mirror imageProverbs 31:30-31 reminds us that, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

I, like many of you reading this, have had a struggle with my body image. I’m not sure when it started, maybe one day my Mom was changing my diaper and she said something like, “Look at those chubby legs!” And off I went, thinking that I would have those chubby legs forever!

Or maybe it came from years of watching my Mom go through diet after diet, and gimmick after gimmick trying to get to where she liked how she looked. I remember in the 1970’s, she went on a grapefruit diet. Supposedly this diet worked because of a fat – burning enzyme that is only found in the grapefruit.  This fad took off and became the thing to do, probably because, as long as you ate ½ of a grapefruit or ½ cup of grapefruit juice, you could eat anything else you wanted (within an 800 calorie per day limit) and  lose weight. And no exercise required! Needless to say, that didn’t last very long and whatever weight was lost was soon put back. After all, you can only eat so many grapefruit!

I used to love to eat the sweet caramel and chocolate weight loss candy that Mom kept around. You were supposed to eat one right before each meal to curb your appetite, but I would sneak two or three throughout the day, just because they were really good!

There was even one time that Mom had her ear stapled and every time she got hungry, she had to tap her staple to make her not want to eat. And I wonder where my lack of body image came from?

She taught me how to iron my hair (literally!) so that it wouldn’t be so curly. And she tried every color of dye on my hair. I remember when I was thirteen I sat  in a beauty shop chair for eight hours while the beautician tried to bleach the red out of my hair. Needless to say, the best she could do was what they called “strawberry blonde.” Once a red – head, always a red head!

So many of us live as reflections of how our Mom’s felt about themselves. We struggle with seeing our bodies as less than perfect no matter how much weight we lose. There is danger in the words we speak to our children, especially our daughters, when those words are anything less that positive.

I have to wonder where it all started, and why. I remember as a child watching shows such as “Lassie”, “Father Knows Best”, and “The Brady Bunch” where the main women of the show were of average size and dressed modestly. They were confident in their role in the family and I don’t remember any of them pausing in front of a mirror and saying, “Gee, this dress makes me look fat!.” (Unless, of course, that was the topic of the show and then there was always a moral outcome that showed the woman’s true beauty came from within.) Somewhere along the line we have convinced ourselves that the scale is our

My Mother – in – law bought me a juicer for my birthday one year. Not sure why. Maybe it was because I said I wanted a juicer so that I could get healthy. And she believed me.

Anyway, my hubby was on a fishing trip recently and I decided to pull the juicer out of its hiding place and get started on my new healthy lifestyle. I opened my juice book, highlighted a few really healthy recipes and made out a shopping list. Even the titles of the juices made me feel instantly healthy: Potassium Power, Nature’s Wash, , and Bone Builder’s Cocktail. I feel healthy already just reading the recipes! I threw in the Green Drink ingredients and headed to the market.

I strolled down the produce aisle of my local grocer and started putting items in my cart: parsley, ginger, Granny Smith apples, spinach, celery, beets, cabbage and kale (oh, so that’s what kale looks like!), just to name a few. I couldn’t wait to get home!

It was dinner time when I finished carrying in the basket load of goodness from my Jeep. I decided I would start with the Green Drink since it seemed to have the most vegetables in it. I don’t know why, but I associated the vegetables with a heartier dinner.

The recipe called for a handful of parsley (or wheatgrass, but even I wasn’t going that far on the first try!), two Granny Smith apples, two kale leaves, and a handful of spinach. At the top of the ingredients was the saying, “When you are green inside, you are clean inside!” I certainly hoped it was true as I put the parsley in first and watched as the juicer separated a slimy dark green juice into the juice cup. I then put one apple in. I guess they went that way so that I wouldn’t give up. Then the kale and spinach and just when I didn’t think I could look at the resultant juice one more minute, I put the second apple in. Whew! The juice was not too bad looking, actually, once everything was added. I couldn’t wait to try my concoction and start on my journey to health.

I had a towel in my hand and I had not noticed that the edge of the towel was lodged under the juice cup – there’s that aging eye thing again. As I turned to get a glass to pour my healthy drink into, the towel pulled the cup over and I looked with startled amazement at the green juice spilling out all over my counter. My life flashed before my eyes and all I could see were the monsters in the 1968 science fiction movie, The Green Slime. Green juice started sliming its way down the front of my dishwasher and onto the floor. It hid under the coffee pot and proceeded to chase the paper towels I was trying to mop it up with. When I finally got the mess cleaned up, I opened a can of spaghetti and meatballs, covered it with cheese and stuck it in the microwave. I’ll start all over tomorrow, but today I need comfort food.

Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.

It’s called balance.

I hate how I see myself in a mirror. And yet, it was brought to my attention (by my loving daughter) that I subconsciously do the same thing to her that my mother did to me. Oh, I have never forced any of my children to dye their hair or use diet aids, but I have seen their faces when I make a remark about me. When I say, “I hate to go swim suit shopping, I’m just never satisfied with how I look,” they hear, “Maybe I don’t look so good in a swim suit, either.” When I say, “I can’t make this curly hair do what I want it to,” they hear, “Ugh! My hair never looks good.” You see, my girls have genetic traits that I gave them. If I don’t like how I look, and speak of it often, how can I expect them to like the way they look? And they are beautiful!

Ladies, we are responsible for teaching our daughters that however God made us, he made us beautiful. We are to love ourselves first so that they will know how to love themselves. This is a huge responsibility that can only be accomplished through much prayer and soul searching.

And if we are not eating healthy, then it’s time to start, but not in a way that is defining how we look. We should eat healthy to define how we feel! The scale is not your friend, but your energy level is. Our blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and heart rate are all indicators of good health. If we are eating with these in mind, we will be healthy just as God designed.

Looking back to the opening verse in Proverbs 31, our works are the words that we speak in front of our daughters. We teach each day how these impressionable young girls will face the world and we must teach them that we are not measured by our outward appearance, but by our inner spirit. God should be the mirror that we face each morning, face – to – face, and then we, and our daughters, will know in full how beautiful we truly are.



Where are my glasses, I need to take a bath!

Top-10-Images-of-Animals-Wearing-Glasses-10“A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.” Isaiah 40:6

I have learned that my glasses cannot be too far from me when I take a shower. At any given time, I have washed my hair in body lotion and my face with conditioner. You should have seen the frantic rinse the day I realized I had conditioned my hair with a popular ladies hair remover! And, of course, my husband had to be standing next to me the day we were getting ready for church when I sprayed hair spray under my arm and put deodorant on my hair! The look on his face was priceless as he shook his head and went to start the car.

My adventures with “aging eyes” is nothing compared to an experience our pastor told us about, though. He and his family were out to eat at a local restaurant and, being the friendly fellow that he is, he returned a wave from someone across the room. When his wife asked who he was waving to he replied, “Well, I don’t know, but they waved first!” The family turned to see who it was, but then slowly turned back around to see Dad with his hand still waving. They looked at each other and one brave child had to say it, “Dad, that’s not a person waving to you. It’s a cactus.”

Aging eyesight. If you haven’t faced it yet, get ready. I don’t know why the manufacturers use the same marketing techniques to get sales and make all the bottles the same shape and color, don’t they know we usually don’t wear glasses when we shower or bathe? If they could only put a bright red dot on the conditioner and the deodorant, maybe I could remember the difference without looking. Or maybe not.

I guess I was in my mid to late 40’s when my near vision started becoming problematic. I ignored it for as long as I could, but when I had to ask Jim to hold the menu so I could order, I knew I needed reading glasses. Over the years, my eyes have succumbed to aging and now I have to wear the dreaded glasses all the time. If I didn’t, not only would I need help with the menu, but my whole plate would disappear into a fog of nothingness.

So, wear glasses I do. However, I make adjustments. While I was still working I made sure that I had black rimmed, professional glasses that everyone thought were fake. They thought that I wore them to get intelligence points, and I just let them think it. I would show up at regional meetings and while the Director was filling us in on the most recent project, I would take my glasses off, stick just a little bit of the ear piece between my lips and sit there and nod intelligently. “Yes, yes, I am super – smart and I am hanging on every word.” Little did they know that I couldn’t even SEE the Director let alone the chart I am assuming he was pointing to!

Isn’t it amazing the lengths we will go to for vanity? When I was fifty, and people said I looked thirty – five, I would smile smugly and say, “Oh, I’m fifty years old and proud of every year.” Well, now I’m starting to look my real age, time has a way of doing that, and I crave to hear people tell me that I look so much younger. I caught a glimpse of myself in a candid side-shot photo that I took of my hubby and me when we were working on  one of his odd-jobs and I almost cried. It had been raining so my curly, gray hair had frizzed around my temples and I had that stern “Grandma face” because I was concentrating on holding up the screen door we were installing. I had to look twice because I couldn’t believe it was me with the frizzy gray hair and sallow complexion. And when did I get that extra chin? I went into a slight depression and pouted most of the rest of the day.

That evening my hubby looked at me as we sat on the porch and said, “You know, I don’t know how you do it, but you are more beautiful than the day we married.” I couldn’t help but think of the saying I had heard somewhere to “marry a man your own age; that way as your beauty fades, so does his eyesight!” But then, I realized that he had his glasses on and was looking at the same side-shot view of me as the photo taken earlier in the day. But he didn’t see what I saw. What he saw was his bride; the love of his life, and I thanked God.

I know that in the world’s eyes, my beauty is fading. But I smile, because in my husband’s eyes, I am beautiful. In God’s eyes, I am his princess. And in my own eyes, I am blessed to have lived as long as I have.  These are days that God has made just for me, and I will not waste them by counting the spring rolls around my waist.

God has given each of us a certain number of days to live on earth. I feel that as I mature in chronological years, I also mature in spiritual years. The lessons I learn by looking into a mirror can be summed up in this statement from 1 Corinthians 13:12, “ For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  My Friends, the years that God has given to each of us, are written line by line. They may be lines of worry or lines of peace; lines of sorrow or lines of peace; lines of anger or lines of peace. God gives each of us the ability to partake of His bountiful peace. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3. And there is nothing wrong with having a few wrinkles on our faces, they show that we have laughed, cried, frowned, and lived all in one lifetime. We can trust in God and He will soften the lines.

Aging gracefully is not an easy task. Just like accepting that I needed to wear glasses, I fought it tooth and nail! But, at that time, I was looking in the mirror dimly. I was placing value on what I look like on the outside, not what God saw on the inside. Face to face. With God. Cleared my vision. God knows me, and I am starting to know me, too. I have opened my eyes to the fact that vision is so much more than what I see in this world. I have asked God to increase the vision that He wants me to have in these latter years of my life. I want to see opportunity in what I would previously have seen as rejection. I want to take each failed plan as God showing me that He has something much more planned than I could ever have seen without Him. I want to see reason behind a friendship that has gone cold. I want to see positive where there is negative. And if I do all of this, then I can’t help but be satisfied with the image that I see in my mirror. I will no longer use my age as an excuse to be sullen and sad, but will glorify God in living the fullness of every day that He has given me.

Before I look in the mirror, I will put on my “grace glasses”. I will not see frizzy gray hair, but I will see wisdom highlights. I will remember that the secret to aging gracefully is to enjoy it.