Tag Archives: Feel Beautiful

The Real Beauty We Reflect with J. Parker

For the last four months, we’ve been hearing from some fabulous blogger wives who have weighed in on feeling beautiful. Not just knowing logically that God made us to be beautiful, but embracing our own unique beauty.

The Real Beauty We Reflect with J. Parker

But it’s Christmas Eve, and for those who celebrate Christmas, the coming of Jesus is forefront on our minds. Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. Early on, it has this to say about Jesus Christ:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this verse and what it means for our sense of beauty. Because what I take away is there was no physical reason for anyone to be attracted to Christ. Unlike his the first of his earthly royal line, King David, we have no indication in scripture that Jesus’ appearance was even worth mentioning.

Yet people were drawn to him. Disciples left their homes for him. Followers were persecuted for him. Missionaries endured torture for him. Christians throughout centuries have looked upon Christ and seen a beauty unlike any other — and they have sacrificed their lives in so many ways for him.

Something deeper and more eternal about Jesus left its imprint.

I think you have something deeper and more eternal about you as well — something your husband is drawn to that goes beyond your physical beauty.

While I believe that we should take care of our bodies, expend some effort on our appearance, believe in our beauty, and work on our attitude of self-confidence, when it comes down to it, my husband doesn’t love me because I’m beautiful. He appreciates my beauty, but he’s most attracted to me when I reflect Jesus Christ’s beauty, when I am the woman God created me to be.

And we all display God’s beauty as His creation. When we lean into our deeper beauty, we become even more attractive. Never discount your beauty — regardless of what you look like. You are God’s beloved masterpiece.

And look for that beauty in others. Let’s even rethink how we define beauty. To help you understand what I mean, take a look at this compelling video:

Don’t tell me those people aren’t absolutely beautiful. To me, they are God’s gorgeous children.

I don’t care what you look like, you have beauty given to by the Creator. You are the daughter of the King of Kings, beautiful wife. Live into your beauty, and let your husband appreciate both your outside appearance and your inner loveliness.

In this season we celebrate Christ, let’s learn to reflect His beauty.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Note: I will be on hiatus for the next week, spending time with my family. See you in 2016!

4 Ways to Feel Beautiful…When You’re Not Really Feeling It with Jolene Engle

Jolene Engle of Christian Wife University is among my favorite gals on the web. She speaks honestly and biblically about issues wives face. Her website Christian Wife University is filled with great advice for marriage.

And I was privileged to participate in her amazing online conference, Wisdom for Wives, in which I got to talk about my favorite topic — marital intimacy.

Once again, Jolene gets real with her readers in today’s post about feeling beautiful. You’ll recognize the honesty of a wife who struggles like so many of us do, but also her godly response to those self-image concerns. I pray Jolene’s post uplifts you as it did me.

4 Ways to Feel Beautiful...When You're Not Really Feeling It with Jolene Engle

Any person in their right mind would think that what I’m about to share on the topic of feeling beautiful actually feels beautiful. But I don’t.

When I look in the mirror, I cringe.

When J invited me to guest post on this series of Feel Beautiful, I cringed.

Over the months as I’ve thought about writing this post, I’ve cringed.

As I’ve sat down to type out this post, I’ve cringed.

I’ve always had a distorted view of my outer appearance. Even when I weighed 112 lbs. standing at 5’7″.

Now I weigh more. Much more after giving birth to two kiddos, and I don’t mean yesterday. My sons are 14 and 16 years old, and for the life of me I still can’t get the weight off after all of these years. Insert: feels like a failure after all these years.

Just the other day my family and I were looking at old photos of the four of us. My husband remarked that he looks the same in all of them. I had a bout of discouragement that ran through my soul because it was quite evident that I did not look same.

He was growing old graciously and I was just… growing old. My waist is thicker and my hair is thinner.

When I look at those old photos, I cringe.

So, what on earth can someone like me who struggles with her outer appearance tell you about feeling beautiful when the majority of the time I do not?

Well, I do a few things so I’m not constantly consumed and drowning in my vanity sorrows and perhaps what I share will help you?

4 Ways to Feel Beautiful…when you’re not really feeling it

1. Define Who You Worship.

I fight to not make my outer appearance an idol in my life. When I want to hide myself from the world because I do not like how I look, I have a choice. I can either worship me (my insecurities) or worship the Lord and allow Him to use me to minister to others. This requires me to get out of the house so others will actually see me. And the idea of me taping and shooting more videos on YouTube, yeah, well that is never on the top of my to-do list.

But here’s the thing. I worship Jesus Christ. I bend my knee to Him, and when He calls me to share a message for the whole world to see, well, I want to please Him. I’m just hoping He won’t be calling me to get on Periscope anytime soon because that tool is like a video selfie! In my mind, I’m not even attractive enough for videos that I edit let alone videos of me in their rawest form!

2. Change What You Can.

A few weeks back I went to get my hair done. Afterwards, I felt like a million bucks just because I had a more flattering style to work with and my gray locks were now brown. Did I look like some hot beauty in her 20s? Nope. I looked like a woman who is in her 40s because that’s who I am. But a little change or effort in my outer appearance makes me feel beautiful.

Oh, and I don’t step in front of mirrors all too much anymore. I get dressed. Do my makeup and then I’m off to build God’s kingdom. Later in the day I might come across a mirror and I’m taken aback by what I see. I can’t help but think to myself, “Is that how I really look?” Disappointment creeps right back into my heart when this takes place, so I avoid it.

I also avoid the scale. Putting on a pair of pants that are snugger than usual is the indicator for me to cut back on my calories and exercise a bit more. I don’t need some object with numbers on it defining my self-worth.

3. Give Yourself Grace.

Accepting myself as I age is something that I wrestle with on a daily basis. Sure, I exercise on a weekly basis and I try to eat healthy and watch what I eat, but hormones and aging have changed my body. Therefore, I need to grant myself grace and so do you.

4. Accept the Compliment.

My husband will tell me I look beautiful, and most, if not all of the time, I don’t really believe he means it. Shame on me. I need to learn to accept his words and God’s words as truth rather than my words.

God has not called me to be a supermodel. He has called me to model Him. Whether I’m wearing yoga pants while I’m cleaning my house or getting all dolled up for a date with my man, what matters most is my heart. Does it reflect Jesus Christ?

People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

So what are the few things you do to feel beautiful? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Live a poured out life for Christ,

Jolene Engle

And yeah, don’t be fooled by the picture below. I don’t have that much hair anymore. This shot of me was taken a few years old. Taking a new one would require me to get in front of the camera. Again. And with that thought, I cringe.

Jolene Engle

Jolene 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. She is also the author of the book and bible study, Wives of the Bible.

Truly Beautiful with Lori Byerly

What can I say about Lori Byerly? She’s been a champion for godly marriage and healthy sexual intimacy for years, on both The Marriage Bed (a site run with her husband) and The Generous Wife. Early on in my blogging, I was delighted to connect with her and find such wisdom, encouragement, and beauty.

Lori has influenced me in many ways, including the post I wrote about 3 G-Words to Improve Your Marriage. Generosity definitely had to make the cut. If you’re looking for daily tips and insight for your overall marriage, I strongly encourage you to check out her site and follow her on social media.

In the meantime, let’s hear what she has to say about feeling beautiful.

Truly Beautiful with Lori Byerly

When I think of someone beautiful, the first person that comes to mind is my grandmother.

As a child, she was so good to me. Back then she was in her sixties and seventies with white hair, plenty of wrinkles, and a comfortable body just right for hugging grandchildren. She made the most amazing biscuits and gravy from scratch, and I knew she prayed for me every night before bedtime. I was special in her eyes, and she was special in mine. She was truly beautiful.

It’s hard for me to reconcile this kind of beauty with the beauty found in Cosmo or reality TV. How do you compare the latest color in lipstick to a hug that says you are wanted? How do you compare the airbrushed figure of a model to the body of a woman who has birthed several children, whose arms have cuddled, held, and comforted?

At its heart, I think this is a clash of kingdom values.

The kingdom of the world values outer beauty. If you have outer beauty you have value. Work hard to make your outside look great!

Now let me say, I think it’s good to take care of your appearance. There is nothing wrong with a change in hairstyle or buying pretty new shoes. I love it when my husband notices my new earrings or tells me I’m pretty.

But appearance is not worth. It does not represent all of who you are.

Appearance is not worth. It does not represent all of who you are. - Lori Byerly Click To Tweet

Outer beauty is a gift that fades in time.

The beauty of the Kingdom is timeless and never fades.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:4 ESV

Jesus has a special kind of beauty. As we become more like Him we grow in this truest form of beauty.

I don’t know if my grandmother ever knew how beautiful she was. She came from a different generation and was the practical sort.

My grandmother had this lasting kind of beauty, the kind that makes a profound difference in the life of a child. The kind that tends flower gardens and feeds hungry people. The kind that serves and stands for things of value. I wish I had time to tell you the stories of her life and how many people she touched by simple acts of kindness and love.

Like my grandmother, I will never grace the cover of a glamor magazine. I have graying hair, a growing array of wrinkles, and a body that’s just right for hugging grandchildren. At times I struggle with my culture’s views on beauty, but when I “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” or when I remember my grandmother’s sweet beauty, I know that I am enough and that I am beautiful.

Lori ByerlyLori Byerly is a wife, mom and grandmother. She blogs at The Generous Wife (the-generous-wife.com) and works as a marriage and sex educator (themarriagebed.com) with her husband, Paul. They live full time in an RV (thegenerousjourney.com), traveling the US, encouraging folks to grow their marriages.

Embracing Our Bodies After the Babies Come with Jennifer Smith

What a treat we have today! Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife is here to share her thoughts on Feeling Beautiful. Jennifer has a very popular blog and a Facebook community of over 600,00! She shares marriage wisdom, daily prayers for your husband, and transparency about her own struggle from unhappily to happily married.

Also check out her book, Unveiled Wife: Embracing Intimacy with God and Your Husband, in which she chronicles her marriage journey. I’m so thrilled to call Jennifer a friend and to have her address feeling beautiful after the babies come.

Embracing Our Bodies After the Babies Come with Jennifer Smith

I had my daughter six months ago, and my son just turned three. I can’t believe how fast they grow up. It feels like yesterday that I was holding my newborn baby boy in the hospital bed just after delivery.

It amazes me how God created our bodies to reproduce and give life. The process of carrying a child, labor and delivery are all together miraculous. Women are uniquely special, in that they are the beautiful part of creation that gets to experience the fullness of this miracle.

Although I have thanked God for the joy in my heart for my children and being given the gift to bear children, my body is also on my mind. The truth is that pregnancy and delivery are very traumatic experiences for our bodies to endure. Change happens. Whether the changes are slight or completely transform our bodies, it happens. Embracing motherhood can be easier than embracing the changes we face physically.

I personally have found myself emotional over the way my body is different now. I have been grateful for the opportunity to have my children, but I have to admit that frustration has also consumed my heart when I realize my body will never be the same. I have gained weight that has been difficult to get off. I have stretch marks and saggy skin. My clothes don’t fit the same. My body doesn’t even feel the same during physical intimacy with my husband.

When I see my body, I am confronted with a choice. I can be frustrated by the change or I can embrace it as my new normal, just like I had to adjust to my new role when I became a mom.

Our culture is not good at encouraging women to embrace the fullness of their bodies. Every advertisement and marketing scheme presents us with a message to be unrealistically better than we are. The world tells us we are imperfect but that we should strive to be perfect, when God tells us He has made us very good and to be good stewards of what He has give to us. Those are two very different messages. Listening to the right message will help us embrace our bodies after the babies come.

God’s truth is beautiful and necessary for every mother to know. He created our bodies, knowing that they would change. We should embrace the changes with joy and confidence. What is a stretch mark in comparison to the miracle of life? What is a few months to a year of recovery in comparison to a legacy being built?

When I accepted God’s truth that He ingeniously made my body to change the way it has after the babies have come, it helped me embrace my body. It helped me be okay with my new normal. It helped me to be intimate with my husband and allow him access to get to know me all over again.

Embrace your body. Don’t see the changes as a negative thing. They are a powerful thing. They are evidence of God’s beautiful design.

Unveiled Wife CoverBy God’s grace, Jennifer Smith created Unveiled Wife, a web-based ministry for wives, in March 2011. She publishes weekly marriage articles including encouragements, devotions, and prayers of the day, all geared toward empowering wives.

Jennifer has served in ministry alongside her husband, traveling as missionaries to Zambia, Malawi, Canada, and Nicaragua. She and her husband have been married for seven years and live in Central Oregon with their two children.

Feeling Beautiful Beneath the Sheets with Julie Sibert

I consider Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage my blogger twin. In addition to writing about sex from a Christian perspective, we share several things in common: raising sons, a love of baseball, an appreciation of a nice glass of wine, a similar sense of humor, and a desire to vacation on the beach together.

We’ve shared several phone conversations, and I’m extra-eager to meet her in person someday. In the meantime, I just love getting to read her posts in which she encourages women toward healthy, godly sexuality in their marriages.

For my Feel Beautiful series, she’s letting us in on tips for how to feel beautiful beneath the sheets. Read on…

Feeling Beautiful Beneath the Sheets with Julie Sibert

Entertainment and social media and Photoshop have schemed us, haven’t they? At least when it comes to what qualifies as “beautiful.”

And what’s ironic, if we are being honest, is that we know we are being schemed. Few people look at the covers of magazines as they’re schlepping their Diet Coke through the supermarket checkout and think, “Those photos are totally real.”

Nope.

We know that the endless stream of images and video clips vying for our attention are a pale representation of accuracy. (I mean, seriously, these people spend literally hours in hair and make-up, even before digital trickery has had its final say).

And yet.

Even though we logically know that all those “beautiful” people likely look much more average without the professional manipulation, we still struggle.

We struggle with feeling less than beautiful, less than attractive, less than sexy in our own skin, in our own real lives. You know, the place where we live every day, hopefully with the people who genuinely do love us for who we truly are, not who we wish we could be.

So what’s a gal to do, especially when it comes to feeling beautiful beneath the sheets?

Sexual intimacy is a huge roadblock for many women. Can you relate? Are you beyond self-conscious about the wrinkles, loose flabs of skin, extra pounds, lack of muscle tone, and evidence of years gone by?

I get that.

But…

Because I love sex, I’ve learned a few things along the way about feeling beautiful beneath the sheets. Maybe I’ve even learned some things that could help you in your real life in your real body:

1. Stop looking at your sexual encounters through the filter of every romantic movie love scene.

See how I did that? I circled back to my previous observations about how we are schemed into believing that for something to qualify as amazing, it has to look like what is depicted on the screen.

The next time you see a love scene in a romantic comedy, imagine a crew of 30 people standing on a chaotic set 10 feet away from those two “lovers.”

Imagine Joe the camera guy asking that the lights be adjusted. Imagine Dee the make-up artist putting concealing powder across the actress’s chest to dull the natural shine of her skin. Then imagine all the other people, from the props assistants to the set designer to the script person to the sound tech using every ounce of professional mastery to make you believe this scene is totally natural — totally like how things happen in real life.

Feeling beautiful beneath the sheets has a lot to do with recognizing — embracing — that real sex is not movie sex. Real sex is better.

When you and your husband make love, it is astoundingly beautiful and holy and right. Because it is real.

2. Shed a little light on the situation.

Usually when a woman feels conscious about her body, she wants complete darkness when she and her husband have sex. For some women, even complete darkness in the room isn’t enough. She wants the two of them completely under the sheets as well.

Her theory, of course, is “If he can’t see me, then I won’t feel so self-conscious.”

I’m going to challenge this conventional line of wisdom.

I’m not saying you need the overhead light on, but consider turning on a closet light and cracking the door to let some of that light peek into the room. Consider lighting a candle on the nightstand. Or turning a small lamp on.

If your husband is like most husbands, he wants to not only touch your body, but also see it. Sure, you may not feel comfortable with the lights on full blast, but some light on your body allows him to see your curves and softness — and allows you to feel good about the way such visual stimulation brings him pleasure.

These are all confidence boosters. Pleasure and sexual excitement are powerful distractions that keep us focused on what matters, rather than on what we don’t like about our bodies.

3. Try something new sexually.

Do you feel apprehensive about being naked with your man, to the point that you always play it safe sexually? Do you always follow the same repertoire when you make love, never venturing into new touches, techniques, and positions?

Well, it’s easier to feel beautiful beneath the sheets if we remember that sex is supposed to be fun! Yes, it’s also passionate and romantic and “gaze into my eyes” longingly. But more than anything, it’s supposed to be freedom for a husband and a wife to thoroughly figure out what brings each other intense sexual ecstasy.

And here’s the thing.

When we begin to appreciate the freedom to explore each other’s bodies within the exclusivity of our marriage, we find there is thrilling beauty in being the one who does it for him.

Be the one who leaves no doubt in his mind and heart about how much you hunger to feel his skin against yours. Be the one who makes him climax hard through your intentional presence and sexual playfulness.

If that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is.

For more reading, check out two of my all-time must-read favorite posts on body image and sexual confidence: A Body that Never Quits and Extraordinary Sex in Your Ordinary Life.

Julie Sibert Bio Photo 2015Julie Sibert writes and speaks out of her own story, encouraging couples to nurture authentic sexual intimacy in marriage. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two sons, and a dog named Stella who is busy destroying the yard. You can follow Julie’s blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com.