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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Overcoming the Heartaches of Life (Part 2 of 2)

Overcoming the Heartaches of Life (Part 2 of 2)

Raised in Hollywood, California, Sheri Rose Shepherd grew up in the five blended families created by her oft-divorced parents. Despite finding success on the beauty pageant circuit, she struggled with bulimia and suicidal thoughts. An ex-drug dealer’s prayers helped Sheri Rose find a relationship with Jesus Christ, where she found healing for her emotional wounds, and a way to minister to other women with similar pain. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 25, 2006

Preview:

Sheri Rose Shepherd: And I came to pick Jacob up that day, no makeup on, my hair in a bun and gray sweats. And when I don’t wear makeup, I don’t have a face.

End of Preview

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: And I went to pick him up, and his teacher comes running out and goes, “This is so cute! Your little boy loves you so much that he actually believes you’re Mrs. America.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: I said, “I am.” She said, “You’re kidding.”
Audience: laughter.

John Fuller: (laughs) And she really was. And you’re gonna hear more today on Focus on the Family from Sheri Rose Shepherd. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, Sheri Rose Shepherd has come a long way. From an angry, depressed, overweight teenager to Mrs. United States, 1994. Now she’s a Bible life coach, and a best-selling author. And in fact, Sheri’s His Princess series has sold over 1 million copies in 17 languages. (laughs)

John: That is pretty amazing. (laughs)

Jim: That’s got to bless her even more than being a beauty pageant winner, I would think.

John: I’ll bet it does, and it really does speak to the hunger that women have for the message that Sheri offers. Get a copy of the book that kind of launched the series from us here at Focus on the Family. It’s called His Princess: Love Letters from Your King.

Jim: Yeah. It’s a very encouraging gift book. And if you missed part one of Sheri Rose’s story yesterday, please get in touch with us. We can send you the entire message on CD or audio-download, and you can also get it through the app for smart phones.

John: That’s right. And you can find all the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call us, we’ll tell you more, 800, the letter A, and the word, FAMILY. All right. We’re gonna start today with a brief recap to help you get caught up. And with that, here’s Sheri Rose Shepherd on Focus on the Family.

Sheri: Now, I grew up in a very dysfunctional Hollywood home. My father was a disc jockey in Hollywood. My mother was an actress and a beauty queen. My parents married and divorced three times each. I’ve been a part of five blended families. I know what it’s like to have your foundation shaken. And every time I settled into a situation, there was another divorce, another affair, another thing changed. And I grew up very angry. And I made a lot of poor choices when I was a young girl, and those poor choices turned me into a person that I didn’t wanna be. When I was 16, I was 60 lbs. overweight. I was addicted to drugs. I was angry, and I was depressed. The homecoming king came and asked me if I was going to the beach party after the prom. Well, I had a crush on him, and thought he was the most adorable thing I’d ever saw, and that excited me, and I said, “Yes! I am. Why do you ask?” He goes, “‘Cause you look like a whale, and you look like you belong on the beach.”

Audience: Aw.

Sheri: And I ran into the bathroom…

Audience: Aw.

Sheri: … and I looked in the mirror, and I made a promise to myself. That I would never be fat, or ugly, or made fun of again. And I went on a mission to perfect myself physically. But that particular night, I was so broken by the things that this young man had said that, when I was on the beach at the party, trying to impress my friends and bury my pain, I almost OD’d on a drug overdose. I was brought home from the hospital, and I went into my bathroom, and I was laying on the floor, and I was crying. And my stepmother came in, and she got on the floor with me, and she put her arms around me, and she said, “Sheri Rose, you can’t change your mom. Sheri Rose, you can’t change your dad. You can’t change your friends. You can’t change the things you’ve already done, but if you will make the right choices from this day forward, you can change the rest of your life.” But when we first made me over, since my mother was a beauty queen and my father was a disc jockey from Hollywood that hosted beauty pageants, I wanted to experience being in one of those beauty pageants.

You know, and even though I lost the weight, and even though I finally had the attention of boys, and even though I’d improved my grades and I’d gotten off drugs, and those were all good choices. But I still didn’t feel good about my life. It was that “I’ll be happy when,” syndrome. And I was in bondage. I was in what I call Barbie bondage. Plastic perfectionism, something that doesn’t exist.

I was a people-pleasing approval addict. I wanted the approval of man. I was addicted to praise. I loved that people noticed my weight loss. I loved winning pageants. I was addicted to it, and I was severely bulimic, and I began to cry myself to sleep every night just like I did when I was a little girl, and my parents were fighting in the other room.
And I checked myself in a hotel room with a bottle of sleeping pills with the intentions of taking my life, to be honest with you. And I held those pills, and I cried at the top of my lungs, “God, do you exist?” You know what? The word of God says, “If you seek Him with all your heart, that you will find him.” I was a desperate girl with a bottle of sleeping pills, bulimic, saying, “God, do you exist?” And I fell asleep that night holding those sleeping pills. And the Lord brought back a memory to me. The drug dealer that gave me the LSD that almost took my life on my prom night, a Christian invited him to a youth camp, and he gave his life to Christ. He came back the next weekend, started handing out Bible tracts, and he spent all of his junior and senior year telling everybody in the whole campus that Jesus was the way. And he started a Bible study on our campus because when I went to high school, there was no problem having a Bible study on campuses. And it grew. And often, this young man from this wretched, angry, drug dealer to this sweet face would come up to me, and he’d get in my face, and he’d say, “Sheri Rose, I’m praying for you…”

Audience: Aw.

Sheri: “… and Jesus is your answer.” God answers prayers. I mean, if He can transform the life of a young drug dealer that almost took my life from the drugs, he sold me and have him pray over me and tell me that he is praying for me and that Jesus is the answer to my life. And I remembered that in that dream when I was holding those sleeping pills, sleeping. And the next morning, I got up and I wondered a little bit about Jesus. And God didn’t waste any time, because a boyfriend of mine that wasn’t even a Christian said, “Would you like to go over tonight to my grandparent’s house for dinner?” Well, his grandparents were missionaries to Albania. And when missionaries pray for you, you just get saved because they wreck your sinful life and all the joy that’s in it.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: And their lives changed mine. And their lives caused me to thirst for righteousness. And they asked me, “What do you want more than anything?” I said, “I wanna be Miss USA.” They said, “Lemme tell you about the greatest crown of all. It’s not a crown appointed by man. It’s the crown of life appointed by God, and if you will accept Jesus as your Savior, He will do exceedingly, abundantly more than you’d ever dare to dream, hope, or ask for. Way better than any worldly crown.” I said, “I can’t. I’m a Jew.” They said, “When you’re ready, you call on the name of Jesus and He’ll answer.” And I’m sure they faithfully prayed for me because 30 days later in a hotel room again with a bottle of sleeping pills, this Jewish American princess said, “Jesus, if you’re the Son of God, if you’re the Savior, if you can transform my life like you transformed my friend, the drug dealer’s life, I pray that you’d come into my life and you would transform me.” Not in a church. By myself. In a hotel room. Me and God.
The next day, I went to work out at a health club, and two girls walked up to me, obviously God-ordained, and said, “Are you a Christian?” I said, “I have no idea. I think so.” And I told them what happened. And they said, “You’re a Christian.” And they discipled me for two years. And in two years of discipling me, they would say to me, “Someday, you’re gonna speak and share this story across the nation. You are now a daughter of the King. Your name has now been written in the Book of Life.” And praise God that God interceded those people to teach me the Word. And I stand before you tonight as a former drug addict, bulimic, from a dysfunctional home. He, who the Son has set free, is free indeed. He, who the Son has set free, is free indeed.

See, we don’t need to impress each other with how perfect we are. We need to bless each other. Do you know that if you will pray that God will use you to be a blessing, you won’t care about impressing each other anymore, and you will find those intimate friendships that you’re longing for? Because when you do that, you take the focus off yourself, and it becomes on God using you to bless someone else. And Proverbs says, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed,” right?

We don’t need more self-confidence. Our young people and our older women, all women, do not need to be building their life on self-confidence that can be shaken. How many of you know self-confidence can be shaken? We need God-confidence. We need God-confidence that can’t be shaken. Self-confidence can be erased in one person’s sentence. God-confidence. We weren’t created to fit into an image of this world. We were created to stand out. We really do need to be that salt because our world, right now, has lost its craving for God because we are not seeing ourselves the way God does, so we’re not causing them to thirst for righteousness. My pastor said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” but he said, “You can feed him salty peanuts.” And our life is the salty peanuts. And our choices. And if we don’t get a grip on who we are in Christ because I think, for me, the greatest deliverance is from myself. How many of you can say, “Amen,” to that?

Audience: Amen.

Sheri: I cause most of my own problems.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: We are His princesses, daughters of the Most High King. I was in New York with my husband. And I’d never been to the big city, and I really wanted to see it. So the pastor and his wife, after we ministered, were nice enough to take us into the city. And before we went in, the four of us prayed for a divine appointment. And all day, you could have gone by, we would have had to trip someone to get a divine appointment. They move so fast in New York City.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: But it was 10:00 that evening, and while we were there in this wonderful little bakery, two girls walked up to me and said, “Are you a celebrity?” I said, “I am. My Father created the heavens and the earth. He is the King of Kings.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: “Excuse me?” I said, “My Father is a King? The King of Kings? Do you know who God is?” They said, “Well, yes. We know who God is. We’re Jewish.” I said, “What a coincidence! So was my Savior.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: And I begin to share with them … Well, they … They said, “Well, we go … went to … You know, we just got out of drug rehab, you know, only perfect people go to church.” I said, “Well, lemme share with you a story.” And as we began to share, one girl was talking, the other girl was listening, she began to cry uncontrollably, and she said, “Are you guys’ angels?”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: I said, “We are far from angels.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: I said, “But this morning, believe it or not, the four of us got together and we said, ‘God, we know there’s someone in this city that needs to know that you love them, and needs to know how special they are to you,’ and God ordained this moment at 10:00 PM in this restaurant in New York City so you could have your name written in the Book of Life and become His princess. Will you pray with us?” We prayed with them. This should not be an exceptional story for a Christian. This should be a daily occurrence. Now, many of us don’t have the gift to talk. Praise God, we have some that gave the gift of listening.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: And you may say, “Well, I don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger.” You can walk by and pray for a stranger. You can show grace. You can do an act of service. It’s amazing how God can use us. We all have different gifts. He’s gonna use us in different ways. It’s that, do we desire to be used by Him? What is abundant, exceedingly, abundantly? You know from experience if you have been used by the Lord, you gain great God-confidence and it’s an awesome feeling and it’s better than any makeover, isn’t it?

That feeling of knowing (laughs) that your life made a difference (laughs) in someone else’s is the most awesome high you could ever imagine. Better than any shopping spree. Better than any spa day. Better than any new house. Better than anything is knowing my life mattered, my life changed that person’s life, because of the power of God working in me.
That’s the exciting thing. See, weight loss could change my body, but it couldn’t change my life. It couldn’t change my life. It could only change my body, and makeup could cover up my blemishes, but they couldn’t cover up my insecurities. Clothes could make me feel cool, but they couldn’t make me content. And attention, which I was addicted to, could make me feel popular, but it could not give me purpose. It couldn’t fill me up. Boys could make me feel pretty, but they couldn’t take away my pain.

John: That’s Sheri Rose Shepherd on Focus on the Family, and you can get her book called His Princess: Love Letters from Your King, as well as a CD of her entire presentation when you call 800, the letter A, and the word, FAMILY.

800-232-6459. Or donate and request those resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. More now from Sheri Rose Shepherd on Focus on the Family.

Sheri: See, I think it’s great to become the best version of you. I really do. I think that God wants us to become the best version of ourselves, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I truly do. And we feel great when we’re the best version of ourselves. But when who God has made us to be we’re saying is not enough because we’re in the comparison game. “If I was like her,” “If I was talented like her, then I could be used of God too.” Instead of just becoming the best version of who God has called us to be and walking in that God confidence. See, I used to think that the best version of my hair wasn’t enough because I only had four pieces. And I wanted big hair really bad. Okay, being raised in Southern and Northern California, there’s lots of big hair there.

So, and I never had the big hair. So, I happened to see an infomercial that said I could have big hair, so I bought a pound of it that went down to my bottom. I speak all over the country, so if I walked in here with hair extensions, you don’t know I don’t have big hair. So, I couldn’t wait to get to my next booking with my big hair, okay?

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: I’m whipping it all over the place because I am so into the hair that doesn’t even belong to me.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: So, I’m just like, you know … I just wanna speak like this.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: You know? And I went to get ready to do my second session, and the woman hugs me and says, “You’ve been such a blessing to us.” And she’s like, you know, eight inches taller than me, and unclips tons of it. But I have it so teased up … I used to tease my hair so much, it finally attacked me.

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: You know, I mean, I had it so teased up and I had all these clips in it that I didn’t notice that she unclipped it, okay? So, I’m up here, speaking, and my hair is falling out all around me, and women are going like this …

Audience: laughter.
Sheri: …and, and I could hear the Lord say to me, “Even the numbers of hair on your head I know, and I don’t recognize any of those.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: That’s what I could hear Him say. See, we just need to become the best version of ourselves. My obvious deliverance was from hair bondage.

You know, when I became a mom, I began to think about my relationship with my mother, and even though I had a wonderful relationship with my stepmother who invested great things in my life. When I was pregnant with my son, I truly began to think about, “I need a relationship with my mom. I just don’t wanna pass any generational curses over to the next generation by my own unforgiveness.” And I pretended pretty well because I had a great stepmom. “It doesn’t bother me that I haven’t talked to my mom since I was 14.” You know, of course it did, but I had my doctorate in denial, so I convinced myself it did not.
And so, I had written my mom a letter to let her know that she was going to be a grandmother, and I wanted her to meet her grandson and to be back in my life, and it’d been a lot of years since my parents’ divorce. They divorced when I was 13. And I got a box in the mail from my mom that I was very excited about. I thought it was a gift. And it had my baby shoes in it, my birth certificate, and it had my baby clothes and pictures, and it had a stick-’em on my birth certificate, “I wish you’d never been born. No one caused me greater pain than you.”

Audience: Aw.

Sheri: See, when we don’t deal with our pain in our past, we do, whether we want to or not, pass it on to the next generation. My mom loved me, but she was paralyzed by pain. She longed to love me. She wanted a daughter all her life, just like I wanted a daughter all my life. But she was paralyzed by the pain of her past and wasn’t free by God to love me the way that she wanted to.  I cried out to God. I said, “God, I don’t feel like it’s my fault that my parents’ divorced. I don’t feel like it’s my fault that I had to make a choice who to live with. I don’t feel like I did anything wrong, God.” And I felt the Lord just say to me, “Neither did I, but I went to a cross for you.” And through a bucket of tears, I wrote a letter to my mom, asking her to forgive me for whatever I had done to cause her to regret giving birth to me. Never once bringing up anything that she or my father had ever done.
Today, my mother is born again. God has restored everything that’s been lost. I wanna tell you something tonight. You wanna have the abundant life, the exceedingly, abundantly, more than you’d ever dream? It comes from obedience. Obedience brings a breakthrough. There’s no other way. There’re ways that seem right, but in the end, it leads to destruction, but obedience brings the breakthrough.
In Deuteronomy chapter 30, Moses’ last words before he died, he said to God’s people, “God wants to bless you, but your blessing is dependent upon your obedience.” And he says, “If you don’t obey the Lord, not only will you rip yourself off of the blessings of God, but you’ll lift His shield of protection off of you.” Obedience brings the breakthrough. As my dad would say, “Lose the battle and win the war.” God’s amazing. He does exceedingly, abundantly more than we’d ever dare to ask, dream, or hope for. I never dreamed I would be in the ministry either. I had no idea the plans that God had for me. I know He says He has plans to give us a hope and a future, and God opened up a gift inside of me that I didn’t even know I had through a very embarrassing moment. My husband went to seminary at Talbot University, and I was sitting at a dinner with him with several university professors and their wives. And one of the women in front of everybody said, “I heard you were fat, Jewish, and on drugs. What happened?”

I began to share my story, and when I left that dinner I said to my husband, “I am glad I never have to do that again.” (laughs) And a few weeks later, that same woman called me at my home, and she said, “I’m the director of a Christian leadership organization. We have 400 leaders from across the nation coming to Arizona. And I was wondering, you know that short story that you so graciously shared with us at dinner? I was wondering if you could come and share your story for these leaders?” I said, “First of all, lady, I am not coming and sharing my story with 400 Christian leaders that have never sinned before.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: She said, “Sheri Rose, God didn’t pull you out of that dark place for you to keep it to yourself. He pulled you out so you can pull others out also.” Well, being Jewish, you can manipulate me by guilt. So, I took her up on her offer. (laughs) She gave me 45 minutes, in which I took 15, and ran off of the platform. A few weeks later, Steve said, “We have a few messages on our voicemail of women from different parts of the country that would like you to come and share at their women’s conferences.” I said, “What is it with these Christian women? (laughs) I’m not a speaker.” And they … I’ll never forget, when I returned the first phone call, and they asked me what I charged to come and speak, and I said, “Lemme get this right. You want to pay me to come talk about myself? That’s a job I could do.”

Audience: laughter.

Sheri: All my life, there’s only two things I love to do, and that’s eating and talking. I had no idea that God was gonna take the one gift, which I didn’t even realize was a gift, and use it for Him. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we’d ever dare, dream, or hope for. 1 Corinthians 2:9, “As it is written, eyes have not seen, nor have ears heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things in which God has prepared for those who love Him.
If no one ever affirms you, if you never get the things that you think you want, you have it all if you know Christ. You have been chosen by the God of the universe to represent Him as His princess. Our character, our character is what’s gonna carve out the future. Our choices is what’s going to rebuild America. Our character, our choices, the way we see ourselves. The Bible says we have the power of life and death on our tongue. Do you realize that we can use our words to change the course of lives? By one timely word.

John: Well, we certainly heard a timely word today from our speaker on Focus on the Family. That’s Sheri Rose Shepherd, reminding each and every one of us that we’ve got to reach out to those of around us who are hurting and who need encouragement. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in a person’s life.

Jim: That’s right, John. And Sheri Rose can use our encouragement as well. Seven years ago, she received a serious cancer diagnosis, but she’s been fighting back and giving God the glory while continuing to minister to women across North America. But recently, she’s had a bit of a setback and she is asking for prayer while she undergoes intensive treatment through November. So, please pray for this godly woman of encouragement. You know, the Lord works so powerfully through Sheri Rose. In fact, the last time we aired this message, uh, we had an avalanche of positive response, including notes from two women who said her story saved them from suicide.

John: Mm.

Jim: Think of that.

John: That is remarkable.

Jim: And I’m so excited that Focus, along with, Sheri Rose could be a conduit for the Lord to help those two women particularly, and who knows how many others, pull back from the brink of suicide. That is where Focus wants to be, standing in the gap for people who are at the end of their rope and who don’t know where to turn. That’s why we have a counseling department here. That’s why we have resources and tools to help you get on a better pathway and feel God’s peace in your life. Don’t hesitate. Call and let us know what’s going on, and we’ll provide you some biblical wisdom, and if needed, introduce you to your Creator, Jesus, and He will begin making the crooked things in your life straight.

John: Right. We’re here for you, and our number is 800, the letter A, and the word, FAMILY. Call, and have a conversation with our staff. Maybe request a call back from one of our caring, Christian counselors.

Jim: It’s actually that easy. We had another caller respond to this program by saying, “My ex-husband was abusive, and in the midst of my deep suffering, I gave up on God, but today, by accident, I heard your program with Sheri Rose and I felt like it was God’s gift to me. I called your 800 number, received prayer and some resources, to help me reconnect with the Lord. I have a sense of peace for the first time in years. Thank you, Focus on the Family.”

John: Aw. That’s wonderful, Jim. And having that sense of peace is such a gift from God. One of the reasons I’ve loved working here is (laughs) because of things like that. This program in particular. People respond with thanksgiving for what God has done, and it’s a reminder of all the pain that so many people experience, and the tremendous ways God equips the body of Christ to respond, through our counseling team here, or the staff, creating resources like our magazines, websites, these broadcasts. There’s so much Focus has to offer to people in their struggles.

Jim: Yeah. And Focus on the Family is like a treasure chest of resources and help. And really, God’s goodness. It sounds kind of corny, but it’s true. We have the goods, and we want to share them with you if you’re in need. You know, I always enjoy it when people say they, “Accidentally” heard Focus on the Family.

John: (laughs) Right.

Jim: We get several of those comments every month, and I just know the Lord has had that plan from the beginning of the universe. Think of it! In that moment, a woman would turn on her car radio, or a man would come across the podcast and hear exactly what they needed to hear. The Lord is the one that orchestrates those divine appointments, and we’re just happy to play whatever role (laughs) He has for us.

John: It really is an honor to be tools in His hands for ministry.

Jim: And I wanna invite you to join us as we impact the lives of people who need help and hope. Focus on the Family is a non-profit ministry supported by friends just like you. We can’t do this alone, and together, we are touching lives and making a difference. I hope this testimony of Sheri Rose and of others who were touched is motivation enough to help you support this ministry. And when you make a donation of any amount today, I’d like to express our appreciation by sending you a beautiful gift book written by Sheri Rose Shepherd called His Princess: Love Letters from Your King. It’s a timeless, scriptural reminder for women of all ages of their worth and value as God’s daughters.

John: Yeah. I can’t think of a better book to help equip a young woman, to give her that godly confidence needed to make her way in this world. Get your copy when you call 800, the letter A, and the word, FAMILY.  800-232-6459. Or, donate online and request that book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Next time, Bill and Pam Farrel share encouragement for your marriage.

Preview

Bill Farrel: Pam and I asked the question several years ago, like, “what, what has really made our relationship work?” You know, ’cause it’s easy to talk about theory and, like…

Jim: Yeah, this is good.

Bill: But, like, what really made it work? And what we came up with was we decided early on to be tough on ourselves and tender on each other.

 End of Preview

Today's Guests

His Princess Book Cover

His Princess: Love Letters from Your King

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