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Love As Christ Loved (Part 1): Recognizing Our Own Love, Light, and Goodness

Love As Christ Loved (Part 1): Recognizing Our Own Love, Light, and GoodnessGod is Love.

God is Light.

God is Goodness.

God’s arch-enemy, is determined to destroy all of God’s Creation – determined to destroy God’s love, His light, His goodness.

Humans are made in the image and likeness of our Creator. Therefore, it would stand to reason we are Love, we are Light, and we are Goodness.

And, Satan can’t stand that!

So, he’s been busy… trying to send us messages that we aren’t love, we aren’t light, and we aren’t goodness. He tries to convince us we aren’t able to be loved, aren’t able to shine lightness toward others, and that we can’t be good.

Nowhere is this more clear than the covert messages Satan sends women. Using media and social pressures, he tries to convince us that we are no good – to ourselves, to each other, and to our families. He creeps into our psyches, grabs hold of our insecurities, and illuminates them – to others, and more importantly, to ourselves.

We begin to doubt our Love…

 

  … our Light…

  …our Goodness.

We begin to doubt our own self-worth.

In his “Letter to Women” Pope Saint John Paul II stated, “Thank you every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman.” This came after he thanked women in every vocation of life. Pope Saint John Paul II recognized the inherent beauty of all women – the beauty and strength that too often, we have difficulty recognizing on our own.

And, as a culture, we have overlooked these messages of positive qualities women bring to their homes, their families, their lives.

St. Thomas Aquinas is credited with saying,

Love As Christ Loved (Part 1): Recognizing Our Own Love, Light, and Goodness

As Christ hung on the Cross dying, He despised the sin we would be tempted to commit. He despised the choices we would be tempted to make. He despised the messages we would internalize about our self-worth, and our contribution to this world… to our homes, to our families, and to our lives.

He despised how we would doubt, even for a second, His love for us.

As Christ hung on the Cross, dying for our salvation, He was doing so out of love for us.

He was dying for us because

He believed in us;

He had hope in us;

He loved us.

Over two centuries later, He still despises the sins we are tempted to make. He still despises the messages we internalize.

And yet, more than two centuries later,

Love As Christ Loved (Part 1): Recognizing Our Own Love, Light, and Goodness

There is no past-tense with God. Every morning, He begins His love for us fresh and renewed. He eagerly awaits for us to see the beauty He sees in us.

He waits for us to recognize the Love He sees in us.

He waits for us to recognize the Light He sees in us.

He waits for us to recognize the Goodness He sees in us.

We can buy into Satan’s empty promises and his attempts to overlook God’s Love, Light, and Goodness shining through us. We can buy into the messages that we aren’t worthy or good enough for our homes, families, and lives.

Or, every. single. day we can commit to reminding ourselves of a quote often attributed to St. Teresa of Avila – may we trust God that we are where we are meant to be!

We are made to see God’s Love, Light, and Goodness shining in ourselves!

We are also made to take God’s Love, Light, and Goodness to others – to let Him shine through us!

Christ saw our Love, Light, and Goodness shining forth as He gave His life.

So, whenever we are tempted to buy into Satan’s lies that we are not worthy of our homes, of our families, of our lives, remember,

Love As Christ Loved (Part 1): Recognizing Our Own Love, Light, and Goodness

For we are all beloved daughters of a most beautiful, merciful, gracious King… we are all beloved daughters of God!

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Ode to Feminine Genius: Discovering Her Feminine Beauty

10628607_10152640958795540_2185798387826798527_nThis is the ninth installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman. Today’s topic will cover A Beautiful Woman.

A few months ago, my oldest daughter turned thirteen. Having my firstborn become our first teenager seemed almost anticlimactic; an especially precocious child, Honor has always seemed far older than she is. On paper, she’s in the 7th grade, but most of her homeschooling is from high school and college textbooks. Her height (5’5″), poise, and ability to hold conversations on complex social and political subjects tend to lead most who meet her to assume she’s in her late teens. They’re usually stunned to find out that she’s just starting that journey.

Eyebrow threading sounds less painful than waxing...but isn't.
Eyebrow threading sounds less painful than waxing…but isn’t.

But being so emotionally mature can have its drawbacks. Last year, our youth group leader was so impressed by Honor’s emotional maturity that she skipped her into the high school group. And while Honor could handle the discussions on gay marriage and contraception (we’d had them years ago, when she’d asked about them), she wasn’t as prepared for the social dynamics of being among teenage girls. She stopped being excited about youth group, and began finding reasons to avoid it. When I pressed her, she would complain vaguely about how she “didn’t like” a lot of the kids in the group.

Show of hands--how many of us wish we'd had someone teach us how to put on makeup?
Show of hands–how many of us wish we’d had someone teach us how to put on makeup??

I talked privately to the youth group leader, who immediately knew what the problem was. “This is an age when girls are starting to discover their own feminine beauty,” she said. “They’re going from jeans and T-shirts and ponytails to caring more about their appearance. They’re starting to use makeup, fix their hair, and wearing trendier clothes.” The leader said that when our daughter would walk into the youth group meetings, she’d watched her visibly shrink into herself; she clearly felt dowdy and downright provincial compared to her female peers.

Then she said something profound.  “Your daughter is smart and everyone knows that about her. But she needs to feel beautiful, too. Every pretty girl wants to be told she’s smart and every smart girl wants to be told she’s beautiful.” She advised me to take my daughter out and actively guide her into discovering her own feminine beauty. “Don’t let the culture teach her what’s beautiful; YOU show her how to feel confident and beautiful as a young lady.”

So that’s what I did.

About two months later, my daughter and I drove six hours to the “big city” of Anchorage. While there, we spent three hectic days transforming her from an athletic tomboy to a young lady. We had her eyebrows shaped. I hired a professional makeup artist to teach her how to apply cosmetics–complete with a lesson in the difference between classy and trashy makeup. We had her hair styled at a salon. We also updated her wardrobe at the mall with a few modest yet fashionable outfits. Our last stop was Nordstrom, where she picked out a lovely formal dress to wear to a Right to Life banquet with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar as keynote speakers.

The hairdresser made her promise never to change her auburn hair color.
The hairdresser made her promise never to change her auburn hair color.

The effect on my daughter was incredible. She kept staring at herself in the mirror after we had her eyebrows shaped. “Mom, it’s like my eyes have frames now!” She smiled continuously and kept telling me how happy she was that I had planned the trip for her. We had a great time at all her “treatments,” not to mention the banquet, where both of us were giddy about seeing the Duggars in person.

There were big changes at home, too. In the two weeks since the trip, she’s requested to go back to youth group again. She put on a new outfit and a little makeup and confidently walked into the group. When I picked her up, she’d had a great time talking about her love for Jesus and was looking forward to next time. She’s joined SeaScouts, too, a marine-based scouting group for teenagers. And it doesn’t bother her that she’s the only female among six teenage boys.

She’s smiling and laughing and holding her head up again when she’s around her peers. She’s always known she’s smart, but now she’s found her inner beauty, too. And that’s given her the ability to go into social situations with confidence. She confessed to an ironic outcome: now, she can better concentrate on the relationships and the discussions, because she’s NOT focusing on her anxiety about her appearance. She said: “Now, I don’t think about how I look at all, Mom.”

That trip was worth every penny.

En route to see the Duggars!
En route to see the Duggars!

My daughter knows that her physical beauty is meaningless if it’s not reflective of the goodness in her soul. She’s still mostly a sweats-and-T-shirt girl at home. But now she understands that God gave her more than just a vivacious mind; He gave her a genuine feminine loveliness that she can righteously adorn for righteous purposes. We would never fault a bride for wanting to feel beautiful on her wedding day–and aren’t we all the Bride of Christ every day of our lives?

The reality is that if we don’t guide our daughters through discovering and adorning their feminine beauty, the culture will teach them to profane it. What are YOUR ideas, dear sisters in Christ, for helping our precious daughters to recognize and foster their feminine beauty?