Thursday, February 27, 2014

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

In December I won a pageant.  It was very fun, and I worked very hard to get it.  There were a lot of things I had to do to get ready.  I practiced my speech and my interview skills.  I got new clothes and shoes.  I hired a coach and practiced and practiced walking, and standing, and walking some more.  I lost weight and whitened my teeth.  I had to make by body look as good as I could.  I wanted to win. I even took a picture out of a magazine and put it where I would see it every day.  It is of the woman who just won Miss America.  Her stomach muscles where amazing.  I thought if she won, that is what I needed to look like to win.  The girl in the picture looked like I thought I wanted to look.  She had toned arms, she was skinny and she had beautiful hair.  I kept this picture to supposedly help me achieve my goal – I wanted to look like this Miss America.  But I realized that this was only negative.  I was coveting what someone else had.  I was coveting Miss America.  Trying to become her.  Instead of trying to copy someone else, I needed to be the best me that I could be.  The problem with comparing ourselves to other people (especially people in magazines) is that often these images aren’t even realistic.

How about you?  Have you ever found yourself comparing yourself to someone else?  Have you ever felt hopeless because you woke up and your nose was covered with zits?  Have you ever just flung yourself on your bed and laid there wondering if the world would even know if you were gone?  Have you ever completely avoided looking in the mirror because it made you feel so bad?  Comparing ourselves to other people is never going to make us feel better.

Since we have all been little girls, the quest to be beautiful has bombarded us at every turn.  From children’s stories such as Cinderella, to the Barbie doll we played with, we are told that physical beauty must be our priority.  Now that you’re older, you are under even more pressure to be beautiful.  TV, movies and music tell you that if you want to be beautiful you have to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and have a certain type of body.

We’ve all looked in the mirror only to see a face that didn’t measure up to the current standards of beauty and we’ve all ended up feeling discouraged, but we cannot let the tiny flaws that we see in ourselves rule our lives.

What we see on the TV and magazines is an unrealistic expectation of what a beautiful human body is supposed to look like.  Did you know that the average model weighs 23% less than everyone else?  We can’t even hope to compare to who the world says we should be.  But I have good news…

The God who slung the stars across the heaven… that God, the King, has always been in love with you.  He created you. You are perfect.  He thinks you’re beautiful.  Cinderella’s glass slipper fits, the music is playing and He’s asking you to dance.

The Bible is way ahead of us in showing the beauty myth for what it is.  God knows what He thinks a beautiful woman should look like.  I know that God is always right, so I want to believe what He believes about beauty.  I want to believe what He believes about me!

1 Samuel 16:7         But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The Bible is not saying that the outer appearance doesn’t matter.  Its saying don’t let it define you.  Don’t let it stress you out.  Don’t make beauty your most important priority; and never let it replace the more important parts of your life.  Outer beauty is nothing more than packaging unless your inner content is good.  God is saying our outside beauty doesn’t matter unless our inside beauty is what really shines.

Have you ever met a girl who just looked so cool, but then she turned out to be a snob?  Did you notice how her beauty faded once you got to know who she was on the inside? Of course maybe you’ve also known that girl who at first glance doesn’t seem beautiful, but the more you are around her the more fabulous she looks to you.  That’s internal beauty you’re seeing.  Beauty that shines from the inside, is what makes us truly beautiful.  I think we could call it fashion for our hearts.

We are called by God to wear things on our insides too.  Here are some verses that tell us what God wants me to put on.

Proverbs 31:25       “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

          Ephesians 6:13-17   “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breast plate of righteousness in place.  And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”

          1 Timothy 2:9-10    “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold pearls or expensive cloths, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

          1 Peter 3:3-4     “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine cloths.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quite spirit.”

None of us can fake inner beauty, inner beauty is the way a women looks, feels, thinks, and acts.  It is the way God wants women, women like you, like me to look, feel, think, and act.   

The more we live our life for God, the more beautiful we become on the inside.   The only way to get the beauty God wants us to have, is to spend time with Him.  I have something for you to think about tonight. Yesterday, approximately how many minutes did you spend on your appearance (Outer Beauty)?  Approximately how many minutes did you spend on you relationship with God (Inner Beauty)?

I can honestly tell you that yesterday, I didn’t spend enough time with God.  I need more of Him and less of me.  When I won the title of Mrs. North Dakota International 2014, I committed the year to God.  I want to make every minute of this year count, by being the beautiful woman on the inside that God has created me to be.  I want my inner beauty to shine with God’s light.  I am called to let my “light so shine before men, that they will see my good works and give glory to my Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:17

I am not going to lie to you, I want to be beautiful on the outside too.  Right now as Mrs. ND International, it is my job to look as beautiful on the outside as I can.  I am working hard on my appearance.  I want to be able to win the next title in July.  But as I am working on my outside body, I am going to work on my inside too.  I can’t expect to lose any weight, until I’ve lost myself in Jesus.

So there you have it… that’s all there is to it.  I am ready to lose myself in Jesus, come lose yourself with me.  Together we are becoming beautiful women of God.


Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

American Heart Association “Tour”

The International Pageant system has such a great alliance with the American Heart Association to build healthier lives. This alliance is a perfect fit for me. I became a dietitian because I have always been so passionate about health and wellness. Due to my background in nutrition and as a health professional, I was given the opportunity to present a series on heart disease prevention with a local survivor. One of my favorite messages has been “it is never too late, or too early, to take care of your heart.”

The fabulous Joan Enderle, who is a communications director for the American Heart Association, couldn’t have found a more perfect team when she paired me with the amazing Jana Tronier! Jana is quickly becoming quite the celebrity in Fargo. She has such a desire to tell her story around town that after a feature on Jessie and Amanda with Pike in the morning’s radio show on 98.7 for National Wear Red Day, she was asked to be a guest host for a week on their show! One of our presentations together was even featured on the local Fox evening news!

Jana and I have been “on tour” together presenting at Edgewood Vista, Bethany Retirement Living, and Sheyenne Crossings. Jana’s passion for heart disease prevention is so moving. When we present together, she is so open about telling her survivor story in such vivid detail that you can feel her struggle. She is moved to tears herself every time she describes the pain she felt until she was ultimately diagnosed with heart disease. Now her passion is to help other women to understand their risk and the seriousness of heart disease. While the American Heart Association has had a huge impact on awareness and prevention, there is still one woman that dies every 90 seconds from heart disease. As Jana always says, “This is serious. It isn’t just a man’s disease.”

I encourage you to be involved with the American Heart Association and check for more information. They offer a great Heart Checkup at where you can check your personal risk for heart disease. If you don’t know the answers to some of the questions that ask for specific numbers, that’s OK! That means it is a great reason to check in with your doctor and find the answers together. After you have finished assessing your risk and learning about prevention, make sure you share what you know with everyone you love! One last fun video Jana and I always share during presentations and with our friends and family is at Trust me, it’s a really fun video that the women in your life will appreciate!

We make a good team J  
Meg Pulkrabek
Miss North Dakota International 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fantastic February

February has been a ball…Seriously, I started out the month with a Ball.  On February 1st, my sister Queens and I got to be volunteers at the North Dakota Heart Ball.  The day started off with a hair and make-up appointment.  Cindy Mauritson, at Blonde Ambition, made me look beautiful.  Thank you Cindy, for being this Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.  When we arrived at the Holiday Inn to finish preparations we were greeted by the fabulous Joan Enderle, from the American Heart Association.  We have decided that she is now an honorary sister queen.  Madison, Meg, and I were able to spend the next 5 hours greeting people and helping in any way we could.  My favorite job of the night was modeling the items for the live auction.  I was able to model a fox and beaver fur coat.  My husband surprised me by making sure he was the winning bidder.  He said he just couldn’t resist.

After, the ball on Saturday Night, I got a bit of a break until Tuesday morning, when I was invited to the morning employee meeting at our local Macy’s.  I was able to tell them all about heart health and how much Macy’s has been a part of the fight for women’s heart health.  Thank you Macy’s for helping educate America.

Thursday morning was bright and early for Madison and I, we were back at Macy’s by 5:10 IN THE MORNING.  Uff Dah!  We were going to be on live tv.  KVLY has a local early morning show and they were spotlighting all that Macy’s has done for the community.  As soon as our TV spot was finished, we were off to the radio station, BIG 98.7.  We were able to spend their entire time on air (6-9) as the live audience on their show.  I’ve decided I like radio better, they served breakfast of Sweeto Burritos and fresh fruit.   Yummy!  The best part of Thursday’s appearances was Madison.  Her sweet spirit and easy smile are the perfect way to start the day.

My favorite appearance of all was visiting the Veteran’s Hospital on the 12th.  Madison and I didn’t do anything grand and there were no cameras, but I left filled with awe and joy.  For almost two hours we were able just to hold hands, and listen to the stories of our heroes.  It was an honor to be there.  I am hoping that we will be invited back.  I need to learn more from these brave men.
So there you have it… that’s a bit about my Fantastic February.  I am ready to walk this year with my family and you.  Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Today I am on my way to Shell, Ecuador! I have been preparing for this trip since September and it is FINALLY here. I can’t even explain how excited I am! There are 26 college students from Concordia going, as well as myself and a friend of mine. In other words, there are over 30 people including our leaders heading down to South America to serve The Lord and the people of Ecuador. While we are there we will be spending a lot of time at La Casa De Fe, an orphanage in Shell, Ecuador. We will be holding bible studies with the kids, playing with them, and doing manual labor to better the orphanage. We will also be doing many other things while we are down there for 10 days outside of the orphanage as well. While I am there I am going to devote every minute I have to serving the Ecuadorians and bettering my relationship with our Savior. Often times I am distracted by social media and activities going on in my everyday life which takes away precious moments I have to serve The One who deserves it. Because there is very few resources for communication while in Ecuador, I will be able to focus on doing just that.

I can’t wait to share with all of you the things I experience when I get back. Prayers are always appreciated as I go on one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson
Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

VA Hospital Appearance

This past week, I was fortunate enough to go around and personally thank each Veteran at the VA Hospital for all they have done. This was such an eye opening experience for me. I saw people between the ages of 40-94, with different illnesses and disabilities ranging from cancer, to having no legs or the inability to talk. These men and woman fought for you and I. They fought for the rights we are given today and the freedom we are blessed with. When thanking these people for what they have done, I got the same response every time, it being, “It was my pleasure.” I still cannot get over the humble people I met yesterday morning. Each of them had a smile on their face, no matter what condition they were in. Getting to sit down and hear these men and women’s stories is a memory I will cherish for a lifetime.

Thank you to all who have served or are currently serving. God Bless.

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson
Miss Teen North Dakota 2014

Tips to Stay Motivated

When I decided to compete for Miss North Dakota International 2014, I knew that I would need some encouragement. I watched emotional YouTube videos (like Susan Boyle's audition and soldiers coming home from war), and I had certain songs on my iPod that always made me feel like I was a champion no matter what. I also collected quotes that motivated and inspired me. I wanted to make sure that I prepared a stable base to fall back on if I felt like I was down so I could quickly get back up. I would read these quotes when I had a tough work out, felt burnt out, or just wasn't having a good day. I wanted to share some of the sayings I used during competition weekend with you in hopes that maybe something will become your mantra when you need a pick-me-up!

God has three answers to our prayers:
1)   Yes     
2)   Not yet
3)   I have something better in mind

If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.

No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch.

When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.

Dreams don’t work unless YOU do. 

I am enough.

Nothing worth having comes easy.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

I can only control me.

The quote that has become my philosophy is "we don't train to be the best for one day. We train to be the best on our worst day."
 Even when we've been overwhelmed and things aren't coming together how we want, the challenge is to still be the best that you are even in that low moment. I would challenge myself to learn my 30-second platform speech by repeating it outloud over and over at the end of my workouts when I was the most exhausted. I would practice my posture while driving on long car rides. I would even practice my walking routines after going up three flights of stairs and down the hallway to my apartment door (so glad no one ever saw me!). I thought that if I could do it when it wasn't the optimal time, then I would be prepared when it was. Keep finding opportunities to challenge yourself, but remember to stay motivated while you do!

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

North Dakota Nice

 I am blessed with many opportunities to travel. When meeting new people who are half way across our nation, the first question that is always asked is, “Where are you from”. Proudly beaming, I say the great state of North Dakota. Some laugh because they didn’t think it was a real state, some question if I am an eskimo, and others reply with saying, “I could tell”.

I am so proud when people reply with “I could tell”. North Dakotans are known for being “North Dakota nice” and being recognized for this is such an honor. This day in age, showing kindness and respect is so hard to come by. But not where I’m from. I can go to the mall and have someone wait an extra few seconds in the bitter cold to hold the door for me, I can go for coffee and start a conversation with a complete stranger, and so much more.

I love my state for many reasons, but the main reason I love it is for the North Dakota nice we are known for. I hope that what we are known for is never changed. Although I laugh with people when they question the existence of my state, I can’t help but smile and say thank you when they reply with noticing my North Dakota nice.

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson

Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014 

Reflection as a North Dakota Resident

There was a time when I was in elementary school and I always thought about how cool it would be to be from a different state. Being from Mandan, North Dakota, I felt like I must be invisible compared to big places like California or Texas. Then an adult told me how great it is to be unique and what an advantage I had as a North Dakota resident. I remember having to think about that for a while, and now I definitely agree. I stand out on national applications. I appreciate that I can look up at night and see every star in the sky. And, I am one of about 700,000 people that lives in these 70,000 square miles of hills, valleys, and plains. Now I am pretty thankful I am from such a dynamic state!  

Most people that have never been to North Dakota are instantly curious. There have been a few times I have been on a vacation and other tourists have had a lot of questions about North Dakota. For some reason, a lot of people don’t know that we have modern technology around here. My responses are typically something along the lines of “well no, I didn’t need to ride my covered wagon to get here.” Or “Actually, I have used electricity before!” Or “Yes, there is plumbing where I live.” My TV comes in color, I don’t do my homework by candlelight, and I didn’t even ride my buffalo to school today (but I think that could be more fun!).

If it isn’t an immediate Oregon Trail style reference, a lot of people will comment on our weather. I have to say that while it is cold, I get a real sense of pride knowing that I have lived here during some intense weather. It makes me feel pretty tough when I can say that I know how to handle extremes. I can jump my car battery, drive in a white-out blizzard, and make a sandbag for a flood like nobody’s business! Some of my favorite activities including camping, fishing, and skiing I have all learned in North Dakota. It’s been a pretty happy 25 years of living here!

I have noticed North Dakota is popping up quite a bit more in national news lately, which is so exciting to me! We had ESPN Game Day on NDSU campus and we all felt like celebrities! There have been a few articles recently published about our staggering economic boom in Forbes and The New York Times. It’s exciting to feel like everyone is really starting to take notice! a list of really fun facts about North Dakota, so I understand everyone’s new curiosity.

My favorite on this viral list I have seen of “You know you’re from North Dakota when…” is “You drive to town during a blizzard just to see if the weatherman knows what he's talking about.” I have definitely made sure the weather is actually “that bad” a few times! To me, it’s all part of what makes living in North Dakota such an adventure :) 

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014