She put on the blue and white ruffled "Cinderella" dress and her dimpled cheeks burst into a smile. Her dark eyes danced as she happily squealed,  "Ewin, I'm a bootiful pwincess!!" and spun around in a circle. The 2 year old little doll I babysat beamed with delight as she spun around the house and giggled at the very idea of being a princess. As she smiled and twirled, I spun her around in a circle, and realized - her delight in being a "beautiful princess" was the very same desire in my heart, and yours. Women, even at the youngest of ages, have within them an innate longing to be special...beautiful...and loved.

  Two autumns ago, the Lord took me through a season in my life when I lost almost everything I found my identity in. All my life, I held onto certain things that made me "Erin".  Who was I, you ask? Oh, I would have happily and confidently named off more than a few things that (I thought) made me who I was. 
  I was a student, a Resident Assistant in my dorm at college. A worship leader and singer, a youth leader at my church. A pastor's daughter, a girlfriend. I had a job, I had my own apartment.

   And then suddenly.... things took a different turn than I had planned or anticipated. A very different turn. And not just a few things. ALL of the things. All of the things that made me ME (in my eyes) were dropping out of my life, one by one... like flies. It was similar to the sensation of cupping sand in your hands...and feeling it slowly, but ever so surely, run out. And you can do nothing but watch.
And suddenly there I stood... just me. I was no longer Erin the student, Erin the pastor's kid, Erin the girlfriend, Erin the worship leader. I was just Erin.... and it scared me. I felt panicked at the thought, honestly. A million questions swirled around in my mind in the dark of night as I lay in my bed. I felt like I was losing it. And all the while, the Lord was whispering...

"I love you, I made you. You are MINE."

And in that dark season, He taught me something.
Something that made the loneliness worth it. The loss worth it. The pain oh so worth it.

He showed me ... I am not defined or made valuable by things I do or things I have.
My worth lies in one thing and one thing alone: I am extravagantly loved by God.

Ya know, girls....

you are not just the things you do, the clothes you wear, the job you have.
you are worth much more.
ALL of who you are.
And He loves every part of you.....

...the woman you are on the outside. How people see you.
Strangers you pass by, your colleagues.
The blonde, brunette. The one with pretty eyes.
The nurse, the secretary, the teacher, the student.
Athletic. Homeschooler. Singer.
Tall. Short. Pretty. Cute.

...the woman your friends know.

A deeper part of you, but certainly not the whole you.
 The one with that fabulous smile.
The really good mom. The faithful friend. The nursery worker. The one who has money.
The listener. The fabulous party thrower. The one who's always late.
The coffee drinker.

...the woman your sister and your best friend know. the one your mom knows,
the one your husband knows.

the dreamer. the over-acheiver. the shy one.
the pushover. the doubter. the avoider. the leader. the bossy one. the flirt.
the closet writer. the extrovert. the disorganized disaster. the insecure one.

...and then, there is that secret part of youthe part no one knows.
No one...but you and God.
the abused little girl. the broken-hearted one. the one who wants to run away.
your worst fear, the one you're afraid to even utter.
the way he used you so unfairly.
the way you hate your body.
the people who judge you...but they have no clue what you've been through.
the anger that boils your blood over what he did.
the eating disorder that has terrorized you since age 16.
the secret thing you did, the awful wish you could forget.
the regret you have over that one choice. that one decision. that changed everything.
the hurt so deep, the words spoken, the accusations made...that haunt you.
the secret wish you made when you blew out that candle on your last birthday
  ... the one that was really a prayer for a better life.

The way you look. The way you feel. The fat days. The acne flare-ups.
Even when you have no makeup on, when your hair is piled on top of your head and looks like a "rat's nest" (my commonly used term for hair days that leave something to be desired!)

He loves you.

Your insecurities about how you look in men's eyes. Your flabby abs.
The wrinkles on your forehead. The natural color of your hair.
The way you laugh.
The way you feel out of place at parties.
The way you blast "Party In The USA" and sing with Miley Cyrus into your hair brush.
The mornings you sit and talk to Him, the prayers you pray.
The craziest dreams you have. The ones you can't imagine actually coming true.
The mistakes you made and cried over. The reasons your friends disowned you.
The days you feel plain.

He loves you.

He loves all of who you are.

Darlin', don't listen to the lies anymore.

Those voices that do not speak truth ...


"you're ugly, you're worthless
and no one will ever love you.
you're not the type of girl the guys like.
you're awkward. you're fat. you're boring.
you have nothing good to say.
and your dreams will not come true."

read these lyrics. i love them:

You are a jewel

You're a treasure

You are one of a kind

And you shine just as bright as

the stars in the sky

You're a rare kind of wonder

Created just right

So keep your head up

no matter the pain

There's nothing about you that's plain.
you can listen to the song : here

You are beautiful.

To Him.

happy weekend!
{embrace who He says you are.}



// all the credit to my lovely mom for inspiring this post//


Friday iPhone Photo Drop
{from instagram, to follow search: erin_sweetnessitself}