Bob: Lisa Williams was working in Christian radio. She and her husband were volunteers at their local church. What their friends didn’t know is that their marriage was in trouble.
Lisa: Bottom line was he brought a lot of pride into our marriage, and I brought a lot of dishonesty. I won’t tell you how I really feel about anything. I’ll act like everything is fine, all the time. On the inside, I’m going, “I hate you. I wish I wasn’t here”—just dishonest, but it’s all I knew. It’s just how I functioned. I was inauthentic. God saw all of that; right?
He brought us to a point, and we got to California. Here, I’m now, finally, pregnant—what we’d prayed for—for all these years—and we’re just a mess. We’re very, very far apart from each other.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 15th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Lisa Williams shares today about how her priorities were realigned and brought into line with biblical priorities. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Some of our listeners are going to check the dial and go, “Wait; wait; wait! Am I on the right station?”—especially, if they listen, back and forth, between FamilyLife Today and have ever tuned into the morning show on K-LOVE®.
Dennis: Was it the afternoon show she was on?
Bob: Well, it was the afternoon show and, then, the morning show. She’s been everywhere! [Laughter]
Dennis: Lisa Williams joins us on FamilyLife Today. Lisa, welcome to our broadcast.
Lisa: Thank you. It is an honor to be in these studios and spend some time with you and your listeners.
Dennis: Well, she was on K-LOVE for four years.
Dennis: She and her husband Darren have been married for 25 years. They have two sons, and I’m looking forward to hearing this story because you went to school here in Arkansas a number of years ago.
Lisa: Number of years ago.
Dennis: A number of years ago.
Bob: As we like to say, “Back in the day;” right? — “Back in the day.”
Dennis: Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. You went there for only one year.
Lisa: I did!
Dennis: Why did you only go there one year? You didn’t like Arkansas? [Laughter]
Lisa: I lived in Arkansas for one year of my life—one of the most pivotal years of my life because I got married at the end of my freshman year. I met my husband, Darren. We were in a Christian drama group called the Ouachita Players, fell in love, and he left in January to join the Army. He was a ROTC grad. He came back in May, married me, there on the campus of Ouachita. Then, I went to Germany with him in 1987.
Then, while I was there, I sang background vocals on a friend’s record. When I heard my voice, my heart sank because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I thought, “I’m not good enough.” Then, I sought the Lord for three weeks saying, “Okay, if I’m not going to make records for You, You’ve got to tell me why I’m here...” I think I said to Him, “...or I will die. I have to know why I’m here. I do not want to waste my time on this earth.”
I prayed fervently like that for three weeks. In a moment, in prayer—this is just how it happened—a moment, in prayer, I felt as if I heard the Lord say, “Christian radio,” very clearly to me. I stopped praying and I said, “I could do that! I could do that!”
Bob: You’re not one of those people that grew up—I mean, I grew up with my transistor under my pillow thinking, “It would be so cool to be on the radio some day.” That was always kind of a lifelong dream, went to college to study Radio and TV; but this was kind of new to you. You never really thought about being an on-air person on the radio?
Lisa: No. Before I came to Christ, as a young teenage girl, I thought maybe I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then, once I was in Christ, I wanted to make music. Then, I wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to be a Journeyman with the Baptist Church. I wanted to go to college and then, spend my life in the mission field. That’s where my head was. I wanted to be in the ministry.
Then, when I feel as if the Lord said, “Christian radio,” to me—it’s not like I hear God speaking to me all the time or even at that point in my life—but that’s what I heard. Then, I followed that. We got stationed in the States, after being in Germany for three years. We were stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. That was July of 1990.
I found a map. Well, no. I tuned the dial back and forth—you know, all the static—and I heard a Bill Gaither song. I stopped and went, “That’s Christian.” Then, the next song was a Petra song. I was like, “Okay, we have found a Christian station!” I’m just going to—
Bob: Now, wait. Wait. Bill Gaither and Petra back to back?
Lisa: Well, I didn’t say it was a great Christian station—[Laughter]—but it was Christian! I waited until they said the name of the town and they said, “Camdenton”. I found it on a map.
Dennis: That’s a ways away from Fort Leonard Wood.
Bob: From Fort Leonard Wood.
Lisa: It was an hour and 15 minutes from our house.
Lisa: I drove up there on a Monday. They asked me to come back on Tuesday. They called me on Wednesday—said, “We’d like for you to start tomorrow.” I hosted the afternoon show on the wonderful KCBO in Camdenton, Missouri, for five years. I was a program director when I left.
Bob: This was all new to you. You’d never been on the radio as a host before. You come in Monday; and Thursday, you’re on the air.
Lisa: Yes. It was nerve-wracking because I remember these feelings of, “I can’t white- out anything. Everything I say is just out there!” I was a little bit of a perfectionist, and I wanted to do a good job for God. I remember feeling panicky and really addressing God directly saying, “I cannot do this, Sir, unless You empower me to do it,” and felt like He gave me Matthew, Chapter 5, that says, “Let your light shine.” Then, I went over to a verse in Philippians that says, “You’ll be like a bright light in a dark and perverse generation.” I went, “Okay, I’ll take that as direction. I’m just going to go shine.”
I started studying radio, at that point. I listened to great stations that I could pick up out of St. Louis and Kansas City. I asked to go to every seminar. I started reading, and I just tried to train myself in radio.
Dennis: To a young lady or a young man who is listening to us today and maybe the young man has a voice like Bob’s, already, at six years of age, and he doesn’t have a transistor radio because he doesn’t know what that is—[Laughter]—but what would you say to them about following God’s lead for his or her life? This is really an important thing we’re talking about here.
Lisa: I would say, “If you seek the Lord with your whole heart, you will find Him, and you don’t know what that will mean.” I feel as if I had a dream for my life. I was going to be a Christian artist. That was my dream, and it was a noble dream. It was a reasonable dream; but there came a point where I was broken and I said, “I am so sorry that I told You what I was going to be. I have never asked You, ‘Why am I here?’” Then, I sought Him with all of my heart, “Why am I here? Why am I here?”
Now, not everyone is going to hear a voice or maybe get a definitive answer like I did. That was the timing God needed for me; but if you seek Him, you will find Him. He does have a plan for each of our lives.
Bob: You were driving, back and forth, two-and-a-half hours a day, to do the afternoon shift over in Camdenton, Missouri?
Bob: That’s a long haul.
Lisa: I did that for five years. We moved a little closer after three years, but it was a long haul through the Ozarks—a very windy road. I would work usually ten, if not more, hours because we didn’t have kids. I was very hungry to learn more about radio. So, I was all in.
Bob: Did your husband get transferred somewhere else?
Lisa: After five years, he got out. We had marriage trouble, to be honest. He had two assignments, where I didn’t go. He went to Chicago for a season. He went to Panama for a season.
Dennis: And you didn’t go with him?
Lisa: I didn’t go with him. We rationalized it because we were the assistant—the unpaid children’s pastors at our church, we owned a home, and I was on the radio. We almost lost our marriage during that season.
Dennis: So, your advice to someone who is thinking about maybe keeping their career, at the expense of not moving with their spouse—
Lisa: I’m against it. I don’t want to push my convictions on others, but my personal opinion—since that’s what you’ve asked for—is that you need to stay together. You need each other. You need each other—spirit, soul, and body. Couples should stay together.
Sometimes, you can’t help it. The Army often moves people away from you for long periods of time, and there are short stints. You can seek the Lord, maybe for a short stint, but it’s better to be together. I’m an advocate of staying.
Dennis: Was it just isolation that you two went through—just not sharing the same life but just two independent people, living in two different places, doing their own things?
Lisa: I think that was part of it. I think that there were things from our past—from our parents’ pasts, things—dysfunctions we brought into our marriage as young people that we’d never dealt with—never really honest—some pride.
Bob: But you held it together?
Lisa: Yes, to the glory of God.
Bob: Why did you hold it together?
Bob: I mean when it got tough,—
Bob: —why didn’t you just say, “Okay, we’ll start again.”
Lisa: We’ve had two instances in our marriage where we’ve almost split. This particular instance, I think, we stayed because we loved God and His Word. We were both committed to Christ. When it got down to it, we stood by the Word.
Bob: But you didn’t like each other?
Lisa: I did not like my husband for a long time, and he knew that; but we stayed together.
Dennis: During that same period of time, you two were struggling with infertility.
Dennis: Did that have an impact on your marriage relationship, as well?
Lisa: Yes, I think that was a big part of all the problems that we had over the years because there was so much pain with our infertility. I don’t think we dealt with it properly. I don’t think that I cried and accepted that I was infertile. I kept saying, “God’s going to make this happen. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen.”
I don’t think we ever talked about the intense pain that we felt. We were like this perfect Christian couple on the outside. We pushed down our pain on the inside. So, I think our infertility had a lot to do with the marriage problems we had over the years.
Bob: You eventually left the middle of the state of Missouri—wound up in—where was it? —North Carolina, next?
Lisa: Let’s see, we went to Iowa, where I helped launch KCWN in Pella, Iowa. I was actually there for a job for my husband; but wherever he went, I would just find a Christian station and get involved. Then, we ended up in North Carolina. Then, his job transferred us to Florida, where, for ten years, I worked for Z88.3 in Orlando.
Bob: That’s a big music station in Orlando.
Lisa: They’re number one in Orlando. They’re amazing—amazing group of people.
Dennis: You went on to be the host or the co-host of a number of stations from New Jersey to Sacramento, all across the country—
Lisa: Yes, sir.
Dennis: —until you landed a job in 2008.
Lisa: Yes. I—you’re talking about K-LOVE? [Laughter]
Bob: Well, how many people a day were listening to you in the afternoons or in the mornings on K-LOVE?
Lisa: I’m not sure at that time, but I think it was four million a week—
Bob: That’s a pretty good-sized audience; right?
Lisa: It’s amazing. It’s amazing.
Bob: Did you just walk in and say, “Hey, I can do this,” or how did you get the job at K-LOVE?
Lisa: Well, I mentioned that we went through some trouble in our marriage—twice.
Lisa: In 2006, my husband got a job promotion that would move us to California. That’s what he wanted. Well, it’s not what I wanted. We had been infertile for many years; and when I was 36, we—it was almost like, “I want to be a mom, and it’s not going away.” God knows I’m strong and willful, “I can be on a plane to China tomorrow”—I mean, like, “God just tell me what I’m supposed to do.” We had tried to adopt once, and it had fallen through—another time of deep pain in our lives.
So, we decided, as a couple, that we would see a doctor. We began working with an infertility specialist in Orlando, and I had gotten pregnant. It was a painful journey to get to that point; but during this season of our lives, after the adoption fell through, to that point, we really grew apart. Our marriage was very—just being honest—our marriage was a mess, but we acted like it was fine.
Dennis: For a second time, then—
Lisa: For a second time.
Dennis: —you’re off in the ditch.
Lisa: My husband says it’s because we didn’t heal properly the first time. He wasn’t willing—he was proud. These are his words. He was trying to heal our marriage—he tells me in hindsight. So, he took us to California. When we got there, is when Jesus showed up in our house. It was a time of deep healing. It was an honest time.
Bottom line was he brought a lot of pride into our marriage, and I brought a lot of dishonesty. I won’t tell you how I really feel about anything. I’ll act like everything is fine, all the time; and on the inside, I’m going, “I hate you. I wish I wasn’t here”—just dishonest, but it’s all I knew. It’s just how I functioned. I was inauthentic. I seemed so authentic, but I was really inauthentic. God saw all of that; right? He brought us to a point, and we got to California. Here I am now, finally, pregnant—what we’d prayed for, for all these years, and we’re just a mess. We’re very, very far apart from each other.
It was Easter of 2007. I feel like the Lord, on Good Friday, just showed up in our house. We were very honest with each other for the first time about a lot of things that we had hidden. I thought our marriage was, for sure, over; and I saw my husband cry. He cried for three days. He just broke. Then, I broke also. I was hard, too; and I broke. We had some Christian friends who flew in. They just rallied around us, and held us, and walked with us, and pointed us to the Word. We got into a really good counselor.
At that time, the church that we had started attending sought my husband out to be their children’s pastor, which is the calling on his life. He is an amazing, amazing children’s pastor. He thought, “Not me. God could never use me.” He was humble and broken for the first time. At that time, I just reached out to K-LOVE because we had moved, because of my husband’s job, to the backyard of K-LOVE!
Dennis: Now, were you pregnant at the time?
Lisa: I had just had a baby, my little John David. He was a brand-new baby. He was born in February. God rearranged our lives at Easter and then, I started working at K-LOVE in September.
Dennis: Okay, time out here. So, you were infertile for like 20 years?
Dennis: You get pregnant after all the anguish of wanting to be a mom. You’re a mom, and you throw yourself back into your career?
Dennis: What were you feeling at that point? Were you feeling conflicted, or was this just a matter of habit?
Lisa: This is what I knew! This is who I was, in a way. I was a radio girl. So, I have this baby; but in my mind, that’s what God called me to. I’m supposed to be on the radio. So, I sought a radio job; and I got pregnant, like my first week. I remember telling my boss, David Pierce, “I’m going to have a baby.” He goes, “Well, you weren’t pregnant when I hired you.” I’m like, “No, sir, I wasn’t; but I’m taking maternity leave in nine months.”
That was—God healed my marriage. God called my husband into the ministry. God let me continue in the ministry. He had given us a child; and then, I just got pregnant. It was like the icing on the Jesus cake. It was like the icing on the icing on the icing. This is what God called me to do—He made me to do. I’m working on K-LOVE. I have children. My marriage is healed. “Wow! This is the dream. Could it be any better?”
That continued. I had the next baby. I took maternity leave. I got pregnant again and miscarried. That was another little painful time. Then, they asked me to move to the morning show. It was almost like it was spinning. There’d been so much moving and so much healing; now we have a baby; now, we have another baby; and now, you’re on the morning show. It was just—it was a lot over a short period of time.
After—kind of like, now, we get to the nitty-gritty of who I am today and what’s going on. This past year, I began to have panic attacks. I began stuttering a little bit in the afternoons. I just said, “My current lifestyle is no longer sustainable. Something is going to have to give.” I sought the Lord with all my heart again and felt like, “If something’s going to give, it’s obviously not my family.”
I made the decision, “I’m going to need to step down from K-LOVE.” I told my husband. He was, at that time, working at a church in Indianapolis and not making a lot of money; and I was making a lot of money. There was a lot of pressure there to continue to work—in myself. I had a lot of people on my team that depended on me. I felt like I would be letting God down and letting everyone down if I stopped working.
Bob: So, you said, “I’ve got to come home.
Lisa: I said, “My current lifestyle is no longer sustainable.” We began to seek the Lord about what He wanted us to do. I stepped down from the K-LOVE—the K-LOVE Morning Show, where you think, “Oh, I’ll do this for 20 years.” I’m talking to people about Jesus!—millions of people—“Thank You, God, for this chair and this microphone.” Then, I stepped away so that I can focus on my children.
Guys, I’ve never experienced peace and happiness like I have now. It’s like—I tell my husband all the time, “It’s like I live in the Promised Land.”
Bob: Now, wait. You don’t have a paycheck like you used to have.
Lisa: We make one-third—a little less than a third of what we used to make. We work a tight budget. It’s a joy to be a mom. I’m still a radio person.
Bob: We can tell.
Lisa: I’m still a radio person. [Laughter] This past week, I was on KXOJ, in Tulsa, helping raise money—I’m doing one-day projects, once a month, for humanitarian efforts. For World Concern®, I was raising money this past week. I go here and there and do radio very, very, very part-time. I’m blogging for MomLife Today®.
Lisa: I’m starting to blog so I can express myself through writing and reach out to other moms—maybe moms in a similar situation, maybe feeling the pressure of life and thinking, “There’s no answer because we’ve got to make this money;” but there’s always an answer. There’s always a way if you’re feeling led by God to do something.
Bob: A third less than you used to make?
Dennis: But you’re making it?
Dennis: And you’re a family?
Dennis: And you’re not stuttering?
Lisa: No, and I haven’t had a panic attack until I walked in here with you guys. [Laughter]
Dennis: I have one every day, with Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: Don’t you find yourselves on days going, “I wish we could do this or afford this,” or, “I wish we could take that vacation”?
Lisa: Well, it’s difficult because it’s hard for me to stop being like, “Hey, let’s eat out. Hey, let’s go here.” We dipped into savings a little bit, and we’re working it like a game. God is so faithful! You can trust Him. He’s going to provide for you. He provides. We’re not hungry. You know? Our needs are met, and we’re happy we’re together.
Dennis: Well, Lisa, you’ve gone from a ministry to millions to a ministry that no other person, no other woman on the planet, has been given as an assignment—a ministry of being a mom to two boys—a five-year-old and a three-year-old—irreplaceable. No one else can do that. I hate to say it, but they probably replaced you—
Lisa: They did! They found someone else who could host the—
Dennis: —at K-LOVE.
Lisa: —K-LOVE Morning Show! [Laughter]
Bob: Unbelievable—not very good.
Lisa: No, they actually shut it down. They shut down the whole operation.
Dennis: You just hear flat waves on the radio. [Laughter]
Lisa: Well, as you process things, that’s where it came down to where I processed it to the point where I said, “Someone else can do the K-LOVE Morning Show. Nobody else can be the mom of JD and Jesse. That’s my job!” Then, figuring out these things and, then, saying, “Okay, now how am I going to do it?” —not being scared, and just stepping out, and trusting God. He’s always faithful. He’s always faithful.
The part that I didn’t expect is how wonderful—once you go through a marriage and you stick out really tough times, and you come through these storms, or you deal through pain, and you get to the other side—just be encouraged there is another side! I mean, we have a wonderful marriage. There’s peace. There’s respect. There’s love and joy in our home. We have children. It’s really rich.
Dennis: One last question, “Do you ever struggle with comparison?” Seems to me, with families like yours—where you are—as you start rubbing shoulders with other families who are raising a three-year-old and a five-year-old, and they’re going and doing—there’s all this comparison to have these kids plugged into all these different places. You may not quite be there, yet; but any temptation to compare and go, “I wonder if we did the right thing.”
Lisa: In making this decision?
Lisa: No, I haven’t had any. No, just because of who we are and what we’ve come through and what we’ve seen God do. We lean on each other. My husband and I—we’re really a unit. He’s strong. He knows this is where we belong.
He says to me—he said to me three times now. We’ll be lying in bed talking, “I can’t believe how we are now. We’re together! We’re doing this together. We’re not each doing our own separate things.” He goes, “It just makes me so happy,” —he’ll say because I’m all into children’s ministry—I’m with him 100 percent. There is nothing that I could compare to, going, “I wish I had.... I wish I had....” I love what God has done and who we are right now.
Dennis: It’s a great picture of contentment.
Dennis: Way to go!
Lisa: Praise God!
Dennis: You’re a courageous woman.
Lisa: Praise God! Jesus is awesome.
Bob: If our listeners are interested in hearing more about what God has been doing in your life, and in your marriage, and with your kids, Lisa is a regular contributor to the MomLife Today blog. They can read some of your posts—
Bob: —on MomLife Today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s a link there to our MomLife Today blog. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. Go there and link to the MomLife Today blog page to find out more about what God has been up to in Lisa’s life.
Then, let me encourage you to get a copy of the brand-new book, Be the Mom, by Tracey Eyster. Tracey gives direction to the MomLife Today blog and has just written a brand-new book that’s practical and encouraging for moms. It’s called Be the Mom, and you can find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Once again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us, toll-free, for more information at 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329, 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
During the month of August, we have a special request for a group of people who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today but you’ve never gotten in touch with us and let us know that you’re listening. Here’s what we asking, “Would you consider, this month, being one of what we hope will be 2,500 new families who will step forward in the month of August and say, ‘We believe in what you’re doing, and we believe in it enough that we’re willing to make a donation to help support the ministry’?” Would you consider going online or calling 1-800-FL-TODAY and making a donation? Whatever you can do to help support the ministry—it may be $10 or $20—it may be more than that.
If you can help with a donation, we’d like to send you a copy of the DVD of a movie that was in theaters a few months ago called October Baby. The movie is not yet out in stores, but we have some pre-release copies. We’d love to send one to you as a way of saying, “Thank you for your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today and thanks for stepping forward and raising your hand and saying, ‘We’re here. We’re listening, and we appreciate what you’re doing.’”
If you have never made a donation and, this month you’re able to make a donation of $100 or more, we’d like to send you a certificate so that you and your spouse can attend a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway as our guests or you can pass that along to someone else you know. Again, this is for those of you who have never made a donation and you can help with a donation of $100 or more. If you do that this month, we’ll send you the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway certificate. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, this is for first-time donors to FamilyLife Today.
Let us just say, “Thank you,” for those of you who have already stepped forward this month and said, “We’re listening.” We wanted to let you know we appreciate that. If you’re listening today, we hope you’ll consider doing that, as well—be one of those 2,500 families that we’re hoping to hear from during the month of August.
Let me encourage you to be back with us again, tomorrow, when we’re going to talk about what can be difficult and sometimes even dangerous years for our sons and daughters—the middle school years. We’re going to talk to Brenda Hunter and her daughter, Kristen Blair, about what moms and dads can do to make sure they are protecting their sons and daughters during this challenging time. I hope you can tune in for that.