I am a work in progress. I am learning now that I don’t have to know everything, because I have a God who has already written the book of my life. I am just seeing each day a page at a time.
God reminded me of this back in 2008. At the time I was working a job that I hated, secretly saving money to pay for studio time, so I could cut a demo of my music; and praying God would fulfill the desires of my heart. I wanted to be an actress, a writer and singer. I didn’t want to be working at a jewelry store for a boss who disrespected me and laughed at my dreams.
But I thank God I had that job. I had been burning the candle at both ends and was exhausted. I was always tired, I could never catch my breath, and I was losing weight like crazy. I thought it was stress. I kept reminding myself that I was days away from heading to Oregon to meet my record producer and I would finally get to see my family for Christmas.
When I got home I didn’t get the welcome I expected. My parents saw my frail body and sat me down to talk about their concerns. It was then that I opened up about how I had been physically feeling. Two days before Christmas, I went to a doctor in Oregon who found a large tumor in my thyroid. New Years Eve a specialist did an ultra sound of my neck and confirmed our fears. I had a large tumor in my thyroid and a smaller tumor growing next to it. I now understood why I was so tired and why I struggled to breathe.
After much resistance from my parents, I decided I would go back to LA to work and see a specialist. The one thing that my nightmare of a job provided was health insurance. I waited three months to get in with a specialist. My friends and family feared the worst, but I was young and otherwise healthy. I knew in my heart I was fine. The day finally came for my appointment and the doctor validated my family’s fears. She looked at me, read my chart, and said she thought I had cancer. She set up an appointment for the following morning for a biopsy and left. For the first time I cried. How could this be?
Three inconclusive biopsies later, my quick growing tumor was now making breathing more difficult and forced us to take action. One of my specialists warned me that because our vocal nerves run through our thyroid there was a chance my voice could be damaged and I may not be able to sing again. Even though it was painful and not breathing properly affected my singing, I knew I needed to record my demo before I went into surgery. I flew to Oregon humbled by the thought that this could be the last time I ever sang. I thanked God for allowing this dream to come true and trusted that He knew what was best. I finished recording and flew back to LA to have my surgery.
The surgery revealed the tumors were benign. Thankfully, my body adjusted and I didn’t need medication. It is around this time that I got a call from the Miss Malibu pageant director. She asked me to represent Malibu at the Miss California USA pageant. At first I laughed at the idea. My Dad and I used to joke that I should quit while I was ahead. I already won Miss Teen USA. You can’t get much better than that! My Aunt Teri and Mom had a different outlook. My Aunt reminded me that I moved to LA to chase down my dreams. Those dreams had been placed on hold and here was an opportunity to get back in shape, find an agent, and put myself first. She said, “Let someone else take care of you for once. Pray on it”.
So I did. I prayed that God would reveal His will for me. I was a brat and said, “Okay God, if you want me to do this pageant then give me a sign”. I flipped my bible open to a random page, closed my eyes and scrolled down a page and was shocked what I found when I opened my eyes. The verse read “that I would give you a crown in such a time as this”. What?! Pretty hard to deny what I was being asked to do. I had exactly one month to prepare myself for the Miss California USA pageant.
I worked harder for this pageant than I had for anything in my life at that point. I got sponsors, got myself in the best physical shape I had ever been in, and took time to put myself first. I began to really understand who I was and allowed God to reveal and heal past hurts. My prayer was that God would use this opportunity to get me back on track to my dreams. I prayed I would find an agent, get some type of press or opportunity from the pageant, and that I would be my best self.
God honored me with all of my requests. I didn’t walk away with the Miss California USA crown. I was embarrassed and humbled when I heard my name called as first runner up. How could I win Miss Teen USA and now not even win a state pageant? That is when God asked if winning was ever my true goal. I knew it was never my goal. I wanted to be an actress, singer and host. I had already been the beauty queen. I knew I had done my best. Like I always tell girls, “A different day, a different judge, a different outcome”. Just because I didn’t win, didn’t mean I was any less than I was before. This time the crown belonged to someone else.
I got my agents after the pageant, started working again in the entertainment industry, and was surprised by a call I got while opening up the jewelry store I worked at one Monday morning. It was Billy Bush. I had been out of town and missed the Miss USA pageant that happened the night before. The reigning Miss California USA was in jeopardy of losing her title. I looked out my store’s window and was shocked to find paparazzi taking pictures of me. I asked for some press and opportunity when I was competing six months prior, but this was not what I imagined. I became the Beauty Ambassador for the state and one month later was named Miss California USA.
Four years later, my husband and I have started our own production company. I have written, directed and produced several projects as well as starred in different productions. I was even in an Off-Broadway show earlier this year. This year, I hosted the Miss Teen USA two days shy of my ten-year anniversary. God is good. God doesn’t promise perfect days, but he promises to carry us through the storms. We don’t know what things happen when they do, but God makes beauty from tragedy.
I don’t know where this life will take me, but I trust that God will lead me where I need to be.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope”.