Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sign My Shirt!

I don’t know that I will ever be able to identify myself as a runner. In my heart, I will always be a swimmer. I competed as a competitive swimmer from the time I was 8 years old all the way into college. And if you have ever known a swimmer, you probably don’t remember them for their running skills. A zero-gravity sport was best for me. My dad used to worry about me being able to be physically active as a kid due to my lack of coordination. I couldn’t catch a ball, throw a ball, kick a ball, or run, so my options became limited pretty quickly.

Well now, I have tried to embrace my potential as a runner. In the past year, I have competed in the Harvest Festival Fun Run 5k, Mudman 5k, Iceman 5k, and now I will be running the GoFar Challenge in the Fargo Marathon! This includes a 5k followed by a 10k the next day.

The night before I compete in my first ever 10k, I will be running a 5k for “Ethiopia Reads.” There is an amazing group of 60 elementary students here in Fargo that have been working together to change the lives of other kids halfway across the world. The students have been learning about Ethiopia and have noticed that the children do not have the same access to reading and books that they do. So they came up with a goal to furnish an entire library of books for other kids their age! I am honored to have the opportunity to run with these kids! (Well… maybe more trying to keep up with these kids, they have been training for this all winter!)

So here is where you come in! I would LOVE to have your giant signature featured on my shirt that I will wear during the Fargo 5k. I am charging $1 per signature (but you can certainly donate more!) and your donation will go straight to help Ethiopia Reads. I am so excited to fill this shirt with signatures! The race is May 9th, so you need to contact me fast to get the best spot on my shirt where you want to sign!

Visit to learn more about the project! Watch for more upcoming stories about this cause in the Fargo Forum soon. And let me know if you want to run for Ethiopia Reads too and get your very own shirt and a great reason for running ;)

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD

Miss North Dakota International 2014 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three things I have learned though my Journey as a Foster/Adopt Mom

Three and a half years ago my husband and I stood at the beginning of a great adventure that we didn’t plan and didn’t expect.  We knew only one thing…that God had called us to be foster parents.

In August of 2010 we got our license in the mail on a Tuesday afternoon and the very next morning we got a call:
          Hello.  Can you take a 3 ½ year old boy placement? Oh and by-the-way he will be separated from his brother if you don’t take them both.

Of course we took them both!

My son and I have been talking lately about the first time we met.  He remembers that my van was blue and that my hands were cold and that he was very scared.  Well, I was terrified too.  He and I, we don’t like change very much and our lives were about to be turned upside down.

Twenty months later three beautiful brown-eyed children officially joined with our three blue-eyed children and we became a family of eight.

Adoption has taught me so many lessons, but I am going to share three with you today, one for each of my adopted children.

1-    The first lesson is this:  Stay in the moment!

I know I have today.  Instead of worrying about the future and the what-if’s; or the past and the way I blew it.  I need to stay here in this moment and make this moment count.

As a foster parent you aren’t promised tomorrow.  You never know how long “this” is what your family is going to look like.  Loving a child unreservedly as your own, while knowing that at anytime they could be reconciled with their birth parent is like wearing your heart outside your body.  The only way to look forward is to not think about the end, but about today!  The moment that I do have, this could be my last chance I get to change this life.  I had better use it to God’s glory.

As we moved into an adoptive parent it has been just as important for me to stay in the moment.  Parenting is hard.  I can worry about so much:  did I discipline right, make the right decision about this or that.  How can I be all that they need when they need so much?    The solution…Staying in the moment, trusting that at this time God will make-up for all I’m not, as a parent with all that He is.  Doing the best I can right here, right now.

2-     Lesson two is this:  Adoption is bigger than one child. (Or in my case three). 

Foster care and adoption is the intersection of countless other lives:  birth mothers and fathers, caseworkers, counselors, doctors, teachers, grandparents, siblings, attorneys all combine to form one big network of lives forever impacting each other.

When we started foster care, my biggest hesitation about becoming a foster parent was “the system”.  That same network of people I came to depend on.  I came to realize that “those people” – You out there who fought for my children and fight for all of these.  You love our kids.  Caring for them and their birth families and their foster families - that’s not just a job for you.  You are wearing your hearts outside your bodies too.

As we transitioned into an adoptive family, I realized that I was asking everyone around me to adopt too.  My parents would get more grandchildren.  My sister would get new nephews and a niece, my friends had to want to invite over six kids now.  We became a lot to handle. 

New relationships and rules had to be established with my children’s birth family.  We are blessed to have settled into such a good place.  We not only gained three kids, but a set of grandparents, a pair of great-grandparents, and a couple of awesome Aunts, Uncles, and cousins.

My kids have a wide circle of people caring for them and loving on them.  Adoption is bigger than just the one or two children we are adopting.

3-     My third lesson is this – I’m really not as selfless as I need to be.

I was married, I had three kids, I thought I had this selfless thing down.  Nope!  I was wrong.  God showed me that I was holding really tightly to my things.  I liked my clean house.  I liked having all the laundry done. 

Adding three children to my family changed me.  I am not the same women who kept her living room clean by just not allowing anyone to go in it.  I have learned to peel open my grip on stuff.  I can focus on others.  Now my living room has faded to a creamish-brown, I call it Shabby Chic.

My home isn’t as clean as it once was and lots of times the laundry sits in piles, but I’m happier.  I’m learning that being a parent is a selfless act and being the parent of a foster or adoptive child is even more so. 

I’m a slow learner though and I still find myself on time out once in a while.

Three and a half years ago my adventure started.  Adoption wasn’t the plan we had or the end we say, but it is where we are.  And it is right where we are supposed to be.  I am glad that as my journey continues, I will continue it not alone, but with my family.

An unknown author says this about the end of the journey:

I do not ask that thou shoulds’t give me some high and noble task.
Give me a little hand to hold in mine.  Give me a little child to point thy way over the sweet, sweet path that leads to You.  Give me a little voice to teach to pray.  Give me two shining eyes thy face to see.  The only crown I ask to wear is this…

That I may teach a little child.  I do not ask that I may stand among the wise, the worthy or the great; I only ask that softly, hand-in-hand a child and I may enter at the gate.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Life Decisions!!!

I have a lot of life decisions coming up that I’m struggling on even thinking about. College is creeping up on me faster than I expected it would and I’m far from prepared on deciding where I’m starting the next chapter in my life.  Although I have narrowed it down to three different colleges, I can’t seem to make a decision from there. I’m giving myself two weeks to truly think about the positives and negatives of each college, and will hopefully figure it out by then. I do know that I am majoring in mass communication and minoring in psychology!.... I think….

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson

Miss Teen North Dakota International 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I had the most life-changing journey on my mission trip to Ecuador. I met some incredible people and got to experience some amazing things. I could write a novel on everything I did and went through but I want to talk about two positives that are important to me.

Positive #1: My life has been changed. I don’t know how to put it into words but my outlook on everything is different. I have learned to appreciate things and people so much more. Waking up in the morning is easier than it used to be because I have learned that no matter where my feet touch the ground, I need to serve The Lord. I have a purpose to this crazy thing called life and that is to serve Him and spread His word.  I wake up excited and ready for what The Lord has in store for me every day.

-          Ecuadorians do not have much but are happy with what they have. The children of Casa do not have parents, but are content with 80 other kids they call family. They are happy with the toy truck they have even if it only has one wheel.

Positive #2: I have gained some amazing relationships with the people from Ecuador, the children from La Casa De Fe, and the people on my mission trip team. It’s amazing to have met people that made saying goodbye so difficult.

-          I got the privilege of growing close with a few people who work at La Casa De Fe. One of them being Christy Hayes. Christy helped guide me to our Lord and put all faith in Him. I can’t explain how thankful I am for God putting Christy in my life. I am counting the days until I get to see my second mom again. Oh, and I can’t forget to say that she gives great hugs and plays with my hair and I don’t even have to ask : ). Another person I grew close to was Jeff Freeman. Jeff is a walking image of God and has inspired me to do the same. And last but not least, Pattie Sue. Pattie Sue is the founder of La Casa De Fe. She is so humble for doing such an incredible thing. She gives all the glory to God. She does whatever she possibly can for the orphans she is given. The words Pattie Sue shared with me have stuck in my mind and has helped me to not get discouraged while being back in the states and to share my testimony and the word of Our Savior.

-          I met two girls from Casa that have changed my life. One of them is Thalia, a 15-year-old, outgoing, beautiful young girl, who has been at Casa since she was 10. The other is a 2-year-old girl named Jennifer. She is a very shy little girl but has the smile and laugh that could melt any heart. I could go on and on about these two.

                               The beautiful Thalia got to be Miss Teen North Dakota International for the day!
I taught Jennifer how to give kisses : 

-          I couldn’t have asked for a better mission trip team. I was able to meet people who have the same love for Christ as I do. Although I grew closer to some than others, I was touched by all of them. It is crazy going from seeing a group of people for 10 days straight to not seeing them at all. It has definitely been a hard transition and I miss them like crazy. There is a reason why they were put into my life and I can’t wait for God to show me each and every one of the reasons. I pray that I am able to keep the relationships I have made with my teammates for a lifetime.

I know I will be back in Ecuador one day serving The Lord and the people who live there. I have been forever changed by what I experienced while I was there. I can’t thank everyone enough for the support and prayers I was given. It’s hard for me to explain exactly what God did in me while in Ecuador. I hope one day you all get to experience the same thing so you can understand how amazing this adventure was.

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson
Miss Teen North Dakota International  

Get outta my dreams, get into my car!

Time really does fly by! I have driven the same car since I was a senior in high school, which I cannot believe has been almost 7 years now. Even though my entire family has tried to convince me to let it go, I just haven’t been ready to admit that I need a new car… even though the signs have been really obvious.

But, I finally did it! I decided that I had outgrown my car and we needed to go our separate ways. My sister literally jumped up and down when I said I was finally ready. I decided it was time to let it go when the heat went out. This year, the winter has been absolutely brutal, and while I am so proud to be North Dakota tough, I had to draw the line!

Before the heat went out, I was willing to put up with a few of the quirky features that made my Neon so unique. It came with a few damages originally, but I was happy to love it through all of them. I was used to having to jump the battery… a lot. Sometimes even if it had been plugged in a garage all night, it still needed a little jump from a separate battery pack my family gave me as a gift. The passenger door and window used to work, but they eventually went out somehow. So, if I ever had anyone brave enough to ride in my vehicle with me, there was a lot of crawling around necessary. The radio would go out every once and awhile, but I knew how to get it back if I hit certain bumps in town or took really sharp right turns. Because the radio went out, I honestly never had any idea what time it was if I had to be in my car for any length of time. And my Neon’s signature move was the car alarm. The car alarm would go off every time the door was unlocked during the summer. Not as often in the winter. This is how I always knew spring was coming and it was warm outside! My Neon would greet me every spring with the blaring car alarm and stop sometime around November when it would get cold again. It was like having my own groundhog to predict the weather.

But now I have finally purchased a new vehicle! And I realized how great it was the other day when I got a car wash and didn’t have to get out immediately afterwards to put the side mirrors back in place because they had flown off somewhere. I started to notice my hands aren’t as tingly and numb anymore because the steering in my new vehicle is aligned and I don’t have to cling onto the steering wheel like a bus driver trying to drive on the side of a cliff! And most importantly, I can turn the heat on J 

So even though it was a little tough at first to let my old friend go, it really didn’t take long for me to move on. Here’s to my exciting, new, and what will hopefully be another incredibly long relationship! 

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014