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!

Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation

You Are Enough

In the newest book by Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing, chapter four talks about the fourth excuse women use when they can’t or won’t even try to accomplish their goals. The excuses provided in her book before and after this one are equally important, but this excuse was one that is extremely relative to my story, and therefore, I am sharing it with you here: the excuse that tells you, “I’m not enough to succeed.”

I mentioned in my More About Me page that I had been mentally and verbally abused.  From the age of about eight or ten up until the time I moved out at 18, I was told by my step-father that I was a worthless, lazy glutton that would never amount to anything.  There were many variations of these words, but the message was always the same… and I grew to believe it.  (Before I go any further, I absolutely need to make sure all of my readers know that my dad was a completely different person when I was growing up.  He has since found the Lord, we have repaired our relationship, and we are closer than ever!)

As an adult, I found that I was caught in a never-ending cycle of perfectionism and dissatisfaction.  No matter what I accomplished, it wasn’t enough.  This makes sense because as I was growing up, if I earned a “B” on a test, I was told it should have been an “A” instead.  If I cleaned the bathroom top to bottom, he found the one hair I missed on the sink.  I’m sure I don’t need to give any more details for you to get the idea.

Unfortunately, if that was my dad’s way of “encouraging” me to reach for the stars, it severely backfired.  It turned me into an unfulfilled and unsatisfied perfectionist who couldn’t see the good in anything she did.

I constantly beat myself up for not going to college every time I didn’t get the job I wanted.  When I published my first book, I was convinced it “didn’t count,” because I self-published instead of finding an agent.  And when I did go back to college, I earned my Associate’s Degree with a 3.9 GPA but was devastated that it wasn’t a 4.0. In short, I had let the size of my paycheck (and the size of my body!) determine my value and worth instead of walking in my God-given identity.

Do you see why Excuse #4 in Rachel’s book totally resonated with me? I highly recommend this book, (as well as her first one, Girl, Wash Your Face).  But, until you get your own copy, I want to share with you a life-changing exercise that she encourages us to do when we are in doubt about our ability to achieve our dreams.

She tells us to write a letter to ourselves.  It should be from that part of us that never gave up.  It should be from our “persistence and tenacity,” and we are to focus on all the things we have done instead of all the things we haven’t done.  She even encourages us to update it as often as necessary. In her book, she candidly shares with us the very first letter she wrote to herself when this exercise was suggested to her, and now I am going to candidly share my letter with all of you.

Please know that I am not sharing this to be boastful, but to be transparent.  I want to be relatable to you, and if nothing else, I want to jog your memory about some things you have accomplished that you may not have thought of yourself!  Know that if you choose to do this exercise, your letter will be for your eyes only, unless you want to share it with someone else who needs to be encouraged!

Use your own voice.  This letter is to you, from you.  Be honest.  Tell it like it is, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling.  I intend to make a copy of mine for each of my girls, so I can leave a legacy of confidence, not cowardice. With that, here is my letter:

Dear Alicia,

Hello, woman!  Wake up and pay attention, because this is a very important letter that contains a lot of very important information.  Hi, this is your Persistence & Tenacity, now listen up!

First of all, straighten up that crown of yours and act like the princess you are!  Why?  Because it was no accident that you were adopted into the Royal Family.  Not only did God choose you from the very beginning, but you chose Him, too.  And you did it because you are a good mother!  When you had your first child, you wanted a different life for her than what you had.  You looked at that precious little baby and then made a life-changing decision for both of you.

Not only did you want God to be an important part of your lives, but you did something more… you stopped the cycle!  You stopped the cycle of partying; you stopped the cycle of divorce; and most importantly, you stopped the cycle of abuse.  You have overcome and risen above!  You chose to rise above your circumstances.  You wanted better for your life, so you endured more than ten years of scary and painful therapy.  You learned healthy ways to cope with trauma, stress, and fear.  You made yourself forgive, so you could step forward and step up.  Then….

You spoke to large crowds of people about it!  And here’s a newsflash for you… you are a great public speaker!  You may have been a hot mess on the inside, but you never showed it on the outside.

You pursued further education- twice.  You not only did your two-year Literature Course after graduation, but when you went back to school to get your Psychology degree, you were 38 years old, working part-time, raising three kids, and leading a Girl Scout Troop!  When you got that Associate’s Degree, you got it with a 3.9 GPA.  Let’s not forget… You wrote a novel!  You wrote it, then you learned how to self-publish it, and you were able to self-edit it, too.  Now you have a book on Amazon!  And you think you haven’t accomplished anything yet?  Come on, girl.  Don’t be ridiculous.

Okay, now let’s talk about the elephant in the room… your health and body.  Remember when I reminded you of all the family cycles you stopped?  Well how about the cycle of constant overeating and bad food choices?  When this health & wellness company came into your life, the Holy Spirit gave you the power to overcome, and now you are heading towards Food Freedom!

Last but not least, let’s talk about that dirty little four-letter “F” word…. FEAR!  Listen, girlfriend, if you were to have a check list of all the times you showed Fear who’s boss, it might look something like this…

You hate being the center of attention, but you became a public speaker because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.  You were always a shy introvert, but you faked it until you made it, and now you’re a people-person!

When your daughter was going through her medical trauma and had to have two brain surgeries and then a Bilateral Adrenalectomy, they were the scariest times of your entire life.  You not only had to be strong for her, but you learned how to give up control and trust God.

When your other daughter was away at college, which was scary enough by itself, your heart sank every time she called home because you never knew what was waiting for you on the other end of the line.  But, your daughter needed you, so you faced it every single time because you knew that burying your head in the sand would not help her overcome.

Despite being a nervous wreck, you’ve driven in busy cities by yourself, you’ve gracefully made it through over a dozen job interviews in your lifetime, and they don’t even make you nervous anymore, you’ve had three surgeries, you’ve survived losing a parent, you’ve gone through intensive training to do volunteer work at a crisis pregnancy center, you’ve gone through more intensive training to become a certified lay minister, you’ve taken steps to start your own ministry at church, you became an entrepreneur, and you’ve had to kill spiders all by yourself when no one else was around!

The list of ways in which you have conquered fear goes on and on, so why let fear hold you back now?  As your favorite friend, Winnie the Pooh says, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  And you…are not…a quitter.

Be proud of all those hats you wear!  Wife, mother, author, online content writer, public speaker, entrepreneur, college graduate, spiritual leader, family secretary, prayer warrior, and one heck of a tenacious, goal digging, go-getter!

Before I go, let me remind you of the lyrics from one of your favorite songs…

“Fear, you don’t own me.  There ain’t no room in this story.  And I ain’t got time for you telling me what I’m not like you know me, well guess what?  I know who I am!  I am strong, brave, and I am free.  I’ve got my own identity!  So, Fear, you will never be welcome here!”

Another hat I wear is Encourager. Now I encourage you to grab a journal & a pen and your favorite feel-good beverage, and get writing. Here, I’ll start it for you: Dear (your-name-here), this is your Persistence & Tenacity, and I want to remind you that YOU ARE AWESOME! And do you know why?

Fill in the blanks.

Don’t be scared; it’s easier than you think once you get on a roll! For a little extra encouragement, maybe you first want to take a listen to the song I referenced in my letter. You can do so here. Download it, install it, save it, or whatever you do to get it on your favorite device, and listen to it every day!

*You don’t have to share your letter with me, but if you want to share any part of it, or if you want to share anything about how it made you feel, I would welcome those comments! Kick Fear to the curb, and happy writing!*