There’s been a lot said about this past weekend’s Super Bowl game with many people talking about the halftime show, the Chiefs first championship in fifty years, and the young quarterback who led his team to an epic comeback. But there is something very special that everyone is overlooking. A true testament to female empowerment, a real victory that should be applauded, and a beautiful triumph of the human spirit. It’s the story about a young woman who is still trying to beat the odds, still struggling, still finding her place in the world, but who is pushing on.
To tell this story, I’d like to start by telling a story that begins in 2008 with three little girls…
In the summer of 2008, my three daughters, like almost every little girl in America, were obsessed with the Disney Channel production, Camp Rock. The Cinderella story tells of the camp caterer’s daughter who, in the end, overcomes all odds and gets the boy and the attention of the music industry. My girls loved the fresh new voice and bravado of the movie’s star, Demi Lovato.
In 2009, we saw Demi perform at the Delaware State Fair, and we were impressed by her vocals and stage presence. She was a dynamo who put on a fabulous show that had fans on their feet for the entire performance. What nobody knew at the time was that the star was battling lifelong struggles with depression, self-harm, bullying, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
Over the next ten years, Demi went in and out of hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and sober living complexes. With each musical triumph, she experienced personal tragedy due to her inability to deal with her demons. While she soared and then relapsed over and over, my girls continued to root for her to gain her foothold and find the strength to overcome so many obstacles–the illnesses that hold her in their grip, the substances that prop her up, the people who want to knock her down, and her own lack of self-esteem.
And then came February 2, 2020. Amid the controversy about the halftime show and the heralding of the MVP and other players, Demi’s spectacular performance of the Star Spangled Banner was lost in the shuffle. It’s a shame that nobody is talking about her breath-taking rendition of the National Anthem or how this young woman, who works every day of her life to just hang on, saw her dream come true and now shares a place in history with the likes of Whitney Houston.
ideologically, there’s not a whole lot that Demi and I agree upon. Musically, I have to admit that the only songs of hers that I know are the ones from her Disney days. However, emotionally and mentally, on some level we can all identify with Demi. Who among us doesn’t have days, maybe weeks or years, of self-doubt? Who hasn’t struggled with some form of depression or loved someone who fights this battle? How many of you or your children have been bullied? Whose life hasn’t been touched in some way by drug or alcohol abuse?
In 2019, Demi visited Israel and was baptized in the Jordan River. Who knows if she will feel and accept the graces found in baptism in the holy waters of the Jordan. Who can predict if the experience will help her find the strength she needs to overcome her struggles. I don’t know what the future holds for the child star who got her start singing and acting with a purple dinosaur. I pray that she finds the healing she needs. I pray that she hears God’s voice when He speaks to her. I pray that she can show all young women everywhere how to stay on their feet and hold their heads up high when the world expects them fail. I pray she finds the inner peace she so desperately needs. I pray that she comes to believe the words of Joshua, “I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
And I hope that we can all look back on her performance before the Super Bowl and say, there’s the real victor, the one who did not give up or give in but persevered when the odds were against her, when she was facing her last down, when she fumbled and when she fell, and when the enemy was standing in her way. Well played, Demi, well played.
In the words of 8-year-old Morgan and 10-year-old Katie, “Demi, rocks.”
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Keeping Track.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy is available as a complete set for your Kindle and is also available on audio!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).