Who would have thought that being accused of plagiarism could ever be a good thing? When I was thirteen, I discovered I had a talent for writing stories and poetry because two of my teachers thought I must be plagiarizing my writing assignments. It turned out to be one of the best misunderstandings of my life. It was a huge turning point for a shy, Christian, farm girl from Michigan whose family was transplanted just north of Chicago. Those teachers,were Angels in my life. They took me under their wings and told me I could fly. From that time forward I began writing poetry in the form of lyrics. Luckily, I could sing a little, and knew just enough about chords to get my point across to anyone with the ability to play an instrument. I began singing and writing music in a band with some friends from school. Even with a firm religious foundation, and what seemed to be my purpose in life all figured out, unexpected circumstances shook my world. It was the break up of my parent's marriage. I guess I didn't see that coming. I went into a major tale spin. I hid the pain in my music and exposed it by partying. With the help of a fake ID and some older musician friends, I was sneaking out and singing in rock clubs professionally by the time I was 15. This wasn't working out very well with my family, school, or my own inner battle with God. Somehow, in my confusion and ignorance, I thought the answer was to run away from home and try to follow my dreams. Big Red Flags were flying at me from every direction, but my heart just wasn't receptive at the time. Even so, through the haze of smoky bars, the slur of alcohol and the lure of applause, the wisper of God's voice was still louder than the PA speakers. Things happen to a naive girl living on the streets, but it wasn't the danger, seeing people shoot up, or the lack of food or money at times, that sent me home. I was too proud and ashamed to give in. Asking forgiveness for all I felt responsible for seemed impossible. Even so, God never stopped calling me back. One chilly October night, sleeping on the floor of an empty bread delivery truck with some other run away kids, I decided to take God up on his promise of forgiveness. I hoped and prayed that my family could forgive me for all I had put them through as well. That amazingly clear night, under the stars and cool autumn moon light, I asked God to please forgive me, take me back, and help me to be the person he called me to be. The next morning I went home. I later found out that my mother had left the door unlocked every night just in case I came to my senses and walked back through it. Just like God does. That's my story of redemption, and you would think that it would be enough for one lifetime..., But there's more!!! Many things have happened to me since then. I went to college and maintained a 4.0 grade average, was in the honor society, still performed in local bands, wrote more songs, and won some music contests. I got married, I started my own company writing, producing and doing the "voice overs" for local and national radio and T. V. commercials. I performed in plays and even wrote comedy for comedians. I also had two beautiful daughters. In the midst of all of this, I found a church where contemporary music was a wonderful and inspiring part of the services. I jumped right in, and have been serving in the music and drama ministries at my church and other outreach programs ever since. Things seemed to be running on cruise control until another snag came along in my life. One of my daughters and I were involved in a car accident. Due to a head injury, I suffered a form of amnesia for 2 years along with some permanent memory loss. Amazingly my daughter only had a few scratches. This, along with some on going problems in my marriage, caused my relationship to be troubled and it never recovered. We got divorced shortly after that. Then I found and married the man God made for me to love. He embraced me and my two unbelievably amazing kids and I became a step mom to two more unbelievably amazing kids. Now my husband, Mike and I, both serve together in the vibrant music ministry at our church just north of Chicago, IL. We also perform for other ministries, charity and outreach programs, concerts, community events, festivals and corporate functions. My point in telling you all of this is not only so you will see the miracles that God has obviously done in my life, but it is my hope, and prayer, that somehow the music that my experiences have inspired me to write, in some way, will help you to ask yourself, "how is God fitting into my life"? If you have never cracked open a Bible before, I encourage you to look up Psalm 139:13 or the book of John or just start back at the beginning. It makes my brain hurt to think about all the ways God has touched my life. If God can love me after all I have done, after all the times I forgot to turn to him, I'm sure you are a shoe in! We are all perfectly imperfect, but wonderfully made and amazingly loved and forgiven by God. He's just waiting for us to know it. Thank you for reading my story. Now go and buy some music and let your heart sing! Sincerely, Karen Kiley Don' tforget to check my web-site for free downloads of new music I am working on with Stranded on a Planet!!!