A Princess and Her Castle…

Spent hours at the beach yesterday on the peaceful south shore of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Sat on my folding chair for awhile and just watched the girls jumping the waves on their boogie boards with my littlest next to me, digging scoops of perfectly wet sand into her red bucket. When the pail was almost full, Sarah put aside her yellow plastic shovel, lifted the red container to eye level, and tipped it over in her first attempt to make a sand castle. 

Whimpering from disappointment, she asked, “Why didn’t it work Mommy?”
“Let’s try it again.” I got off my chair and sat with her, and together we refilled two pails and packed the sand down firmly and hubby and I coached her how to tip closer to the ground, quickly. Speed was key. And to her giggling delight, it worked! She had already collected several seashells to decorate her castle. Cuz that’s what a girl loves to do. Once she has her castle, she has to furnish it. And make it her own. 
As I sat back and soaked in the rays and the sight of my little castle building princess, my mind drifted to another castle. A real one. One that I had revisited with hubby only a week earlier. 

Last Friday night, hubby and I attended a wedding at Oheka Castle in New York. Google it. It’s a real live castle. And it’s not in Germany. As you drive through the high brick rounded gate, down a long tree-lined, pebbled driveway into the Castle parking lot, you are acutely aware of the beauty, wealth and power behind the high walls that border this 109,000 square foot, 127 room estate in the middle of this 443 acre plot on the highest point on Long Island in Cold Spring Harbor. 

And when you’re wearing heels or a suit and tie, and you walk through huge doors with two red cap wearing bugle boys blowing their trumpets as you enter, you really feel like a princess.

In fact, when hubby secretly brought me here for a one night stay for our anniversary last May, when we were two minutes from the gate, and I was bugging him to reveal our destination, he slowed the car down so that he could face me and said,

“To remind you of who you are to me. And to God. The princess that you are. That’s why I chose this place…” and with a kiss, my hubby and prince took me to a castle. For just one night. Because no one can live in a castle forever. Except maybe the king and queen. Because, well, they kinda, sorta, you know…own the place.








I can’t lie.

For someone who has struggled with self-esteem (I know this might come across as a surprise to some of you, but I did. And I still do many a day,) to be treated like a princess for a day is good medicine and sweet. So sweet. Yeah, I  am really spoiled. 








By this man who still likes to surprise me after seventeen years. We’re celebrating our fourteenth in a few weeks, and I get the feeling that if I took him out to lunch at Burger King, I wouldn’t get the same effect. Don’t even know if they still give out those one size fits all crowns, it’s been that long since we went to BK. 

Which reminds me, not every man is a king, even though he thinks he is. I think what makes a man a king is how he treats the women in his life. His grandmother, mother, wife, sisters, and daughters. And the women in society that he works with, passes by, and interacts with all day. That’s how I distinguish between a real king and the posers out there. Because there are plenty of wannabes.
Laura Lederer, J.D. Global Centurion

When we walk across the sand to make our trek back to the hotel room, I think about a little girl I heard about three days ago during  a presentation by Dr. Laura Lederer, J.D., a board member and Vice President for Policy and Planning of the Global Centurian. Her name is “Rosa,” and when she was thirteen, she walked across the sandy deserts of the Rio Grande, a journey that contrasted with my girls’ day at the beach like chocolate differs from feces. The difference is just that great. 

You see, Rosa’s story is one that will break your heart if your heart beats. She came to cross the border from Mexico to Texas in hopes to work at a restaurant and make enough money to help  her big family (she was one of nine siblings in a very poor family in a very poor town in Vera Cruz, Mexico).  She believed that she would be able to help lift her family out of poverty and help save her younger siblings from her fate:  having to drop out of elementary school to make money for her family to eat. The opportunity to work in America offered wages and Rosa came to the designated location only to find herself among hundreds of girls of similar ages and told to pick up a backpack and a water bottle and to start walking. 

When we drove through Manhattan Saturday morning, we saw plenty of New Yorkers walking, biking, and jogging along the Battery Park bike lane, backpack in tow and water bottles everywhere; they were free to enjoy an exercise filled start to their days. Rosa didn’t choose her backpack or the size of her water bottle. Or her destination.

When they walked across the desert on foot to illegally cross into Texas, they were shuttled to a town in North Florida, packed into trucks like sardines, and the driver dumped them in front a trailer park neighborhood.

Next, a burly man stood in front of them and announced, “I bought each of you girls for ten thousand dollars. You will now work for me to pay off the debt. And how will you do that?” He pointed to the trailers behind him. “Back there. That’s how you’ll pay off the debts.”

“What about the restaurant job?” Rosa protested, unwilling to believe that she had been duped. 

“There’s no restaurant job here. This is the only way. And don’t even think about running.”

Rosa ran. She was immediately caught, and taken to one of the trailer parks, where she was gang-raped, the painful price of disobeying this new boss of hers. For three years, she was trafficked to various visitors of the trailer parks until she escaped out of second story window with another girl. The ring of illegal traffickers was busted and prosecuted and the remainder of the girls were set free.

Most of the girls and young women being trafficked around the globe do not get this lucky. The only castle they will ever build will be of the clouds above their heads. Which dissipate into nothing the moment reality reminds them that they are trapped. 

The only time they are called princess is by liars who use the word to get what they want and treat these girls nothing like princesses.

I could cry an ocean thinking about how so many little girls are not born into homes like my four girls, free to go to school, build sand castles, and dance with their daddy under the moon as he showers them with love during every twirl. 

But the earth has enough oceans. And the girls, I’m sure, cry oceans every night that they are not rescued and lie in wait for someone. A real prince. A soldier. A hero. To come and fight for them. For their true value. For their broken hearts. For their whole selves. 

Listening to Laura Lederer, I was in the company of one of the strongest voices in the 
fight against the most devastating crisis of our day and age, the injustice of human trafficking. When she shared how she speaks to U.S. Troops overseas about the issue, I was acutely aware that she stood in front of our armed forces, and the tables were turned. Here she was, a front line soldier, educating the troops about the battle that they needed to help her fight. The battle for these innocent victims of sexual slavery. 
Dr. Lederer shared a powerful slide show with a lot of stats and stories, reminding the room of fifty or so attendees of Nomi Network’s Mother’s Day Luncheon that many battles lie ahead to conquer the cause that breaks our hearts. In fact, with the help of the Internet, the fight is that much harder. Only second to drugs, humans follow as the largest illegally sold and trafficked commodity. The estimated 19 billion dollar revenue produced by sexually trafficked victims doesn’t include all the unknown cases. 
The stats are powerful, don’t get me wrong. But when I look at Sarah playing freely in the sand, and my other three princesses jumping in the waves, I swallow the awful thoughts of what life would be like if I was forced to put a price tag on any one of my daughters. What would I do if their sold bodies were the difference between whether we ate dinner tonight…after months and months of little to no food? The Catch-22 that pierces deeper than any dagger is one that so many poverty-stricken families face daily. Life’s not fair. That’s a given.

So what can any of us do, apart from shedding a few tears and saying a prayer for these girls who never chose to be born into the life of desperation that found them? I know one thing for sure. We can all do our part. Even if we can’t do everything. We can all do something. 
That’s what I love about Nomi Network and the women who dreamt it into existence. They don’t claim to save everyone, but they’re dedicated to helping some. And for each of the women surivors and at-risk for human trafficking in Cambodia and India that is given the opportunity to express their creativity and make Nomi’s products, the non-profit group offers them a chance out of the desert. Into a castle of sorts. 


It might not have trumpets that announce their arrival, but Nomi’s staff invites them into their group with a red carpet welcome. Sure their accommodations might not be on acres of green and surrounded by high walls, but the income provides protection from their return to slavery. And the best part, they are reminded by the way Nomi values these young women that they are indeed worthy of the treatment of princesses. Because they are treasures. Princesses of the King. Created in the image of God. Like each one of us. 

Nomi says it well with their totes reading, “Buy her bag, Not her body.” The price tag should read “Priceless,” because the girl, any girl… and every girl. Is Not For Sale.  

**When was the last time someone treated you like a prince or princess?

**If you LIKED this POST, you MIGHT also LIKE:
“Know Me…Know My Story”
“What’s Love Got To Do With It?”
“Bringing Rainbows To India”

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