“Ah! I had almost forgotten what a good skinny mocha latte tastes like”. Shanessa sank back in the armchair with an easy smile on her face under black hair twisting and turning into a complex of curls just below her shoulders.
“Your hair looks great”, I remarked.
“Thank you. It’s been a while since we coffeed”, she replied. “Have you heard about Carrie Underwood?” she asked.
“Well I know who she is of course. What do you mean?”
“I mean how she became famous?”
I stroked my beard. “It was via American Idol, right” I recalled.
“Yes, but the untold story is pretty awesome”.
Shanessa is younger than I, and she uses the word awesome a lot.
I raised my eyebrows to signify that I was all ears, and she continued.
“Carrie was a singer, about 17 years old, when she heard about Idol, and looked it up on the internet. The closest place for auditions was St Louis, while the Underwoods lived in a small town called Checotah, Oklahoma. She asked her Mom how far away St Louis was, and her Mom said why do you ask, so Carrie explained. Some weeks later, out of the blue her Mom volunteered to drive Carrie to St Louis. Carrie was reluctant, feeling dubious about the potential success of the trip”.
Shanessa paused to sip on her skinny.
“Obviously she ventured out” I remarked as I began to warm to this story.
“Yes, and she did well enough to get on the program, which was the fourth American Idol series in 2005. She won, as just about everyone knows except you”.
I poked my tongue out at her, as she resumed the story.
“When Carrie first went to Los Angeles to sing, she had never been on a plane, and she was going alone. Out of her comfort zone….big-time”.
“I think that’s a key to this story”, I proposed, feeling a little smarter when I said that.
Shanessa nodded, but went right on.
“She went from success to success, and is now the Female Country Artist with the most number one hits on the Billboard charts”.
“Awesome! Another Reba I guess”, I wondered, trying to act younger and smarter.
As Shanessa smiled, her beautiful brown eyes crinkled in the corners.
“Yes, but she hasn’t forgotten her country roots. She used to drive a Ford Escape before all this happened. And she still drives a Ford Escape. She also loves to go back to Checotah”.
“Her new album is called Blown Away, and it has an awesome title track which contains the words ‘There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma to rip the nails out of the past’”.
“That gives me the shivers”, I protested.
I ruminated on the good fortune of this young gal from the sticks of Oklahoma. What if she hadn’t looked Idol up on the internet? What if she hadn’t asked her Mom where St Louis was? What if she had decided not to drive to St Louis?
“This story reminds me of a saying by J. B. Conant: ‘Behold the turtle. He makes progress when his neck is out.’
“Aha! I like that”, enthused Shanessa.
“I’ve told you Shanessa about Michelle, the coangel”, I added. “She would talk about the resources of God, over and over. And she said we should approach these resources with an open believing mind, as children tend to do”.
Underwood was raised, and sang, in a Baptist church. At one awards ceremony, Vince Gill sang one of her hits, “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, and then joined Underwood in a rendition of “How Great Thou Art”. A video of the performance reached three million viewers on YouTube within two days. She also played a youth minister in a Christian movie called “Soul Surfer.”
This story is reminiscent of God using ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. “David, a mere boy, killed a giant and became king of Israel. Mary, a teenage girl, gave birth to the Messiah. Peter, a fisherman, established the early church and changed the world”.** None of us is insignificant. Pray to God, follow your dreams, and help someone to hope.
“For with God nothing is ever impossible”. (Luke, chapter 1, Amplified Bible).
** Excerpted from “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns.
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Probing the practice of Christian believers….