Servant- The Story Behind The Song 

2020 was a very difficult year.

I know I don’t need to tell you that because you also lived through it.

Lockdowns, uncertainty, financial stresses, a virus we knew little about… we all carried a load that year that we had never carried before. For me, it was a year at home with a precious new baby. A new baby that had reflux and colic and who seemed to be allergic to sleep. Like really… allergic! We even had a sleep school stay at a Sydney hospital to try and encourage him to sleep… even just a bit! I had two little girls I was suddenly meant to homeschool (I decided children ‘learn best through play’…and pretty much left them to it).

And then, right in the midst of all the hard, a good friend of mine decided the fight was no longer worth it, and just gave up fighting.

There is no grief quite like the valley you walk through when you lose someone in your life in that way. And for me, the grief and anxiousness I felt were immense. I cried out to God to help me feel better. I cried out to God all the- whys? I demanded to know what He was doing, and why He allows the awful things He allows.

I began listening to sermons by Timothy Keller. I listened right through a series on Suffering. And one afternoon, folding mountains of laundry in my very tiny living room, Tim’s words smacked me right in the face. ‘Suffering reveals to us what we truly think and feel about God. Do we want God purely for the good things He gives us, all His benefits? Or do we want God simply for who He is.’ (Paraphrased)

I was so struck by it I paused, tiny socks in hand and in tears. I had known the goodness of God in so many tangible ways over the years. Moments of deep comfort, moments of being held through huge trials.

But did I want God for God? Was I prepared to place my hand in His and say ‘even though I don’t know why you are allowing this grief and this anxiety, I trust you.’

Tim went on to talk about the kindness of Jesus in the cross and of how God never allows our suffering to be beyond what is absolutely necessary to conform us to the likeness of Christ. And how if we would but cling to Him through the fire of our trials, we would emerge refined and even MORE beautiful because of the flame.

On my knees and in tears I wrote the song ‘Servant’. And I sang it over and over and over again until I could mean it as I sang.

Fast forward to October 2022. I’m sitting in Gnome studios in Nashville about to record my first EP- North and South – the radio edit. Erich (my producer) shows me the track ‘Servant’ from the acoustic EP which I had planned to do later on. I hadn’t heard what he had done with it yet, the beauty of the arrangement, the acoustic guitar and the swell of the cello… well… I burst into tears (poor Erich, we’d only met face-to-face the day before!). I knew in that moment that the EP ‘Yours’ was more important. It became the project we decided to finish and release first.

I can say that I have found God to be good in the middle of my grief. I am still learning to cling to Him through the fires of life and I still don’t know why God allows the things He allows… but the sweetness when I sit with Him and share my pain with Him and talk and just soak in the fact that He is WITH me in the midst of it all. Oh, that sweetness is what I’m praying for, for you.

That whatever you walk through you will know Him in the middle of it. He loves you. He knows you. He knows your fire. He is right there in it with you! Let’s cling to the promise that He uses ALL things for His glory and for our good. And may we all come out the other side of the fire… a little more like Him.

Hebrews 12: 3-11


Servant Lyrics

Whom have I in heaven but you?

To whom do I belong?

When your fire came for me, it found my heart was wrong.

And you let me feel the heat, to prevent a greater flame.

All the things that I had trusted in, could not help me that day… 


Whom have I in heaven but you, 

On what else can I stand?

When your fire came for me, I found I was on sand.

And you let me feel the hurt, to prevent me greater pain,

Not a tear shall fall that you will waste…


Cos I am a servant, I belong to you, 

I give you nothing, but you give me you. 


Whom have I in heaven but you, 

To what else shall I cling?

When your fire came for me, 

I was clothed in earthly things

And the fire raged right through

And it left me standing bare 

But you picked me up and you made me new

Clothed me in a righteousness from you.


Cos I am a servant, oh I belong to you, 

Oh I give you nothing, but you give me you…

Yes I am a servant, oh I belong to you, 

Oh I give you nothing…

But you give me… 

Wonderful counselor, 

You give me, 

Awesome and mighty, 

You give me

Loving and tender, You. 

How Many Singers Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb? 

How many singers does it take to change a light bulb? Two, one to change it, and the other to hog the light.

“How long has it taken to make these songs?” It was a fair question, and I laughed at how her eyes widened when I said it had taken a full year. Yes… one whole year to make 5 songs…

 In January 2022 I sat on a balcony at Sea World Resort in Queensland and anxiously checked my phone. I had timed it perfectly, my two-year-old was sweetly napping in the room behind me, while my older kids had hit the theme park rides with their Dad. I took a deep breath and answered… I knew this zoom call had the potential to change the trajectory of my coming year and possibly even the trajectory of my life.

 It was a meeting with two producers in Nashville, USA. I had already met Cody Norris and was now about to meet Erich Sandersfeld, the producer who went on to produce my EP Yours. Both of them had worked with the legendary Ed Cash to record pretty much every notable Christian Artist I had ever listened to. Cody had worked as a producer for Chris Tomlin and scores of other artists, and Erich had recently produced Megan Nicole and Sam Bowlds. I had sent away my demo tracks to Cody and long-story-short they were happy to work with me.

 I love that the photo below looks like an awkward sibling photo… because truly, that is what it is. Erich is standing on the left, and Cody on the right. What an incredible privilege it has been to work with these two brothers in Christ. Both are just happy to be serving the Lord in their given fields and they do so with grace, humility and with very little thought for the incredible gifts and talents He has given to each of them.


I want to thank them both. Erich for the countless hours spent building these songs, for listening intently to the hopes I had for each one and then for making them even better than I’d hoped. Cody for the beautiful job mastering the tracks and for the encouragement to step out in faith and pursue the opportunity. I will never forget Cody looking straight at the camera on zoom (in a moment when I was seriously doubting whether the music I was making was good enough) and saying ‘Fern, any act of faithfulness is ALWAYS worth pursuing’.

I want to thank the Nashville musicians who played so beautifully on this album.

To Jess Grommet- thank you for playing the acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo. Your incredible ‘Riff’ in the song Yours just made it into something ten times as beautiful! I love your style!

To Andy Ellison- thank you for playing pedal steel for this album. I’m not usually a pedal steel fan (I’m sorry America!)  but you played it beautifully and I love what it adds to Morning Mercies.

To Billy McClaran – Absolutely gorgeous job playing the fiddle! Thank you so much!

Jurgen Sandersfeld- thank you for the epic string programming throughout… especially in ‘Yours’. Incredible job.

Joel Rousseau- Thank you for your beautiful backing vocals throughout the tracks – what a voice!

Erich Sandersfeld- even though I’ve already acknowledged that you produced… I also need to thank you for playing the percussion on this album, Engineering (also thanks to Anthony Vaticalos from Gnome studios ), mixing, and programming.

 Special thanks to Kari Sandersfeld for the epic amount of hours this took your husband away from your family, it is always a team effort and I appreciate the sacrifice it required. And to Sarah Norris for the hours Cody spent and also for letting us use your house and the downstairs studio at little notice!

Thank you to Annie Smith, Heather Agnew and Jude Bourke (and also to Greg Smith and Malcom Bourke) for providing the support and encouragement I needed when recording in Nashville.


 Enormous thanks to Brendan Scott and Bee Scott for their photography, videography, branding, and also their social media management input. The hours you two have invested into this project is nothing short of epic. I am humbled by your willingness to serve our Lord so faithfully with your talents.

Finally thank you to my husband Daniel and to my 3 wonderful children. You have all sacrificed in so many ways this past year to make this debut EP possible. From picking up the pieces while I was overseas to building websites, YouTube profile creation, SEO stuff and a million other digital things I don’t even remotely understand- THANK YOU! 

And thank you foremost to God, without Whom, none of this would have been possible. May these songs bring Him glory.

While it may only take two singers to screw in a lightbulb, it has taken the faithful work of 15 people to record these 5 songs and share them with the world. So… I am taking a moment to say thanks… and in so doing hopefully not ‘hog the light’…

Tears in Tamworth 

There’s a famous country song by Rascall Flatts called ‘Backwards’ that details how if you were to play any country song backwards you would regain all the things in life you’d lost. I laugh every time I hear it, but as a country-folk writer I resonate with the grain of truth embedded in it. Every country song tells a story, and the story of life involves constant loss and gain, trials followed by triumph, growth through grief.

Tamworth came about in an unexpected way for me. I had emailed a friend (the wonderful musician Phil Davidson) 2 weeks before the festival to ask if he was headed to Tamworth to perform this year. I was thinking of busking on Peel Street and looking around to see if there would be any opportunities for me to take the following year. Well… a string of emails later and I was headed to Tamworth not to busk, but to play on stage.

It was sweltering hot when we arrived, well at least for us it was! The locals assured us it was a very mild summers day and that we really were quite lucky. We took some time to roam the festival, side alleys bustled with entertainment, leather belts and stockman style hats were for sale a plenty and the music! Oh the music was wonderful! Every turn we made hopefuls lined the streets, an eclectic mix of acoustic sounds and all of them quite good!

We took a look at the Scripture Union Café set up alongside the stage I’d be playing on the next day. I loved the thought of people taking refuge in there, grabbing a hot cup of coffee (or more sensibly a cold drink of water) and finding the grace of God in the faces that would serve them there. The opportunity to sing felt exciting, and a little nerve-wracking… but…there was a shadow over all of it for me. The morning we had been packing to leave I’d received a call from my brother. Our Nan was not doing so well. If you know me personally and know my story, then you know how large a part of my life she had always been. I’d been visiting her regularly, never quite knowing whether each time would be the last. But now the end was nearer. I made plans to head straight to her as soon as Tamworth ended, knowing she would have definitely wanted me to go. She had always been wonderfully encouraging about my music.

The next morning was extremely hot so we made the fairly sensible decision to spend the entirety of the morning in the local Tamworth swimming pool. I prepared for my gig in the pool toilet, hair streaming wet and squinting in the bright sunshine attempting to put on some makeup. As I crossed the field towards the stage a familiar voice rang out from my left. My dear friend Elizabeth Rae (another wonderful musician!) was crossing the grass towards me. She had driven 7 hours from Toowoomba to surprise me. Another story for another time will tell how she was the reason I started playing music again, after laying it down for 7 years. Her being in Tamworth as the kick-off of something God had been laying on our hearts for years… was just…  exactly as it should be.

The remainder of the day was a wonderful blur of singing, food, catching up, laughter and sitting in a sea of grey nomads to listen to the country balladeers play on the Toyota stage. It was fantastic.

On the way back to our accommodation I texted my brother. He told me I wasn’t going to make it home in time to say goodbye. We arranged for me to Facetime him at the nursing home first thing… but he wasn’t sure whether or not it may already be too late.

The next morning, I sat in my car in the carpark on Facetime and said goodbye and prayed for the woman who has always showed me what unconditional love looks like. I wiped the tears from my face and climbed up onto the stage, my voice trembling a little as I got started. I sang every song that morning for her. My brother rang me not long after I finished playing, to tell me she was gone.

On the way home in the car I wrote a song called ‘What Kindness Looks Like’. A song about the story that made up her life, her love, her family… her kindness. I played it a week later at her funeral and God willing maybe one day I will record it and share it with you.

If I could play my song ‘’backwards’’ as according to Rascall Flatts , the things I would regain would be immeasurable. But as I can’t, I’ll simply have to be thankful for the stories that were… the moments and memories that will live on in the hearts of those she leaves behind. And I’m thankful too for the gift of country music… a place where I can write my stories down and sing them and sing them, until the pain feels just a little bit lighter.

If I head back to Tamworth next year maybe I’ll play ‘What Kindness Looks like’… and you can bet if I do… I’ll sing it for Nan.

How God Was Kind In Nashville 

Going to Nashville was a LOT harder than I had anticipated and God made His presence known there in some really surprising ways. I want to share with you some of the stories about what happened and how (with the benefit of hindsight) God truly was in control the whole way. 

It started with an American basketball team being put through the check-in in Sydney ahead of me. I got there early! Plenty of time even! And yet I found myself waiting at check-in for over an hour and a half and stuck in security as my plane boarding time was coming to an end. I texted my hubby to tell him I wasn’t going to make my plane. I shoved my things through security, threw my bag over my shoulder and ran for it.  

I arrived, gasping for breath at the gate as the guy demanded the last call to board. I literally made it by single-digit seconds. I flopped into my plane seat. Stressed. Seriously contemplating if I should climb straight back off (I hadn’t wanted to travel so far without my young family). How kind of God that I didn’t have an hour sitting at my gate to contemplate not getting on the plane. In honesty I may never have gotten on. 

Fast forward to LA Airport. I had made the naïve mistake of telling my fellow passenger that I hadn’t been there before. A young man, he had seemed very friendly. But now he was insisting (whether well-meaning or not-I don’t know) that I follow him out of the Airport to a shuttle bus that would apparently take me to the terminal I needed. He followed me through security to where our bag change over was. I knew in my guts something wasn’t right. I approached a tall African American Airport worker with a kind face (the passenger trailing me) and told him I wasn’t sure where to go. He looked me straight and replied with a wonderful LA accent ‘My darling, I am your angel. I will take you exactly where you need to go!’. He proceeded to tell the young man to go on without me, and he (momentarily) left the lady he’d been pushing in a wheelchair to take me to my gate (sorry lady). I never had to set foot outside the Airport to get there, in fact it wasn’t far at all. How kind of God to provide the help I needed to keep me safe in that moment. 

Fast forward to Nashville and the studio I’m working in in an industrial area in Nashville is frankly just not working out. My producer and I are surprised and not thrilled with the privacy of it. We are experiencing ‘bleed through’ noise interrupting our recordings, in an isolation booth (that’s not supposed to be possible). And on top of that, I don’t like tight spaces and that vocal booth was like a cupboard I was shut into all day. I wasn’t singing well at all. 

My friends and I were also being woken every few hours at night by a dump truck emptying something at all hours. The jet lag couldn’t really have been much worse. 

We reached out to a producer friend who happened to have a free studio at his home in Franklin. 

The girls and I packed up, moved to a GORGEOUS motel in Franklin. It felt like home. I’m a country girl and I realised I needed the green space. The studio was wonderful… and due to the recording settings we used there, I love the vocals from that space so much more than the first one. How kind of God to allow bleed through noise at the expensive studio (seriously, how?) to move us to a friendly space where the sound of the vocal even at a processing level, would be far more beautiful. 

It also allowed for connections with humble people serving Jesus in the most incredible ways. Conversations with both producers and their families, meals together which were nothing short of precious. How kind of God to allow the city experience to be … well… pretty awful.


He also provided annual leave for two precious friends from Northern Ireland and the support they needed at home to be able to leave little people behind. He provided a dear friend of 18 years to meet me at the airport and spend wonderful time reconnecting. How kind of God to send me the support I needed, quite literally from around the world. 


We visited the Grand Old Opry on the Wednesday night and to be honest it was probably the lowest point for me, as that was when everything just seemed to not be working out. I was pretty miserable watching the show. During the intermission my friends offered to get me some refreshments, and I even declined going with them. Preferring to sit and feel quite sorry for myself. Well, onto the intermission screen in front of thousands came a lovely young Christian artist named Connor, who shared what it had meant to be a Christian in the public space of Country music. I have never needed to hear the encouragement he offered more. I felt like I was precisely where I was meant to be at that exact moment. 

How kind of God.



I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I got to Nashville. You may be wondering it yourself. How does a primary school teacher who didn’t really want to be a professional musician end up recording in Nashville? Some of the answer I’m not sure you’ll even believe, when I do write a blog purely about that journey one day… But the overarching answer I’ll give you here is this… one day I gave up music completely. Another day, 7 years later God showed me clearly that I should pick it back up and be faithful with any opportunities He would provide (without chasing them myself). And through a series of interactions, a traveling musician’s words, the connections at worship conferences (which others sponsored me to go to), dreams (not mine), two dear musician friends connecting me to first one and then another producer, God providing the funds, the community and the courage… God opened doors that I had promised Him I would follow Him through… all the way to Nashville. The whole process has spanned 15 years… but particularly the last 7. In my blog I share about some of the things I am continuing to learn along the way.