When I was a little girl, I remember watching the movie Cinderella, wondering if one day I would become a princess and get swept off of my feet by Prince Charming.  I would also stand mesmerized when I saw the Disney Princesses dance across the forecourt stage at Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando.  While I never truly aspired to be a “princess” when I grew up, I often wondered what it would be like to have a glistening crown placed upon my head.  I vividly recall playing dress up with my friends, where I would put on a fancy dress, high heel shoes, and a little plastic tiara.  I would twirl around just like a little princess, enjoying my reign, no matter how temporary it may have been.  Years ago, when I was pretending to be a princess, God must have been smiling up in Heaven.  You see, God has always known that today, one of my childhood dreams really would come true.

Today, I was crowned Ms. Suwannee County Fair 2011.  Standing on the platform, receiving my crown, sash, and trophies, I stood in awe that God would give me this opportunity.  I truly felt like a princess.  I was humbled, very shocked, and felt completely overjoyed.  Nearly every emotion ran through my mind like a whirlwind.  As I filled out the application several weeks ago, I wondered why I suddenly had a desire to enter my first beauty pageant.  Still, the desire was there, so I forged ahead with my plans.  Now I know God must have been nudging me all along, knowing how happy I would be with the outcome.  He knew that I, a daughter of the King, would enjoy a journey to cloud nine.  He knew my nearly perpetual smile would grow just a little bit wider when the crown was placed upon my head. 

Having lived in Suwannee County all of my life, earning the title Ms. Suwannee County Fair is quite special to me.  I have literally grown up watching the county fair change over the years.  And yet, there are a lot of things that have remained the same.  Walking past the Livestock Barn, I fondly remember my ten years in 4-H when I participated in the swine show, goat show, pet show…you name it, I was in it!  When I walk through the youth exhibits, I remember the countless hours my Mom and I spent with other 4-Hers, preparing and building masterpieces in those perfectly square, blue curtained spaces.  As I walk through the midway, I think of the first time I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl, and when I visit the petting zoo, I remember the time the owner of the previous petting zoo gave me my first pygmy goat.  The county fair holds so many fond memories, and I am grateful to the Lord for allowing me to create new memories.  From the infamous corn boil to the Lion’s Club food pavilion and the poultry barn to the crafts exhibit, the county fair will always hold a special place in my heart.

Even amid the unfathomable joy that continues to fill my heart, my first ever pageant win was somewhat bittersweet at first.  I couldn’t help but think how proud my Mom would have been and how excited she would have been to see me crowned in my first pageant, receiving my first sash and my first crown.  Still, I am so thankful that I have my Dad here, supporting me in everything I do.  The past couple of years have been very difficult for us.  Old experiences are hard because my Mom, Dad, and I did them together.  New experiences are tough because I wish my Mom had been able to experience them with my Dad and me.  There are times when I want to avoid new things altogether because my Mom is not here.  In the past few months, God has helped me see that I can still enjoy life without my Mom.  It is a new and different “normal,” but my Dad and I are able to embrace new experiences, anticipating the amazing father-daughter adventures that God has in store.  And I have been able to fully enjoy new experiences like my trip to All Access in Nashville and my first beauty pageant.  Although there was a time when I wondered why God would give me all of these new experiences now, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that has a dream for my life.  Today, part of this dream came true.

While receiving this earthly crown has filled me with indescribable delight, there is another crown that I know will fill me with joy like I have never known before.  It does not bring with it a trophy or a sash, but instead, this crown is accompanied by eternal life.  2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV) says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  In life, we will experience difficulties that are beyond our control.  We will see and hear things that are beyond the reach of our understanding.  In these moments, we need to remember that God has everything under control.  God wants us to put our faith and trust in Him.  He will lead us to new experiences that are beyond our wildest dreams.  And with each new experience, we will simultaneously find joy on earth, and we will be one step closer to finishing this earthly race and obtaining our Heavenly crown.
In Christ's Love,