God has been a powerful presence in Sherry Walker’s life.
Though she’s struggled with divorce, health issues, and the painful loss of loved ones, God has been her anchor. That’s why she chose “My Anchor Holds” as the title of a CD she recently completed. The CD features 15 southern gospel songs, favorites Sherry has been singing since she was a young girl.
One of the songs on the CD is “The Anchor Holds,” and because Sherry has found that song so encouraging, she drew from it to create the title of her CD.
“I’ve heard that when there is a storm at sea the captain drops the anchor to steady the ship and keep it from being washed off course and out into more dangerous and unknown territory,” she wrote in the dedication on her CD. “When I have gone off course, it’s been when I forgot to trust God and tried to fix things myself instead of waiting out the storm. The storm doesn’t always stop soon. The ship may sustain some damage and may need some repair. It may get beaten up and have some scars, but if the anchor holds, the ship will not sink or be washed away. I don’t want just any old lightweight anchor, I want the one that will hold when the storms are really rough.”
Sherry developed a love for music at a young age. Her father died when she was just 7, and although finances were tight, one form of entertainment the family enjoyed was driving around in the car and singing along with the songs on the radio. Sherry’s mother kept a pen close by so she could write down the words to every song. Sometimes she had to listen to the song two or three times to understand every word, but eventually she filled a three-ring binder with page after page of song lyrics in her handwriting. It’s a treasured remembrance of Sherry’s mother, who passed away in 1982.
When she was just 4, Sherry’s oldest brother came home on leave and taught her all the verses of “On Top of Old Smoky.” After that, her mother would ask Sherry to sing for just about everybody they met.
“She would always introduce me as‘ . . and THIS is my BABY!’ ”
During Sherry’s youth, the family moved frequently. Sherry lived in Delta for a short time while she was in elementary school, but she wound up attending junior high and high school in California. There she participated in choir and honor choir. She quit singing until she was married and settled in Oregon. She joined the choir in her church and soon began singing solos.
She continued to move frequently, and lived in Alaska for a period of time, but she always had fond memories of Delta. “I think that’s because my mom was happy here,” she said.
After she was re-married in 2004 — to a man she was engaged to at the age of 21 — she settled in the Phoenix area. Providentially, her husband was transferred to Grand Junction and she finally had the opportunity to return to Delta. She and her husband have purchased an older home on Grand Avenue which they are gradually fixing up.
Throughout her travels, Sherry has never forgotten the answer to a prayer she received in 1980. She was on her knees, fervently praying to God, asking Him what she should do with her life.
“I felt like God was saying write a book and promote it with a song,” she recalls. “I kind of laughed, but I did start writing stories about our family and I have a whole briefcase full now, and I did start singing solos in church at that time.”
Over the years, Sherry said she had the money to make a recording a couple of times, but other priorities intervened. Then she was divorced after 29 years of marriage. A bitter struggle ensued over finances, and when Sherry finally got a small piece of acreage from the divorce proceedings, she sold the land and used 10 percent of it to make a CD.
“I was tempted to put it into this house, with the rest of the proceeds, but one night I dreamed this might be my last chance and that gave me the ‘oomph’ to go ahead and do it. I felt God was sick and tired of waiting.”
After all, she said, it had been over 25 years since He first answered her prayer. “So I did it, and I did it before I turned 60.”
She sorted through 300 taped accompaniments, looking for the “comfort” songs which had gotten her through hard times. “I tried to choose songs that are meaningful to me in the hopes they will be meaningful to others,” she says.
She narrowed her list to 45, then to the 15 she eventually recorded with the help of Doug Hamby. He made the recording in his basement in Eckert, where he operates Time Storage Studios.
Doug Hamby made the process so much fun, it took just a month to record all 15 songs, Sherry recalls. It took about six months of advance legwork to obtain written permission to use the songs.
“I didn’t make the CD because I thought I was good or anything like that. The question was, am I going to be obedient even though I don’t feel capable of doing these things.”
She speaks her heart through gospel, but she sings rock ‘n roll for the fun of it. She is a member of the group “Flashback,” which recently performed at a benefit at the Delta Elks Lodge. The band also includes Bill Hanson, Rich Hanson, and Doug Hamby — the guy with the recording studio. Country-western music brings back fond memories of the nights she went to the Wagon Wheel Dance Hall in Montrose with her mother. The CD is dedicated to her mother, who has always served as an example of courage.
Sherry recently wrote another song, a song from her heart that she would like to have recorded. It’s a song about suicide, and the devastating effect it can have on loved ones left behind. Suicide left an indelible impression on Sherry, because that’s how she lost her father at the age of 7. In 1999, a half-brother also chose to end his life.
“I felt my dad had taught him that’s the way to solve your problems,” she says. She dealt with her pain by writing a song which she hopes will make others stop and think about what their deaths will do to those left behind.
The song ends: Your one chance is over We must go on without you and pray that in time
We can heal from the misery You caused us to suffer When your self-centered choices When you took your life
“I really think that self-pity is the first step to all the other stuff — not the first drink, or the first drug, but self-pity.”
She recalls a low point in her life, when she and her husband had reached an agreement in their divorce settlement. “Within a month, he had a girlfriend who took over his finances and she cheated me out of everything.”
She had no home, and she had no health insurance, and she briefly thought of suicide. But, she says, “I pulled myself through that with God’s help, so I know it can be done.”
She re-connected with her former fiancé, and found solace in her music.
“Music is my way of turning things back around,” she says. “I feel like Satan’s purpose is to defeat us; the only way to defeat him is to find something good in everything, even all the bad stuff. If we can find something good in that and turn it around, we’ve defeated his purpose.”
Sherry also finds meaning in an unlikely place — a collection of over 100 teapots which adorn her home. “I like collecting teapots not just because they’re pretty to look at, but because they remind me of how we are made to serve.”
Some teapots have been broken and glued back together. Sherry says some of us also bear the marks of a broken spirit, but when we allow God to heal us from the inside we still have the capacity to serve. Other teapots are hard-hearted and don’t have the capacity to be filled; a few are filled with rocks of resentment which will taint any blessing from God.
She pulls a tarnished teapot from a shelf as she explains, “Some teapots are sturdy, but still usable. They just need to clean up their acts a bit.”
When she was told to clean up her act as a young girl, her mother always told her to take a look around.
“There’s always somebody worse off,” her mother said. “Look at that and be thankful for what you have.”
These days Sherry’s particularly thankful she finally finished her CD. Even if she sells only a handful, she hopes they’ll be cherished mementos for her children and grandchildren.
Sherry’s CD is available at the Genesis Bookstore in Montrose or by calling her at 874-4142.