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. 

There’s No Such Thing as Good People (My Redeemer Lives 6:3)

When was the last funeral you went to? When was the last time you have been connected enough to a loss to contemplate it within your church community, with your co-workers, your family, or friends from across the street?

There is a phrase I have noticed crop up, either as a new response to loss or an old one I just never paid much attention to:

“They were such a good person!”

You don’t have to lose someone to hear this phrase, or use it for that matter. We throw it about when talking idly about people in our lives. I think we want a way to honor them, honor goodness in a world that holds far too little of it. It is important for us to honor one another, yes, but we also need to be careful not to honor people so much that we miss the God who is at work in their stories.

Resurrection reality: There are no good people.

Today, I want us to look through the very faint goodness found in people, to see the actual goodness of Resurrection.

It would be easy to read Tabitha’s story in Acts 9:32-42, and get lost in the goodness factor. Read through that segment of Scripture below and take note of anything you read that would maybe cause you to say, “Tabitha was a good person!” —

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. 36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

Notice Acts 9:39 in particular. Can you see how one might get easily distracted by the women weeping and showing the garments Tabitha lovingly wove for them? When has someone made something for you by hand? When has someone noticed your need?

It is a beautiful gift to use our talents to care for others, to encourage others, but that isn’t the real goodness we find in the account. Read the passage above again, Acts 9:32-43. This time listen for the heartache, listen for words that celebrate community and recognize the loss of one of their own.

“…while she was with them.” (Acts 9:39b)

What a powerful phrase tacked onto the end of Acts 9:39. All these women standing around, sharing with Peter and sharing together the loss of a friend, a leader, a woman of influence in their lives. Her clothing wasn’t just clothing. God uses small things like clothing to remind these women, through Tabitha’s hands, that they are valued in Christ Jesus. That he wants warmth for them, lasting spiritual warmth, not only clothes-on-their-back warmth.

Tabitha might have made coats or everyday garments for the women to wear, and some of it may have been undergarments, which strikes me as deeply personal. I’m thinking of the Undies for Everyone campaign or the socks and underwear collected alongside backpacks for a back-to-school gift for someone. This is God at work in Tabitha. It’s always His Spirit at work when anyone asks, “Who needs underwear today?” We just aren’t capable of such goodness.

I know we want to believe in some basic goodness to humans, but I think when you look around enough, you’ll see the truth that goodness is only found in our God in us. Go back to Act 9:40-42 —

But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

Acts 9:42 tells the rest of the story — many believed signifies that real goodness points to the Lord, not to people.

Tabitha, Peter, those widows — they were God’s people, not good people.

Today, we can praise the Lord not for goodness in this world, but for the reality of Christ’s Resurrection lived out in us as we walk along each of our paths.

God’s people, bringing His goodness, His grace, and His glory…one pair of underwear, one hug, one listening ear at a time.

In the comments share with us one story of someone living the resurrected life and making yours a little brighter.

We may not be good people, but we are God’s people….in this life together.

Where do you see God’s Resurrection goodness shining through in tangible ways?

Get the Scripture card here!

Resources:

http://biblehub.com/greek/5509.htm

https://www.undiesforeveryone.org