Crowns, Banners, and Dreams

What makes National American Miss so special?

A girl can be told she is beautiful. She can get all dolled up in a beautiful dress and have her hair and makeup done to feel like a princess. She can even wear a crown on her head and a banner across her chest with a title that she has just been given for winning a pageant. Many people call them “beauty pageants”, assuming that looks is the only way one can win these types of competitions. But at National American Miss, a scholarship pageant for girls ages 5-21, it is not all about the title, but about the journey to become the best you can be.

With required competitions like formal wear, personal introduction and interview, and many other optional competitions, National American Miss contestants are given the opportunity to confidently walk, speak, and perform on a stage in front of hundreds of people while also learning many other skills that will help them to succeed in the future. The girls learn how to be poised, speak with eloquence and passion, and how to dream big and set goals that they will one day achieve with determination.

Aside from all of the hard work during competition week, the girls dedicate the months leading up to the pageant to preparing. With the high cost of competition fees, and buying gowns, suits, shows, talent costumes, etc., each contestant has to work hard to raise money. Many girls work hard to find sponsors, or to save their own money to cover the costs.Many girls compete multiple times before winning their first title, and although it is every contestants’ goal to walk away with the crown, the girls that don’t give up say that they learned the most from the times that they didn’t win and used those times to motivate themselves to work harder the following year. As Courtney Jamison, National American Miss 2014 Queen says, “in life you either win or you learn.”

So although it may look like just makeup, rhinestones, and pretty gowns, National American Miss is so much more than just a beauty pageant. Girls that compete in this pageant can walk on stage with the hopes and dreams of winning a state or national title, and whether or not they do earn that title, they can walk away with important life skills, friendships, and confidence. A girl at National American Miss is a girl with dreams that she pursues, and one who inspires others to pursue their own dreams.

What does the pageant and year of reign look like?

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Girls of different ages compete in the pageant. Since National American Miss is about promoting inner beauty, the contestants are not allowed to wear makeup until they reach the Jr. Teen division at age 13.

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A contestant sharing her talent in an optional competition in front of a crowd of hundreds of people

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The exciting winning moment!

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Each contestant is required to donate a toy or school item for the community involvement competition, which goes towards 10% of their overall score. The winning queens then donate these items to a school or charity of their choice.

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Once the queen is chosen, she is encouraged to spend her year of reign giving back to her community and representing her state in a positive way.

Aside from giving back and representing her state, what else does a queen do with her title? Competes in the National competition of course!

National American Miss 2014 Queen Courtney Jamison shares why National American Miss is so important in her life!

Although some girls win a title at their first pageant, it takes many girls more than one try to win. The chart below shows how many girls (out of 50 polled) won on their first try, how many had to compete two or more times to win, and how many came back to NAM because it impacted their life!

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Chasing Dreams

Former National American Miss California Teen, and my twin sister Nicole Hornaday, is not only a queen with a crown, but one with a heart of gold and a passion to achieve her dreams no matter what challenge she is faced with.

An All-American girl from the small town of Chino Hills California, Nicole grew up watching the Miss America pageant every year with her grandma and always dreamed to be the queen crowned on stage in front of hundreds of people. In 2008, at the age of 14 she decided to make her dreams come true and participated in her first pageant with the National American Miss program. Sitting down for an interview with Nicole, she shared with me her pageant journey throughout the years, with all of the highs and lows, and everything in between.

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Sitting down for an interview with Nicole, I first asked her how she felt after competing in her very first pageant.

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After competing in her first pageant and not having the outcome she had hoped for, Nicole knew what she had to do to continue chasing her dream.

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When all of her hard work had payed off and she won the title her second year, Nicole was proud of her accomplishments and she shared with me how it felt to achieve the goal that she had been working towards.

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Nicole has grown in many ways during her years of competing in pageants, especially through the let downs and discouragement.

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Finally, Nicole share with me some advice about chasing dreams, striving to be the best you can be, and not giving up even after being discouraged.

https://soundcloud.com/marissa-hornaday/interview-5

Little Things

Meet Talia Moyer. She is a 20 year old Junior at Point Loma Nazarene University and she has a heart of gold. She is always humble, always generous, and always kind. She always assumes the best in people and is one of those rare beautiful people who makes you believe that you can do anything. She is a shoulder to cry on and arms to give you a hug on a bad day. She is a smile that lights up a room and a laugh that is infectious, and she enjoys the little things in life and appreciates little, every day miracles.

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“I enjoy the little things in life because sometimes they end up being the biggest things. And, if I’m focused on the greatness of the little things, I am less weighed down by the heaviness of the things that aren’t always so great. Life is just more enjoyable when you take time to realize how great the simple, little things are.” -TM

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 “Bowling class is this place where I can de-stress and have fun. It’s one of those simple things that brightens up my week. Surprisingly, I’ve been doing better than I expected to, but even if I throw 5 gutter balls in a row, it’s still a time of laughter and allowing my mind to rest.” -TM

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“My brother happens to be one of my favorite people in the world, and California burritos also happen to be one of my favorite things in California. Getting to share the things I love with the people I love makes me happy. This is especially true when my brother lives in New Mexico, so these little moments are something I try to enjoy even more.” -TM

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“Sunset are the bomb. Especially at Loma. Being from New Mexico, I’ve seen some amazing sunsets, but there’s nothing compared to watching it set over the ocean. It’s such a wonderful gift that we’ve been give at PLNU, and so often I forget to enjoy it. But, I am always so grateful in the moments where I stop for even just a few minutes to appreciate such a daily thing.” -TM

It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday struggles and hardships of life that the little things can be completely disregarded. Having struggles are just as important as noticing the little things because the bad things make the good little things better. So if we open our eyes to recognize the little things and see them as little miracles, maybe we can make them almost as big as the bigger things.

Time to Lose Control

Going to a Christian school, it seems as if it would be easy for students to grow in their faith, to be surrounded by friends who can keep them accountable and making sure they are walking down the correct path. We all go to chapel, take the required Bible classes, have a smile on our faces and say we are “good” when someone says, “hey, how are you?” We act like we have it all under control when really our lives are  chaotic mess of things just falling out of order all over the place.

This week was Point Loma Nazarene University’s “Renewal Week,” designed to encourage students to take time away from all of the stress, school work and crazy life things that they have going on and just devote everything to God.

If you have grown up in a Christian home, or go to a Christian school we hear that all the time, but you know what? I think it might be 100% true.

Well-known blogger and TED Talk speaker Hannah Brencher, wrote a blog post entitled Do What it Takes to Make Me Your Gold. In it she discusses her struggle to give all control to God and encourages other to strive to do that. “I am running, and doing, and pulling, and prying, and trying my hardest (my absolute hardest) to make life move without him.”

The first piece of advice she gives is to give up control. It is as if God has a list of things to change within us, and that can make it easier for us to want to resist Him taking control because change is scary.

She also describes the world’s lack of trust in God as pointing to the fact that “the world has constructed a lot of gods out of God” (HB). He is seen as the God of wrath, the party-pooper, the lukewarm God, or the God that showers you with love. So how can we give control to this God who seems so inconsistent?

Our major fault that restricts us from giving all control over to God is that we try to get in the way. We are so caught up in trying to make things right for ourselves that we don’t have the time to hear what God is constantly trying to tell us: “I want so much of you. I am so jealous for you. I love you bigger. Bigger than your little mind can ever know. And that is why I can never leave you this way.  Sitting in the tubs of your own emptiness. That is why I can’t keep you here, clutching old garments of your past” (HB).

So how about you lose control. Let all of the things that you have been trying to carry fall to the ground and don’t pick them up. If you give God the permission to pick it up for you and give Him your attention, you may just hear everything He has been trying to tell you and you may just find that things fall right into place.

You Are

You are quietly confident, but your quietness can be perceived as weakness. You are standing in a crowded room and you maybe know a lot of people but you’re still standing alone because you don’t quite fit in. Or maybe you avoid the crowded room altogether because the thought of even trying to conform to the way everyone expects you to be or act scares you. We all are trying to find our place in this world right? There is so much stress put on us to do well in school, to find a good job and be successful, to just deal with all of the heartbreaks and letdowns because sulking around in your room eating ice cream all day would set us back from reaching these goals that the world has for us. But what about those who dare to be different?

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are immeasurably more, you are covered in grace, you are important (read this Thought Catalog post to remind you how important you are). So don’t stop being you because there is only one you and the world would be missing a very important piece without you. We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we can put our trust in the One who holds tomorrow and who will be there to hold our hand and to remind us how wonderful we are. So in the words of Hunter Hayes, “Every heart has a rhythm, let yours beat so loudly that everyone can hear it.”

crystal“I am a little bit silly, but a whole lot blessed!” – Crystal

“I am a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister and a little crazy. When life gets you down and out there is always going to be a bend in the road and it may get harder, but it will always lead you to what you were meant to go and what you were meant to have in front of you. Each of us are amazing in our way and it may take you years to find yourself but keep looking never stop growing.” – Shannon

erin “I am afraid of my own individualism, yet enjoy acting in eccentric ways.. The human mind baffles me everyday!” – Erin

“I am white. I am privileged. But I do not receive the same white privilege as most.” -Tyler