Alicia & Goliath

Stressful Stuff and a Cocoa Puff 11/14/19

Okay, more than one cocoa puff.  LOTS of cocoa puffs, in fact.  I had been having a particularly stressful few weeks, and when the opportunity presented itself to me to have chocolate, (because I’ll take chocolate in any way, shape, or form) I jumped at the chance.

You’ve heard the saying “when it rains, it pours,” and that’s exactly how I felt at this time.  To begin with, I had received my first ever “less than stellar” evaluation.  My supervisor is a sweet girl who I could tell was not enjoying this evaluation any more than I was, but unfortunately, that did not make it any easier for me. I later learned that my current place of employment will never give a “perfect” evaluation because there is always room for improvement, but in all my 28 years in the work force, that had never happened to me. I was quite shocked and, frankly, I was angry because none of what was said had any validity behind it. If I’m being completely honest, it was even more distressing to me, because I was sure I had been in customer service longer than my supervisor has been alive.

In addition, my knees had been constantly aching for several weeks, and I started to wonder if I made the wrong career move when I switched to a desk job.  Sometimes the pain was bad enough to wake me up at night.  My phone was ringing off the hook for weeks, too, with calls from debt collectors.  We hadn’t paid any credit card bills since my husband lost his job five months earlier.  And to top it off, a random lump suddenly appeared in my neck, but I didn’t have a sore throat to go with it, and it was only on one side.  For the first time in my life, I had a cancer scare.

Perhaps the worst part of this story is that, at the time, I was feeling very distant from my husband because of something he had done to upset me.  We have a very strong marriage, and we are usually each other’s rock, so the temporary distance that had come between us left me feeling very lonely and empty.  I didn’t think talking to him about it would help because I assumed he wouldn’t react well, and I simply didn’t want to argue with him about it.

I now know all of these scenarios to be attacks from the enemy because I had finally committed to making the Lord’s work a priority in my life.  But, while I was going through it, I had chronic diarrhea, stress headaches, and insomnia. 

The cocoa puffs incident happened when the final straw broke the camel’s back.  I had been disputing a discrepancy on a bill for over a month.  Every time I called, I had to fight to get a “real person,” and I was usually transferred three or four times, thereby having to retell my story over and over again.  The last time I spoke with a representative, I was assured that my service would not be interrupted while they made the proper adjustments to my bill.  As I’m sure you can probably guess, the exact opposite happened, and I had to call them back, yet again, to not only get the service turned back on, but to also make sure they waived any reconnect fees.

Unfortunately, this one-hour phone call took place while my husband and daughter ate their dinner and then left the house so he could get her to dance practice on time.  By the time I got off the phone, they were long gone.  Dinner was cold.  I was irritated.  And well, cocoa puffs are chocolate.

There’s a lot to be said about chocolate.  Although too much of it can contribute to weight gain and other health issues, it’s got its strong points, too.  According to Medical News Today, cocoa can reduce bad cholesterol, improve blood flow and cognitive function, boost oxygen availability, and lower the risk of heart disease.

Besides all of those great qualities, it simply makes us feel better.  What is it about this delectable treat that seems to elevate our mood?  According to an article on TheHealthy.com, dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins- chemicals in the brain that create feelings of pleasure.  Dark chocolate also contains serotonin, an antidepressant.  But I must warn you… even too much of a good thing is still too much.

While I believe that cocoa is a gift from God and a testament to His genius, I also believe that He never intended it to be the end-all, be-all.  We have a whole book of Proverbs that teaches us how to avoid and resolve problems.  So why did I turn to the cocoa puffs instead of to the book of Proverbs?  At the very least, I could’ve turned to the book of Psalms for encouragement!

While swimming through cyber-space a few weeks ago, I came across a blog that was literally the diary of a food addict.  I feel like this confession could fit right in with her content because, once again, I did the very thing I hate most about myself.

It was getting later in the evening when I finally got the chance to eat, and because I’ve been trying to implement intermittent fasting, it was too late to cook something.  My eating window was about to close, I was feeling lazy and irritated, and I did not want a cold dinner, so I reconciled it in my mind that if I were going to have to eat something cold, I was going to make it worth my while.  I could have chosen to make a salad, eat a couple of hard-boiled eggs and a cup of Greek yogurt, or even throw together a tuna sandwich.  But I didn’t.  It had been so long since I had cold cereal- a favorite of mine pre-healthy lifestyle.  So instead of making a healthy choice, I threw myself a pity party and ate cocoa puffs instead.  After my first bowl, I had some milk left so I added some more cereal to it.  I still had a little milk left in the bowl after that, so I did it again.

Yep, I did that.  The woman who lectures her family about too much refined sugar, in a moment of weakness, went coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.  I didn’t hate myself afterwards like I would have in the past, so that’s a good step forward. I did, however, hate how it made me feel.  I became bloated and lethargic, and I had a yucky taste left in my mouth.  Eating something that had little to no nutritional value, and feeling like I needed to brush my teeth right away, made me well aware that I had made a very big mistake. 

This is why keeping emotional eating in check is so important.  If you’re anything like me, the first thing you do when you’re being driven by emotions is look for something to put into your mouth.  In the past, I’ve eaten out of anger, frustration, anxiety, boredom, and even happiness, just to name a few.

Have you ever had a really bad day at work and thought to yourself on your drive home, “Man, I really need a mocha latte right now.”  For some, it may be a milkshake, or a large fry, or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  But do we really need it?  Why is food the go-to for so many of us?  We even see it on television and in the movies.  When a child comes home from school after having a bad day, Mom sits the child down and says, “Here, have some milk and cookies.”  It’s like giving an infant a pacifier.  It’s no wonder overeating is such an epidemic in our society; it’s been programmed into us! 

We are so driven by our addictions that we sometimes can’t even imagine what life would be like any other way.  Maybe there’s even a little bit of fear there.  “Well, how would I handle those emotions if I gave up my vice?”

According to a 2013 article by the American Psychological Association, “Thirty-eight percent of adults say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress. Half of these adults (49 percent) report engaging in these behaviors weekly or more.”  That was six years ago!  I imagine the statistics went up a lot since then, since this has recently become a more well-known problem.  I’d even be willing to bet there are more people out there who have this problem that we don’t know about simply because they don’t (or won’t) report it.

I’ve been there.  It’s a secret shame that kept me imprisoned for far too long.  I would put on a happy face, just like the next person who was hiding their secrets and pain, but all the while I was feeling depressed, embarrassed, immoral, judged, ashamed, and well, downright disgusting.  I felt like a “bad” Christian because I kept giving this addiction so much power over me.  I believed I loved food more than I loved God, and I begged Him to reveal to me why I was made that way.  I’ve been to the alter more times than I can count praying, no begging, for God to deliver me.

My husband is so thin, I thought for sure that he must be embarrassed to be seen with me.  I thought everyone was judging me… and judging him for being with me.  When I was pregnant with our third daughter, I misunderstood something Greg said about one of his female coworkers, and I was devastated.  I allowed the devil to get into my head and make me believe that Greg preferred to be with her instead of me because she was thinner and fitter.  I believed he wasn’t attracted to me anymore and that he was falling out of love with me because I was no longer the woman he married.  I took the other two girls and went to my parents’ house, because I’d considered separating from him for a while.  (No worries.  When he found my note on the kitchen table, he rushed over there to profess his undying love for me.  To this day I wish I would have recorded all the wonderful things he said!)

But the fact remains- I believed that being obese made me unlovable.  I don’t know why I felt that way; I certainly didn’t love people any more or any less based on their size.  It was my own feelings of insecurity and unworthiness that the devil amplified and used against me.  We have a real enemy who shows no mercy.  He is not compassionate, and he will never “go easy” on us.  He wants to see us crumble!  And more than that, he wants to separate us from God, whatever it takes.  John 10:10 reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (NIV) But do you know what the second part of the verse tells us?  This is Jesus speaking, so do you know what Jesus is telling us?  “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

In another version, it uses the word abundantly.  Abundant, by definition, means of a very large quantity; extremely plentiful or oversufficient supply.  Does that sound like it was ever in God’s plan for us to live in bondage to addictions, insecurities, or negative thoughts?  Of course not!  Jesus came to bring us fullness and vitality and a life of plenty!  I believe that an “oversufficient supply” of life means a life of unending joy and freedom, don’t you?

What does it look like to walk in freedom?  Does it mean we will never be tempted to cave into those habitual behaviors that are usually a direct result of negative emotions?  Of course not, because we already established that we have a merciless enemy who will stop at nothing to destroy us.  It does, however, mean that we have the God-given ability to rise above those circumstances.

1 Corinthians 10:13b declares, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV) Walking in freedom means standing on the promises of God, and fighting those attacks from the enemy with God’s truth- the sword of the Spirit.

Instead of allowing my frustration (negative emotion) to control my actions (habitual behaviors) that night, I should have stepped back, took a breath, and remembered that “I am allowed to do anything, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT).  Eating the cereal was not a sin in and of itself, but it definitely was not beneficial.  The real sin in this story was not only making a choice that was based on how I was feeling, but also making that choice when I knew it was not helpful in taking care of my temple (my body).

Living in freedom does not mean we will be perfect.  In fact, none of us is perfect in our own strength.  It is only through Christ that we are holy, righteous, and redeemed.  (Praise His Name!)  But, because of Christ’s sacrifice that makes us free, we have the gift of repentance.  I call it a gift because it means that we are able to ask forgiveness when we “slip up,” and God is faithful to forgive- again and again.

This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s okay to continue doing what we know displeases God because we can be certain of His faithfulness.  True repentance means we are truly sorry, and it hurts our hearts to disappoint our heavenly Father.  This is why it is so important to ask for His help when we struggle with sin that seems beyond our control.  The Holy Spirit is there to help, strengthen, and guide us into making right decisions.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 reads, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV) Oh, how I understand Paul’s plight!  I can’t count how many times I begged the Lord to take this affliction away from me!  It was definitely more than three times.  It was a LOT more than three, actually.

Today, I still pray that the Lord will help me develop the desire to boast gladly about my weaknesses, lol.  What about you?  Do you view your weaknesses as flaws, or do you see them as opportunities for Christ to reveal His power to you?  If we take the time to reflect on these simple truths when we are faced with temptations instead of acting on impulse, we might live a life with far less regret.  We might live that life of abundant joy and freedom we talked about earlier instead of a life where we want to beat ourselves up every time we make a mistake.

If I kept a “food addict diary,” I fear that it would be filled with guilt and shame, and that’s not the kind of legacy I want to leave for my children.  I want to leave them a legacy of faith, hope, and freedom.  I want them to know their Mom was happy and healthy and that I aspired to help other women be happy and healthy, too!

Will you help me accomplish that dream?  Will you reach out to Jesus and ask Him to help you be the best version of yourself that you can be- body, mind, and soul?  No more living a life of condemnation; aim for a life of freedom and grace with me, won’t you?  If you’re not sure where to begin, please visit my Jesus & You page; He is waiting for you with open arms.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 09/19/19

So I just added a gallery page to my website. I really want my readers to “know” me. I want them to connect with me and relate to me. As I invite my readers into my world through photographs, I realize how transparent I am really being in this process.

You see, I am usually the one behind the camera taking the picture. I am rarely actually in them. I was told once, by my photographer on my wedding day, that I was extremely photogenic. Dictionary.com defines this as: looking attractive in photographs or on film. Maybe I really was back then, or maybe he said that to all the brides on their wedding day. I don’t know which scenario is true, but on that day, I chose to believe him. I was already feeling like a princess, so why not pretend I looked like one, too?

Well, my friends, that was 26 years and three babies ago. Nowadays, I need my 21-year-old daughter to position my hands and tilt my head the right way when I take a selfie. I do it so little, that I don’t even really know how to do it! I hate when we have to take our family portrait for the yearly church directory; I hate when people take random photos of me at gatherings or events, and I especially hate when my husband and kids take pictures of me on Christmas morning before I’ve showered and dressed!

So it was no surprise that, when I started my new healthy lifestyle with my green box of hope three years ago, I hated every minute of those “before” pictures my sponsor told me to take. She insisted I would be grateful for them one day. Well guess what? She was right! As hard as it is to look at myself in those old photos, I am grateful that I have them.

When I see myself in those Before and After pictures, it helps me to celebrate how far I’ve come instead of focusing on how far I still have to go. It reminds me that I never want to go back there again. It tells me that even though I’m not perfect with what goes into my mouth, every good decision I make when faced with temptation is one small victory. It shows me that although I may take a step or two backwards now and then, I am constantly moving forward.

Besides the physical change I see when I look at those photos, I think about the emotional change. When I think about who I was back then, I realize how much I have grown as a person. I am not only healthier on the outside, but I am healthier on the inside. I mentioned in my His Princess blog post that my theory behind the food addiction was because I needed to have a good reason for my father leaving me. Some people who struggle with this issue have been sexually abused, and they believe that if they make themselves “fat,” they won’t be desired by men. Because I was extremely flirtatious and even a bit promiscuous before I became a married woman, I knew that couldn’t be it.

Here is what the years of abuse did do to me, however… I ended up in therapy for over ten years, because I was chronically dealing with depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, claustrophobia, paranoia, self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, bouts of rage, sexual dysfunction, and an addiction to pornography. This was all in addition to my horrible trust issues and the fact that I was a control freak.

Why do I share this candid history with you? Because one thing that is usually a good indicator of food addiction is that a person who medicates with food is an emotional eater. According to a 2018 article produced by the Mayo Clinic about emotional eating and weight loss, “emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating…”

Well talk about checking off boxes! I was doomed from the beginning! But here is the good news: I am FREE! Through a lot of hard work in therapy, plus the strength, power, and unconditional love of Jesus, I have been delivered! When I first found the Lord, one of the first Scripture verses that stood out to me was John 16:33. It reads, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (NLT) Wow. Just wow. Isn’t that so powerful? I have Jesus in me, and that means I am an overcomer! I have risen above my past circumstances and stopped the cycle of abuse. I am a good wife and mother. I have overcome all of those other, well, let’s call it what it is, psychological disorders, and I will overcome this one, too.

I am not telling you it’s easy. It’s not. It’s about as easy as it would be for an alcoholic hanging out in a bar. But it IS possible! I do it every day. Step by step. One temptation at a time. Sometimes I fail, but here’s another good truth: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (NIV) And I have a ton of other ones where they came from, too. I have a whole stack of flash cards with bible verses on them that have helped me through fighting this Giant. I told you, I’ve been at this for a very long time. But that’s just my point.

We don’t know why people struggle with different things. We don’t know their story. Chances are, a school bully is likely being bullied at home and feels the need to assert his or her authority over those who are weaker. That regular at the soup kitchen may be a veteran who is unable to hold a job because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That obese woman in the cookie aisle at your local grocery store could be someone like me… a woman with a big heart but a horrific past with which she is unable to cope.

This is why it is so important to stop beating yourself up when your flesh may fail. Start celebrating the small victories that remind you how hard you’ve worked, how far you’ve come, and how strong you really are. Take those selfies. And when someone wants to take a picture of you, don’t hide your face; smile big! If not for yourself, then for your family. When you’re gone, they are going to want them no matter how “bad” you think you look in them. Everyone has a story; don’t let your poor self-image stop you from telling yours.

Kettle Corn Conundrum 06/5/2019

Welcome, June.  The season of cook-outs, amusement parks, and bathing suits.  I have been desperately awaiting your arrival, and now I find myself in a constant state of dread as I think of all the fun and delicious ways you can torture me.

As I am midway through this week, I am reflecting on one such way- Kettle Corn!  For those of you who love kettle corn, you know what I’m talking about.  Is it not the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet & salty combination you’ve ever experienced?  All right, maybe not for you, but for this popcorn lover, it is the ultimate treat!  And my daughter, God bless her heart, brought some home for me after spending the day at a popular, nearby amusement park. (Okay, okay, if I’m being honest, I asked her to pick some up for me while she was there!)

Now in my defense, I knew she had to be at work early the next day, so I didn’t think she’d be out too late.  Although it was Sunday, which is normally the day of the week when I allow myself to indulge a little anyway, I was still wanting to stop eating by 7:00 pm.  I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting, and eating past 6:00 would be outside of my “window.”  However, I was willing to stretch that opening for some kettle corn, lol.

It was the Sunday following my niece’s two-day long wedding reception, and I knew I had to “get back on track” on Monday and start the week off right.  You know what I’m talking about.  How many times have the words, “I’m starting fresh on Monday” come out of your mouth after putting something naughty into it?

I know it’s not safe to deprive yourself of treats once in a while.  After all, if someone says to you, “don’t look,” what do you do?  (I do it, too, no worries.)  Well it’s the same with food.  The more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you’re going to want it.  And I know you’ve heard it before…. “It’s all about moderation.”  Well here’s the thing about this particular incident for me:  After a 48-hour-long party, I was so full of wine and carbs that I shouldn’t have just gotten back on track, but I should’ve planned on detoxing!

Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t get home that night until after I had already gone to bed.  Uh-oh.  Now what?  “Cheat Day” was over, and I was supposed to be starting fresh that Monday morning.  With a new resolve, and the decision made that the kettle corn would just have to wait, I walked out into the kitchen to get my morning supplements.  Well there, on the island, in all its sweet, golden glory, was not one, but TWO bags of fresh, Knoeble’s Kettle Corn just waiting to be attacked.  I knew in that moment that I was in trouble.

On the bright side, I was not distracted at work because the kettle corn was running through my head all day, so that is definitely a win.  The old me would’ve been preoccupied by the sweet stuff just knowing it was at home waiting for me.

And waiting for me, it was.  I’m sure you know that it was a little harder to not be preoccupied by it when it was smack dab in the middle of the kitchen while I made dinner!  I moved it into the pantry, so it was out of sight.  I was proud of myself for not digging into it as soon as I walked in the door!  (Another win.)  After dinner, though, now that is where things get sketchy.

It was Monday night- date night for me, my daughter, and The Bachelorette!  As she proceeds to fill her TV tray with ice cream, potato chips, and rice pudding, I proceeded to gather my comfy blanket, my cell phone charger, and my big bottle of H2O.

Now here is the conundrum- problem, difficulty, quandary, dilemma– suddenly my sweet 21-year-old princess, with the high metabolism and hollow leg, remembered there were two bags of kettle corn in the house!  Hopping up to go retrieve them, she said, “You know, Mom, it is a special occasion.  It’s not like you get kettle corn every day, and you’ve been doing so well.”

She knows that if I am going to indulge in a special treat, I want it to be worth it.  That being said, she reminded me that if I waited until my next “cheat day,” the kettle corn would be a week old by then.  Would week old kettle corn be worth the sugar and calories as much as fresh kettle corn?  Of course not!  And I couldn’t let my hard-working angel waste her hard-earned money, now could I?  After all, she bought me that sweet treat because she loves me, and she never even expected me to pay her back for it, so what’s a mother to do?

I gave in, that’s what.  Sorry, no shocking plot twist or life-changing advice here.  I just… gave… in.

Okay, maybe just a little bit of life-changing advice here:  DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP WHEN YOU DO IT!  The old me would have sulked for days, spit nails at herself in the mirror, thrown in the towel, eaten nothing but junk for a whole week straight because she already blew it, then started fresh on Monday…. Again.  I am here to tell you that this is NOT helpful when you’re fighting an unstoppable giant like this one.

Isn’t that just what the devil would want?  Isn’t that exactly his plan of attack when you’ve slipped up?  Here’s some intel for you:  the devil will undoubtedly beat you when you’re down, as well as whisper lies in your ear when he knows you’re most vulnerable.  He will tell you that you’ll never win. Why do we give him a victory that already belongs to us?  Why do we give him the satisfaction of seeing us wallow in self-condemnation when we’ve already been set free?

Here is the new plan of counter-attack I’ve recently learned to implement:  thank the Lord for the blessing it was, then dust myself off and start fresh again the next day.  It’s little changes like these- baby steps- that will ultimately lead to long term success, regardless of your individual health goals.

Forget crash diets and health fads, and just live your life one choice at a time.  God does not want us to be slaves to food rules or numbers on a scale.  True “food freedom” comes when you’re not obsessing over it 24-hours a day.  Letting your dinner get cold while you weigh it all out is just as obsessive as dreaming about chocolate fudge cake.  Don’t do it!  There are more important things that should be occupying your mind- like that date night with your kiddo.

Be blessed, my friend, not stressed.  And remember, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Cor. 10:13 (NLT)

*Tell me about a time you chose the high road instead of throwing in the towel. What was your counter-attack?* Comment below!

Fat Girl with a Pretty Face 05/25/19

For the first post in my Alicia & Goliath page, I thought I would share with you an excerpt from the current book project on which I’m currently working:

     “No one can find out about this,” she said out loud to an empty room.  She buried the red box in the trash then washed and dried the 8 x 8 glass pan, all the while listening intently for cars in the drive or footsteps on the porch.  She swiftly placed the pan in the oven drawer with the rest of the baking dishes and returned the dishtowel to its rightful place.  She glanced around the modest kitchen one last time to make sure nothing was amiss.   

     Erica had used the last few dollars in her wallet to buy the brownie mix, so she wouldn’t even have to enter the purchase into the checkbook register.  She knew herself so well.  With her hands on her hips, she stomped her size eight.  In a matter of a few hours, she’d managed to eat an entire pan of brownies by herself.

     It started out with just one; she had to have one right out of the oven while they were still hot.  That one was so good she just had to have another.  After that, she’d picked off a few pieces here and there every time she’d walk through the kitchen.  Before she knew it, it was lunch time.  Brownies weren’t something she had often, so she figured it wouldn’t hurt just this once.  Besides, there were eggs in them, after all, so they had protein in them, right?  And the tall glass of milk that went with them gave her dairy.  That sounded like a well-rounded lunch to Erica!  

     One thing led to another, and eventually she had only two brownies left in the pan.  Now how was she going to explain that when her family returned home?  She couldn’t explain it- not without lying about imaginary guests.  She’d just have to finish them off; she certainly couldn’t let them go to waste.

     Erica glanced over at the refrigerator.  She’d momentarily considered counting the eggs, but she decided that’d be going too far.  Surely Grant didn’t actually count the eggs, did he?  She shook her head in disgust and spoke into the air, “Erica, you’re being ridiculous.”  She dismissed the crazy notion and replaced it with thoughts of her comforting bed.  Suddenly she wasn’t feeling very well.

     In the time it took Erica to drag her feet up the flight of stairs to the bedroom, she had gone from feeling bad to worse.  Not only was she feeling guilty and disgusted, now she was feeling sick.  Erica crossed her arms over her bloating stomach.  The cold milk had helped wash down all the chocolate gooeyness, but now it felt like lead at the bottom of her belly.  Yep- it had happened again.   What was wrong with her?  Surely no one else on the planet could be such a glutton!  And to hide the evidences of her crime?  What kind of person was she anyway?   

     Erica reached her bedroom and, shutting the door, peered into the full-length mirror that hung on the back of it.  Her shoulder-length, dark blonde hair desperately needed to be trimmed again, but that was the least of her problems.  Her plump, round face had completely hidden the girl she used to be when she was in her teens.  The flirtatious, fun-loving girl who loved to dance and hang out with friends at the roller skating rink was a distant memory now.  She had been replaced with the woman in the mirror who could no longer hide the extra weight with clothing and accessories.

     As Erica continued to evaluate her body and her behavior, she scowled.  She turned first to the left and then to the right, as if one profile would be any different from the other.  Erica tightened her abdominal muscles, which was no small feat these days.  As her stomach rolled, she wrinkled her nose at the thought of how, once upon a time, sculpted lines would suddenly appear when she used to suck in her tummy.  Oh to be young again.

     Erica looked back up to her face.  Her grandmother had always told her what a pretty face she had.  To a big girl like her, those words might as well have been a tattoo- FAT GIRL WITH THE PRETTY FACE.  Eventually Erica just accepted the cold, hard facts.  After all, a fat girl with a pretty face was better than a fat girl with an ugly one.  Grant had no idea what he was getting into when he married her.  She had changed so drastically, and still he loved her fiercely and unconditionally.  Why couldn’t she make herself be the kind of woman Grant deserved?

     A tear slowly rolled down Erica’s round cheek when she blinked.  Why was she so weak?  What sick power did food have over her?  Did she love food more than she loved God?  She didn’t think so, but why couldn’t she prove it to Him?  To herself?  Erica covered her face with her hands and swiftly turned away from what had suddenly become her worst enemy- the mirror.  The single tear suddenly gave way to a waterfall, and Erica made her way to the queen size bed in the middle of the room.  Feeling too unworthy to even receive the love of her purring calico, Erica ignored Fiona’s outstretched paw, collapsed onto the bed, and screamed her shame into the pillows.”

Does this sound familiar?  I’ve lived this scenario more times than I care to admit.  It doesn’t always happen at home, either.  I’ve actually gone to my local convenience store or drive-thru on my way to work, polished off whatever junk I chose to buy that morning, then got rid of the trash in a public garbage can so it wasn’t seen in my car.  I’m telling you, I’ve done it all.

I’ve had the first chapter of this book sitting on my external hard drive for at least a year now.  I thought it was a great start, but I never continued it because I thought I had to know the end of the story before I could write it all down.  The fact is, I’m still living it, and I don’t know if it will ever end.

But I really think that’s the point.  Yes, miracles and healings do happen.  Yes, people have been delivered from far worse in an instant.  But that’s the exception to the rule.  The truth is, God’s plans are usually much more calculated.  If He takes us right to the end of our struggle instead of helping us through it, how are we supposed to help the next person?

I don’t know when I’m going to finish this book, but I know it’s time to pick it up off the back burner.  My intention has always been to share my life with others who I might be able to help, and if that means my book won’t have a perfectly wrapped up ending with a nice little bow, then so be it.  I don’t think the plan is to give people false hope for a happy ending, anyway.  I think the plan is really to help people create their own happiness regardless of their circumstances.  And that starts with acceptance.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 reads, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, but He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.’  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

The next time looking into a mirror makes you want to scream into your pillows, put your chin up & shoulders back and say, “God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, and I am not alone.”

*What is one of your favorite bible verses that gets you through those rough patches when you feel things will never change?*  Comment below!

3 thoughts on “Alicia & Goliath

  1. That’s the scripture I use too when peering up at my “mountain(s)” for the umpteenth time!
    Our endings, although known to God, are written in detail by the response to the ups and downs, the wins and the losses- the journey is the goal! Thank you for your candid sharing…

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  2. Very well said! Although I gotta say, I’m a little biased since you called me your “princess” and “hard-working angel.” 😉 Seriously though, I really love the message you shared. A personal experience I’ve had in my life where I chose to overcome is when I faced countless struggles at my old university (and I’m not talking academically). Every day presented a new challenge on my mental well-being to the point of having no desire to get out of bed, no desire to eat, no desire to leave my room unless absolutely necessary. I even skipped classes and slept throughout most of the day, every day. There were times I cried myself to sleep, constantly feeling alone through everything (I had my family but they were hours away). I could have quit, run away from my problems, dropped out, threw in the towel. But I didn’t. Instead, I did what I needed to do in order to succeed and push past all the turmoil, so much so that I passed the semester making Dean’s List! That strength within me was ignited by fueling myself with the word of God; I began spending an hour every morning before class reading the bible and doing a devotion, and it helped give me a fresh heart to make it through each day. Through scripture, my family boundless encouragement, and God’s grace, my counterattack helped pull me from a dark place, and to this day I feel blessed to have come out on top of my little mess stronger than I was before.

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    1. Wow! Thank you for sharing all of that. It was definitely a difficult time for all of us, but I don’t think I clearly understood how you were really spending your days. I know you felt alone being so far away from family and friends, but I have found that it is usually at our lowest points when we realize God had been there all along just waiting for us to come to the One person who would never let us down. I’m so overjoyed that you found Him right when you needed Him the most!

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