Posted in Blog, Faith & Religion

THE “Health & Wellness Coach”

Let me start by saying that when I call myself a “Health & Wellness” Coach, I am referring to not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well– perhaps even moreso.  Not that physical health isn’t as important as the other two, but if we’re being honest here, it’s not really possible to achieve the physical health on a permanent basis, if the emotional and spiritual health are not addressed first.  Okay, well, maybe you can strive for all three simultaneously, because that is exactly what God is helping me do every single day.

For me, these three things go hand-in-hand, and I simply cannot have one without the other two.  I stated above that you cannot truly achieve optimal physical health without the emotional and spiritual health, but it really works both ways.  If your physical health isn’t up to par, it can ultimately affect your emotional and spiritual health.

Okay, now I’m talking in circles, and I’ve probably just confused you.  Let me try to show you what I mean.  If you aren’t spiritually healthy, chances are you are not going to put “taking care of your temple” at the top of your priority list.  If you are facing other battles in your life, and you are spiritually unsteady because of what you’re going through, your physical health may seem less important to you as you traverse through your current trials and tribulations.  It could even just be a case of simply not caring.  If your spiritual health isn’t in the right place, you may not even give your physical health a second thought.  Perhaps you didn’t even know that physical health was important to God, and this is a completely new concept to you.

Faith and religion aside, maybe you’re just not as emotionally healthy as you would like to be.  You might be facing demons from your past or a current crisis that you can’t see past at the moment.  The bottom line is if you’re not emotionally healthy, you probably aren’t able to make a commitment to your physical health even if you wanted to. 

All of that might make perfect sense to the average human being, but what about the flipside of that coin?  How can being physically unhealthy affect your spiritual and emotional health?  Well, for one thing, when I’m not taking care of myself physically, those negative self-talk tapes start replaying in my head.  They tell me I’m a failure, I’m destined to be this way, and I’m unattractive and unworthy of love.  It directly affects my emotional health when I start believing those lies again that God worked so hard to squelch.  When I start telling myself those things, it’s very easy for me to fall back into a depressed or hopeless state, because I begin to believe that nothing will ever change.

In addition, my spiritual health suffers, because I feel convicted by the Holy Spirit.  (Conviction is not to be confused with condemnation, by the way.)  The Holy Spirit gently and lovingly reminds me that I’m not treating my body the way God has asked me to, and I end up feeling badly about not taking good care of my temple.  I feel I am not honoring God with what I eat and drink.  1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NLT) I am not glorifying God if I am over-stuffing myself at mealtimes or overindulging in sweets instead of treating myself to them in moderation.    

But because I view my addiction to food as great sin, I have spent years taking the Holy Spirit’s gentle conviction and turning it into self-condemnation.  Not only have I battled a faulty belief system that told me I loved food more than I loved God, but I also believed I was such a horrible sinner that nothing could make me acceptable and pleasing to God.  If this sounds like you, my friend, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth!

Did you know that when Jesus bought us with the price He paid on Calvary, He made us righteous in God’s sight?  Righteous, by definition, means morally right and virtuous.  In Ephesians 1:4, we are told, “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (NLT) Did you catch that?  “Without fault.”  Blameless.  When God looks upon us, He sees perfection.  I can’t even wrap my brain around that!

As long as I’ve been at this, I still have trouble seeing myself the way that God sees me, so believe me, I get it.  But one of the things that helps me besides reading God’s truth repeatedly, is worshiping Him in song.  When I first became a Christian in 1996, I thought I’d never listen to Christian Contemporary music.  I believed it to be slow and “boring.”  Can I admit to you now that I never even tried it when I made that assessment?  I might have turned to a Christian radio station one time and they happened to play something “slow,” so I judged it immediately.

But then I tried it a second time… and a third.  This was in the days of Twila Paris, Jars of Clay, and Point of Grace, and one of the very first songs I remember absolutely loving was a Twila Paris song called “Not Afraid Anymore.”  For one thing, it wasn’t slow at all.  In fact, I remember belting it out while dancing around my kitchen as if unto the Lord.  (What I was afraid of at the time, I didn’t know, but nonetheless, the song made me unafraid and downright joyful!)

From that point on, I listened to as much Christian Contemporary music as I could.  I discovered it wasn’t slow and boring at all, but in fact, was a great way to connect to God when I couldn’t be spending quiet, alone time with Him in prayer.  I was new to Christianity, and while the bible seemed intimidating to me at first, worship music gave me a fresh, new way to get to know God.  Much of it has God’s Word right in the lyrics, so committing lyrics to memory came in very handy!

Back then, I was a “baby Christian” trying to learn who I was, who God was, how to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and how to cope with things from having a bad day to dealing with a crippling self-image.  I was battling depression, anxiety, and food addiction for as long as I could remember, and then I came across a song by Susan Ashton.

This one song…. It spoke to me in a way I could never forget.  I knew it had to be written just for me, and it’s been an anthem of mine ever since.  It’s called “Body and Soul,” and the lyrics still pierce my heart today as much as they did when I heard it for the first time so long ago.

Too young to know any Christian Contemporary records from the 90’s?  No worries!  I got you!  Take a deep breath, sit back, and take it in… the lyrics are as follows:

“Once I was lost; hurting inside; dangling over the edge.  But the history of pain barely remains.  Once I was blind, but could it be that the excess of light is shading the weary past with the shadows it casts?  And as sin gives way to atoning blood, and a debt is paid with the riches of love, there’s a hope that I see.  There’s a freedom in me!  “There’s a comfort in death and in life knowing that I belong to the Savior who’s making me whole… body and soul.

 Now I can feel a sense of resolve, choosing a new point of view; going against the grain; breaking the chain!  And the shackles fall on the road to peace, and I lose them all as I find my release.

And hope eternal springs in me.  And freedom seems to willingly carry me through a world of fears I’ve stored inside of me; Lord, abide in me.

And as sin gives way to atoning blood, and a debt is paid with the riches of love, there’s a hope that I see.  There’s a freedom in me.  There’s a comfort in death and in life knowing that I belong to the Savior who’s making me whole… body and soul.

Wow.  Just wow.  As a brand new Christian, this song was not only the epitome of what Christ did for me, but it addressed the freedom that was my birthright.  It told me that when I died to sin and found new life in Christ, He was breaking the bondage that my painful past had been keeping me in for all those years.  Even back then, He was letting me know that He was going to be there for me, helping me through what seemed was going to be an insurmountable giant.

That was over twenty years ago, and I still don’t have all the answers.  I’m not a supermodel now, and I still love brownies just as much as the next person.  But you know what?  I’m a much better version of myself than I was twenty years ago, and maybe not as great as I’ll be ten years from now.  God is constantly working in us and through us, helping us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, one day at a time.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul assures us, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT) Read it again; understand what it is saying.  “until it is finally finished on the day when Christ returns.”  Hello!  That means we will always be a work in progress until Jesus comes back to take us with Him!  In no uncertain terms, that means stop beating yourself up for not being perfect!  Even though you’re not perfect in your own eyes, you are perfect in His eyes.  And aren’t God’s eyes the only ones that really matter?

Look at the lyrics of the song again.  It says, “the Savior who is making me whole.”  Not, “the Savior who made me whole.”  Do you see the difference?  So you’re not always 100% emotionally healthy?  So you’re not always 100% spiritually healthy?  So you’re still battling a physical stronghold in your life like I am?  So what.  As long as you are striving every day to do better, be better… that’s all that matters.  Are you going to fail sometimes?  Of course. But that does not make you a failure. If you’re doing your best, that is what God sees.  He sees your heart. 

On the rare occasion when one or more of my girls came home with a low “B” on their report cards, or, Heaven forbid, a “C” in, perhaps, their least favorite class, they would beat themselves up.  I would always ask, “Did you do your best?”  When they replied with unwavering certainty that they had, I told them that’s all that mattered to me.  

God is the same way with us.  But unlike us Moms who might make a mistake once in a while because we are imperfect humans, God will never make a mistake in His care for us. God is always there… helping, holding, inspiring, guiding, strengthening… you get the idea.  His timing is always perfect, and He always knows just the right thing to say. There is nothing too big for Him to handle, and there is nothing too small for Him to care about.

What is most important to you right now- today?  You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with striving to reach too many goals at once.  Just remember that God is our ultimate health & wellness coach!  To hear the “Body and Soul” song for yourself, click here. Soak it in; take time to reflect on Who God is, and what He can offer you. Let Him help you reach the goals that you can’t reach in your own strength.  Be it physical or otherwise, that’s His job, and He loves doing it.  How can He help you start becoming wholly healthy?  He’s always listening, and He is the only One who will never let you down.

Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation, Faith & Religion

His Princess

What is a princess?  Is a princess someone who dresses in fancy gowns and tiaras?  A little girl’s dream persona perhaps? A nickname for a beloved wife or a cherished daughter?  Or is a princess much more than that? 

According to Webster, a princess, by definition, is this:  the consort of a prince and a non-reigning female member of a royal family, especially a daughter of the sovereign.  Aaahh, there it is.  Now, while Webster didn’t capitalize Sovereign, I will always do so.  When I think of Sovereign, I think of The Sovereign- The Lord God Almighty, The King of Kings.

All that said, what is my point?  Simply this:  if God is a King and you are His daughter, what does that make you?  You got it!  You, my sister, are a true, blue princess.  And so am I.  And let me just say here that I didn’t always think of myself as one.  It’s still hard for me to do that sometimes.  I have to remind myself of it everyday, in fact. You may not think of yourself as a princess right now, either, but I intend to help you a little bit with that.

I’m going to try as best as I can to share my story and explain why I thought of myself as anything but a princess.  My memory fails me at times but you’ll get the idea, even if what I share may seem a little choppy.  See, I have what I call a “Swiss Cheese” brain.  I call it that, because it’s full of holes.  Okay, I really got the term from a classic V.C. Andrews book which I never seemed to be able to get rid of when I became a Christian.  I got rid of a lot of my books and VHS tapes after I found salvation, mostly because of bad language or, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it here, pure smut.  But this book was different.  Yes, the story was dark and twisted and tragic- it’s written by V.C. Andrews, after all.  It’s not a Christian piece of literature by a long shot, but there was always something about that book that made it one of my favorites.

It was the girl.  It was the poor girl who had a “Swiss Cheese Memory” full of holes.  I identified with her somehow, and not just because of her sketchy memory.  I related to her.  Because of the horrific violation she’d suffered in the story maybe?  Perhaps that’s part of it, but I won’t get into gory details since this is a Christian blog and I want to remain tasteful.

I suppose my story really began when my father abandoned me.  I was about two years old, according to my mother, and he had been battling a terrible drug and alcohol addiction.  My mother couldn’t help him, and we weren’t enough to keep him.  Truth be told, she kicked him out to keep us safe, but even that was not enough of a wake-up call to scare him clean. 

My mother protected me from the truth for as long as she could, God bless her.  She allowed me to blame her; she allowed me to take my anger out on her; she even allowed me to hate her at times, because she knew I would never hate him.  I loved him so much it hurt, and later in life I discovered that being abandoned by him was one of the main reasons behind my food addiction.  There was no way I could ever believe that what happened was his fault, so that meant it must be mine.  There must have been something wrong with me.  I must have been unlovable.  What made me so unlovable, I never knew, so I started eating- a lot.  The women in my family had always been obsessed with weight and the way they looked, so I suppose I believed that if I was overweight, that would make me unlovable, and then everything that happened would make sense.  Somehow, if I was overweight, I could reconcile in my mind why his leaving was my fault- why I wasn’t enough for him. 

Fast forward to my mother’s second marriage.  I don’t remember how old I was- eight or ten maybe.  The age doesn’t matter; what mattered is I would spend the rest of my impressionable years being told I was never good enough.  (As if I didn’t already know that.)  It was instilled in me that I would never amount to anything, and I had grown to believe it.  I mentioned this in my last blog post, and you can check it out here if you’d like a little more insight about my upbringing.

The point I’m trying to make is that when you’ve spent your whole life believing that you aren’t enough, you tend to have a pretty difficult time believing you are a princess!  Far from it, in fact!  If there were ever such a sad sap with daddy issues, I was it.

I grew up feeling lonely, insecure, and looking for love in all the wrong places.  I wasn’t always a Christian, but God was always with me, even before I knew Him!  He protected me from diseases, unplanned pregnancies, and even from being violated as a teenager, because I sure put myself out there as an easy target!  I had gotten myself into quite a few pickles, but God always had me in the palm of His hand. Why? Why did He have His hand of protection upon me before I even gave Him my heart?  He did it because He loves me, and He has a plan for my life!  I am His.  I am God’s creation, and none of God’s creations are accidents or mistakes.

I want to share a passage of Scripture with you that will change your life if you let it.  It’s found in the Psalms, and it reads, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”  Psalms, 139:13-16, NIV

Does that sound like you’re a mistake?  I’ve got news for you…God doesn’t make junk!  Not only are you not junk, but you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and there is a plan for your life!

You may not yet know what God’s plan is for your life, but He does, and maybe your first step is to accept yourself for who you are, and then trust in Him to lay out the path before you.  You may not be able to see yourself the way that God sees you, and that’s okay; I don’t either most of the time.  But here is what I know: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV 

All things have become new.  You have become new!  It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done.  If you are in Christ, you are a new creation!  And not just any creation, but a royal creation… a princess.

Ephesians 1:5 tells us, “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”  (NLT)  Wow!  Adopting me gave God great pleasure!  He wanted me!  Scuff marks and all!  And He wants you, too.  The Bible certainly wasn’t written just for little old Alicia from a map dot in Pennsylvania. 

Have you ever dreamed something for yourself that you didn’t believe you were good enough to achieve? Have you ever desired something in your life that you didn’t believe you were worthy enough to have? Did you ever set goals that you didn’t believe you were capable of achieving anyway, so you just shoved them down deep? I have been there, my sister! And I learned that all of those doubts and fears are nothing but lies from the enemy who doesn’t want you to be who God says you are! He doesn’t want you to achieve the dreams that God placed on your heart, because that would help the world. The devil doesn’t want to further God’s kingdom, he wants to further his own kingdom! So, he has made it his mission to keep us feeling knocked down and dragged out. He has made it his mission to keep us in that place of “not enough” because our successes mean that God’s plans for our lives are coming to fruition.

Have you ever heard of the expression “pay it forward?” Well it’s the same concept. If we begin to achieve our goals and dreams, we are going to start helping others achieve their goals and dreams. We are going to share God’s truth like I’m doing right now. Before you know it, we’re going to start making the world a better place… one life at a time. The devil certainly doesn’t want that! And what’s so awesome is that we all have a different job to do. I won’t get into the body of Christ right now, because that’s a message for a different day. Suffice it to say, we all have a part to play, but we all have the same end goal.

Maybe sharing your story in a blog isn’t your cup of tea, but working in the Missions Field is more your style. Did you ever aspire to travel to far away places so you can help those less fortunate than yourself? Maybe the thought of doing Missions makes you break out into a cold sweat, but you know you love children. Maybe volunteering in a children’s ministry at your home church is more up your alley. Maybe you’re more of the standing-on-the-street-corner type who wants to share the good news with passers-by. Whatever it may be and whatever your talents and desires are… God put them there. He designed you with a purpose! Try to spend at least ten minutes a day telling yourself all of these wonderful truths. Look in your mirror and see yourself as the child of God that you are.

undefined I saw a saying once with which I completely fell in love. It was a picture of a pineapple with the words, “Be like a pineapple. Stand tall, be sweet, and wear a crown.” As a child of God, I fell in love with this saying, because it was a simple reminder that I am a princess. Now I think of it every time I see a pineapple, and I love anything with pineapples on it. I want you to remind yourself of this truth every time you see one, too. You ARE a princess! Now put on that crown, and hold your head up high, my friend! Allow yourself to dream those dreams. Allow God to give you the hope of achieving them, because He is the one that put them there from the beginning.

What are your dreams and aspirations? I would love to hear all about them so I can encourage you and pray for you! Feel free to comment below if you’d like to share anything about your own self-doubts and how you are trying to overcome them. Be blessed, my sister, and… be a pineapple!