Mia Koehne is a very busy woman. She is a singer/songwriter, worship leader, active in womens ministry, not to mention wife and mother. And if that isn’t enough, her blog, About Midnight, has a healthy following.
In preparation for my interview with her, Mia sent me a link to her video-taped testimony. As I listened, I became intrigued. It was powerful, heartfelt….but something was missing. There was more to the story. My curiosity was piqued.
Our schedules eventually allowed for some time to get together. We started the interview talking about Mia’s music, but the conversation swiftly turned in an unexpected direction when I asked her about the part of her testimony not included in the video. What she said moved me deeply and I knew the article about Mia would have little mention of songwriting or performing. It would be a story of rebellion, redemption and restoration.
A Broken Heart
Mia and her foster brother, Chris, were taken into a foster home when she was only 6-weeks old. Her foster family were practicing Christians of German decent. Her new siblings immediately fell in love with her. After Mia’s first night with the family, her new siblings put a note on their parent’s pillow which read, “Can we PLEASE keep this one?”
When Mia was 7, Chris, 12 at the time, began experiencing fatigue. He was taken to the doctor, who discovered a lump. Chris was immediately admitted to the hospital. Two weeks later, Mia’s brother by birth, her best friend in life, died.
Her foster brother’s death left a huge hole in Mia’s heart.
“The way that impacted me was I had a hard time believing the people would stay around. It set me up for a self-destructive life-style. If things got too good in in my life, I would self-destruct, because it was going to self-destruct on its own, anyway!”
In the Chicago area during the 70’s, there was a movement to keep black children with black families. Mia’s foster parents were advised to stay quiet about their intentions. Mia was 12 when her foster parents were able to officially adopt her into their family.
Mia still suffered from an ache that could not be relieved. She spent years looking for something to ease her pain. When she was in high school, she discovered temporary solace in men. She thought if she could get their attention, she would feel loved; she would feel whole. But in Mia’s words, “the encounters made me feel worse, it made me feel less. It just made me feel more unloved, when I was trying to feel loved.”
She got into alcohol and partying during her college years. Mia discovered she was pregnant after receiving a volleyball scholarship. Shortly after that, she reconnected with a young man who had gone to her high school. Mia and the young man, Bob, were soon married.
Mia should have been happy finding love. Bob was a kind, Christian man who loved her and loved her son. Bob and Mia had two more children. But in the back of Mia’s mind, she knew the marriage was doomed. She spent the early part of her marriage cheating on her husband.
Mia became the master of living a double life. She was a well-respected member of her church. She sang on the worship team. She did and said all the right things. She was a great mom and appeared to be a great wife.
When the truth finally came out (which started when her husband dreamed she was cheating on him), she was confronted on her behavior. She actually felt relief.
“I put forward this facade of having it all together and not letting anyone know how much of a liar I was. When my husband eventually found out, our world came crashing down. At the same time, there was a release of energy. The energy it took to lie, the energy it took to lead a double life. I saw it all fall, which was a blessing in disguise.
At the same time, I realized my life as I knew it could be over. My husband, being the man of God that he is…simply said, ‘Mia, you have a couple of options. You can stop what you’re doing. You can stop the sneaking around, the lying, the cheating and I will forgive you because I love you.”
Not understanding grace and forgiveness, and believing she wasn’t worth it, she took Bob’s second option – leave if she was not willing to change. She walked out on her husband, her kids, her life and jumped right into those things she had been hiding.
She was running with drug dealers and gang members in the Chicago area.
“I was full on in sin and rebellion…the blessing in it – God allowed me to fall very hard, very deep and very fast. I know that we all have to some how…reach that point where we’re just like ‘enough’. That’s when I reached my ‘enough’ point. I remember where I was and what I was doing at that moment when my life didn’t seem worth living. Death seemed sweeter then living. I just said, ‘God, I can’t go on living like this.'”
At that moment, Mia’s phone rang. It was her sister in Oklahoma who said, “Mia, have you had enough?” Mia said, “yes.” God had heard her cry.
Her sister paid for a plane ticket from Chicago to Oklahoma. There, Mia experienced a great spiritual restoration. She got involved in Celebrate Recovery and Ministries of Jesus. She realized the need for her to seek forgiveness from those she had harmed. More importantly, she began to know that God had never left or forsaken her, nor would he ever. He had been with her all along.
She remembers the morning she realized that Jesus loved her unconditionally. It was something that she had heard all her life, but it was not until that moment that she felt it in her soul. As she put it:
“the scales fell from my eyes and I could see clearly for the first time in my life. I actually started to sing, ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so!’
It was the first time I sang that song and I got it. It was more then a song that I had sung my entire life, it was my anthem. For me it was like the whole bible summarized. I think this is true for other people, that when we understand that his love covers us, that he loves us unconditionally, that’s when we get that, it changes our lives because that’s what it did for me.”
Mia knew she must call her husband and ask for his forgiveness. She knew God was sending her home to Chicago, to go back to her marriage and family. Bob had a realization of his own at the same time – he was to love his wife as Christ loves the church.
“The crazy thing is, we both knew it. God was so clear. We both chose to be obedient to that. I’m not going to say it was easy. He didn’t like me. I didn’t like him. There was a lot of pain and bitterness and a lot of hurt and mistrust, but we knew that God was calling us to this, so we said ‘yes’. We were going to let God handle it.
So we came back together and we worked on things. We had a wonderful, wonderful pastor who loved us unconditionally and walked through life with us. For me the word that comes out is…obedience. Like for my husband, ‘forgive her’, and for me, ‘Mia, go home’. Through that, God did something to our hearts. He allowed us to fall in love again. It was in a different way than it was before: Christ is the center. God is the foundation. Coming together under grace and mercy.
For me, it was the first time I understood forgiveness. My husband forgiving me was a real life example of how God forgives us. Some times, I need to see it in the flesh. I need to experience it to understand the Father even more deeply.
It’s taught me how to love and how to forgive people. Sometimes I feel like I have every right to be mad and bitter, but it’s taught me how to forgive.
It was a year of really hard work and it continues. Marriage is hard work, even if you’re not unfaithful, or a psychotic mess like I was. Just having that love on the base of love and grace and mercy and God. Here we are, married for 21 years, and we are still in love.”
Mia says there was so much in her life that was out of control, she felt she had to control everything around her, including her husband. As God began to heal the relationship, she developed a respect for her husband, seeing him as the man of God that he was intended to be. She saw him as the man of the house and the leader of the family “It changed everything,” said Mia. “…because of the grace and mercy that God has shown me. My marriage would not have survived had it not been for God.”
Mia quoted Psalms 3, 2 and 4:
“Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain. ”
That’s what people were saying about Mia after she left her husband. She was too far gone. There was no way back. No way God would deliver her. But God had not forgotten.
“So, I sing,” Mia tells me, her voice breaking, on the verge of tears. “I share that music, I share that hope. I sing to the broken, the hurt and the hopeless. We have a God who will never leave, never forsake, who can restore. He is willing and able to do more then we can ask or imagine. It is his character. He is Jehovah Rapha. He is the healer and that’s what I love.”
Mia laughed and said, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
I laughed, too. A cathartic, cleansing laugh. I had had the privilege of hearing an extraordinary story of God working in a life in an incredible, supernatural way. And Mia’s restoration is affecting other lives through the songs she writes and sings.
Mia brought about the close of her story in a sweet and concise way:
“Getting back to music..the reason I sing? It’s because of what God did for me that I sing.”