girltalk Blog

Jul 12

Teaching Our Children About Beauty

2017 at 9:54 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty | Motherhood

“How do we raise our children in this world of beauty gone bad?” This question—in the appendix of Mom and Nicole’s book, True Beautyis on the forefront of my mind these days as my three daughters are getting older. Two simple ideas have been guiding my approach of late.

First, I’ve been considering my own childhood experience. My mom—following the counsel and example of her own mom—was careful to minimize excessive focus on my appearance at a young age. It will come in its own in time, my grandma would tell her. No need to rush. In my case, I was so unconcerned about my personal appearance, that even when I had reached my mid-teens, “it” still hadn’t come.

My sisters (four and five years older than me) love to tell the story about how they finally went to my mom and asked if Janelle could maybe start brushing her hair occasionally. They had to appear in public with me after all. I’m happy to report that I now daily brush my hair and even wear make-up. “It” finally came! But looking back, I see how the lack of focus on my outward appearance when I was young was a means of protection in my life. I have found my struggle with worldly beauty standards to be minimal, and I know that is in part due to my mom’s wisdom in allowing me to be “young” and not hurrying my transition into adulthood.

Secondly, I was provoked by a conversation with a friend a couple years ago. After having four boys she became pregnant with a little girl. My friend was finally getting to design that girly-girl nursery and wanted to have a quote from True Beauty featured in her daughter’s room: “True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.” She wanted her daughter to grow up with a daily reminder of the true definition of beauty. Such a simple idea, yet the potential effect is immeasurable. I followed her example, hanging the same words on my daughters’ walls. My youngest can’t even read yet, but as soon as she can, I want thoughts of the Savior’s beauty to fill her mind each day.

Never has the world around us made it more difficult to raise daughters with a biblical understanding of beauty. But God has not called us to a hopeless task, and I encourage every mom (of girls and boys) to read True Beauty and spend careful time considering the appendix, “True Beauty and Our Children.”

“The beauty of grace that overwhelmed our own hearts through the gospel of Jesus Christ has lost none of its power. Our Savior can do for our children as he did for us. Grace makes true beauty irresistible. So we pray with hope in God to open the eyes of the hearts of our children to the dazzling beauty of Jesus Christ.” ~Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre

Jan 20

“I Cannot Trust My Husband When He Tells Me How Beautiful I Am”

2016 at 8:18 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

One time, after I finished speaking to a group of women on true beauty, a woman approached me and said: “That’s all fine and good, God’s perspective on beauty. And I believe it is true. But the reality is, that’s not the message my husband receives from our culture about beauty.”

She was worried: as she was getting older, her physical beauty was fading. It troubled her that her husband, like every other man in our society, was constantly bombarded with images idealizing youth and physical beauty.

Not to mention that her husband wasn’t at the women’s meeting to hear a message on biblical beauty. It’s not that he had given her a specific reason to worry; she just appraised the situation and thought it sufficient cause for concern.

Ours is a culture that unfairly holds women to an ideal standard of physical beauty. Since it is a kind of beauty most of us will never attain, and will certainly never be able to maintain, we may worry about how we are going to hold onto our husbands’ affection and attraction.

This is a recurring concern I hear as I interact with women about beauty. They wonder if they are still as beautiful to their husbands as their bodies change after childbirth and as they grow older.

“It Drives My Husband Crazy”

Even if their husbands attempt to reassure them, some women continue to worry:

“I have a problem with accepting that my husband finds me as beautiful as he says he does,” admits Stephanie.

This fear, along with our refusal to believe our husbands when they tell us we are beautiful, can cause tension in a marriage.

“I struggle with the fear I’m getting fat all the time. It drives my husband crazy writes Briana.

Jen says the same: “I don’t understand why I cannot trust my husband when he tells me how beautiful I am! It’s so annoying to him when I say, ‘You have to say that.’”

Friends, if there is one thing that frustrates a man, it is a wife who won’t believe him on this point. Men don’t like to feel as if they can never say or do enough to convince us that they appreciate our beauty. We do our marriages a disservice when we judge our husbands by failing to take them at their word.

But how do we deal with this fear that plagues so many of us?

The Cure for All Our Fears

We must trust God for our husbands.

God brings a man and woman together in marriage. He put affection in our husbands’ hearts for us, and he has a good plan for our marriages. This is not to say that we won’t face challenges, even severely painful ones. But no matter what trials we meet in our marriages, God will work them for our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28).

God is not distant from our marriages. He did not set them in motion only to leave them to run on their own. He is “a very present help” in marriage trouble (Ps. 46:1): present to care, strengthen, and comfort us, no matter our difficulties, big or small.

Confidence in God’s personal involvement and tender care frees us from fear. Our hope is not in our husbands or in our beauty, but in the character of God, the constancy of his affections, and the surety of his purposes.

How To Become More Beautiful

Here’s where it gets amazing: The more we trust God, the more attractive we become. A gentle and quiet spirit adorns the whole woman, making her beautiful from the inside out. Her lack of anxiety, restlessness, and neediness, her carefree confidence in God’s goodness makes her more lovely as the years go by.

This beauty is so profound, it can even attract unbelieving husbands to the gospel; they can be “won without a word” by the beauty of a wife’s godly character (1 Pet. 3:1-2).

~Adapted from True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre

Oct 22

The Good Kind of Comparison

2015 at 8:31 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

We see them when we walk into a room or stroll through a crowd: the women who are prettier than we are. They are everywhere, aren’t they?

Women have special powers of observation that enable us to instantly spot a woman with a prettier face, a more attractive figure, cuter clothes, or more of a flair for style than we do. We tend to rank everyone we meet on our own private beauty scale—placing them somewhere above or below ourselves.

Comparison is a common trap for women, and it can quickly turn into complaining. I wish I had a gorgeous head of hair like she does. I wish I were as skinny as her. She always wears such attractive clothes. I wish I could afford to dress like that. If only I were tall like her. If only I had her pretty face. Obsessive comparing and complaining leads to envy, and envy, as we know, makes us bitterly unhappy.

Why are we so unhappy that we don’t have so-and-so’s figure or that other girl’s face? It is most likely because we want the attention she receives for ourselves.

Instead, we must repent and choose to trust God. We must recall that it is God has decided what we look like and what every other woman looks like too. When we remember that He has ordained our beauty “lot” we can receive it as truly pleasant (Ps. 16:5–6). We can cease stressing, striving, and comparing.

In 1 Peter 3, God teaches us to trust him by giving us a different group of women to look at. Instead of picking out the prettiest girls in the room and marking them for resentment, we are to look to the godliest women:
These are the heroines, the company of holy women of the past who trusted in God. Instead of comparing our physical appearance to other women, we should be measuring our hidden beauty next to these women, and striving to be like them.

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:5–6).

Here’s the good news: while most of us will never be the prettiest girl in the room, we can, by the grace of God, become like these holy women. When we cast off comparison and clothe ourselves with a gentle and quiet spirit, we can become beautiful children of Sarah.

May 7

Is Motherhood the End of Beauty?

2015 at 6:46 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty | Motherhood

For a bunch of college girls, it was a shocking sight. Our friend, and the mother of twins, showed us her stretch marks and we, rather impolitely, stared back in dismay. Did pregnancy really carve such strange designs into a woman’s body?

“You will all look like this some day,” she warned, laughing at our expressions. “Of course, mine are worse, because I had twins, but if you get pregnant, you will get stretch marks.”

I’m glad I didn’t know then that in addition to stretch marks I would also have a c-section scar, plus two more long scars from emergency surgery following the delivery of my first child. My stomach now looks like a crudely drawn road map.

Pregnancy wreaks havoc on a woman’s body. Stretch marks and fat deposits, c-section scars and varicose veins…the list goes on. Then there is motherhood. Sleep deprivation digs dark pits underneath our eyes, bottle washing dries out our hands, our clothes don’t fit anymore and are dotted with spit-up. Our joints are stiff from hours of carpool and our muscles sore from carrying children and baby bags and pack and plays (and don’t forget the stroller!).

Whatever beauty we thought we had before we had children feels like a thing of the past. We worry about whether our husband will still find us attractive. We feel self-conscious and insecure about how we look to others.

But motherhood is not the end of beauty, it is an opportunity to become more beautiful. Moms may not get much time at the spa, but we have the chance to apply the godly woman’s beauty regimen every day, all day long.

What is this beauty regimen? Scripture says that the woman who applies trust in God (“a gentle and quiet spirit” 1 Pet. 3:3-5) with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10) will not fail to become genuinely beautiful. And who, I ask you, has more opportunities to apply this beauty treatment, than a mother with young children?

Every day she must trust God with the physical safety, the emotional wellbeing, and the state of her children’s souls. Every day she must do endless, repetitive acts of service on behalf of her husband and for the sake of children. And every day, as moms, we have countless opportunities to take our eyes off of ourselves, to serve others, and to look to God for strength and help. This makes us truly beautiful.

So think of it this way: you can make yourself beautiful all day long! Not only when you shower and style your hair, but also when you clean up vomit and wipe dirty bottoms, when you encourage your husband and serve your family with gladness. You are trusting God and doing good works. This will make you beautiful in the eyes of your husband and your children, and precious in the sight of God.

Motherhood is not the end of beauty; instead it can be the beginning of a deeper, more profound beauty, that transforms us from the inside out. So instead of mourning the loss of a smooth, flat, stomach this Mother’s Day, let’s give thanks for the opportunity to pursue a beauty that will never fade (1 Pet. 3:3-5).

~from the archives

May 5

Winners: True Beauty Mother’s Day Contest

2015 at 11:41 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty | Motherhood

We wish we could meet every one of your beautiful mothers, but we had to pick two winners for our Mother’s Day Contest and they are…

Lynette:

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. Prov 31:20

My mom is a school nurse, often to children with severe chronic illnesses. She is full of love for them. It has always amazed me how she can communicate so much love to children who are unable to speak, walk or function without some kind of medical support. But they are delighted by her, which is seen in how their eyes shine when she enters the room. My mom instilled in my sisters and I a love for the outcast, disabled, poor and the needy. We always had a plethora of people in our small home, and attracted the people who are hard to love. She was never scared away by difficult personality, awkwardness, strange behaviour, etc. She loved unconditionally, and made everyone feel special. I am so thankful that she is able to see people through Christ’s eyes, and have such an open heart to minister to the needs of so many. She has shaped my outlook on life, and I’m incredibly thankful for her.

Michelle:

I’m 48 and my mom is 73. I was recently diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Though I always expected to take care of my mom as she ages, now she is taking care of me (and my husband, and my children . . .) She does my laundry, has us over for meals, and is the proverbial listening ear and shoulder to cry on. The night we found out how far the cancer had spread, she brought supper over with my dad, and I’ll never forget how she pleaded with God to not let any of us become bitter towards him over this hard providence. I pray my children will never forget that evening or her prayer request. She has showed me what a lifetime of faithfulness and fruitfulness looks like. That is true beauty!

Lynette and Michelle, you will each receive two copies of True Beauty—one for you and one for your mom. Let each of us tell our moms why they are truly beautiful this Mother’s Day!

Apr 22

A Mother’s Day Giveaway

2015 at 7:54 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

This Mother’s Day, tell your mom how beautiful she is—give her the gift of True Beauty.

We would like to give away True Beauty to a couple of beautiful moms. If “true beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God,” what is the most beautiful memory you have of your mom?

Send us a few lines about how your mom reflects God’s beauty and we’ll send each of you a copy of True Beauty in honor of Mother’s Day.

All entries must be received by midnight (EST) on Friday, May 1.

Mar 25

True Beauty: An Interview with Jasmine Le’Shea

2015 at 6:53 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

We know that girltalk is not your usual go-to source for the latest in Christian Hip-Hop (although we are big fans!), so today we feel super blessed to welcome Jasmine Le’Shea to our blog. Jasmine has recently released her debut single, “True Beauty” and we were so blessed by her message, and by this young woman’s sweet and joyful trust in God, that we wanted you to meet her and enjoy her song.

Welcome to girltalk, Jasmine! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with Christ?

I am a bundle of so many things lol, but I will try to narrow a summary of who I am into a few brief sentences. I am a young woman with a heart for the Lord Jesus, I am also an African-American southern belle who loves the city, loves singing and writing, enjoys Christian art of varying styles, I am a lover of learning, and a lover of fellowship with believers.

By God’s sovereign design, although there is much to write about myself that is full of joy, I also have sin struggles. Among the most notable are my longings pertaining to beauty, desirability, and marriage. They are, as I have noted, struggles; I have not and will not throw in the towel. God is with me. As horrible a sinner as I am, Romans tells me that nothing can separate me from the love of God. I am in total awe of this, and gratitude floods my soul at the thought of being loved this much.

You are a two-time heart transplant recipient. How has suffering at such a young age taught you more about the character of God?

Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases, and what He pleases is always good. Does it always feel good? Absolutely not. Sickness hurts. Interestingly enough, there are times when I reflect on my illness at age 15 and think how much stronger I felt emotionally then. I had just come into relationship with the Lord and there was nothing anyone could say and no pain that was bad enough to take away the excitement I had in my new found hope. I knew that whether I lived or died, Christ loved me and would take better care of me than anyone else could. As I am nearing the end of my 20’s, though the hope remains, my experience with illness has been a bit different. When I was 15 I hadn’t really known the financial difficulties, I hadn’t experienced the loneliness, and I hadn’t encountered significant disappointment. Since then, however, I have. What I have come to realize, however, is not that I was stronger when I was 15 but that I have grown more dependent on God as I draw near to age 30. Mom and Dad can’t be with me every moment now, they cannot afford to handle my medical experiences anymore, and as I grow older the comfort that they and others provide does not give what I would like to experience from a mate. This leaves me with complete dependence on the Lord. I have found, as did Paul and many other Christ followers, that God’s grace is indeed sufficient. This does not always equate to comfort, but it does always mean that the needs of those who trust in Him will be met and God will be glorified.

You recently released your debut single True Beauty. Can you tell us how you came to write this song and why you are passionate about this biblical message?

I wrote and titled the song “True Beauty” years ago, somewhere between 2006 & 2007 I believe. I remember just crying out to God to make me different, to make me a woman who was pleasing in His sight. The chorus of the song is pretty mellow and it’s followed by a first verse that is significantly more aggressive, representing my soft and sincere desire for True Beauty along with my aggressiveness in fighting for it. It has been approximately 8 years since I wrote the song, and I have not ‘arrived’. I am not immune to longing for physical beauty, to making comparisons and the like, but God has been and still is graciously growing me. I hurt still, but I depend on Him more. I long still, but push my longings into greater pursuits of Christ, of Christian fellowship, and of sharing the beauty of Christ with others. I am so passionate about the message of pursuing True Beauty because it has been a bit of a thorn for me, an area of weakness in which the Lord my God uses to remind me that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness. He is using this ‘thorn’ to push me to pursue and love on other sisters in ways that I may have never done had I not known the struggle, which includes my writing, singing, and speaking on topics like True Beauty.

How has your physical suffering influenced your perspective on beauty?

My physical suffering brings me face to face with the beast of vanity and asks, “What will you believe?” If I’m honest the answer to this question does not always come as instantly as it should. During these face offs there are times when I do not believe the truths of Scripture which tell me that it is a woman who fears the Lord who is to be praised and that beauty does not come from external adorning. My eyes see women without the scars, without the additional weight, and without serious illnesses being praised by men. Fortunately, the Lord loves me too much to let what my eyes see rule my heart entirely. Rather He graces me with the presence of the Holy Spirit who lovingly points me to the cross and the immeasurable sacrifice that Jesus made to shower me with True Beauty. The Spirit always reminds me how precious I am to Christ and that His thoughts of me should matter above all, and they do. God is most beautiful, He created beauty, and He sees me as such. Physical suffering pushes me to fight harder to remember and cling to these truths.

How can mothers and mentors help young women to pursue true beauty?

Older women teaching younger women are essential, as Titus 2 points out. This may not be a quick fix and it therefore may not bring instant comfort, but I truly believe that teaching young women to gaze upon the Lord and allowing them to witness their moms and mentors do it (through discipleship) is the most valuable way to teach them to pursue True Beauty.

It is great to encourage young women with words of affirmation, but it is most beneficial to couple that with an emphasis on the beauty of God. This leads the believer to fight to take her eyes off of herself, to recall what the Lord deems as beautiful, to pray to see beauty as He sees it, and to ultimately pursue True Beauty.

As established in your book True Beauty, this certainly does not mean that a woman should disregard her external appearance, but it does mean that her inner beauty should be more highly regarded. Doing this will help sisters to put our considerations of makeup, hair, fitness, clothing, et. into proper perspective, to reduce comparisons, and to “follow Jesus”, as relayed in “The Snare of Compare” teaching by Carolyn Mahaney.

You mentioned that you are currently in the hospital related to your heart. How can we pray for you?

This is such a sweet question! I am so grateful that you and other sisters in Christ who do not know me personally are willing to go to the Lord on my behalf, thank you!

Please pray that if the Lord be pleased He would grant me good health and that I will steward my health well, in whatever state I am in. Please also pray that as my body expands and my appearance changes due to changes in my energy levels and new medications that I not be consumed with these external changes. Pray that I focus on further developing an inner beauty and that I be strengthened and enlightened to continue to encourage others in the body of Christ to focus on the same. Last, God has graced me with an abundance of love from the body of Christ and though I am never alone going through my physical trials, I still long for a beautiful, God-glorifying marriage. Please pray for my comfort and for the Lord’s provision as He wills in this regard. Thank you again.

We will be praying for you, Jasmine! Thank you so much for sharing your life and your music with us.

You can purchase “True Beauty ft. Deraj” on Amazon ($0.89) and learn more about Jasmine Le’Shea at her website.


Feb 4

“I Cannot Trust My Husband When He Tells Me How Beautiful I Am”

2015 at 8:37 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

One time, after I finished speaking to a group of women on true beauty, a woman approached me and said: “That’s all fine and good, God’s perspective on beauty. And I believe it is true. But the reality is, that’s not the message my husband receives from our culture about beauty.” She was worried: as she was getting older, her physical beauty was fading. It troubled her that her husband, like every other man in our society, was constantly bombarded with images idealizing youth and physical beauty.

Not to mention that her husband wasn’t at the women’s meeting to hear a message on biblical beauty. It’s not that he had given her a specific reason to worry; she just appraised the situation and thought it sufficient cause for concern.

Ours is a culture that unfairly holds women to an ideal standard of physical beauty. Since it is a kind of beauty most of us will never attain, and will certainly never be able to maintain, we may worry about how we are going to hold onto our husbands’ affection and attraction.

This is a recurring concern I hear as I interact with women about beauty. They wonder if they are still as beautiful to their husbands as their bodies change after childbirth and as they grow older.

“It Drives My Husband Crazy”

Even if their husbands attempt to reassure them, some women continue to worry:

“I have a problem with accepting that my husband finds me as beautiful as he says he does,” admits Stephanie.

This fear, along with our refusal to believe our husbands when they tell us we are beautiful, can cause tension in a marriage.

“I struggle with the fear I’m getting fat all the time. It drives my husband crazy writes Briana.

Jen says the same: “I don’t understand why I cannot trust my husband when he tells me how beautiful I am! It’s so annoying to him when I say, ‘You have to say that.’”

Friends, if there is one thing that frustrates a man, it is a wife who won’t believe him on this point. Men don’t like to feel as if they can never say or do enough to convince us that they appreciate our beauty. We do our marriages a disservice when we judge our husbands by failing to take them at their word.

But how do we deal with this fear that plagues so many of us?

The Cure for All Our Fears

We must trust God for our husbands.

God brings a man and woman together in marriage. He put affection in our husbands’ hearts for us, and he has a good plan for our marriages. This is not to say that we won’t face challenges, even severely painful ones. But no matter what trials we meet in our marriages, God will work them for our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28).

God is not distant from our marriages. He did not set them in motion only to leave them to run on their own. He is “a very present help” in marriage trouble (Ps. 46:1): present to care, strengthen, and comfort us, no matter our difficulties, big or small.

Confidence in God’s personal involvement and tender care frees us from fear. Our hope is not in our husbands or in our beauty, but in the character of God, the constancy of his affections, and the surety of his purposes.

How To Become More Beautiful

Here’s where it gets amazing: The more we trust God, the more attractive we become. A gentle and quiet spirit adorns the whole woman, making her beautiful from the inside out. Her lack of anxiety, restlessness, and neediness, her carefree confidence in God’s goodness makes her more lovely as the years go by.

This beauty is so profound, it can even attract unbelieving husbands to the gospel; they can be “won without a word” by the beauty of a wife’s godly character (1 Pet. 3:1-2).

~Adapted from True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre

Aug 29

Winners! True Beauty Book Club Giveaway

2014 at 8:13 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

We were so excited to see how many book clubs are eager to go through True Beauty! Our grand-prize winner is a group of women from First Baptist Church of Hacienda Heights, CA who wrote: “We are a mixed group of married with kids, married, single and college women. We love the Lord and our local church!” Sounds like a fun group!

Even if your book club didn’t win, we want to send all of the groups who entered a complimentary copy of True Beauty to share with one of your members. You’ll be hearing from us shortly.

May God bless your time of fellowship with His presence and grace.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone! We’ll see you back here next week.

Janelle for the girltalkers

Aug 27

When We Don’t Feel Beautiful

2014 at 8:14 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty

When a friend is struggling with her appearance, many of us might say something like: “You are beautiful just the way you are. God made you and he thinks you are beautiful. And I do too. You just need to believe that this is true.”

There are important truths embedded in this counsel, to be sure. The dignity of every human being made in the image of God means we all have an inherent beauty. But this glorious truth doesn’t always help us when we feel unattractive or anxious about our appearance.

For me, I can convince myself that I am beautiful for only so long. All it takes is for my scale to register a few extra pounds or to walk past a woman who is younger and prettier than me, and that bubble bursts pretty quickly.

Why doesn’t this truth stick? Why doesn’t this astounding knowledge—that we are beautiful because we are made in the image of God—eradicate, once and for all, our feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt?

One reason is that we often mistakenly turn this truth about God into clichés about us. When we turn the spotlight away from God and onto ourselves, we twist the truth.

So “God is beautiful and made us in his image” becomes “You are beautiful because God created you.”

Herein lies the flaw in our well-meaning advice: it starts and ends with us.

When we focus on ourselves, we’re only compounding the problem. That’s because self-focus is our problem. Sagging self-confidence is often a preoccupation with self; struggles with comparison, measuring up, and fitting in reveal our self-absorption.

“Low self-esteem usually means that I think too highly of myself,” explains Ed Welch. “I’m too self-involved, I feel I deserve better than what I have. The reason I feel bad about myself is that I aspire to something more. I want just a few minutes of greatness.”

Feelings of inadequacy about our appearance often arise because we feel we deserve better than what we have. We aspire to something more.

We may not feel like we’re grasping at greatness—we just want to fit in with the other moms or the popular girls at school—but then again, we never seem to be liked enough or included enough to make us happy. We never get what we think we deserve.

This is why our beauty struggles seem set on repeat: self-is never satisfied.

But there is hope for you and for me. When we accurately diagnose our struggles with beauty, we can beak free from this destructive cycle, and find liberating truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

~adapted from True Beauty