Monday, July 11, 2011

The Lord works in mysterious ways...

My journey towards obtaining the title of Miss Alabama began quite a while ago, 8 years to be exact.  I was a sophomore at Clay-Chakville High School, who just so happened to have a bit of curiosity about the Miss Alabama Organization.  Clay-Chalkville was then, and remains to be, the only high school pageant which is also a preliminary to the Miss Alabama Pageant.  Considering the amount of scholarship money this organization provides to young women who have aspirations of going to college, I decided to participate.  As an underclassman, of course I couldn't win the title of Miss Clay-Chalkville.  However, I could gain some very beneficial experience in the areas of interview, swimsuit, talent, evening gown, and on-stage question that would allow me to excel at a later time. My senior year I was lucky enough to be crowned Miss Clay-Chalkville 2005.  My first trip to Miss Alabama was one that I will never forget.  I was a baby among women, as I recall.  The girls with whom I competed were very gracious and encouraging to not only me, but the other competitors.  I knew there was something about this organization that was different, and quite honestly infectious.  I think I speak for each girl when I say the support each and every contestant receives is what keeps each girl coming back for more year after year.

After my first trip to Miss Alabama, and many scholarship dollars later, I knew that I wanted to go back. I liked the way it felt to know that I was making a difference in others lives through my involvement with my platform.  I enjoyed getting to better myself by going through interviews and on-stage question competitions to solidify the fact that we were all well-rounded women.  It is one of those things that once it gets in your system, you want a greater involvement in such a wonderful organization.

I have been able to compete at Miss Alabama representing many areas from across this wonderful state: Miss Clay-Chalkville, Miss Talladega County, Miss Smiths Station, Miss Chattahoochee Valley, Miss Painted Rock, and Miss Leeds Area.  Each title deemed itself equally beneficial and extremely worthwhile.  I am so thankful that I have been able to serve and offer myself to so many wonderful communities of Alabama. Each title I have held has molded me into the woman that I am today.  I would not have been able to achieve my dream of becoming Miss Alabama had it not been for each and every director and committee member that I had the pleasure of working with. I will forever be in debt to these individuals.

On June 3rd, I moved into Samford University for the last week of my Miss Alabama career.  This year was my last eligible year of competing for the title of Miss Alabama.  There were many emotions throughout the week.  It had been something that I had worked towards for so long and I hated to think that it was coming to an end.  There had been so many wonderful opportunities that had been given to me due to my involvement with the Miss Alabama Pageant and it wasn't something that I was ready to give up.  Nonetheless, I began the week with such gratitude that I had just one more opportunity to be at "Summer Camp" (as some of us call it) with all of my girlfriends. The week ran smoothly filled with some of the most talented, beautiful, and intelligent individuals to ever grace the stage of Samford University's Wright Center.  I know that my experience this year at Miss Alabama would not have been the same without each and every girl who participated.  It was one of the best groups that I can remember being involved with in quite some time.  For that, I am truly grateful.

On June 11, my life was forever changed.  Saturday night of pageant week is always one that is full of surprises and excitement for all.  My only hope was to be able to trust that the Lord's will was going to prevail, and whomever was supposed to win would.....  I had no idea that person would be me.  Once my name was called, a flood of emotions hit me.  I was overjoyed that I had finally achieved my utmost goal that I had been striving towards for so long.  I considered myself blessed to have been able to win the scholarship money that was going to allow me to further my education.  I felt empowered to know that I was going to be able to represent such a magnificent state of people for an entire calendar year.  On the other hand, there were other types of emotions.  My mom, whom I was extremely close with, was not there to see my crowning moment.  This was something we both had dreamed about for many, many years.  She was the one who convinced me to begin competing;  she was the one who helped me form my platform;  she was the one who was always the first to encourage me to press on and keep trying;  she was the one who would give me the nudge I needed to gain success in any endeavor I was embarking upon.  It is safe to say that she was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. Losing her to her battle with cancer has been and will forever be the hardest thing that I will ever face.  The encouragement and support of so many is the only reason why I am able to continue on a daily basis. She taught me so much about a life of service and hard-work.  I can only hope that I can leave a legacy one-sixteenth as rich as she did.  I know she would be so proud of me and grateful to those who helped me prepare for Miss Alabama this year.  Those thoughts were running through my mind when kneeling down for the crown to be placed upon my head.  It was a bittersweet moment that will remain with me forevermore.

My journey as Miss Alabama 2011 has been a jam-packed sprint since day one.  It has been my honor to attend various media appearances to promote the Miss Alabama and Miss America Organizations.  I am happy to educate the public of the importance of these organizations and their relevance within the lives of so many.  I have been able to meet with various sponsors who have given their time and efforts willingly for so many years.  The Miss Alabama Pageant would not be able to succeed to such heights without the help of our wonderful and generous sponsors.  Mrs. Ann Northington has helped me find a wardrobe that would capitalize on her talents and knowledge of the fashion industry.  It is my joy to wear her beautiful garments at various speaking engagements and preliminary pageants.  Mr. Tip Shumaker at One to One Fitness, along with Beau and Reed, have helped me keep a balance in my life by working out every other day.  They are not only a physical release for me, but also a team of encouragement whom I have grown to appreciate fondly.

I have been able to attend a Liberty Day celebration in Columbiana, AL.  This was a  unique experience for me which included a delicious meal, meeting and signing autographs for the delightful citizens of Shelby County, and riding in the traditional Liberty Day Parade through downtown Columbiana.  There is something to be said about a small town with a large heart, and this description fits Columbiana perfectly.  I was honored to speak to the contestants of the Miss Peanut Festival pageants.  We had a very dignified tea party at the Shorter Mansion in Eufala, AL.  These girls were so gracious and wonderful to spend time with.  They were extremely poised and so well put together. I have high hopes for the young women whom I met in Eufala.  They will absolutely be successful in their individual lives due to their dedication and hard work.    Of course, a big responsibility and pleasure of the job description of Miss Alabama is to emcee various preliminary pageants.  It was my joy and honor to be able to go back to  the Miss Leeds Area and crown my successor as my first official act of duty.  Miss Leeds Area was my title that I competed with before becoming Miss Alabama, so it is extremely important to me.  Leeds was my home away from home, and I was so incredibly close with the committee.  They will forever have a soft spot in my heart and I couldn't have made it through the year without all of them.  I am eternally grateful to the Miss Leeds Area Committee for upholding me through such a troubling time for myself and family.  Another gig was at Miss Point Mallard in Decatur, AL.  I had never been to this particular pageant and was blown away by the participation and support from the Decatur community.  I would venture to say that there were 8,000 to 10,000 audience members watching.  The outdoor venue was very refreshing and exciting to be a part of.  What pageant on the 4th of July would be complete without a state-of-the-art firework display? Miss Point Mallard was very well-run and incredibly entertaining for all who were involved.  Another preliminary which I have had the opportunity to emcee is Miss Talladega County. This pageant holds a very dear place in my heart, seeing that I am a former miss Talladega County.  It is always nice to go back to Sylacauga for any appearance.  The community is very welcoming to anybody and everybody, and this event was nothing different.  There were very qualified girls in each of these pageants, and I know that I couldn't possibly pick a winner if I had to.  The dedication of these girls is truly remarkable and something to be noted. 

I am so honored to be able to be called Miss Alabama 2011.  This job comes with many responsibilities, as well as many opportunities that I will never be able to get back at the conclusion of this year.  I am very appreciative of the Miss Alabama Board members who keep me on my toes and keep me motivated to do my best.  This journey has been an unbelievable one thus far, and I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds.

Last night I was reading in my devotion called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young when I stumbled upon these two quotations that have truly helped me along this journey thus far:  
"Pray about everything; then leave outcomes up to me.  Do not fear My will, for through it I acconplish what is best for you."
"You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust in my control."

I am so honored to know that the Lord trusts me with such a responsibility as Miss Alabama.  I may not be perfect, and I may not have all the answers, but I KNOW that with His help I am going to be the best Miss Alabama that I can possibly be.  God Bless!

Isaiah 40:31