At twelve years old, Heather Petersen wanted to die.
Growing up amid arguments, addiction, and abuse, Heather spirals from despair into rebellion. By the seventh grade, she’s drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. As a teen, she settles into playing the victim and drowning in self-pity. Then she meets Jayson Stover.
Jayson dreams of making it as a musician. Drawn to his hopefulness, which had been entirely absent in her upbringing, Heather confesses that she loves to sing. And so they became a duo . . . in both music and love. But the too-familiar pattern of her childhood follows her into adulthood, easily enabled by the bars where they play their gigs. It takes a death in the family and a series of health scares for Heather to ask, “Where do people go when they die? Can there be something greater than this life on earth?”
In this candid and moving journey through abuse, addiction, sobriety, and redemption, Heather Stover shares her very real story of meeting God in the darkest of places. Learning to trust Him, run to Him in prayer, and rest in Him for comfort, Heather finds the key to the healthy and lasting change He wants for all of us. Are you ready for God to work a change in you?
Heather Stover is a wife, mom, professional singer, worship leader, and now an author. Through her personal struggles with family, addiction, health, and loss, she found faith in Jesus that has carried her through. She makes her home in a small village in Ohio with her husband, Jayson; their daughter, Savannah Love; son, Noah Jay; and a goldendoodle named Evie Blue.
When she’s not playing music with her husband, she enjoys riding bikes, taking daily walks, spending hours in bookstores, sipping coffee, and eating all the good treats. Heather and Jayson have learned to make prayer a priority in their home and to keep God at the center of their lives.
I hated my life. I had been in this same tiny house with these same people for twelve years and nothing was changing. My dad’s drinking was getting worse, the fighting was becoming more frequent, and the abuse hurt more and more.
My mom, always a caring mother, couldn’t be there for my brother and me like she wanted because she too lived in constant fear. She spent my childhood days bandaging heart wounds induced by the man she had said vows with.
Sitting on that bathroom floor that night, I put the pills in my mouth, and time stood still. Clearly, at age twelve, I knew right from wrong, and that this was not the right thing to do. But I so badly wanted some sort of attention from someone, anyone, who would just take the time to care about me.
There were many times when I would run to my room after a session of physical and verbal abuse from my dad and see if he had left any noticeable marks on my flesh. But nothing I saw on the surface even remotely compared to the wounds I felt on the inside.
The worst feeling I ever felt as a child was the helplessness of watching my mother—my favorite person on earth, my heart—getting shoved to the ground. I would rather have taken a fist to my face than witness that.
My dad’s promises of change were only made to regain the control that he desired over our lives.
Growing to accept the lie that I was unwanted and unworthy of love, I pulled as far away from my family as I could and consumed as many substances as it took to lessen my fear of being alone.
I carried baggage that often came out in my emotions and would eventually need to be dealt with. The intensity of these emotions only grew as I quit the drugs that helped me forget the memories.
“When you’re alone on your death bed, you’re going to wish you hadn’t treated me this way.”
These haunting words that so easily flew off my tongue on the day I went to reconcile with my dad wound up being the last thing I would ever say to him.
This table reminded me of all the times my family had fought while trying to eat a meal together.
I dreaded going to that table on birthdays. They would always begin with singing and end with screaming.
Just like that, my dad was gone. But little by little, my dad’s death began to unleash wonder and truth that I never saw coming.
When the results from the autopsy arrived, I was shocked to see that my dad had died of what is called cardiomegaly. An enlarged heart. Ironically, my dad had died from the very thing I always thought he was lacking.
When I closed my eyes, I saw my dad’s face. The terrible face of death. Then, my thoughts turned to panic! Where had he gone? I still didn’t know much, but I knew that although he was dead and his body was in the ground, “he” had gone somewhere else.
It dawned on me in that moment, that when I was saved, I really had been changed. It would take some time for me to understand fully but I felt that the Holy Spirit was not only guiding me, but was a part of me, in me!
Jay and I learned a huge lesson in this season. God was pushing us just far enough to realize we would need to rely on Him and no one else. We were learning to pray and trust. Learning to run to God, our Father, in prayer, and rest in Him for comfort.
Having a direct encounter with God changes things.
My biggest lesson in forgiveness was that I learned to erase the hurt, not the people.
The process of working through those past hurts, regrets, memories, and lessons helped me to see that my past was of no importance anymore, because that had been my life before I was saved and born again. I realized that I am new!