A highlight for me of Nationals was meeting all my sister queens. They are all inspiring leaders – who also happen to be drop-dead gorgeous! Like true sisters, we encouraged and helped each other through the busy week. We lent our shoes to those who couldn’t find them, offered jewelry to those who needed different earrings. Borrowed each other’s safety pins, sewing kits, clothing steamers and butt glue. (Don’t ask it, it is a pageant thing.) Backstage there were encouraging words of advice and hugs. There could be so much camaraderie among the contestants because we knew that we each possessed the qualities and beauty that deserved to wear the crown. Let me introduce you to a few:
Mary Richardson, our Executive Director, who knew all of our names, and there were 65 of us. This dynamite woman loved us all and took the time to pray with us several times during the week. She wears the crown.
Mrs. Italy, Daniela Bright, who came to follow her dreams of competing in a national level pageant even though she is living through stage four breast cancer. She said her greatest fear was of leaving the world unchanged. Her fear wasn’t of dying; it was of not living. She wears the crown.
Mrs. South Africa, Cindy Oosthuizen, my friend who gave me the best scolding I have ever gotten back stage. As disappointment filled my heart and my eyes, she said, “Janelle, you are doing this for your children, Right? Not winning the crown means you get to hold them here,” as she clutched my hands to her heart, “without anything in your way.” She is so right. I am thankful she reminded me of why I was in the pageant in the first place. She wears the crown.
Mrs. Delaware, Kamika Bell, who found me with a hug in the airport when I was feeling overwhelmed from traveling. She said I was her answer to prayer, when really, she was mine. Her love of The Father, poured from her mouth with every word. I watched her share her faith with everyone during pageant week. She wears the crown.
Mrs. New Hampshire, Christi Tinkham, who shared with me that she was a foster child, who found her way to a loving family. She let me see the hope in overcoming who you could be to becoming the person God has created you to be. Her past was not a barrier, but a stepping stone to true beauty. She wears the crown.
Mrs. West Virginia, Judy Ridenour, a bundle of energy and laughs, whom a bad guy would never want to meet in a cold dark alley. She proves to the world that beauty is found even in the forgotten places of the world. She is a beauty queen who spends her days working in a maximum security prison. She wears the crown.
Mrs. International, Maggie Thorne, exemplifies the International Queen and I am proud to call her my sister. She will spend this year changing the world one soul and sole at a time. (http://soles4souls.org/) She wears the crown.
All of the women I competed with should be listed by name. Each wears a crown. The truth is only one of us could bring home the sparkly tiara, but we all left winners. The true prize is what we learn, the positive changes we make, and the friends we gain. Those are the prizes that are always ours.
Thank you International Class of 2014. I am so thankful God allowed us to journey together.
So there you have it… that’s a bit about my sister queens at nationals. I am ready to walk this year with my family and you. Together we all wear the crown!
Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014