Authors: Candace Cameron Bure,Erin Davis
Tags: #Religion/Christian Life/Inspirational
Copyright © 2015 by Candaché, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Published by B&H Publishing Group
Dewey Decimal Classification: 248.84
Subject Heading: CHRISTIAN LIFE \ COURAGE \ BURE, CANDACE CAMERON
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009
by Holman Bible Publishers.
Also used: English Standard Version® (
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Also used: New International Version®,
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
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To my dear husband and sweet children:
Without your courage, patience, support, and enthusiasm none of this would have been possible. Thank you for your willingness to step out of your comfort zone by allowing me to step out of mine. I dedicate this book to you, for you are my everything. I love you.
Mark Ballas—I couldn’t imagine taking this pilgrimage with anyone else. You not only taught me how to dance but taught me so much about myself in the process. I don’t know how to express in words the depths of what you and this journey have meant to me. It changed me. Forever. You are an incredibly talented man who has patience beyond measure and your goofiness is golden. I will always be cheering you on your life’s journey and am blessed to call you my friend. Love you—forever your Edna Flemington.
Erin Davis—I wasn’t sure if I could write this with someone who doesn’t own a television, but you proved yourself a rock star! (Not that I didn’t already know.) I am incredibly grateful for your wisdom, knowledge, guidance, and artful skill of writing.
D.J. Candyball Prayer Team—I was able to dance this journey because of each and every prayer you sent up for me. The warmth and comfort of knowing I was being covered in God’s grace through your words allowed me to take each step forward no matter how difficult it was at the moment. I will always be praying for each of you.
Jennifer Lyell, Jana Spooner, Melissa Fuller, and the B&H Publishing team—Thank you for championing my passion and desire to write about my journey of courage and conviction. Although it was on a whim, the feeling was so strong I knew it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I’m glad you felt it too.
A HUGE thank you to my rockstar team: Jeffery Brooks and Ford Englerth, Redrock Entertainment, Anderson Group PR, Gersh Agency, Chad Christopher, Tara Brooks, Daniel Blaylock, and Rowan Daly.
A special thank you to Tracy Mapes and Steve Neibert, ABC Television Network, and
Dancing with the Stars
To all my lifelong and new fans who supported me through
Dancing with the Stars
and voted for Mark and me every single week by phone and website, THANK YOU!! You’re the reason (literally) that I made it to the finish line!
Jesus, sweet Jesus—All praise, glory, and honor is given to You.
Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre.
he cameras were ready. The audience was filled with my family and friends. I was in a costume tailor-made just for me, for this moment. It made me feel beautiful and special. When the music started, I begged my brain to remember the moves I’d been practicing. I begged my body to obey my brain. I forced a smile and started to dance. Once my feet started moving, it didn’t take long for joy to bubble up from inside me. The seeds of a dream had been planted. I had no idea that God would plant my feet on a different stage years later and give me the opportunity to turn the spotlight toward Him.
The backdrop of this book is my experience as a contestant on
Dancing with the Stars (DWTS)
. Consider this your all-access pass to the hit show that pairs a celebrity (that’s me!) with a professional dancer (so not me!) for ten grueling weeks of dancing competition. Of course, it’s much more than that. Even though I love to dance and dreamed of being on the show for nearly a decade, for me,
Dancing with the Stars
became so much more than a dancing competition. It wasn’t about being on an Emmy-nominated hit reality competition show or seeing a dream come true while millions watched. I believe that my time on
was the opportunity of a lifetime because it allowed me to showcase my faith in Jesus Christ. On a bigger stage than I had ever graced before, I had the chance to be a witness in front of a watching world. Along the journey I learned in many ways what it was like to stand with conviction while being stretched way beyond my comfort zone. I can’t wait to share those lessons with you!
That scene of me on a stage in a fabulous dancing costume didn’t come from the show. That was me at five years old, the first and only time I remember stepping foot on a stage to dance before I agreed to be on
. That moment is a snapshot in my memory from when I took a handful of tap and ballet lessons one summer as a child. My sister Melissa and I took just enough classes to have a single recital at the end of the session.
I don’t remember a lot about those lessons except for a vivid flash memory of learning to leap across the ballet floor. While some of the girls were just jumping over an imaginary line with one foot haphazardly in the air, I tried to split my legs and make the move look as graceful as I’d seen real dancers do. In my mind I can hear the teacher say to me, “Yes! Just like that, Candace. Good job!”
Fast-forward more than three decades and this is a picture of my experience on
. I didn’t just want to be on a show. I didn’t just want to learn to dance. I knew what my invisible lines were. I knew where I would not cross. Those lines were my convictions, drawn by my time in the Word, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in me, and the accountability offered by my Christian community.
Learning to leap is a great picture of what my experience was like. It was a leap of faith, for sure. But I knew up front that I didn’t want to just vault across the
stage without a plan. I wanted to move with purpose. I wanted to show what it looked like to live within the boundaries that God gives us for our good and I wanted to do it all while looking graceful to the watching world.
My childhood dancing lessons were short-lived and as much as I’m sure I enjoyed it, acting and commercial auditions were awaiting me. Melissa and I performed our recital at a local college auditorium in front of an audience filled with friends and family members of all the dance students. For my one and only dance performance, I was dressed in a black satin leotard with three white puffy balls down the center, white fluffy feathers around the top of my bust-line and a white feathery tail attached to my behind. I wore black satin arm-length, open-fingered gloves that attached around my middle finger along with a white feathery headband that held up my sparkly black cat ears. I don’t remember what music we tapped to; I can’t even recall the recital itself, but the pictures with my sister in her equally adorable lime green leotard with my mom and dad and grandparents show me that it really did happen.
I also took a few ballroom dance lessons when I was sixteen as a present to my dad for his birthday. My dad, although not a very confident dancer, always took my hand and led me to the dance floor if a slow song was playing when we were at a party or wedding. I loved dancing with him, and even as a teenager it was one place I was never embarrassed to be seen with my parents. My dad loved watching his daughters have fun on the dance floor and his eyes were always beaming with pride and amusement, no matter how silly we looked doing the latest moves.
One year, wanting to give him an extra special birthday gift, I signed the two of us up for six ballroom dance classes at a professional studio. He was thrilled and I knew the end result would be moments and memories to cherish forever. For my wedding, my dad enlisted a choreographer who taught the two of us a special routine for our father/daughter dance, which included the waltz, disco, country, swing, and the YMCA. Our guests went crazy when we broke out of what everyone thought to be the start of a traditional dance to Nat King Cole’s “What a Wonderful World” and into a mash-up of songs and moves that had everyone grooving on the dance floor by the end of it. I take full credit for starting what’s now become the phenomenon of YouTube choreographed wedding dances!
But one recital, a few lessons with my dad, and a killer father/daughter wedding dance does not make me a professional dancer. Not by a long shot! I’ve been trained as an actress and spent much of my time in the laboratory of life learning how to be a wife and mom, but that didn’t keep me from dreaming about standing on the
Making a Scene
I was on an airplane flying to New York City when suddenly I had the urge to jump up and down and scream!
I was checking e-mail at 30,000 feet (thank you, Wi-Fi) when I got the offer. I had been officially invited to be a cast member on Season 18 of
Dancing with the Stars.
I have turned down countless reality shows over the years. If you can name it, chances are, I’ve been asked to be on it. I’ve had no interest in being on shows that are all about cat fights, sex, drama, or resurrecting dead Hollywood careers. But after being glued to my TV watching the first season of
Dancing with the Stars
, I realized this one was different. It was a show I could imagine myself being on. It was a fun-spirited competition—in amazing sparkling, glittery costumes no less. And instead of creating a villain, stirring up rivalries, or seeking salacious plotlines, this show told stories about each contestant’s journey. It seemed to focus on the best in people, even if that person wasn’t the best at heart from the start, guiding them through something exciting yet scary and capturing all the moments in between. This was the one reality show I thought I would actually consider being a part of. Not to mention, my toes were still itching to learn how to really dance!
My husband, Val, knew how much I liked the show, considering I dedicated my Monday and Tuesday nights to watching as a fan in the early years of the show’s run. I asked him what he thought if I were ever asked to be on the show, and without hesitation, he would say, “Do what makes you happy.” Val’s the kind of guy who has always supported my career decisions in entertainment, even though it’s never been a personal area of interest for him. He believes in hard work and being passionate about what you do. So with that, he’s always been my quiet champion cheering me on from the sidelines.
While I was on ABC Family’s
Make It or Break It
from 2009 to 2012, my agents would receive regular calls from the show’s producers asking for my availability to be on
, but it never seemed to work out. This only grew my desire to be on the show even more and planted a seed not only to check it off my bucket list, but also to fulfill my inner “little girl” dream. It wasn’t until Season 18 that all the cards fell in the right place. That’s why I wanted to scream when I got the official invitation to be on the show! Only, I was on an airplane, with no one to tell but the man next to me! Except, I contractually couldn’t tell anyone. As soon as I finished cheering and waving my arms in the air from my seat, I messaged Val from my computer. I managed to contain my excitement enough to avoid jumping up and screaming, but just barely. The guy next to me thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care, I was so happy to see my dream finally come true.
True to form, Val was a cheerleader from the start. He said, “I’m so excited for you. I know you’ve wanted this forever.”
With a longtime dream realized, and the support of my man, I nestled back into my seat and spent the rest of the flight dreaming of what was ahead.
Standing with Conviction
It was part of my contract with
, that I kept my participation under wraps until the big cast reveal on
Good Morning America
. My daughter, Natasha, overheard a conversation between her dad and me about the show and put two and two together that I was on the cast list (smart girl!) and she was beyond excited. We eventually told the boys a week before the announcement as well as my best friend, Dilini, and friend Stacy who would help us with the kids during the busy schedule. But other than those few, no one knew before the cast was announced, not even my mom, sisters, or closest friends. I love surprises and couldn’t wait to see them come unglued with excitement.
In that incubation period, when the realization of my dream was a close-kept secret, I felt nothing but happiness. I knew the show would stretch me mentally and physically, but I felt confident that I could face whatever was coming because I had the protection of Christ, the community of Christ, and the support of those closest to me.
But after the news broke, things got a little stickier.
My family was still super supportive. Natasha, Lev, Maks, and Val were just as jazzed as ever and many other family members and friends were excited and supportive too, but I started to hear expressions of concern.
“What if you’re tempted to compromise?”
“Will you lose your conviction on the things you’ve taken a stand for?”
“What if the producers push you so hard and you feel pressured to give in to something that doesn’t line up with God’s Word?”
“Should a Christian be on a show about dancing?”
“What about the costumes? Aren’t they a little too sexy?”
Well-meaning people, some from my inner circle, but many of whom I had never met, began expressing concern and frustration about my choice. It seemed like nearly everybody, aside from me, was worried that I had set myself up for failure. Certainly, I am human and capable of making mistakes and falling short of the marks God has for me. But conviction is the very reason I am still a woman of faith. It is the thing that grounds me in my faith. I can’t live the Christian life and stay true to who I am in Christ and how He has called me to live without conviction. Another way to think of conviction is boundaries. I knew what my boundaries were before I ever agreed to participate in the show.
Where does my strong sense of conviction come from? From the Bible! By studying God’s Word, I learn where God stands on issues and I seek to stand with Him. But there are gray areas, where the Bible doesn’t lay out a boundary in black and white. In those cases, my conviction comes from the Holy Spirit in me.
First Corinthians 6:19 says it this way, “Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”
The Holy Spirit lives within me! He guides me and nudges me to be more like Christ. But that’s not my only compass. God has given me a community of people who care about me and want to see me live like Christ has called me to live. I know that when I need to draw a boundary that is not specifically outlined in the Bible, I can bounce my decisions off the most important people in my life to make sure I’m not acting on emotions or strong desires. Those important people are my husband and my mentors in my Christian faith including some of the women in my small group Bible study, my mom, my sisters, and a handful of other women that I know will be honest and truthful with me and are also grounded in the Word of God.
So, while others worried I might be pushed to jump outside of the boundaries God has for me, I knew I could say “yes” to this opportunity without fear of failure because I had the protection of Christ. I had the community of Christ. I had the prayers of my community, my family and friends in my fellowship, and I knew I was covered and protected no matter what the outcome. That was why I could step out in faith. It’s also why you can step out in faith and do something out of your comfort zone.
In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”
Apart from Jesus I probably couldn’t have stood up for what I believed without wavering. I might not have had the courage to boldly share my faith with millions of people. Maybe I wouldn’t have had the clarity to know what decisions to make along the way. But I wasn’t on my own. I had Jesus! I had His Word. I had the encouragement and discernment of my community around me. I knew that if I could cling to Him through this journey, I could tackle the challenge that was in front of me.