Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Help the Helpless

As many of you know, I went on a life changing experience a little over two months ago. The mission trip I went on to La Casa De Fe, an orphanage in Shell, Ecuador, has truly changed my life forever. God has put a burning heart to serve others inside of me, and my burning heart was on fire while I was in Ecuador. Ever since I left, I have not gone an hour without thinking of the orphans of the South American jungle.  I wanted to give all I had to those kids and still do today. Two leaders of my mission trip team put $96 together and were able to buy the orphanage 1,200 Tilapia. One single Tilapia can feed 2-3 orphans. Can you believe that? $0.08 a fish. The expense of living in Ecuador is not expensive but when the majority of these 81 kids of La Casa De Fe are not sponsored, living is not easy. One single dollar a day can change the life of a child in this orphanage.

In the link below you can go to the La Casa De Fe website to see what this amazing orphanage is all about. The second link will take you to the page where you can see the children who are not being sponsored. Maybe you are trying to find a way to give back, maybe one of these children’s eyes will look into yours and leave the same mark they left on my heart, or maybe God will call you to a certain child and you feel the need to help them. I encourage you to look at the page and just read these beautiful children’s’ stories.

The third link will lead you to a Facebook page titled, Project Give Five. A family who has truly touched my heart and has inspired me to go on mission trips created this incredible foundation that encourages people to give as little as $5 a month to those in need. Their mission is to empower impoverished families to rebuild their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty. They are launching with Project Korah. The founder of Project Give Five wrote the following about Project Korah:

Korah is a trash dump community made up of over 120,000 people in a two mile radius in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Korah is made up of lepers, people with HIV, TB and extremely impoverished people. The average makeshift home is 9x6 and has no running water, dirt floors, and yet sleeps many. The people of Korah sift through the trash dump in search of food to eat and recyclables to sell. There are no words to adequately describe Korah. It is truly heartbreaking to know that there are people that live in such devastating conditions. Our first goal in helping the people of Korah is to sponsor fifty families. If 500 people commit to giving $5 a month, we will be able to reach that goal. Sponsorship means these families will receive food, shelter and education. Their lives will be forever changed because YOU gave as little as $5/per month. For many of us, that is just one cup of coffee. Please consider blessing someone you have not even met but believe is a child of God's just as you are. Help us help the beautiful people of Korah.

Please consider being a sponsor, no matter who for, what organization through, or what dollar amount.

Help me change the world.

Yours truly,
Madison Johnson

Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014

Project 1:17

“Dear Friends:  We have an URGENT, immediate need for families to house incoming-placement foster kids.”

Almost weekly this message is awaiting me in my e-mail inbox.  My heart breaks every time I read it.  Honestly, it is easy to just hit delete.  After all, I know what it says, and what it says just makes me sad.  Besides my house already has six kids.  I’m full.  But ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away and having a full house doesn’t mean the problem isn’t still mine.  As a follower of Christ, I must do more.

God has brought together a group of people just like me.  We have full houses and a call to do more.  We are trying to reflect God’s heart for the fatherless in our own lives.  We are agreeing with God that doing nothing is not an option and is not His plan for the Church.  We are called Project 1:17.  Over the past two months we have grown our group to include representatives from various local agencies involved in foster care and adoption.

We are asking the church to step in, step up, and join God’s heart for foster children.  Our first mission is to ask each church in our community to designate one Sunday in the month of May, which is National Foster Care Month, to bring awareness to foster care.  These Sunday’s would be used to shine a light on the urgent need for foster families, to advocate and pray for foster children, and to challenge families to consider if they are ready to become foster families themselves. Our prayerful goal is to have 117 new foster families in our counties of Cass and Clay by the end of the year.

We are not only urging churches to hold a foster care awareness Sunday, we are equipping them to do so.  We have written a bulletin announcement and a flyer that churches can use, we are producing a local video that can be shown during services and we are willing to both staff an informational table and to present a 2-5 minute announcement in church.  The involvement of each church could look different.

But what is next?  We have made the need known.  Now what?  As families feel the tug to become foster or adoptive parents, we will direct them to local agencies using the connections we have made.  Two community informational meetings are scheduled for those from churches that are interested in learning more about foster care.  

Representatives from our local foster care and foster-to-adopt agencies (Cass County, PATH, AASK, and Lutheran Social Services) will be joined by our Project 1:17 team  and will be available to answer questions.  Information will be presented about getting started, licensing, and foster care options.  Testimonies from foster families and former foster children will be given.

If you are feeling called to join us in Project 1:17, or have questions about foster care, I’d love to share my own families journey with you.  It is quite an adventure.
So there you have it… that’s a bit about my new project.  I am ready to walk beside you as you start your own journey deeper into God’s heart for the fatherless.  Together we are on a grand adventure.

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

Isaiah 1:17
“Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

5 Tips for First-Time Pageant Competitors

Everyone has to start somewhere, and I was new once not that long ago too. Pageantry isn’t the same tradition in North Dakota as it is in other areas, so it can feel a little strange entering “uncharted territory”, but there are great people here that know exactly what to do. After competing in pageants myself, I believe every girl out there really needs to try at some time in her life. How many other times can you say you had the opportunity to prepare to be the best YOU possible on stage for all your friends and family to support and love? It’s so encouraging to hear the cheers in the crowd from your excited team that can’t wait to see you in your favorite gown and love and support this new, empowered girl!  

What I wish I would have known before competing is bigger then choosing a wardrobe, learning how to walk in heels with stage presence, or how to interview with judges (you can hire a great coach for all that anytime!). So I wanted to share a few things that I believe are important to consider before you start your journey.

1) Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself! As women, we tend to downplay a lot of what we do for ourselves and focus on others around us. We sometimes think we are being selfish if we give ourselves too much attention. Instead of feeling guilty, think of pageantry as an investment in who you are! Whether it means taking more time at the gym, eating differently then usual, or buying a great dress that you love just for you, it’s OK to put yourself first every once and awhile. Let yourself relax, enjoy being who you are, and learn about who you can be.

2) It’s OK to ask for help! If I know one thing about pageants, it’s that every girl on the stage didn’t get there alone. There is an entire team of people behind her cheering her on and helping her to succeed. Whether it’s a hair stylist, sponsor, or a family member that proof-read paperwork, there has been a lot of support along the way. And its OK to get your community involved in your goals! Think of who you know that has a unique talent and how they may be able to help you. Brainstorm what you need to prepare and think of people you know in each area of competition that may be able to help. Its OK to ask!

3) Remember why you are competing! When you decide to enter, write down why you started. Give yourself a moment to reflect on why you are choosing to compete and what has been inspirational to you to get you to that point. These reasons might evolve and change as all things do over time, but you will always have an original path to fall back on if you get lost along the way. It’s easy to become side-tracked when you start anything new, and so I believe it’s always important to remind ourselves why we are going through the challenge in the first place.

4) Read Creating Queens by Suzy Bootz! Suzy is a former Mrs. International and has now coached four other women to receiving the international title as well! She is a leading expert in the International System and her book is a complete guide that lays out how to prepare to compete. What I love about Suzy is that she has a really uplifting and positive way of communicating that can pertain to anyone. She writes with such a soothing and gentle tone that really allows you to feel comfortable about competing, instead of anxious and nervous. And I have an extra copy for anyone who is interested!

5) Your life will change for the better! Unless you try really hard, you won’t just go home after competing to things being “back to normal.” Your routine will likely be the same, and people around you won’t have changed. But something inside you will be different. You might have found out a few new things about yourself that you didn’t know you had in you. You just put yourself out there on stage and that took courage! You just opened this great new door for yourself that you can apply in all aspects of your life, so be prepared to be a little different when its all over.

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD

Miss North Dakota International 2014 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Special Guest at the Circus!

This month I was honored by being the special guest at the El Zagal’s Shrine Circus. It was the first circus I have been to and I couldn’t be more excited to go! I got to talk in front of 8,000 people and get them excited about what the night had to offer as well as blowing the OFFICIAL golden whistle! (I was definitely on cloud nine) I also was privileged enough to give away fourteen bikes that were donated by local businesses. The smiles on those kids faces knowing they had just received a brand new bike unexpectedly was so heart warming. Along with that, I got to take many pictures and speak with kids about their favorite parts about the circus, as well as my own. : ) It was a night I will never forget! 

Madison Johnson
Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Prayer for a Nation

I come to you today with an exhortation from 1 Timothy 2:1-3.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior.

We are being called to prayer today, so please bow before the Lord with me.

Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the people who bear your Name as we bow before you.   We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.  May your eyes be open toward this nation day and night.  May you hear the prayer your servants pray over this beautiful country you have given us.   Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.

We give praise to you, the Lord God, the God of Israel, you alone do marvelous deeds.  Praise be to your glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with your glory.

We lift before you our national leaders, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the Congressional Delegations, both of the House and the Senate that serve with them.  We lift before you our state governors, Governor Dalrymple and Governor Dayton, and all those who serve with them at the state level. We lift before you our city leaders, Mayor Walaker, Mayor Voxland, and Mayor Matterson, and all those who serve with them at a city level.

For these great men and women we continually ask you to fill them with the knowledge of you and your will.  Fill them with all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that they may live lives worthy of the Lord and of their calling to serve the United States of America, North Dakota and Minnesota, Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo.  Let them bear fruit that both points to Christ and blesses our nation.  Strengthen them with all power according to your glorious might.  Bless them with great endurance, energy, and patience.

We lift before you all who serve us in Judicial capacities.  For these great men and women we continually ask you to fill them with all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that they may live lives worthy of the Lord and of their calling to fairly, justly and wisely serve. 

We lift before you all those who serve in our military and all those who love them.  For these men, women, and children we continually ask you to fill them with the knowledge of you and your will.  Fill them with all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that they may live lives worthy of the Lord. Place your hedge of protection around them.  Strengthen them with all power according to your glorious might.  Bless them with great endurance, energy, and protection.

We lift before you, ourselves.   We ask that you would give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know Christ better. We pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope you have given us. We ask that we would know and live the riches of your glorious inheritance and your incomparably great power for all of us who believe.  Make us worthy of your calling in our own lives so that we may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.

Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.   We pray all these things so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Amen and Amen