AKRON, OH, April 15, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kira Leyden, 25, woke up one night feeling like there was a 1,000 pounds on her chest. An arm was going numb. Her mouth was going numb. She thought she was having a heart attack. She could hardly tell her husband Jeff that she needed to be taken to the emergency room.
It was 2009. Newly married Kira and Jeff had recently moved to Los Angeles from Ohio to continue their dream of making it big in the Indie pop-rock music industry.
They already had a huge story of success to their credit. The pair first met as teenagers, playing in a band at their local Catholic school in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. From there they went on to write and record songs that appeared in popular TV shows such as “Vampire Diaries,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”
Named “The Strange Familiar,” the band was beginning to gain national attention. Their song “Courage” was used in ABC’s series the “Secret Life of an American Teenager.” Their song “Invisible” became a top 10 hit for Ashlee Simpson and was performed on national television. The band made the top 48 in “America's Got Talent.”
But success had its price. Kira and Jeff had decided early in their marriage that children did not fit into their lifestyle. Kira was on the pill.
“We didn’t hear from anyone that this was the wrong thing to do,” Kira told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview.
Kira and Jeff had both grown up Catholic, going to Mass on Sundays, but their faith stopped there. “Jeff and I kept that going when we moved away from home, but I think we were just kind of in the rut of ‘I go to Church on Sunday, but it stops there.’ We didn’t really partake in the other sacraments, like reconciliation. I think we were missing a big piece of our faith,” Kira said.
Now married and on the pill, Kira was beginning to realize that something wrong was happening to her body.
“Physically I was having problems. I was getting horrible migraine headaches.”
“I just had this feeling inside that there was something wrong. [Taking the pill] was the only thing that I had changed in my life. Why would this be happening to me? [The pill] was the only thing that I started to do that’s different.”
“I was scared to death,” she said.
Arriving at the hospital, doctors insisted that the pill had nothing to do with Kira’s symptoms. But the couple was not convinced.
Around the same time, Kira was one day flipping through TV channels and stumbled across the Catholic station EWTN. Johnnette Benkovic on her show Women of Grace was talking about how the pill can cause a woman to unintentionally and unknowingly abort a baby just after he or she has been conceived.
The news shattered Kira’s worldview.
“That just hit me so hard. At the time I was in the state of shock. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is horrible.’”
“I was just devastated that I could have unintentionally aborted a child. That is the greatest evil that I can think of in this world – aborting a child,” she said.
Kira now knew with certainty that she had to ditch the pill. She and Jeff realized they knew nothing about the Church’s teaching about the beauty of fertility within marriage and why the Church prohibits the use of birth control for its deadly assault against the integrity of the couple.
“Jeff and I started diving into a lot of reading material on this, and we were just shocked [by what we discovered].”
They encountered the Church’s 1968 watershed teaching on the meaning and purpose of marriage in Humanae Vitae. In Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body they learned about the “gift” meaning of the body inscribed in men and women by God.
Around this same time the couple heard about the 1917 message of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children about praying the Catholic prayer of the Rosary to save people from going to hell.
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On a whim, the couple decided to start praying the Rosary daily.
In May of that same year, the couple felt ready to ask God to forgive their use of contraception within marriage in the sacrament of confession.
“When I went off the pill, it was just so liberating,” Kira remembers. “From there we just started getting into our faith a lot more, and that spurred on our desire to do more with pro-life work.”
Last year, Kira and Jeff found themselves engaged unexpectedly in the most pro-life activity a couple can perform: They conceived and gave birth to their daughter Rayne.
“Since we had our conversion, we were practicing NFP (Natural Family Planning). Our daughter was a surprise. We knew she was going to change our lives.”
But the unexpected surprise quickly gave way to joy, a joy that Kira believes would not have been possible had she conceived her daughter while using contraception.
“It was such a miracle and so amazing to go from a place of a totally wrong mindset — a contraceptive mindset — into welcoming life, no matter how crazy our life was – being in a van and trying to do music for a living.”
Now with the little new life growing inside, the couple knew that come what may, they would find a way to make things work.
“It’s going to work, because we’re meant to have this child and she’s a gift,” Kira remembers thinking at the time.
Being a mother and a father has not stopped the couple from continuing their music career.
Today Kira and Jeff released their newest album “The Day The Light Went Out” signed to Krian Music Group. Their song “Rain,” a video of which is exclusively debuted on LifeSiteNews, started out as a lullaby for their unborn daughter.
“This was one of those magical moments where the song just came to me,” Kira said.
The first line of the song – “you are the heart that beats inside of me” – came to Kira after hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time at 10 weeks.
While “The Strange Familiar” is not labeled “Christian music,” Kira and Jeff infuse into their songs positive messages about the value of life.
“You are the future that's worth fighting for, you are the song I long to write. You are the truth that keeps me wanting more, you changed my heart you changed my mind,” run the lyrics in “Rain.”
“We always try to put a positive message of hope into the music we write,” Kira said. “Even though we aren't labeled a ‘Christian’ band, our faith is the core of what inspires our song writing.”
“On this record more than any other we have focused more on pro-life issues without necessarily screaming ‘this is a pro-life issue,’” she said.
Kira said that after listening to “Rain” she wants people to walk away with a message about love and sacrifice. “True love is sacrificing all for someone else,” she said.
“The Day The Light Went Out” is available on iTunes and Amazon.com.
Visit The Strange Familiar’s Facebook here.