Suzys Story

This is the short story of my journey, the long version memoir is coming; highly encouraged by my life-long friends…

A Hateful Start

It started in 1960 as I screamed out of a women who didn’t want children.

I believe I knew it all along. The lack of motherly love. Babies know things. Kids especially know. Even before the first time I heard her say it and was old enough to understand her rantings: “I wish I never had kids,” and “I wish you were never born” among a few.

Don’t worry. I’m no longer bitter. I just want you to hear the real story. I’m good. I’m real good.

The thing is, I found life through a Creator who loves endlessly and I grabbed his heart and rode it like a wild mustang tamer. Still ridin’! After all, I am from Texas.

Man. This love. It still slays me every day. And no. You cannot tame it. Or me. Please don’t try.

After a grisly non-loving childhood filled with drugs, alcohol, abortions and every kind of abuse, we skip to my late 20’s- when I landed a job singing backup for a new artist on the fast track: Reba McEntire. Soon I was packing up my stuff and moving to Nashville. Before that I sang jazz all over Dallas with the best musicians out of North Texas state university. My mom was a fantastic jazz singer but I also had country roots from my dad. My years with Reba would prove to be the beginning of a lifelong transformation starting with a member of Reba’s team.

Her name was Sheri McCoy at the time. She loved God and secretly prayed for everybody on those tour buses like a stealth assassin of love. She never said a word.

Sheri would sit with me while I drank 20 shots of vodka. Sometimes she would even have one. Simmer down, people... she was ok. One day, as we were getting ready for a show, I asked Sheri, “What kind of make-up are you wearing. Your face is always glowy.” This was actually a legit question, as she was Reba’s stylist including clothes, beauty, hair, etc... I figured she had the newest and best make-up ideas and brands. She looked at me with her huge doe eyes in a most unusual way and said, “Well, I don’t think it’s my makeup you are noticing. I think it might be Jesus.” I was like, huh? Who? That was an image I associated with a picture on the wall in my mother’s bedroom as a child. A man with long, soft brown hair and easy eyes looking piteously out at me. Or a statue in Monday’s mass in catholic school, where I promptly got myself kicked out almost every week by clowning around to make the other kids laugh. Always and anything to laugh. Laugh all the pain and grim home scenes right out of the mind. (Laugh on, sweet, child, I’m coming for you).

That Jesus?

Well, no, not that Jesus.

I started asking questions. Sheri was forthright if just vague enough to get me searching on my own. I read the Bible, but mostly found edgy Christian music to listen to on my daily runs. Keith Green had the biggest effect. Edgy. Risky. Out of the box. All the things that would be my future in a church that still persists in needing more explanations then the God of universe should have to provide in His beautiful unfolding mystery. Mystery. God. Universe. Creator. That wooed me.

So I stumbled along seeking and sneaking around in my vices, drugs, alcohol and unlawful behavior. But something was pulling me in. A heart. A love. A truth. I had to find it, and deep inside, I knew I would.

I had succeeded during this time to get my first husband to leave the house where I was thoroughly enjoying my newfound freedom. One night I decided to have a little party with myself and a few bottles of vodka I kept in the freezer. I would drink glasses of cold vodka and watch movies all night while consuming grand amounts of chocolate and popcorn. Funny thing, I knew this was a last binge with an eerie premonition that I would soon discover some evasive yet inner truth. I felt it in my bones. Towards the end of my binge and the end of the bottles, I heard a knock on the door.

No one there.

It must have been a neighbor or something.

Knock, knock. Again, no one.

I locked all the doors, checked the windows and turned the TV back on.

Again! Knock, knock.

This time I grabbed a kitchen knife and charged the door hollering, “Who’s there? Go away!” Just then, as if in a dream, before I opened the door, I heard a voice clearly say,

“Quit your job, call your husband, and get help.”

Huh? Who was that? That wasn’t my voice. Holy crap. I am drunk and hearing voices now. This is a first. Yet, my thoughts were all swirling with my experiences with Sheri, the Bible I was reading, the music, and the deep impressions I had been entertaining of a possible real God.

So I called Reba.

“Hey Reba.”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I had a few drinks. I think I heard something.”

“Heard what?”

“A voice.”

“Ok. How much drinking?”

“A bit more than usual.”

“Ok. What did the voice say?”

“Quit your job, call your husband, and get help.”

“Suz. This might be God. Perhaps we should call it quits. Perhaps it’s time.”

Me: “What if not’s God?”

Reba: “What if it is God?”

Laughter on both sides. Tears.

So we ended our work relationship just like that. I quit. A drunk backup singer who was hearing voices.

I finished off what the voice directed me to do by calling my husband. We were separated. I told him the whole story and much to my great shock, he directed me to a counselor he had been seeing and that was that.

Following advice from hearing a voice. Okaaaay. At this point I had become stone sober.

A week later I packed my suitcase and admitted myself into The Harbors Treatment Center for drug addiction in Nashville- (no longer under that name). We chained smoked and drank cokes in between group therapy, family re-enactments, and one on ones, etc... I loved that place. All the misfit unlovables hunkering down together to find some truth and peace for the war in our souls. How would we ever stop this war without drugs and alcohol? Perhaps we could love someday. Like other people. Like the perfect people.

The Harbors got me 30 days sobriety and on the road to deep healing. What a shock to have a professional agree that maybe it wasn’t such a great way to grow up with all the hatred and bitterness in place of love or nurturing. I was validated and asked if I would consider forgiving them. Through miles of roadwork and good counsel, I learned to start forgiving. Truth be known - I’m still traveling this road, my friends. Everyday forgiving and asking forgiveness. Everyday letting go. As should we all.

One night, a month after I left the Harbors, my phone rang at 2 am. It was Reba’s new hairdresser. “Suzy, there’s been a terrible accident.” The plane carrying Reba’s band members had crashed into the side of a mountain soon after take-off from the San Fran airport. Pilot error. No survivors. Only tiny pieces of their bodies strewn in hard to get to places. It exploded on impact. These were my very close friends. Only pieces. The one bit of good news- they didn’t feel a thing. It was a violent surprise. They never knew what was coming.

My phone rang again.


“Hey Reba.” Much crying here.

“You heard God.”

I heard God in a drunken stupor. I quit my job, called my ex-husband and got help. Just like that all my friends were gone. And I was alive. I. Was. Alive.

He just might be real. He just might love me. He just might have something for me to do.

Marvelous Monday’s

Sporting my new faith, still young and full of hope and new ideas... I still had a way to go. Still looking for love in all the wrong places landed me in a bit more trouble, though not as binding as before. Like old tape on pulpy paper, it just couldn’t stick anymore. Two people, along with Sheri, helped me make the final transition into loving myself enough to nurture my own body, soul, mind and spirit.

I had met Don and Christine Potter just before the treatment center at a bible study at a friend of Sheri’s. They were quite humble in the fact that he was a very famous producer/master session guitar player and she an uncanny healer and counselor. They never talked about what they did. They just loved me, talked about a loving God, and took me into their fold.

Sheri and her new husband, Marshall Haynes, started a small prayer gathering on Monday’s with Don and one other singer songwriter whom I had known since I was 19, Leigh Reynolds. Don and Leigh would play their guitars together, both excellent players. “Just sing!” they encouraged. So we did. We just sang. To God, the world, us, the neighborhood, humanity, situations. Singing and praying in a fresh, spontaneous flow I had never heard of much less done. I jumped right in. These Marvelous Mondays unleashed in me a growing connection to God and spontaneity- it was just fabulous! I was a natural poet and jazz singer so the songs just sprung out with melody and sound like a reservoir that had been damned for years.

We spent almost 2 years of Mondays in this way. During this time, I became a backup singer for Wynonna Judd in her debut solo tour. It was an awesome tour where I got to work with the likes of Russ Kunkle, Willy Weeks, Bob Bailey, Kim Fletcher, and many more giants. Meanwhile, I’m still hard after God and my new mentors are steering me towards health and healing.

One night, Christine invited me to travel to NC for a ‘conference.’

“What’s a conference? Why would I go to a business meeting?”

“It’s a gathering of Christians to worship together,” she said. “I believe God may have some more surprises for you. Sheri will come too.” Hmmmm. Surprises. Mystery again. I like that. “Ok. I’ll go”

Surprise! Morningstar!

Surprise is such a small word for what happened to me at that first ‘conference.’ It was like an explosion of love from nowhere and somewhere all at once blowing up my entire being over and over for four days. Explosion after explosion. It was a fog of manifested healing and magical encounters. I crawled, I threw up, I laughed, I danced, and I made a total idiot of myself but I didn’t care one whack. This was a tangible encounter. So real, in fact, I lost my bearings all together… and on a few occasions, my cookies. They call that part of my story deliverance. Whatever it was- I was getting free and nothing mattered. I actually felt God’s presence sweeping through me and apparently it was pushing all that crappy stuff out. Out and out and out leaving me feeling full of light and love. Feeling Love. Wow. That was totally new.

First True Love

Jesus Christ- the One and Only One True God Who Loves Everyone Always. It was Jesus first. I always say to Him, “It was You all along on the inside.” He blasted my heart and soul like TNT, bringing down the ugly, raising up the glory.

It was eventually my new Christian friends who would teach me to love and cultivate relationships. I knew nothing of any of these delightful paths. What a journey it has been and most of these are now my life-long friends.

For many years I mentored the worship department at MorningStar Ministries in NC, with Don Potter, Leonard Jones, Molly Williams and others who are a beautiful part of my story. We traveled the globe imparting fresh worship and skill training through worship schools and conferences. We mentored some of our favorite world-renowned worship leaders, whom I dearly love and still encourage: The Helsors, Kim Walker Smith, The Johnsons, Josh Baldwin, The McMillan’s, Molly Williams, James Duke and many, many more. I love these humans with all my heart and I am so proud of how they deliver the love of Jesus through their passionate hearts and gifts with humility and honor.

Worship artists came from all over the world to join our community of freedom worshipers. We wrote, danced, and painted our way into the heart of God with permission to ‘follow Holy Spirit as best we could.’ I think permission from our pastors was the key to everything that happened and spread worldwide, with the help of God TV. It was an amazing journey and I am still in awe of what God did in those humble beginnings.

Then in 2003/2004…

Second True Love

Kamran Yaraei walked into a MorningStar New Years conference in Jan 2003. Just saved from a life as a Shiite Muslim in Iran, his deep passion was like a quiet arrow piercing everyone’s heart who met him that night. Happy New Year to me! We were married 6 months later. We have continued on this beautiful path together sharing the love, healing and freedom the passion of Christ offers humanity. We put our marriage above and first before everything and we live a full and happy life together with our Bouviers in Moravian Falls, NC.

We love the world with Jesus joy through honest and vulnerable ministry. We serve the biggest harvest on earth right now which is the young Iranian church.


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