Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Featured Newspaper Article

Miss Teen North Dakota International 2012 was featured in the She Says section of a local newspaper regarding her platform.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Princess Sparkle & The Waterslide

This past week has been great! I have been busy preparing for nationals and my sister’s wedding! I have also been in contact with the National ALS Association this week, and they have posted the video of my mom on their facebook page and tweeted about it! So many people have watched it and made comments about it. It really makes me proud knowing that I am helping to inspire people and giving hope and faith to them. I am also helping the National ALS Association spread awareness about the ALS Registry. This is something that is fairly new, and we need everyone with ALS to register under it. The ALS Registry asks individuals with ALS certain questions about themselves and the information is compiled together so that researchers are able to find common risk factors that people with ALS have in common. It is so important because this will give us some answers to our questions of what are risk factors for ALS. I will be working more on spreading awareness about the ALS Registry coming up so I will keep you posted.

This week I also got to go to Hankinson, North Dakota and read Princess Sparkle and The Waterslide to the summer reading program. The kids were so much fun, and I had such a blast speaking with them and signing autograph cards. I even explained to them a little bit about my platform and what I have been doing since I was crowned. I hope that I inspired some of them, because I was inspired when I was younger. I was so blessed to be a guest at their program!

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles” –Audrey Hepburn

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Information Overload!!

So I apologize for being MIA for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been pretty busy with family, college orientation, and pageant preparations; leading me to start this blog around the last week of June.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at a couple of the driver’s education classes. While I was in the classroom I spoke mainly about the consequences of bad decisions. I shared Jared’s story in hopes to, at the least, get through to that little voice in the back of their heads. My reasoning for this being, that while I was at the front of the classroom I came to the realization it is a lot harder to get through to the age group I am focusing most on protecting. All I could see in their eager little faces, was someone standing in the way of them and their license. While this realization saddened me, it also made sense, because the cut and dry truth is the Graduated Driver’s License program does prolong the licensing process. In a way I am adding road blocks (clichĂ©) on their quest to freedom. HOWEVER, what I seem to be struggling to get through, is that these kids have the rest of their lives to drive. They have the rest of their lives to be held responsible for not only themselves, but others, and while the GDL may be pushing the time limit back a ways, the reasoning isn’t to suppress their freedom, it is to make sure they approach this freedom armed with every possible precaution. Slowly but surely they’ll go through real life scenarios, in which they’ll gain the experience needed to make them a better driver, however this process takes time. Unfortunately this is the last thing they want to hear. However, along with every other life lesson, they may thank you parents later for implementing these rules. I know that’s how I feel today.

While I was learning to drive North Dakota didn’t have a GDL in place. This didn’t stop my parents from implementing our own ‘home-made’ one. After I got my permit my parents required me to drive for an entire year, on all different types of terrain (snow, gravel, rain) to better prepare me for all the different seasons. Once I acquired my actual driver’s license, more rules were put in place. We sat down and discussed a contract. During the first 12 months I had my license I was expected to have the car parked in the garage by 10:00 at night. I wasn’t allowed to carry ANY passengers; this included my two younger brothers. And they also stressed the importance of limiting all distractions; aka cell phone and radio. If I were to break any of these agreements, my driving privileges would be taken away. While many times I struggled with some of the rules they had in place, mainly because my friends didn’t have these rules, I knew in the back of my mind their reason. I don’t like to say it was because of Jared, because it wasn’t. However unfortunately his accident had a catastrophic impact on how my family viewed teen drivers. Every precaution was taken to protect us.

After my appearances at the driver’s Ed classes my next stop was sunny California. My aunt and uncle were gracious enough to allow me and three friends to stay with them for a week. It was really nice getting away from work for a while; however my favorite part was spending lots of quality time with my family. I got to see my cousin Jordan along with his wife Shauna and their three kiddos. I was able to spend some time with my cousin Austin, my aunt Debbie and my uncle Lee. Cousin Brittney is in Africa so I wasn’t able to see herL but I was able to skype with her while I was there. We did quite a few things while we were in California; we had a bonfire on the beach, hiked Bishop’s Peak, spent a couple days at Avila Beach, watched fireworks over a winery on the 4th, and spent our days relaxing by the pool. Aside from all of those activities I was able to talk quite a bit about the pageant with my aunt and uncle, more specifically about Jared. My uncle took me to a couple of pretty special places. Not only was I able to see the flag pole at the local baseball field dedicated to Jared, Lee also drove me along the road where the accident happened. While both of those locations stirred up quite a mix of emotions I think the hardest part was visiting Jared’s grave. It wasn’t the first time I’d been there, however it’s been three years since my last visit and a lot has happened since then; the pageant, graduation, and just the simple reality of growing up. It’s hard for me to describe in words the emotions I experienced, and a part of me doesn’t want to. It feels too personal. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to visit while I was there.

It was a sad goodbye however it won’t be for long because Auntie Debbie will be joining me and the rest of my family in Chicago! I can’t even begin to describe my excitement! But I will save that for a later blog. Stay tunedJ

Until then,

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Reason I Do What I Do

Summer has been amazing so far, but it has been going by too fast! I have been busy working nights and preparing for nationals. I attended our local ALS support group meeting in June and met some new people. I got to listen to their ALS story and hear about the hardships that they are experiencing in everyday life. I also attended the Fargo-Morehead Walk to Defeat ALS kickoff event. There was a small group this year, but we are all so excited to walk in August. When I attend ALS events, it gives me more and more drive to continue to raise funds and spread awareness about ALS. I know that I alone cannot raise enough money to find a cure for ALS, and that is why it is so important that we all come together to raise awareness and funds for ALS.   

I finally got to head home for a few days and spend time with my mom who I have missed so much! I talk to her every couple days on the phone, but it was great to finally spend quality time with her. She is the reason why I am doing everything that I am. I push myself harder every day because I know that I am helping her. About a month ago, I surprised my mom with a video that I made of her life that tells her story. She had absolutely no idea that I had been working on it for a couple months, and it was so amazing to see her reaction as I played the short movie for her. I have wanted to get it uploaded online, and recently my cousin was able to do that for me! Below I have posted the link where you can watch it. The video is very important to my family, and especially my mom and me because it tells her story and I am able to share it with others. I hope you enjoy it!

My advice this week is to remember to treat yourself. I know for me, I forget to take a break sometimes and just do something for me. I tend to get caught up helping others, which I absolutely love, but sometimes I really forget about myself. I know that it is okay to relax once in a while, go buy a gift for yourself or treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, massage, or whatever it may be that helps you relax and reminds you of just how amazing and deserving you are!



Love always,
Miss North Dakota International
Erica Lemna

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mission Jamaica 2012

Gratifying, eye opening, inspiring, beautiful, life changing, amazing, rewarding. These are just some of the adjectives the students used to describe our mission trip to Jamaica. Typically when one returns from a family vacation, honeymoon, or trip with a friend, people ask “How was it?!” As hard as we try, it is typically difficult to express clearly because only the people you experience the trip with really know how wonderful it was. Our Jamaica trip was a great example of this challenge. This trip was more than just a vacation, it had a purpose. A purpose to pour out God’s love by serving others in a selfless, humble, compassionate way. Considering the group entailed over 80 youth and leaders that by the end of the adventure, adjectives such as those mentioned above dominated the conversations, it was clear that finding that perfect definition of our mission trip would be difficult.

The day we all arrived home, students were already posting pictures and comments on Facebook. The one status that stood out to me, because it was so powerful, was written by one of our high school students Hannah Reis. I asked her permission to include this message in my blog because I couldn’t have captured the meaning of Mission Jamaica 2012 any better. She wrote:
  “I have forever been changed by the Jamaican people. They have taught me that in all the bad times I have, I will still have something to smile about, and my situation is not worth any fuss or frustration. Next time somebody uses all the hot water, I’ll think about them having no running water at all. Next time I don’t have enough money to go out to eat with friends, I’ll think about them not having enough money to eat for the day. Next time I complain about the heat, I’ll think about them not having air conditioning to go home to. Even though some of them lack the money, resources, and technology we have, they have excessive amounts of love and acceptance, happiness and kindness, understanding and a deep desire to please, and through it all, they praise God for everything they do have, even if it is very little. Those are things we are missing and forget in our lives and I was taught through the Grace of God and the Jamaican people, how to bring them back into mine. I would like to thank the Jamaican people from the bottom of my heart for teaching me things about life I would not have been able to discover on my own.”

I think it is a fair statement to say that once you arrive home and are back to reality, it is then that you recognize the impact that has been made on yourself (by Jamaicans) and how that far outweighs the impact you may have left on others. We have heard it over and over how blessed we are to live where we do, own the things that we have, but there continue to be so many things to complain about. A powerful mission trip can absolutely put your small worries to rest in a second. This trip impacted many of us in different ways. For me, it was the TOMS Shoes we personally delivered.

This year, Hope Lutheran’s 6-9th grade confirmation classes raised enough money to purchase over 150 shoes, which is actually doubled because TOMS Shoes is a One for One movement. With every pair that is purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. The 87 students and leaders packed the 150 pair of shoes into our suitcases to distribute them to the children of Jamaica. We delivered shoes to the Clifton Boys’ Home, the West Haven Children’s Home for the disabled and the Robin’s Nest Children’s home. It was such an inspiration to place a brand new pair of shoes on these children’s feet, knowing that some of them did not wear shoes prior to walking around outside, playing sports, or completing chores. The images in my mind of these children in their new shoes juggling a soccer ball, playing basketball, racing our students down the road, all the while wearing a beautiful smile on their face will forever be remembered.

It can take such a small sacrifice to make such a huge impact on someone else’s life. Yes, the shoes will not fit forever, but taking a step out of your world and putting God’s love into action will last a lifetime.   

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - The Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie’s favorite quote by Gandhi.

-Ashley Voigt