Friday, March 13, 2015

{Godly Beauty}: Jess Mckinney

Jess is a beautiful person, both inside and out. Her godly beauty just shines through in everything that she does. Her deep passion for life is inspiring, as well as her faith in the Lord.
I hope you'll enjoy on what she has to say!
 
                                                                     Jess from imjessmarie

What do you believe was God's purpose in creating you?
This is so crazy because it never ceases to amaze me how much LOVE God places in what He creates. He literally breathes and touches things while bringing them to life in ways no human could ever imagine. It never gets old. I believe God crafts dreams and passions into people as a way of making them come to life. This purpose God has for my life is so much bigger than me. I see glimpses of this all the time. It really just comes down to the reality that God loves what He creates. He is in love with what He has created. He calls it good. Sin aside. He didn't allow you to be born without saying that you were good and you were hand-designed. If we walked out of that reality, it would change so much of body image issues. He gave you the nose you have because He loved it. He hand-designed every piece of you because He loved it. He made my legs longer than most everyone else because He thought it was beautiful. He just touches things as He creates and makes them come to life. I think when we begin to tap into the reality of His design & heart behind our bodies, we begin to come to life in the way He breathed on it to be. Fear is cast out by perfect Love. We were designed by Love.

How do you cope with body image? Who are some people (and Bible verses) that help you through it?
  If you would have met me five years ago or even three years ago, you would have such a difference answer. It's so insane how God just begins to show us what He sees in the world and we are changed in those moments. I believe body image is not a physical thing but a heart stance. When I begin to believe and walk in the reality that God absolutely adores everything that I am and look like, every other fear just falls to the ground. But when I begin to look around at how I look in comparison to others, it's like that fear crawls up from the ground and puts a mask on my face. I think one of the most freeing things for me was realizing that all the girls on those magazines are all fake. It's crazy. . . They actually take parts of like 4-5 different girls and they photoshop them into one girl. So it is fueling a reality that can never be attained. It makes girls something to be consumed rather than cherished. So there is this drive behind the message saying "girls are consumables" and that just pushes everyone into the rat race of poor self image. But IN GOD, we have such a different approach than anything else and it just floods the atmosphere of our hearts. Even though we are in that culture where what you look like matters the most, God says that our hearts being in love with Him matters the most and it literally changes what we look like on the outside. God loves us when we are hurricanes. He loves us when we are still. He loves us every moment... every place.. never stop in His love. He is after us in Love... He will never leave. He just keeps coming and remains. He remains. One of the deepest reminders of this has been my boyfriend. Over the past two years, he has just really cherished me in a way that showed me Jesus. it was such a tangible reminder of what God sees on a larger scale. society wants to tell you that you are missing something & that you need something in order to be beautiful. but God says that we are WHOLE in Him and we are so complete. He would have never allowed us to be born if He did not think we were exactly how He wanted us to be... so so so rad, girls. this is so good. my boyfriend has helped me see in deeper ways how much Jesus loves us & how much we are WHOLE because of Him.. so when two whole people in God love each other, the entire relationship just has to change. He has served me faithfully and one of the ways that has helped me grow in self image is realizing my worth as an individual to God. my identity is not wrapped up in people but rather Jesus... i think we see that but when we begun to get that, our entire hearts just begin to beat to a different drum than ever before. i spent this past summer the majority of the time with my hair on the top of my head covered in sand from the beach with sunburned nose and no makeup. i don't think makeup is wrong at all but i am telling you that there was something so amazing about realizing God just adores us completely absolutely just the simple way we are. when i wake up and my hair is in five hundred directions, His heart literally swells because He is so proud of His creation. THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT YOU. HOW INSANE is that??? It gets to me every time and I cannot stay the same. Those fears just pick up their backpacks and hit the road because God is on the move.

What would you say to your younger self if you were going through this at a young age? oh my darling sweet girl. it is okay to leave your room without makeup. your struggle is not about boys or beauty. you are altogether beautiful. you are altogether flawlessly made. you are so worth it. just come as you are with all your aching. just let Me love you. just let Me hold you and tell you what I think about you. Love is real. Love is Me. it is not found in those boys. it is not found in starving yourself. it is not found in bleeding arms. I never leave you empty. so walk into victory, darling one. pull your hair on top of your head in the most messy bun. wash your makeup off and begin laughing. walk out that door in victory. I sing over you songs of joy and deliverance. you have been liberated from this bondage, dear one. You are a daughter. even if you feel like you aren't loved at home, you are a daughter to Me. you are a princess of the Most High God. this is now your identity. why does a princess try to change herself? but you are not a earthly princess. you are internal. you cannot die. you belong to Me. you are worth something. My love for you is deeper than the ocean. when you are free, why are you trying to walk in chains? if you are free, why are you still standing praising while wearing the chains? shake them off, my love. run up that mountain. let down your hair. weave flowers into your hair. watch this Love soak over you.

What do you think Adam and Eve looked like? This is so beautiful to think about. I think their noses were made by God perfectly and intrinsically. God's creativity was literally exploded on them and we see that today through every single person. There isn't one the same. So I think that they were not too different than ours but eternal. They never died. I have watched people just become more and more beautiful as they receive and give love. So as Adam and Eve received love from God and gave it to each other, i think they became more and more beautiful. I think there is an aspect that lasted beyond the realms of the fall into now. The most beautiful people I know are radically sold out for Jesus. Their bodies just shine.

The Bible indicates about the body and soul. To which is most important? I think they are so connected because we will continue to have both eternally. Our bodies will change, yes, and we will get our heavenly bodies but the crazy thing is that we will still be recognizable... So maybe that means that we will keep our noses or we will keep our smiles. But better yet, what if the thing we have always had a hard time accepting about ourselves is the thing that we keep... how crazy would that be? How crazy would it be to see our thighs that we always struggled with or our pant size or our crooked smile and THAT IS THE VERY THING GOD DELIGHTS TO KEEP. i don't know what His dreams are but they will be so good.

 How does your body reflect your soul? I have grown to believe so much over my life that what is in your heart simply must come out. When a heart is free, you can just tell from the outside. It's like it simply cannot be held in. Read this.. I keep going back to it: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/06/dear-women-daughters-when-youre-tired-of-media-voices-telling-you-what-beauty-love-is/ How does the person's physical appearance manifest their soul? The more we receive love from God, the more our souls come alive and that literally just changes people's physical appearance. One of my favorite people in the world is named Kacie. she hardly never wears makeup and she is literally the most beautiful person i have ever witnessed. her eyes shine with a joy that cannot be contained in this world.

Should a Christian be concerned about their physical appearance? I believe that our bodies are literal homes for Jesus' heart. Do your keep your house constantly cluttered while never taking out the trash? Or do you take time to steward the little place God gave you to live?

 How much time should you spend to keep your body in good shape? I am fitness geek and spend time almost every day in the gym. I absolutely love a good sweat and keeping in shape. But, sometime last year I personally stopped using headphones. I didn't want to tune out anything that God wanted to show me on my long runs. Some of the most gentle and sweet moments lately with God have been during these times. I use workouts to clear my mind and just pray for different things that God is showing me. I have heard of people bringing notecards on their runs where they pray through the note cards. Some of my friends listen to worship music and have the most amazing time with God. Some of my other Jesus loving friends put on some beats and goooo. haha.

  Can one take concern for physical fitness to the point of idolatry. What would be the indicators of this? I think how much time should be translated to - where is my heart? If my heart is simply in making my body something like someone else,than it just tells those fears to come back in and it is a scary scary downhill tram that you can't win unless there's a heart change. you will never be satisfied because once you finally reach the ideal you saw in some place, you will see another that you need more. it's such a rat race that is full of lies. God just speaks FREEDOM over us in such raw and real ways.

When it comes to physical appearance who matters more; God or man? What difference should the answer to that question make to me? The theme of this entire message is about Love. you are His Beloved.. He never disappoints When you try to live for humans, you never can be satisfied.

What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you? The most beautiful women I have seen have physical reminders of the way they have loved. The crinkled face from smiling, the hands that are strong from serving, the veins that bulge from arms that have picked up five hundred loads of laundry, and the eyes that simply cannot stop shining no matter how many years of battle they have seen... Thank you sweet friends for reading my words... I am so on this journey into freedom with you. I would love to hear from you. Come write me at imjessmarie.wordpress.com
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Saturday, March 7, 2015

{Godly Beauty}: Melanie Knapp

Melanie has a beautiful soul. Her warm and gentle spirit just shines through her actions and words. I hope you'll be inspired by what she has to say. 


 Melanie from Refrains of Grace

What do you believe was God's purpose in creating you?
It may seem old fashioned to return to the catechism's for my answer, but I've been reading Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp lately and he quotes the Shorter Catechism: 
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

God made us for Himself; to glorify Him and be used as a vessel. Ephesians 1 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace with which He has blessed us in the Beloved."

"He chose us…that we should be holy and blameless before Him."
"He predestined us for adoption as sons…according to the purpose of His will." 
He created me to glorify Him as His redeemed daughter.

How do you cope with body image? Who are some people (and Bible verses) that help you through it?
Growing up I really struggled with body image, especially being in a family where pretty much everyone else is in awesome shape. But the Lord has really been addressing my heart in that I'm not called to take care of body so that I look like a modern model. I'm called to be a steward of what God has given me--for His glory. There is a balance between not caring at all about your physical body, and making an idol of it. Personally, I think it is wise, and yes, even scriptural to take care of your body through exercise and healthy eating. However, the heart must be to do this for the glory of God and to better equip ourselves to more effectively serve Him. Exercise is proven to give you more energy and boost your metabolism, and I would rather be healthier and more alert for His service, than feeling slow and dragging every day. And on one side of things, how can I hike through Africa if I can't even jog two miles here at home? ;) 

Here are a few verses:

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). 

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:13-14).

What would you say to your younger self if you were going through this at a young age?

I would so try to gently but every so firmly exhort myself about needing to be alert to where I am allowing the culture, rather than Scripture to influence my perspective of myself and how the world should function. Through movies, posters, and shops in malls we are all sent a message of what our physical bodies and appearances should look like, what relationships and sex should look like, and what happily ever after is. And yet, lately, I've been realizing that these things are so contrary and twisted to what God has ordained. Movies are made up of stories that can have rough parts but are the perfect combinations all the "ideals" into one story with at least some type of happy ending. It doesn't always work that way. Relationships take work. Love isn't about feelings and actions and your stomach dropping out. Yes, those things will be involved, but true love is about actions that speak louder than words. Actions that say "I love you when you aren't perfect, and when you are sinning and when you don't do exactly what I want or think you should." True beauty in our culture is defined by looks and a decent personality. Scripture says that love is laying down your life for someone--there is no greater love than to lay down your life for someone--and yet the world has equated love to beauty. You're loved if your physically beautiful. And so then we see how women all throughout the ages have bred so much time, sweat, tears, and exhaustion into trying to make themselves more physically beautiful so that they will be loved. 
I'd tell myself its a filthily lie, because that isn't what love is. The Bible says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5). And in Romans 5:8, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13. True beauty is the character of your heart--but also, you are truly beautiful physically because that is just the way GOD made you…he gave you your body shape, your hair color, eye color, etc. Oh, that we would learn to be satisfied in how He has made us and then look more to addressing the attitude of our hearts. Because the pursuits of beauty that become all-consuming really just reveal a deeper heart problem of a lack of satisfaction in how God created us--instead of his "declared it good," we say "God, you messed up."

What do you think Adam and Eve looked like?

Honestly, this is a difficult question for me to answer. They were living in perfection, and I'm assuming their bodies were uniquely beautiful. I'm guessing they were without blemish…and perfectly beautiful however God created them. :)

The Bible indicates about the body and soul. To which is most important?

Absolutely the soul. The soul is eternal; the soul can be saved or damned. Matthew 10:28 says "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body." The body is not eternal in the same way that the soul is…1 Corinthians 15:42-49 talks more about the physical body/spiritual body etc.

How does your body reflect your soul? How does the person's physical appearance manifest their soul?

How you dress and look is a reflection of your soul. Being severely overweight or underweight reveals a deeper heart issue of dissatisfaction or idolatry. Even looking unkempt and unclean reveals a lack of diligence or a deeper heart issue, and dressing immodestly is no different--sometimes I do think it is done out of ignorance, but more often I believe it is related to a deeper heart issue. 

Should a Christian be concerned about their physical appearance?

Yes, if the motive is the glory of God. We need to be asking "am I dressing to draw attention to myself?" And realize that being unkempt, dressing frumpy or with a lack of taste, or dressing modestly but flashy can all fall in the category of drawing attention to ourselves. 
My goal should be the glory of God through dress that reveals a God of order and beauty and reflects a heard devoted to Him.

How much time should you spend to keep your body in good shape?

I don't think this is a question that has only one right answer. I think it ties into the question below. Are you seeking to take care of your body for the glory of the Lord or are you making it an idol? It's interesting, even the Proverbs 31 woman "dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong" (Proverbs 31:!7). It is good and right for us to take care of our bodies, but we need to make sure this is not an obsession!

Can one take concern for physical fitness to the point of idolatry. What would be the indicators of this?

I think these are some questions to ask yourself to evaluate whether or not physical fitness is an area of idolatry in your life:

Are you paranoid about EVERY SINGLE THING you eat? Are you always talking about your physical appearance? Are you constantly comparing yourself to others or wishing you looked like that "someone"? Are you ALWAYS counting calories to where you can't even "give thanks" for the food God has provided and blessed you with? Are you consistently talking down your physical appearance? What is your motive when you get dressed for the day? Are you spending so much time focusing on physical fitness that it is taking the place of more important things like ministry and serving others etc? Are you exercising or watching what you eat with the glory of God as your motive?

When it comes to physical appearance who matters more; God or man? What difference should the answer to that question make to me?

God. Consider this. As believers, we are no longer our own, but were bought with the price of a perfect man's blood. I've been reading the book Pleasing People: How Not to be an Approval Junkie by Lou Priolo (talk about a CONVICTING book! Highly recommend). Speaking of the Pharisees it is written in John 12:43, "for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God." The Pharisees were constantly seeking the approval of man and Christ condemned them for it (Matthew 23:5-7). The nonbeliever lives for himself and his own desires, however, as believers our whole perspective and pursuit in life changes. Suddenly we are living for another, and seeking His glory and honor. If I am truly a Christian, God's opinion ought to and will matter more to me than the opinion of the world. He's the one who died to save me when I couldn't save myself. Shouldn't I care more of what He thinks than the world?  We have to continually be evaluating our hearts to see if there are areas where we have blindly been allowing ourselves to be motivated and influenced by the approval of others rather than the approval of God.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2).

 What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you?

"Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear--but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God' sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…" (1 Peter 3:3-5a)

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:30-31). 

When I think about the women who are truly beautiful in my eyes, it is because of their hearts for the Lord and the fact that they are pursuing finding their identity in Him alone. They are marked by deep abiding joy in the Gospel and a radiant love and reverence towards their Savior. They are marked by selflessness in service, consistent self-denial, their faith and quiet confidence in their God. They know Him and are resting in Him and their faces radiate with this passion. And they dress in a manner that does not make me constantly think about their clothes. They have a simplistic, beautiful, and orderly way of clothing themselves. They are physically beautiful because they are spiritually beautiful. They are beautiful because they fear the Lord.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

{Godly Beauty}: Samantha Hartzell

Samantha and I have been long-time blogging friends (and pen-pals!) for quite awhile, and we've gotten to known each other pretty well since then. Her artistic and polite personality shines through her photography, words, and actions. Let her words inspire you in your walk with the Lord!

 

                                                      Samantha from All Things Beautiful

What do you believe was God's purpose in creating you?
I believe  God created me to honor and glorify Him with my life and to share Him with others.

How do you cope with body image? Who are some people (and Bible verses) that help you through it?
I honestly haven't struggled with this a lot, but some verses that do come to mind are 1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Peter 3:3-4 and Psalm 139:14.
We are created in the image of God and should honor God with our bodies, which means taking care of them and seeing ourselves as God see's us - perfectly and wonderfully made. 

Should a Christian be concerned about their physical appearance? To some extent, yes. We should desire to honor God with our bodies, which means taking care of ourselves. But we should also not allow it to become an obsession or idol, which isn't pleasing to God

How much time should you spend to keep your body in good shape? There are so many different opinions on this! I think it really just comes down to each person as an individual. How much exercise are you able to fit in your lifestyle without it taking over or taking away from other important duties? Do you feel like you are exercising enough to stay healthy? Or are you obsessing? (most of us know when we are obsessing, because we tend to put exercise above all other duties, it's constantly on our minds, we feel like we've never done enough, etc.)


What would you say to your younger self if you were going through this at a young age?
I'd tell myself that the thing that matters most is what God thinks of me, not what anyone else might tell me. The world focuses so much on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. I'd tell myself that beauty needs to come from within first, and when you're living a life of surrender to Christ the beauty that is inside of you will just naturally flow out!

What do you think Adam and Eve looked like?
Wow, interesting question. I have no clue!


The Bible talks about the body and soul. Which is most important?
The soul, because even though our earthly bodies will age our soul will remain the same, and, if we take the time to cultivate it, will grow more beautiful with age. And those people who have a beautiful soul are attractive no matter what their age!


Can one take concern for physical fitness to the point of idolatry. What would be the indicators of this? Spending excessive time exercising, obsession over exercise, or letting it consume our thought-life could all be factors.

When it comes to physical appearance who matters more; God or man? God! Because while man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at us as a whole person, at both the outward AND inner man. It can get exhausting when you try to please man, because there are so many different standards and opinions
​on what is pretty, in shape, handsome, etc. But when we focus on our inward selves and on honoring God in every area of our lives we are able to completely focus on God and what He wants for us.

 What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you? A bright, genuine smile, sparkling eyes, a sweet, loving nature and a willingness to serve others
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

{Godly Beauty}: Jessica Rackley

Jessica and I have met once before back in 2012. We had such a great time exploring the zoo, talking about our lives and dreams, and eating at the Machine Shed in Iowa. Now, almost 3 years later, she's a wife to her husband, Austin, and a mother to her young son, Aaron, and her faith has gotten ever so stronger. Please welcome my good friend, Jessica!


                                                               (photo by Johanna Grace)



What do you believe was God's purpose in creating you?

In order to answer that question, I have to talk about Adam. He was the first person God created. Adam walked with God, was close to Him. God desires closeness from those He's created. Scripture confirms this, and says that God created us (me!) because He loved us before we were even created, and because He wanted us to be able to experience all the good things He's made. I believe God's purpose for me is to draw closer to Him with everything that I do, thereby being a light for Him to others.

How do you cope with body image? Who are some people (and Bible verses) that help you through it?

A few years ago I was coping with the idea of worldly beauty very poorly -- constantly picking at myself and miserable because I didn't understand just how precious I was - how precious we ALL are - in the eyes of the Father. My husband has been the biggest help to me in overcoming self-esteem issues. By showing me the love of Messiah in the way that he treats me, he showed me that I was valuable in a way that I could understand. One of the verses that has been a big help to me is Genesis 1:27, which is the verse that says man and woman were made in the image of God. How could I be unhappy with the way I look when God says that He created me in HIS image?

What would you say to your younger self if you were going through this at a young age?
Growing up, my parents were very strict about purity and modesty, to the point where it became an idol in my relationship with Christ. I had to learn to let go of my obsession with being "modest enough" - my own form of vanity - and learn to let Christ's example of love shining through me be my standard for beauty. If I could say one thing to myself from eight years ago, it would be that nothing is more important than the grace of Christ.

What do you think Adam and Eve looked like?

Being the first ever humans to be created, I'm sure they were unimaginably beautiful. Like us, they were made in the likeness of God, but unlike us, their bodies had not yet been corrupted by generations of sin and deterioration. If we were to see them today, I think we'd compare them to angels.

The Bible talks about the body and soul. Which is most important?
Romans 8:13 says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Our bodies are incredibly important -- likened to temples unto Christ (1 Corinthians 6) which should of course be kept clean and maintained. But our souls are the part of us that hold a relationship with Messiah, and will carry on once our flesh has died away. What's most important is to make sure that our souls are pure through obedience to God.

How does your body reflect your soul?

Proverbs talks about the way our countenance is influenced by the state of our hearts. When we hold onto things like bitterness and regret, it shows itself in the way we carry ourselves and the expressions we make. In order to have a pleasant outward appearance, we should let go of all malice and conceit and exemplify the fruits of the spirit instead.

Should a Christian be concerned about their physical appearance?
I think so, yes. Though Paul preaches against vanity (i.e., caring too much about how we dress or look), our physical appearance is a form of communication to the world. It's a reflection of what is in our hearts. We should most definitely be considerate of others with the way we dress, and set a good example for Christ.

How much time should you spend to keep your body in good shape?
In my opinion, staying in shape should be a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute lifestyle that includes so much more than exercise. It means making the right choices with regards to what you eat, staying hydrated, etc. It should by no means be an obsession, but I think a lifestyle that's natural and healthy is the kind God wants us to live. That's why he took such great care with the Israelites by telling them what animals he had created for consumption, and which were "unclean."

Can one take concern for physical fitness to the point of idolatry. What would be the indicators of this?
Absolutely. As I said before, Paul preached against caring too much about our outward appearance. I would say one example of physical fitness becoming idolatry would be taking steroids, which can ruin your body permanently, in order to achieve a more ideal physical appearance.

When it comes to physical appearance who matters more; God or man? What difference should the answer to that question make to me?
God always matters more, and His opinion of His people is apparent throughout scripture: "Adonai doesn’t see the way humans see — humans look at the outward appearance, but Adonai looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) When God looks at us, he doesn't care how much we weigh or how we fix our hair. He cares about how we treat others. In God's eyes, we are beautiful when we obey HIm and serve others.

It's very important to understand God's take on beauty because when we look at ourselves negatively, we are looking at one of God's treasures negatively. We are saying that this creation he poured so much of Himself into -- something made in His own image -- is "not good enough." The Psalms say that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made," and that is cause for praising the Lord. If we don't believe we are wonderfully made, how will this affect our ability to worship Him?

What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you?
The same thing that makes a man or boy beautiful to me -- actions that produce the fruits of the spirit. I see beauty when someone is bringing people joy, treating others with kindness and grace, exemplifying patience and self-control, being faithful to a friend... These are the kinds of things that make people attractive, in my mind.
(photo by Johanna Grace)

BIO:
Jessica Rackley is a wife and mother living in Phoenix, Arizona. She enjoys multi-media art journaling, and is the managing editor for Grafted Magazine. You can find her at her blog, or on twitter here.
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

{Godly Beauty}: Johanna Schnakenberg


 One of my dear friends, Johanna, is here to share her testimony of godly beauty. Her heart and soul are both inspiring and uplifting, and her beauty shines beautifully in her radiant smile. Please welcome her to the blog!

                                                             Johanna of Johanna Grace
                                                (photo courtesy of Lindsay Dedrickson)

What do you believe was God's purpose in creating you?
He created me to glorify Him. His reason in creating all of that comes down to that, to bless God and bless the peoples of the earth so that all will bless His name at the end of days. 


How do you cope with body image? Who are some people (and Bible verses) that help you through it?

When I was younger, I had many problems with body image. I’ve been overweight since I was 6 years old and though it was not an unhealthy weight, nothing anyone did or said could convince me that I was beautiful. It wasn’t until I was 16 when I decided that no matter what I truly thought about myself, I only get one body, and I’m going to love it more than anyone else could. I’ve asked God to help me against the temptation to believe the lie that I’m not beautiful. It’s easy to feel bad about how you look when you’re comparing and agreeing with that voice in your head saying “You’re not good enough, you’re not beautiful.” 

A passage that always helped me was Genesis 1:26-27 
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[a] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

God created us in His image, body and soul. We lose sight of that easily. There’s a lot of distractions and culture telling us that’s how we’re supposed to be. But if God loves us, not despite who we are, but because of who we are, then He can teach us to do the same. 

Another thing that helps me “cope” with body image is calling others beautiful. I have put in my heart that I refuse to be jealous of another beautiful woman. If a woman is skinny, she’s beautiful, and I want to show her God’s love. If a woman is fat, she’s beautiful and deserves God’s love. We need to stop the comparison because everyone is strikingly different and lovely, that’s part of what makes us human. 

What would you say to your younger self if you were going through this at a young age?
Sweetheart, it gets better You are beautiful, you are loved and someday you’ll love yourself more than anyone could.  xoxo

What do you think Adam and Eve looked like?
I’ve always imagined them to be very dark skinned, very tall, very muscular. But, they probably looked nothing like we imagine with our minds tainted but the current ideal of beauty.

The Bible indicates about the body and soul. To which is most important?
The soul. You can’t be true to yourself and God if your soul is rotten to the core. The time we put into making our bodies more appealing should be nothing compared to the time we spend caring for others, speaking kind words spoken from holy lips that bless God. We should be praying constantly for God to renew our spirits and the attitude of our minds. (Ephesians 4:23)

How does your body reflect your soul?

The word talks about every aspect of your life reflecting God’s light, and if His light is in my soul, it shows in the way I walk, the way I listen and talk to people. Your character is part of your soul, and your body is what shows who you are.

How does the person's physical appearance manifest their soul?
Like I said above, your body speaks for the soul. It’s your facial expressions, and the interest you show in your eyes, the way your hands clench when you’re angry, the way you lean into a conversation with someone you like.

Should a Christian be concerned about their physical appearance?
Yes, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. Christians should be concerned that their appearance is glorifying God in every way.

How much time should you spend to keep your body in good shape?
As much as you want if God is your focus. I love working out because it’s the perfect time to get in touch with my body and have personal time talking to God when there are no other interruptions.

Can one take concern for physical fitness to the point of idolatry. What would be the indicators of this?
Absolutely! Anything we put above God is an idol. If you’re stressed about not getting in your workout for the day, if you’re not eating what you should because you don’t want your body to change, you could be close to idolatry. Ask God to steer your heart in the way you should go!

When it comes to physical appearance who matters more; God or man? What difference should the answer to that question make to me?
Ultimately, the only thing that matters is how you’re pleasing God in all that you do. While it’s okay to care about the opinions of others in your life, and even the opinion you hold for yourself, at the end of the day, rather at the end of all days, He’s the only one that matters. Always strive for the best God has to offer, but prayerful that what you assume is the best is not the worlds idea. It’s easy to believe you should be one certain way and believe that it is what God has for you, but remember that He has a good and perfect plan.

What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you?
The way they talk to others, if their speech is kind and peppered with honesty and grace. If they are not afraid of their voices and using them to change a broken people. A woman is beautiful to me if they choose every day that they will not fall into the hatred of the world, and choose to be soft, and loving. Quick to defend the defenseless, quick to comfort, to protect, to be brave.
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