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 

An I Love My Shepherd Christmas Present

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

Isn’t this the day of days? Christmas amazes me by the sheer fact that we have a God who comes to earth to be with us, to walk with us. He spent 33 years getting to know us, our sorrows, and our doubts.

Of course He knows all and is in all.

Of course He never even needed to draw closer…

but He did.

He came to us.

Just as He comes to us every day in His Word and through our relationships with one another; as the Holy Spirit moves and does His thing changing hearts and lives.


Even in a season of grieving, even in a season of blah, even in a season of busy- that is the promise we hold tight to.

This Christmas I’d like to give you something to help you to cling to that promise. Yes, baby Jesus is the best gift, but He’s not the only gift. 😉

Christmas Day only, please download the Kindle versions of my print studies, Think on These and Casting Stones for free.

Who doesn’t love free?

Here are the links for each book:

Think on These: A Study of Philippians 4:8

Think on These has 5-10 minute daily reads. It is meant to be short and sweet, but allow you to linger in the Word with questions and contemplation if you desire. It’s good for individual or group study. There are YouTube Videos to compliment your study if desired.

Casting Stones: A Study of Ecclesiastes 3

Casting Stones came out of a time when I was struggling and I think you can see, hear, and feel the struggle in this study of the seasons of life. This is a longer text, still with five days of study a week, but slightly longer daily reads for more contemplation. Color outside the lines! No need to follow the study each day. Pick it up, put it down, repeat. 😉

Merry Christmas!

And of course, a Happy New Year!

Things to look for in the New Year at I Love My Shepherd:

Our 8-week Spring Online Study -My Redeemer Lives!

***February 19-April 13 (Are you marking your calendar?)***

Podcast series that include:

The Truth about Mental Health – Anxiety, Grief, Suicide, and more

Ministry Moments – Happy Hour, Middle Schoolers, and more

Written in Iron Ink – Physical Wellbeing and Weightloss, Tending Marriage, Rest, and more

The print and Kindle versions of He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah

***June 2018***


Altogether Beautiful: A Study of the Song of Songs

***release date – April 2018***

This study will be a full color layout, video driven study, available through Concordia Publishing House. Find more information on this study in the weeks to come! There will be pre-order freebies, a series of bonus articles related to beauty, relationships, and the study, along with all kinds of fun stuff in the New Year.

Now back to Christmas:

To Him who always give freely to us of grace and mercy…a very blessed Christmas to you all!

Restoring Grace (Chasing Freedom 6:5)

There’s nothing like ending a study on some grace.

Let’s do just that. Grace is an abstract concept.

More grace sounds just like what we need in this New Life of Freedom. Grace pouring in from a Savior who pours out.

How do we bring grace into our homes?

How do we bring grace into our families?

How do we end conversations with grace?

How do we end each day with grace?

Paul teaches the Galatians and he teaches us well. Galatians 6:18 reads:

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Freedom means all the grace, welling up, running over. Freedom in not holding out expectations, not holding in hurt and bitterness, letting God work where darkness once held us captive.

Let’s talk grace in today’s podcast, lots and lots of grace.

Find the final video lesson for Chasing Freedom here –

Freedom from “the Show”

***Please take a moment to tell us your thoughts on this study and future I Love My Shepherd content. You’ll receive a $2 off coupon for anything from our Products with a Message for your time – just in time for Christmas!