When skies are cloudy...

Monday at IJM begins with the second half of registration and photo shoots. Everything is exciting. Everything is new. Everything is just dandy in the world of pageants. The girls have a long afternoon of rehearsals as we continue to get settled. We start to practice in clothing and shoes to get the final picture that will debut on stage on Friday. Well we all know that life is never that easy as the sun staying bright and blue skies all day. Meet one of my preteens: Ailynn Fresina.

Ailynn is the older sister of Jr Princess, Kailah. The Fresina's have been with me for nearly 3 years now and I'm super blessed to have them on my team. When I say they are my saving grace, I mean it. Ailynn is having a growth spurt and will undoubtedly be tall like her mother, Brittney. (Models always have the luck!). However having a growth spurt during a national pageant where your dress is already hemmed and now your shoes make it too short is NEVER how you want things to go. Well anyone's normal reaction is to slightly panic internally while figuring out a plan.

Competition is stressful enough on a girl without adding any extra worry. So now Ailynn is worried and I don't blame her. Brittney simply says, "We will be shoe shopping on Tuesday instead of sight seeing." But Ailynn gets emotional. So I pause practice and walk over to her in the corner. She's tearing up and her tears start to roll down her cheeks, falling on her dress, leaving tiny tear drops on her skirt. I hate seeing tears, especially from my girls. I get close to her to speak softly and as I wipe her tears away I try to comfort her.

"Ailynn, this is not a big deal. It's an easy fix by finding a different heel height and BOOM, fixed. (My head says, "What if they can't find the correct shoe?" - I push the thought out of my mind.) I dab a tear away. I continue, " You know that we are never given an easy journey. We often face strife so that we can face a test and pass." (You need to know just how spiritual this family is - when I say they walk with the Lord, I mean you see God's shining light radiating from their souls every single day. I feel like God and I have become besties through the Fresina's.)

Her tears get bigger. I think to myself, whatever I'm saying is not working. So I try to find different words. In my head I ask God to give me the words to comfort her. Help me reassure her that everything will be okay! So I continue to speak but this time, I use my heart instead of logic.

"Ailynn, this is a test from God. This is a test to make sure that you know and He knows you are ready to start on a great adventure but first you must learn to face an obstacle and overcome it. You must stay positive. You must believe in Him because He will not fail you."

All of a sudden she starts crying more and grabs my neck, pulls me in and gives me a great big hug. I grab her back and return the hug. She continues to cry on my shoulder and tells me, "Thank you Miss Erin."

Well now I'm starting to get choked up but manage to swallow my tears to continue to provide comfort. I tell her, "Ailynn, you're such a beautiful young lady and no matter what happens, if wardrobe malfunctions, or things just happen - you show everyone that through faith and trust, the Lord always provides. And when you stand on stage, no one will even see the bottom of your dress because they will be enveloped in your radiating beauty because God radiates through you."

She picks up her head and I step back, tears still in her eyes, but a soft smile appears. I wipe away the rest of her tears. She takes a breath and we run another evening wear walk. As soon as she hits the middle of our pretend stage, the cloudy skies we had been plagued with all day parted and the sun came out, shining brightly through the window. "Ailynn, the sky hasn't' smiled today until you just walked out. That's our sign that everything will be okay."

Every day things are out of our control and we have to adapt and prevail, or we can choose to be so overcome with frustration that we sink into despair. It's hard to trust. It's hard to let go of control. Faith in pageants has such a taboo stigma surrounding it. Sad really. But inside TCM, we embrace each of our religious views and celebrate together that we are all of God's children to respect and to love. Does that make us better than the rest? Certainly not. Do we expect that of others? Of course not, to each his own.

God does know what is best for each of us and whether or not we win a crown, runner-up or nothing, each act has a grander meaning behind every outcome. As along as we trust, the sun will always shine.