends who had moved away. On the card was a picture of all their children dressed in red pajamas standing around a Christmas tree, but they were looking quite sad. I wondered why the parents were not in the picture as they had always been in the past.

As I read the enclosed letter I understood the reason why and I wept. These beautiful children’s parents had also recently divorced. I was heartbroken by all these divorces. I knew the hurt and suffering that must be going on in all of their homes. With tears dropping on the paper and blurring the ink as I wrote, this song welled up from my sorrowing soul.


I see the children . . .
But where’s their mom and dad?
I see the children . . .
With faces, oh, so sad.

They’re not together . . .
The children are alone.
Where are their parents?
Where is their happy home?

Come back together—
Unite as man and wife.
Gather ’round your children,
And enjoy this precious life.
Come back together—
Gather ’round your children.
Let them feel your love.

I see the children . . .
They’re alone again tonight.
I see the children . . .
They’ve seen another fight.

Now Daddy’s out drinking.
Mama’s getting high.
No time for stories
Or bedtime lullabies.

Come back together—
Unite as man and wife.
Gather ’round your children,
And enjoy this precious life.
Come back together—
Gather ’round your children.
Let them feel your love.

The Hope

Army with Banners
Deep Inside of Me
Reaching Out
Faith, Hope, and Charity

 Story Behind "Army with Banners"

One evening when our family went to a rehabilitation center to visit Jonathan, the younger children were not being cooperative. I decided to drive them to a nearby playground and let them run around and play while my husband and our older children visited with him.

As I watched my young children playing so innocently and happily outdoors, I felt a sense of loss for the many childhood lives that had been ruined because of addiction. My whole soul was pained for all the little children whose innocence had been stolen and who had grown up in such sorrow.

My concern quickly began to shift from the narrow focus of my own family’s problems to a much wider focus that included everyone who had ever suffered from the sorrow of addiction. I realized my own personal pain was only a small fraction of all the pain that had been going on in the world for centuries.

A few weeks earlier, I had a life-changing experience while watching the musical Les Miserables. For the first time, I became aware that it wasn’t enough to simply go through life trying to be a good person—I had to be willing to defend my beliefs. I had to do more than try to protect just my own family. That day I knew I had to join the whole world in fighting this terrible war against drugs. My family would always be in danger unless I combined my efforts with the efforts of others to help get rid of this oppressive evil of addiction.

I didn’t know specifically what I was supposed to do, but I knew I was supposed to do something. I reflected on the words “army with banners” that I had read in the scriptures the night before. In my mind, I could now see an army of young people carrying brightly colored banners marching forward together with their families in great courage and love. I knew it would take a huge army to win this war against drugs, and I wanted to be a part of it.

I went to my van and found a spiral notebook. As I continued to watch my little children play, I started writing this song.


The world’s lost its courage.
The world’s lost its faith.
The world’s lost its wisdom . . .
Now it’s losing the race.

It’s losing the love
In its families and homes,
For it’s living lives of sorrow,
And it’s walking all alone.

But we are the soldiers
In an army with banners,
Marching with our loved ones
Home again.

Yes, we are the soldiers
In an army with banners,
Marching all together
We will win.

It’s time now to rise up.
It's time to come forth.
It’s time to find the Power
To stop this evil force.

As we fight for our youth
With our banners of truth—
With courage, faith, and wisdom—
God will be with you.

Yes, we are the soldiers
In an army with banners,
Marching with our loved ones
Home again.

Yes, we are the soldiers
In an army with banners,
Marching all together
We will win.

Story Behind "Deep Inside of Me"

The longer the teenagers from the rehabilitation program lived with us, the more I saw them struggle with how to identify, understand, and express their own feelings and emotions. Every Sunday, we had a “family rap” with them where we would conduct a small group discussion. Each week, we saw how difficult it was for them to talk about how they were really feeling. As they talked about their parents, I became more aware that the inability to express feelings was not only a teenage problem, but an adult problem as well.

I wished that all parents and adults could be healed from their inner childhood pain. Too many adults are also abusing drugs and alcohol and hiding their own feelings. When adults learn to deal honestly with their feelings and live addiction-free lives, they will be a great influence on the children around them. Instead, we now have a society where young people have few good role models to follow.

One thing I learned while we were a host family was how nice all these young people really were when they got the drugs and alcohol out of their systems for a few days and were placed in homes where they felt loved and secure. But, their past despair kept them from dealing with all the serious issues going on inside of them.

I also learned that those of us not addicted to drugs and alcohol often exhibit behavior patterns similar to those who are addicted. We also hide our feelings and pass on our inability to express real love within our own families from one generation to the next. We go through life starved for affection, not knowing that the power is within us to become a transitional figure to change our own lives and the lives of our families. When we break from the negative traditions of the past, our ability to express love will influence future generations.

One night after a long talk with Jonathan, I caught a glimpse of this great healing power of love. I knew I needed to change my priorities and really get to know him. I wanted to understand his heart. I wanted him to know and feel of the great love I had always had for him. My desire to really listen to Jonathan as he expressed his painful feelings of isolation prompted this song.


There’s a place deep inside of me that is hidden from others’ view.
It’s like an empty room where I go alone
That somehow I wish they knew.
So I just have to hide my sorrow.
I just have to hide my shame.
I just have to hide my loneliness.
I just have to hide my pain.

There’s a place deep inside of you that is hidden from others’ view.
It’s like an empty room where you go alone
That somehow I wish I knew.
So won’t you share with me your feelings? Won’t you share with me your fears?
Won’t you share with me your emptiness? Won’t you share with me your tears?
For you don’t have to hide your sorrow.
You don’t have to hide your shame.
You don’t have to hide your loneliness.
You don’t have to hide your pain.

There’s a place deep inside of you that will someday be set free—
For when your empty room is filled with love
Then you’ll share it all with me.
So just believe when I say I love you. Just believe when I say I care.
Just believe that whenever you need me . . . Just believe that I’ll be there.
For love transcends both time and space,
And love can heal all wounds.
And love will fill the emptiness
Deep inside your hidden room.

There’s a place deep inside of me that will someday be set free—
For when my empty room is filled with love,
Then you’ll share it all with me.
So I’ll believe when you say I love you. I’ll believe when you say you care.
I’ll believe that whenever I need you . . . I’ll believe that you’ll be there.
For love transcends both time and space,
And love can heal all wounds.
And love will fill the emptiness
Deep inside my hidden room.

Story Behind "Reaching Out"

Whenever I visited my grandmother, Lillie Dalton Gillespie, as a teenager, I would read an interesting quotation on her wall that said, “He is rich who hath two friends.” I pondered that saying for years. As I watched Jonathan and other people who are addicted work on their recovery, I came to appreciate those words. Good friends are more precious than gold.

In recovery, one of the greatest stumbling blocks for people who are addicted is finding good, strong, drug-free friends who can accept them as they are and appreciate what they have been through in their lives. People who are addicted desperately need dependable friends who will walk by their side and help them as they struggle to become the people they really want to be.

I’ve seen people who are addicted be rejected time after time by so many people, including their own family members, when they were trying so hard to change their lives and reach out for help and friendship.

On the other hand, I’ve also seen people who are addicted reject other people, including their own family members, who were reaching out to them. Their feelings of self-worth were so low and their feelings of inadequacy so high, they couldn’t accept their love.

There’s the risk of rejection any time a person reaches out to another and asks for friendship. There’s the risk of failure any time a person invests time and energy to try to make a friendship real. But with every risk, there’s an opportunity—the opportunity that the friendship just might work this time—to create a bond that will heal both body and spirit. This opportunity makes it worth the risk.

Looking deep into Jonathan’s heart and seeing the lingering pain from searching for true friends since his childhood, I wrote this song as a fervent plea to everyone. If you need a friend, go find one. If you see someone who needs a friend, be one. You don’t need a hundred friends—having one or two good friends will do, including those who are within your own family. “He is rich who hath two friends.”


When you reached out to me today,
I turned around and walked away.
I knew that we could never be true friends.
Why would you want to be with me? 
What can you even see in me?
My life has been a series of dead ends.

Your life has always been so good.
You’ve always done just what you should.
You’ve always walked that straight and narrow line.
Although you’re what I want to be,Why would you take a chance on me?
Why would you ever want to spend the time?

I never thought I had much worth.
It seems I’ve messed up since my birth,
But in my heart I know I’ve really tried.
I now have nowhere else to go.
How can a person feel so low?
Somehow I’ve got to put my past aside.

If you’ll reach out to me again,
I’ll fight my fears and I’ll let you in.
I know I need a friend who will not bend.
If you will take a chance on me,
Perhaps I’ll be who I can be.
I know that all I need is a true friend.

If you will look inside my heart,
I’ll do my best to do my part
As we walk along the path of life as brothers would.
Although we’re not the same
And some differences remain,
A true and faithful friend will feel so good.

If you’ll reach out to me again,
I’ll fight my fears and I’ll let you in.
I know I need a friend who will not bend.
If you will take a chance on me,
Perhaps I’ll be who I can be.
I know that all I need is a true friend.
I know that what I need is a true friend

Story behind "Faith, Hope, and Charity"

When Jonathan was in his first rehabilitation program, my six-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, would cry for hours every night when she went to bed. She missed her brother, and she didn’t really understand why he was gone or if he would ever return. I would kneel beside her bed each night and try to comfort her while also trying to deal with my own grief. I just couldn’t find the right words to say to bring peace to her little heart.

One night she tearfully asked me, “Mommy, why don’t you cry all the time like I do?” I told her that I did cry a lot, but that I also believed her brother would be okay and that he would be coming home soon. Still crying, she asked me this loving, adult-like question, “What can I do to help him?”

Immediately, these beautiful, calming words came into my mind: “Have faith, hope, and charity.” Without completely understanding what this meant myself, I slowly repeated the words to her that I had just heard in my mind. “We must have faith, hope, and charity.”

She looked confused and said, “I don’t know what that means.” Then a little melody came into my mind, and I began singing to her: “Faith is believing, believing one more day. Hope is like a wish on a star. Charity is love you give away, the pure love that reaches the heart.”

For some reason, this song calmed her little soul. We started singing it together each night to help her fall asleep. It also calmed my own soul, and I would sing it to myself whenever I was feeling fearful about Jonathan or needed help loving him.

Over the years my faith was tested. I sometimes felt abandoned by God as our family struggled to cope with all the issues that go along with addiction. My hope often wavered. My ability to really give and receive charity was continually strained. But looking back, I could see that I had not been left alone. God had always been there beside me.


When times are tough and the road uncertain
And you cannot seem to find your way,
You lose your faith and start to question
And feel that you have been betrayed.

You don’t have hope that God can help you,
For you cannot see his guiding hand.
His charity somehow escapes you,
But someday soon you’ll understand.

Faith is believing, believing one more day.
And hope is like a wish on a star.
Charity is love you give away—
The pure love that reaches the heart.

Faith is more than just a feeling,
And hope is more than just a dream,
And charity is more than kindness—
As they all have power that can’t be seen.

For God is always there beside you.
He carries you when you despair.
His own pure love will lift your sorrow
And heal the pain you cannot bear.

Faith is believing, believing one more day.
And hope is like a wish on a star.
Charity is love you give away—
The pure love that reaches the heart.

 The Healing

You Have a Savior (The Way Back)
The Son of God (The Plan)
Wings of Glory
Because We Are a Family

Story Behind "You Have a Savior (The Way Back)"

I had always believed in my Savior, Jesus Christ. Whenever I thought about His life and His sacrifice, it brought tears to my eyes, even though I didn’t understand exactly why. I heard other people speak of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I believed He was the Son of God, but I didn’t know how He could help me personally.

I knew the Holy Ghost was called the Comforter, and I’d personally experienced the sweet comfort of the Holy Ghost many times. I had also heard that Jesus Christ was called the Second Comforter, but I was unaware of His ability to comfort me.

Shortly before Jonathan’s eighteenth birthday, he was sentenced to jail—despite all my efforts to convince the judge to give him other consequences. This was more than I could emotionally handle after devoting my life to Jonathan for the two previous years that he was in a drug rehab. I was completely devastated. After returning home, I fell on my knees beside my bed where I sobbed uncontrollably.  My husband tried to comfort me, but the tears would not stop. He desperately prayed for the Holy Ghost to comfort me, but still the tears would not stop. Then, in a most miraculous way, I felt my Savior kneeling beside me and weeping with me.

I was completely amazed, not only that I could feel Him there, but that He was weeping with me. My tears slowly stopped as this question came into my mind, “Why is He weeping?” I suddenly came to understand that He was weeping with me because of my excruciating sorrow over my son, and He was also weeping for Jonathan because of his choices. Knowing that He understood my pain, I was comforted. My Savior had saved me.

A short time later, I was flying across the country. As I flew above the clouds, I pondered this experience of coming to know my Savior. I wanted Jonathan to know the Savior also. I thought about the many years his father and I had tried to teach him about Jesus Christ, only to be rejected. Sorrowing over the direction Jonathan’s life had gone, I prayed for him. Then this song slowly came into my mind.


For so long now I’ve done it wrong. I have no hope of going on,
And the path I took has led me far away.
I wish I’d known how I would feel when I had lost everything that’s real
And the pain that I would have to face someday.
But there is no way back I know. It’s much too late to let it go,
For the fun is gone and now I have to pay.
I hurt so bad I wish I’d die. My life is gone but I can’t cry.
But still at times I can hear my father say:

You have a Savior. His name is Jesus the Christ.
You have a Savior, and He has paid the price.
You have a Savior, and through His sacrifice,
Though your sins be as scarlet,
Like the snow they shall be white.

I wish somehow I could believe that there was still some hope for me,
But I’ve hurt so many people through the years.
There was a time so long ago when life was simple, sweet, and slow,
And I always thought that I could face my fears.
But that child is gone forever now. Life’s innocence has left somehow,
And my scar-filled heart now aches through unshed tears.
These sad regrets will always last, for I know I cannot change the past.
Yet my father’s words still echo in my ears:

You have a Savior. His name is Jesus the Christ.
You have a Savior, and He has paid the price.
You have a Savior, and through His sacrifice,
Though your sins be as scarlet,
Like the snow they shall be white.

I cannot help but question why the Christ would want to bleed and die
To pay my debt from sin and foolish pride.
I will not ever understand this love He holds out with His hands
As He lifts me like a brother to His side.
I’ve trampled Him beneath my feet as I’ve lived my life out on the street.
How can He yet forgive the things I’ve tried?
But something whispers to my soul, His Atonement now can make me whole
For His gift to me was given when He died.

I have a Savior. His name is Jesus the Christ.
I have a Savior, and He has paid the price.
I have a Savior, and through His sacrifice,
Though my sins be as scarlet,
Like the snow they shall be white.

Story Behind "The Son of God (The Plan)"

I often talked to Jonathan about my love for Jesus Christ. One day I was reflecting on the scripture: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). This was the scripture that had been so inspiring to me prior to my writing “You Have a Savior (The Way Back).” Now, new images came flooding into my mind.

All at once I could envision a beautiful snow-covered mountain. Then I could see the sun coming up and all of the snow quickly melting away. In a flash of inspiration, I suddenly understood that this is exactly what our Savior does for us. My tears ran freely with this new understanding of the completeness of Jesus Christ’s atonement.

First, our Savior takes our scarlet sins and makes them as white as the snow through His atoning sacrifice. Then, through the warmth of His love, He allows the snow to gently disappear. Finally, through His power as the Son of God, we find that we have been reborn in a miraculous way. We are suddenly free from the sins of our past. We are free to face the future without fear. We are free to follow Him forever. We are free! I wanted Jonathan to feel this freedom—freedom from addiction and the bondage of his past—that only the Savior’s Atonement could bring.

With these new insights, I sat down and wrote the first verse to this song. I couldn’t think of any other verses, and it seemed too short to be a real song, but I knew I needed it to be on our album. A few days later while visiting my newborn granddaughter, Abby, the words to the next two verses came to me. As I held this tiny baby in my arms, clothed in all of her sweet purity, the Spirit testified to me again that the power of Jesus Christ’s atonement was very real.

Just as this little baby left the presence of our Father in Heaven without sin, we will someday return to our Father in Heaven’s presence without sin, if we are willing to follow Jesus Christ’s example and are valiant to the end. Through the exhaustion of repentance and the exhilaration of forgiveness, we can enjoy the blessings of God’s great plan.


When the Son touches the snow,
It suddenly melts in the earth—
Restoring my self-worth
Through His miraculous birth . . .
The Son of God.

When the Son touches my heart,
I suddenly feel no more pain—
Removing all my shame
Through His redeeming name . . .
The Son of God.

When the Son touches my soul,
I suddenly know who I am—
Remembering God’s great plan
Through Him, the chosen Lamb . . .

He is the Son of God.
He is the Lamb of God . . .
The Son of God.

Story Behind "Wings of Glory"

One evening while driving my van on a road trip with my children, I was thinking about why I believed in God and what proof there really was to His existence. I had been taught as a young child to believe that He was my Father in Heaven and that He loved me.

I have never had any real doubts about these teachings. But, it seemed to me that if He wanted everyone to believe in Him, He would have provided some signs that all people everywhere could actually see.

I was traveling west at the time, and the sun was just beginning to set. It was a warm, clear evening, and there was nothing else in my view as far as I could see except for the sky and the setting sun. As the sun got lower, rich colors began appearing on the horizon until the whole sky was ablaze in brilliant colors. It was the most spectacular sunset

I had ever seen. I was simply astonished by its beauty.

Then it hit me. This was God’s sign. I had never thought about Mother Nature’s beauty this way before. But suddenly I could see that all of God’s creations on this earth, even the earth itself, testified of His existence. Although we don’t remember our life with Him before we were born, Heavenly Father has not left us down here on earth alone. A bit of heaven’s beauty was put here to remind us of Him and of His great love for us.

I was so overcome with these profound thoughts that I had to pull my van over to the side of the road and stop. It was as if I suddenly had a glimpse of what heaven was really like. I grabbed a notebook and started writing down my thoughts as fast as I could. I knew I must put all of these feelings into a song. When my children asked me why I had stopped the van, all I could say was, “We have to watch the sunset.”

After the sunset faded into darkness, I started driving again. The stars twinkled, and the children all fell asleep. In the silence of that evening I knew God was really there. His signs were all around me.


Everybody gets the sunrise. Everybody gets the stars.
Everybody gets the sunsets no matter who you are.
For Father loves us all, each one of us.
He knows us all by name.
He’s given us this world to live in, but it’s from His home we came.

Oh, what a natural high . . .
Like flying on wings of glory,
Lifting us from earth to sky
As we learn of our heavenly story.

For all these creations on earth
Were given to us at our birth
To remind us of our first home,
For Father never leaves us alone.

Everybody gets the blue skies. Everybody gets the rain.
Everybody gets the rainbows to take away our pain.
For Father always keeps His promises.
He helps us rich or poor.
He understands our thoughts and feelings
Because we’ve lived with Him before.

Everybody gets the mountains. Everybody gets the trees.
Everybody gets the flowers and feels the gentle breeze.
For Father gives His gifts to everyone, so we can someday learn
We have another home in Heaven, and He wants us to return.

Oh, what a natural high . . .
Like flying on wings of glory,
Lifting us from earth to sky
As we learn of our heavenly story.

For all these creations on earth
Were given to us at our birth
To remind us of our first home,
For Father never leaves us alone.

Story Behind "Because We Are a Family"

Years ago, I read a magazine article about successful families. At first I felt disappointed in what it had to say. Instead of giving advice on how to become one of those idealistic, perfect families, there were many examples of very normal, imperfect families who had worked through major trials in their homes.

In reading this article, I was surprised to learn that a family’s success cannot be measured by outward appearances. A family’s success can only be measured by the love and loyalty that binds those in the family together as they go through trials.

I had always wanted to have a “perfect” family, but as the years went by I came to realize that I couldn’t have a perfect family—because perfect families did not exist. I was only frustrating myself by trying to chase an impossible dream.

Over time I began to appreciate my imperfect family more and more. With my eyes wide open, I could now see our strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and genuineness. It was such a relief to not have to pretend to be perfect any longer.

I learned to love my family because it is unique.
I learned to love my family because it is real.
I learned to love my family because it is mine.

We have gone through many trials as a family. I’m sure we’ll go through many more over the years. That doesn’t worry me. I know we’ll be able to handle them when they come.

I wrote this song when Jonathan was in his first rehabilitation program. It is a simple song, but it has become a family theme song that we sing at times when we feel overwhelmed. It has also become my younger children’s most requested bedtime lullaby. Each time I sing it, it gives me the strength and the courage to keep going on—because we are a family.


Because we are a family,
During good times or the bad,
We’ll be here when you’re happy,
And we’ll be here when you’re sad.
And when you feel you’re all alone
And don't know which way to go—
Remember that we're with you
And that our love will always grow.

Because we are a family,
We cannot forget
The times we’ve shared together,
And the times that we’ll share yet.
So as you go from day to day,
You must understand
That in good times or in bad times
We hold each other’s hands—
Because we are a family.

So when we face adversity,
We will not despair.
We’ll be strong for each other
And show how much we care—
Because we are a family.

Five Elements of Recovery

The information I share about recovery from addiction comes from my own personal experiences with my family and friends. I am not a trained professional. I am simply a concerned mother and citizen.

Everything I have learned about recovery from addiction I have learned the hard way—one principle at a time.

I have talked to many professionals.
I have sat through many therapy sessions and self-help groups.
I have listened to many lectures.
I have talked to many parents.
I have cut out many magazine and newspaper articles.
I have read many books.
I have talked to many teenagers.
I have walked through many hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
I have visited many jails.

Gradually, over the years I began to form my own opinions as to what really works and what doesn’t work. I finally came to the conclusion that people must have Five Elements of Recovery in their lives to break free from the cycle of addiction: Faith in God, Desire to Change, Accountability, Family Love, and Friends with Integrity.

I believe all five of these elements are essential to recovery. With all five of them, there will eventually be success. Without all five of them, recovery will be much more difficult.

When people consistently exercise faith in God’s healing power, have the desire to change, take accountability for their actions and participate in some type of recovery program, learn how to give and receive unconditional family love, and only associate with strong and supportive drug-free friends, they can break free from the bondage of their addictions and become the people they truly want to be.

Individual self-worth can be restored, friendships can be mended, and families can become strong once again.

1. Faith in God

Lacking faith and having feelings of bitterness or unworthiness keep people who are addicted from ever tapping into the greatest source of strength there is around them—God’s healing power. Once you experience God’s power, you will never forget it. Once you embrace God’s power, you will never want to let it go.

2. Desire to Change

The desire to change must come from within. No one can force another person to change. The physical and emotional suffering that comes from addiction often instills the desire to change. Equally important, there must be hope. People who are addicted must know there really is a way that they can change their lives.

3. Accountability

Willpower alone is usually not enough to heal people’s addictions. If you are addicted, take responsibility for your life. Find a mentor, professional counselor, or some type of program that provides you with the structure you need while you learn how to make necessary changes in your life and report back to them as you achieve your goals.

4. Family Love

Unconditional love within families is vital. No matter how hurt and rejected family members might feel, they all need to love and forgive each other. Love is not enabling others or being codependent. Love means radiating real affection from the heart. People who are addicted will recover faster when they are loved and give love to others in return.

5. Friends with Integrity

One of the hardest trials people who are addicted have to face is finding new, strong friends who do not use alcohol and drugs and who will support them in their recovery. Saying good-bye to old friends and habits may leave people feeling lonely and vulnerable, but, like a snake shedding its old skin, it must be done.

Twenty Suggestions for Parents - Dealing with Addiction in the Home

Although many years have now passed since my husband and I went through the heart-wrenching, horrible experiences with our son, Jonathan, during his early years of addiction, it still reduces me to tears when I think about all the pain and agony we experienced as a family. While I don’t like remembering these things, I’m willing to talk about the problems we had with the hope that others will not make the same mistakes we did.

While the suggestions I give apply specifically to parents who have children abusing drugs and alcohol, they may also be helpful to the families of those suffering from any kind of addiction or compulsive behavior. While the faces and ages may vary considerably within the scene of addiction, the family problems every family has to deal with are predictable. Whenever there is addiction, everyone suffers.

We’ve been asked many times if we were in denial about our son’s drug use. The answer is, “Of course we were in denial.” If we couldn’t see it, it must not be happening, right? Wrong.

When I would lie awake at night trying to comprehend the insanity going on in our home, I would try to understand what other people were telling us, but it was impossible. My heart simply could not accept what my mind refused to believe.

The classic signs of substance abuse were all there—the change in my son’s appearance, the change in friends, the problems at school and decline in grades, the continual disruptions at home, the secretive life. I attributed all these signs to adolescence and Jonathan’s desire for independence. It didn’t seem possible that he would reject everything his father and I had tried to teach him.

Neither my husband nor I had ever smoked a cigarette or had a drink of alcohol or tried drugs. We just cheerfully followed the religious teachings we had been raised with and thought we had taught our children to do the same. We didn’t have the personal experience or the coping skills to deal with something so totally foreign to our way of life.

We found out that drugs could be hidden anywhere. Secret hideouts were created in the most unlikely places inside or outside our home. Slowly we came to realize that our home was really not the protective, safe haven we had so diligently tried to create for ourselves and our children. The happy home environment we desired had been destroyed.

Fortunately, a “druggie” lifestyle can only be hidden for so long. Eventually, a person does hit a bottom—even temporarily—and parents do find out what’s been going one. For us, our son was experimenting with drugs and alcohol for about two years before our eyes were finally opened. We could not believe all the deceit that had gone on behind our backs.

The escalating drama of the druggie lifestyle, which we were being pulled into so unwillingly, seemed unreal One frightening night, a police officer showed up at our door asking to see our son. I found out later that as I was walking up the stairs to tell Jonathan to come down he hurriedly flushed his drugs down the toilet and jumped out his second-story bedroom window. Then he ran away and hid for several days. This kind of emotional turmoil continued for years.

I now encourage other parents to watch for both the classic signs of alcohol and drug abuse and also the subtle, hidden signs. If you see any signs at all, believe them. Do not do as we did. We just tried to continue living a “normal” life, like ostriches with our heads in the sand, hoping that the insanity would go away if we simply ignored it. We finally learned that a drug problem doesn’t go away by itself.

Addiction is a terrible, progressive disease, but it’s not an individual disease. It is a family disease. Whether we liked it or not, or believe it or not, the disease of addiction had an enormous, negative impact on every member or our family. It was a challenge we had to face together.

When talking about addiction, the issue of young people smoking cigarettes should not be minimized or overlooked. Nicotine is called a “gateway” drug because it is often the drug kids try first—and then it leads them to drinking alcohol and trying other drugs. Sadly, nicotine is often the last drug people are able to quit. Smoking cigarettes is a hard habit to break. Jonathan, who has been addicted to the hardest drugs, has said that the most difficult drug to get off of is nicotine.

If you find out your kids are smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, keep expressing your love to them, but do take a firm stand. Show concern for their physical and emotional health, and try to help them devise a plan to stop.

It is important to reach out and talk to other parents who have already dealt with addiction in the home and seek advice from good counselors and other professionals. Adolescence can be such a confusing time. Be the source of strength that your child needs you to be, and act like a mature adult, not an angry adolescent yourself.

Hindsight is always a great teacher, but sadly, hindsight doesn’t take away the emotional pain caused by making bad decisions. We learned the hard way that we should never make decisions when we were feeling stressed and upset. My counsel to other parents is to try not to overreact, like we usually did. When faced with challenges within your family, try to stay calm, look at things from a long-term perspective, and make decisions wisely—not in haste.

Take time to pray about your many decisions, and be sure to get a good night’s sleep before making all major decisions.  During the night, or in the early morning hours, you will often receive inspiration that will prompt you to go in the right direction. You can’t think clearly when you are angry, anxious, or depressed. You need a cooling-off period to make good decisions for yourself and your family. Through prayer, all correct decisions will be accompanied by a confirming feeling of peace. You will know what is right to do.

I wish I’d known many years ago everything I’ve learned about dealing with all the issues parents have to face when they find out their child is abusing alcohol and drugs—but maybe now I can help someone who is walking this path. These are twenty suggestions I would like to share:

1. Do not panic

When you’re emotionally distraught, you’re more likely to make rash decisions for your child and yourself that you will later regret. Try to replace the labels you might have put on your child—such as “bad” with “sad”—and you’ll do better keeping the drug issue in its proper perspective and maintaining your emotional equilibrium. In reality, your child who is addicted is dealing with great emotional turmoil, and possibly even physical pain, and needs help. You must always remind yourself to stay calm.

2. Do not blame yourself

You aren’t responsible for all of your children’s successes, nor for all of their failures. While you can contribute to both, children are responsible for the choices they make. Always remember—you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. As a parent, your job is to let your children own the consequences of their choices. At the same time, you must be an anchor for them so they will be able to come back to you when they sincerely want help. Focus on the things you have done right as a parent and don’t dwell on the things you might have done wrong. Just try to do a little better each day.

3. Do not make excuses or shield from the law

It’s better to let your children suffer the consequences of their behavior while they’re under the age of eighteen and can still be tried under juvenile law. Once they turn eighteen, they’ll be tried as adults. The consequences they’ll receive will be much more severe, and their criminal record will be permanent. Be aware of how you enable your children. Enabling, or continuing to allow, your children’s irresponsible or illegal behavior not only prolongs the misery for you, but also for them. Don’t protect them from being fully responsible for their actions. If your children are already adults, don’t rescue them. They won’t change their behavior until they learn to be responsible by being held accountable for the choices they are making.

4. Learn all you can about the disease of addiction.

Knowledge is power. Learn about addiction and the many different philosophies regarding recovery. AA and Al-Anon use the original 12-step program and have enlightening literature, as do advocates of entirely different points of view. Reading about addiction from first-hand experience is especially touching and insightful, and there are many biographies written by former drug addicts. I believe there are many ways to recover from addiction. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. The Internet is a great resource for learning about addiction and now has many educational and informative websites available. Take the time to read and learn.

5. Get professional help

As with any type of problem, overcoming addiction will be much faster the sooner you start working on the steps to recovery. There are government agencies and many qualified doctors, counselors, and social workers who are trained in this field today and can help educate you on how to deal with addiction’s complex issues. When there is addiction in the family, everyone in the family is affected in one way or another, and the whole family needs help. It is important to discuss your family problems with a counselor who is well trained in the area of addiction. Be aware that there are many different types of counselors. Look around until you find the one that you feel is best for your family. A qualified counselor can look at all the family dynamics going on between the parents and the child who is addicted and give valuable suggestions from an outside point of view. It is imperative for the whole family to learn how to open up lines of communication and really share their honest feelings. Not only do you need to openly discuss your fears and frustrations, but everyone in the family needs an opportunity to express their feelings and opinions. You need to be willing to listen to your children’s points of view whether you agree with them or not. Your children will feel more valued and respected when you take the time to really listen to what they are thinking and feeling. This is where the guidance of a good family counselor is so important. But, do not ever blindly accept the advice given by a family counselor. Think carefully about all the advice you receive, and then be discerning about what changes you want to implement in your home.

6. Choose your rehabilitation program carefully

Rehabilitation programs do have some benefits, but putting your child into a short-term or long-term program is not a decision that should be made in haste. It not only affects the child who is addicted, but it affects everyone in the family. We learned that even if you are in a crisis situation your child can be admitted to a hospital or kept in another safe place while you take time to consider your options. There are some good, structured rehabilitation programs, but there are also some bad ones. Not all programs are what they appear to be on the surface. Some programs may acquaint your child with a whole new group of addicts. You have to weigh all the risks. A bad program has the potential of leaving your child with deep, long-lasting emotional scars. While all programs teach basic recovery principles, they may also be expensive, time consuming, and very disruptive to family life. If you have other children, you must take their needs into consideration also. They still need your time and attention. Try the less invasive programs first. Gradually go up the ladder of available programs when seeking help for your child and your family. Talk to others who have used the program you are interested in, and then carefully discern which program is right for your family.

7. Find a support group and ask for help

You cannot meet all of your needs alone. There is real power in some type of support group. As you cry and laugh together, you’ll comfort and strengthen one another in a way that can only happen with people who understand your pain. You may find support from community groups such as Al-Anon or ToughLove®, or informal groups such as friends, relatives, or church members who have gone through similar experiences. I found the AA 12 Steps, sayings and slogans, and Serenity Prayer, to be useful tools in gaining some peace and clarity back into my life when I was first introduced to them years ago. It will probably be difficult to learn how to accept and love the person who has caused so much pain in your family. A strong support system will help you set your own boundaries so that you don’t get stepped on, but also allow you to start living and loving once again. Addiction causes isolation. While your child who is addicted may choose to isolate from you right now, you must not isolate from your family and friends. Your children will see your example of gaining strength and moving forward in life and may be more willing to find the support they need to break through their own fears and reconnect with your family.

8. Use intervention

While it is true that most people will not stop abusing drugs and alcohol until they hit bottom, you can sometimes bring that bottom “up” with a carefully planned intervention that involves family members, friends, and trained professionals. Work as a team to confront your children and intervene in their lives when necessary. While your children may initially hate you for intervening, they may thank you one day. Often times, they know deep down inside that they are ruining their lives, but they don’t know how to get out of the whirlpool that is pulling them under. While you might make some mistakes in trying to help them, I believe it is better to do something than to do nothing. Hopefully over the years, your children will understand the love, dedication, and courage it took for you to take a firm stand and intervene in their lives.

9. Improve your self-esteem

The common denominator among all people who are addicted is not economic status, race, religion, intelligence, education, or family size. The common denominator is low self-esteem. While you cannot give your child high self-esteem, you can be a role model. If you suffer from low self-esteem, look at your own feelings of inadequacy, which may be masked behind some type of self-defeating behavior. When you don’t feel good about yourself, you sometimes quietly withdraw or ridicule and criticize others in an effort to make yourself feel better and then find yourself alienated from your family and friends. But, you can change. Be aware of your own compulsive behaviors (which we all seem to have) and work on your personal recovery. Begin to appreciate yourself for who you are. Accept your weaknesses but focus on your strengths. Learn to be more honest with your feelings and share them with your children. They will learn from your example. Feeling like you can be honest with those you love builds trust, and gives both you and them the freedom to really be yourselves. As you all become more “real” with each other, everyone’s self-esteem will improve dramatically.

10. Build personal and family relationships

By the time you discover your child is using drugs, your family relationships are most likely hanging by a thread. Usually communication has broken down, animosity and anger are filling the home, and no one likes being together anymore. As the parent, you must be the one to break the cycle. Stop being angry and start being nice. You can begin by taking a deep breath, smiling, and using a pleasant tone of voice. Let less important issues slide. Look for the good in your child, and focus on the positive. You have the power to change the emotional climate of your home. Using manipulation, intimidation, coercion, or force to try and control your child’s behavior will never work. Look for golden opportunities to talk to your children when they are receptive—no matter what time of day or night. Share your love and feelings with them when the emotional climate is right. Go on one-on-one “dates” with them. Listen more than you talk. You may hear things you would prefer not to hear; but if you want to get to know your children, bite your tongue and let them express themselves. Each positive experience you have with your child will add another thread of strength to your relationship, and family solidarity will gradually return.

11. Be patient

The personal problems that contributed to the drug experimentation and addiction did not appear overnight, and they will not disappear overnight. In the world we live in today, we expect everything to happen fast. Because of the complex issues that go along with addiction, there is no “quick fix.” You can’t take an antibiotic, get well in a week, and resume your normal life. Addiction affects every area of one’s life: the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social. To heal completely, each of these areas needs to be addressed—one at a time. Healing from addiction is a gradual process that requires a lifestyle change not only for the individual, but for the whole family as well. Learn to accept the reality that now faces your family. There will be times when you will want to give up because you cannot see real progress, but do not be discouraged. Each time your children fall back into old patterns of behavior, they do not become weaker. Their distressing feelings of regret will actually strengthen their resolve to do it right the next time. Eventually, they can make it. The most important thing to remember about your children’s recovery is that you cannot do it for them. The only person you can really change is yourself. Be a role model for your children. Let them see the everyday happiness you enjoy because of your choice to live a drug-free life.

12. Take care of yourself

Your personal pain and sorrow can fill you with such overwhelming despair that you will not be able to function unless you find an outlet that will help you heal. Resist being codependent. Don’t be so caught up with taking care of others, or trying to control them, that you forget to take care of yourself. Praying and reading the scriptures will quietly strengthen you, ease your emotional pain, and help you see things more clearly and realistically. One thing I did for my outlet was to continue with my hobby of songwriting. I put the emotional pain and loss I was feeling into every song I wrote. I focused on how these songs would someday help other people stay away from drugs. I also kept attending church and gained great spiritual strength from worshipping God and seeing my supportive friends who were there. I forced myself to stay involved in different types of activities. I continued to go forward with our family traditions, even though our family was in chaos at the time. The security from these traditions became an anchor to me and helped me have the necessary emotional stability that I needed to take care of the rest of my family.

13. Get a complete medical and psychological evaluation for your child

Because there is often an underlying physical or psychiatric problem that contributes to children’s addictions, it is essential that they receive thorough medical and psychological evaluations. Some children self-medicate by using alcohol and drugs in order to deal with their continual feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigue, or some other type of health problem. Of course, this only makes their problems worse. Not everyone is in favor of using psychiatric medications, but I believe they are sometimes necessary—if only for a short period of time. When the appropriate medication is combined with good counseling, it can be extremely helpful and therapeutic. Many young people don’t want the stigma of going to a counselor or using psychiatric medication, but it’s a much better alternative than dealing with the serious consequences of drug abuse. With a little time and research, you may be able to find some natural ways of treating physical or psychiatric problems without the use of medication through nutrition, exercise, or other alternative therapies. The most important thing is to do something—don’t ignore medical or psychiatric problems.

14. Be less controlling and more consistent

No matter how much you may want to completely control your children’s lives, you can’t. Children have lives of their own. They think their own thoughts, feel their own feelings, struggle with their own insecurities, and fear their own uncertain futures. Regardless of what you do or don’t do, they will all eventually grow up, turn eighteen, and have the liberty to walk out your front door, live independently, and do as they please. Instead of just trying to control your children now, try to teach them self-control. Through the use of well-thought-out logical or natural consequences, they can eventually learn to be responsible for their own behavior. In the real world, every choice has a consequence. In your home, it should be the same. Make the firm rule that using drugs and alcohol is never allowed. Have consequences in place ahead of time, and follow through consistently whenever that rule is broken. There are many good books written on this subject that can teach you how to use natural or logical consequences.

15. Set your own boundaries

Children who use drugs often try to control the family through their angry outbursts or passive manipulation. They want everything to revolve around them. As the parent, you have to take charge of your own house. While you can’t control their behavior, you can control your own behavior and set your personal boundaries of what you will and will not do. Your life doesn’t have to stop because your child is acting out. There is no need to drop everything because unrealistic demands are being placed on you. Express your love to your child, but go on with your life.

16.  Pray to know what is right for your home

One of the hardest decisions you will have to make as a parent is if you are going to allow your child who is using drugs to live in your home. There are many differing opinions on this subject, and I don’t think there is one right answer. It is my opinion, that if children are under the age of eighteen, you should try to work with them in your home the best you can. If you have other children living at home, it will be difficult to explain to them why a rebellious sibling doesn’t have to follow the same rules they do. But, try to help them understand that a sibling who is addicted needs family support right now. Only through prayer will you come to know what is right for your family. But, you need to make sure your answer is coming from the Lord and not from your emotional heart strings that are being influenced by a rebellious, manipulative child. Always remember, if you feel like you are being manipulated, you are. If children who are using drugs try to abuse their siblings in any way, they should not be allowed to stay. You must always protect any other children who are living in your home at all costs. Children over the age of eighteen should be treated like adults. If family rules are not being followed, they should not be allowed to live in your home until they agree to do so. If they break the rules, they should be asked to leave immediately.

17. Empower yourselves as the parents

When you find out that your child is abusing alcohol or drugs, you need to quickly think through a plan as to how you’re going to deal with the problem. If possible, don’t interrupt children’s education, but if they are only going to school to obtain or use drugs and are failing their classes anyway, it may be necessary to remove them from that environment and the influence of their friends. Encourage your child to attend community drug awareness classes, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, or other type of support group. Stop giving any type of allowance or financial help—most likely the money will be spent on drugs anyway. You can also withhold what I call “house privileges” such as using the car, cell phone, television, radio, i-pod, computer, or Internet. If these restrictions don’t work, you may need to research and find an acceptable short-term rehabilitation program. If you ever feel threatened, do not hesitate to call the police. The safety of you and your family is your first priority. Keep the phone number of police in a visible place. Your child needs to know that the police department is one of your community resources for maintaining peace and order in your home. The strong message you must send to your child is that the use of alcohol and drugs is illegal, and will not be tolerated. As the parent, you must devise a plan, stay in control, and follow through with what you say you are going to do.

18. Accept the worst-case possibilities

Despite doing all you can do as parents, sometimes addiction leads to prison, disappearance, or death. If this should happen in your family, get outside support to help sustain you during this devastating time. Visiting your child in jail or prison is a heart-wrenching experience, but pray for the strength to handle it. Love can still be expressed while sitting in a large room in the company of other inmates behind a heavy, locked metal door or by talking on a telephone while looking through a glass window that separates you from your child. It’s important to do what your heart tells you to do as you maintain contact with them when they are locked up. Remember the scripture, I was in prison and ye came unto me (Matthew 25:36). When children disappear, and you don’t know if they are dead or alive, all you can do is pray and ask God to take over. There were many months when Jonathan was either living on the streets or choosing to avoid us, and we didn’t know if we would ever see him alive again. All we could do was keep hoping and praying that wherever he was that he would be safe. Thankfully, our belief in a life after death brought us a small measure of peace. We knew that through the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that even if Jonathan did die, he would also be resurrected someday, and we could be reunited as a family. Complete faith in God and reliance upon our dear Savior became our anchor. We had nothing else to hold on to during those uncertain years that were filled with such great, lingering sadness.

19. Keep an open door

If your children who are addicted are not living at home, help them understand that while you do not approve of their choices and behaviors, you still love them with all your heart. Invite them over for dinner and to family activities when they are sober. Let them feel that they are still an important part of your family unit. However, if you believe your children who use drugs are a danger to your family or to others, they should not be invited to your home. Visit with them somewhere else that you consider to be safe.

20. If you are married, take time to nurture your relationship

Finding out you have a child who is addicted not only puts a strain on your family, it has the capability of driving a wedge between you and your spouse and tearing your marriage apart. Don’t let this happen. Each parent has to deal with the truth about their child in his or her own way, and it’s not going to be easy. Most likely, the dreams you have had for this child since birth are now being shattered, and you probably won’t be able to handle it very well at first. You may both need time to grieve in your own way until you can reach a level of acceptance. But, all is not lost. As time goes by, there will be new dreams and a new relationship developed with your child. While it may be difficult, never give up hope for building a new future with your child. As you visualize it and pray for it, it can someday happen. In the meantime, you have to hold on to each other. Since you know realistically that neither of you are responsible for your child’s choices, don’t waste time blaming the other person. The best thing you can do for each other is to have a weekly date where you can go somewhere and be alone. Relive your dating days and the things you used to enjoy doing together, and reminisce about your lives before you assumed the role of being a parent. Forget all the existing stresses and worries of parenthood for a few hours, and try to emotionally and spiritually reconnect with each other once again. When you return home, you will be able to think more clearly and be better prepared as a couple to make the necessary decisions regarding your child. When you are united in all the decisions you make, your child will usually be more understanding and accepting of your boundaries. With your emotional and spiritual reservoir refilled, you will be strengthened as you care for any other children you might have and try to nurture each other on a daily basis. We have also found it helpful to go on an occasional overnight date every three or four months to relax, have fun, and really communicate together. Building a loving, happy marriage during these raging storms of conflict is not easy, but it is worth the effort. A strong, unified marriage will help build a strong, unified family.

Finally . . .

I know we made every mistake in the book with Jonathan—except one. We never stopped loving him. We are grateful that he lived as long as he did. We had a close relationship. We continue to pray every day for Christ’s healing power to be with our whole family.

What I would tell everyone to remember is simply this—you are not alone. There are many of us who have been where you are today. There are many of us who will come after you. But if we can join together courageously in this war against drugs, we will someday win. I am sure of it.

Afterward (2017)

My original book, Wings of Glory: The Story behind the Songs, was first published in 2002. During the last fifteen years as I learned more information about recovery from addiction, I decided to revise this book. I added a few more details to my original twelve stories, rearranged and slightly changed the Five Elements of Recovery and also increased the “Twelve Suggestions for Families and Friends” to “Twenty Suggestions for Families and Friends."

When I wrote my original book, I didn’t use the name of my son in any of my writings, at his request.  I only referred to him as “my son.” He later changed his mind and told me he did want me to use his name in my books because he wanted to share his recovery story with all his old friends and acquaintances. So, this edition uses his name, Jonathan.

The biggest change I had to make to this book was to rewrite the next to last paragraph, “We are grateful he is alive today. We have a close relationship.”  Because Jonathan committed suicide at the age of thirty-five, I could no longer write those words. I now had to write, “We are grateful that he lived as long as he did. We had a close relationship.”  Jonathan first talked about suicide when he was fifteen. I know that my Wings of Glory songs, books, and self-help programs kept him alive for an additional twenty years, for which I am most grateful.


“I cried all the way through Wings of Glory. It has changed my life. I will never be the same.”

“Your Wings of Glory music and book are incredible. They have transformed me. I never believed in myself before, but now I do. I feel I can go out and accomplish anything I want to in the future.”

 “It is amazing that you can tell your family’s story about addiction in such a non-judgmental way. The book and album only lift you up, never condemns. Wings of Glory leaves you with a real feeling of hope—that there really is a way back.”

“I bought two copies and gave them to my family. Wings of Glory is already helping my family heal.”

“You can’t read the book and listen to the music without it having a profound impact on you. This is going to change a lot of people’s lives.”

“Your music and stories reflect a great deal of love for, and sensitivity to, those who struggle with addictions.”

“The music is so beautiful and the stories so touching. Thank you for having the courage to share your family’s experiences with us.”

“I am in prison. I just finished reading Wings of Glory: The Story behind the Songs. I wish there were a way I could get everyone in here a copy. I know it would change their lives as it has mine.”

These quotations are anonymous to respect people’s privacy.