Feel Beautiful in 2015: “Fight The Frump”!

I still remember it — two years ago — when Sheila Gregoire launched her Fight the Frump! week. She kicked it off with a post I much admired, in which she showed before and after poses of herself getting ready for the day. With a little effort, she “unfrumped” — thus looking and feeling better about herself.

Even then, I remember thinking that someday, when I revealed myself, I’d present my own version of before-after photos. Why? Because not only do such photos show what a little effort can do, I’ve learned how quickly and easily you can pay a little attention to your appearance and feel more beautiful.

But I don’t have time!!! you say.

And believe me, I remember the days of lugging the infant bouncy seat into the bathroom and my ever-so-colicky baby crying while I tried to get a rushed shower. Then when you were sure baby was going to spit-up on it anyway, why bother wearing something nice? And didn’t frump-wear make more sense if you were just doing laundry and cleaning toilets that day? And the irony is that as I sit here writing this, I’m in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, though I promise they are properly fitted, I did my hair and put on make-up today, and after all, I took a nap this afternoon so I needed something I could snooze in.

You don’t have to look ah-mazing every day and I’m not opposed to comfort wear, but you won’t feel good about yourself if you don’t put your best foot forward more days than not. Let me show you want I mean.

This is me at the beginning of a day — in my PJ’s. Truth be told, I stay in my jammies and work for a while as everyone else in the family gets out the door before I even begin my morning routine.

J in jammies

Even if I looked okay, during the day, pajamas are what preschoolers, hospital patients, and unemployed slackers channel-surfing for conspiracy theories wear. Since I want to feel good about myself, I don’t stay this way for long.

Through the magic of motherhood, I’ve learned how to shower in record time, but for this experiment I went at a steady, purposeful pace. And 8 1/2 MINUTES LATER, I was showered and dressed:

J in jeans and shirt

If it was summer, I could have gone faster. But it was cold (okay, cold for Texas — like 40-50° F), so I put on a turtleneck and overshirt. Both of these are cotton, and I’m just wearing jeans. Although I make sure to buy clothes that are both comfortable and flattering.

(And yeah, if you don’t have a good pair of cowboy boots, you are missing out. Easy on, easy off; comfortable; and stylin’. And when my hubby gets home, we can even do a little two-steppin’ across the kitchen floor if the mood so moves us. ;) )

But my hair’s still wet and my face still . . . well, there’s no closeup, but trust me . . . plain and blah. So 4 1/2 MINUTES LATER, I had my makeup on.

J with makeup applied

YES, you can put on makeup in less than five minutes. I remember when I first started wearing cosmetics, it seemed like I’d need a half-hour to get it all just so. But I now have my repertoire down pat, and I know what I want to apply if I only have two minutes, if I have five minutes, if I have ten minutes, etc. Sure, with more time, I can do better. But I’m simply looking to enhance my features, not pose for Vogue magazine.

Also, one of the best things I’ve done is visit a makeup counter and get tips from a few pros. Once I had a better idea how to apply the cosmetics, it was easier to do. And I’ve learned what to focus on and what’s no big deal for my particular face. (I love you, eyeliner!)

What’s next? Well, my hair is still damp. So 2 1/2 MINUTES LATER:

J with hair styled

I admit my hair is easier to wrangle than some others’. But a couple of things to remember: (1) My hair is very fine and I live in a super-humid climate, so I wash my hair almost every day — which adds to my shower time. I think that’s sort of true with everyone; you may have it easier in one area of getting ready, and harder in another. (2) I’ve learned to stop trying to do things my hair won’t do. That is, once I realized my hair is straight and will always be straight and doesn’t like to do anything much but straight, I stopped wasting time perming and curling and whatever else every day. I learned to style the hair I have.

Also, get good hair products. Find out what the shape and texture of your hair requires. For me, it’s a bang-up can of hair spray. Give me a brush, a hair dryer, and hair spray and just over two minutes later, I’m good to go.

What’s left? Accessorize! For me and this outfit, it’s pretty simple — a necklace and earrings. I also spritzed myself with body mist spray (extremely light perfume) from Bath Junkie. So 30 SECONDS LATER:

IMG_0979

By the way, those are not actually earrings. I can no longer wear earrings, and instead wear dangling ear cuffs I buy from Etsy. (If anyone wants vendor information, I can answer in the comments section.)

TOTAL TIME TO GET READY: 16 MINUTES.

Do I look ready to walk a runway? Of course not. If my husband called and invited me to spontaneously join him for lunch, could I go? Absolutely.

Moreover, I feel good about myself because I took a few extra steps by:

  • Making sure to shower and get dressed every day.
  • Wearing clothes that fit and flatter my body.
  • Styling my hair and putting on cosmetics.
  • Adding a few extra touches to make me feel feminine and special.
  • Smiling in the mirror!

And in case anyone’s wondering what that piece of paper is at the top left corner of my full-length mirror, it’s a scripture. Your mirror is a wonderful place to put a scripture to remind you of whatever you need to work on in your life. If you’re struggling to feel beautiful, click on the following image, print it out, and slap it on your mirror!

Mirror verse - color

click for full size

black & white, click for full size

black & white, click for full size

Then go get ready, and as Sheila says, “fight the frump”!

Now let me know your secrets to “fighting the frump” and taking a few steps to feel better about yourself and ready to greet your husband when you come together again.

Two Interviews I Hope You’ll Listen To

Delight Your Marriage podcast logoI’m doing something different today and encouraging you click elsewhere, to the Delight Your Marriage podcast. This is a new marriage and sexuality podcast hosted by Belah Rose, who requested an interview with me.

We chatted a few weeks ago (before my “big reveal“), and the podcast recently went live. Listening to the first installment, I wasn’t sure I’d ever talked that personally about my marriage before. But I’m happy to share it with you here, because I want my experiences — bad and good — to encourage wives and marriages:

How Being Happy Saved Her Marriage with J. Parker (click title to link)

The second installment gets into my favorite subject — sex in marriage. I specifically address the issues I hear most often from wives and how we can make positive changes for our marital intimacy:

How Sex Can Be Great for Her Too with J. Parker (click title to link)

You can also head to iTunes for the Delight Your Marriage podcast there. Belah’s interviews with me are episodes 2 and 3. (By the way, don’t let the word “Explicit” scare you. It’s nothing more than I talk about here. Promise!)

Please take a listen. And may it bless your marriage!

Married, Consenting Adults: Whose Okay Really Matters?

Have you noticed that in our current culture a number of historically problematic sexual activities have become No Big Deal or even encouraged? Most often, the reason I hear is that it’s between “consenting adults.”

We also hear this about marriage. After all, whose business is it if a married couple mutually agrees to engage in whatever sexual act they choose? They’re adults, they consented. Surely, then, everything’s okay.

Couple Lying On Bed Holding Question Marks & blog post title

I am disturbed by this trend in the larger culture, but among Christians, it’s particularly distressing. Even if husband and wife consent, there’s yet another vote that matters! Do you have the consent of your Lord and Father, the One who created sex?

So, what if you decide in your marriage that you want your husband to get his sexual needs met elsewhere? Or you’re both willing to couple swap, or “swing”? Our Lord says:

“You must not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18).

“You must not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17).

“But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32, NLT).

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

How about watching porn, reading erotica, going to strip joints together? After all, you’re consenting to do it together. And what if it’s “just want to spice up [your] marriage”?

“I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a young woman.
For what is our lot from God above,
our heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is it not ruin for the wicked,
disaster for those who do wrong?
Does he not see my ways
and count my every step?” (Job 31:1-4).

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5, emphasis added).

And maybe you get aroused by striking your mate in the bedroom, by introducing intense S&M practices, by pushing your pain-pleasure limits? Isn’t it okay if you’re both consenting?

“The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion” (Psalm 11:5).

“From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things, but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence” (Proverbs 13:2).

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT, emphasis added).

Today, I am simply letting the Bible speak for itself. Soak in God’s Word and reflect on it.

When you consider what sexual intimacy in your marriage should look like, think not only about the husband’s consent and the wife’s consent, but the consent of the third partner in your marriage — God Himself. Indeed, I would argue God’s consent matters the most.

Working Through Physical Pain in the Marriage Bed

Well, tickle me happy! One of the marriage advocates I most admire is here today: Jolene Engle of Christian Wife University. And she’s talking about an important topic for many of you wives: physical pain in sex. Here’s her story and insight.

Working through Pain Guest Post by Jolene Engle

Not long after I became a Christian, I met and married my husband. We remained pure until our wedding night because we wanted to honor and obey the Lord with all aspects of our lives. Now, I’ve got to tell you, I. could. not. wait. to have sex with my new husband!

You should have seen me at my wedding reception. I ate my dinner fast and I ate my wedding cake fast. This new wife was looking to leave the party as soon as possible so I could head to our honeymoon!

But sex…it’s been a complicated thing for me. From dealing with the emotional baggage from a promiscuous past, to a low sex-drive (I entered into peri-menopause when I was 32), and then having physical pain when I had sex with my husband. This gal was not happy about the limitations and obstacles faced in the marriage bed!

It was just one month after our wedding day when the simplicity of our sexual intimacy died down. I received news from my doctor that I had precancerous cells of my cervix and surgery was now scheduled on my calendar. I eventually recovered from this, but what I didn’t know was that there was a storm up ahead that would sweep through our marriage bed.

It was less than two years later when we welcomed our firstborn son into the world, and that’s when the gale force winds of pain and infections swept through my body. After giving birth, I dealt with a gone wrong episiotomy and a prolapsed uterus which made sex extremely painful. When my next son entered the world, my body broke down even more. Each month I had rupturing ovarian cysts, and I dealt with depression due to my hormonal imbalances. My body was riddled with infections, and one infection invaded my private parts and stayed there for well over a year. The doctors had no answers. Vaginal Inflammation. Chronic Infections. Rupturing cysts. This was my way of life for so many years.

I was chronically ill, but I was also chronically seeking to connect with my husband. I didn’t want to deprive him because of what my body was going through. I believe this attitude helped my husband to be chronically understanding, gentle, and loving toward me. My health problems, the problems that the Lord allowed in our marriage, forced my husband to live out his biblical command to love me like Christ loved the church. He had to put that verse into action in the marriage bed!

If you’re dealing with physical pain, here are my tips:

  • Be intentional to pursue intimacy even when there is pain. (This doesn’t mean you have to have intercourse.) You can be Sex Savvy, as J has taught, and you can be creative in spite of your issues. This shows your husband that you still desire him regardless of your limitations. And let’s face it, some intimacy is better than no intimacy. Of course go slow and relax! The goal is connecting with your husband.
  • Work hard to find a solution to your problem. Become your own advocate in dealing with your health. Go to doctor after doctor after doctor until you find a solution. Read books. Eat special diets. (This helped with my inflammation.) Dig high and low to find answers and remedies to help you. The health of your marriage depends on your diligence! I found that when I did this, my man saw I meant serious business that our physical intimacy was important to me. And I believe my physical weaknesses helped him to live out 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
  • Don’t invite Satan into your marriage bed by turning to porn or reading erotica novels in the hopes that these things will fix your intimacy issues. These choices will just compound your problems by fracturing your emotional and spiritual intimacy. Keep in mind that God is allowing the physical limitations to take place in your body and He is the Great Physician. He can heal you at any time. Have faith. Have hope, and always choose a God-honoring path in your marriage bed. (If you’ve taken a wrong turn, just repent and get back on the narrow path.)
  • Use coconut oil. The lubrication will help your sexual experience, and since coconut oil is natural it shouldn’t cause any burning or irritation to your skin. Just make sure you’re not allergic to it! Test it on another part of your body, first.

It’s been almost 17 years now since I said, ‘I do’ to my man. We’ve endured a lot, but we’ve worked hard to try to fix my issues because our physical intimacy is important to our marriage. As I look back over all these year, it felt like my marriage bed was ravaged by the locusts, but my God (and yours) says this…”So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25).

Fight for your physical intimacy rather than neglect it. You’ll be surprised by how much your determination will make a positive impact on your marital relationship. You’ll come out of this trial even stronger and closer as a couple.

Jolene EngleJolene was once an atheist who is now sold-out for Jesus Christ. Her heart beats fast for discipling women and you’ll find her doing just that at JoleneEngle.com. She is also the founder of Christian Wife University where she helps wives connect the dots from their reality to the Christ-centered marriage they long for and the one God intended.

Jolene and her husband, Eric, run a weekly podcast called, What’s a Girl to Do? where they provide biblical guidance for women and wives. She is also the author of the book and bible study, Wives of the Bible.

8 Things I’d Say about Sex If I Had NO Filter (Heaven Help Us All)

Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage started it, by posting 9 Things I’d Say about Sex If I Had No Filter. A few others (like Generous Husband) joined in on this concept, and I’ve decided to give it a go as well.

This was a real challenge, though, because I kind of don’t have a filter. (My husband laughed unnecessarily loud when I told him that.) I pretty much say what I think, although I give deep thought to how I say it. So maybe that’s my filter after all.

Anyway, here are eight things I’d say about sex if I said them exactly how they run through my brain — before I pretty them up for my blog.

woman with hand over mouth + blog post title

FOR BOTH WIVES AND HUSBANDS

1. Oh, for heaven’s sake, sex is all over the Bible! When naysayers are critical or appalled at the honest talk on my blog, I wonder if we’re even reading the same Bible. Because I remember trying to read through the Bible with my young children, and I couldn’t get far without a story about sex cropping up here and there. Everything from “Adam knew Eve” to Lot and his lunatic daughters and on and on, the Bible is filled with God telling stories and giving commands about His gift of sexual intimacy and its horrible abuses.

Yes, we need to be kind and gentle and respectful in how we talk about sex, but for heaven’s sake, it’s all over the Bible! Responsible Christian sex authors aren’t addressing anything God didn’t address in His Word.

2. Stop withholding or stop demanding, and stop acting like the other one is the whole problem. Withholders and demanders always have reasons why they’re doing it: “If he would only, then I would __.” “As my wife, she owes me __.” Or whatever. But as long as you are arrogantly certain the problem lies with the other person, nothing will improve.

If you’re demanding, stop that. Even if your spouse is supposed to give you sex, and I agree (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), you’re not thus relieved of God’s calling for you to be patient, kind, selfless, etc. See 1 Corinthians 13 — a few chapters later!

And to the withholders — even if your spouse doesn’t understand how tired you are or needy of romance you are or whatever (and yes, they likely should treat you better), that doesn’t mean that you get to erect a wall, post guards, and deny entrance to the garden. When you said I do, part of that was I do sex. (Look it up! It’s in the Bible.)

Yep, if you’re on one of these extremes, you can rationalize all day long but it won’t negate that you are not in line with God’s intention for your marriage and things won’t get better until one of you changes. Since you can’t force your spouse to change, how about you start?

3. Talk to your children about sex — yesterday, today, tomorrow, and on and on until they are good and raised. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, you feel unqualified. Yes, your children might buck you at times. But the world will be sending erroneous messages to your child almost 24/7 from the moment they can read the magazine cover in the grocery store line. It’s your God-given responsibility to get over the awkwardness and give your child the truth about sexual intimacy.

By toddlerhood, we parents have been peed on, vomited on, and who knows what else. Face it: We signed up for difficult and awkward! Come on, I believe in you. Step up and talk to your children about sex — now, and again and again.

FOR THE WIVES

4. Relax already! Think of sex like a spa day for your girly parts. If you tense every time like you’re getting a pelvic exam, it’s no wonder you don’t like sex. You’ve got to relax to enjoy this intimate experience with your husband! Think of sex like a spa day for your girly parts, where your most arouse-able areas get extra-stimulated and pampered. Lean into the interesting sensations like you would a fabulous massage or a relaxing pedicure.

If you practice relaxing and focusing on how you feel in those moments, you might find your body is capable of some super-neat sensations. And your husband has nice skills — especially once you hint or tell him where you like to be touched. Stop thinking about how you look, or what someone else would think, or if the kids will walk in (you locked the door, right?), or whatever. Relax!

5. Get into it. Flirt. Tease. Move. Moan. Wouldn’t it stink to go out dancing and have your husband merely shuffle his feet through the tango (or Texas two-step where I live)? Likewise, it ain’t enough to show up and offer your body like it’s a big sacrificial gesture. Don’t merely go through the motions. It doesn’t make you embarrassing or sleazy to really get into it.

Own your sexuality! Flirt with your husband. Tease and touch him. Move around as you make love. Moan and scream. Let loose and you might find you enjoy it more! He’ll really like it too. Trust me on that.

6. So what if the kids hear! You think that‘s what will cause them to seek therapy? Sure, I’ve probably done something as a mom for which my kids could seek therapy someday — some mistake on my part a few counseling sessions would help. But I’m fairly certain that moment your kids realize their parents have sex won’t ruin them or cause Freud to sit up in his coffin and shout, “Told you so!” Kids are more resilient than that!

Even if your children do hear or (heaven forbid) walk in, They. Will. Be. Okay. It’s actually good for children to know their parents make love and that sexual intimacy is a gift from God to marriage. So stop worrying so much. Of course you should lock the door, tuck away your intimacy aids, and hold off having naked Twister in the living room until they’re gone, but if they hear? Hey, that’s just what loving mommies and daddies do.

FOR THE HUSBANDS

7. She’s never had an orgasm? What are you doing wrong?! To be fair, there is a percentage of wives who have major issues reaching orgasm, and it has nothing to do with their husbands. But honestly, there’s a contingent of men out there who haven’t made this the patient priority they should.

Look, I know it’s annoying you can get there in five minutes and she takes forty. But she will like sex more when you help her find that real climax. And orgasms beget orgasms, so even if you have to spend a lot of time at first helping her figure out what gets her aroused and learning what you can do to stimulate her, it will pay off in the long run. That first orgasm is often the hardest to reach.

Now don’t worry if she doesn’t orgasm every single time (sometimes, some wives don’t even want to that much), but please make it a priority for her to reach climax fairly regularly. You’ll both be happier if you can figure this out.

8. Were you raised by wolves? You can’t just sniff her out, honk a breast, and think you’re getting some tonight. You are not an animal, you’re a real man. That means you woo your woman. You didn’t just catch her and drag her back to your den years ago and now the chase is over. Nope. You’ll be pursuing her for the rest of your life.

Tuck that away in your brain and figure out how to make her feel so loved and desired and valued and appreciated and beautiful . . . that making love to you sounds like a dream come true. Take your time: Show her your romantic side, touch and kiss just for the sake of it, pay attention to the areas of her body that are not erogenous zones, and treat her like the “weaker sex” (1 Peter 3:7). That verse doesn’t mean she’s actually weak, but rather Handle With Care.

Oh, and help her deal with those distractions that keep her from focusing on the two of you. In summation, no honking a breast and make her feel blessed.

That’s it! Eight things I’d say if I had no filter. Which, heaven help us all, I’ve now said.