Enjoying the Journey

In nearly two days, the journey to the crown becomes just a bit closer to reality.

I cannot begin to express the massive flurry of emotions that continually flood my mind in preparation of this incredible journey. Thankfulness, gratitude, humility, excitement, and so many more feelings continue to skirt across my brain as I've prepared for this week ahead. I could not be more thrilled for this opportunity.

However, when faced with the imminent reality that this journey is on the fast track to its destination, my heart sinks. 

The past several weeks have been exhilarating, and to prepare well for what is truly the job of my dreams, I've had to prepare in absolutely every area of my life. From my health and fitness, to my communication skills, to my acute awareness of the happenings in our world, to networking and marketing, and most importantly, steadying my heart before the Lord, I've been on my a-game. 

So a huge part of me dejects the thought of this preparation ending. But moreover, my heart is filled with excitement at the big goal ahead, that daily becomes more tangible and within reach. 

In preparation for my time in Zionsville, I've truly learned so many essential grown-up skills. I've become a pro at connecting and reaching out to businesses in hopes to create new partnerships and sponsorships, starting from the ground up with Miss Spirit being an entirely brand new organization. I've continually worked hard to make appearances developing my platform, and gotten my hands dirty within the non profit sector. I've improved at solidifying and articulating my core beliefs and communicating them in a way that is loving and truthful. I've learned to connect with audiences of all ages, and sought to understand people better. I've become increasingly interested in social media marketing and worked hard with my directors to develop my own personal brand. I've had to make difficult, quick, and impulsive decisions by the seam of my pants when things have not gone according to plan. I've grown in ways that I did not know I needed to, and in countless ways I never expected. To anyone that's questioned the portrayal of pageants and those who compete in the media - I assure you that they are far from the picture that is depicted. Never have I grown so much in such a short period of life than I have from my involvement in the Miss America Organization.

But this growth I've undergone has not been limited simply to developing interpersonal skills. Through this season, the Lord has strengthened my faith more than ever before, reminding me some of the most crucial lessons that I know I will continue to learn and relearn every day throughout the rest of my life. I've learned to live each day at a time, managing what I can in the moment, trusting that tomorrow will take care of itself. I've had to come to terms with what my priorities are - and what God's are - and what minuscule tasks prevent me from attaining my dreams and serving others. I've had to quickly recognize which areas of my life were lacking, intentionally deciding what I could commit myself to, and when to simply trust in the Lord, recognizing that I'm human and I cannot do absolutely everything. Most importantly, I've learned to cling to my Savior in every season in every circumstance, learning to trust Him even when I'm wandering in the middle of the lowest valley. 

Never did I expect the Lord to provide this opportunity in the midst of a very trying season of life, but I'm so thankful for His provision over every moment. This organization has been everything I never knew I wanted or needed. And no matter what the outcome is in just 10 days from today, I'll never forget the incredible experiences and memories I've made thus far throughout my journey. And I'll never forget those who have touched me along the way, as I continue to try and love others the way so many have loved me. 

Walk in love,

Ashley