By Shelley Koppel, entertainment writer
Heather Williams has packed a lifetime into her 32 years.
The Stuart resident performs at the Worship Loud service at the Morningside Church in Port St. Lucie on Saturday nights; her husband, Tim, is the youth pastor at the church. How they came together, survived tragedy and emerged stronger is the story of deep faith and love, which Heather Williams shares in her music.
Originally from Michigan, she met her husband, a Floridian, when he was on a music mission and outreach trip to Detroit. They became friends and dated long-distance for a while and then, with almost no money, she came to Port St. Lucie to meet his family.
"I was 18 years old and had a nickel in my pocket," Ms. Williams said. "I got a job and a place to stay. We dated four or five months and he proposed on my birthday on a radio show. He even had a billboard painted. We were married six months later."
Her new husband had a solo album out and didn't really know that she could sing. One day she started playing and said she was going to write a song; soon they were performing 100-130 dates a year with their band U-Turn. They took their Christian rock music all over the country.
In 1997, they performed at the Morningside Church. They felt that they had come home there and Tim eventually became the youth pastor. Still, something was missing.
"I had always wanted to be a mom," Ms. Williams said. "I had a crazy childhood, from an abusive home, but I've always had a love in my heart for kids. We had gotten married young and I had a lot of baggage. My husband and I were fighting and we were in a pretty bad place. Even though I was traveling with a Christian band, I was doing it out of selfishness. I cared less about the message and more about how I sounded."
After years of difficulty conceiving, their son Caedmen was born in June 2002.
"This beautiful boy entered our life," she said. "He was awesome, a great baby, but it added stress. At Christmas, we went up north to see some of my family; he was the first grandbaby. On the way back, he showed signs of a cold, and I got him in to see the doctor. On Dec. 30, they thought he might have pneumonia and at 4:34 p.m. he was dead. They said he had an enlarged heart.
"I described it as the worst day that has happened to me thus far, but somehow God has worked it into almost the best because it opened my eyes and my priorities. God had given me the ability to sing, not just to impress, but to share God's love for us. (Tim and I) made a decision after Caedmen died that we'd make it work. It took his death to wake me up. I'm learning to put the other person first."
The Williams' daughter, Skye, was born on Christmas Day, 2003, and 15 months later, their son Gideon was born. Ms. Williams believes she's a better parent because of Caedmen.
"I'd rather have temper tantrums and have a child in my life," she said. "It gives you clarity on what you can handle. I love my family with all my heart."
Her music is also close to her heart. She'd been writing music, but had put it aside for a few years and told God that if he wanted her to open that chapter of her life again, he should make it clear to her.
Someone came forward to offer financial help so that she could make a CD. She went to Nashville to record it with the help of musicians including Will Denton, drummer for LeAnn Rimes. Ms. Williams wrote five of the songs, including one called "Beautiful Thing" that has a little skat in a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Ms. Williams' own love for jazz.
She co-wrote a song with Mr. Denton, as well. A record label has expressed interest in the project, which Ms. Williams describes as "Christian rock." It's titled "Heather" and she is very proud of her work.
"This album contains my heart, what I know God wants me to speak," she said.
Heather Williams performs at Morningside Church, 2180 S.E. Morningside Blvd., Port St. Lucie, on Saturday nights at 6:30 p.m. To hear excerpts from her CD, visit her Web site, www.heatherwilliamsmusic.com, or visit her MySpace page at www.myspace.com/heatherwilliamsmusic.