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. 

Trying to find beautiful: On body image and relationships

I have a complicated relationship with the word beautiful.

The first time I remember telling myself I was fat was in junior high.

I’d like to think it had to do with a changing body and hormones, but I don’t think that was it.

There is something about being suddenly aware of boys that throws a girl into new beliefs about herself. I’d like that not to be true – and it may not be an issue for some of you out there – but for many of us that’s just the way it is, and we need to be honest about that. From a very early age, our beauty is tied up in the relationships around us. It actually makes me want to cry a little bit, that our beauty would be wrapped up in what a someone thinks of us. There is something off there, something so connected to the way it’s supposed to be, but not quite right, and it’s hard to figure it all out, so we plunge ahead on weird courses trying to make ourselves feel better,

trying to find beautiful.

In high school, I remember exercising for beauty, rather than health or strength for the first time. Maybe if I did just the right amount of sit ups I would feel better. I remember healthily and not healthily saying no to chips and Snickers bars and pop, because maybe then I’d be pretty and my hips would stop making pants so dang difficult.

I thought with marriage my body image issues would be better. With a husband to tell me I’m beautiful, what can go wrong? That pit of disdain (or at least discomfort) when I weighed myself or looked in the mirror would melt away in the arms of someone who loved me unconditionally.

But it didn’t get better.

Shocker, but a man didn’t solve my problems.

Even as an adult, the word beautiful played games in my head, taunting me with something I’d never be.

I’m not girly.

I’m not graceful.

I’m not good with my hair.

I like food a lot.

And then, one day I turned to my left and saw my daughter. The words taunting me, I heard from her mouth. That was when I demanded that something had to give. I pleaded with God to help me. Lord, I want her to see beautiful in herself, in her friends, in me… instead of maybe ok.

God’s answer, as always, was the Word of God. He picked me up, dusted off my shame, and sent me to the Scriptures.

When I studied and then wrote through the Song of Songs, I began to see that beauty has a lot less to do with pretty and a lot more to do with strength than we think. It has to do with a Savior, and is more intimately connected to His sacrifice and death than I can wrap my head around. It has to do with honor and kindness, even when it holds onto its very physical properties.

And it’s relational.

No wonder I struggled with my beauty based on boys. We understand beautiful in relationship – any and all relationships, romantic, friendship, or familial. That, I believe, is Scriptural Truth.

Healing our beliefs about the word beautiful will be changed in the Word, yes, but God is teaching me that it is also changed in community with each other – in friendship, in life together, in calling out beautiful where we see it, and in proclaiming God’s workmanship in one another – not just to our daughters, but to one another’s daughters, to wives, and to women everywhere.

If you have a complicated relationship with the word beautiful, here is what I want to tell you:

God makes beautiful and God defines beautiful, I don’t get to. I want to believe Him instead, be covered by Him instead of my own ideas about my body and myself and this one word – beautiful,

but we can only do that together.

I’ll never conquer this by myself. Our brains weren’t designed for that. The battle wasn’t meant to be lonely.

Dig out your phone. Text a friend. Tell them they are beautiful. Sing it over them. They need you and in the midst of that, God will heal this weirdness about beauty and beautiful and boys and all of it.

Altogether beautiful, friends.

Let’s help each other begin to believe it.

Click here for a free sample of Altogether Beautiful: A Study of the Song of Songs