I was never a beauty queen

Yes, I said it. I was never a beauty queen. Was never. Past tense. I was never, am not and will never be a beauty queen. “But Desiree, what are you talking about? You won a pageant,” many may mention. Indeed I did, but I was never a beauty queen.

Being crowned the title of the 2014 Miss Georgetown Fair Queen was breathtaking. It took me months to grasp that it was my name called on that lit-up stage that August night. That year was certainly a year of a lifetime. I loved (I know no better word to express my immense enjoyment) attending charity events, hosting events and visiting with community members. But was I a beauty queen? No.

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When I decided to compete, I never considered it a beauty pageant. I first competed in the pageant because I wanted to learn. I was 16 the first year I competed and never expected to win. I thought it would be cool to get on stage and prance around in a pretty dress, but the pageant taught me so much more. It taught me how to enhance the life skills I already had. I learned to walk with poise, carry myself with confidence and speak publicly comfortably. It was never a beauty pageant.

A few years later, I decided to compete again and won! This time, I competed because I truly wanted to win. To be a representative for my fair is something I strived for. I developed a passion to share knowledge about my fair and agriculture. I believe every contestant should be honest with herself and ask the question, “Why do I want to win?” For me, I wanted to win not just to represent the fair, but to serve others. I was and am very involved in my community, but the crown would make more of an impact. For many, especially children, my work had more of an impact when there was a shiny thing on my head. On stage that night I prayed. I prayed that I would share God’s love in all that I do and to God be given the glory for all that I would do that year. It still is not a beauty pageant.

Again, beauty has never crossed my mind when I think of the word pageant. Pageants aid in developing young women. Crowned or not, pageants build confidence and life skills that can not be discovered anywhere else. Pageants are not about competing against other women. It is a personal journey to make you the best you can be. A true queen is discovered by her heart. When her motives are pure and her heart is genuine, then she will succeed. Still its true, she’s not a beauty queen.

Though it is cliche, it’s true what they say. Beauty comes from within. Heads turn not because she is beautiful, but because the crowds can feel her beautiful soul. A queen must possess phenomenal public speaking skills and the ability to interact with people of all ages. She must hold herself with poise and demonstrate respect and integrity. Only a contestant that understands the power she holds in her words and her actions can strive. It was never about beauty, and I was never a beauty queen.


Morning Mourning

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Photo: Erika Bainbridge

I try to speak but cannot find the words to say.

I try to turn to writing, but the words escape the page.

When I turn to prayer, I ask God to give me the words to pray.

Left speechless I am by the grief of this day.

Whether by accident or a malicious disease,

It seems as though that last breath was simple to seize.

As quick as it’s given, it’s taken away.

The truth of the matter is we don’t know our last day.

 

 

Heaven received five thousand prayers.

Surely enough, they climb those pearly stairs.

It is easy to ask why. It is difficult to know.

What is important to remember is the love that was shown.

 

 

Although summer just started, it feels as cold as December.

No prayer goes unanswered; that is good to remember.

Though we’ll never understand, God knows his plan.

Many lives were touched by a young woman and man.

 

 

While, we cannot see it now, we must know His plan is great.

For one day we’ll all be reunited beyond that golden gate.

I continue to pray for comfort and for peace.

I pray for the families that mourn the deceased.

 

 

Truly, our hearts ache. This week they’ve been broken.

But hope we are given; God’s love is never unspoken.

His word is true. He never deceives,

And by His hand, comfort we’ll receive.

 

 

 

 

 


Life is a garden

We are planted for a purpose: to flower, to grow, to produce.

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Photo: Erika Bainbridge

Each plant around us has its own purpose.

We cannot fulfill the purpose of others, but  we are planted to fulfill the purpose of our own.

Our creator prunes us, so we can grow to our full potential.

Occasionally, weeds pop up around us.

These weeds appear to be flowers.

They appear to be friendly, but they are harmful to our growth.

Often, we are blind to the harmful nature of these weeds.

Our caretaker is saddened by the weeds and removes them for us.

On the contrary, some plants appear harmful, but their purpose is meaningful.

We are sometimes transplanted and placed around others that are nourishing.

Sometimes our purpose is to provide nourishment to others.

Regardless, our caretaker knows where we will develop best.

Some plants reach their full potential more quickly than others.

Some plants appear once and never again, while some plants will be around for a lifetime.

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Photo: Erika Bainbridge

Though some plants appear to be different than others, the garden is beautiful.

When we grow, develop and bloom together it makes our creator happy.

Life is a garden.

Our purpose is predetermined.

We must grow and share and love others to keep this garden beautiful.

 


Seeking celebration

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My PRSSA team and I joining the celebration at SIUE’s Relay for Life.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” -Matthew 6:33


I always enjoy participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. As many may or may not know by now, I am not typically an emotional person. Relay for Life touches my heart. Listening to the survivors tell their stories gives me feelings of hope and sadness. Sadness that they had to experience something so terrible and hope for the future.

While the event has its somber moments, I enjoy the moments of celebration. To celebrate the lives of those who have battled and are battling. As unfortunate as it may be, sometimes it takes something so terrible to teach us how precious life is.

One thing I can’t help but ask myself at an event like this is “Why?” Why must so many lose their lives to this terrible disease? Why must so many spend months in hospitals fighting this battle? Why does it happen to those so young? I know I am not the only person that questions this.I know many may ask God, Why me? Why them? Why would you let this happen?

I feel strong in my faith to know that God has a plan for everyone. Though some terrible things may happen on Earth, we can look forward to our Kingdom. Though cliche, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, no matter how terrible the circumstances.

God is not punishing us or our loved ones. He is showing us how strong we can be. He brings us together and strengthens our communities. He is teaching us to grasp onto what is important in our lives. He is teaching us to appreciate life. He may even be teaching us to seek Him.

Though I cannot answer all questions, I find it important to understand that all questions are not meant to be answered. Sometimes, we just need to trust God’s plan. Remain firm in your faith and He will show you the light in the darkness that envelopes  earth. He gives us hope. Continue to celebrate life each day.


We’re living in a story

Stories. What are stories? What do they mean? To some, nothing. To some, everything.

As many know by now, I am very open about my faith. While I still have a lot to learn, I get excited to share the knowledge I have.   I’m passionate about the stories, both lived and non lived, that I get to tell about my walk with Christ.

I’ve been told that’s all they are: stories. Since when does a story mean nothing? Yes, the Bible is a story. Yes, the Bible is a book containing many stories. Who could deny that?

To say that these stories are meaningless is absurd in my mind.  These stories are a way of life. This story is the truth that will set us free. From these stories we learn and grow. We are given life from this story.

A skyscraper is made up of many stories, but does that make the building as a whole any less important? Because the building is made of stories, does that mean the people working and living there are irrelevant? Because it is made of stories, does that mean there is nothing that put it there?

The Bible is a book of stories. It is a story of love, forgiveness and eternal life.


Impact, power, love

 

I have noticed that I am the type of person that people feel comfortable venting to. Many times strangers begin telling me all about their life good or bad.  About halfway through, they stop and say, “I don’t know you. I’m sorry, I don’t know why I am telling you my whole life story.”  Strangely, I am OK with that. I am glad that I am able to provide comfort for others. Sometimes, all people need is a listening ear.

 

I often take these opportunities to share God’s love. Don’t get me wrong, I am no saint; sometimes I get stressed and need to vent too, but sharing the power of prayer with people is important to me. Sometimes I share my experiences, and sometimes I don’t.  Regardless, everyone responds differently.

There are people that shrug me off, roll there eyes and deny his existence. That is OK. To be a Christian is to love all people. However, sometimes I find it hard to break the barrier. God works in my life daily. Even on bad days, I remind myself that God is good all the time. It is sometimes difficult for those who have not experienced his love to grasp on to faith.

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Copyright: Roger Coles It just happens to be a great coincidence that this was the verse of the day when I went to choose an image after typing my blog. God is good.

I just want to  share that there is power in prayer. God has a huge impact on our lives.  Lately, many people have come to me stressed and anxious.  I just want to explain that things can be different. Trusting God relieves anxiety. Prayer is calming. Most importantly, I want skeptics to know that prayers never go unanswered.  This is a confusing statement for many, but God’s plan is not always the same as our plan. He hears us and responds in ways we may never expect.

Regardless of our people respond to my advice, I pray and I love them.


Does this headline catch your attention?

Headlines shouldn't be this dry.

Headlines shouldn’t be this dry.

We decided if we will read an article based on our evaluation of the headline.  If I have learned anything from writing this blog, it is that headlines can be difficult.

The purpose of a headline is to catch the audience’s attention while giving some brief insight into the post. Typically, I decide whether an article is worth reading from the headline alone.

There are countless blogs now that are titled, “10 things you should know about…” or “21 things that are true if…” etc. Why are there so many of these?

The answer is simple. We love lists! Lists are easier to read, and if the title suggests a list we stick to it like flies on poo.

Though I prefer to reading lists, I eventually stop reading these type of posts because they are all so similar.  When titling my posts, I also stay clear of these titles, so I don’t sound cliché. So, what else works?

The tricky part is finding a headline that stands out.  When I write a headline, I ask myself, “Would this make me want to read more?” Writing these posts, as gotten easier as the semester has progressed, but I’m still working on mastering the art of headlines.


Social media: Is it good or bad?

wordcloud-When it comes to social media many people are for it or against it.  There are many discussions on whether it is good or bad for us.  I believe we need to shift our discussion.

Anyone could write a list of the pros and cons of social media use.  Just like anything, social media can be both good and bad. Instead of discussing the pros and cons, we should gear our discussion toward how it affects us.

The media has always played a role in our lives, but with the immergence of social media it plays a much more prominent role.

We have the media at our finger tips. Information can be accessed and broadcasted in seconds. It is important for us to recognize that we are affected by the media.

With the demand for live updates, incorrect information can be spread quickly.  On the internet, trolls spread false information.  As the public, we there are steps we can take to reduce spreading misleading or false information.

Fact check and verify information, and use Google image reverse to check the origin of an image. Social media is not going anywhere, so instead of weighing the pros and cons, we must teach the importance of media literacy.


Timeline of Thanksgiving tales

1621

The first harvest meal was held as a celebration.  The Wampanoag people helped the Pilgrims after their first winter in Massachusetts resulted in many deaths. The harvest meal was held over the course of three days and was filled with activities in addition to the feasts.

1777

Congress declared a national day of giving thanks after the United States’ victory at the Battle of Saratoga.  This Thanksgiving was held on Thursday, December 18.  In addition, there are multiple instances of national days being dedicated as days of thanks and praise.

1863

In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a national holiday. Up to this point, many states established their own day of Thanksgiving. Writer Sarah Josepha Hale encouraged Lincoln to create a national day of thanks and praise. Lincoln and Hale recognized this as an opportunity for the country to set aside one day to give thanks as a union.

1924

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.  This kicked off the Christmas shopping season.  In 1927, the parade was televised and giant balloons were introduced as a way to make the parade more interesting to viewers at home. Snoopy has appeared in the parade seven times–more than any other character.

1934

The first Thanksgiving Day football game was held as the Detroit Lions hosted the Chicago Bears. This tradition began as a way to bring more attention to the NFL.

1939

Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized the holiday as the start of the shopping season.  In the attempt to boost sales for retailers and boost the economy, FDR declared the Thanksgiving holiday to be the third Thursday in November instead of the fourth.  He did not receive a good response and many nicknamed the day “Franksgiving.”

1941

Due to the lack of support for Franksgiving, congress declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Photo credit: Erika Bainbridge

Photo credit: Erika Bainbridge

 

It is worth mentioning that this timeline is not all inclusive. Thanksgiving is also a Puritan tradition.  The Puritans would devote days of giving thanks an praise.  Regardless if the tradition is religious, historical or both, Thanksgiving is a day to join with family and friends and collectively give thanks.

Fun Fact: While pumpkin pie was not part of the first harvest meal, pumpkin pie is now a traditional Thanksgiving dish.  Illinois produces 90% of the nation’s canned pumpkins.

Find more information at history.com.


‘Tis the season

The holidays are quickly approaching. Many have begun that Christmas

Copyright: lightstock.com

Copyright: lightstock.com

shopping and while we still have a week to count the things we are thankful for, in just eight days the madness will begin.  Maybe madness is an inappropriate word to describe the season, but I like to be realistic (also, I work in retail).

The madness I am referring to is the frantic shopping, the last minute shopping and the I’m-trying-to-find-the-perfect-gift shopping. A time that is supposed to be filled with joy can quickly turn to a time filled with stress. When faced with stress from perfecting your gift, look back and remember that only a month before you were celebrating thankfulness.

The Christmas season is a wonderful time filled with giving; embrace it.  We give gifts to each other, strangers and charities, but we often forget why.  This season is filled with joy and peace amidst the hustle and bustle.  Here is a passage on giving to keep in mind this season:

Matthew 6:1-4
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven. 2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have recieved their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be done in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”