Tag Archives: Lori Byerly

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.

10 Confessions of a Marriage & Sex Blogger

On Monday, Kate of One Flesh Marriage posted 10 Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Wife. On Tuesday, Lori of Generous Wife followed suit with Confession Time. (Update! On Wednesday, Debi Walter of The Romantic Vineyard shared 10 Confessions of a Marriage Blogging Wife, and on Thursday, Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage shared 10 Confessions of a Sex Blogger.)

Kate tagged me to add my thoughts. I’d previously written on Confessions of a Sex-Happy Wife, but today I’ll talk about being a sex-blogging wife.

1. I have a mild panic attack every time I look at the stats for Hot, Holy & Humorous. My original intention when starting the blog was to help a person here or there out in the universe who might stumble across my site. But now seeing how many people have visited, commented, and shared their stories makes my knees buckle and my brain go, “Really, God?”

2. I hate that I don’t have time to reply to every comment anymore. But I don’t. One of the consequences of this blog growing and reaching out is that I simply can’t get to everything anymore. I do try, but sometimes a comment falls through the cracks and I discover that days after. Then I feel bad . . . because I do care. I really, really do care.

3. BUT life doesn’t stop while I’m blogging. I do not have a housekeeper, a chef, a nanny, an accountant, a chauffeur, or a personal masseuse. In addition to blogging, I keep house, parent children, cook dinners, manage finances, volunteer in ministry at my church, and write fiction.

Murder of Roger Ackroyd book cover

Enjoy mysteries?
Be sure to read this classic!

4. Oh, and I read. I love to read. I feel like I should be reading more non-fiction, especially marriage and sexuality books, but I find myself reading about one of those for every 4-5 novels I tackle. I just love story. My favorites are mysteries and young adult fiction, although I read in almost every genre.

5. I do not run out of topics. I get asked this from time to time, and you might think that at some point, I will have covered everything I want to say about marriage and sexuality. At this point, however, I usually have about 10 topics outlined in advance. Moreover, readers suggest topics with their questions and comments, and current events inform and inspire what I should talk about. I also pray that God will direct me, and if I feel Him nudging him in a particular direction, I go there.

6. The Anonymous thing. This is one of the other most-asked questions: Will I always remain anonymous? My answer is no. Unlike superheroes and intelligence officers, I do expect that someday you’ll all know who “J” is. However, circumstances in life remain that make me unwilling to reveal at this moment. When will I “come clean”? It’s not so much a time as when certain events in my life line up, so we’ll see. But I promise Elizabeth of Warrior Wives that I will let her know before I go live with the information, since she has said that it drives her a little insane not to know who these anonymous authors are. (Hi, Elizabeth, if you’re reading this!)

Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage

My good friend, Julie

7. I am friends with fellow marriage bloggers. A small number of people know who I am. I have connected personally with Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage. Also, it was a reasonable requirement to be a part of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association to reveal my name and location to the core team, which includes Paul and Lori Byerly of The Marriage Bed, Generous Husband, and Generous Wife. Even those fellow marriage bloggers who don’t know my real name “know” me because I really am in person exactly the way I am with them in email and online. What you see, or rather read, is what you get.

8. My family doesn’t think I’m as funny as my readers do. Speaking of the “what you see is what you get” thing, I crack jokes and use wordplay here at my house as well in an attempt to lighten the mood and find humor in life. I do get laughs from the hubs and kids at times, but I don’t get the “I laughed so hard, soda came out of my nose” comments (thanks for that, Paul). I wonder if it’s like Jesus saying that no one’s a prophet in his hometown (Luke 4:24). I tell my family that I’m funny, that people say I’m funny, but I get a lot of huh looks from the gallery. Maybe the person who also gives you a honey-do or chore list just isn’t seen as being all that hilarious.

Good grammar is sexy. t-shirt

Another t-shirt I need.

9. I am a grammar girl. I love language and grammar. Our rich language is one of the things that separates man from animal. We can convey so much more because of our ability to describe our environment, express ideas and emotions, and tell stories. Good grammar and punctuation help to make sure readers receive the message intended. For instance, it’s apparently been argued for many years whether Jesus meant in Luke 23:43:

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (NIV, and the way translated by most) or
“Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise.”

See the difference? Commas were not in the original at all. (If only Luke had me to proofread for him! And don’t even get me started on the Apostle Paul needing an editor to break up those impossibly-long sentences. LOL.)*

The point is, I hate when I see an egregious spelling or grammar error in a post on my blog. So if you see anything amiss in that department, go ahead and speak up. I will not take offense at being corrected. I want to do whatever I can to effectively get my message across.

10. My favorite book of the Bible is not Song of Songs, although I refer to it a lot here and I think it rocks. I don’t know anyone else who picks my favorite book: Ecclesiastes. It’s right before the Song of Songs, but it’s not nearly as uplifting as that book of romantic love. Yet, as a pessimist by nature, I love the inclusion of this book in the Bible. When things in life don’t make sense, Ecclesiastes reminds me what is most important, especially the conclusion to simply “Fear God and obey his commands” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). My favorite verse in the book? Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Confession time over. What surprised you? What else do you want to know about being a sex-blogging wife?

*Note: In no way do I believe such issues detract from the veracity and authority of Scripture. Moreover, Jesus can go to Paradise whenever He wants, and I can’t wait to be there with Him.

All for One, and One for All: Advocating Godly Sexuality

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t toot your own horn”? The message is that you shouldn’t brag about yourself. Let your successes speak for themselves. The admonition to be humble in this regard makes it hard at times for me to share when someone else out there has said good things about HHH.

Grow Your Marriage Award 2012But I was blown away by this comment from Lori at Generous Wife when she awarded Hot, Holy & Humorous a 2012 Grow Your Marriage Award:

“Three cheers for the Three Musketeers of Sexuality! These gals routinely turn out good material on marriage and sexuality. Their ability to talk about tough subjects amazes and blesses me. And they make me laugh . . . a lot.

Julie of Intimacy in Marriage
Sheila of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
‘J’ of Hot, Holy & Humorous”

Bam! Did you hear the sound of me falling over in amazement? To be in the category with Julie and Sheila was too delightful not to share. But then I got to thinking about “three musketeers of sexuality”? What was so appealing about that phrase?

While I’ve not read the novel by Alexandre Dumas, I am familiar with the Three Musketeers as being friends of the main character D’Artagnon. The three friends were inseparable, members of a military guard called the Musketeers, and lived by the motto “All for one, and one for all.”

There is strength in numbers. The Bible says that “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and that “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

One of the blessings of having this blog has been discovering others willing to address biblical sexuality and advocate for (lots of) sex in marriage. When you link with others to pursue a mission for God, your impact doesn’t increase like addition — it multiplies.

Even in the two years since I’ve been online writing about sexuality, many voices have joined the chorus of Christians desiring better marriages and intimacy that honors God. I pray that as the voices grow in number and volume, our world reaches the “tipping point,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.” Unfortunately, forces in our world have weakened marriage substantially, and we need to tip over to the side of preserving and strengthening marriage — in part by strengthening the intimate relationship between husband and wife.

But moving back from a big world point of view, we all need three musketeers of sexuality in our own lives and churches. At times I’ve heard from a reader who is eager to tackle this topic with biblical insight within their church, but the leadership or members aren’t cooperative or simply ready. Some wives have no one to talk to about their sexual struggles or with whom to celebrate the beauty of sexuality. You could use someone nearby with an “all for one, and one for all” attitude.

I contemplate now and then what we can do to foster this advocacy. How can we get more (and more and more) people on board to address the topics of purity before marriage, preparing for intimacy in marriage, addressing issues of sexuality in marriage, and broadening and deepening your sexual experience within marriage — all according to God’s Word? Who are those people who might simply need a nudge to step forward and volunteer for the Musketeers?

My own confession is that I had largely given up addressing this topic among my friends and within the church before starting my blog. I had hit the wall of resistance so many times that my confidence and my forehead were bruised. I am making a resolution in 2013 to find more musketeers in my own area.

I plan to keep fencing alongside Sheila and Julie — women who began blogging before me and who have inspired and encouraged me in numerous ways. Knowing that they, and others, are out there promoting godly sexuality gives me confidence to speak up for marriage with boldness. But I also see the benefit of having support locally — creating that synergy within your church to reclaim the blessing of sexuality for the marriages in your midst.

Please pray for me as I approach my own church with some ideas, and then pray for what role you should play in your area to advocate for godly sexuality. If you have the gift of speaking and biblical wisdom on this topic, ask for opportunities to share what God says about sex. If you have struggled with sexuality, ask for access to helpful resources for married couples in your church or local area. If you have special knowledge (a physician, a counselor, etc.), see how you can use your expertise to positively impact marriages.

Let’s join together to be the Three Thousand Musketeers . . . and beyond. In fact, I think our motto should be “All for THE ONE, and THE ONE for all.”

“And [Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 1 Corinthians 5:15

What Does It Mean to Be Feminine?

Gustav Klimt painting of woman

Painting by Gustav Klimt

Let’s get this out of the way: My answer to the title’s question is I don’t know. I don’t know with certainty any more than I could pinpoint what it means to be masculine. Yet I think it’s worth considering. After all, I am a woman. I’m supposed to be feminine.

Whereas the dictionary definition for masculine includes such traits as strength, boldness, and bravery, feminine is defined as “having qualities traditionally ascribed to women, as sensitivity or gentleness.” Am I sensitive? Am I gentle?

I look at women of the Bible like Dorcas who made clothing and helped the poor; Ruth who promised to stay with her mother-in-law and care for her; and Sarah who was praised in 1 Peter 3 because she “obeyed Abraham and called him her master.” Hmmm. I am no domestic diva, and if I called my husband “master,” he would assume I was being sarcastic.

Never one to avoid a challenge, however, I started looking at women of the Bible more closely — beginning with Hebrews 11, also known as The Hall of Faith. The writer mentions by name those who lived “by faith.” As I scanned for women, I came upon Rahab. Rahab??! Now there’s a gal I can relate to! A woman of ill-repute turned believer and defender of God’s people, she even appears in Jesus’ bloodline.

So rather than focusing on a single female, I want to look at several Biblical women — their character and their “femininity.” Note, however, that personality plays an important part in how these are expressed. Indeed, Greg commented on my masculinity post with a fabulous equation:

Godly character + God-given personality + male -> true masculinity
Godly character + God-given personality + female -> true femininity

And now the women.

Hannah. Hannah longed to have children. She prayed fervently to God, was given a child, and presented him (Samuel) to serve at the temple. Each year she made Samuel a robe/coat and brought it to him with the annual sacrifice to the Lord.

Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho and hid two Israelite spies. She lied to the Jericho king and sent his men on a wild goose chase while she sneaked the spies out of the city. In return, she asked them to spare her family when Israel conquered the city by the Lord’s might.

Jael. Jael lived during the days of another biblical woman, the judge Deborah. When the Israelite general refused to enter battle alone, Deborah relented by going with the army but foretold that victory would go to a woman. Meanwhile, Jael was hanging out at her tent doing the usual thing (oh, the piles of laundry!) and saw the enemy’s leader escaping. She invited him in and gave him covering, a drink, and a place to rest. When he fell asleep, Jael grabbed a tent peg and drove it through his temple.

Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite married to the Naomi’s son. When both were widowed, Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Ruth left her own home and accompanied her mother-in-law. Ruth worked to keep them both fed and then flirted with Boaz, thus securing a marriage proposal and provision for her and Naomi for years to come. Ruth is also in Jesus’ bloodline.

Esther. Esther could have been crowned Miss Susa because she won the beauty pageant that King Xerxes held to choose his next wife. One of the king’s nobles, Haman hatched a plot to kill all of the Jews and got the king to sign on. Esther risked her own life to approach her royal husband and unveiled the wickedness of Haman, thus saving her people.

Mary, mother of Jesus. Called “highly favored” by the angel Gabriel, this young woman was chosen to be Jesus’ mother. When the angel  pronounced Jesus’ coming, she replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Afterward, she visited her cousin Elizabeth to care for her in pregnancy; she treasured in her heart the unusual happenings of her Christ-child as he grew; and she stood at the cross as Jesus sacrificed his life.

Dorcas. Dorcas was “always doing good and helping the poor.” When the apostle Peter came through her hometown of Joppa, she had died and the widows showed Peter the clothing Dorcas had made. Peter prayed over her, and she rose from the dead.

Lydia. Lydia is described as a “dealer in purple cloth” (rich). She was a “worshipper of God,” but when the apostle Paul passed through, she responded to his message and was baptized. She then  “persuaded us” (Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke) to stay at her house.

Do you identify with one or more in particular? Is there is a thread that runs through their stories? Of course, they exhibit godly character, and that is the most important part. It is what Jesus referred to as the one, better thing when Mary of Bethany “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” (Luke 10). But I note three traits that seem more feminine than masculine:

Relational. There is a focus with their actions on people. Men tend to be more task-oriented, and women more people-oriented. What did Rahab care most about saving? Her family. Why did Dorcas sew clothes? To help poor people. Why did Ruth follow Naomi? She cared about her mother-in-law. This relational focus has been demonstrated by studies over and over. It’s isn’t simply gender stereotyping. Give a girl a couple of dolls and she will create a community; give a boy a couple of dolls and he will fashion them into weaponry. These approaches complement each other in society, but we are often different in our focus.

Nurturing. Biblical women took care of others. Women are often considered nurturers, and we are. Lydia provided a place for the disciples to stay, Ruth cared for her mother-in-law, Dorcas helped the poor, Hannah provided a robe for Samuel year after year. Certainly men care for others, but we gals are typically more in touch with meeting the physical needs of people around us. That might involve cooking fabulous meals or running through McDonald’s, but we do it.

Verbal. Biologically, God has made women more verbal. The average woman speaks 20,000 words per day, while the average man speaks 7,000. So it’s interesting to see how these women use their command of words to achieve godly ends. Jael doesn’t simply whack the enemy’s general with a tent peg when he walks in (what most men would have done); she woos him inside with her words, makes him feel safe, and then wham! Esther approaches the king and makes her case to save her people. Lydia persuades the apostles with her words. And take a look at the expressions of faith in Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 2:1) or Mary’s song (Luke 1). Women generally talk more than men, and we can use that verbal gift to His glory.

Now these biblical women were sensitive and gentle*, but they were also strong. They showed courage. I want to be like that. Wholly female. Wholly courageous. Wholly God’s.

I believe that God had something complementary in mind when “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Above all, our Christian character matters. But we are biologically and biblically given a role to play as male or female.

Your turn. What do you think it means to be “feminine”? What do you think of the world’s definition of femininity? How do you think women can uniquely glorify God in their lives?

Thanks to Lori Byerly of The Generous Wife who challenged me to post about femininity.

*Of course, all Christians are commanded to be gentle (Galatians 5:23; Ephesians 4:22; Philippians 4:5; Colossians 3:12).

Comments reminder: I moderate all comments. Feel free to argue with the content of what I or others say, but please be respectful and keep debate to the topic itself. I don’t publish personal attacks because they don’t further our conversation or understanding.

Do Your Friends Support Your Sex Life?

I have an uncanny ability to find myself in conversations about sexuality with girlfriends. I’m not always the one to introduce the topic, but I am comfortable discussing it. God blessed marriages with physical intimacy, and I want to encourage couples to fully enjoy this gift and make it an integral part of their relationship.

However, many Christian women speak out against sex rather than for it. Sometimes it’s a comment made with presumed jest: “I told my husband he couldn’t touch my girly stuff until after he touched up the paint job.” Or a complaint: “I can’t walk through the room in a nightgown without him attacking me.” A statement of indifference: “I don’t care for sex, but we have it a couple of times a month.” Or even a negative declaration: “I hate sex, and I would be happy if we never had it again.”

To be honest, most of my friends think I’m as rare as an albino alligator — a Christian wife who loves sex. Good gracious! I should be put on display and tour the country. In fact, I recall a specific conversation with close girlfriends that turned to the topic of marital intimacy. I put in my two cents and was dismissed by another lady who joked, “We can’t ask you; you like sex.”

Standing up for rockin’ sex in marriage can be a lonely endeavor. At times, it has felt futile. No matter what I say, some gals seem determined to treat sex like an obligation or a bartering tool in marriage.

Speaking of “futile,” sometimes I wish I could set myself up as the Borg Queen of Marital Intimacy. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. We could just suck in the naysayers one by one and make them realize how terrific physical intimacy can be in a marriage when it’s working as God intended. But alas, I don’t think I could pull off the hairdo.

Queen of the Borg from Star Trek

Queen of the Borg
Star Trek

Thank goodness that I do have beautiful women of God in my life who, like me, are on God’s plan for sexuality in their marriage. For instance, my best friend lets me bounce blog post ideas off her and has offered some terrific wisdom. She and her husband have their own story of challenges, but she has pursued healthy sexuality in her marriage as part of God’s blessing from Day One and reaped the benefits. There are fellow female bloggers who speak well of sex in marriage (Kate Aldrich, Lori Byerly, Sheila Gregoire, and Gina Parris among them). In particular, I thank God for my growing friendship with Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage, a woman whom I respect and who can put me in stitches with her brand of humor.

I think every Christian woman needs others in her life willing to speak out in favor of marital intimacy. Too often, we can find ourselves in conversations with people who intentionally or unwittingly diminish the importance of great sex with our husbands. It is not biblical to refuse your spouse. It is not biblical to make your husband drag you to the bedroom (symbolically, of course). It is not biblical to participate in intercourse like it’s your child’s first band concert (You’re only there for them, and you hope it’s over quickly). It is not biblical to discourage your friends from having what God designed for them — a healthy sex life with their mate.

Instead, I want to hang out with some gals who find sex in marriage to be hot, holy, and humorous — like I do. It is indeed all of those things. I am blessed to have girlfriends who encourage me to make it hotter, holier, and humorouser. Oh wait, not that last one. I do that on my own.

Do you have friends like that? Do your friends encourage you to have the right attitude? Do they give you tips when you need them? Have they suggested you seek help or get answers when there are problems? Do your friends support your sex life? And are you that kind of friend?

By the way, Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor and Vacuum did a recent post about the oddity of finding herself being a “sexpert” after she wrote and talked about intimacy. Great read: How Do I Get Myself into These Things.