"She took a leap of faith..."

My mom always told me that everything happens for a reason; what that reason is we may not know but we must give it up to God. It's crazy how life works sometimes. We have all these plans or ideas of what we are supposed to do and who we are supposed to be after being told the traditional route from the time we were three years old. You go to school, graduate, go to more school, get a job, get married, and that's about it. But I had to ask myself, was that really all? Was school just a place to learn, an education just part of the process of getting a job, a job just a way to make money?

I knew from a young age that music was in my bones. Music was what spoke to me and allowed me to speak to others in a way that only I knew how to do. With a childhood revolving around a split marriage and the strength my mom found as a single mother, music got me through some things that at times seemed like they were impossible to overcome. I knew that if I was going to succeed in life, music had to be a part of my journey. And so at age 15, I asked my mom if I could audition for the hit show "American Idol." Was it a stretch? Yes. Would it be worth it? I had to find out for myself. I soon learned that the process was a lot more work than singing a song in front of three judges. Paperwork became more paperwork, crowds became masses of thousands of people, and one audition led to the next. This did not stop the dream I held within to create the life that I wanted for myself. I was not ready to settle for tradition, I was ready to live my life as I had come to do in my childhood, through music.

I ended up making it all the way to the end of the infamous "Hollywood Week" on "American Idol", surpassing somewhere around 80,000 people as I reached the top 35 females in the competition. After getting cut in the last stages of the week, I settled down in my hotel room and again thought to myself, "Is it worth it? Can I do this? Should I go back home and follow a different path just because it will be safer? I mean that is logical right?" It was during this moment of utter confusion and defeat that I picked up my devotional book from church and began to read. Tears came to my eyes as I read of God's plan for our lives. Visionizing myself in the apostles' place after Jesus' death, I could relate to the loss of hope, the turmoil, the defeat. Yet as I read on, God spoke to me as He told of the great hope that followed. The understanding that we all have a purpose and a meaning in life that He has placed on our hearts. It is all in His timing, don't get me wrong... but we know deep down what we are called to do.

I picked myself up, flew back home to Portland, Michigan, and again started chasing that dream ten-fold. I started speaking to kids at local elementary schools. I went back to my roots in the church choir, and I began to find myself. It wasn't long before opportunities started to head my way. I was asked to open for Craig Morgan, The Band Perry, Parmalee, and more, all of which I would not have been able to do if I would have still been under contract with "American Idol." I knew that the journey would be long and that at times I wouldn't know what the heck I was doing. But I would much rather live my life to the fullest than follow the safe, traditional route just for the sake of security. I knew that I had to take that leap of faith and in the process, find myself and the reason for everything. As the saying goes, "She took a leap of faith and built her wings on the way down." I am still building my wings, strengthening them with every pull of the wind. Do not settle for what the world tells you. Be courageous enough to follow the calling that God has placed on your heart. It may take some time and a change of course now and then but you have those wings, you just have to find how to use them. You were put on this earth for a reason, you have a purpose to serve. You got this; I believe in you!

With love,

Shelb

#encouragement #music #inspiration #faith #AmericanIdol #ShelbyAnnMarie #dreams #hardwork

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