MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up, a conversation with Christian singer Jaci Velasquez.
MUSIC: [I Get On My Knees]
That’s the song that helped launch the career of Grammy-nominated artist Jaci Velasquez. The Houston native was just a teenager when her debut album released in 1996. “On My Knees” was one of five songs on that album that went to No. 1 on the Christian music charts.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today Velasquez lives in Tennessee with her husband and two sons. While she continues to make music, she told WORLD Radio’s Myrna Brown her biggest joys—and greatest challenges—come from being a mom.
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: I had my first conversation with Jaci Velasquez in the fall of 2009. She had a new album and a growing family.
VELASQUEZ: I just had my 30th birthday this past weekend. It’s strange, life used to be totally different. But when my boys were born, everything changed. In fact, I’m talking to you right now from Costco.
MUSIC: [Diamond Track]
Two years and a new album later, Jaci’s baby boys were toddlers.
VELASQUEZ: We’re on our way to our kid’s first vocal session, actually.
Once again, she let me tag along, over the phone of course! Two-year-old Soren and 3-year-old Zealand joined Jaci and her husband Nic Gonzales—the frontman for the Christian band Salvador—in a recording session.
Like many working moms, Jaci said balancing her family and career is difficult.
VELASQUEZ: I’m a wife and mom of two, and I struggle with having enough time for everybody and knowing that my identity is in Christ. I’m Nic’s wife and these boys’ mom and trying to juggle it all and sometimes feeling guilty that I’m not doing a good job at trying to do all of it.
In the years that followed, Jaci added actress and author to her resume. And in 2017 she released Trust, her first album in more than five years. I caught up with her again three months after it released. And my first question: how are those boys?
VELASQUEZ: Now, they’re 8 and 9 years old. They read, and they’re just hilarious!
Now that they’re older, Jaci says her two sons most often inspire and affirm her music.
MUSIC: [The God Who Moves Mountains]
That song, “The God Who Moves Mountains,” became a comfort to Soren after a nightmare.
VELASQUEZ: He said Satan was trying to take over the world. And I said, Oh baby, that is a bad dream. But let me tell you a secret, Satan is trying to take over the world. He said, he is? And I said, but do you love Jesus? He said, yes. I said you never have to worry because you know the God who moves mountains.
After she whispered those words to her son, Jaci realized they had come from one of her songs.
VELASQUEZ: And in the dark kind of quiet of the room, I just couldn’t help but raise my arms in the air and close my eyes and feel this presence in the room. And my little boy was laying there with his eyes closed and tears running down his face. It wasn’t tears of fear. Jesus was in the room because of this little boy’s faith, and he didn’t have to be scared because he knew the God that moves mountains.
MUSIC: [Trust You]
Another song on the album had a very personal connection to Jaci’s family. She co-wrote “Trust You” through the eyes of a mother with a special needs child… her eyes and her child.
VELASQUEZ: When the diagnosis came for autism, I went through a mourning period. I did. My husband, I remember that night, he was in the shower, and I could hear him sobbing in the shower. And I knew then and there I had to be strong. I had to mourn the dreams and things that I had and dream new ones.
Part of that process involved learning and understanding new words she’d never heard before.
VELASQUEZ: IEP, individualized education program, advocate. Of course I’m a mother, I know what an advocate is, but this is a different kind of advocating.
She says the family’s ongoing struggles have strengthened her resolve and her faith.
VELASQUEZ: God only gives special children to special people, so if God trusted me and thought enough of me to give me Zealand, then that meant I had to pony up. I had to go and I had to fight, make it work and give him every opportunity for success. Because I trust God. I trust that He loves my son more than me.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown.