Posted in Faith, Fitness, Life, Parenting, Relationships, Self-Care

Rethinking Beauty (Part 3)

Who has your child’s ear (and eyes) about what beauty means?

What does beautiful mean to you and how are you demonstrating that to your child?

I’ve been thinking about these two things lately because of a blog post I recently read and this beautiful young girl below (my youngest). In Part 1 of the series, we talked about the former. In Part 2, we discussed the latter. Now let’s look at a final piece that some of you may desire to skip over due to other beliefs or may find value in despite different beliefs. In this post, I’d like to explore what God says about beauty, as I feel that understanding our identity as given by our creator is important to helping our children fully appreciate their own beauty.

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As someone who believes in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I believe the Bible is God’s love letter to us to guide us through this life. I believe when we pray and ask Him to reveal its meaning to us He does, so I couldn’t end this series without sharing some scriptures that I believe speak to beauty and how God would like us to view beauty. I understand not everyone will believe the same way I do and I accept that. You can choose to continue reading to see if you would agree these scriptures speak to the subject or you can close down the blog (I won’t be offended). If you don’t agree with my faith but choose to continue reading, thank you for being willing to see another perspective. I believe that in itself it a quality of beauty as well.


 

What Scripture Tells Us About Beauty

Lauren Daigle did a wonderful job with this song and showed us ways to reframe our thinking when we become overwhelmed with the lies we tell us ourselves from society and culture. If we take cues from her we can do the same when we start to feel like we aren’t beautiful because we aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, tall enough, strong enough. When we feel like our eyes aren’t the right color or our teeth aren’t white enough. When we feel like our eyebrows aren’t “on fleek” and our skin is too light, our hair isn’t the right texture or length, or our face isn’t the right shape. All of these things are based upon the culture we live within and changes depending upon where you are in the world. But all of us deal with struggles of feeling “not enough” of something and when it comes to beauty, the Bible isn’t silent. I hope today’s scriptures and this post help you to see that. I am not going to offer interpretation beyond the subheading before each scripture because that is not why I am sharing these today. Rather I am going to share them and let you take away whatever you walk away with in how they speak to you.

7 Scriptures

We are made by God.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ~Psalm 139:14

Our beauty should come from within.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ~1 Peter 3:3-4

We shouldn’t worry about what we wear.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. ~Matthew 6:28-29

Our clothes are our inner qualities exposed.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ~Prov. 31:25

God knew what He prepared us for and how we needed to be built to handle it.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~Ephesians 2:10

God cares about our hearts’ condition more than our outward beauty.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ~1 Samuel 16:7

Fear of the Lord is our most beautiful trait.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ~Proverbs 31:30

 

Final Thoughts

Caralyn’s post noted the following:

Caralyn Beauty Beyond Bones

This is what I want to see and what I want my daughter to see when we look in the mirror. Not the flaws, not the make up and clothing covering up those flaws, not the jewelry accentuating colors and bringing attention away from body parts, but the work of God right before our eyes. Like a sunset masterfully painted just for our enjoyment, God designed both of us. He designed you and your children as well. What better gift can we give our children than to understand that we were beautiful from the moment the Creator of the universe breathed life into us and chose us to walk this life?

 

Have I missed any scriptures you teach to your children to remind them that their beauty is more than skin deep?

 

Rethinking Beauty Pin

 

Posted in Faith, Life, Parenting, Relationships, Self-Care

Rethinking Beauty (Part 2)

Who has your child’s ear (and eyes) about what beauty means?

What does beautiful mean to you and how are you demonstrating that to your child?

I’ve been thinking about these two things lately because of this beautiful young girl below (my youngest) and a blog post I recently read. If you missed Part 1, which addresses the former question, you can read it here. In this post, let’s dive into how we are demonstrating beauty to our children.

 

How are You Demonstrating Beauty to Your Child?

Ali at Dylans

I remember the day we told her we were going to the City for the day and how excited she was! When she came downstairs in an everyday outfit – leggings and a t-shirt, I was a little shocked. I thought she would have worn one of her fancier outfit since it was the City. I asked her if she was good to go and she replied with a smile from ear to ear, “Comfortable and ready to see the Big City!” Her confidence blew me away, as I had changed at least three times and thought more of the pictures we would take than what I would see. (This was one of those mom moments where you realize you are teaching your kids better than you are showing them.)

My youngest dreams of living in the city and owning a fashion boutique, despite wanting to be a teacher in the school system. I’ll wait to shatter her world years from now about how these two things are worlds apart, for now I’m exploring how to empower her to achieve both because that’s what parents should be doing when their children are in elementary school – encouraging them to dream big and without boxes. I want this girl, my youngest, to always know she is beautiful and to have the self-confidence she currently has. She is so full of it right now and doesn’t let anyone tell her that she is anything other than beautiful and strong.

I wish it weren’t true but her built-in self-image didn’t come from me. Most of her life I had a poor self-image and was beating myself up over not having the right eyes or face structure, about my hair not being perfect or my thighs being too “sporty”, about being overweight even when I was not. I would tell God how much I loved Him and with the same breath curse the body I was in for carrying too much cellulite or being too tired (fatigue is a symptom of Crohn’s that I’ve long battled). My daughters watched for years as I’d go through 20 outfits in the morning to find a shirt and jeans I liked, only to go back to one of the first few pair I’d tried on because they were my favorite baggy jeans. I definitely didn’t teach my oldest anything other than how beauty and worth comes from our appearance; thankfully something happened when I turned 40 and my youngest has seen a different narrative play since then. I stopped caring about what others thought looked beautiful and started looking to God and within for the definition of beauty. I realized it was about so much more than the skin I am in.

As I read Caralyn’s post, I started to think about how her journey and mine haven’t been so different despite the different relationships with food. I won’t tell her story – you can read it here – but I will admit that I realized many years ago that I struggled with food addiction. Food is like a drug for me when I’m dealing with emotions I don’t want to feel or when I’m bored and don’t have the willpower to say no to a bag of chips and guacamole (but really, should anyone ever have to say no to chips and guac?). So while I took in too much as a way to heal my pain and control my environment (I started this habit after being violated at a going age), Caralyn had a different way she interacted with food; yet, we both struggled with one thing commonly: the mirror. For both of us, it showed a truth back to us (and maybe still does some days, I can’t speak for her) that wasn’t there. Whether 105 or 250, I have always seen myself through layers of fat and skin that didn’t belong there and have never been happy with my weight. Yet all along I could feel someone who was healthy and didn’t have a number to define her within me crying to get out. When I read Caralyn’s post, I saw that she too had someone inside all along: the woman God created.

Whether we are large or small, overweight by hundreds of pounds or underweight by 80, strong or weak, if we haven’t been brought up to see the beauty within ourselves in a healthy way, we will battle with mirror and dislike what we see. And we pass this on to our children. They watch us and see how we interact with ourselves and our world. As I think of how I passed the unhealthy body image to my oldest, who struggled with bulimia and has never seen herself as the beautiful young woman that she is, I realize that I would tell her with my words that beauty came from within and that what we do outside only enhances it, but then I would show her differently with my actions and speak very loudly through them that our outside had the most importance. With my youngest, I’ve been more careful about it but still put too much focus on outward appearance until two years ago, and really within the last year.

Caralyn’s post contained this statement:

Now, when I look in the mirror, that’s what I see. I have to shut off the critical eye that wants to pick apart my reflection, and see instead the beautiful creation of God who is loved and cherished, despite my flaws and shortcomings. See instead, the instrument of God, that was handcrafted to fulfill an important, divine purpose that He has planned for me.

When I read this I realized how important it is to help my youngest understand that she was handcrafted by God to fulfill a specific role and one that only she can fill. And I can’t demonstrate to her how beautiful she is and how true that is if I show her through my actions that beauty is what’s outside of someone’s body and how they wear clothes and makeup.

But how do I do this?

How do we as mothers and fathers show our daughters and sons that beauty goes beyond the skin?

I started to reflect upon this and thought about the changes I have made in talking with my youngest and how I speak. We have a friend who is absolutely stunning… her cheekbones are to die for. When we speak of her, my mother, daughter, and I can’t help but speak of how beautiful this young woman is. But the first thing we noticed when my daughter and I met her was not her cheekbones but her vibrant personality. When my daughter met her for the first time, she loved that the young woman stood up and greeted her as if she was somebody special. She commented on how the young lady included her in the conversation and made her feel wanted. Those of you who have children who come along on gatherings with friends know how important this is for our children, especially our daughters being raised without father figures in their lives.

We have another friend who has eyes that people would pay to get contacts the color of, but his are natural. I won’t lie and tell you that I don’t tend to spend more time in eye contact when talking with him because of how beautiful his eyes are. But when I first met him, what I noticed is how he took interest in something most around us had missed about me and how he inquired about parts of my life that only those close to me had ever picked up on. When my daughter met him, she picked up on how he used her name and inquired about her extracurricular activities and whether she spoke Spanish (then proceeded to humor her by speaking her broken up Spanish with her).

What defined both people who are beautiful to the world as beautiful to my youngest, who was 8 and 9 when she met these individuals? Not their cheekbones or eyes, but how they treated her. How they made her feel in their interaction with her. Something I have done for a few years is share how people make me feel when I am with them. My little one is very attached to me and always asks me how my plans were, whether community meeting or night out with friends. I reply by saying, “I feel energized by X and the conversation we had. It brought me alive and helped me think about …” or “I really was saddened by how X complained all night about others getting ahead and so I am really tired now but let’s pray that things will get better and thank God for what we have.” She started picking up on how certain people made me feel after being with them and once commented, “Beauty also includes how people make you feel, Mama. People like [name of severely overweight friend] and you may have extra skin and may be called fat but you always make people feel better. That’s why your friends always ask for Shell time.” I remember that conversation and how proud I felt in the moment.

 

maya angelou quote

What actions can we take to demonstrate to our children the true definition of beauty?

How do we help them understand their worth doesn’t change based upon whether they align with what culture defines as beauty or whether they are outside those line?

Beyond reframing how we talk to them about others, we have to highlight what we see within them. Talk to them so they understand that their worth to us is beyond what they look like and what grades they bring home. If we say beauty runs deeper than skin, let’s complement them for their qualities that aren’t always applauded in society.

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Let’s show our kids by running out for milk without heels and makeup, by picking them up for school in jeans and a t-shirt instead of business casual wear, by demonstrating for them that we are paying attention to our inner qualities and what we project from our deepest parts instead of whether we covered up a zit or didn’t let anyone know we have Rosacea. Let’s go to the gym in mismatched tops and bottoms and not be afraid to sweat it out. Let’s stop focusing on the cellulite and honor the fact that our bodies carried and nurtured those little people and then birthed them. Let’s stop shaming others and ourselves for being less the perfect by society’s standards and instead measure up to how we define beauty personally, whether faith-inspired or by your own  standards and influences.

It won’t change overnight, but it won’t change all until we do. Instead of focusing on dieting, get the whole family involved in healthy eating and learning about the food we consume. All sizes of people should understand this, and it’s a great way to introduce math and answer the question, “When will I ever use this in real life?” Right here; right now!

By changing how you interact with yourself and others, changing how you process your own ability to nurture your self-image, and changing how you show up in the world despite not feeling perfect (or maybe you do and you have been overly focused on that fact and it’s rubbed off on your children), your children will notice the change and start making changes of their own. We may only impact our children at first, but soon they will affect change within their friends, and then the community, and then the region, and then the state, and so on. If we all make small changes in what we accept and how we frame beauty within our minds, reminding our children that there is beauty in imperfection (like the art of Kintsugi) and being different from the crowd, using “beautiful” to describe sunsets and warthogs alike, and taking time to teach our children through our own actions not just words, soon we will change the way the world thinks of beauty. It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with our children.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

 

How are you demonstrating your definition of beauty to your kids?

 

Building our community at the grassroots

 

Posted in Faith, Life, Parenting, Relationships

Rethinking Beauty (Part 1)

 

Who has your child’s ear (and eyes) about what beauty means?

What does beautiful mean to you and how are you demonstrating that to your child?

I’ve been thinking about these two things lately because of this beautiful young girl below (my youngest) and a blog post I recently read.

Earlier this week, Beauty Beyond Bones author Caralyn shared a post that made me cheer from my seat as a woman, mother, and former mirror addict. She shared her observations of how we are all learning beauty from the same places and therefore we are all starting to look alike. She then shared where true beauty comes from and how we can know our beauty beyond the mirror. Take a moment to read the post and subscribe if you aren’t already. I’ll wait here while you do.

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the post and even looked around at some of her other ones. (If not, do yourself a favor and look around when you have some time, some of my favorite recipe and lifestyle posts she wrote are here, here, here, and here.)

As a woman and mother, what I thought was best about Caralyn writing this post is that she is a beautiful, young woman sharing her thoughts about beauty, and saying that it is okay to not look like others and to not get your identity mixed up with what you look like on your outer layers. It made me think:

1. Who has our children’s ear when it comes to beauty?

2. What are we demonstrating to our children about beauty?

Let’s dive in! This post will be longer than my typical non-education posts so I’ve divided it into three sections but I hope you will find it beneficial, especially if you are a parent to young children.

Who Has Your Child’s Ear About Beauty

One of the things my oldest (24) and I used to discuss is how there weren’t enough people who the world considered beautiful talking about how beauty is more than skin deep. It was people the world dismissed who often spoke up about abstinence, purity, beauty, dating, sex. When she was younger the people who stood for abstinence were people she and her friends didn’t really see as having a shot sleeping with anyone anyway, so taking them seriously when they told this group of beautiful teenage girls to save themselves for marriage often carried with it this suggestion that if you did, you would end up overweight, not so pretty by the world’s standards, and alone. There weren’t stylish, pretty girls who these girls looked up to sending the message that waiting was okay and that you didn’t need to wear makeup to be beautiful.

She and her friends wanted to hear someone they looked up to, who wore the types of clothes they wore or would like to wear, and did her hair the way they did or would like to do theirs speak up. When you are a teenager and you don’t feel good about yourself, seeing such a person stand up for the things your parents are teaching you brings a new level of truth to the conversation. Suddenly you feel like maybe it is possible that you are beautiful too. And then, as you believe you are beautiful, you start making choices that bring out that beauty on an outer level that looks more like what the world accepts. It’s an interesting thing how our brains work. The more we change inwardly, the more we become beautiful to others outwardly.

 

 

While outward beauty isn’t everything, it’s what teens and young people focus on because most aren’t being taught to look within and to see their beauty from their maker or for their qualities. When they are young, we haven’t pinched their cheeks while saying, “My goodness what a great sense of humor you have” or “Your giving really mesmerizes me”. We instead talk about how pretty or cute they are, how they have such beautiful eyes, and how they are so thin. In American culture, I am not sure any little chubby child has ever been told how beautiful they are by anyone outside their home; and if we are honest, within the home they are usually being placed on diets and told they need to eat smaller portions or less sweets. They are children and we have been the ones feeding them, yet we put the onus on them to change and it leads to them hating themselves and pushes them into the arms of the stars and outside world. I am thankful for the stars like Abby Anderson (above) who have made it a point to share various standpoints that are not as popular as the messages being thrown at our children in health class (no one is too young – elementary and middles schools are teaching on safe sex), from their peers, and through the music they listen to. You can barely find a prime time television show or children’s movie without references to sex and beauty, which seem to go together if you listen to culture.

Miranda Kerr Quote

As parents, what we tend to do is look for someone who looks like our children to inspire them. But when is the last time you looked to someone else who was broke as inspiration for how to become wealthy? When is the last time you looked to someone who was unemployed to get a job? Chances are you went to someone who wasn’t in your situation, who had just gotten out of it or who hadn’t been in it for a really long time. As parents, instead of trying to find people who look like your overweight child or who have the same mental illness your child has, spend time looking for advocates of what your child is experiencing or living with. Find Stars your child can look up, even if those stars don’t consider themselves such. (I highly doubt Carolyn would call herself a star, yet my youngest and I enjoy reading and discussing her posts because they bring up real-life issues and concerns that she will address as she grows up. If my youngest was to meet Caralyn while we are in the City one day, I promise you she would think she was a star.)

As you find people to introduce to your child, take note of who they are already listening to. As a mom who listens to a lot of worship, Christian rap, Country, and instrumental music, you can imagine my face and how my jaw dropped wide open when my youngest came home rapping lyrics to a song from a singer whose album cover turned my own face red! As I sat with her to discuss what she believed the lyrics meant and then listened as she shared that my oldest had told her “kitty cat” didn’t meant a pet so she assumed it meant something else but didn’t want to think about what because it was just a song, I realized she is that age where she is going to be learning more from the world around her than I will be able to keep up with. This conversation led to a bigger conversation around how people portray themselves and what it means to live authentically. She defined living authentically as being beautiful; and I agree.

Ali Surprised

When you’re looking at the people your children follow and who they look up, remember to come down to their level. To talk through things with them on their train of thought, as this is the only way you’ll be able to help direct them towards the best role models. And, accept the folks they may enjoy listening to who aren’t the best role models for how you want your child to live. (These people can be good role models for how not to live and why it’s important to make certain decisions in life.) It’s important to think of someone’s overall lifestyle and not just their public one when thinking of who your child will listen to. For example, there may be some parts of Lady Gaga’s lifestyle that Christian parents try to shield their children from, but in doing so they also shield them from seeing a strong, beautiful woman who stands up for mental illness awareness and education, promotes using your voice to help the voiceless, and has come into her own sense of beauty in front of our eyes over the years. When she came onto the scene, I remember the rumors and bullying she endured that would no way be accepted today. However, in those days it was spread all over the media with closeups of regions no person should ever have a camera held towards (in my opinion). As a parent, and for me even more so as a Christian parent, I want my child exposed to both role models who I approve of and endorse – such as Carolyn and Lauren Daigle – but I also want her to be exposed to artists and role models whose lives don’t model what I would like to see her become. By having both, we can compare articles she reads, videos she watches, and televisions shows / movies that we see and discuss which elements she agrees with and which she wouldn’t want to add to her own life. This allows her to have a well-rounded view of the world that doesn’t cause for college to become a huge coming out party where she suddenly realizes she isn’t in Kansas anymore and instead continues living the truth she has created through prayer, exploration, and faith. After all, the definition of what we define as beautiful has changed over the years and will continue to do so, and if she can see various role models who share their beliefs in what it looks like as I teach her about God and what He says about her, she will have both sets of information to process and will be able to choose which one she desires as her truth.

We can spend all day talking about who our kids are listening to and what message is coming through to them, but it’s about what we DO and how we help them from this day forward that will matter. In Part 2 (posting at 4 pm ET), I address what we are demonstrating to our children about how we see beauty and it may be a hard post to digest but it will be worth the reflection and conversation if you have young children, teens, and young adults in your life looking to you for guidance.

 

 

Building our community at the grassroots

 

Posted in Healthy Eating, Parenting

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids & Websites With More Ideas

One of our goals as a family this year is to become healthier by becoming more active, choosing healthier portions, and learning more about what we put into our bodies. My youngest is super fit and doesn’t need to lose weight. The rest of us are working on both weight loss and better eating.

Over the years, I’ve read everything I can get my hands on for the best way to ensure we are at optimal performance and this year, I’m slowly putting things into practice by packing my daughter healthier lunches that will increase energy and clear thinking while at school. Berries, salad, and soups have been great for her each day and she feels special that I took time to pack a lunch. It doesn’t have to be over the top.

We went out and purchased at the beginning of the year a lunchbox that included a bento box with ice pack between two levels of containers so it would keep cold foods cold. We purchased a Thermos to keep the hot foods hot so we could increase options for her lunch. Some days we use these products and other days she takes a sandwich and chips, as she is a child and enjoys the simple things sometimes.

Here are some websites where we get our ideas for lunches to send with her:

What are some of your favorite sites for healthy meals?