Blind to Beautiful

This morning, walking my dog down Sydenstriker, I watched a little girl learn to use a white-tipped cane. Nine-thirty in the morning, most of her friends were in the school building she practiced in front of. An older lady stood protectively between her and the street, holding her own white-tipped cane.

Like metronomes in perfect sync, their canes scanned the sidewalk 10 inches before out of sightthem. The little girl had wild brown hair. Her profile was slight, a little beanpole dressed in a hot pink t-shirt and blue jeans. With her left hand she clung to the older woman’s shirt sleeve.

I passed them in seconds and just as quickly they passed through my thoughts and into catalogued, insignificant memory. Until this afternoon.

My husband and I sped along Braddock Road, grumbling as the golden, spring sun gave way to April showers. I was thinking about my yoga practice this morning, how I feel different, more whole after yoga than after other workouts. I like that feeling of knowing I’m alive, feeling graceful, collected and yet free at the same time. But I wondered, did I work out hard enough? I don’t feel especially fatigued or sore like I do after other workouts. Did I do enough?

These fears harken back to 15 years of pushing all my physical limits: Too little food, too much exercise. I did it all in pursuit of a goal – to look beautiful, to look competent, to look powerful, to look in control.

Recently, I read an article by one of my favorite people, Amy Dardis, referencing another of my favorite people, Esse Johnson. She spoke of knowing her body. My thoughts skipped.  How do I know my body? I do know that it can hear and feel and taste and see and touch and smell and walk and sleep and love and care and hurt and bleed and write and cook and listen and…

So why am I so much more worried about what I see than all the other things that my body is and does? Would I dare tell that little girl that she is missing the essential gift of life because she cannot see whether she is thin or beautiful or young or old?

What would happen if I didn’t worry so much about what I look like and instead, learned to focus on what I sound like, feel like, smell like? Beauty can be expressed those ways too.

Do I speak gently and joyfully, encouraging others and laughing at the lighter things and praying for the harder things?
Do I smell fresh and delicious to my husband?
Do I feel strong and capable?
Do my hands feel comforting to mourners?
Does my voice sound like praise?
I never smell Amber Romance, or Santa Fe perfume without melting into sweet thoughts of my mother.
I can’t contain the joy in my heart when I hear my niece tell me that a duck says, “Kack, kack”.

So why is what I look like so much more significant to me that all the other aspect of who I am? I wonder.

Resonance

An echo in my spirit,

Like a pulsing in my chest,

An ache in my soul.

Life struck

by felt-bound hammer, and

Days pounded repeatedly, my

Pain cloaked in mercy.

Your Spirit sings near me and

Tremors erupt in my belly.

Notes of resonance, harmony.

Your voice beckons all my straining

Peels the silence away.

With strikes and songs, strokes and pelts.

You coax the music of my life

To resonate and harmonize

Where beauty lay cold and shrouded under cobwebs. 

Abandoned, deemed useless and out of tune.

You stood nearby and hung your notes between us.

I felt the rumble in my belly –

chords of life vibrating with mysterious life. Creator Life.

Then Jesus, you sat and touched the keys,

Pulled your fingers down the dusty keys,

And crescendo followed trill as songs I long thought died

came forth.

Missing Beauty

Like a child at Christmas

New to a world of unbridled joy

Toys and gifts unshelved and labeled just for me

Scantily wrapped in bows to entice

And to celebrate the more beautiful giver

With an eye to Glory and Grace.

 

But I ran through the piles,

Stepped on a few.

Past love and peace and a new set of eyes.

Past my new heart and a clean mind.

I reached for the lowest branch,

And plucked an eye catching bauble.

As I turned the plastic charm around in my palm

Narcissus, I boasted in my glossy reflection.

Oh the prize of this cheap decor.

 

But a hook skewered my finger

Biting my pink, immature flesh

It held and my blood dripped upon

The beautiful gifts meant for me.

Blueberries for Your Face!

Most of us grew up on blueberry pancakes. We’ve been told by our doctors that blueberries are a great source of antioxidants. But, did you ever consider smearing blueberries on your face?

Given that this is National Blueberry Month, I promised you four Monday’s of blueberry recipes. This series is part of my journey to find joy in food. Years of an eating disorder destroyed my godly view of food and put me on defensive against every occasion to consume calories. So, I am excited to find dozens of uses for each of God’s colorful, delicious creations.

Enter, the Toning Blueberry Facial Mask!

Blend together equal amounts of blueberries, plain yogurt and honey (recommended 2/3 cup) with 1 T oatmeal.

Pour your finished mask into a resealable container and use. Lightly apply the mask with the pads of your fingers, and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Rinse with a damp cloth and cool water.

 

What’s it take to build an idol?

I never melted down my gold,

Or fashioned wood to sacred behold.

I never bowed the knee to anyone,

I know and love Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

So why this prick inside my heart,

A self-made, love-demanding part

Of my worship, time and money.

My sweet, unassuming little dog.

My desire for enviable beauty.

Respect, admiration – to be someone else’s idol.

Oh Jesus, I am sick.

Send the gospel deep into my soul.

Cut, excise, remove unfaithful parts of me.

And Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, cleanse and make me whole.

 

How expensive is your beauty?

Tell yourself the truth.   How much do you think you spend on beauty products?  Or should I more accurately call them “self-esteem products?”  I confess that when I buy a new mascara, or spend copious amounts of time trying to determine the right shade of foundation, or agonize over what color of nail polish is the most “me,” or wonder if my new shampoo makes my hair feel limp – every time, I am trying to make myself more impressive to other people.  Why else do I lighten my hair for summer and bury my white shoes in the fall?  Because the world tells me that’s what looks good.

Now, shift your train of thought with me.  When we are feeling more serious, we ponder things like global hunger, poverty and children without clean water.  Did know that the amount of money Americans spend on beautification is almost equivalent to the amount of money it would take to eradicate world hunger?

Constance Rhodes is the founder of Finding Balance and The True Campaign, and True Sisterhood.  I listen to the True Sisterhood podcast frequently.  I just finished the episode called Chaos and Compassion. 

The challenge, and I’m going to echo it here: cut out a few things from your beauty budget and boost a child’s joy and hope, instead of your self-esteem.  Try it.

Compassion International is only one ministry that works to meet the needs of children in third world countries.  I am choosing to sponsor a child through them because they share Jesus, the true hope of the world and the living water, while they are meeting physical needs.

In the next few weeks I will share more about the child my husband and I are sponsoring.  I would love to know if you take my challenge.   Have you already been sponsoring a child or ministering in another way? I would love to hear about it.