Lay Down My Pride

Summary: One girl gets the chance of a lifetime and one of her dreams when she's chosen to go on tour with one of her idols: Jeremy Camp. But the experience that follows will be the last thing she expected. Through life-changing times and faith-testing trials, will she be able to hang on?

Hey, guys. I know it's been forever if you've read my work. I'm working on a lot of things right now, and one of them is trying to keep up with stories on here. I think I'm revising one, and I'm trying to get a few others up. This is taking most of my concentration as far as stories right now, though. I'll try to update as frequently as I can, and I promise you, if you don't like this chapter, it will get better. It may take a few chapters to really get into these things, but if you stick with it, it will be worth it. Believe me. I hope you do enjoy it, though. I have a LOT to focus on right now, though; so updates may not be as frequent as they could be. I'm working on school, babysitting, different events, etc. I will try to keep up with this and my other stories, though; and I'll definitely try to be on here as often as I can working on them. Since I'm getting a laptop, I may have more time, which will be great. Anyway, I think I've filled you in enough. Have fun reading, and enjoy! Don't forget to hit that little button at the bottom left-hand side of the screen that says "review," too. That always encourages a writer, even if it's constructive criticism, just as long as I know you're reading!:D


Chapter One

Competition

"Carlie Sanders," came the male voice through the microphone.

Seventeen-year-old Carlie Sanders drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, closing her eyes for a moment. This was it. She wasn't nervous, but she wasn't completely free, either. This was it. This was the chance to go on tour with the Jeremy Camp. With a glance at her mom and a slight nod on each part, she began making her way onto the small stage in front of the three judges. Her eyes caught each judge once, and she gave a smile before focusing her attention on the microphone.

It didn't take her long to reach it, and that's when the real thing started. She climbed slowly up the stairs of the stage and stood in front of the microphone, putting her hand on the hilt of the microphone and casting one nervous glance over the tiny audience of assembled contestant family in the background before closing her eyes and giving a quiet sigh, releasing all thoughts but the feeling of the song she was about to sing.

"State your name and song of choice," the same male judge that had called her name earlier ordered her.

Carlie was jarred out of her thoughts and flinched a little bit before focusing her attention on the judges again. "Carlie Sanders with 'Lay Down my Pride,'" she said into the microphone, her hand still on its hilt. A few seconds after she said that, the music started; and her low voice filled the area. "Every single word I say, you know it before I speak. You know every thought, the deepest part of me." Her voice became a little louder with that end part.

As she continued singing, she was completely lost in the song, not thinking about the people, not thinking about the judges, not thinking about their criticism or the tour or score. She just thought about the song she was singing and let the music fill her, carrying her voice. She always had fun singing, and this was no different. Having fun was one of the things that would make a song perfect. She knew that any seasoned artist would tell you that. If you weren't having fun, the song wasn't as good as it could be.

"I lay down my pride!" Carlie sang loudly, beginning the chorus and jumping up and down a couple times. "My desires, my demise! I'm ready now to see it your way. I'm done! I'm through ignoring you! Now it's true! I'm kneeling at the cross of your grace. I lay down my pride."

She was on a stage now: a real stage. There were lights all over the place behind her, all different colors. There was a huge crowd in front of her jumping, dancing, clapping, and singing along. It was an energetic concert, and she was leading it. She could hear the rest of the band behind her and her own voice coming out of the speakers over the crowd. She was half-jumping, half-jogging from one side of the stage to the other. It was hot, but she was too busy having fun and too lost in the song to realize that she was already beginning to be covered in sweat.

All too soon, though, the performance ended. She heard the loud clapping and looked over the crowd, panting and allowing a grin to break out on her face. Suddenly, though, she was jarred from her dream to hear the loud clapping of the small audience in the room in front of her and the judges barely hiding their smiles before conferring with each other.

Then the same judge that had spoken before put his mouth close to his microphone again and cleared his throat. "Thank you, Miss Sanders," he said. "That was a wonderful job. We'll get back to you. Just fill out the form in the back with your phone number."

Carlie smiled, nodded her head, and then walked off the stage. That was what they told all the contestants, but a real smile now was rare, since they had already been through many applicants and were fairly weary. As she continued to walk, her mother came running up and embraced her. "Honey, that was amazing!" the older woman exclaimed.

Carlie pulled away a little and smiled at her mother. "Thanks," she replied. Then she looked past the other woman toward the back of the room, her eyes suddenly spotting what she was looking for: the forms to fill out. Then she turned back to her mother, saying, "Hey, hold on a sec. I'm going to go fill out one of those forms. Who knows? Maybe I'll win." In her mind, she doubted it; but it was at least worth a shot. However, another part of her was screaming that she was definitely going to win and was so much better than everyone else, and that part was beginning to take over as she filled out the form confidently.


It was a few weeks before Carlie received a response, but even with her busy life, that competition to go on tour with Jeremy Camp somehow stuck in the back of her mind. As she came out of her room one Friday, she heard her older brother James call to her. From his voice, he was walking toward the stairs. Her room was at the top of them. "Carlie!" he called. "Phone's for you! It's a boy!" He added the last part in a teasing tone as he reached the bottom of the stairs to see her almost jogging down them.

She laughed when she took the phone and playfully pushed him. "Give me that," she said. Then she put the phone to her ear, a grin still on her face. "Hello?" she greeted.

"Carlie Sanders?" the male voice on the other end asked.

"That'd be the wonderful me at your service," she joked, bowing even though she knew the person on the other line wouldn't see.

"It is my honor to inform you that you've won," the person told her.

Carlie cocked her head a little bit with a somewhat confused face, looking at her brother, who stared at her intently, silently urging her to tell him what was going on. "Excuse me?" she asked the person on the other line.

"You should pack your bag. You have won the competition and are going on tour with Jeremy Camp," the man replied.

A grin formed on Carlie's face, and she screamed, jumping up and down. "No kidding? I've won? I'm going on tour with Jeremy Camp! Oh my gosh! This is so cool!" She looked at her brother as she said the part about going on tour, and she saw his face immediately change from one of confusion to one of excitement, sharing in her joy.

"I'm going to give you a number to call to obtain the details. Are you ready?" the man asked after Carlie had somewhat calmed down, at least enough to hear his words.

"Hold on a sec," Carlie replied, walking past her brother and looking around for a piece of paper and a pen. When she found them, she went to the kitchen table and clicked the pen on. "All right. Shoot." After writing the number down, she thanked the man once again. "Thank you so much! This is so awesome. I can't believe I won." That part was more out of force of habit than anything else. If anything, her pride was swelling. "All right. Again, thank you. Bye," she finished, hanging up the phone.

That was when James walked into the kitchen, having followed her at a much slower pace. The grin was still on his face, and he held his arms open. Carlie took the invitation immediately and ran into him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. "Oh, I'm so glad you won. Great job! That's amazing!" James told her, pulling her tighter to him for a second before letting go. "I knew you would."

"Oh, this is so exciting!" Carlie replied, holding onto his upper arms for a minute before backing away a little and looking around. She could hardly be still. She was just too excited. Her crystal blue eyes were even brighter than usual, and the ecstatic grin on her face never left.

James laughed. "Slow down," he warned her. "I don't want you wearing yourself out even before the tour." He added the next part as a bit of an afterthought. "Save that for after the third concert."

Carlie's mouth dropped, and she crossed her arms and turned away from him. In a mock-hurt voice, she said, "I can't believe you. I thought you'd be supportive!"

James pushed out his lower lip in a sad face and walked over to her, putting his arms on her shoulders and turning her around. "I am supportive. You're going to be great. And if I know you, you'll never stop. You'll probably annoy them to death!" He laughed again at this.

Carlie's jaw dropped again through a grin, and she playfully hit him. "You're mean!" she exclaimed.

"No more so than you!" James defended himself.

Carlie dropped her head and shook it, silently laughing. When she finally picked it back up, she had a small smile on. "All right. I can't fool around anymore. I've got real work to do. I have to get ready. I'm going to call that guy right now so that I can get all the information. Then I'll know what to do. Can you get my suitcase and put it in my room please?" As she was saying this, she was already dialing the number on the phone; and as she put it up to her ear to hear the ringing, she looked at her brother expectantly.

He sighed and rolled his eyes. "Do I have a choice?" he asked in mock-exasperation, turning around and walking off.

Carlie knew he was just playing and was more than willing to help. "Thank you!" she called as a sort of afterthought after him.

Then a voice came on the other line. "Hello?"

Carlie was immediately snapped back toward the phone and instantly went into business mode. "Yes, hi," she greeted, beginning to pace slowly around the kitchen. "My name is Carlie Sanders. I won the competition to go on tour with Jeremy Camp, and I was told to call you for the details."

"Ah, yes! Miss Sanders. My name is Jordan Andrews," the man replied with recognition, obviously having been told the story. "You're very lucky. All right. Can you remember all this, or do you need a pen and some paper?"

"I've got some right here, Mr. Andrews," Carlie replied with a smile, sitting down at the table.

"Okay. First off, the tour is to last eight months," Jordan told her.

"Eight months. Wow," Carlie said aloud absent-mindedly.

"Yes. It's a long time. You'll be seeing many different cities. I'm not going to take the time to name them all," Jordan continued. "All right. You have two weeks to get ready. Not next Friday, but the Friday after that, you'll meet Jeremy at the local Six Flags about one in the afternoon. He's giving you a complimentary afternoon there. He's taking his family, too. It'll provide an informal setting for you all to get to know one another while having a lot of fun. About six, his family will be going home; and you and he will officially begin your tour."

"Wow. That's a bit of a drive for his family," Carlie noted.

"Yeah, but they wanted one more time together before the tour; and Adie wanted to meet you," Jordan replied.

"Make sure that she's not sending her husband off with someone who won't return him," Carlie grinned.

Jordan didn't share the joke. "They've had a few bad experiences in that area, especially recently."

Carlie's grin was lost. "Oh. Sorry to hear that," was all she could manage.

"Yes. Well, continuing on, you and Jeremy will spend a night at a local hotel that night; and your first concert will be that Sunday. That gives you time to get there, get set up, and practice. That hotel thing will be a bit of a luxury, though. A lot of the time, you'll be in the tour bus. Jeremy will give you more on that when you talk to him. Uh… that's about all for me. That's all I can think of that you need to know right now. Any questions?"

Carlie thought for a moment. "I'll still be able to use my laptop and cell phone, right?" she asked, dreading the thought of what would happen if she couldn't keep in contact with her friends and family and if her family couldn't keep in contact with her.

"Oh, of course!" Jordan replied, hearing a sigh of relief from Carlie. "You can use them anytime except during concerts or sound checks. Yeah. That shouldn't be a problem."

Carlie smiled. "Awesome. And I'm allowed to use a small video camera?"

"Oh, yeah," Jordan said as if it were a stupid question. "There are going to be a bunch of cameras around there. Jeremy's tried more than once to do a sort of video diary, but it never works out. Just his luck." He grinned.

Carlie laughed. "Yeah, I guess. He's a busy guy, though. Anyway, I guess those are my only questions. Thank you for all the information."

"No problem," Jordan told her.

As soon as they said their goodbyes and Carlie hung up the phone, James walked back into the kitchen. "Got everything you need?" he asked.

"Yup." Carlie gestured to the table just as James noticed the paper.

He walked over to it. "Okay. So what's going on?" he asked rhetorically, putting his finger on the paper to find the information he needed and leaning, over it, cocking his head. "Eight months? Six Flags. Wow. Cool. Hey! You get to meet his family. Awesome. Wait a sec. Two weeks?" He frowned and looked up at Carlie, who had walked over and bit her lip at that. "Carl, that doesn't give us a whole lot of time for goodbyes or me taking you out on days in celebration of this. You're going to have to spend most of this time getting ready. Remember that party and day out that we talked about?"

"James, you know I hate that nickname," Carlie teased. In all actuality, when he said it, she loved it; and he knew it. "In all seriousness, though, I know. I'm sorry. I didn't choose the time. Don't worry. We'll still get to do that stuff. I promise. You help me get ready and it'll go quicker." She gave him a mischievous grin.

"I got your suitcase down! What more do you want me to do?" James whined, nevertheless following her upstairs to her room.

Carlie flung her closet doors open. "All right. I can't pack what I'm going to wear, because I'm going to need those clothes over the next two weeks, but I can at least pick out what I want to pack so that I can have them clean and ready when it comes time. I need you to tell me what I look good in."

James groaned and flopped down on her bed on his back, his feet still touching the floor. "Carlie, how many times do we have to go through this? You look good in anything you wear. I'm not the one to do this, and I hate it."

"You have good taste, whether you know or like it or not," Carlie replied matter-of-factly, taking out a shirt and holding it against her upper body. "What do you think? I like it, but I think I should go with something else."

James sighed and waved his hand absently in the air, not able to see her because of his position staring at the ceiling. "Fine. Yeah. Then go with something else."

Carlie put a hand on her hip, put on a stern but not angry face, and cocked her head, sighing to get James's attention.

James poked his head up and sighed before dropping it again and the pulling his entire body up and resting his elbows on his knees. "Okay." He looked at the shirt. "I don't think you should do that one. What about your camo one with the cross in the silver beads?"

Carlie made a face as she thought about it. "I don't think I look attractive in that, but everyone else seems to think so. I guess if you say it looks good, I'll take it."

"I think the whole point of this is to look like you're a Christian, not some attractive—"

"Don't even start," Carlie warned, an expression of calm anger on her face as she whirled toward him, the shirt that had started the short argument in her hand.

"All right," James replied, putting his hands up with his palms out in a gesture of surrender before pulling his legs up onto the bed to sit cross-legged. "What's next?"

The two went on like that for hours, going through shirts, jeans, pants, sweaters, jackets, tennis shoes, shorts, skirts, sandals, jewelry, hairstyles, and anything else that Carlie could think of. She knew that she could do all this later, but she was extremely excited. She knew she would be bored as it drew closer to the time she was supposed to leave, because she'll have had everything finished, but that didn't stop her.

The only thing that stopped her was when it was finally time for bed. She would need all the rest she could get in the next two weeks, because she knew when it came time for the tour, she wouldn't get much. She was used to it, but eight months was a rather long time to get only a couple hours of sleep every night. She had an overactive pineal gland, which simply meant that as soon as it was light, she woke up. She knew that there would be concerts late at night, it would take at least a few hours to pack up and/or meet-and-greet if they had any and then finally get back to the tour bus. By then, it would probably be early in the morning, and as soon as it hit light the next day or maybe even beforehand just because of the way her body and energy worked, she would be up with no chance of getting back to sleep.

As she went to bed that night, her mind was going through a mental checklist. All right. I'm not going to get much sleep, but everybody else probably will; so I'm going to need something to pass the time. I'm sure they'll have a T.V. I could bring my X-Box and some games, my gameboy, my walkman, my laptop…. Before she got even halfway through the list, she was asleep.