"It's not about the crown..." Week 19!

Well… this was a Thanksgiving to remember! Eleven out of the 14 family members who attended our Thanksgiving lunch caught the stomach virus, including me! It was awful! Mom is probably going to hand out gloves and face masks for our Christmas holiday get-together!

With several interview practices, workouts, and dance practices, I focused on preparing for Miss America last week. We received information about the dressing room backstage at Miss America. It is an outside tent with limited space. I must start labeling everything I own as soon as possible! We received the Miss America job description, something I will study and internalize. Soon, I expect the announcement of our judges and roommate assignments for Las Vegas! Competing in Miss America is becoming a reality!!

The Miss America contestants have a private Facebook group, and Miss Illinois recently asked if any of the girls are having Miss America nightmares yet. So many girls responded with dreams where they forgot their evening gown, or had to wear a thong bikini for swimsuit, or broke a leg during talent … haha! I haven’t had a Miss America nightmare yet, thank goodness!!

Tuesday, I met with Dawn Meyer (http://www.dawnphotographics.com/#) for an incredible photo shoot! Bombshell Cosmetics (http://beabombshellcosmetics.com/) offered to do my makeup and help throughout the shoot! Dawn is a very daring and creative photographer… I loved the photo session!

Thanksgiving was lovely! I spent time with my family, including my precious baby niece! There are many things for me to be thankful for this year! I am so thankful for my friends and family who have supported me through everything. I have the best boss and work under the most talented, caring council of directors. The Miss Arkansas Organization has opened many doors of opportunity for me already and blessed me with so many gifts! I am grateful for the support of my university, Ouachita Baptist University, and that I have plans to attend UAMS College of Pharmacy in the future. I could go on and on … I am so thankful for God’s blessings and faithfulness!

Friday, Mom and I drove to Blytheville for the 30th anniversary of the Miss Northeast Arkansas Pageant. The Jerome family has always been instrumental in this pageant while impacting the lives of so many contestants. We celebrated with a luncheon at the Holiday Inn in Blytheville. I was honored to serve as the keynote speaker!

Mrs. Marietta Jerome asked me to share my pageant history. I shared a quote that I heard at the age of 18, my first year to qualify for the Miss Arkansas Organization, “It’s not about the crown.” I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now that I have the crown … I completely understand that it is more about the journey. I encouraged the girls to recognize the beauty of the journey and not get distracted with the outcome of the pageant. “Realize the challenge to improve yourself in interview, public speaking, talent, fitness, and self-confidence,” I urged. I am thankful for the ways the Miss America Organization strives to transform good girls into incredible girls through the jewels of the journey! I value my journey as much as the crown. At the end of my year, the skills and life lessons learned during this Miss Arkansas experience will benefit me the most!

My two Stuttgart girls, Ashley and Cori!
Somer Allen, Miss Lights of the Delta 2012

Friday night, I attended the Miss Northeast Arkansas pageant and watched Somer Allen crown Mason Magouyrk. Congratulations to Mason on your first journey to Miss Arkansas! After the pageant, all the contestants climbed on a bus to tour Blytheville’s breath-taking Christmas light display, which features literally millions of lights. We stopped halfway through the display to visit Santa and take pictures. It was pretty cool outside, but I kept warm in my beautiful fur coat! I loved spending time with the contestants and getting to know each girl a little better!

Mason Magouyrk, Miss Northeast Arkansas 2012

Later Friday night, I caught the stomach virus. I was devastated to have to miss the Miss Lights of the Delta Pageant; it was my first absence of the year! I knew it would be a great pageant with lots of girls competing. Congratulations to Somer Allen, Miss Lights of the Delta 2012! This was Somer’s last opportunity to qualify for Miss Arkansas before spending 4 months in Uganda, Africa. Read more about her upcoming trip on her blog (http://idwellinhope.blogspot.com/).

Next week will be an exciting and busy week! It involves Christmas parades, non-profit fundraisers, and a special reception at Ouachita Baptist University (http://media.obu.edu/2011/11/ouachita-to-honor-miss-arkansas-kristen-glover-with-nov-28-reception/ )! Of course, I will be preparing for Miss America with a few mock interviews. I will keep you updated on Miss America announcements!

Lots to be thankful for! Week 18

This week was filled with special quotes and memories!

Tuesday was a busy day, beginning with dance practice at Studio Allegro and an interview with the Stuttgart radio station. Then, I traveled to Monticello to visit the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home. Having worked with the ABC home in Little Rock for pregnant teenagers, I wanted to visit the facility in Monticello. I met more than 40 incredible children and their very loving house parents. The young girls absolutely captured my heart! One adorable little girl breathlessly lisped, “This is a dream come true to meet Miss Arkansas. I might need time to relax in my room after this.” Haha, they were precious!

My college roommate, Leslyn Ichter Jacks, graciously welcomed me to her first home, where I got ready for my next appearance. She and her hubby accompanied me to a fundraiser dinner for Hope Place, an organization to assist pregnant women. I was very impressed with Hope Place and its obvious heart to help others through friendship, spiritual guidance, financial support, and medical support. As the keynote speaker, I shared my experience of mentoring pregnant teenagers at the Promise House. I thanked them for the impact they are making in a society so desperate for help! The director of Hope Place messaged me the next day to say that they collected over $23,000 in donations!! She was ecstatic!!

Wednesday, I reunited with another great friend … Darlene!! Darlene was my “little sister” through the Big Brother, Big Sister Organization of Arkadelphia. Since I graduated in May, we have become pen pals. She often talks about her teacher so I decided to visit her class! When I arrived at the school, the secretary called for Darlene to come to the office. She met me with a wide smile and proudly introduced me to her class!! When I told the students that they could thank Darlene for bringing Miss Arkansas to their class, the kids showered her with appreciation as she beamed with happiness!

The students then lined up for pictures and autographs. There was one cute boy who spoke confidently … he was obviously the class leader. He asked for my number. I smiled, nodded my head, and wrote on the paper “870-in your dreams”. He took the paper and proudly walked back to his group of guy friends. When they all looked at the paper for the first time, the boy yelled “Oh, Man!?” They all burst into laughter! For the rest of the time, everyone used the phrase, “In your dreams.” Can I borrow your pencil? “In your dreams!” Are you going to the basketball game? “In your dreams!” Haha!

Wednesday afternoon, we arrived on campus at Ouachita Baptist University for a “Tea Party with Miss Arkansas” hosted by my Tri Chi social club sisters for the little sisters of Big Brothers, Big Sisters. We had a wonderful time! They served hot chocolate, soup, sandwiches, and cookies. The girls were really good at playing “Name That Tune” Disney Princess style! We then talked about Princess manners, specifically table manners. I explained that everyone is to wait until all at the table have been served. When the person at the head of the table begins eating, we are to follow. For example, when eating dinner with President Obama, wait until President Obama begins eating before picking up your silverware. Later, I quizzed the girls,“When should you begin to eat?” My precious Darlene yelled out, “When President Obama starts eating!” Haha … she is such a good listener!

Thursday, I got my Miss America swimsuit in the mail! I hit the gym and dance studio and also visited the Miss Arkansas make-up sponsor, Jane White Cosmetics.I’m so grateful she will travel with me to Miss America to do my make up Monday through Friday.However, on Saturday, I will be responsible for doing my own hair and make-up before the final competition on national television.For that reason, I have to take several make up lessons before traveling to Las Vegas!

Thursday evening, I participated in a very special style show in support of Camp Sunshine, an Arkansas children’s camp for burn survivors. Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Firefighters Association sponsored this event.Fashion designer Lisa Rowe Thomas, an inspirational burn survivor, debuted her Spring/Summer 2012 line. I was honored to emcee the event, which featured several Miss Arkansas Pageant system sisters!Thank you Makenzie Moore, Bethany Bell, Amber Gross, Tracy Neal, and Ashton Campbell for participating!

Friday was a great day for Razorback fun! I met so many Hog fans at the basketball game in Little Rock. Miss University of Arkansas, Tracy Neal, and I signed autographs and were photographed with supporters. When the game started, I moved up to my seat to cheer on our team! We didn’t win our basketball game, but at least we won our football game on Saturday!!Go Hogs Go!

I arrived early for Queen Mallard Pageant rehearsal on Saturday morning. I have fantastic memories of serving as Queen Mallard LII in 2007 and have always considered the title prestigious and very special! It was a great privilege to return to the Queen Mallard stage as Miss Arkansas! After lunch, I joined the contestants for the interview tea and later enjoyed dinner with the judges. It was exciting to emcee the pageant with 17 contestants competing for Junior Queen Mallard and 17 contestants competing for Queen Mallard!

Once the competition phase was over, I debuted my dance for Miss America!! I was so thankful for the warm audience response and many words of encouragement afterward. The only problem … the tap mics were never turned on. Just wait until you can really hear my taps!! I will be performing this number at Miss Lights of the Delta next week!

Congratulations to Samantha Spicer, Queen Mallard LVI, and Robin Galloway, Junior Queen Mallard XXI. Both girls were overjoyed to receive the titles and will proudly serve the Grand Prairie throughout the upcoming Wings Over the Prairie Festival!

Sunday started early! My family began cooking chili at 7:00 a.m. to serve over 150 people at the second annual New Beginnings Scholarship chili lunch fundraiser. The New Beginnings Scholarship will be given to Stuttgart High School graduates who are first-generation college students. I am thrilled to announce that we raised over $1,700!! We surpassed last year’s total and will be able to award even larger scholarships! Thank you to everyone who helped or donated. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Speaking of thanks… next week is Thanksgiving! I have fewer appearances and more Miss America preparations! With two mock interviews, a photo shoot, workouts, and dance practice, I think this will be a great week! Friday, I will travel to Blytheville for Miss Northeast Arkansas. After the pageant, we will take a hayride through the town’s splendid Christmas light display! On Saturday evening, I will perform at the Miss Lights of the Delta Pageant.

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:1-5

Great Challenges = Great Rewards. Week 17.

This week has been challenging, yet rewarding. The reality of finding time to prepare for Miss America while keeping up with Miss Arkansas responsibilities is quite difficult. In my free time, I finished my dance for Miss America and prepared for my first mock interview. The mock interview was very difficult, but I received great advice and encouragement from the panelists!

Monday, I traveled to Jonesboro for the fitting of a new dance costume! The Royal We and Clark’s Bridal have provided so much for me this year! As Shelley Kelley finished with alterations, I spent a couple of hours at the coffee shop studying for my mock interview. I will wear this costume when I debut my Miss America dance, but it will not be the costume I take to Miss America.

Mom and I drove to Clarendon on Tuesday to meet Baxter Sharp, who invited me to speak in the Clarendon and Brinkley schools. One of my former dance students, Mikayla, welcomed me to Clarendon and showed me around the school! Then, Mikayla introduced me to the entire Clarendon student body before I spoke to the K-12th grade students. It was a challenge to speak to a wide range of students, but they were so involved and well-behaved!

After eating lunch in Brinkley, we arrived at the high school for my second assembly. They were rowdy but eventually seemed to appreciate my message of second chances! They were respectful during the serious talk and asked meaningful questions! How rewarding to capture a restless audience with a relevant message! The funniest moment happened when we were playing the “Name That Tune” game and I was telling the students to listen carefully because the next song was quiet. As Whitney Houston’s famous ballad was playing, one charismatic boy in the center of the auditorium stood up and yelled the chorus with much emotion, “And I will always love yoooouuuuuuu!” All of us burst into laughter!

Wednesday, I was invited to appear on Dr. David’s show on Channel 4 during the noon hour. We were to discuss self esteem, and I was prepared to offer advice based on my past mentoring experiences. When I arrived on set, I was first told “I want you to get on air and exclaim, ‘I know I am beautiful, and I am comfortable in my skin!’” I gave a nervous laugh and instead talked about my background in mentoring. I was afraid that I had approached the problem and resolution of self-esteem issues differently than the direction of the program. When we got on air, the interview went great! I was able to share some thoughts about mentoring and building one another up. I really enjoyed answering questions from viewers and had a wonderful time on the show! I was so thankful that it all worked out… even if I never knew which camera to look at while speaking on air!

To view this interview: click here!

Dr. David and me after filming

Wednesday night after my mock interview!

As the keynote speaker, I gladly attended the Producer’s Rice Mill Annual Meeting in Stuttgart on Thursday. My dad has worked in the rice industry for years, and I was honored to speak at an event so important to him. In fact, my dad got a little choked up when introducing me. I am very thankful for my dad! I talked about the excellence of the rice industry and then shared details about my platform, “Second Chances through Mentoring.”

I ended my speech by encouraging Stuttgart citizens to attend the second annual chili lunch fundraiser benefiting the New Beginnings Scholarship. Last year, two $750 scholarships were given to first-generation college students. We will provide a free lunch and collect donations to directly benefit the scholarship fund. Chili and rice will be served from 11:30-1:30 on Sunday, November 30, at the First Baptist Church Activity Center. I hope to see you there as we provide more opportunities for students of my generation!

Friday was a hectic day. After answering phone calls, emails, and resolving calendar issues, I finally made it to Conway for the Miss University of Central Arkansas Pageant. I enjoyed eating dinner with the judges and former Miss UCA, Alicia Haflich. Ashlen Batson Thomason was my chaperone! She helped me all night, and I hope to develop her heart of service and encouragement. The Miss UCA board of directors did an outstanding job of organizing and promoting the pageant. Miss UCA is given a generous scholarship, and I was pleased to hear Morgan Holt had captured the crown. She is a beautiful girl and will be an excellent representative!

Ashlen and me

All contestants in the Miss UCA pageant
Me, Miss UCA 2012 Morgan Holt, and Miss UCA 2011 Alicia Haflich

Saturday was one of my favorite days as Miss Arkansas!! Josh and I arrived at the University House around 2:00 p.m. for the pre-game party with Chancellor Gearhart! As soon as the mascots came to the house, Mrs. Trisha from the development office pulled me aside to get some photos! The senior band members and cheerleaders showed up for a pep rally, and, of course, I knew all of the Razorback cheers! Chancellor Gearhart announced me before the crowd, and Big Red asked me to dance during “Hey Baby… Will you be my girl… bum ba ba bum…” I had so much fun!!

We then walked to the stadium and viewed the game from the Chancellor’s box… it was so nice! The Razorbacks played well against the Tennessee Volunteers with a couple of “Plays of the Week”! At halftime we visited Rick Pruitt, friend of the Miss Arkansas Organization. He said, “Oh… so you are in the Chancellor’s box with the Waltons?!” I started laughing because we didn’t even realize that we were sharing a box with the Waltons, heirs of Walmart’s Sam Walton. I responded, “I heard Kenny Chesney was at the game tonight, and I was so busy looking for him that I missed the Waltons!” I didn’t see Kenny Chesney, either.
Standing with Chancellor Gearhart during the pre-game pep rally!

I have been anticipating the upcoming week for quite some time! I have several extraordinary speaking opportunities and a “Tea Party with Miss Arkansas!” I will attend a Razorback basketball game and cheer on the Hogs, again! To conclude an amazing week, I will debut my Miss America dance on Saturday at Queen Mallard! My hometown pageant, which kicks off the week-long Wings Over the Prairie Festival, will be held at the brand new Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart. On Sunday, November 20, from 11:30 – 1:00, we are hosting the second annual chili lunch fundraiser at the First Baptist Activity Center to benefit the New Beginnings Scholarship! Hope you can make it!

2007: When I was crowned Queen Mallard!
2008: Giving up my crown as Queen Mallard!

Christmas Card Pictures!!

Thank you to everyone who voted on Facebook for my Christmas card picture!! Danny Barger with You've Got the Look Photography did a wonderful job with these photos! Also, thank you to Dennis Harris for assistance with hair and make-up. Finally, thank you to Venue Fit for a Queen, Chapel Pharmacy, and Gibson Auto Sales for sponsoring the beautiful, full- length fur coat!

According to the voters, here are the results:

3rd place with 76 votes and my personal favorite:

2nd place with 80 votes and a great Christmas photo!

The Winner with 122 votes! This photo captures the Christmas spirit!

With Christmas around the corner! I pray that you celebrate the holidays with friends and family while never forgetting the gift of Jesus Christ! Merry Early Christmas!

When to debut my Miss America talent?? Week 16!!

This week was the beginning of more intensive preparations for the Miss America Pageant! We received many messages from the Miss America office, including the wardrobe requirements for this year’s pageant. I ordered my swimsuit from Komplique and a Joseph Ribkoff dress for the opening number. Since next week is a busy one, I worked diligently on interview and talent! Thankfully, for the next two months, we have scheduled one day a week for Miss America preparation.

Tuesday, I was honored to share my story of mentoring pregnant teenagers at the Promise House with the Arkansas Southern Baptist Convention. After speaking to hundreds of pastors, I received lots of encouragement and positive feedback. Later, my alma mater was represented when the Ouachita Baptist University Choir performed and President Rex Horne shared a report. I sat in the audience as one of the proud alumni!

Sharing the stage with Promise House supporters.

Wednesday was a great day! I spent the afternoon making paper crowns and other crafts with kids at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I visited with a teenage girl for 20 minutes as we sat at the crafts table. When she asked a nurse to move her from the table, I noticed her amputated leg. Surprised at first since she had made no mention of it, I was so inspired by her courage, patience, and sincere personality. I loved meeting the children, signing autographs, and posing for pictures, especially with the little boys who were too nervous to ask for a picture!

Thursday, I was welcomed by friends and family to Carlisle, Arkansas. My father graduated from Carlisle High School and many of my family still live there. Also, Miss Arkansas 2006, Amber Bennett Bynum, is a Carlisle native. Carlisle loves Miss Arkansas, particularly when she has roots in their hometown!

I spoke at both Carlisle Elementary School and Carlisle High School. Chris Hart, my cousin who is a student there, introduced me to the high school audience. He did a wonderful job, and the audience was so responsive to my message! I joked throughout my presentation with the four boys in suits, calling them “my secret service”. The students asked some of the most significant questions that I have received in a school setting. They wanted to know, “What motivates you?” and “How do you get over the fear of failure?” It was a privilege to share my morning with those students!

I taught Gracie in dance when I was in high school! She has grown up so much!!
My cousin introduced me!
My "secret service"
The best, most supportive family!

I then spent the afternoon working on a promotional video for Miss America! Thank you to Jennifer White for her help with the video and the familiar chats about life. Also, thank you to the girls who volunteered to be in this video! Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS6PqgmaWOo

Friday, I met Lori Crawford for a photo shoot in and around Stuttgart. Lori had scouted some great spots and had many awesome ideas! I loved working with her and thought the photos turned out great!

Sunday, I spoke at Gateway International Church in Lonoke. What a gracious, caring group they are! I was especially grateful for the prayer the congregation shared for my year as Miss Arkansas.

Later, I met Mr. Danny Barger in Jacksonville for a photo shoot with You’ve Got the Look Photography. Tommy Lyons met me there to give me a beautiful fur coat from Venue, Chapel Pharmacy, and Gibson Auto Sales!! Mr. Danny’s photo will be used for my Christmas card! I will post a few favorites to Facebook and let friends choose the winning picture! Ashton Campbell, Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen, also joined me for the shoot, and we had a great time! Because she lives in Northwest Arkansas, I don’t get to see her as much as I would like. She is a vivacious, beautiful girl, and I am very proud of her!

Next week will be so much fun! I will speak to schools and a home crowd at the Producer’s Rice Mill annual meeting. On Wednesday, I will be on Channel 4 during the noon hour to discuss self-esteem. I also look forward to the Miss University of Central Arkansas Pageant on Friday night!! Then, I will head to Fayetteville to cheer on the Razorbacks! Go Hogs Go!

Many people have been asking when I will debut my talent performance for Miss America. I am excited to announce that my first performance will be at the annual Queen Mallard Pageant!! Since Miss Alabama had already reserved “I Got Rhythm,” I was asked to find a new song. We chose a remix of Mozart’s classical piano piece, Sonata #11. I would describe the music as unique, invigorating, and fast. My dance teacher and former Miss Arkansas, Micki Petrus Konecny has done an incredible job with the choreography, and I have worked extensively to master the steps.

Queen Mallard will be held on Saturday, November 19, 2011, at the brand new Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart. I was crowned Junior Queen Mallard in 2000 and the 52nd Queen Mallard in 2007. This title holds a considerable legacy within the Grand Prairie and impressive community support. Queen Mallard presides at the Wings Over the Prairie Festival during the week of Thanksgiving as thousands of visitors come to Stuttgart for the World Championship Duck Calling Contests, Duck Race, Duck Gumbo, and - of course - duck hunting. I am thrilled to share the first performance of my talent piece with my home audience! Hope you can be there to see it!

Photo from 2007 when I was Queen Mallard LII. Yes, Queen Mallard makes a fashion statement in camo as she assists with the World Championship Duck Calling Contests. I thought wearing camo was normal until I went to college.