The little small town American girl, with a big ol' dream. That was me.

I can still see my Momma’s smile and hear my Daddy’s voice as he said, “You can be anything you want to be...if you just believe!”

I’d perform a Dolly Parton original for my Mamaw and Papaw every Sunday after church. I earned a dollar for every performance!

And that’s when I made the decision. I was going to be….A STAR!

And if that didn’t work out, then Papaw was going to buy me a pony and we’d adventure out into the Wild West.

If I could really sing like Dolly... I'm sure that’s the kind of star I’d choose...sadly, I wouldn’t make it past the mouth of the holler doing those things, no matter how far I reached. But, there was something I could do. And I loved it.

I could flip. I could twist. I could turn. I could tumble!

As a young girl, the highlight of my week was sitting on the bleachers of our high school gymnasium. I’d dip my grape Blow-Pop in my fountain coke, watch the cheerleaders tumble down the floor, and dream of one day being just like them.

Well, I made it that far. I learned how to do my back-handspring when I was 8 years old, and that’s when it all began. Pretty soon I was a tumbling queen. I had the best tumbling coach. She opened a gym in our town and I was a member of the performance team and competition team.

By the age of 10, I was crowned National Champion in St.Louis, Missouri, for having the best looking back-handsprings in the 9-10 year old division. I was going places. Maybe even the Olympics.

I was a good little girl. I lived in a good little town. Had good little friends. I was living a good little life. I believed in myself! I believed in living the American dream!

But, the day I lost my Papaw, something changed inside of me. Many people experience losing grandparents at a young age, I know.

I was 12. I stood there in the hospital room, when he passed away. I listened as my family surrounded his bed. Sobs of grief filled the room.

They sang his favorite hymn….

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound; That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.

What did that hymn mean? What is a wretch? I don’t remember ever being lost and I wasn’t blind. What did this song mean?

I probably heard this song a million times, but never really heard it. The Spirit opened the eyes of my heart that day. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know where Papaw was.

The summer after Papaw passed away, I went to a church camp with some friends. I accepted Christ into my heart that week. I can remember looking up into the night sky. The stars were so bright….but what I noticed was the clouds. They were in a formation of a hand. I knew it was God’s hand.

That night, I was saved by grace through faith. I acknowledged that I was indeed a wretch, no matter how good of a girl I thought I’d been and despite the sweet little town I grew up in. I needed Jesus. I was blinded until that day. I finally saw just how much God loved me. He loved me so much that he gave his only Son for me, so that I might live forever.

God saved me. I had JOY that I never experienced before. I knew that my life had a deep purpose far beyond my flying feet. BUT….

If I had only realized this simple TRUTH back then: If I had only known that THE DAY THAT I CAME TO KNOW JESUS was the day I became a STAR, I might have saved myself a lot of heartache and tears while I was trying so hard to become one.

OH, how I’d like to say that being a Christian made me even “gooder." I’d love to tell you that I walked the straight and narrow all the way up to this very moment. But, that was over 20 years ago and a LOT of star searching has happened since then.

I'd like to skip right past middle school (LOL). Seriously. Please. I hope you don’t mind. But I really can't skip it. It changed everything.

My friend's mom from our church did a Bible study with me. For the first time, I began storing God’s Word in my heart. It was that friend and her mom that made such a difference in my life. Great is their reward in Heaven, I'm sure of it. She taught me how to read my Bible.

The stuff I’d like to skip was the part where I found out that my little perfect small town bubble wasn’t so perfect. My good little friends began making some bad choices. And I was a scrawny looking, brace-faced goody-goody who was known for her flips and that’s about it. Some star, huh?

Then came High School. The Dream of becoming that cheerleader came true! I picked it over the Olympics. I was an Indian. I had the jacket. It was official. But, the scrawny goody-goody thing was still there, so I wasn’t feeling all that glamorous. Little by little, I began looking less to the Star Maker and more to this image I felt I must become. It was my dream, ya know, to be a STAR. It truly was a slow fade. The more I tried to shine on my own, the dimmer my light became.

One year of high school was down, and Daddy got a new job. We were moving. NEW SCHOOL. NEW TOWN. THIS WAS IT! This was my chance to shine!

This is when I REALLY WISH I believed that Jesus was light. And I had Him - He lived inside of me! But I surrounded myself with darkness in my new little town. I kept on trying to shine, but sometimes when you’re around darkness, your light begins getting a little dimmer too.

My light had nearly disappeared. Instead of running toward the brightness, I was running away. And I was lost. I was blind. I really was a wretch.

I hit bottom. I made some bad choices. And when I thought I was too long gone...there was God’s Amazing Grace. All along it was there. All along HE was there.

He sent me some amazing Christian friends, who showed me what it meant to shine. He surrounded me with light. He lifted me up.

I went on to cheer at college. I tore my ACL the week before nationals and I was crushed. That was my thing. That was my ticket to “Stardom." How would I ever become a star now?

I think that is truly when He showed me. God showed me that I was a STAR all along.

God began to show me that loving Him and loving others was what truly makes one shine. God blessed me so much in college with friends who taught and discipled me in His Word. I was in love with Jesus and ON MISSION for Him. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 became my new dream. I began seeing that God’s dreams for His children are far better than anything we could dream up on our own.

God showed me that being His child makes me a STAR...shining bright in the universe. He showed me that He is the famous one. “Great is His name in all of the earth” (Psalm 8:9, Jeremiah 10:6)! The more we look to Him, the brighter we will shine. Reflecting His light. Reflecting His love.

His grace truly is AMAZING. I never got the pony, but one day Papaw and I will get that chance to ride!

The Lord is the famous one. He is “the Bright Morning Star" (Revelation 22:16).


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