I’m Still Mrs. Texas, Y’all! Kori Zwaagstra Shares Thoughts from Mrs. International Pageant

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I’ve had a week to reflect on my experience at Mrs. International and I would love to share my thoughts with you.  Competing at an International level was an amazing honor and it has taken all of the last week to begin to process the memories, new friends and feelings.

I must start by saying I had an absolutely fabulous week.  Mary and Mel Richardson and their entire team truly run the pageant with organization and efficacy at the forefront.  I, along with all the other contestants was treated with respect and care.  I loved meeting such accomplished women from all over the globe and I’m blessed to have forged real friendships with many.  My roommate, Summer Drake, Mrs. Oklahoma International was simply the best.  We connected through social media a few months ago and even texted the week before arriving in Jacksonville that we were slightly worried about the “roommate thing”—I know God had his hands all over that I couldn’t think of a more perfect lady to share my personal space, makeup and hair products and late night room service with.

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One of the biggest challenges in any pageant is our own personal tendency to play the comparison game.  Thankfully Team Texas has amazing sponsors that help with that aspect too!  Our Texas International interview coach, Valerie Hayes, and I worked on specific tactics to talk myself off the comparison cliff.  Our wardrobe sponsor Laine Berry of the Royal We helped design a look for the week that had me feeling so confident in what I was wearing I didn’t worry about what everyone else was dressed in.

I’m not ashamed to say I had a goal heading into Mrs. International, and that goal was to make the Top 15.  Contestants in the Top 15 give their platform statement on stage and answer a follow-up question.  I’d worked incredibly hard writing and memorizing my platform statement and I honestly felt that when I gave that speech I would be speaking for every woman who had or is currently suffering with perinatal mood disorder.  I wasn’t one of the Top 15 and didn’t have the opportunity to share my platform.  Was I disappointed?  Heck yes!  I’d worked extremely hard since being crowned Mrs. Texas to improve all areas of competition while making meaningful appearances that related directly to my platform.  Did I cry?  Yes.  Was it the end of the world?  No.

For me (and I would assume for many) the best part of competing in pageant is the personal development that takes place long before you enter the interview room or step into your evening gown.  All that self-work actually prepares you and strengthens you to hear your named called—or not.

I continue to be grateful that I represented the great state of Texas on an international stage and just as thankful I will continue to represent the Lone Star State until we crown our next Mrs. Texas International next spring.

Still your Mrs. Texas,

Kori

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Miss Teen Texas International Gracie Hunt Focuses on Her Blessings

This morning, I woke up counting my blessings. I have so much to be thankful for each and every day, but today I am especially grateful for the love and support of my family. As I pack and prepare to leave for the Miss Teen International competition in Jacksonville, Florida, I am continually reminded of the blessing of a strong support system. I am honored to have the opportunity to be a light and have a voice as Miss Teen Texas International this year. I pray each day that I might run the race that Christ has set before me to the best of my ability [Hebrews 12:1]. Each and every person has a platform. A chance to love, serve, and reach out to others. It doesn’t take a title or a special degree to have a voice and make a difference. I think God places people, moments and possibilities in our lives every single day. It is our job to recognize and make the most of those moments.

I am a better person in every way for the road, preparation, and process that pageantry has led me through. I’ve discovered much about myself and caring for others, and the world around me. One of my favorite things about the International system is the focus on service. Breaking Barriers Through Sports is my cause, and I’ve discovered that there is no better exercise for the heart then bending down and lifting others up. I want to thank my amazing state director, Rachel Hedstrom, my sister queens, Kory Zwaagstra and Taylor Ashworth, and Valerie Hayes for all the ways she has poured into me. I also want to thank Mary Richardson for the opportunity that she’s given me and everyone blessed to participate in this system, to better myself and impact the world around me.

I am especially excited to have the chance to meet the wonderful young women who will grace the stage to bring light and awareness to their causes  to be the change we want to see in the world. It’s these new friends who give me inspiration and hope for the future. I know that we will make wonderful memories together and will all go on to impact the world in special ways. Of course, we all hope to win the title of Miss Teen International, but only one will walk away with the crown. The only way for everyone to leave satisfied is to make the most of the experience, treasure the week, and rest in God’s sovereignty and plan.

One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world!

Blessings,
Gracie Hunt
Miss Teen Texas International 2016
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Mrs. Texas International Arrives in Jacksonville for the Mrs. International Pageant

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I’m here!!  I am ecstatic to have arrived in Jacksonville for the 2016 Mrs. International Pageant.  It feels hard to believe I was crowned Mrs. Texas four months ago because I’ve been traveling across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona promoting my program, Beyond the Baby Blues, and Postpartum Progress, non-stop!  I can’t wait to meet the other titleholders and see what the week has in store.

I would like to thank our amazing Texas International sponsors for their support:

  • Valerie Hayes– thank you for helping me communicate the best and authentic version of myself. You are THE pageant coach for a reason; you are the best!  I lovingly call you a coach and a friend.
  • Laine Berry– when someone screams with delight at a dress you’ve selected you must be on to something. I can’t thank you enough for developing a signature look that fits inline so well with my own personal style.
  • Sheila Ybarra– sitting in your chair two days in a row was such a treat! Our makeup lesson was a game changer for me and I couldn’t have felt more beautiful for my headshots.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you.
  • Kerry Beyer– thank you for sharing your gift of photography. Each of my headshots is a work of art and shooting with you was a special memory I won’t soon forget.
  • Carlotta Lenox– thank you for your time and talent to perfect my stage presence and walk. You have helped to up my fierceness and grace!
  • Corrie Demmler/Paper Patina– My platform page and ad page for Mrs. International are interesting and visually stunning. Thank you for the high quality of work and the quick turn-around time.

To our director Rachel Hedstrom-

Rachel, you have quickly become a dear friend.  Your deep care for your titleholders and the Mrs. International system is visible in all you do.  Thank you for everything!

Team Texas thank yous wouldn’t be complete without Pam Blacketer-

Queen Mum, I’ve loved getting to know you and because of you my posture has improved greatly and I sincerely thank you!

To my little sisters, Taylor and Gracie-

I adore each of you and I’m so proud to see you each shining your light on the causes that speak to your hearts.  I love our Texas Queens blondentourage!

There are not enough words to thank my three leading men.  Jake, God blessed me with the perfect husband to walk through imperfect life and I praise Him daily for you in my life.  Zayne and Gage, thank you for making me a momma and challenging me with that calling everyday.  I cannot wait to see you in your tuxedos and shiny shoes!

Last but certainly not least to the Richardsons –

Thank you for the International system where women as community leaders are at the forefront.

Make sure you are following Mrs. Texas International on Facebook and the International Pageants Facebook, for all the Mrs. International week updates!

Kori Zwaagstra

Mrs. Texas International 2016

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Miss Texas International Taylor Ashworth Encourages Everyone to Stay Heart-healthy

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Some members of my family have had of heart-related issues over the years.  This is partly because so little was understood about the effects of poor diet and bad habits in past years; but that has changed now.  My parents educated me on the importance of maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle and I try to follow their lead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a heart health fanatic; far from it.  However, I do work on maintaining a healthy body and mind.

I don’t smoke.  By never smoking, I have reduced my chances of having a heart attack by 70%. 

If you smoke, then stop smoking now.  Just twelve months after you stop smoking, you can cut your chances of having a heart attack in half.  That’s a great return on any investment.

Good eating habits.  I enjoy burgers, steaks, spaghetti, enchiladas, and the Texas Lumberjack breakfast; but not every day, or for every meal.  I eat smaller portions of these foods and if I have a burger at lunch, then I try to have a salad or sushi that evening to balance my daily intake.

For snacks I eat try to eat fruit instead candy bars, vegetables in place of potatoes and nuts & seeds over chips. 

I also eat fish on a regular basis with tuna & salmon sushi among my favorites.  Both are great for your health.  I think fried fish is delicious; but it’s not a healthy fish meal; so eat it in moderation only.

I avoid salt whenever possible.  I don’t add salt to my meals and I even try to limit my salt when eating out.  Did you know you can ask for fries without salt and that most places will make a special order for you?  This not only reduces your salt intake, but has the added benefit of getting you very fresh & hot fries. Yum!

Drink lots of water, avoid sodas (regular and diet) and limit your alcohol intake. 

Exercise regularly.  I’m into full-blown workouts where I push my body and mind to their limits.  It’s great for me, but not for everyone.  If you can just walk quickly for 30 minutes a day, you can cut your risk of heart attack by a third.  Try to use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the dog around the block or try taking a brisk walk to the mail box instead of just driving there.

Find something that’s fun for you and make time in your life to do it.  For social interaction and good fun I like yoga, cycling and aerobics classes.  You get to exercise in a fun way and you can often make new friends.

Reduce your stress levels.  Be as calm as possible in your life and work toward reducing the stress in your life.  Having friends and family that support you and listen to your problems is a big help.  I have someone that makes me smile and laugh and this is great for reducing stress and maintaining a healthy heart. 

Small changes in your lifestyle can pay big divides in your overall health; so get out there, be active and have some fun!

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Miss Teen Texas International Celebrates Independence Day

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Happy 4th of July! July brings back memories of parades, watermelon eating contests, water balloon wars, taking in fireworks with my family, and remembering those who gave and continue to give their lives for something more than themselves. The safety and freedom of this incredible nation are owed completely to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much in order that we might enjoy a free country. The founding fathers established an institution where the people hold the power-but with great power comes great responsibility. As Peter Marshall said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” As stewards of the power entrusted to us, it is important to remember to use the voice you have to leave the world a better place than you found it.

As we celebrate the 240th anniversary of the birth of America, I hope that everyone remembers the sacrifice, courage, and hope that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and others clung to. They believed that “all men are created equal” and “endowed with certain unalienable rights,” including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Envisioning a country which placed the voice in the voter’s hands was unprecedented at that time in history. And the freedom that our troops fight for is a gift to be cherished each and every day. Enjoy watching fireworks with your families this Independence Day and remember how blessed you are!

Miss Teen Texas International Gracie Hunt Gives a Shout-out to Her Dad

Gracie June blogSummer is here! I cannot believe that school is out. Summer is my favorite time of year. I love the warm days, the endless adventures, and the many opportunities to love and serve others. I had an incredible time at the Texas Special Olympics a few weeks ago. The athletes have such amazing heart, dedication, and passion. They never cease to amaze me with what they achieve, and always make me want to push myself one step further than I thought I could take. It is by taking those steps of uncertainty that we grow. It is in reaching beyond the confines of your comfort zone that you achieve success. As I wake up each day, I realize more and more the truth in that life is not about achieving an end dream, but about relishing in each and every chance to love fully–to fully embrace the beautiful moment between two eternities that we have been given to make an impact on this earth.

Among the many blessings that I am so thankful for is my father. He instilled the values of integrity, hard work, and compassion in me from the time I was a child. Additionally, he kindled my love for the game of soccer. Both in coaching and caring for me, he has shown me what it means to believe in yourself and pursue your dreams, no matter what others tell you. In this month of celebrating dads, don’t forget to thank your father, or someone who has been like a father to you, for believing in you. I know that without my dad, I would certainly not be the person that I am today. My dad now is adapting to an additional role of “the pageant father,” and I think that he rather enjoys seeing me in my crown, sash, and heels just as much as he loves my turquoise soccer cleats and braided pony tail.

I hope that this summer brings much love and joy, as well as many opportunities to go out into your own community and make a difference! If you would like to contact me, please email me at missteentxintl2016@gmail or follow my journey on social media: Facebook: Miss Teen Texas International and Instagram: missteentxintl

Gracie Hunt

Miss Teen Texas International 2016

Meet Gracie Hunt, Your Miss Teen Texas International 2016

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Gracie Hunt was crowned Miss Teen Texas International on April 10th at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, Texas.  She is a high school student at Ursuline Academy in Dallas.

Hello! My name is Gracie Hunt. I am seventeen years old and attend The Ursuline Academy of Dallas. I enjoy taking my golden retriever puppy running, hiking high mountains, and spending time with my friends and family. In addition, soccer is one of my greatest joys and passions. My dad taught me to play as soon as I could stand on my own two feet. 

Pageantry has been a dream of mine for many years. My Mom has a legacy in pageantry, and I believe that her experience and love for what it taught her kindled my desire to follow in her footsteps. My official training began nine weeks ago, when I decided to compete in Miss Teen Texas International. Through dedication, hard work, and the constant reminder that with God all things are possible, I worked each and every day, preparing myself to be the best that I possibly could. I am so honored, thankful, and blessed to hold the title of Miss Teen Texas International 2016, and hope to use this opportunity to bring awareness to my platform: Breaking Barriers Thru Sports. 

Gracie Hunt

Miss Teen Texas International 2016

So Long, 2015! Miss International Elise Banks Bids Adieu to 2015

So Long, 2015!

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over. It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the New Year in Tampa with my family! I do not know if it’s just me, but I feel like the years go by faster as I get older!

I’ll be honest and say that I did not have many expectations as I started this year. Coming from the past few years of disappointment, loss and a big breakup, I knew things had to get better, but I had no idea what God had in store! As I look back over this year, all I can say is “Thank you, Lord!” He has given me such an amazing support system in my family & friends, who have carried me through the highs and lows of this year. He introduced me to so many wonderful people in the International system who have touched my life in many ways. He allowed me to represent the International system, both as Miss Texas and Miss International. This is something I could have only dreamed of! He gave me the passion to put into my platform of mental health to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. He gave me two incredible bosses who allow me to grow in my career, and also support my duties at Miss International. He has also trusted me with the responsibility of living my life in such a way that will bring honor and glory to Him.

As I close the book of 2015, and look ahead into the new year, my heart is full or gratitude and happiness. I end this year with so many more friends and relationships that I can’t imagine not having in my life now.

May God bless you and your family over the holidays!

God Bless,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Miss Teen Texas International Advises Safety for our Furry Friends this Halloween

Saving Our Best Friends, Savannah's platform, encourages a safe - not scary! - Halloween for our best friends.

Saving Our Best Friends, Savannah’s platform, encourages a safe – not scary! – Halloween for our best friends.

Halloween is an exciting holiday for more than just children.  It can also be a fun night for your furry friends by dressing them up and having them be a part of your Trick or Treating escapades.  When coming home from a fun night of filling your candy bag, please be sure to not feed your pets any candy, especially chocolate. Chocolate can be poisonous to dogs and cats.  Halloween treats containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also harm them.

Be sure to put your animals up and don’t leave them outside in the front yard. Younger children have been known to pull  pranks and tease any animals that are outside.  You should also be extra careful to keep your black cats in the house during Halloween festivities as they have been known to be taken on occasion.

Dogs can be territorial so it would be good to put them in a safe room to protect them while when opening and closing your door to give candy to trick or treaters.  Kids like to dress up in unusual and sometimes scary costumes and your dog may feel threatened by a child that doesn’t mean any harm.

Another good tip is to not keep lit pumpkins around  your pets — they may not realize what it is and could possibly knock it over and start a fire or get hurt.  Lastly, please be sure to verify that your pet has an ID tag on its collar. If they happen to squeeze out the door at some point during the evening and run off to celebrate their newfound freedom, your chances of getting them returned to you are a lot higher than if they don’t have a way to locate their owner.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

Miss Teen Texas International Heads to the Teen International Pageant in Jacksonville, FL

Wow … I can’t believe it is already time to leave for Jacksonville early tomorrow morning!  I’M SO EXCITED!  I consider it a true blessing to have been crowned Miss Teen Texas International 2015.  I’ve had some awesome experiences and met some wonderful people.  As a Native Texan, I cherish this opportunity to represent my great state at the National Pageant!

I’d first like to thank God for breathing life into me and putting me on my path.  Thank You for all the blessings You have given to me and allowing me to live in the most awesome country in the world.

I’d like to thank my parents – especially my Momma.  Thank you both for making the commitment to me so I can be in the pageant.  Thank you for always keeping me on the top of your priority list – I know you have sacrificed a lot for me over the past few months.  Thank you for being my parent when I need one and a friend to me always.  You both have showered me in love and support and I thank you very much.

Also very high on my list is my Texas Pageant Director, Rachel.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect when this journey began a few months ago.  You have always been willing to be patient with me, and have given me the guidance I needed to hear at exactly the right time.  I am so impressed by your spirit and the zest you have for life.  Thank you for giving me the gift of your friendship.

A big “Thank You” goes to Queen Mum Pam, my predecessor Jahnavi, the other former Queens Whitney & Savannah, as well as the current Queens Farabe’ & Elise.  Your support, guidance, and sweet words of encouragement have truly meant the world to me.  I appreciate all of you!

I’d like to also say “THANK YOU” to the team of consultants and pageant sponsors that I am so very fortunate to have had help to prepare me for this week.  To my pageant coach Valerie – thank you for helping me to gain the confidence and skills needed for my interview – I hope I remember everything you have taught me and I make you proud!  To my walking coach Carlotta – you’ve taught me more about stage presence & grace in a few sessions than I’ve learned in all my 16 years.  To my style consultant Laine – thank you for helping me to develop a visual brand for myself that I truly adore.  To my cosmetic coach Sheila – thank you for taking the time to teach this 16 year old not only how to properly apply cosmetics, but also the importance of good nutrition and skin care.  Thank you to my awesome hair stylists Juan & Joe w/Satori Salon – Y’all are worth every minute of the drive from DFW to Houston because I love, love, love my hair style!  To my photographer Kerry – you have such an amazing ability to make me look my best in print – thank you for taking the time to get everything “just right” for me.  To my print consultant, Corrie w/Paper Patina – thank you for doing such an awesome job designing the print work because it couldn’t have turned out better!

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Richardson’s for sponsoring the International Pageant System.  When I was talking to my parents several months ago about submitting an application for a pageant, they said they were willing to make the commitment with me on the condition that I was able to find a pageant line that encouraged some type of volunteer work.  They wanted me to invest time in doing service work that I could commit to, learn from, and would be a benefit to our community.  People sometimes think a pageant is all about how pretty the girls are in their gorgeous outfits … and although those things are important, there’s more to it.  I’ve learned that beauty is not only measured on outward appearances but also what is in your heart.

Looking forward to a fabulous week!

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

Savannah gets a little help from some of her best friends as she leaves for the Teen International Pageant!

Savannah gets a little help from some of her best friends as she leaves for the Teen International Pageant!