Brave Women

I meet a lot of brave women wherever I go.

I am sure that you do to, you just may not know it.

I meet my grocery checker pregnant with number two, kind enough to stand on her feet all day and still have a smile on her face.

I meet my neighbor, a retired mama, still caring for her family, bravely sharing with me her story of loss in the middle of that same grocery store aisle.

I meet brave women who have so much joy that it overflows out of them like a garden hose spigot you can’t turn off without getting wet first.

I meet brave women with tears in their eyes, unsure whether they should share their true selves, wondering if even Jesus can take the whole truth. (He can. He always can. That’s a promise.)

I meet brave women who are married and single, from different backgrounds, different corners of the globe. We’re all different sizes. We think differently, brave different challenges, eat different foods, laugh at different jokes, fight for different causes, and have interest in different topics.

As part of the Altogether Beautiful movement, I have decided to begin to collect all the brave, so we can share it. I don’t want to keep the beauty, the resilience, the thoughtfulness, and the impact I see to myself. I always respect anything someone tells me confidentially. We should be keepers of trust and intimacy. So I only share what women give me permission to share, but I do think we can all step further out and further in, changing this world with the simple act of saying,

“This is my story.”

“This is where I’ve been. This is where I am. This is where I’m going.”

“This is the real me.”

These women I meet are Altogether Beautiful.

Made beautiful by a Creator.

Loved fiercely by a Savior.

Today is the first edition of Altogether Beautiful Brave Women. In this short 1 minute and 30 second video, I hope these women encourage you to be a little bit braver too, to share with someone your story, your struggle, and what He is making #altogetherbeautiful.

Because I know, without a doubt, it is Altogether Beautiful too.

Thank you to these first women who participated in our video project! Look for more to come and if you’d like to participate, email me at ilovemyshepherd.com@gmail.com.

Things that Make Me Feel Altogether Beautiful

Beauty isn’t everything.

Beauty is, in fact, in the eye of the beholder.

But one thing I learned from studying the Song of Songs is that God appreciates beauty, regards beauty, and doesn’t ignore beauty either, so neither should I.

I think for too long I vacillated between buying all the nice things or wanting all the nice things to stuffing my desire for beautiful things and being beautiful way deep down. I confused appreciation with coveting because the line felt dangerously close. And it was, it is.

Biblical Truth: Anything God makes for good, Satan will try to distort.

Fighting Satan’s ridiculousness doesn’t mean running from beauty and beautiful things though. It means embracing it fully, while asking God, seeking God, imploring God, receiving God, and hearing from God, in His Word. This is what you’ll find if you study the Song with me:

Not one thing beautiful exists on this earth, without God’s hand in it.

So, to celebrate that fact. I thought I would share with you a few of the things that make me feel beautiful. When I put these things on, when I hold them in my hand, I am reminded not of how much I don’t have, but of all I have and Who provides it. Things can be like that, valuable, without becoming little gods for us to worship. They can point us to all that He has given us and all that He has redeemed for us. Most often these things are connected to people, because people matter more every time.

I’m going to limit myself to beautiful things you’ll see a glimpse of in the Altogether Beautiful video segments, or you’d end up with a post that goes on for days.

Beautiful thing #1 –

Giant, colorful, soft leather earrings

My friend, Jen, makes these earrings. I would still love them if they weren’t made by her, but I know they make me feel beyond beautiful because of her. She taught me that a pop of color can make an ordinary day just a hint more spunky and fun. I like that they aren’t totally hidden in my mass of dark unruly hair. They aren’t heavy and burdensome either. There is enough heavy and burdensome in life without earrings to heave around.

I also love that they are designed by hands that care for a family, hands that serve the Lord, and hands that carefully select quality leathers considering the hands that dyed them and softened them around the globe.

Jen, who has been there for me in my finest and in my darkest is altogether beautiful and so is her work. You’ll see Designs by Jennilyn earrings in six out of eight Altogether Beautiful videos!

I have managed to get my sisters and most of their friends slightly addicted to these earrings as well. If you’re intrigued, here’s the link:

Designs by Jennilyn on Etsy

Beautiful thing #2 –

Shirts that proclaim things that matter

I could buy t-shirts for days…it’s true. I’d rather be in a good pair of jeans, Converse, and a t-shirt than anything else, including my pajamas (most of the time). I like my t-shirts to be meaningful, to create conversation. I remember the early days of college, connecting with someone on the first day of classes because I was sporting a St. Louis Blues shirt:

“Do you bleed blue?”

“I DO bleed blue! Are you from St. Louis?”

And that’s all it takes to get a conversation off and running. There are even better shirts out there than sports teams and (let’s be honest) the seven Star Wars shirts I have on my t-shirt shelf. The best shirts do more than those ever could. In the Altogether Beautiful videos, you’ll see my grey shirt with “Faith” written in script and the T creating a clear cross in the middle. It’s striking, modern, and fresh. My friend and fellow social worker and advocate, Kristy and her business partner, sell these shirts on their website, Comfortably Kind. A minimum of twenty percent of the profits go to help local charities, military families, cancer awareness and other things that matter. I super love that and it makes me feel beautifully connected to others when I know we’re working toward something together.

Check out  Comfortably Kind!

Beautiful thing #3 –

Red mug, warm beverage

My youth group in Ohio gave me this mug. There is a long story behind it, but suffice it to say that there are few physical objects in the world that make me feel as loved as this mug. The only physical thing to hold court with it for a piece of my heart is my fifteenth-anniversary band of chocolate diamonds from my husband.

Beverages with people, conversation with people – those are the best moments of life.

It’s just a mug. If it broke, I won’t lose those relationships, but life happens, people move, youth grow up, and hearts ache to be connected. My big red mug reminds me to treasure up every moment in my heart, embrace every relationship even when they’re hard, and call, text, and invite-in more every day because life is short and love is worth the energy.

What is beautiful in your life?

What little things make you feel beautiful?

Thank you for sharing with me and listening to me. You are #altogetherbeautiful with or without any of the things, but may they remind you of how Altogether Beautiful you are to Him.

An Altogether Beautiful Day

I used to be completely opposed to mediocre.

I wanted pizzazz and fireworks in everything. It’s kind of in my nature.  I don’t need glam but I do like special.

Then, life happened, and I discovered that special sometimes meant stressful, and sad, and too much, and overwhelming. I looked around me at one point and discovered a million broken pieces, with no way to pick them back up. I gaped and stared. I looked at my husband, whom I thought I knew, and didn’t know Him. I looked at my children and wondered how much pain I had caused them. I looked at my life and thought hope had left the building.

Then, as God started to pick up the pieces in me when I could not, the pieces of my life when I could not, I began to see beauty and it wasn’t in the glam or the fuss. It wasn’t in the fireworks and festivals. It was in the mediocre and the mundane, the places where it was boring enough that I could see through to Him.

The Song of Songs has a beautiful wedding and its feast, but most of it is full of the beautiful mediocre.

There are gardens and everyday connection, family life and fires with cooking pots, rosy pomegranate cheeks and lackluster body parts like necks and feet. To top it all off, it can be like wading through eight chapters of lovely poetry, but with two people who need to get their PDA in check.

The Song of Songs is not a superior book of the Bible, but it does offer us a unique perspective of God’s desire for us, God’s expectations of us, and God’s faithfulness to us in the big moments of life, yes, but also in those mediocre places. It teaches us a fair amount of what beautiful can look like in relationship and in our churches.

I am convinced that slowing down to spend some time with this beautifully imperfect couple in their pizzazz and their mediocre will help us to see the beautiful work of God in our moments, our surroundings, and most importantly in our relationships.

Join us to celebrate Altogether Beautiful Day – TODAY!

Help rain down some beautiful in the midst of this wonderful, ordinary day:

Share in the comments, on social media, or send out an email! Write a card or a note to a friend, take someone to lunch, serve your kids’ favorite foods- let someone in your life know that they are a beautiful gift of God to you. Use the hashtag #altogetherbeautiful and tag @heidigoehmann and/or @concordiapublishing so we can share your beautiful life stuff.

I see beautiful in each of you.

You were made beautiful by a God who loves you and redeemed altogether beautiful by a Savior who restores.

All I can say is, Thank you, Jesus. You are #altogetherbeautiful.