Thursday, June 22, 2017

Camping with my Mr. North Dakota

I recently had my very first camping experience. Yep, that's right. I am 25 years old and it was my first time camping. As you probably know, I am from the desert. And although Vegas has nice parks and great hiking spots, the snakes, scorpions and 100+ degree temperatures don't really make for an ideal camping situation. I was so excited that I even let my husband do most of the packing because he was the expert of the two of us. Jake wanted us to have the "real" experience which apparently meant having no extra blankets or an air mattress. That's right, I had a sleeping bag, pillow and the nice hard ground! As you can imagine, that night was rough. It was quite chilly too. But as I woke up, I loved feeling the warm sunshine and hearing the birds chirp that beautful morning. And, although my body was a little sore from sleeping on the ground, I knew I couldn't complain. There are people who sleep on the ground every day because that's all they have. It was uncomfortable, but it was a fresh perspective and a chance to be greatful for the something I often don't think twice about- my bed. 

Sometimes the simplest of moments can remind us of the blessings we often overlook.

The next day, we went on a bike ride with our dog, Koda. Last year we trained him to run beside our bikes as we rode around town. So, this year, we were thrilled to take him on a real bike trail. After a good long ride around the lake, we headed for the trail. By this time, Koda was pretty tired, and as we slowed down our pace, we noticed the cutest couple riding their bikes in front of us. They were stopping every few minutes to look at the trees and take pictures and just simply enjoy nature. As we caught up to them and passed their bikes, we noticed that they have the EXACT same bikes that Jake and I had and even the same colors. As I saw that, I had a thought of our future. Someday I hope we will be like that couple that isn't too old or bored with life to go on a bike ride and simply enjoy nature together. 

At my age, things are always busy. Getaways seem few and far between. And when you have kids, they become your life (or so I've heard). But after the kids are gone and I am a cute old person (that has aged very gracefully), it will just me and Jake again. 

My prayer is that as the years go by, my husband and I remember to love each other like we were young, appreciate the simple joys in life, and always go on bike rides together. 

My first camping experience turned out to be a great getaway and a chance to reflect on life. ❤

Until next time,
Turning Moments Into Movements

Angelina Yarbrough 
Mrs. North Dakota International 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children-all of our children-a better world.  Even if it’s difficult…That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents.  We try.  We hope.” –Barack Obama
As Father’s Day approaches, I have been thinking about my dad and the “leading men” in my life that make it all worthwhile.  Sometimes it easy to overlook all the things that dads do. The things they do are often intangible and done quietly and in the background.  To the men that love, encourage, and inspire, thank you for making a difference and Happy Father’s Day!
A story from my childhood that I will always remember is my first theatre experience, when I was about 3 years old.  My dad took me to Annie at Sleepy Hallow Theatre, in Bismarck. On the way in to the show, I tripped and fell. I cut my chin and it blead a lot! I actually still have a small scar to show for it.  We never made it to the show. I know that night did not turn out exactly as he had planned, but I so appreciate that he wanted me to see the show and spend the time with me. I am grateful for love and support, over the years. I am sure he is happy that I have gained the poise to attend most events, without needing a paramedic!  
My Grandpa has also had a huge impact on my life.  He has an incredible zest for life and his energy is contagious.  He has been a source of constant teasing and endless support.  We always spend the holidays together and we always play a game or have some sort of challenge.  My grandpa is super competitive, but what he loves most is to see his kids and grandkids laughing and enjoying the company of one another.  
I have been fortunate to have the encouragement and support of some amazing men, who have played a part in shaping me into the person I am today.  You have certainly made my world a better place! Happy Father’s Day again to my dad and all the other dads who go the extra mile for their kids.   

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I don't take the time to express my thankfulness towards you and all that you do. 
 Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work. Growing up, I saw you get up early every morning and come home late at night. You showed me that in order to be successful, you must strive for greatness. I 'm so grateful for everything you have provided for our family through your hard work, and sacrifices. 
 Thank you for being patient. Whether it was teaching me how to ride a bike or listening to me explain my car trouble, you always tried to be calm and collected. But most importantly, thank you for remembering of the fact that I am still a kid and I will make mistakes. Your understanding when I mess up has shown me that it s okay to have imperfections. 

Thank you for your constant support. Although, I may not always keep you in the loop with my life's activities I know I'll always have a cheerleader in my corner.
 Thanks for your love and affection. Even though it is few and far between, the moments of hugs and "proud of you" mean that much more.
 You deserve way more than just a day for all the things you do for myself and our family. So for this Father's Day and every other day, thanks for being you and making those sacrifices to get me where I am today. 
 Forever and Always,
Siam Simpfenderfer
 Miss North Dakota International 2017

The man who always knew I was royalty

This Father’s Day, I want to recognize the man who saw me as royalty long before the crown was placed on my head.

My dad never fails to call me his “little princess”. I recently got to see him when I traveled to Las Vegas for my brother’s graduation, and even now, he still calls me that! I don’t think this trend will ever stop. Even though I am an adult and technically a “queen”, I am still a princess in his eyes. Through many seasons of my life, I didn’t really like that reference. Growing up, I was a total tomboy. My daily outfit consisted of a t-shirt, athletic pants, tennis shoes and a bandana on my head- seriously. In my first neighborhood, there were only boys to play with, so I learned to dig in the dirt, skateboard on the sidewalk and spend the afternoons tossing a football and racing back and forth down the street. When I moved to a neighborhood of girls or “girly girls” as I would call them, I always felt a little out of place when they wanted to play with makeup, dolls and listen to Backstreet Boys. So, naturally, when my dad would refer to me as a princess, I thought he was calling me a girly girl, which I obviously didn’t like. As I got older, I started to realize what that actually meant and the depth of his words to me. My parents taught me that God was not only the King of Kings, but he was also my heavenly Father. My dad would remind me that I was God's child and his child at the same time. And that’s what made me royalty, being a daughter of a King. I began to realize that being a princess had nothing to do with the clothes I wore or the activities I chose. It was about my position as a child of God. 

When my dad calls me princess, he is reminding me that my value comes from who I am and not what I do

My dad loves me no matter what, that is one thing I am sure of. His love is an example of God’s beautiful love, a love that is entirely unconditional. So, now, when my dad calls me princess, it is a sweet reminder that I am loved through all things, in every season of life.

And so are you.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” {Jer. 31:3}

Happy Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!  I hope you all had a great day, and made tons of fun memories with your families!
            I think that my mom should be North Dakota’s Mother of the Year! If you knew my mom, you wouldn’t even have to ask why! She is so sweet and I can’t thank her enough for all that she does.

            Whenever I am sad, my mom is the first person I talk to. And on the rare occasion that I forget to do my homework, she doesn’t get mad, she just helps me – even if it’s late at night.  I love my mom more than words can say!
In my opinion, my mom is like a superhero. Here are some of the reasons why I think that.
            First of all, she helps us clean our house. Well…she actually does ALL of it! :)  Most of the time, when I go to feed my cat CiCi, I find that it has ALREADY been done for me! 
            Second of all, she helps to keep me and my brother in line. If my parents weren’t home, Aiden and I would probably have started World War 3 by now! :)

            She also drives me to wherever I need to go. Whether it is pageant appearances, a dance competition or anything else, I can always count on her to get me there. 

My mom is also a great photographer. I know I say that I don’t like it when she is ALWAYS taking pictures, but one day when I am older, I will thank her for seeing her world (and mine!) through a lens. I will have photos documenting my entire life and all the special moments in it!!! 

I have so many reasons why I think my mom is a superhero, but now I want to move on and tell you about our Mother’s Day celebration. We hosted it at our house and my grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma came to celebrate. We ate hotdogs that my dad grilled outside because the weather was SO nice! There was a smorgasboard of food, but my favorite was the chips and fiesta dip! My kitty, CiCi, even got dressed up for the occasion! 

            That was my Mother’s Day celebration. I hope that you had a wonderful day celebrating your mom and other special women in your life as well!

Alexis Thompson
Junior Miss Teen North Dakota International 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dear Fargo South High School

Dear Fargo South High School,
“Beginnings are usually scary, and endings are usually sad, but it is everything in between that makes life worth living.”     –Bob Marley
This quote seems especially poignant now as my junior year is ending.  In so many ways, this has been the best year of my life.  This year had an especially scary beginning as I decided to leave my former school behind and transfer to a new school. I think back to all the unknowns of that first day, in late August. I remember pulling up to my new school, taking a deep breath and saying to myself, “well, here you go!” I will never forget how my “Bruin Ambassador” friends welcomed me with clapping and cheering. Fargo South is like a family and I was very happy to finally feel like I had come home.
I think that coming to a cross road in life can be such a blessing.  There is a certain sense of urgency when a decision must be made, to continue on, or choose another path. One direction promises what is comfortable and the other direction leads somewhere unknown.  It is sometimes difficult to know what is best and what is just comfortable.  One of the lessons that I have learned this year is to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I know that next year will be easier for me to graduate and choose a new path because I have done this before.
“This is my life…my story…my book.  I will no longer let anyone else write it: nor will I apologize for the edits I make.”  -Steve Maraboli
The thing that makes Fargo South feel like home to me is the amazing students and teachers.  They are the heart and soul of the school.  I will always be grateful for the profound impact that Mrs.Lichtblau, Mrs. Brandenburg and Mr. Kennedy have had on me.  They have encouraged me, believed in me and given me the opportunity to grow and shine.  I have so much respect for the teachers who give so much of themselves to kids, on a daily basis. I am not sure if they will ever fully understand how much I appreciate all that they have done for me.
My amazing school counselor, Mrs. Medinger is leaving Fargo South at the end of the year to begin a new job. She has been like a mom at school, to so many students. It will be hard to see her go.  Mrs. Lewis is just finishing her first year of teaching AP English, She was the best teacher I have ever had for a core class.  I will never forget how important it was to her that her students did well in her class. 
My senior friends are having their graduation parties, as their time is high school is ending. It will be especially difficult for me to say good-bye to my senior friends in the theatre department.  I am going to miss their beautiful daily presence in my life. I know that they too are both hopeful and sad, as they look to the future. I wish them every happiness and more success than they can imagine.
So… As one thing ends and another begins… I treasure the lessons, memories and friendships of this past year.
Yours In Harmony, Payton Hausauer Miss Teen ND Intl 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

You can be the ONE that helps

Do you ever just wonder how you got where you are in life? It's like you took a blink of an eye and all of a sudden there was a 180 in your entire life plan? I know that feeling all too well. If you would have asked me a year and half ago where I would be today, I wouldn't have an answer, and I absolutely would not believe I would hold the title for Miss North Dakota International, but everything happens for a reason and I have learned from my own mistakes that life can and will get better. 

Summer 2016 - I was living life in a way to just get by. I was drained, irritable, and I only wanted to sleep or go out for a night of drinking with my friends to get my mind off of my own pain. I remember getting off of work and heading straight to my room until I would cry myself to sleep, and wake up and do it all again. This summer was different for me. I felt completely alone, abandoned, and lost. I realized I was behind farther in school after I switched majors, I had moved towns, and recently ended a very long relationship. It was like life wanted to push me down on purpose to see how I would react. 
I had my own family worried, and whenever they would call I would laugh and say I was fine. I was living life recklessly. I was on several medications to prevent my blood from clotting, as that spring I had developed several clots in my heart and lungs, and other medications that definitely didn't mix well with alcohol. But, I did what I wanted and if it made me feel good for just one moment I was looking for my escape. I was on a fast track to disaster. 
Come end of June beginning of July, I met someone. I met a friend, someone who just lit this fire inside my soul. Someone who indirectly showed me that life could be more, and they would love me for all of my flaws. This person doesn't know that I owe my 180 to them, and maybe they never will. 
I visited my primary care physician and got serious about my depression, I told her how I was coping and she just giggled and said, "Sweetie, that isn't coping. You're a strong girl but sometimes we all need a little help." She gave me several natural methods to reduce stress and handle my depression but also prescribed and anti-depressant. 
I was embarrassed for the longest time of admitting I had to take a "happy" pill. I was always an upbeat soul and had a hard time getting down. It was a shock that I needed some thing to balance my own chemicals in my brain to help me function. It wasn't until I was asked during a seminar while visiting my own highschool sharing suicide prevention and awareness, I was asked, "do you struggle with depression?" I was taken back, no one had flat out asked me about my own mental health. My first reaction was to say reply with a no, but then I caught myself and I decided I was feeding into the stigma of mental health. I was going to be truthful and honest. I told that entire gym on how I met with my PCP and how she explained that depression is a chemical imbalance, and it's like when you're physically sick you take medication to get better, and sometimes your brain gets a cold and gets thrown off and needs to hit the reset button. 

So, still today with life going better than I could imagine. I struggle with depression. But instead of reaching for the bottle I talk to my friends and family about my struggles and they lift my spirits right back up. They let me know that I wasn't alone and I had a shoulder to lean on. 
For you who maybe trying to find an escape from your problems with an unhealthy behavior I urge you to talk to a friend or a family member and get the right help you deserve. I couldn't imagine where my life would be if I had continued down that strong path of disaster. 

Forever and Always,

Siam Simpfenderfer 
Miss North Dakota International 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

23 Year Old Divorcee

“Ambassador Rules and Regulations Contestant must be at least 19 years of age and no older than 56 years of age by July 1st of competition year. Contestant must be currently single and unmarried. May be divorced or widowed. Contestant may have given birth or be married to a born female. Contestant must not qualify for any other category in the North Dakota International Pageant System (ndintlp).”
Yes,  I was indeed once married. For almost three years I shared my life with another being with the expectations of staying till death do us part. Although we didn’t last, I do feel that everything happens for a reason, and had it never happened I would not be where I am today. Young love can have one smitten, leading you to do things that you would never think in a million years you’d do.  When I first met my ex-husband at UND, it was his sense of humor that grabbed my attention. We could talk about anything, politics, history, the Kardashians, museums and more. While developing our relationship, I never understood how the cycle of relationships functioned until we were married. Our romance stage lasted for about a year, shortly after in came the power struggle stage. I appreciated that no matter what we went through we managed to persevere and focus.
In conclusion, I must say that marriage is like a seed that you one day hope to see a plant. However, if you do not water that seed, nurture it and provide sunlight, nothing will become of it. This is where we failed and so naturally one must make the decision to either stay and hope for the best or to leave and have inner peace. I of course made my decision to file for divorce. Divorce is a very difficult process to go through, sure we did not have children so the process took less than a week to finalize. However, it’s the emotional process one goes through to move on, I luckily had work, school, this amazing pageant to help me do just that.
I can say that looking back I have no regrets and will never say the marriage was a mistake but a lesson to learn. To never rush God’s plans for you, and to also not let yourself become someone you are not by the influences of others. I do wish to be married again someday but when that time comes I want to do it the right way.
I wanted to share this because often when I am asked why I competed as ambassador, I would just shy away. It’s not easy explaining this and when I tell people, they tend to be shocked that I was ever married. I wish to share this from hereon, yes I am a 23-year-old divorcee. However, this does not define me, this does not mean it’s the end of me. This just means this is beginning of a new chapter.
My parents nor family were present at my wedding. My Father was not able to walk his little girl down the aisle. My mother wasn’t there to do what all mother’s dream of when their little girl is getting married. These are all things that I see for myself one day. In this moment in time, I can genuinely say I have found the new and improved Wiljar since divorcing I’ve been eating healthier, losing weight, focusing on inner healing and just doing what makes me happy.  For those of you who have went through this or are currently, I wish to say that this too shall pass.  My ex-husband and I may have left on a sour note back then but we are on better terms now. I am working on finishing school, working and promoting my platform Volunteerism. While he is a Private First Class with the United States Army. It took some time for us to get here but life is too short.   I wish him nothing but the best and plenty of success and he does as well. I’d like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who were there for me, helped me through my darkest moments that I never imagined I would get through. Also to my family for supporting me, being understanding and always being there for me when I needed them the most.
Carpe Diem, Wiljar Ojuro
North Dakota International Ambassador 2017.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Mother's Day Message

Mother’s Day!
“There is no greater heaven than the heart of a loving mother, she takes care of you when you are still in her womb. She nurtures you after you are born. She hurts when you fall. She celebrates when you make your first steps. She is the only person who genuinely cares about you. She loves you as she loves herself. Her heart is your true paradise. A quote from Bangambiki HabyarimanaThe Great Pearl of Wisdom.”
            For Mother’s Day, I face timed my mother (who is back home in New York) like I do every day and wished her a happy Mother’s Day. Although I was not able to be there to celebrate, my mother enjoyed her peaceful weekend out of town with my dad and siblings. Growing up it was almost as if every day was Mother’s Day with my family. We would always make sure we showed appreciation for all that my parents did for us. On that day, my mother would be in the kitchen cooking a grandiose African and island food for us. I would help of course, despite dreading every moment. I look back on those days and I am happy I was in the kitchen with my mom helping. Its helped me a lot being on my own and trying to manage a healthy eating lifestyle. 
There’s so many things that I do today and I realize that it would not have been possible without my mom. From living on my own and making adult decisions to financial questions. I remember learning how to write a check at the age of 10. My mother always taught me you’re never too young to learn something new. The earlier you learn the more practice you will have. Often when I find myself needing advice on life. I pick up the phone and call my mom. It’s amazing how clearer things become when she puts it in many perspectives. An if I choose not to take her advice and stick with my own ways. It’s scary how 99.9% of the time she ends up being right!
At the age of 15 I thought I knew everything, I was a stubborn one and never liked listening to my mom then.  Now at the age of 23 I may know a lot, but still my mother knows way more. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to who sometimes knows you better than you know yourself. I am the women I am today because of my parents and I always seek to make them proud. I have similar interests and characteristics from my mother that I uncover from time to time.  For example, my sense of fashion.
When I was a baby my mother used to always get my clothes tailored. I’d have a dress stitched for me and the dress would always come with a matching bonnet somehow! When it came to my hair, my mom always loved braiding it. It’s because of my mom I enjoy switching up my hairstyles and doing friends hair too. I remember when I was home for spring break, I caught a glimpse at my mom’s college days, she was beautiful and vibrant. Still is till this very day, and I am hoping her anti-aging genes were passed on to me.
For those who have lost their mother’s, my heart goes out to you. For those that have been estranged or have become estranged, I hope you come together and mend the past. ““Behind great men, children, companies or homes are some extraordinary women! Take time today and always to acknowledge the women in your life with a show of gratitude. Love compels a woman's heart. Appreciation drives her commitment. Kindness fuels her strength. Compassion gives her courage. God gives her to you.” Quoted by Carlos Wallace.
Carpe Diem, North Dakota International Ambassador 2017 Wiljar Ojuro.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Mom, the Real Beauty Queen

There are so many things I love about my mom, and in honor of Mother’s Day, I am going to share with you what I love most about her and give you sneak peek of what life is like having her in my corner.

I will never forget how often my mom encouraged me. She would always speak postivity over my life. As someone who dealt with bullying, I could always count on my mom to build me up when others would try so hard to tear me down. One of things I remember her saying to me the most was how beautiful I was on the outside and inside. During middle school (the season I was bullied the most), she would say “you’re so beautiful” all the time! She was always the one to say something over and over until I finally believed it. 

I remember when I was about 15 years old and, as normal, she mentioned how pretty she thought I was. I looked at her and something within me finally clicked. I responded with, “Mom, it’s because of you.” She gave me a slightly confused look and I proceeded to say. “Mom, it’s because of you being so pretty that I’m pretty. I got YOUR beauty, so thank you.” Now, I don’t share this to toot my horn on how kind I was. Honestly, I wasn’t a very “kind” teenager. My personality was (and still it at times) very bold and blunt. At 15 years old, I there were usually more harsh things than sweet things coming out of my mouth. But, this time, I was compelled to say this to her because as I looked at mom and the beauty that radiated from her, I realized that she deserves the credit. Of course she’s gorgeous, but, most importantly, her wisdom, guidance, compassion and constant encouragement in my life effected me. Her character, kindness, strength (and genes) contributed to the beautiful young lady that I was becoming. 

My mom spread kindness, encouragement and hope so easily even though our family did not have an easy life. Growing up, we had some very difficult struggles to overcome. We had things done to us and other things happen within us that caused a lot of heartache and brokenness. Through it all, I could always count on my mom to see the silver lining. She taught me to have hope in the hopeless situations, peace amidst chaos, and she always reminded me that when strength runs out, lean on the Lord because he will give me the strength I need.

She always knew the perfect thing to say. During a season in my life where I lost my relationship, my job and my way, all within a matter of months, she sent me this:

Just a simple text message,, backed with all her love and support, gave me exactly what I needed to get up and keep moving forward.


Although we were far from each other this mother’s day, I keep you closer than ever to my heart. The distance has never silenced the voice of strength and encouragement you are in my life.

I love you,

Angelina Yarbrough
Mrs. North Dakota International 2017

Turning Moments Into Movements