Danica Hart: God will send you where He needs you to go. And it’s been a joy for us to watch God bless people through our music and through our presence, because we prayed before every show, “God just allow us to be the vessels, may nothing that we say be to glorify us, may it all be to glorify You.”
Believing In The Impossible: Chapel Hart & Andy Partington – Episode #363
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Our guests this week speak to living a life where they’re seeing things they never thought possible come to fruition, and how faith factored into those events. From singing in small town church choirs to receiving the Golden Buzzer on America’s Got Talent, country trio band Chapel Hart never thought they’d be where they are today, playing music for audiences all over the country and sharing their faith. Andy Partington, author of Hope in Addiction, grew up in a rehabilitation center where his parents worked. He discovered from a young age that recovery from addiction is possible no matter your story, and found his passion for helping addicts see there is hope in Christ for a better future.
Let’s start with Chapel Hart’s story.
Danica Hart: Hi, I’m Danica.
Trea Swindle: I’m Trea.
Devynn Hart: And I’m Devynn.
All: And we’re Chapel Hart.
Danica: We are Chapel Hart, we’re a family band, and it’s me and my sister and our first cousin. It’s always been music for us. We grew up in a big family, and our grandparents had seventeen children, and there’s 108 cousins, and it feels like the number just keeps on counting. But growing up, we just always remember there being so many people around for everything—Christmas, Thanksgiving, you name it—there was always tons and tons of people, and that was really life growing up for us. It was church seven days a week, and we were usually up there with our grandmother, cleaning, or we were a part of whatever was going on, and so it was all things church, all things family.
I think Trea says often that it feels kind of like we grew up in a musical, because it doesn’t matter what the occasion was, if it was church, if it was Easter, if it was a birthday party, if it was a wedding, there was always music, which I think is where our love for music comes from. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a type of music in particular, if you get in the car with us, or you get in the van or bus with us…it’s like an iPod shuffle. You never know what you might hear, and I think that’s the beauty of it. It has cultivated us to be the artists that we are today.
Devynn: To kind of give you the backstory on the name of the group—so we’re from Poplarville, Mississippi, but outside of Poplarville, there’s a smaller community called Darby. And inside of Darby, there’s another community called Hart’s Chapel. And that’s where all the family lives and where we grew up. Our home church is there. And so when we were coming up with the name, we wanted something that meant something to the three of us, and we went through probably a million different names and ideas and none of them seemed to really click or stick. And then, after going through so many names, our manager was like, “Well, what about Chapel Hart?” So we just kind of laughed at the idea because of, like, Chapel Hart, that’s funny. But then, you know, after we really sat and thought about it, it was like…You know what? Growing up in Harts Chapel really cultivated us into the women that we are today. It kind of felt like the perfect name.
Competing in America’s Got Talent
Trea: Since America’s Got Talent, our lives have definitely changed.
Danica: When we went to go audition, it was three full days of recording to get those three to five minutes that we were on stage. And so I tell people, “I don’t know if we were really prepared for that.” So like by the time we got on stage, we were tired, we were worn out, we’d already been like waiting for two days prior to our audition day. We were nervous getting in front of the judges, Simon Cowell sitting in front of you, and we were super nervous.
But once the music started for us, I think we just kind of looked at each other and we’re like, It’s a Chapel Hart party. Let’s go! And I think that’s the beauty of being in a trio as well, we get the opportunity to feed off of each other’s energy.
We were just so proud of ourselves afterwards that we actually did it, and we made it there, that we did it. And then, you know, getting that moment when all five of their hands went down and hit the buzzer, it’s even hard to describe without getting emotional because everything that we worked for up to that moment was them pressing that golden buzzer, that was the validation that we needed.
It’s been a joy for us to watch God bless people through our music and through our presence because we prayed before every show, “God just allow us to be the vessels, may nothing that we say be to glorify us, may all be to glorify You, but more than that, make people hear You through what we do and what we say.”
“It’s been a joy for us to watch God bless people through our music and through our presence because we prayed before every show, ‘God just allow us to be the vessels, may nothing that we say be to glorify us, may all be to glorify You, but more than that, make people hear You through what we do and what we say.’” – Danica Hart
For us to stand in front of these judges and America and all 4,000 people in the building and for us to sing our original song, and for everyone to get out of their seats and clap their hands—everyone was chanting “Golden Buzzer!” when there were no golden buzzers left, and you know, it was the most validating moment that we’ve ever had in our lives. And one of the ones that even when we look back or we watch the video back, one that we will forever be beyond grateful. Our gratitude is forever through the roof for that moment.
These Are the Glory Days
Trea: We’ve been on the road and just trudging along as independent artists do for years and years now.
Danica: We’re sharing our album, Glory Days. Glory Days is a new season for us and we’re in this season that we feel like we’re getting ready to harvest all of the seeds that we’ve sowed in the last five years. We’re going out on new adventures and new journeys.
Devynn: I think the title Glory Days is a great representation of what the album is about. Right now, we are living in the midst of our glory days, and I think the songs on this album represent that so well, because during your glory days, these are the times that you will tell your kids about or your grandkids about, and you’ll sit on the porch and think and reminisce. And even though the glory days, it sounds like it’s all sunshine and rainbows, but there are still some downsides to the glory days. Every day won’t be perfect, but we know that it’s all a part of the journey, and that it makes the glory days what it is. And in this album, you’ll find songs about growing up and experiencing heartbreak.
“Every day won’t be perfect, but we know that it’s all a part of the journey, and that it makes the glory days what it is.” – Devynn Hart
And first of all, I don’t think that any of us could have ever fathomed that the one and only Loretta Lynn would have asked us to redo one of her songs. And I think it kind of just goes back to that feeling of validation and just being seen in the music industry, and especially in the country music industry, by having such a legend reach out. There’s like generations of country music that have been built upon her legacy.
And we’ve even seen it translate during the shows, whenever you have two, or three, or sometimes even four generations of family being able to go and listen to the music and you can see the grandpa telling the granddaughter about how maybe he met their grandmother listening to an old Dolly [Parton] song or and creating these new memories and moments with the families and kind of just bridging that gap and bringing people together. And I feel like hopefully we’re doing it justice.
Trea: Just being on the road and all of the amazing, incredible opportunities that we’ve been blessed with since the performance has literally been like three lifetimes of dreams just coming true back to back. And it’s the beautiful duality of accomplishing those things because, we’ve been running nonstop, we get tired, we get exhausted, but we also get to meet all the fans who supported us throughout our journey before and afterwards. And we kind of just get to reach even more people and spread that love.
Faith Is the Key
Danica: I think the biggest and maybe most important—the ingredient to the recipe of this entire Chapel Hart explosion has been our faith. I feel like everything about this career is just endurance. And sometimes you go to bed at three and then you have to turn around and wake up at five or six and get ready for interviews that start at seven or eight.
So everything is just enduring, and our faith has been such a huge part of that. And I tell people, like, we are right smack dab in the middle of our glory days, but the thing that we’ve been teaching along is that during the glory days you’re going to have ups and downs, because you’re in your glory days and because these are the times of your life, it doesn’t exempt you from loss and grief and disappointment and heartbreak. All of those things still happen while you’re in your glory days, and our faith has been instrumental in being on this journey.
“You’re in your glory days and because these are the times of your life, it doesn’t exempt you from loss and grief and disappointment and heartbreak. All of those things still happen while you’re in your glory days, and our faith has been instrumental in being on this journey.” – Danica Hart
Danica: Connect with those daily devotionals that keep you grounded, stay grounded, and remember to trust in the Lord because like I said, you are not exempt by any stretch of the imagination from hurt, from discouragement, from heartbreak, from grief. There’s going to be loss, but we encourage you to just hang in there. Just keep that close walk with God. And even in the things that you don’t understand, trust that He’s got your path laid out, that the path is there, and everything you need for your journey is already inside of you, but you’ve just got to trust that He’ll lead you there.
“Even in the things that you don’t understand, trust that He’s got your path laid out, that the path is there ,and everything you need for your journey is already inside of you, but you’ve just got to trust that He’ll lead you there.” – Danica Hart
Trea: What better way to wrap this up than to read an excerpt from this prayer devotional, Jesus Listens. And this is for May 17th:
I love to hear You whispering in my mind: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.” These loving words are like a warm blanket wrapped around me—sheltering me from the coldness of fear and discouragement. When trouble is stalking me, remind me to grip Your hand tightly and stay in communication with You. I can trust and not be afraid because You are my Strength and Song. Your powerful Presence is with me always: I face nothing alone! I’m grateful that You have promised to strengthen me and help me. Your strong hand supports me in both good and bad times.
In Your dependable Name, Jesus,
Narrator: To learn more about Chapel Hart, checkout their new album Glory Days, and follow them on social media. Stay tuned to Andy Partington’s story after a brief message.
Find Peace in Jesus Calling
For almost 20 years, Jesus Calling has helped millions of people around the world spend time in the presence of the Savior. With 365 devotions (one for each day) this compact and affordable hardcover book is so beloved, people usually buy multiple copies. It’s often a life-changing gift for anyone going through a difficult time. In Jesus Calling, the New York Times bestselling author Sarah Young delivers comfort and encouragement along with scripture references to deepen your connection to God. Discover how God’s messages of peace and hope can impact your life. Look for Jesus Calling wherever you buy books.
Our next guest, Andy Partington, grew up in a rehabilitation center where his parents worked, and witnessed from a young age that recovery is possible. His passion to help addicts recover has grown, and he is now the international director of Novo Communities, which brings hope and healing to families gripped by addiction.
Andy Partington: My name is Andy Partington. I’m originally from the UK, but have spent a good part of the last fifteen years living in South and Central America. I’m married to Micki, we have five kids together, and I lead the work of Novo Communities and Novo Adventures. So Novo Communities is a ministry with a vision to bring freedom to individuals, peace to families, and hope to communities that are gripped by addiction.
I had an unorthodox childhood, but it was a wonderful childhood. I grew up at a place called Yeldall Manor, a residential drug and alcohol rehab in the southeast of England. My parents began work there when I was three years of age, and in those days the staff moved onsite with their families in order to create a sense of community for them, for the guys in the program. So I spent my childhood in that environment, eating my evening meals with the guys in the program, and on the school holidays.
And I think one of the key things I learned through that experience was the simple reality that a recovery from addiction is possible. I was surrounded by men who were emerging from serious long term substance addictions, and I got the privilege of enjoying their company, seeing their capacity, their intelligence, their heart, their love, their vulnerability, and beginning to understand the stories that led them into addiction in the first place. But most of all, there was this real sense of, Hey, recovery is possible. It happens best in community, and it happens best when the foundation is Christ, in a relationship with Him.
The Truth About Addiction
Addiction can look like so many things at its core, when someone’s in the state of addiction, they’re experiencing negative consequences from the behavior, from the substance. Addiction can be substance-focused, the alcohol and drugs obviously, immediately come to our minds, but of course, behaviors can also become addicting. They work on the brain in the same way, so gambling, porn, gaming, shopping, lots of things can take on this role in our lives, where we find ourselves unable to make the choice not to do the thing. So really, addiction is this experience of losing the power to choose, and actually recovery is discovering again that that power to choose addiction lives on a continuum.
“Really, addiction is this experience of losing the power to choose, and recovery is discovering again that that power to choose addiction lives on a continuum.” – Andy Partington
Drug overdoses, believe it or not, are the leading cause of death in those who are under fifty. Best research suggests that around 40% of our population have a behavioral addiction, so an addiction to something like porn, gaming, gambling. Globally, addiction affects one in five people, and addiction costs twice as much globally as cancer.
But on the positive side, it’s really important to say that 10% of the US population have resolved a substance addiction. So that’s 10% of our population who can say, “I’m in recovery. My addiction to drugs, to alcohol, that’s in the past now.” And I think there’s a real story of hope hidden all around us in relation to addiction and relation to the possibility of recovery and life after addiction.
We live in an age of addiction. Let’s talk about addiction. Let’s think about addiction, and let’s work together, really, to create communities where we have the depth of relationship with one another and the depth of relationship with God, where actually we have a recovery promoting, and an addiction-preventing environment for one another.
“We live in an age of addiction. Let’s talk about addiction. Let’s think about addiction, and let’s work together, really, to create communities where we have the depth of relationship with one another and the depth of relationship with God, where actually we have a recovery promoting, and an addiction-preventing environment for one another.” – Andy Partington
I think one of the chief misconceptions that we need to address is this idea that addiction and addictive behaviors, it’s a simple choice that the alcoholic wakes up each morning and chooses in the cold light of day to keep drinking. But actually, as time goes on, the more you engage in the drinking, the drugs, the porn, whatever it might be, as your brain change takes place, and the way that our minds work changes to the point not where there’s no choice, but where our choices become seriously overwhelmed by these new habits and patterns of thinking and behavior that we’ve developed over time. So I think that’s one important misconception we need to understand, because what it helps us to realize is that when someone’s moving along that continuum into a more serious addiction, they need serious help to get out of it. They very often need a change of environment. They need a supportive community. They need protection and space in order to create new habits, new pathways, and leave the old ones.
Another misconception with addiction is the idea that it’s all about pleasure. I was really challenged with this when I was working at Yale in my early months there, as I helped one of our residents to leave the program. He was leaving prematurely. He was clear that he was leaving to go and use again, and his name was Henry. And as we drove down the yellow driveway together, I said to him something like, “You know, the pleasure is not going to last long. You’ll soon regret this decision.” And he shot straight back at me and he said, “Andy, it hasn’t been pleasurable for years.” And I was taken aback and humbled, really. And really the point that he was making and the truth that he was communicating is the fact that when we’re in addiction, it’s not about pleasure…it’s about the avoidance of pain.
It’s about getting away from something, not moving towards something else, and I think that helps us as we walk alongside those who are in addiction. It helps us to understand what’s making them take, what’s keeping them in the addiction.
“When we’re in addiction, it’s not about pleasure…it’s about the avoidance of pain. It’s about getting away from something, not moving towards something else, and I think that helps us as we walk alongside those who are in addiction. It helps us to understand what’s making them take, what’s keeping them in the addiction.” – Andy Partington
There’s a Scottish proverb, which I love, and it is so helpful to us, and it says this: “They speak of my drinking, but never my thirst.” And as we look at the times we live in and the prevalence of addiction, it’s really important for us to ask, Why are we so thirsty? Why? Why are we so desperate as a population for these kinds of experiences? What is it about modern life that creates such a powerful seedbed for addiction?
There’s all kinds of things that come into play, but I think there are four kind of key landmarks we need to think about. The first one is a sense of hopelessness amongst our population. A real sense of, What am I living for?
The second is a real sense of emptiness that you hear from those who are in and recovering from addiction. Guys will say things like, “Something was missing,” or, “I felt empty on the inside.” And as a population, I think that’s a common experience, just a deep sense of, like, There’s this God-shaped hole and I need something to fill it. And these things do an amazing job of filling that hole and not just for what they do for themselves, not just for what the drink does for me, or the drug does for me, but also for the community that gathers around these experiences and gathers around an addictive lifestyle.
The third factor is just the breath and the extent to which we experience adverse adversity in childhood. There’s an incredible link between childhood adverse experiences and adult addiction, and so the extent to which we’ll find abuse and neglect and addiction in families and divorce in families, that plays out and creates insecurities. It creates vulnerabilities that in adulthood can easily lead us into addiction.
And the fourth factor is really just the sense of disconnection that so many of us [experience] more and more from the industrial revolution and now with the Internet revolution, we are pushed upon, we’re pulled apart from one another, and actually, we’re not made to be alone. We’re made to be together. At a societal level, if we want to ask ourselves why we are seeing so much addiction, those are the kinds of things we need to think about.
“We’re not made to be alone. We’re made to be together. At a societal level, if we want to ask ourselves why we are seeing so much addiction, those are the kinds of things we need to think about.” – Andy Partington
A Road to Recovery
Actually, there’s tons that we can do as individuals, as churches, to help people in addiction, to access the support that they need to access, the practical help that they need to develop, the kind of strategies they need to to journey out of addiction. So we can help people to engage with celebrate recovery groups, to get to twelve step meetings. We can help people to access counseling services. We can help people to get into a homeless shelter and to just get that essential framework and basic need met that enables them and creates a platform towards recovery. There’s a lot of that we can do. And actually, simply by being gracious, welcoming, caring communities to the church, we can do a huge amount to help the person who’s seeking to get themselves out of an addiction.
We know that a relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is absolutely transformative for our experience of life, as well as our eternal hope. And so is the church. One of the things I love about Jesus Calling is the voice it takes on and the way in which it helps us to hear directly the kinds of words that God would speak to us. I’m aware in my own life just how important daily time with God is to my well-being, my experience of peace, my capacity to stay focused and to really build a life based on hope and based on a relationship with God. And so every bit as much when you’re facing an addiction, time with God is just a vital resource, whether you’re in addiction or you’re leaving addiction, God wants to hear from you. He wants to speak to you. He wants to enjoy spending time with you.
“A relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is absolutely transformative for our experience of life, as well as our eternal hope…whether you’re in addiction or you’re leaving addiction, God wants to hear from you. He wants to enjoy spending time with you.” – Andy Partington
Narrator: Andy wraps up his time with us by reading a passage from Jesus Listens, February 26th.
Trustworthy Lord Jesus,
Thank You for training me to trust in You with all my heart and mind. The more I lean on You in confident trust, the more fully I can enjoy Your Presence. As I relax in Your healing Light, You shine Peace into my mind and heart. While I spend time waiting with You, my awareness of Your Presence grows stronger and Your unfailing Love soaks into my inner being.
In Your holy, healing Name,
Narrator: To learn more about Andy Partington, check out his new book, Hope in Addiction, at your favorite retailer. If you’d like to hear more stories about taking a step towards your purpose, check out our interview with Emily Chang.
Next week: Country Music Guests
Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we’ll hear from several country music artists who have shared their stories with us over the years, including Brett Young, Collin Raye, Lathan Warlick, Tayla Lynn, Granger & Amber Smith, Travis Tritt, and Reba McEntire along with her sisters Susie and Alice. You don’t want to miss it!