Saturday, April 24, 2021

Finding your hidden beauty...



It's a big word today, larger than ever I think. 

Advertisements which feature flawless air-brushed faces; every perceived imperfection removed and only a smooth palette left behind; artfully painted in the new colours of the season and teeth so white they defy explanation. Yes, that's what the media and cosmetic companies tell us makes beauty. 

Then there are the 'body beautiful' plastic surgeons with their billboards staring down at you as your wait in your car at a red light, praying it turns green quickly so you can escape the insecurities and propaganda their words are trying to type upon your subconscious.

One plastic surgeon in our city really makes me sad with his billboard tag line of "keeping our city beautiful". So is he saying that if I age gracefully, naturally, as God made me, that I am not beautiful, that I'm doing a disservice to our city by declining plastic surgery? Oh dear man, you are so very wrong.

BEAUTY - real beauty - is a grace which transforms any woman without a single stroke of lipstick, well cut dress or carefully coiffed hair. It appears from the inside out, beginning in the heart, and when the mind catches on and the two work together, beauty naturally blooms.

Darling girl, I think you will will find yourself to be far more beautiful than you ever imagined already - especially if you regularly cleanse your heart with forgiveness and honesty; tone your character with respect and kindness; moisturise your attitude with compassion and care; and style your actions in love.

Lately I have pondered beauty more than usual, deeply considering many aspects of feminine beauty - spiritual, character, physical and emotional. These thoughts, and subsequently this post, were in fact triggered by a desire to take better care of myself. 

When my husband and I sit outside watching the birds, sipping our morning coffee before he leaves for work, I always ask him "Is there anything I can do for you today?" and his reply never changes. 

"Look after yourself."

This has been a routine for many years, but it was only since my birthday in February that I took his request more seriously, as indeed this is what he wanted. With his very long working hours this year I'm home alone more and he knows his wife well, acknowledging that because I love cleaning, gardening, cooking and organising, my days are now more physically active than they used to be.

But what he did not grasp, was that I had more time to think, to consider my life and pray about it; prayers of wisdom and understanding and guidance for the weeks, months or years still ahead of me. Prayers to more fully grasp the hidden beauty in the heart of every woman and how I could encourage myself and her in pursuing and tending those seeds which do really bloom when we tend them.

So working on the inward self (spiritual and character) has been rather important of late, but I did find it spilling over into the physical and emotional as well - and surprising things came to light.

You may or may not know this, but I surround myself with colour. For as long as I can remember having colour around the house, in the decor, in my clothing, and eventually in my designs - it was deeply needful. Though I have this soft shabby chic side, the colourful side tends to always come out on top no matter how much I try to subdue it. And I have found this push and pull between the two a challenge and even confusing, especially this year. So for the first time I laid all this before God. "Help" I said, more than a few times, and over more than a hundred different things, usually at night when I was going to sleep, or in the mid-morning as I poured over His Word with a hot cup of tea. 

When you ask, He responds. It may not be that moment, or even that week, but one day a knowing suddenly appears in your thoughts, as though a curtain had been pulled back to let in the glorious light of a new sunrise.

As I've shared recently in small snippets within other posts, my six decades have borne much loss, grief, loneliness and the after effects of difficult and sometimes wrong choices. I have discovered through this recent journey, one in which I also decided to begin using my full name of Jennifer, that I hide behind colour. It's my camouflage. A vibrant shawl which wraps itself around my darkness to show the world a brighter, more joyful picture of me, a me they won't ask questions about because they're distracted by the colours. 

We can all attest to having 'aha' moments through life, epiphanies which tear away the cloak and reveal to us what's underneath. Many are the 'aha' moments for me this year, and goodness, how they are changing the various aspects of my physical and emotional self. Is it a journey of discovery you may wonder? No, I'd not call it that. It's much more like a peeling away of the things which I put between myself and the world, and as more of the layers are removed, the basic structure of who I have always been is being revealed. 

Aside from my wedding and motherhood, I am happier today that I can ever remember; a happiness that is held firmly in the grip of gentle contentment, winsome delight and a God-led discovery of the Jennifer whom He made, a girl who has been partially hidden beneath layers too colourful.

The over abundance of colours are being removed, little by little. Table runners are being washed and folded away in the linen cupboard. More plain white surfaces are appearing; more polished wood. 
I find myself wearing lovely dresses every day and no longer like the linen crop pants and tops which made up my wardrobe for so very long. 
Old brightly adorned aprons have been put aside as I begin the process of making linen aprons with an elegant edge, and I'm even looking into my unused stash of vintage Cath Kidston which has a pretty and romantic look.

I'm caring for my hands and nails, the first time in maybe thirty years! And think about hands, how very precious they are, for they hold, bake, sew, touch, wave, clap with joy and wipe away tears.
You see another way I hid myself away was by not caring about things like that. Dowdy comes to mind at though I was honouring God by fading into the dust and not making an effort with myself, as though that made me humble. How strange have been the thoughts I've held within and never questioned.

There are many other changes still unfolding, more layers being unwrapped and left to drift away, more things about myself yet to discover. But what I do know for sure, is that the beauty I desire is to come forth from within.  

A woman becomes beautiful through the natural rhythms of repetitive and ordinary everyday tasks attended to with care, kindness, honesty and love. When you live with that desire and live by it, you can't help but be beautiful. 

Are you already a rose on display in all your beauty?
Or have you been hiding beneath the foliage?

Let your beauty shine forth dear one. It may be hidden, it may need some character adjustment or time at the Saviour's feet...but it is there. He put it it within you, to shine forth for His glory. 

blessings and hugs


Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Colour ! Such an important thing that can be talked about with emotion. Colour ! I heard that a quilter changes fabric tastes and choices every four or five years.. The last few years I have been bringing more colour into my life with fabrics :) Tilda ! If you asked me 3 years ago if I would have a stash of Tilda fabrics in 2021 I would have shook my head, no. Now ? You have seen it in my Simple Days blocks :) Tilda ! Fun to play with all those colours and patterns. Very different from a few years ago when my selection was mostly greens, browns and blues. I read in another article that we bring more colour into our fabric choices when we get older.
A friend told me once " treat your hands as jewels, not as tools. " :) Daily doses of hand cream for me.
Thanks for sharing your colour journey today :)
Did you know Tilda has a new fabric collection for this Summer ? Garden Life. Looking forward to that :)
hugs, take care, enjoy your weekend !

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I have the Tilda Gardenlife range already to design with, a gift from the Australian supplier. I think you’ll love it!

Carol in Texas said...

Jennifer, please tell us about the dresses you are wearing. I have worn jeans for so long that i do not ever think of dresses. I would love to know if these are garments you have made or have you purchased them? Carol in Texas

Natureluvr57 said...

I love Tilda too but I find myself buying more and more Kaffee Fassett. Sorry if I misspelled his name. I want rich, vibrant colors but still love the Tilda fabrics too. I'm the one who can never decide what to order at a restaurant because so much sounds delicious. It must be nice to know what you like and stick to it. I'm extremely eclectic in everything.

Natureluvr57 said...

I'm so thankful for God and his Word. It's crazy in the States and now they are teaching something called Critical Race Theory teaching little white children they're born evil and racist. How parents can stand for this, I just don't know. I would never tell any child that, no matter what race and while attending school 50-60 years ago no teacher ever taught that to any child. Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white. Satan is having the time of his life here. God Bless you. Embracing Psalm 121.

vintage ellen said...

I have always preferred dresses to pants and wear them every day. I feel like "me" in a dress and especially like soft floral colors. I have tried making my own clothing but not being very good at it they always make me look dowdy. Sometimes people think I'm "all dressed up" if I'm wearing a dress and I feel a little awkward. But I remind myself that it's OK to be yourself. I am so enjoying your latest posts and "Why am I mopping so fast" was a real eye opener. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

Susan said...

Well said, Jennifer! I've never let people shorten my name, because I love the name Susan so much. My mother gave it to me, along with many other good lessons, and I will always use it. For years, I couldn't understand how Paul fell for me, because I didn't feel like I was pretty - the only brunette between two blonde REAL beauties. As I've grown older, I've come to appreciate my looks more and more, and I wouldn't swap with either of my sisters. That's just external, but I think part of it is because of just what you talked about ... who you are inside. I wouldn't want either of my sisters' personalities or lifestyles or memories. I'm happy with who I am and grateful to the Lord for helping me along this road for so long, giving me such good memories and good times to live. If I want to be someone else, I will work on it, but I really think I'll just stay as is. =)

Tammy said...

beauty....was important years ago. But i never think about it. Back then I didn't really even know who I was..i was busy pleasing the world. And always wanted to appear pretty. Then life happened and all that fell to the way side. Now that I am much older. I do take more time for me and the things that make me happy. They may not be beautiful by todays standards but they make me happy and I am trying to keep lotion on these scaly hands from all the sanitizer , cleaning, gardening & constant dish washing. I think as women we need to be truly happy. And then we feel even more beautiful....This does include self care. The more stress we are under . The less time or energy for self care....

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Post Jennifer. Well written and oh so true. Glenise

terricheney said...

Another lovely and thought provoking post. I find myself just the opposite...Having lived with the dark memories etc of my early life, I've find more and more I'm INTRODUCING color into my life as opposed to living with monochromatic neutrals. But for the same reason. I am happier and the happier I feel the more I want to show my 'true colors'.

Lorrie said...

A beautiful and heartfelt post, Jennifer. I've never thought of myself as beautiful, but acceptance for myself has come over the years as I realize how I am loved by God and by my family. I wear dresses in the summertime, but rarely in the winter because of the cold. Your thoughts about colour are so interesting to me. I tend to want to dress in pale, soft colours, and for me, that's a way to fade into the background. But I know I look better in brighter, clearer colours. I hate to draw attention to myself, yet I am beginning to be more confident about presenting myself to the world. Why it should take 6 decades, I don't know!

carol sferra said...

Yes I would love to hear also. I'm a dress girl!!!

carol sferra said...


carol sferra said...


Anita said...

Your blog reminds me of what Peter told us. The women of old adorned them self with a quiet and gentle spirit which is a treasure to God. Thank you for writing about and treasuring what He treasures most!

KathyK said...

What a lovely inspiring well written message Jennifer! As I age the woman in the mirror does not remind me of myself, I guess because I look deeper and see all that has transpired in my 68 years and I in my mind think there should be a younger version of myself then the one in the mirror. The woman in the mirror shows age and sadness too. This pandemic has left us without the hugs and kisses and time spent with our loved ones to nurture our inner souls. I am still trying to have the woman in the mirror reflect a younger happier time. I do pray about it but mostly for this pandemic to be over, that there will be less pain and suffering, less racial injustice, and less bantering everyone trying to fix things, at least they are trying. Words are so hurtful, I wish we could put color and brightness in some of these people who are hindering a happier world. You sound beautiful, so your message came through so sweetly thank you. God Bless you and your family.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Anita, you are so kind. I often pray that I can live out Peter's instructions, as well as the instructions to older women in Titus 2. xxx

Susan said...

So true! When visiting your blog it feels like l am there sipping tea with you! You give me lots to ponder about. Its wonderful and so special to know that The Lord is the centre of your and my world! I also had lots to overcome, first being lefthanded was difficult all my life. Also being my own self was not always acceptable to people, l am tall, talk loud and do some stupid stuff and wild hair.. So l have just accepted that is who l am. Love bright colors not to hide behind but to be myself. I am not the light shades type, color brightens my world! But l will never force others to be like me. Love to pamper myself. Just appreciate and thank The Lord for what l have daily is very important.also to thank Him for such wonderful people to share life with for Him!