It is with great excitement I begin my journey with you as Mrs. North Dakota International 2011! I will start from the very beginning to share my story......
The decision to enter the world of pageantry was prompted by the “Marriage Mentoring Program” that Colin, my husband, and I became a part of last January. At that time, we had fallen victim to the “hurried family syndrome”. With busy schedules, obligations and financial stress from our international adoptions, our communication was suffering and so was our marriage. We needed help and support and through the guidance of Billie Sue Ellingson, Licensed Counselor, and her installation of the “Marriage Mentoring Program” partnered with The Family Life Weekend, we were presented with the tools and support to make our marriage flourish! The Marriage Mentorship Program works by matching a more mature married couple with a younger married couple. The intent is to meet together to grow, share, guide and support each other in the trials and joys of marriage. We have found, like many others who have participated in this program, that through each other’s experiences we have a life-line to our marriage and keys to success that impacts the future not only for our marriage but for our children.
Through our trials, I found that marriage tools are available, but a spokesperson to educate others about these opportunities is missing. Many couples simply chose to give up and divorce. I am called with a servant’s heart to this issue and as Mrs. North Dakota International, I am will share my journey with transparency and compassion.
After much contemplation and prayer, in August, my husband finally encouraged me to fill out the Mrs. North Dakota International application and participate in this experience. As a wife, mother and business owner it has been very easy for me to "lose myself" in the continuous care for others. I was excited to have a personal goal to push myself to be the best "me" I could be! This was not only a welcomed challenge, but I saw a tremendous opportunity for personal growth!
When I arrived at State Orientation Friday, I was greeted by 6 other married ladies who also had taken the crowning challenge! It was an incredibly empowering experience to be surrounded by such accomplished and genuine women. Each story that brought them to this endeavor was unique and inspiring to me. Several times throughout the weekend I was moved to tears as I saw them walk onto stage and rise higher and achieve a new level of confidence and belief in themselves! These spine-tingling moments were a highlight to this past weekend for me! What good is it to win a crown, if you are not winning at life? Winning at life is encouraging others with compassion and honesty, to impact each other in a positive way that we may use it to step higher and succeed. I was witness to those "soaring moments" for these ladies and that brings me great JOY! I wish every woman would open themselves to experience that achievement!
The crowning moment was a whirlwind of emotions for me. I was filled with deep gratitude for all my family and friends who encouraged me to rise higher and believe in myself. Their "stairway of positivity" is what made it possible for me to climb to be the best "Shelle". It is truly humbling to be chosen to represent North Dakota married women! I look forward to continued growth and sharing inspiring moments as we journey together through this year!
Mrs. ND 2011 with Mrs. ND 2010
All for Him <><
Shelle M., Mrs. North Dakota International 2011
Photos by Paula Preston ~ www.paulapreston.com