I continued to write as God brought songs till I got sick in 2010. The gift of writing songs is the one of biggest gifts I’ve ever received and when I came out of the hospital my body was left with what can be best described as “the body of an 80 yr old woman”. Trapped in that old lady body was a bouncy, shy and ambitious 11-year-old.” I was MAD and with all my heart I wanted to get back at God, cause if he loved me then he wouldn’t let this happen! As crazy as it may sound now I decide to show God my anger by NOT writing down or thinking about any of the songs God put on my heart. Thinking about it now I feel really stupid, cause that’s not getting back at God at all. That’s simply cheating myself, cause God put those songs on my heart to comfort me. Well, at the time it seemed quite genius. LOL
I continued to live my life with a hardened heart and went about my days trying to learn how to live in this old body and going back and forth to the hospital. Till november…. when my aunt called and invited me to go to a two-day girl’s conference called the Revolve Tour with them. It sounded like lots of fun, but my condition wasn’t good at all in fact the same day that they called to invite me to go I had walked up the stairs to my room again for the first time since I had got home and….. I fell asleep once I got to my room.
I really wanted to go all my favorite artists at the time were all going be there Hawk Nelson,G1C and Brit Nicole! Plus, an awesome comedian named Chad Eastham! I really wanted to go, but I had so many pills that I had to take, dietary restrictions, nausea and fainting spells. It seemed pretty impossible to leave for two whole days, but mom said that I needed to go and when mom says go, you go. I don’t suggest asking questions…… I was positive that she was completely insane. She knew my condition better than anyone else. Yet, she still told me to go. So, I packed my bags with all my pills and special foods for the week-end.
The moment we walked into the arena I saw the words “Dream On” on the jumbo screen and immediately my mind went to the decision I had made to quit writing songs, but I pushed it out of my mind and continued to have lots of girl fun! That night we were at the conference till 10:00 listening to some great speakers like Courtney Clark Cleveland and Jenna Lucado Bishop…..Oh yeah and Britt Nicole!!! Then when we got to the hotel we then swam till mid night. The next morning we woke up at 6:00 and I felt surprisingly okish. All I could think is ”how am I even standing up? Two days ago I was passing out when I walked to the car! I just jumped around too Britt Nicole last night! Is this even possible!?!?!” I can’t tell you in words how confused I was. I was still a little nauseous and dizzy, but I have been for the past two years now… I’m sorta used to this new version of normal.
We got to spend the whole next day watching amazing drama acts, listening to great speakers talk about that year’s theme “Dream On”, watching “America’s Got Talent” finalist Kathryn McCormick dance and talk about how she is still dreaming even after getting really close to accomplishing her dream. All the while that jumbo screen with the words “DREAM ON” was staring me in the face. I don’t think that God was trying to tell me anything at all. Just kidding,…..everything was adding up so perfectly and immediately I knew that God wanted me to “Dream On”. Though, through my stubborn stupidity I decided to ignore these obvious signs and just continue having lots of fun. Even though that “Dream On” sign seemed to stare at me with a most forceful gaze.
I thought that it was time for “Hawk Nelson” to come on finally, but instead of them calling a break so that they could set up the stage, Courtney Clark Cleveland introduced a short brown-haired girl named Jamie Grace. She wore a style of clothes much like mine, a scarf, cute t-shirt, skirt with leggings and cow girl boot. Even though she didn’t look or dress like most the other artists in their fancy outfits to perform in; she seemed quite comfortable in her style and I admired that right away. She didn’t have a big show in fact it was just her pink guitar and the microphone. There were no fancy stage props and her name wasn’t plastered on a sign any where. She appeared a random girl from the audience. She started with a very funny joke and then her neck started to twitch. It was barely noticeable. Though to all those in the audience who might have noticed she said “If you see my neck move back and forth a little, my eyes squeeze shut for a moment or my hands wiggle, It’s because I have Tourette’s Syndrome. It causes me to make uncontrollable movements called ticks”. Her neck then had a tick. “like that” she said in an unashamed voice with a girlish giggle. She then went on to talk about how at times it was hard love herself, how at times she wanted to give up on her dream and on life. How she would try to hide her ticks by wearning her bangs over her eyes and practicing in front of the mirror how to disguise her ticks. I could completely relate to her. I have trouble loving myself a lot and at the time I had been wishing I wasn’t alive and going through any of that. I would practice hiding my dyslexia, I would do everything I could to stay out of situations where I would have to read or talk. I could also completely understand the depression that comes with all those trials of not loving your self the way you are. She said that she went back and forth to different hospitals alot cause they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She said that Tourette’s was physically painful at times when the ticks get too extreme. I could relate to every word she said.
She said that since the day that her grandpa gave her a drum set and her sister a guitar she had a dream to make music, write songs and sing. It made a huge impression on me when she said that she held onto that dream through the Tourette’s Syndrome and diagnosis of ADD. If you don’t live with a neurologic problem I don’t expect you to understand…..you can’t fully understand till you’ve lived with it. Those things appear to be a complete stop in the road. Neurologic difficulties can control everything at times. They can control when you can read, when you can write, when you can think clearly, even when you can go places and hang out friends. My heart poured out to her and I felt like I had discovered for the first time ever someone who I knew if I talked to her about my life would understand every aspect. The part where I’m in and out of hospitals, depression, anger, road blocks, wanting to give up, learning disabilities. If I was to look at her and say ” my right brain is dead today and my left brain is racing free” I think that she would understand what that feels like and what it means. It felt so good to know that even if I never talked to her someone out there understands like no one else, but God. When she said that her dream had come true cause she never let go, I knew that I was in the wrong and I was supposed to be writing songs and I decided then to get out my note books as soon as I got home that day. The guilt of the decision I had made weighed heavy on me.
When she said how God worked out the dream he put on her heart to come true I was AMAZED. She had been making “you tube” videos for over three years I think It was. Some were advice videos for people with Tourette’s and others were cover songs. She wanted a recording contract and God made that happen in way NO ONE would expect. Toby Mac (A top christian artist and former singer, musician in the band “DC talk”) while browsing “you tube” came across her videos and liked what he heard. He tweeted her saying that he would love to meet up with her some time and talk about music. Doing what anyone who got a tweet under the name Toby Mac would do she didn’t respond. After all most things like that are spams. Well, Toby was serious and contacted her mom. Long story short they met up and talked. It was at that point in the story she said “Toby Mac signed me to Gotee Records in 2010! I’m now a member of the Gotee family!” My mind was blank in amazement of that kind of miracle. That story proved to me that there are people out there other than your parents that don’t care if you have disabilities and don’t look at them as a stop, but a bump along the way instead.
She said that she was going to play her first original song for us called “Hold Me”. That’s when I realized that I knew who she was! I had heard a song like that on the radio a lot lately that I really liked. “Hold Me” gets stuck in my head easier than “Baby” by Justin Beiber and I kinda like having “Hold Me” stuck in my head. On the other side having “Baby” stuck in my head in like poking myself in the eye repeatedly all day long. moving on……With no flashing lights or a big band, just her pink guitar and microphone she began to sing “Hold Me” and I couldn’t help, but shed a tear.
Jamie Grace changed my life. If God didn’t send her to me to remind me to keep going and so I could know I’m no alone in my struggles I wouldn’t be fully alive today. That is the truth. When I got home I opened up my green notebooks and had a good hard cry while I read every song I had ever written. The prayer of apology I said that day was deep and long. The burdens I felt were lifted as I sang.
For about the next month I didn’t sleep. The reasons for this are still unknown to doctors, but it seems awfully clear to me now. Gods work in me wasn’t done yet and I guess He needed more time with me that I wasn’t distracted by my life and I came to Him with complete desperation and deprivation. I can’t claim that I know how God works, but if that’s what he was trying to do He did an excellent job of it. I would lay there awake so tired I could barely move so instead of anything productive I would think, think, think and pray. I prayed most anything that happened to pop into my head. Till one night when I remembered how Jamie Grace had said that she had been making YouTube videos for over four years. I grabbed the laptop and started watching her videos. I must say each video inspired and taught me something new. I think that over that month I watched every video she ever put out. I’m so glad that God grabbed me and continued working on me even after my experience at the ”Revolve Tour”.
Jamie Grace inspired every song I have written over the past two years and I had wanted to tell her that for a long time. Well, God works everything out. I was becoming weary of fighting for my health each day this summer, I was tired of not being able to do what everyone else does and I was tired of people’s rude comments to me about how I “just need to push more” and ”you just don’t want to do anything”. Yeah, like a 13-year-old girl wants to spend her summer unable to move and hang out with her friends. It was during those trials I began to fall apart. I was at the breaking point when my parents came to me with the news that they had got tickets to ”Fish Fest” a concert with lots of artists like Britt Nicole, Kutless, Fire Fight, PFR, Matt Maher, Adam Cappa, Down Here and non other than Jamie Grace! I knew that I was very slim chances that I would get to talk to her, but my girly ambitions still had hope.
The concert was super fun and I got lots of cool artists that I looked up to sign my song note-book, but though that was all fun I really wanted to have the one who inspired every song in that notebook to sign it. I didn’t think that Jamie Grace would be signing autographs, I can only imagine how hard it must be on days when her Tourette’s is acting up ,but to my surprise guess who was there once again fighting and reminding me to keep pushing through non other than Jamie Grace! I waited in line for 30 minute with about 50 people in front of me and over a hundred behind me. The line director came to my amazing mother and I to tell us that we could stay in line if we wanted, but most likely she wouldn’t get to us. Lots of people left the line when he told us that, but my faithful Mother who I hadn’t even told what an impact Jamie Grace made on me stayed by my side, not asking questions when I said I wanted to stay in line. She even offered to bring me a chair, but for some reason I was feeling especially stubborn and held onto her shoulder instead so I didn’t fall over. Well, Mr. Line director you were wrong! 30 more minutes passed and I was standing there in front of the girl who God sent to pull me out of the darkness. How do you tell someone a whole story like that in 10 seconds? So, instead I said, “Would you sign my song notebook” She looked at my tattered and torn green note-book with scribbles from my little sister all over the front and smiled really big. She said, ” COOL! How long have you been writing?” I responded “Since I was nine”. She said “no-matter what keep going” We smiled at each other and I moved away to let one of the many other people in the line move up. ” No matter what keep going!” I don’t know that there was anything better she could have said to me that day. Simple words can change someones mind forever.
That is the story of how God worked every thing out as usual, brought wisdom through trial and took me out of the darkness.
“Out of the darkness and into the light. when blind men can see it’s a beautiful sight” – Anthem Lights