Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Miss America is Here: Why Am I Competing?


It's finally here! Can you believe it? Tomorrow I will be heading to Denver, from which I will fly out to Las Vegas and begin the ten-day journey to the final Miss America Pageant, culminating in one lucky girl being crowned the new Miss America on Saturday, January 15th. ...Or is it luck?


When I began competing in the pageant system at 13 years old, I really only did it because my older sister Sarah had competed in her first pageant two years prior. So of course, when I turned 13 I just HAD to compete in the same pageant, and the pressure was on to win as she had. I did win that first County Fair pageant in Scottsbluff, but I also had so much fun that I didn't want to stop there; I was hooked. I soon found out about the Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen system, and began competing in locals, and once at the state level, throughout the next four years.


Over the years, my parents have had two main reasons they supported my involvement in this organization. One was of course, the scholarship money. The Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the world, and because I'm planning on attending law school, we're looking at seven years of college; so scholarships are very important! The second had to do with the rules of the competition. In order to compete in the Miss America system, you must be between the ages of 17 and 24... and you cannot be married. When they saw that I had my heart set on competing as long as I could, possibly until age 24, they found that as their security that I would not get married until I was at least 25. I guess I ruined that plan by winning at 17. Oops!

As I continued my involvement in pageants however, I found my own reasons for competing. For years, I had been searching for a place where I excelled; a place where I felt I belonged or was meant to be. As a dancer, singer, pianist, guitarist, gymnast, speaker, and actress, I found that although I did well in each area, I wasn't willing to completely dedicate myself to any one area as many others were. When I found pageantry, I realized that God had prepared me for this competition by creating me to love diversity, and here was the place I could use the talents He had given me.


During Miss Nebraska week in North Platte, I began a journal in which I recorded not only the events of each day, but also a passage of Scripture and my thoughts and prayers. At the end of the week, on June 5th, 2010, just hours before the final competition, I was reading 2 Timothy and chose chapter 2, verse 15 as particularly applicable to me. It reads: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." As I thought about that verse and how it applied to me, I wrote the following prayer:


Dear God, please help me to be a diligent servant not only today but from here on out. Give me the strength and wisdom to accurately handle your word of truth and the diligence and perseverance necessary to be a worker who is not ashamed. I wish to be a shining light for you, a glowing example of who you are, and a grain of salt in a tasteless world. Whether or not this is achieved through a position, crown, title, or job, please place me exactly where you need me to be an effective ambassador for you. I am clay in your hands, your humble servant, willing to do whatever you wish for me in your perfect plan. I love you so much and thank you for blessing me so tremendously and bestowing such outstanding opportunity on me. My greatest wish is to exemplify your love through my words and actions in order to bring others to you.
Your Loving Daughter, Teresa


That night I won the title of Miss Nebraska. From that, I know that this is exactly where God wants me to be, and He has a plan for each and every day of my life, not only this year, but every year. That was my prayer then; it has been my prayer these six months; it will be my prayer these next weeks at Miss America; and it will continue to be my prayer for the rest of my life. If I win the title of Miss America, I will know it is His will. If I do not win, and continue the next six months as Miss Nebraska, I will know it is His will. How incredibly calming it is to know that my life is in His hands!


No matter what happens, my prayer continues to be simply that I will fulfill His purpose in everything that I do. If you had not previously known my reasons and purpose behind why I do what I do, I hope you now understand what I believe my calling to be. Why am I competing in the Miss America competition over the next ten days? Because God has placed me in this position to show His love. Please pray that I might be able to accomplish this, and as always, please feel free to share your thoughts and comments as to how I might better achieve these things.


Well, I will not be posting until I return from Vegas, but stay tuned for all the details when I get back! Once again, thank you for your incredible support and encouragement; I wouldn't be here without you!


To God Be The Glory,

Teresa

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog post Teresa! What a calm and peaceful way to approach your coming week. God Bless!

thelocalconn said...

Hi Teresa, I just happened to log on to the Galaxy of Stars web site tonight & saw & read about you, and your journey to Las Vegas.

Much luck (if you need it)in this undertaking. I am also quite inmpressed with your attitude, centered around God's will. If it's meant to be, it will be done.

I can't imagine a better person to representative "Go Big Red" Nebraska than you Teresa. Go get em!

Dan Reisdorff
Lincoln, NE

Shina Willson said...

very informative and interesting blog.
Thanks for sharing:-)

Anonymous said...

You won

Casey Valerie Linsey said...

Without a doubt, you are such an inspiration and a role model to young women all across the country. Your dedication to a higher purpose and willingness to serve are characteristics that make you shine. You are America's ideal.

Thank you so much for all of your work as Miss Nebraska. Thank you for taking the time to respond to so many emails, including my own. Thank you for the work you do to empower young women and explain true beauty. I am so proud that our country has a wonderful Miss America!

susan oldham said...

Congrats!!! I just watched your beautiful crowning and was so touched as you gave Him the glory! - loved reading your blog and know you will touch so many lived during your reign. Blessings. Susan oldham, mom of three and grandmoomy to be in spartanburg sc

Anonymous said...

COngratulations! I just tuned in to see you win and when I saw you raise your hand toward heaven I thought to myself, she must be a christian. After reading your blog I see that is true. Thank you for honoring God in such a wonderful way! God Bless!

mrsgriff said...

First, congratulations! I'm so excited for you. I love your post. You are so mature for 17. God is (and will continue) using you in an unbelievable way! I'll be praying for you! To HIM be the glory!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You did amazing! We are sooo proud of you!

Rachel @ Grasping for Objectivity said...

Congratulations on your win tonight!! I can't imagine how excited you are!!

This blog post is amazing - what a great testimony!! I also keep a spiritual journal, and have had many amazing moments because of it. It's such an awesome way to meet with God AND have it recorded to be able to always look back on it!

Thanks so much for sharing your faith and being an awesome example to young women!

Dawn Siska said...

I am in awe of our maturity and your steadfast realtionship with the Lord. May God continue to guide you and open the doors He has for you to walk through and speak into the lives of those who need to hear your heart.
Blessed,
Dawn Siska

mjsammy said...

Wow! It was so exciting to see a Nebraska girl win! I'm so excited of the example that you will be setting for all of the little girls who will be looking up to you! Thank you for sharing your faith! What a great opportunity God has given you!

Anonymous said...

I guess you won't be returning home for a while. Congrats!

Michaela Ann said...

How inspiring! I stumbled upon your blog after the show and read your reasons for competing in pageants. Your words were so uplifting! You deserve all the glory of the crown you just won! You have done well following God's path for you and I hope you enjoy doing so as the new Miss America! Congratulations Teresa; Nebraska is so very proud of you!

Barnhouse Family said...

Congratulations! So proud of your conviction and God has put you exactly where He wants you. He will continue to use your witness and testimony for His glory! May you be blessed this year as you travel representing our country and our Lord!

Anonymous said...

My roommate and I just watched the Miss America Program on tv and saw you win. First of all congratulations! Secondly, we are so happy to have such a wonderful Christian woman to be our reigning Miss America. It is nice to know that God is putting some light back into the country. Keep shining for him and we will be praying for you!

-Jennifer and Brittany

StephieAnne said...

We just watched the pageant and as we saw you take your crown, my husband and I glowed as we looked at each other and said, "she's a believer". The adoration in your gesture of looking upward to give God all the glory was obvious.

I just read your blogpost aloud to my husband and we both got teary-eyed. Just like Esther - for you - "such a time as this" - Praise the Lord that you were given this opportunity and that you strive to shine such a bright light for Him.

Congratulations from our little family in Oregon - including our own little nine year old blondie that looks to you as a role model now.

Blesssings!!!!!!

Beth said...

You were beautiful tonight!....Your true beauty was shown through your immediate glance up:towards God. Towards the ONLY one capable of having you stand on your own two healthy feet accepting such responsibility.

Thank you for sharing this post with everyone. What a blessing to have such a beautiful, Christian lady representing our wonderful country! Continue to let God guide you as you travel with the crown this year!

~Beth

c w cadora said...

And there Y O U ARE our Miss America, just where He wants you to be. : ) Que Bravo!

all4him said...

God has chosen you, not man to be a light to many. There will be many temptations, but He has brought you this far. Walk in HIM - giving each day to the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5&6

Grateful for this opportunity for you,

Brenda - a fellow Christian

Anonymous said...

Hi Teresa! I was so excited to see you win Miss America! I know you will make a great role model for Nebraska and for America! I have been in pageants before but I have never won a pageant. I didn't go for a pageant last year and I have been debating if I should go for a pageant this year. As I was watching the Miss America pageant tonight, I said a pray in my head. If Miss Nebraska wins I should go for a pageant this year and when I read this blog that you put up, it made up my mind. I know God has the best to come for you! You are an outstanding young lady! Take care! In Christ, Barb =)

Jenn said...

CONGRATS ON GETTING MISS AMERICA TONIGHT!!! proud of you--such an awesome platform as well. Nebraska needs more awareness definitely!

Jean said...

Congratulations! You represent our state well but even better, I love that you give God the glory!

Becky Harimon said...

Congratulations! I am so proud, not only as a woman who grew up in Gering, but more importantly, as a Sister in Christ! To be honest, I hadn't been following the pageants till right at the end tonight, when I heard the Miss Nebraska was in the top 5. I switched the channel just as the announcers said congrats to Miss Nebraska, the new Miss America for 2011. (my paraphrase). My hearts prayer for you is that the next year will give you many opportunities to share the Love of Christ with those you come in contact with and that as people watch you, they would see the glow of the Holy Spirit on you and want to know what makes you so different. Praise GOD for this opportunity.

Glamour Tags World Wide said...

Teresa I feel blessed to be the first to respond on your blog!

CONGRATULATIONS MISS AMERICA!!!

After reading your blog and seeing your picture, I am DELIGHTED that you did this for the glory of God!

He just blessed your socks off girl and showed off His wonderful way of honoring your pure heart! So excited you are from my home town and that you love the Lord AND are representing our country.

I screamed in my living room when I saw you win! YOU DESERVED IT and nailed that piano with that red dress on. Simply stunning.

Cheryl Engelhaupt is a long time friend of our family and fellow church member. Her daughter Shelly has been a friend since 3rd grade and occasionally we catch the teen pageant when we are home in Scottsbluff.

Not sure if you know my grandparents Marvin and Shirley Johns in Scottsbluff, but I bet they know you - they are pretty popular back there.

Just have to gush and tell you
that I pray God will open more doors in a way that you never expected and that your reign will carry you long long long past "just this year" as a crowned queen.

Our JESUS has big plans for your future my fellow Cornhusker.

Woohoo!!! To God, our Savior, be the glory indeed.

Yours in the LOVE of Christ,

ReAnn Ring

Jen Schwartz said...

Beautiful! What an incredible testament of God's plan for you! Too often, we do not listen. I admire your steadfast desire to follow His calling for you and in believing!

LawGirl0731 said...

Congratulations Teresa! I was thrilled to read that you are planning to attend my alma mater- Patrick Henry College. It's a great school and I hope you love your time there!

Lisa Petrarca said...

What an amazing testament to your true purpose here on earth. In a world that is trying to push God out of everything, it's wonderful to see someone in a public position, with a platform, stand up for what they believe in.

Please don't ever back down from your beliefs, even when the hard questions and ridicule comes regarding it. God opens doors NO ONE can close!

I was very moved by this post and know that God has an incredible plan for your life!

http://bowlofinspiration.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Awesome....and now you can show all of America what god can do!!! Have a wonderful year!!

Rita said...

Congratulations, Miss America! You are a very special young woman. I loved reading your story..God has placed you in a position of great influence and honor. What a blessing. Have a wonderful year!

Cory Lamb said...

Not sure what all to say other than I'm very impressed by this post. I had never heard of you till tonight when I saw your name on twitter and somebody talking about you being a Christian. I decided to follow the link and check your blog out. From this one post I can tell you love Jesus and want to bring him glory. There aren't many girls like you in the world. Keep it up, and I'm praying for you. By the way if you have ever had thoughts of being a missionary, hit me up when you turn 24 or stop competing. Just kidding! Well Kinda. Haha

Anonymous said...

awesome testimony. When I saw you win and point upward, I immediately checked to see if you were a Christian. Great testimony!

Delilah said...

i would like to say that this post gaveme goose bumps...why???Because you are a very bright and intelligent young lady....Not all 17yr olds are this out spoken and concentrative on one thing...Your right god did want you to win that crown because he knew u are the one to reach out to children your age and under...Congrats once agian!!!!

nrtfox@avenuebroadband.com said...

YOU ARE GOD'S CHOSEN REPRESENTATIVE. YOU GAVE HIM THE GLORY AND YOU WERE RIGHT TO DO SO. GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU AS YOU SERVE HIM AND ANGELS ON YOUR PILLOWS. NANCY TILLERY FOX

Troy Grover said...

Congrats! Way to represent Nebraska :)

Simona and Domantas said...

Congrats from Lithuania!

Simona and Domantas

beautifulbeyond said...

Dear Teresa, I am so excited to see a sister in the Lord become Miss America! :) Your desire to honour Him as you seek His kingdom and His will moved and encouraged me deeply. I feel so happy and so grateful for you! (and I'm not even American, lol!) I pray the Lord will continue to guide you, protect you and keep you in His unchanging love. May you be a shining light for Him!
Love and prayers,
Lee

dvbmech said...

Hmm you won it very well! You deserve it and keep it up.Make this world a happy place by putting more real smiles on many more people who would look upon you.

dvbmech said...

Hmm you won it very well! You deserve it and keep it up.Make this world a happy place by putting more real smiles on many more people who would look upon you. Awesome at 17 you have achieved something that many would even dream of.

edladz said...

I saw the link to your blog through my niece's blog. Congratulations for winning the Miss America title. You are a blessing to a lot of little girls, teenagers, young adults and older women (like myself). I was reading your blogs and I'm so amazed of how you are so grounded in your faith and how much you love God. Keep it up and let your light shine so you will be an inspiration to many people.

Marie said...

A dear friend of mine sent me this on twitter. He has an amazing heart and somehow knows what I need, when I need it.

thanks for this reminder that no matter what happens, when we are right in the center of God's will that it's all joy!!

I pray the best for you, but more than that, I pray that you soak up the hugs, laughter, fun and blissful JOY that awaits you!

{{HUGS}}
@spreadingJOY

Marie said...

I'm surprised that I am the first one to comment, but alas, I am! Congratulations, and may you continue to find your purpose by leaving it up to Him, and doing your best...

Roxie said...

Glory to God for his wondrous work in your life! When you gave Him the credit at your win last night (I was in the audience in the theatre) I wanted to find out more about your devotion to my Lord. My prayer for you is that He continues to guide you, set a path for you, protect you, and make Himself very evident to you. Congratulations for your awesome win, and thank you for being His Light!

Angie Shaw said...

Dear Teresa,
As one of your Westway family, I have prayed for you throughout your reign as Miss Nebraska. Actually, it started long before that. I was blessed to watch you compete in the Scottsbluff County Fair pageant at the Midwest Theatre! I still remember getting goose-bumps when I first heard you play WhiteWater Chopsticks-- and THEN... last night, as you played on the biggest stage of your life, I cried, knowing that God had something bigger for you! When I read your blog post and prayer last week, I recommitted myself to praying for you, your journey, your heart, and your walk with the Lord.

I just want you to know how proud of you I am, for keeping your central focus on the Lord, and believing with your whole heart that God would use you no matter what, no matter where, no matter the outcome.

With your permission, I would like to somehow gather together a dedicated prayer team for you, to pray for you and over you as you embark on this incredible jouney as Miss America. I laid awake last night thinking what a HUGE UNDERTAKING this is going to be, but equally, how HUGE the blessings are going to be both for you and for the people whose lives you touch all along the journey!

Today, is Sunday-- the Lord's Day!Your very first full day as Miss America! BLESSINGS TO YOU as you honor the Lord with your whole life!
Your HEavenly Father is smiling upon you sweet girl~ I know that He's nodding his head, saying, "Well done my child! Well done!"
In Christian Love,
Angie Shaw

Paula Kathlyn said...

What an awesome testimony and a great attitude about competing. I believe that no matter what we are doing we are to do it for the honor and glory of God! God's will is for you to be Miss America this year and what a great platform you have to be able to share His love! Congratulations!

Your sister in Christ,
Kathlyn

Julie H. said...

When you won, I was so touched by you diverting the glory off of YOU to HIM! Thank you for your testimony! I too believe that God has placed you there for His glory! May you only be strengthened in Him through all of this! GOD BLESS YOU for your stand - you can be popular, beautiful, talented - and still please God!!! I had to look up and see what your story was - I'm glad I did! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! its awsome to see God work in the pagent world! You go with God girl! from O'Neill

Marci said...

1-16-11 CONGRATULATIONS! I watched you being crowned Miss America last night in Las Vegas, NV - what a beautiful woman you are inside and out! What an opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ! God bless you in all that you do in your lifetime. Your sister in Christ - Marci Walker - Kearney, NE

Anonymous said...

What an inspiration! Congratulations on winning! As a girl from NE I am very proud that someone so spiritual would represent my home state as the first ever to win Miss America from Nebraska!

grace3104 said...

Big congratulatons from Kearney! And praise be to God may he use you mightily!
Becky Wilkins

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your life during your journey to Miss America. It brought tears to my eyes.

Have a wonderful year!! I know you'll be touching so many lifes in so many amazing ways.

Thank you!
Lisa

Mary Beth said...

Congratulations! Aren't Gods plans amazing. Thanks for your story an around testimony. It will be exciting to see how HE uses you this coming year. And thanks for being an example of a Godly young lady for my daughter.

becca said...

Happy to have you as our Miss America. I pray you reach many youth throughout your year and life.

Teresa said...

What a blessing you are to so many people! I have to admit that I didn't even see the pagent on TV, but just reading your blog and hearing the comments on FB lets me know that God does still have a remnant!!! So many people just think of themselves every day of their life and sometimes I am one of them. But your words reinforce to me that what I go through is GOD's WILL and He has a purpose and plan for my life. I am 42 yrs old and am disabled........suffering from many illnesses including fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylosis, IBS, RLS, severe migraines, arthritis and on & on. Some days I can't even get out of bed, but this gives me courage to keep going because giving HIM the glory is all that really matters. Thank you so much!
Teresa Steading

Brandi said...

Your story is so incredible!! I compete in pageants also and I've always prayed that if this is God's plan for me then I would win that certain pageant! God is so amazing in the way he answers our prayers and the things he sees fit for us that we could not even imagine.You are such a role model to me just by this blog, and in seeing how close your relationship is with God. I pray that God uses your year in service, as Miss America, as a way for people to seeing the glow of God shine through you in everything you do! I know you will go on to do incredible things, and I wish you the best of luck!
-BLew

Ginger said...

I think you did a wonderful job of stating your reasons for competing! Congratulations on winning Miss America! To God be the glory for sure! Several years ago now I lived in Scottsbluff and worked at the hospital as a secretary on the same unit as your dad. When I heard your name and that you were from Nebraska I was eager to see if you were related. One view of your parents in the audience had me convinced it was indeed the same. You have a wonderful family. Your father was one of the best doctors on the floor. I can tell he has passed on his faith and character to you. I will be keeping you in prayers as you go into this coming year. I know God is going to use you in amazing ways! Keep your eyes on Him!

Anonymous said...

I love that you love the Lord. You showed it when you won. You are an inspiration to many and this facet is your best "talent." May He always walk by your side. You made us proud when you won...God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Teresa,

God is with you. You are such a great inspiration, and I admire your zeal for the almighty God. You are like Esther from the Bible. May Gid give you strength in all things. Thank you for giving me so much through what you stand for. God only He is to be glorified!

Congrats on your win :)

HEADLINES said...

You are there Now Miss America and what a fine instrument God has chosen.Congratulations and always remember John 6:44..Have a Great year young lady and I hope I can schedule you for a fund raiser for my daughters s/ball team.I have emailed Kathy McBride about it.Your in my prayers...

Anonymous said...

Teresa,
Praise Jesus. Wow!! What a way to share God's love. You have the ability to affect so many people's lives. I, a 25 year old, was in tears as I read your entry after you won the crown. I was also in tears as I watched you humbly accept the crown, giving God all of the glory. You have encouraged me to live every part of my life to show Christ's love. Thank you for encouraging me today. I can only imagine how many lives you will affect through Christ. I pray lives will be change and you will be richly blessed. :)

Anonymous said...

Teresa,
Praise Jesus. Wow!! What a way to share God's love. You have the ability to affect so many people's lives. I, a 25 year old, was in tears as I read your entry after you won the crown. I was also in tears as I watched you humbly accept the crown, giving God all of the glory. You have encouraged me to live every part of my life to show Christ's love. Thank you for encouraging me today. I can only imagine how many lives you will affect through Christ. I pray lives will be change and you will be richly blessed. :)

Anonymous said...

Being Western Nebraska natives now living in Colorado - we are so very proud of you. May God continue to Bless you and keep you in his hands. Congratulations!!!

Drew Zickert said...

Hey I watched the miss america contest last night and I have to say you are one incredibly talent girl. I've been playing piano for 10 years now and that song was amazing and now I'm learning how to play it. I still can't believe you're only 17, we're the same age haha. Well, I just want to say Congratulations on winning miss america and good luck in the future!!!

ddetrik said...

Congratulations Miss America.
As a former board member of the Ag Society for the Fair I want to congratulate you on your accomplishment.
I am so proud of you and your faith in God.
Thank you for your faith and belief in God on your journey. You WILL be a shining light and salt to the earth. You will have many opportunities to share your faith. You will also be persecuted for that faith. ALWAYS TRUST GOD and he will give you strength. Remeber Isiah 40:31.
God Bless you Miss America

ddetrik said...

Congratulations Miss America.
I am so proud of you and want to be one of the first to tell you.
I am a past member of the Ag Society for the Fair and appreciate your accomplishments.
May God Bless you richly.
You will find persecution for your religious beliefs, ALWAYS TRUST GOD. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Isiah 40:31 will help strengthen you.
GOD BLESS YOU on your journey. Scottsbluff County Fair is proud of you.
Dave

Coco said...

Congratulations!!! I just watched the PVR'ed version of that pageant and spotted you right away. You shine, girl! You really shine. Thank you, thank you, thank YOU for setting such a wonderful example for the little princesses everywhere. Bless you as you serve.

Coco said...

Congratulations!!! I just watched the PVR'ed version of that pageant and spotted you right away. You shine, girl! You really shine. Thank you, thank you, thank YOU for setting such a wonderful example for the little princesses everywhere. Bless you as you serve.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and continued success during your reign.
Thanks be to God!

Angela said...

wonderful testimony God's work in your life...i work with teenage girls at my church and will definitely be letting them read your blog post and using you as an example to them of a proper and glorifying attitude and response to the places and opportunities that God gives us in life...will be praying for you to continue steadfast in your committment to glorify Him in everything you do. I especially loved the quote "if I win, it is His will, if I don't it is His will"...such a testimony to relying on the sovereignty of God in our lives....thank you!!