God has shown up in so many ways…
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Hello Mrs. Carey –
I’ve been thinking about you so much recently and I have so much for which I want to thank you. God has been using, and is continuing to use, AMTC to change my life in unimaginable ways. I haven’t really shared the extent of my “story” with anyone, and for some reason, I feel like I should share it with you. I actually just wanted to send you a nice little thank-you email…but hopefully, this shines light on the depth of my gratitude. :)
I’ve grown up with a very ministry-oriented family (children’s ministry and my dad’s been a senior pastor now for 10 years) with a flair for the artistic – my dad was a ventriloquist, my mom a puppeteer before they even met in high school. They’ve always nurtured creativity in me and I’m thankful for all the years they invested and let me grow and mature in a safe environment. The first verse I ever memorized was Matthew 5:16 when I was 2 and a half. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify our Father, who is in Heaven.” My parents would give me a microphone and let me say this on stages when we traveled to different churches, camps. When I was 3, they were involved with a locally-produced cable TV kids’ show. I was dressed as a candle and sang ‘Let Your Light Shine.’ This theme of letting HIS light shine carried on throughout my life – my prayer growing up was always “God, whatever I can give, it’s Yours – please use me.” I LOVED stars. I wore them, I doodled them; I loved the reminder and imagery associated with them. Anyway, fast forward to me being 18.
My dad is represented by an agency (they prefer the term “ministry coordinators,” but they function as an agency does) out of Pennsylvania that represents Christian creative evangelists/performers. They had told me as soon as I was 18 and ready to travel, they’d start booking me – and they did. :) I put together a themed program and it was titled “Shine Like Stars.” My key verses were three that had become anthems in my life: Matthew 5:16, Daniel 12:3, and Philippians 2:15. I spoke about God’s unique plan for every individual and using our gifts, whatever they are, for His glory…how, just like a lightbulb, our purpose is to bring light to darkness, but that purpose is never accomplished until we plug into our Father and that plan for us. You get the gist :) I learned so much and was so blessed to be able to speak into the lives of kids and their families at churches, camps, etc. all across the country – at a young age, I was so amazed and humbled at the opportunities God gave me. He was using me!
Fast forward again to February of last year. When I traveled, people would often ask me at the airport, wherever, if I was a model – but I was very content in my Christian arena. It was safe and comfortable for me…except for when the economy took a hit…as we often see, unfortunately, so did churches’ budgets and their ability to bring in speakers. My bookings were tapering…I was reminded of the modeling remarks and thought that might be a good way to supplement my income while maintaining some scheduling freedom, so out of curiosity one day, I googled “Christian modeling agency.” AMTC was the first thing to pop up. As I looked and read what AMTC was all about, I felt something stirring inside of me. The name of the convention…your very logo being a star….this was definitely my language. I looked at audition dates…and I was going to be out of town for both Dallas dates listed. Feeling a little let down, I noticed there was an audition in Chattanooga on my boyfriend’s (now fiance, who lives near Chattanooga) birthday. I jokingly told him if he’d take me to the audition, I’d fly out there for his birthday. I did fly out there, but it was to surprise him – of course, he surprised me and loaded me up and spent his birthday at AMTC auditions. That stirring just got stronger and stronger as I listened to Ken Hartley speak – someone in ministry, who traveled in creative evangelism on the side? (This was totally God… as you know, there’s negativity out there about AMTC. My parents and I had our doubts, but wanted to check things out. There could not have been someone better than Ken for me to hear the presentation from, with his position and background. It’s crazy when you look back and recognize where God was working in the bigger picture.) He and Carol Hunter conducted my audition and they were wonderful. Anyway, this is getting very long, I am so sorry. I love all the little God details, but this is just getting to be way too “life story” – let me try to condense more. I got my callback that night – from Carol AND from God. After Carol called me, I called my parents, we prayed, Caleb (my fiance) and I prayed…and we felt the green light.
Ever since then, God has shown up in so many ways and taught me so many things, I won’t turn this into a novel (or should I just say a longer novel, ha) by going through them. From the coaches and leaders speaking into my life and investing more than I ever imagined or expected to God supplying the funds to attend SHINE, (another story of the needed funds coming in the day before I left…God’s timing definitely teaches us to trust Him! :)) I KNOW I am in God’s will and as you know, there is no better feeling…you cannot trade that for anything in the world. I felt it after my first solo show out of state after signing to For His Kidz when I was 18…and I felt it after I walked off the stage at AMTC’s Talent Finale. I don’t know what exactly God’s plan looks like, but I know I get to “let my light shine” wherever that plan takes me – whether it’s on a movie set, photo shoot, backstage at a runway show, or just sharing my experience with someone at a coffee shop. Whatever my role looks like, I know I’m called to be a part of taking back the mountain of arts and entertainment for glory of God and I will be honored to do that in whichever capacity He leads. I’m content knowing I did what God wanted me to do, regardless of any success by the world’s definition that may or may not come my way.
I’m sorry if this just seems very rambly – I did not mean to tell my life story, just share enough to hopefully show off God’s amazing handiwork in little things. What I’m trying to say through all of this, is that God is blowing up my life in the craziest, most amazing way possible and YOU have played a huge role in that. It was the strong stand for Christ that drew me to AMTC – the mission of bringing LIGHT to the entertainment industry, the whole language and mentality of light and stars, and those verses…those things sparked something in me and were confirmation to me. God has had this planned before I was born – He’s been weaving it through my whole life! As my parents said when I got home, “your whole life has been in preparation for this.” So, thank you for being sensitive and humble before God and letting Him use you on such an incredible level. I know God is moving and I see AMTC as a center for equipping and deploying…it excites me. I’m sure you’ve heard it over and over, and I know you will continue to hear it – but the decisions that you’ve made, both personally and corporately, have impacted my life in a tremendous way. I am amazed when I hear you speak, at the evident grace, glory, and goodness in your life and I can’t say much else but thank you. You are a beautiful and radiant vessel of God and I am privileged to have met you.
I apologize for my loquaciousness…it would seem brevity is not among my spiritual gifts, ha! I’m working on it. :)
Thank you for reading and I hope you were able to see my heart somewhere in all of that – I am so grateful for the work that you are doing in the expansion and advancement of His kingdom. I am humbled and honored to be a part. I pray that God bless you, protect your family, and continue to take you further up and further in!
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