Interview with Dorla:

Bold: Dorla
Normal: Sue

As the saying goes, behind every good man stands a GREAT woman, and today we’re here to talk to Dorla Schlitt, John’s wife of 30 years.

Now Dorla, we’ve all heard quite a bit about you – John mentions you frequently in his solo concerts, and it’s really great to be able to talk with you a bit about what it’s like being married to the lead singer of Petra.

So we’re gonna start way back at the beginning.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mt. Pulaski, Ill., which is in the central part of Illinois; the same town as John grew up in.

Oh, OK – so did you meet him in school or something like that?

We went through grade school and high school together – I didn’t become aware of him until early high school.

Oh, ok - so what first attracted you to him - what caught your eye?

He seemed like a good kid; he was tall, blond, I was 14… (laughter) …he just was a nice guy…
I don’t know, that was about it, I guess… at 14! (more laughter)

Wow! So you’ve known each other quite a long time then. Goodness!

Did you go then to college together – were you in the same college?

Yeah, we dated through high school and then he left for college. He was a year older than I. So he went to the University of Illinois the year before I did, and then when I graduated, I started college immediately that summer, because I planned to go through in three years, so I could get my education done, and we planned to be married, so we were both kind of… well, I was focused that way – he had some other focuses!

We’ve heard!

But… yeah! I followed him to the University of Illinois, in elementary education and he was in engineering at the time.

So you got married while you were both in college then?

Yes, the year before I graduated in August, the August before I graduated, we were married, so we were in school a year together as newlyweds.

So what was it like being married to a college student, and at that same time he was going into the rock scene also? What was that like?

Well, I had a lot of girlfriends… not a lot, I should say maybe three or four that were friends of mine before we were married. They were good friends and actually, my social life was pretty quiet, because he’d travel a lot on the weekends with the band playing in different bars and things and it was kind of lonely that way – it was lonely. But once we were married, then I was concentrating on school and then my first job. It all worked out, even though it was, you know, it wasn’t exactly a social time for us – we didn’t have a lot of couple friends. He was focused on what he was doing, and I had my focus as well, and together we were just fine.

Now the band he was out with – that was Head East.


And I’m assuming you met all the men in that group – what did you think of them when you first met them?

Well, they were from southern Illinois, so we didn’t do a lot socially together, as far as the guys and their girlfriends, and later their wives, but they seemed like nice guys. They were OK. I didn’t have a do with them; I didn’t travel with them. I just saw them when they would play together near Champaign-Urbana; and they were focused on their careers; we didn’t have a lot in common.

Given the rock ‘n roll scene and how things were, what was it like for you, knowing that your husband was far away from home, singing on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans – men AND women – what was that like for you, being home?

(laughter) Well… I actually... I know I keep repeating myself, but it was a totally different world and I didn’t know a lot about it. I trusted John, and we had a really good relationship, so I never worried about anything. I was just content with what I was doing; after I graduated, I started as an aide in a school, and then later that semester, got a teaching position there. One of the guys in the band – the leader – his wife was my best friend, actually, after (I’m kinda jumping ahead a little bit), after college and after our early couple of years of being married, she and I just hit it off wonderfully. I helped her get a job, and so we spent most of our time together on the weekend, us girls! (laughter)

You have a degree as a teacher, then?

I do – elementary ed. I taught several years, and she had an art degree, so we had a lot in common. In fact, when I became pregnant and John was away a lot during that time, she went to the Lamaze classes with me! She wasn’t there for the birth – John was there for the birth!

Well, that’s good! (laughter)

But you know, even then, God was providing for me, because I always had somebody to help me out.

As the band rose to fame and became more popular – did you see a change in them, in the members - and in John?

Oh yeah…. We lived in Champaign-Urbana, after we both graduated from school, and John - his focus was definitely music – he had no intention of going into engineering and so, then the band kind of kicked into high gear, when he was finally free to be able travel more. Soon after that, they had put some money together and recorded "Flat as a Pancake," and it was doing pretty well, regionally… Midwest. They were doing it all themselves.

Then they were introduced to some management in St. Louis; that began a major change for the band, because now we were... we had the potential of becoming a national act.

And so, the plan was that everyone would move to St. Louis when you’re the management, and we would kind of pick up there. What did happen was the guys in the band moved to St. Louis and got a house. This time was in the ‘70s (chuckle); they all lived together!

Roger, that was the guy – his wife Debbie – they split; their marriage was on the rocks for a long time. None of us were Christians, obviously. So she went back home, and he went on to St. Louis. One of the other guys had a girlfriend, who kinda kept the house for them while they were gone. I had Kari, and she was just a little thing, and so we made a decision that I would go home for awhile, and we would just see how this worked out in St. Louis, and then that would give John some time to look for a place for us, because we weren’t going to live in the house….


So we did that, and I lived with my parents for about, well, from June until August. John was on the road most of the time, and that was another reason that we did that, was because he was going to be traveling just nonstop.

And then we got a little house in our hometown in August through January, and it was just… it was a lonely time, because he was gone most of the time, you know. I had some friends still in my hometown, but it just was not the same as what we had had.

And so in January, we made the decision that we would move, and we found an apartment, and that was the best thing we ever did in that time frame. We were very happy; we lived in Ballwin, Mo., which is just outside of St. Louis, and he was still traveling a lot, but at least when he came home I was close; he didn’t have to drive three hours.

The guys were… they were a typical rock ‘n roll band, I’m sure, especially the other guys… at that time, you know…

Now there were some… as the band gained fame and became more and more popular, things started to go in the opposite direction also.

Oh, right.

When did you start seeing the warning signs that there were problems going on?

You know, it was probably a lot of little things, and I never really put it together until things really fell apart, but I knew there had always been some personality conflicts between a couple of the guys in the band and some changes through their history of members leaving, then coming back. In fact, John left at one time because of school stress. He had to pass some classes and then he’d come back in, so there was a lot of in and out with some of the members.

When Roger and Donna broke up – that was a sign that things were changing, because there was just a different lifestyle there. And then the bass player – the guys were really – two of the guys were really sweet. They were all nice guys – I can’t say they weren’t nice guys, but two of the guys particularly – Mike Somerville was very quiet, and he was single, and I would never guess there was anything going there that might be amiss, but…

And then Dan Birney was married to a sweet girl; I got to know her in St. Louis. She was an airline stewardess and their marriage eventually… they split, after they had a child. The drummer, Steve Huston, he and his girlfriend finally got married, and then not too long later they split.

So out of all the marriages in that band, ours was the only one that survived. You know, in late ’79 is sort of when we began… the band was doing very well with the albums, and growing popularity, but at the same time, the egos on the road must have been growing as well (laughter), because that’s when the rubber met the road, and they just had this… I don’t know if they had a blowout or what – I wasn’t there at the time when it was all decided, but that’s when we got the news that two of the guys were leaving. You’d have to ask John if he could see some signs there, because I just wasn’t around then. At that time I was teaching in St. Louis, and we had just had John Kyle, and he had just turned a year.

Now John described… has talked a bit about what life was like on the road for him at that time, you know, and getting into the alcohol and the drug scene and that kind of thing – did that come home with him? Were you seeing that going on?

Oh yeah, I was aware of the alcohol dependency. The abuse… he just drank a lot at night, but it was like wine, and it was a cheap wine (laughter). On the road he drank more heavily, beer & stuff… I’m really not aware of what went on on the road. But I knew that he drank heavily, but he always maintained himself fairly well, so…. It was just… we weren’t Christians, it was a different time…. I never really worried about it. I knew the cocaine was there, but it was part of that lifestyle, and even though I was teaching and I lived a totally different lifestyle, I never worried about him, health-wise. Now I worried about some things legally – I knew that what they were doing was illegal, but it was very strange, when you look back.

But at the same time, while all that was going on, I was teaching in St. Louis and I did have the… as members of my teaching team, they were all Christians, except for one lady, and they were all praying for us.

And it worked! (laughter)

You know, we were just always the ‘odd couple;’ if you’ve ever seen John at that time, he looked like a rock ‘n roller!

I’ve seen photos, yes! (laughter)

Long hair and big porkchop sideburns, and he looked…. he just looked…

Looked the part, huh?!

Yeah, looked the part. And I looked like the teacher. (laughter)

In mid-1980, John left Head East, and he described that three-month period as just a total disaster (laughter). What’s your take on that time period?

(laughter) Well, as soon as we knew that the band was definitely falling apart….. I grew up Methodist, so I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, but I believed in God, and I prayed, and asked God to show us what to do, because we couldn’t afford to make another mistake like we had. We had two children, we had no savings… I had stopped teaching the semester right before this all happened to stay home with Kari & John and baby-sit a couple other little kids in the neighborhood and we were just… we had nothing. We were renting – we didn’t have anything to sell, even!

So I called my folks, and of course we let his mom & dad know, and my folks offered their home; the home I grew up in in Mt. Pulaski, and said ‘you can go there and regroup and stay there as long as you need to, and it will all work out.’ And so that’s what we did.

Within just a short time the lady next store to me who was a Christian gave me a little book to read when we were all saying good-bye after we had gotten things packed up. She had been trying to kind of witness to me all along after the last, probably, six months or so… she had a little boy… and I just didn’t – I wasn’t interested (chuckles). Her husband was in seminary, and they played Christian music, and she knew my husband was in music and probably thought I would be interested, but I wasn’t.

And actually, we had been going to church – we had taken Kari and John to a local Methodist church, because I really wanted to have John baptized as an infant, because we had done that with Kari, so it was just kind of a tradition. So we actually were going and hearing God’s word there for a while. It was all just working together, amazingly. God brought us to Mt. Pulaski and we moved in the house I grew up in, read the little book and wanted to read something else because it spoke... I don’t know – did something to me… I didn’t know what!

And John was... you know, as you said, he was kind of miserable, he was gone still fulfilling some tour dates that Head East had, so I got the kids together and we went to the local library, and looked for a book.

I came across Billy Graham’s "How to be Born Again" and that was the phrase my neighbor had used so many times, and gosh, ‘I’m gonna find out what that’s all about.’ And so while he was gone on the road, I read that book probably within just a couple days, and it really spoke to my heart. It just jumped off the page. I went through repentance, and just a lot of crying and repentance, and asked God, asked the Lord just to come into my heart and change me and take my life… not any of it knowing exactly what I was doing as a response to this book. So it was an immediate… I could tell there was an immediate difference in me, because I was just so full of joy.

So how did John react to your joy and his depression?

I didn’t preach at him a lot; I did try and get him to listen to Christian music that my best friend in high school (who is also a Christian – a very on-fire Christian) …tried to get him to listen to that… boy, he just had no intention of that.

I went to a Bible study and he wasn’t interested in any of that. But he began to be more interested as he began to really deteriorate and the band was doing… God was so good to us in providing for us in every way, giving us the time, basically, we needed to basically come to the end of himself with a band… he had put together a band … they were living in our basement! (laughter)

Johnny Band, he called it?

Which, is a miracle in itself, that my father allowed that in his home, because he is very meticulous about how things should be done, and taken care of… there were like four guys living in our basement, and it was mess, so…

But finally, we just got to the point… we were in debt, and nothing… it wasn’t going anywhere. At that point, he had finally, just before that time, he had finally considered ending it all, basically, and that was just at the point where I had said something to him "why don’t you talk to my pastor and you can just ask questions, and get some answers, and maybe that will help?"

Yeah, he’s talked about that night quite a bit in his concerts. How did you ever get him to go there?

I was just sharing about how there’s supernatural good and there’s supernatural evil and it’s real, and so he finally relented that he would ask the questions and I didn’t know… this was his mind just thinking that he would just do it for me, so I could see that he had done as much as he could, so to speak.

But there were people praying, because at this time I knew a bunch of Christians. I was in a church, and they were all praying for him, so we went and he asked the questions, and the pastor asked the right questions as well!

The Holy Spirit really convicted his heart, and he prayed and received Christ. When we left there, he remarked how much more peaceful he felt. So you know, it’s interesting – I thought that I would get the joy and he would get the peace. It was what each of us needed.

Just what you needed… right, right…

But then at that point he was going to "do it for God" and he was going to continue this band for a period of time, and he was going to do it for Jesus. (chuckles)

And that didn’t work! (laughs)

None of these guys were Christians but interestingly enough these guys in this new band did go to church with us a couple times, and there were some interesting things that happened during that period of time with them, but none of them really came to Christ that I know of, at that point, anyway.

But the Lord began… that was in August, and then by January, with a lot of intercession – I mean, I was praying, my sister-in-law was praying, the church was praying – we all knew that this was just not what God wanted for him.

So we’re at January, 1981 right now?


January, 1981?

Right. So finally, in January, he left the band; he called it quits. We had a big meeting with management and family, and interestingly enough, some of our family wanted him to continue. They felt it was just on the brink. I had really had enough… I knew… I just knew inside that it as just another false promise.

So he quit, and at that time, as soon as he stopped in January, the Lord provided. I started teaching in a Christian school in our church. I don’t know – I was the only teacher, I don’t know if I was the one – who kind of organized our little Christian school. We started with 10 students (chuckles), from kindergarten to high school and so God provided some income there for a while and John started looking for a job.

He graduated with a civil engineering degree, but he hadn’t been an engineer ever! (laughter) And he’d been out of school eight years! (more laughter)

So he real quick found reality, and began work at a tool & die shop right there in Mt. Pulaski, where he could ride his bike to, and swept floors and did their... some basic drawings and things.

We began to pay back on our debt and six months - I can’t remember how much later; time just kinda goes into… but it wasn’t too long and he was offered a job, he got a job at the mine. They were developing this huge coal mine very near to us, and he started as a surveyor. He was working in ditches with mud up to his knees (chuckle), holding the pole (more laughter) and from six months he would work doing that, and then the contractors would say he was finished with that job and another contractor would pick him up, so he continued to have a job… for about two years or so we lived (like that).

I taught school and he worked and began to do engineering, from nothing to actually using his engineering skills. And then was offered a job with benefits and the whole thing – if we would move to Utah and work in a mine there, and be one of the engineers (who) actually ended up doing three-dimensional surveying for a coal shale mine. And it was a mile underground, 50 miles out of town, so he had quite the drive every day.

I guess!

So we took that; we didn’t want to move from where we were. We were in a great church, and by this time we were both growing, and he was doing well. He had been delivered from alcohol and cocaine, and was doing great, and we were a very happy little family.

But we moved to Utah; we felt it was God and he was just opening the door for us. We spent two years in Utah and that was a real experiential time with him with learning to get along with people that he would never have come in contact with in the rock ‘n roll world. He was always treated very well as a rock singer, but as an engineer, the miners don’t think a whole lot of him, and there was a lot of teasing and physically – just horseplay with them, rough with each other, and it was kinda… it was difficult, besides the long hours and the long drive and whatever. It was a real time of testing for him, and growth. But that’s when we were really introduced to Petra’s music, because he would listen to it to and from, on the long drive.

So there’s a reason for that long distance commute, huh?

Right! But we were just there two years. We knew we weren’t gonna stay there; we’d probably get transferred somewhere else. But actually, he had done some kind of a study with numbers and projections and that sort of thing, and had been sent to the main office and they were so impressed with it that they offered him a job in the main office, which would give us more stability, because what we were doing, we would have ended up moving every couple years to a different mine or different project. And that’s a hard life for a family. So this was really an opportunity and a promotion.

So we moved then to Evansville, Ind., where he was a cost & scheduling engineer for two years, and that’s when we finally were able to buy our first home.

At that point we had Kari, who was in third grade, and John, who was going to be in kindergarten, and Kris, who had been born in Utah, and he was just a year old. And so we were able to buy our first home, and kids were going to a Christian school, and he was able to start remodeling our home. (chuckle)

Oh no!

(laughter) And found out his gift and his love for doing that sort of thing! We really enjoyed it there; we had a wonderful church and we were growing. At that point I was not teaching; it was the first time I didn’t have to teach. I was staying home with the kiddos and I was baby-sitting with a couple little guys Kristopher’s age… and writing. I started to write, so it was a great time!

And then we got…. John… we were at church and there was a speaker there who said some words over John about not being the end for him and that there were some changes coming rather quickly and we had no idea what that meant. For John, it usually meant "oh great, I’m losing my job and I’m gonna be sent somewhere else!" (laughter) ‘Cause it seemed like every couple years or so we were moving…

But it was something else!

That wasn’t it!

A couple weeks later Bob Hartman called. Well, actually his (John’s) brother called to see if we knew Bob and if we even wanted to hear from him, because he (John) had told his brothers that if anybody called connected with rock ‘n roll not to give him his number, because he just didn’t really want to be bothered with it, because he had no intention of going back.

And so Jeff (John’s brother) didn’t know, so he had called us first. Of course we were interested! Anyway, they got connected then.

So what was your reaction about that phone call?

So excited! ‘Cause I just knew that God was gonna use him with his voice some way, some day. There had been a lot of changes in our life since we had come to Christ, so it wasn’t like I was looking around the corner every time to think "this might be it, this might be it." We were just living and enjoying our family, and going along our merry way!

So somewhere along the line then, you met the other Petra members?

Right, actually they made a time when they came up: Bob, Mark Kelly and John Lawry came up to Evansville to meet us and kind of interview us.

We heard about that!

They had dinner with us, and they decided John was certainly workable, and so they decided to have him come down and sing and stuff and try out.

And the rest is history! (laughter)

Yeah, right!

Have you ever formed any sort of support relationships with the other wives of the band members? Other Petra wives? Have you needed to?

We haven’t really needed to; we don’t meet regularly or anything for support. Kim, Bob’s wife, and John Lawry’s wife, at the time when we first started, we got along just fine and we didn’t have… oh, every once in a while we would get together and have, especially just before a new album would come out, we would get together and have dinner and usually have something to eat and then we’d pray, all of us.

But it was kind of spontaneous stuff; we didn’t have any kind of support group that met regularly, because we all had families. Bob and Kim… they adopted a little boy, and John and Stef had adopted already a little boy and then Louie got married, so there was a lot happening during that time that they weren’t involved in the other band member’s lives. They had their own thing going.

We’ve always been friends, and we’re close in that we know we can call each other.

How has your family dealt with having an ‘absentee dad’? (laughter) You know, ‘cause quite often there’s a lot of years there where John was not home. How did your kids deal with that?

Well, they just adjust – that’s what they know, that’s the lifestyle they know.

They understood why and how come?

Yeah, they understood why and when Daddy was home – he was home! He was there, all the time; they got sort of a ‘feast or famine.’ And a lot of times it seemed like when he was gone, that those were the important times that would happen, you know – something at school or something, but we always made a point to just celebrate birthdays, if it was gonna fall when he was gone, we’d celebrate early, so Daddy’d be around. It is different. But a lot of people have to deal with those sorts of things; not just people in music.

Right, right. So they’ve had to have - do a little bit of a sacrificing of their father, kind of let him go and…

And that does take it’s toll somewhat; it’s not the perfect situation, that’s for sure.

Yeah, yeah. Was there ever a time that you thought John should just stop and come home and stay home for any reason?

No… no…..uh-ah. There were times where I wish he’d be home more, but they were really only just seasons; short seasons. Petra has always had a priority that they would never be gone more than three weeks at a time, and that was a lot different than what I was accustomed to before! (laughter)

Oh, I bet!

So that was a very short time. When they would go to Europe, that was usually the longest – the three weeks. That is a long time, especially when you can’t call home every night or every other night. But you knew it was just for that particular tour, and then you knew he’d be home for a little bit, and so God just… I don’t know... It’s just God’s grace that works in the midst of whatever you’re in. If your heart’s willing and you wanna do what God wants you to do, He’ll provide.

This is true.

Have any of your kids shown any interest in music in any way?

Kari’s musically inclined; she sang in high school and was in Show Choir and just loves performing! She’s got her Daddy’s genes that way. She has a good voice. She went to college – went to Belmont – and was going to pursue that (music education) but kind of just decided that she would take a business bent instead of an education bent. She has a music minor and a business major, so she doesn’t sing as often. She does sing in a choir; but she doesn’t have aspirations to do it, professionally or anything. She’s more of a creative decorator kind of person now. So we’ve seen a lot of changes in her!

John Kyle doesn’t seem to have any – he’s more of the athletic type.

Kris has his dad’s rhythm; he’s so good. He started playing drums in about fifth grade, fourth or fifth grade, and took for several years. He’s not taking now; but he just has a natural rhythm – anyone who heard him was pretty much amazed for such a young kid! He was very good. So I would say yeah, he has some.

And Krey? I’m not sure at this point; he’ll sing a little bit sometimes and he sounds OK, but he doesn’t seem to be too interested – yet!

What do they feel about having a ‘famous dad’ – people see him on the street and they know his face – how do they react to that kind of thing?

Living here, where we do in Nashville – there’s a lot of people, and where you go to church – there’s some artists that go there. Everybody just treats each other like normal people, you know… no big deal.

Now, when they’ve gone out on the road with him – they’re proud of him. They’re proud of what their daddy does and they’re glad that people recognize him. Now sometimes that gets in the way of what they want to do! For instance, at the amusement park – it’s a real downer, a real bummer! (chuckles)

Oh, I’ll bet!

Because he couldn’t take them out and be in the crowds, because a lot of people would recognize him and stop him and just want to tell him something… and the kids would get impatient when they were little. Now they’re old enough they can go on their own – it doesn’t matter. That was kind of a bummer, but it was worth it to have Daddy go out with you! (laughter)

Oh sure! How does that feel for you? I mean, does that kind of cramp into the things that you want to do too?

Not too much. Since I don’t travel with him, I’m not out a lot where he’s… I do once in a while, and people will stop and they’ll talk and he’ll introduce me and whatever. It’s just nice to meet people; it’s so neat to hear how much Petra has meant to them.

I used to do their correspondence. I still do it, but we don’t get quite as much right now as we did there for a few years. I would get a lot of letters from kids who had problems, real problems. So I really enjoyed writing and encouraging them and that sort of thing. So it’s neat to meet people and hear their stories, through their letters, or when they talk to John. I’ve really enjoyed that.

That’s sort of your contribution, in a sense?

It really just reaffirms what God’s doing.

Is there ever a point where you’d like to see John call it a day? Or retire somewhere?

No, no… not really. I would love to see him be able to sing; sing for the Lord and be involved in Christian music of some sort in the quote "performing aspect" and ministry part as long as he is able (chuckles), but I don’t know what God has, so we’ll just have to see.

So you’re not even looking at any retirement date?

Oh no! (laughter) We’re not old enough to retire!

Absolutely not! Perish the thought!

We’re just getting our second wind!

There you go! Good, good, good!

We had a couple people wondering about reunions and that sort of thing. Would you ever think there would be kind of a past Petra reunion tour type thing?

I kinda doubt it; I really do. Just because the guys that have been in the band previously have gone on to do their own thing, and it’s not like they’re waiting breathlessly for Petra to call them to do something. I just don’t think so… I know Bob might do something like that, but I just can’t say…

There’s a lot of people who would like to see a Head East reunion..


And I suppose the chances of that are even slimmer yet?

Ummm… I think so! (laughter) I don’t know; maybe God will do something there.

There’s quite a few people who would love to see something like that happen.

We don’t really keep in contact with those guys anymore. Like we know where each one of them is kind of at, but it’s not like we’re getting together or anything.

Right, right. Now you’re quite involved with your church – tell us about what you do with that.

Well, ever since I can remember being a Christian, I’ve always been involved with children’s ministry, probably coming out of my teaching background, teaching Sunday School and that sort of thing. But when we moved to Nashville, I got real involved with our Bible school program…. It’s very different (Vacation Bible School) and began… we used a model the first year, that someone else had written, the curriculum, the format and everything, and decided that we would do it again, but use our own thing. And so, that’s when I got hooked! (laughter)… Started writing for that, and developing the theme and how to carry that out.

We have about 350 children, elementary children, and of course they have their own preschool program too, so we have a lot of children and we’ve got a great program. Every year we’ve done four different themes now that I’ve been able to write the curriculum, and then as a team, we work on developing it into activities. I won’t go into detail on that, but it’s great!

So I’ve done that for four or five years, and taught on Sundays with fifth graders in Kris’ class. Then, just this last year ago, last October, I got involved with preschool. I was no longer teaching; I can’t do everything here! (chuckles)

I’m still continuing with the Vacation Bible School but I’m a coordinator for the Sunday morning, and during the week too, part of it – the preschool program. I work with recruiting and training teachers and we have 13 classrooms at 9:00 and eight classrooms at 10:45 and probably about 250 preschoolers.


We have run 300 when we first opened our doors in our new building this fall. It’s very fulfilling. I love serving the teachers. Being a teacher, I kind of have a knowing of what I would want and I just love providing for them the materials, the curriculum. I don’t write it – I’m just providing what we have; but I get it ready and get everything set up and provide training and keep things going on Sundays, because it’s all volunteers. We have needs!

And you’ve written books also?   (NOTE: Click here to see pictures of Dorla's books)

Yeah, I wrote, back in Evansville, like I said, when I was not teaching but keeping a couple of little guys with Kris, I volunteered in the school there… a Christian school that Kari was in and her fifth grade class was teaching art, using scripture and I wrote all those little lessons up, and just began to add and add and add to them. So I ended up with quite, quite a large number of activities. That was in ’85…. I think… ’86 probably… we moved here right after that.

But it was about 10 years of sending different samples to different companies, finding out that wasn’t what they were interested in, or it wasn’t their format or lots of different reasons. They all were complimentary, but that might have just been lip service! (laughter)

But every few months I’d get the itch and try it again, and it was always a wall. But then in ’96 I approached Lifeway and they were excited about it and wanted to do some smaller books; not take the huge ones that I had. I was thinking in terms of curriculum, and they were thinking in terms of smaller books that would be in a series. So that’s when it started. So I’ve written six of those.

How interesting!

They’re for teachers, home schooling parents, Sunday morning or Wednesday night, or anything that you would want some activities but had the lesson and the scripture and everything right with it – more than just a little paragraph.


Musically, what are some of your favorite groups or bands? What do you listen to?

Someone asked me that at church not too long ago. We were talking about Petra and their new album, and they asked whatever else I liked to listen to, and I said I really don’t listen to anything else! (laughter) I’m die-hard Petra!

There ya go! All right! (more laughter)

Well then, what is your favorite Petra song? You must have something that stands out.

I have lots, I have lots. I think my overall very favorite is "Prayer." But I’ve been listening to "No Doubt" over and over and over and over and over again. That is a great CD to encourage someone, especially. Every song in it is speaking to my heart right now. I love the song "No Doubt," and I think it’s called "We Worship You," it’s "we lift up our hearts to you"… oh, there’s bunches of them I like.

That’s off his solo project – We Worship You.


Off the solo project… Shake? That one?

No.. oh, you mean do I have any off of that one?


Oh yes… I love.. I can’t think of it right now…. Oh, my favorite solo song is "Inside of You." I love that song.

Really? He says that’s his favorite too!

Oh! (laughter)

As long as we’re talking about favorites, somebody wants to know what you’re favorite Bible verse is.

Oh, Romans 8:28.

Which says?

"All things work together for good to them that love God, who are called according to His purpose." And interestingly enough, that is our anniversary date, 8-28. (Chuckles)

Oh, true! So that’s quite appropriate, huh?


We’ve heard that you’re quite a good cook, and some were wondering what are your favorite recipes that you like to do?

Oh gosh… well, I’m not a gourmet cook, I’m a home family cook……

A home-cooking gal? (laughter)

You know, I love to cook for a big family too. I have a great chocolate Texas cake recipe and a sugar cookie recipe that everybody raves about. Oh gosh… roast… John loves my roast. (NOTE: click here to see the recipes she has shared)

Oh, we’ve heard about that! (laughter) It’s famous!

I like to try new things; he’s a good sport about it always.

Somebody wanted to know what you consider John’s most annoying habit! (laughter) We’re getting into silly things now!

(laughter) Oh boy… I think its... he loves peanuts.

Yeah, that I’ve seen!

And he will chew his peanuts and talk on the phone sometimes, and that drives me nuts!

(laughter) Hopefully not when he’s doing interviews!

(more laughter) No, no… just when he’s talking to somebody.

That’s one thing a mother always said: Never chew and talk at the same time.

Right, right.

Apparently he must not have been listening, huh?


Well, do you have any special memories you’d like to share from anywhere along the line? Anything in particular that stands out?

Oh… we’ve had some wonderful memories having to do with Petra and having to do with our family… just moments… I’m not a real award-type person, but it was very nice to see Petra given the Hall of Fame award, even to be recognized that they were the trailblazers for Christian music in the contemporary sense of the word. Petra gets a lot of flack on so many areas; it was just nice that they did recognize that. So that was a real special time. Gosh… I can’t...

There’s probably too many to even begin to pick one out…

There’s special ones to me, but they don’t sound all that special!

We were wondering too, seeing that quite a few people are going to be reading this: do you have any specific prayer requests that you would like the readers to be praying for you at this time?

We just definitely all along, just tried to keep our eyes on the Lord, and what He would want for Petra and for us personally, that He would just make the way for us. We have seen Him from the very beginning, becoming Christians – His faithfulness, His grace in our lives, and in our marriage. Our marriage survived those awful years when he was gone so much and there was just a lot of emptiness. We survived that turmoil time of Head East breaking apart, and the other marriages falling apart and God healing ours. I mean, He healed ours! Because there was a lot of junk in me, I think, after we came to Christ. I didn’t really like what was in there, but I went through a healing.

And just knowing that God is there, and He’s in the midst of this, trusting Him that He’ll bring us through this period of time and whatever He has for us. Just that we would be encouraged.

Well, you do have quite a bit of prayer support in that.

Oh, I know – we have a wonderful support, prayer support team; all the Petheads and people who Petra has meant something to them… we’re very thankful.

Well, they have... the band and John in particular too - have meant so much to so many people, and the least, the very least we can do is to pray back for you.

Well, we really do appreciate it because we know that that’s what it takes! (laughter)


In what they are doing, there is just so much warfare, and so much spiritual warfare against what God wants to have come forth to make it difficult, it can’t prevent it but it can make things difficult. We won’t give up unless we know that God has really said stop!

Well good! You guys keep on going – we’re going to keep pushing for you to do that too! (chuckles)

I just want to thank you for taking your time, for taking the time to do this, to talk about your life and everything… it’s been a real… a lot of good insights here… a real interesting conversation! So I thank you!

Well, you are welcome! Thank you.