Country singer Sara Evans has crafted a successful career singing about love, faith, longing and heartache -- and her life, at times, seemed to mirror her lyrics.
In 2006, her 13-year marriage fell apart in the most public way -- while she competed on "Dancing With the Stars." Evans decided to depart the show early to deal with the breakup and her family in hopes of shielding her three young children.
She kept the television off and didn't look at the splashy magazines documenting her painful divorce, and today she still doesn't discuss it publicly.
"I won't talk about the divorce now because, you know, your children are gonna watch TV. They're gonna read magazines," she said. "The whole effort is to protect them because they're already going through enough without the whole world [knowing]."
Finding Love Again
But now, Evans said her previous troubles seem "like another life" because she has been able to find love again and marry former college football star and radio host Jay Barker. Their relationship probably is worthy of its own country song, though Evans admits she hasn't written one for him just yet.
"I haven't written any songs since we've met 'cause I've been on the road so much. And -- but, I'm getting ready to start writing for the new album. And I have a couple of ideas," Evans said.
"I'm obsessed with Jay Barker. Like, I adore him," Evans added. "I just stare at him all the time. I think he's so gorgeous. But, not only that. But, he's so smart. And he has the best ideas. He's such a great father."
The pair, who were married last June, was introduced by a marriage counselor that helped each of them as their marriages crumbled.
"After both of our divorces were final, I got an e-mail from him saying, you know, 'There is a guy I want you to pray for and he is going through a rough time, and you all are very similar and I think that you could be great friends,'" Evans said.
And so, Barker's and Evans' courtship began slowly. It was just e-mail and phone calls in the beginning. The two had their first date last October when they played softball.
Each noticed their immediate connection.
"That was it. I fell in love with him that night," Evans said.
"I tell her all the time, she's the greatest person I've ever met," Barker added. "All of the sudden we meet, and we fall instantly in love. And not only is she absolutely gorgeous, but her heart is better than any heart I've ever been around. She's an amazing mom. She's an amazing wife."
A mere eight months after their first date Evans and Barker got married with each of their children serving as attendants.
"I cannot believe that I get to share this with him, spend the rest of my life with him, be a stepmother to those amazing children. I mean, just all of it overwhelmed me," Evans said. "I cannot believe I found this man who loves me better than I've ever been loved before in my whole life."
Barker was enamored with his bride.
"She looked gorgeous and I just couldn't wait to say 'I do' and just walk through life with her," he said.
Building A New Life
The couple's new life now includes a total of seven children between them. Evans has three from her previous marriage and Barker has four from his.
"When all seven kids are here -- it's loud," Evans said. "But then, a lot of times, we just sit around and laugh. And there's a lot of huggin' and, you know, lovin' on each other. And -- 'cause I'm trying, you know -- I'm trying to bond with them as much as I possibly can in the limited time that -- that, you know, we have."
"It's controlled chaos, is what it is," Barker added.
It's like their own version of "The Brady Bunch."
"Jay and I both have our kids on the same weekends. And then our exes have the children the same weekends. And so, when we have all seven kids we, they go on the road with us," Evans said.
When Evans isn't on the road, the family makes it home in Birmingham, Ala., where Evans hopes to record the majority of her album and has a lot to juggle, including a new single and full touring schedule.
But for Evans, family comes first as she tours mostly on weekends and doesn't hide her excitement about her new life.
"There is no other way to explain Jay being here with me and us being married and -- and our whirlwind romance, and our kids all being together, and there's no other way for me to explain it other than, just, God just said, 'Here's a blessing -- here's a blessing. Just take it,'" Evans said.
Sara has partnered with Libby's Vegetables to launch Get Back to the Table Month, which encourages families to sit down together for dinner. Visit GetBacktotheTable.com for more info.