Catholic Pregnant Mum of 5 enters Beauty Pageant!

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Laura Beeson

My name is Laura Beeson, I’m a Catholic wife, mother, homemaker, beautician and sometimes singer.  So why did I, at the age of 30, with no previous experience decide to participate in a Mrs. Ohio International Pageant?  Because I wanted to.  

Now, most of my life is filled with doing things for others, and I’m happy to, I know I am serving Christ through my husband and children and volunteer work, but I learned that I don’t need to be so self-sacrificing that I won’t allow myself to have my own experiences.  If it would have been a burden to my family, I wouldn’t have followed through, but I’m frugal and self-sufficient and I’m not too proud to admit that I use YouTube videos to teach me the rest.  

For a while I struggled with guilty feelings about it all, am I just being vain?  Then one day as I contemplated it, I realized, I don’t need to feel bad about the things that bring me joy, because God gave me the interest and talent to be a beautician.  Yes, though it may seem mundane to others, hair and make-up and pretty clothes bring me joy.  And I’d go so far as to say that my Christianity helps me to filter through fads and fashion to see what truly shows beauty and discard what doesn’t, which only makes it more enjoyable.  

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Originally, I had this grand plan that I would keep it a secret that only my husband would know and after the Pageant is when family or friends would find out.  Mostly because I just wanted to do it for myself and didn’t want to come across as attention-seeking.  But after learning more about Pageantry, I realized that was unrealistic, of course they want you to promote the pageant, the community you represent, your platform and yourself. That seemed fair.  

I had chosen the Couple to Couple League – Natural Family Planning as my platform, since my husband Sean and I are a certified volunteer teaching couple through the organization, this was a wonderful opportunity to promote this uncommon knowledge to other women and couples.  I told myself to let go of the pride, don’t worry about what others think, and just do it!  So for the six weeks leading up to the Pageant, I promoted myself as Mrs Crawford County through social media and my husband graciously obliged to go along with it all, I love that man.   

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Now, let me make it clear, not all Pageant systems are created equal, but I liked what I saw within the Mrs. International system.  

What Is Mrs International®?
A FAMILY AFFAIR… The International Pageant system has been developed to promote today’s married women, their accomplishments, and commitment to family and marriage. Around the world women are finding this system to be the opportunity to work with their husband and family to become positive role models.

 

Our Mission: “To Make a Difference”
Beginning 30 years ago, Mrs. International® was developed to have higher standards than other pageant systems. Each contestant competes in Interview Competition, which is valued for 50% of her overall score, Evening Gown, valued for 25% and Fitness Wear for 25%. Each contestant has the opportunity to select a platform of her choice that she spends the year promoting. Husbands are a direct part of the show, escorting their wives in the Evening Gown competition, and the husband crowns his wife titleholder.


I’m sure there may be other Pageant Systems that I wouldn’t feel comfortable participating in or promoting, but this is a system where they value family and community work, I can stand with that.

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Now, at the time, we had 4 kids, ages 7, 5, 3, & 1, as you can see, our kids have been pretty consistently spaced with the use of Natural Family Planning (NFP).  I know, plenty of people look at us and think, “Clearly that method doesn’t work,” but to us, it’s a testament that it has.  I’ve always been the “weird” gal who wanted a larger family, but after our 4th was born, I was feeling pretty worn down and in need of a mental and physical break, which NFP assisted us with.  I loved and served the family I had, started exercising regularly which did me more good than I realized it would, enjoyed the return to normal hormone levels and the regular body functions that accompany them.  

Then, all of a sudden, I found that God had changed my heart unexpectedly and having another baby wasn’t so scary anymore, and in fact, I was interested in another baby. So, we weighed our reasons to postpone pregnancy, and there weren’t too many anymore, I’d be 12 weeks pregnant for the Ohio Pageant and if I won and had to attend the International Pageant, I’d be 6 months along.  Basically, I realized that it was more important to be true to myself and allow the possibility of another life than to worry about how I’d look in a gown or how others’ perceived the workings of NFP.  So, it was no surprise to me, that I was 12 weeks pregnant for the Pageant, but I had decided to keep it a secret since I didn’t want there to be any wonderings about biased judging, nor had I been to the doctor yet for a check up.

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The week leading up to the Pageant I packed my things, made sure I had everything I needed and reminded myself that no matter what, I was going to enjoy myself, because that was the point of me doing this whole thing.  If I made a mistake, or didn’t have something I needed, or spoke poorly, I’d let it go quickly and move on with enjoying the experience.

Saturday morning I arrived to the Pageant venue for Orientation to begin at 10 AM, there were 4 categories of ladies competing:  Junior Miss, Miss Teen, Miss & Mrs.  There were 6 of us in the Mrs. division.  Most of the day I fought the feelings of intimidation, I’d see a beautiful woman and before I’d allow myself to think one way or another about her, I’d make myself go over to her and start chatting.  And you know what?  Making yourself move is the hardest step, but after that, you start to enjoy yourself, because people are interesting!  I’ve learned that we women, do ourselves a disservice when we make judgements about other women by what we perceive from their appearance.  We miss out on possible friendships, opportunities to serve, or the chance to make ourselves a better well-rounded person. The way a woman looks on the outside, does not speak of who she is as a person.  

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people tell me that when they first met me, they thought I was a snob (well, they used a different word, but I won’t repeat it here) but once they got to know me, they say that word doesn’t describe me at all, whew, that’s a relief!  I don’t know why I’ve come across that way, but I think that’s helped me to develop myself into being more friendly than the stand-off-ish route I used to take when meeting others.  

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Our interviews were with five different judges for five minutes each, the questions varied from “What are your plans if you win?” to “If you were an animal, what would you be?”  I’d say it went well, and a hippo was my answer.  Most of the day was filled with covering what was expected of us and practicing as best we could for the Performance Pageant the next day.

Luckily, on Sunday morning I was able to find a Catholic Church that held a 7 AM mass that was only about a 15 minute drive from the Pageant venue, because we were expected to arrive by 8:20 AM and were not permitted to leave the building for the rest of the day.  The day was filled with rehearsal, hair & make up and more rehearsal before the show began at 5 PM.  

I’d say I kept up with the “pros” just fine, I didn’t forget my name, I didn’t trip on stage, or stammer for words during the Fish Bowl question.  I did realize after one portion that I had forgotten to look at the judges, so I knew I didn’t have a perfect score, but I planned to do the best I could for the remainder of the event.  I ate pizza while waiting to showcase my Fitness Wear in the changing room, clearly I took it all very seriously.  And the best part was my wonderful husband got to escort me across the stage in my evening gown, looking quite dapper himself.  

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I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the wonderful Teri Grothaus won the title of Mrs. Ohio International, she’s a CNP who goes on mission trips to Guatemala and collects bottles of vitamins to distribute to the children there, and I think it’s safe to say we knew almost immediately we were kindred spirits.  She’s a gem, and this week I’m cheering her on as she competes in the Mrs. International Pageant representing our state of Ohio!

Looking in retrospect, I’m happy about it all:  that I did it, that I informed others about NFP, that I could show my kids that you can enjoy the things you lose at, that it helped me to develop in characteristic ways I had let slack.  

So, would I do it again?  To my delighted surprise, the answer is yes.  Will I?  I don’t know, maybe.  That’s what I love about life, I don’t have to make definitive answers about the future, because I don’t know what God has planned, but if I leave myself open to the possibilities, then I haven’t limited myself.  Whether I do or don’t, I’ll strap on the Breastplate of Christ and go about my way, hopefully letting Him carry me into unlikely places and sharing uncommon things in the world around me.

– Laura Beeson

Beautiful Lent.

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‘Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge’ – Monet.

How’s your Lent going?

Are you finding it easy? Then perhaps do a little something extra.

Are you struggling? Then perhaps ease off a bit and try something a little easier.

You see, it is not how much we are fasting, but with how much love we do it that charms the heart of Christ (St Therese of Lisieux). Sometimes the smallest things require the biggest effort. God sees all of this. It’s not an endurance test 🙂

I have been giving up my first cup of tea in the morning, and also trying my best to find a way of giving up worrying. My worry habit exposes my lack of trust in God and my reliance on myself. This is something that needs to be addressed, but it really is easier said than done. However, I have found one little thing that really has seemed to make a difference.

I was at my Mum’s house on Ash Wednesday and she handed me a CD. “You should listen to this – it’s really good!” (You know you are approaching middle age when your Mum recommends you music – and it IS actually really good!) It was a CD from Medjugorije made by the young men and women of the Cenacolo Community. It was basically a praise and worship CD – but she was right, it was REALLY good!

I found that listening to people who had allowed Christ to be in complete control of their lives, who were worshiping Him with such enthusiasm and openness really lifted my mood. The whole thing was just so good, so beautiful, that it seemed to remind me that there were things bigger than me and my problems.

I had the same experience today in the car when I accidently turned on Radio 3. They were playing Vaughan Williams and I don’t know what it was, but the sheer beauty of the music seemed to have the most profound calming effect on me. It was just so beautiful. I swear the medical profession should start using beauty as a treatment for all sorts of ailments. Yeah – beauty therapy! I guess that would make composers like Vaughan Williams and artists like Monet beauty therapists!!

I think beauty is extremely important during difficult times in our lives. Real beauty is an intensely spiritual thing that simply cannot be rationally explained. Beauty – I believe – is a purely human experience. I don’t think animals are touched in the same way by a piece of music or a beautiful sunset. I believe real beauty speaks directly to our immortal souls. It is God giving us a foretaste of the life to come. And that is perhaps what I find so calming about it – to know that this life’s problems are only temporary, and they will not exist in heaven.

I suppose you could look at beauty as being an incredible act of mercy – giving us hope and inspiring patience, forbearance and also creativity within us. It reminds us that God is bigger than us, and that He is good.

I found that my response to this beauty was not just awe and wonder, but incredible gratitude. And I feel that is a most appropriate feeling to dwell upon as we go further into Lent and head towards Holy Week.

Old and New Lent.

 This year I have been lucky enough to be asked to make two very different Lent sets.

The first is a traditional Roman style with and old-gold look. The second is a more modern full gothic style with white and silver. Both sets use the same purple damask material but look entirely different in their finishes.

The gothic set uses a Celtic embroidery which, like many Celtic knots, uses a triangle pattern to represent the Holy Trinity. This is most appropriate as the parish I made this for is called Holy Trinity parish and this just happens to be the parish logo. It is wonderful to be able to personalise vestments in this way. This set was bought for the priest by a parishioner. In fact, they was so impressed they have approached a guild within the parish to fund further sets in the same style!

You will notice also on the back right down at the base there is a coat of arms. This is the diocesan shield for Edmonton, Canada.

The Roman style vestments have the IHS symbol which are not tied to any particular parish. This was bought by a priest in the UK. It is not unusual for priests to move parish, so this set will be appropriate for use in any parish he might visit, or be resident in.

Both styles start at around £600 depending on material and embroidery.

Are you interested in bringing beautiful vestments back into your parish? Please contact me for a chat and I’ll see what I can do for you!

Email Clare at: info@diclara.co.uk

And please visit the website: www.diclara.co.uk