I am about to tell you about possibly the most amazing, fun, surreal, magical experience I’ve ever had.
Let me first say, it was all because of my mom. Awhile back, she sent in this video of me singing a song I’d written inspired by a sermon series at our church back in March to a competition. Without my knowing. (How cool is that?! Well, in this case it was…) Here is the song!
Basically, the audition was to perform at Night of Joy on the Talent Spotlight stage this past weekend at Disney World!!! (If you don’t know what Night of Joy is, click here.) The Talent Spotlight is a fabulous event within Night of Joy that showcases new and young artists and bands, and- according to the website– the winners who get to perform are selected by “industry leaders and Disney executives” (What the what?!)
So, it totally made my day that my mom thought to enter me in the first place… And then I found out about 3 weeks ago that I was selected to be one of the performers!!!!!!! [Insert combustible excitement and shock and awe and amazement here.]
After finding out (and combusting from the aforementioned reasons) there was a rush of plan-making and flight-booking, followed by a surprisingly quick couple of weeks leading up to the event.
Ryan, Lucy, and I flew down Friday afternoon, met up with both sets of parents at Planet Hollywood, walked around afterwards. (Mom and I split fried lasagna… after which walking around is crucial. Although we also got gelato after that…) I think I woke up every hour that night, partly from nerves and partly from the fact that Lucy was in our room. (My Mom Radar won’t shut off when she’s that near; I’m overly attuned to every rustle and sniff she makes.)
Then came Saturday. It was a crazy and awesome day, people.
Our tickets didn’t get us into the park until late afternoon, so obviously we spent the morning hearing one of those time-share spiels where you get a $125 gift card and a really good deal on a 3-day/2-night stay (Ryan and I think we’ll use ours for Harry Potter World next year. As in, all three days at HP World…) Then, after Lucy got to actually take a full nap, we all went over and met up with my parents- and the weather was mercifully in the 80’s instead of the 90’s.
Even though we didn’t get to really do much in the Magic Kingdom, can I just say that I love it there?! It’s just so beautiful, you guys. Plus, they had fall decor put up… Bless their sweet little Floridian hearts.
We left Lucy with the Grandparent Brigade (as I’ve decided to call them just now), and rushed over to Liberty Square for a meeting with the people in charge of the Talent Spotlight. (She was seriously SO GOOD the whole weekend, and we had to get her something for it being her first trip to Disney, so we/I opted for the Princess Minnie you see above. Perfect, right? Plus, she loves that thing.)
I thought it would be purely informational, but it turned out to be this wonderful moment to breathe and be encouraged by both the other performers as well as the leaders, who managed to bolster my belief in myself in a way I hadn’t expected. They just reminded us that God brought us here, that we truly do have gifts that people need to experience, and that they wanted to make it as great an experience as possible for both us and the audience. I mean- wow. I left that place feeling so uplifted and and- I know this sounds completely redundant and cheesy, but- believed in, that it totally set me on track to truly enjoy the night. Which was all I wanted.
I was so afraid of getting down there and not being able to soak it in and enjoy it, because of things I usually do, like overanalyze it to death, anticipate every single awful scenario possible, things like that. But this was one of those times that I could tell was just- protected.
Have you ever felt people’s prayers taking effect over you? This was like that. I just knew everything would be fine (Aimee Brown’s mantra). I had wise friends remind me that this was a gift from God, to receive it as that, people texting me that God knows what He’s doing, reminding me to have fun… and also telling me my hair is perfect, which is comforting in a totally transcendent kind of way, of course.
And that feeling just continued throughout the night- one good thing after another. It even thunderstormed- after we’d magically found a table for dinner inside. (Now THAT is a Disney miracle.) Even that was a God-moment for me. Maybe it will sound silly, but during the first Disney trip I remember, I was like, 8 or 10 or something, and it was kind of rainy. But not a monsoon- just a perfect kind of rain that made everything beautiful while not prohibiting us from enjoying the park. I don’t know why, but I loved that it rained that trip, and I loved that it did on this one, too.
After it stormed, we headed over to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland, where the Talent Spotlight stage was this year-which was awesome!! I got to hear a lot of great artists, but my favorite was an alternative rock band, Suddenly Still, with whom I got to connect while we waited to perform.
This group of guys from Melbourne, FL was so laid back and funny, hanging out with them quieted my nerves and helped me do the thing I was hoping most to be able to do- enjoy the moment. Plus, when they went on, they were so good, you guys. Go check them out here for their Facebook page and look them up on iTunes!!!
Then, it was my turn. And I love absolutely every minute of it. Even the awkwardness at the beginning where the mic stand wouldn’t stay where I put it, and the tech girl had to come out and work on it, and the awkwardness right after that when I introduced my first song… and the keyboard wasn’t turned up (and then it still wasn’t turned up, so I had to cast out my awkwardness into the dark crowd by asking if I could get some sound). I loved even those moments, because it made me laugh and not take myself so seriously. In fact, that dispersed any lingering tension so well that I think it would’ve been worse if it hadn’t happened.
And here, for your viewing pleasure, are videos of the 3 songs I sang (as edited by my amazing, super fancy-schmancy, tech-geniusy husband!):
These are by no means perfect, but I don’t care. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve never felt so right doing something! I feel like I understand what the runner, Eric Liddell, meant when he said, “…when I run, I feel [God’s] pleasure.” (Say what you will, do as many hilarious cheesy slow-mo-running-while-singing-the-synthesizery-movie-score moments as you want, Chariots of Fire is still awesome)
If you are one of the many people who overwhelmed me with love, support, prayer, encouragement (you know- all the feels), let me just say- THANK YOU. I’m so incredibly grateful for you all. I had no idea people would respond that way when I first started sharing about it. You guys are good.
I hope you enjoyed a thumbnail of this adventure; I hope it encourages you to be brave and remember you were made to do the thing that scares you the most, but is the most desperate desire of your heart.