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"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. . ." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

A non-Christian at a Christian college. A mis-fit who hid behind an alabaster mask. A young woman who tried to blend in. Wasn't she a Christian? Didn't she grow up in church? Why doesn't anything make sense?

Freshman year. Walk-on basketball hopeful. She couldn't understand the Bible, but hoops made sense. Practice, practice, practice. Out on the asphalt court at dawn, she worked hard on her moves and they succeeded from endline to endline, but not in the classroom. Professors know a bluff when they see it. She thought she was hidden. So naive.

Back to the court. Move left, move right. Wait. Who was that guy approaching her? Play ball? Sure. Date? Even better.

He was tall and athletic. He was popular. So, was it her fault when he raped her? Who was he kidding when he apologized? No, she didn't run away. She was desperate. She didn't know who she was. She defined herself by basketball and a boyfriend. Besides, he apologized every time, right? Got to give the man a shot at redemption.

So many questions. What were those professors talking about? Where was God when she was abused? Who was she? Nothing was making sense. But the shots were going in and the rebounds were landing in her hands, so she pressed on.

Senior year. Something had to change and something did, but she didn't do it. Out of seemingly nowhere, God made the change. Suddenly, she could see. For the first time, she realized that her life had been a sham and now she was beginning a new life. Regeneration. God awakened her and gave her understanding. Of Him. Of so many things.

It was a strange morning. Odd. Miraculous. She picked up her roommate's guitar and began to strum. A song came out. Had she played guitar before? Well, not really. A few lessons in sixth grade, but then she quit. It was too hard. Now it was all pouring out easily. The chords echoed the words of truth -- truth from God, truth that had been hidden from her.

She no longer had to hide behind self-righteousness. Oh, yes, she was such a good girl. Didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't swear. She did everything right. But now she saw her sin. The real person. . .inside. For the first time, she let her sin define her. And then she rejoiced in His grace. He took that sin from her. He erased it from her account. He redefined her in Him, in His righteousness.

No more hiding, no more bluffing. She went to class and understood. The words of the Bible made sense. She had a new life now. She no longer had need to define herself by basketball. No more hiding behind hoops. Or an alabaster mask.

That morning, that redefining dawn, she had played that guitar as if she had been playing for years. She promised God that she would use music to glorify Him.

Tonya released her fourth album, Seasons, in the summer of 2011. Seasons is a concept album that explores the various, and sometimes perplexing, seasons through which God takes His children. The songs weave together the puzzle that is the Christian life -- times of abasement and times of abounding, times of pain and times of joy, times of lonliness and times of fellowship. But what the songs reveal is that the one constant through all these seasons is God.

As a child, Tonya always loved music, yet when opportunities to learn music came along they never seemed to last long enough to grasp the concepts needed to articulate anything remotely sounding like a song. With a brief stint of clarinet and guitar, and a few years in various choirs, Tonya was able to glean a few things to take with her into the future. Always too shy to sing out in choir, it may have seemed strange to some that she would someday find her way to an auditorium stage singing her original songs.

Tonya released her debut album On The Inside in April 2002 and then she headed out on the road. She travelled the country for five months in a van, sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots, getting to know the people, seeing what God sees. Tonya played in coffeehouses from coast to coast and then returned home in November 2002. It was then on to recording a worship album. We Cry Out was released November 2003 with original worship songs written by Tonya and Joy Russell with arrangements by Darren Petersen. In the summer of 2005, Tonya began working on what was to be her third album, Seasons. In the midst of recording Seasons, Tonya felt like there was another project that needed to come first. So, Tonya's third album HYMNS: His Grace Untold came to be.

A few words from Tonya

Several years ago, the Lord gave me the ability to play guitar and to write songs. In all truthfulness, I can't say that I've ever sat down to write a song. Each song stems from the stories of my life and what I feel are the expressions of God's heart. The most important thing about the songs I play are that they are real. The pain, the hurt, the hope, and the victory are as close to my heart as the experiences in my life which build my testimony.

My mission is not about drawing crowds and noting the number of people who attend and who receive Christ. I am about people. That is all. My heart is to offer hope and healing through the Gospel of salvation to a lost and hurting world in need of a Savior. God has gifted me in the area of music, so that is the platform from which I spring, but my heart is to serve people, to pray with them, to relate to them in a real way, and to not be afraid to get my hands dirty.