Tag Archives: self image

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.

Permission to Feel Beautiful with Bonny Logsdon Burns

We are nearing the end of this Feel Beautiful series, but I definitely haven’t run out of favorite marriage bloggers talking on this subject. And each has something special to add to this conversation.

Today we have Bonny Logsdon Burns, who runs the Oyster Bed 7 site with lower-drive wives in mind. Her outreach for godly marital intimacy is amazing, and she has a compassionate heart for those who struggle with libido. She’s delightful in so many ways, and I can’t wait to share what she has to say on feeling beautiful. So here it is!

Permission to Feel Beautiful with Bonny Logsdon Burns

I love this series. I feel more beautiful already! The wisdom in each guest post is as unique as the author’s brand of beauty. Thank you, J, for allowing me to accompany all these great encouragers!

For a long while I was not in a good place with sexual intimacy and part of the struggle was trying to reconcile the inner beauty/outer beauty mindset. Scripture seemed to tell me inner beauty was the only thing of value. However, my husband likes me wearing makeup and nice things, which involved my outer beauty. And honestly, I felt better about myself when I spent time on my outer beauty. But, wasn’t this focus on outer beauty a sin?

Can I be both Mother Theresa and Marilyn Monroe (the faithfully married kind)? Is that OK with God? If so, how does that work?

1 Samuel 16:7, “…..The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

It is interesting to me that in verse 7 of 1 Samuel 16 (above), it says the Lord does not look at outward appearance as a man. Yet, just 4 verses down we read:

1 Samuel 16:12 — “He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.”

Then, I saw all of these heroes and heroines of God described as having physical beauty.

Sarah             (Gen. 12:11)
Rebekah        (Gen. 24:16)
Rachel            (Gen. 29:17)
Abigail            (1 Sam. 25:3)
Esther             (Esther 2:7)
David              (1 Sam. 16:12)
Joseph            (Gen. 39:6)

God is not against physical beauty.

1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment….rather it should be that of your inner self….”

Peter isn’t condemning a woman’s outer beauty. He is saying do not make it a pre-occupation. (Actually, the whole section is about how a believing wife can win an unbelieving husband over to Christ with the beauty of her way.) Christian women are encouraged to develop inner spiritual beauty. I don’t refute that.

However, God is not against outer beauty. He created original eye-candy! He painted lovely even in normal stuff. See?

Thistle for Bonny's post Beach for Bonny's post Rooster for Bonny's post

In the midst of trying to figure out the balance of inner beauty versus outer beauty, I realized inner beauty and outer beauty are like hydrogen and oxygen. Meld them together and create life giving water, H20. InnerBeauty2OuterBeauty. You see, the inner beauty needs twice the nurturing, but outer beauty is still important and a blessing from God. So, yeah, I think it’s okay to be both Mother Theresa and a faithfully married Marilyn Monroe.

Give yourself permission to feel beautiful.

Knowing that God created beauty, why is it still hard to embrace beautiful?

Saying that you feel beautiful does not mean that you are arrogant or vain. 

Vanity desires to be physically beautiful at all costs. There is no thought to serve any other than yourself. I would venture to go as far as to say it is similar to an addiction, being consumed with thoughts of the mirror and the desire to hear compliments.

Feeling your beauty, will not make you vain, unless you let it.

What if I start letting myself feel beautiful and rejection jumps out of nowhere to trample my heart? This is a real possibility. Your brand of outer beauty isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Just like your brand of inner beauty, having a heart soaked in Jesus, isn’t going to appeal to everyone.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18).

However, both your outer beauty and inner beauty are pleasing to God. He’s really the only opinion that matters.

Beautiful girls can feel beautiful, too.

Accepting that you have pleasant physical features does not mean you are haughty. It’s acknowledging that God is a better designer than Louis Vuitton, Coco Chanel, and Christian Dior combined.

Beautiful Christian ladies who realize their beauty, may experience guilt, shame, or confusion because of it.

My personal story of confusion is from when I was a child. Because of my coloring; black hair, blue eyes, and fair skin; people stared at me. Occasionally, my mother would cluck her tongue at these people (usually boys) and yank me away. I thought they were staring because of something wrong with me. I didn’t know that people stared when something was good, too. It wasn’t until one of my sisters told me I was, ‘such a beautiful child people stared,’ I realized what all the yanking was about.

You may experience guilt over undue attention or guilt for enjoying the undue attention. The attention is a little nod from God. It’s okay to delight in it for a moment.

You may experience shame that men other than your husband notice or shame that your beauty was the (perceived) cause of sexual abuse (it was not your fault!).

Gorgeous Jesus girls, embrace your God given beauty! He wanted you to look the way you look. If you are actively nurturing your inner Jesus beauty, free yourself from the heavy thought that you are causing another to sin with your outer beauty. Their heart and lack of self-control is what is causing their sin.

Christ’s freedom will help you feel beautiful.

“Through faith in Jesus we have received God’s grace. In that grace we stand. We are full of joy because we expect to share in God’s glory.” (Romans 5:2).

He gave you your beauty so that you can use it to serve HIM more fully.

Admit you’re feeling beautiful, what’s the worst that could happen?

You’ll feel fabulous.

When you start to feel beautiful you might want to take care of that temple you’ve been hauling around all your life. Drink more water, less caffeine/sugar. Eat more fresh food, less processed. Get more sleep and don’t say mean things to yourself. Dance, or at least take a nice long walk. All of this will spill over into feeling beautiful and liking it.

You’ll feel empowered.

Satan uses our negative self-image and negative self-value as a hurdle to many things, including sexual intimacy. Owning your inner beauty and outer beauty chases Satan away and can improve sexual conflict. There’s nothing more attractive than a beautiful woman with beautiful ways about her.

Jesus will be heard.

The reality is, our society values outward appearance. Your pretty face and warmth of heart will help draw people to you. Once they pick up on your hope, you’ll be able to share the story of your favorite designer, Jesus.

..I have become all things to all people so that in all possible ways I might save some. I do all of that because of the good news. I want to share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).

Bonny Lodgson BurnsHi! I’m Bonny Logsdon Burns. I write to encourage the low libido wife at www.OysterBed7.com. I am passionate about empowering and equipping low-libido wives through God’s Word and practical tools. If you are a low-libido wife, please check out my book, Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation. It’s an easy journey that may have profound results.

My husband, Dave, and I are candid about struggles and victories in the sexual arena. We have three grown sons, two daughter-in-loves, and one sweetpea (granddaughter). My favorite thing to do is laugh at Dave’s corny jokes. We are currently relocating to south Florida, please pray for us because we’re living the notion that major relocations cause serious stress. Connect with me through Twitter and Facebook.

Adiós, So Long & Get Gone, Insecurities! with Beverly Weeks

Not only is Beverly Weeks a wonderful advocate for wives, marriage, and marital intimacy, she’s also a gal who cracks me up. If you want to find a wife who fits, “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come” (Proverbs 31:25), look no further than Beverly.

Married to her husband Rick for 20 years, they experienced great struggle in their marriage and 03redemptive healing from God. Now they reach out to other couples, along with their ministry partners, through the Intentionally Yours website and marriage events. I hope you enjoy Beverly’s authenticity, humor, and godly message about losing our insecurities and feeling beautiful.

Adiós, So Long & Get Gone, Insecurities! with Beverly Weeks

I can hear his heart pounding as he pulls me closely to his bare chest. His hands begin to caress my cheek and glide through my brown wavy hair. He pulls my body closer to him, and for a brief moment we embrace. I can feel the sweat on my husband’s brow as his fingers begin to crawl up my back like a brown recluse spider. I know without a doubt that there ain’t but one thing on my man’s mind, and honey child, I can tell you at that moment he’s NOT thinking about Christmas shopping with me at T.J. Maxx!

With great hesitancy, I crawl under the bed sheets in an outfit that seems to have less material than the average Kleenex tissue. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how I even managed to slip it on my imperfect figure without displacing a hip or causing a serious neck or back injury.  I lean over to whisper in his ear what I have been agonizing in my mind. Anxiously anticipating what I am about to say, my husband sits up in bed. Without regard, I recklessly blurt it out…Honey, hold on just a minute, we gotta turn the lights out!”

My insecurities and low self-esteem begin to attack my mind. I imagine that my husband’s eyes are drawn to the stretch marks, the extra tummy fold. There’s been no time to apply the fake tanning spray, for my day has been consumed with laundry, work, and two high school basketball games. What if he is blinded because my bare legs are glowing in the dark? It is then that I don’t feel pretty enough or feel that I even come close to measuring up to the beautiful women on the magazine covers or the billboards.

For a moment, a horrifying, hilarious thought comes to my mind. Just what if, I am on top and lose my balance and fall down. I could possibly squeeze the life out of him! My neighbor is a funeral home director, and I envision the chuckles and what would be said as our friends and family walk by my husband’s funeral procession. “Here lies Rick…Poor fellow he never had a chance. He was smothered to death!”

I lie there frustrated, disappointed, knowing that once again I have allowed my large-sized insecurities (LIES straight from the enemy and the pits of Hell) to become a hindrance to a passionate night of intimacy with my husband.

Have mercy. Somebody pass me a jar of crunchy peanut butter and a chocolate bar. I am about to step all over my hot pink polka dot painted toes, and I’m gonna need a pedicure by the time I am finished!

You see, for many years I found myself trapped, in the bondage to low self-esteem and my insecurities.

I allowed my pessimistic attitude and negative thoughts to take up free rent space in my mind and dictate my performance or willingness to make out with my husband in the bedroom. It was not until God restored our marriage many years ago and began to do a healing work in me emotionally and physically that I was able to recognize this. I began to cry out, Father God, I need you to set me free! Heal my mind. Help me to enjoy this intimate gift of pleasure with my husband as you intended.

There were days that I would have to look in the mirror and say, GOD, help me to change my attitude. I want to love the lady in the mirror the way that You do.

I want to love the lady in the mirror the way that You do. - Beverly Weeks Click To Tweet

My friend, I found my healing in the cross. I began to read God’s Word and learn His perspective of beauty and how I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I began to repent of my negative attitude which among other things was filled with coveting what other women had. Maybe you can relate to what I am talking about… If only I had her legs, her waist, her eyes, her hiney… If this makes any sense, I had to get rid of my toxic victim attitude and rise above my self-pity! I began to confess to GOD that I needed healing and some permanent fixing!

I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and willing to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. “  

God has done amazing things in my marriage and for our sex lives! The chains have fallen, and I am learning to enjoy this great gift that God intended for marriage. My husband looks at me like I am a precious diamond. He holds me in his arms, and there have been times that I have even seen a tear fall from his eyes. He pulls me close, and the first thing he says to me is honey, you are so beautiful.

You see when my spouse sees me, he does not see the flaws and imperfections. He sees me through the eyes of his Master, He sees me as a beautiful daughter of the King! At the same time I am recognizing that my husband is my perfect gift from God.

What insecurities are you battling with? I want you to know that there is healing made available to you, through the power of Jesus.

Beverly WeeksBeverly Weeks is an energetic, Jesus-loving “girl-next-door.”  Her inspiring, transparent messages are seasoned with a little laughter, candid real life struggles, and filled with Biblical truths. Often times people who hear her speak say the same thing: “She’s just so real.”  An evangelist at heart, she has a love for her audience that is fully evident both on and off stage.

Beverly is a trained Biblical Counselor and Executive Director of a Pregnancy Resource Center. Her greatest joy is being a wife to Rick, and mom to her two children Tyler and Macy.

Blog/Website: Dialog with Beverly through her blog post, and follow her speaking schedule. She would love to meet you at an event in your area. www.intentionallyyours.org

Booking Beverly to Speak: If you are interested in booking Beverly for a speaking engagement, beverly@intentionallyyours.org. Available For: Church Events, Women’s Conferences & Retreats, Marriage Conferences & Retreats, Banquets, Seminars, Pregnancy Care Center Events.

Hey, wait a second, who wrote this? I’m just a simple southern girl, tee-totally in love with my Jesus! I love chocolate, peanut butter with bananas, alfredo sauce, shopping, and consignment shops. Did I say I LOVE chocolate!

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.