Last year (my sophomore year in college), I wanted to compete in Miss Arkansas again. I poured my heart into it and when I didn't exactly meet my goal... I crumbled. My self-esteem and confidence shattered, and I struggled through a few months of incredible insecurities. I decided that I needed to be stretched, and pulled outside of my comfort zone. I needed to be in a situation where only God could strengthen me and recreate my identity. That's when I applied to work as the summer intern at the Promise House...

The Promise House is a shelter for pregnant teenagers in partnership with the Arkansas Southern Baptist Convention. I lived in the house 6 days a week. I scheduled fun activities and bible studies for the girls... but the friendship is what mattered the most.
It took almost three weeks for the girls to accept me as a friend. We didn't understand each other at first. They came from a different family and school situations than me. They were also expecting babies, something that I knew very little about. They taught me things I didn't know about boys and music and cars with rims and UNO and Degrassi tv shows and crazy things! Sometimes, the girls didn't get along and not everything I did was not appreciated. It wasn't an easy summer.
But what I learned from the girls is priceless. They valued true love. True friendship. I valued the time I had with them picking out clothes for their babies, tie-dyeing, eating late night snacks, and encouraging them. Before long, the girls would say that they missed me when I would take a day off. They would always show me what they sewed in sewing class or clothing they got for their babies. Because I showed them love, I had influence.
I would post more pictures, but I am not legally allowed to post pictures of the girls. :(

So What? I made friends with girls that had many mistakes. They were now in a situation where they would become a teenage mother. Some girls would not have help from the baby's father or her immediate family in raising the child. The girls were graciously given many baby items from the Promise House, but eventually they would have to work to support their child. And what about school? college? career?

I intentionally began asking questions about their future. If they didn't have answers, at least I provoked them into thinking about it. I encouraged the girls before and after labor. I still keep in contact with my girls. Although, I don't call as often as I should... I love them still. I realized that these girls need second chances. These girls need mentors to empower them to move forward. These girls need encouragement when life is quite difficult. These girls won't have a bright future unless they are given second chances for family, school, jobs, and friendships. They need second chances...
We all need second chances! We all have moments in life where things are difficult because we goofed up... and this is the lesson the girls taught me. I now strive to empower youth in need of a second chance. I now look for opportunities to mentor youth in crisis. I now encourage others to give second chances. I now appreciate all of my second chances. I now spread the message to believe in my generation even though we may not meet expectations. I now focus on the possibilities of the future. I now believe in second chances!

Blog Initiation

Hello! I am so excited about this new blog and the possibilities that will follow! This will be fun!

In March, I was crowned Miss Cotton Belle with an invitation to compete in Miss Arkansas 2010. I am tickled pink about competing this summer and cherish the opportunities that it entails. The most fulfilling aspect of competing in Miss Arkansas is the challenge to promote a personal platform. I have chosen a platform entitled "Second Chances: Empowering Youth to Rise Above." What a powerful idea... lobbying for students to be given second chances. I am so excited!

Miss Cotton Belle 2009, Miss Cotton Belle 2010 (me!), Miss Arkansas, Miss Cotton Belle Outstanding Teen 2010, and Miss Cotton Belle Outstanding Teen 2009
Me with Miss Arkansas

I hope to blog often to keep you updated with how my platform develops. I will soon post another blog describing how I chose this platform and why it is personally significant. But before I log off, I must mention the most important second chance that I have ever been given! Although I am royally imperfect, Jesus Christ has given the ultimate sacrifice so that I may have a second chance. He paid for my imperfections so that I may experience grace, love, power through the Holy Spirit, and eternal life! That is the foundation of my platform. Although I do not deserve a second chance, Christ has given me a second chance! "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10