Eight generations of Texas in the blood from dads side and Puerto Rican/Hispanic roots on moms side produced a human with high value for independence, family, hospitality and yummy food. Mom worked for the airlines growing up so love for adventuring and exploring the world began early. Bohemian at heart, I’m passionate about clean living and natural childbirth. Married 16 years to Anthony Ayers, a true Renaissance Man, we have three amazing children. I’ve been leading worship and writing music for more than 20 years. Dark chocolate, the Northwest, and adventuring outdoors are a few of my favorite things.
9 year old Jenny...
February 25, 1986. 28th Grammy awards are on and Whitney Houston is performing Saving All My love. Nine year old Jenny is belting along with her favorite pop star. In these very moments a dream is born and a decision is made. I, Jenny Lewis Ayers, want to be a famous singer and I want to win a Grammy.
You know those movies where your enjoying the pace and plot and suddenly things jerk off in a crazy direction and you get all queasy and anxious until the resolve at the end? My teenage years felt like that starting around 14. Life at home was rough. Life at school was rough. One day I finally cracked and decided to forcefully kick everyone to the curb. All vision for my future was swallowed up by hurt & resentment and I wandered for a good long while.
1994, age 17, was an especially bad year for me. I had no constructive outlet for the drama at home so I spent a lot of time trying to stay un-sober. The crowds I chose to hang out with weren't great either. I was sexually assaulted twice that year. I didn't know it at the time but after these events I had PTSD. Sadly, by the end of that year I'd dropped out of high school.
October 31, 1995, age 18, my family gets in a very bad car accident where my sister almost dies. She was hit by a truck and we found her on the other side of an eight foot embankment wall. I was compelled to confess, right there on the highway, all my sins to my dad as my sister lay lifeless in my mom's arms...bad timing. I turned to God out of fear that day. I was back to old habits by that following year but this time I was active in church singing worship songs from the platform, leading a double life. It took a toll. There were nights where I'd sneak out of my house at 2 AM and go driving around Dallas wondering, "If I drive my car off that highway bridge, would it kill me outright or will I just be horribly disfigured?" I carried around a lot of shame and was very self destructive.
I was constantly asking myself why? Why did God continue to spare my life? Why was it my sister that got hit by the car and not me? Why won't my parents get divorced? Why won't He just end my misery? I had a strong sense that God was calling me to Himself but I wasn't ready to give in. I was addicted to the life I was living and scared of what it meant to let go. I wish I had. It took a lot for me to finally surrender to Him.
But for the Grace of God…
September 1998. Age 21. Catalyst year. The Lord turned the lights on in my pitch black room and His grace tackled me during a worship service at a discipleship school called Master’s Commission in Kirkland, WA. The miracle of His peace after so many years of turmoil was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever encountered. That year He awakened my heart to dream and have vision for my life again.
During my MC year I was asked to verbalize what I’d like to see happen in my future. I said, “At 24 I’d like to be married and after we’ve been married for 2 years, start a family.” Those words were not premeditated that day. I hadn’t given my life, past 21 any thought but I came to see it was God’s dream and plan for me too.
Debtor to Daughter...
When I came to Jesus some things were instant - peace, joy, strength to follow Him and leave unhealthy behaviors behind. For instance, He miraculously healed me from my nicotine addiction in '98. Anyone who's tried to stop smoking knows quitting "cold turkey" is a miracle! Receiving His love has been a journey. There is a prayer in Ephesians 3 by Paul...
“...may you, having been deeply rooted and securely grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending the width and length and height and depth of His love. Fully experiencing that amazing, endless love, may you come to know practically, through personal experience the love of Christ which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience...” (Ephesians 3:17-19 Amplified Version abridged)
My prayer in those early years was “Lord, please help me forget everything that’s happened and just start over.” I didn’t understand Jesus wanted to pursue every hurting place in my heart and bring complete healing. He is SO THOROUGH. Jesus could erase my painful memories if He wanted to but He doesn't treat us like robots. He’s not afraid of our pain or our sin either, those are the very things He died to give us freedom from. Allowing Him to walk us through those face to face encounters with our bad and ugly is in part how we come to know “practically, through personal experience” that “amazing, endless love” Paul was describing.
It's taken years to go through this healing process but He gave me the courage to face my past completely. I remember one day so clearly, lots of tears and heartache as I confronted old wounds. He showed me in my mind's eye a picture of this epically beautiful verdant place. I was laying down in what looked like a hospital bed but it was glowing emerald green and the bed was beside these beautiful calm waters. He reminded me of Psalm 23...
“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He lays me down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3 ESV)
His presence was so strong and the revelation of His love just kept coming and coming. He had made a place of rest and healing for me. He was quieting and mending my soul.
"When we deal with our pain it makes room for our dreams." ~ Karen Bontrager (Life Coach)
One of those dreams...another Ayers baby. We lost our 3rd child, Augustine in 2009 and I deeply wanted another. Shiloh Rose was born August 9, 2016.
He's given me beauty for ashes, strength for tears, gladness instead of mourning, peace instead of despair. I've experienced first hand freedom from oppression, healing from deeply broken places, really - life from the dead. Every song and story I write, woven into each of them is this testimony. He is real. He is good and He loves you.