Saturday, July 9, 2011

Newsy Beauties!

  When Aubrianah and Faith heard that they were going to be featured in today's edition of the News & Advance, they felt just like Mia does in the picture!  Their faces lit up, and they were so excited and nervous  they felt like they could levitate!

  Because we might have more readers today than we've had in the past, we wanted to take a moment to explain what Just the Girls: Real Beauty is all about.  Aubrianah and Faith are 14-year-old talented, beautiful, aspiring photographers (Aubrianah Shannen Photography and Faith Perry Photography, you can find both on Facebook).  They were given a simple assignment:  Find out what makes women and girls beautiful, and photograph the beauty you find.

  Well, that little project has grown.  The girls have photographed and interviewed many 'girls', and have plenty more photo shoots scheduled.  They've learned that Real Beauty comes from strength, confidence, hope, and freedom, and that all these characteristics and more have come from faith and trust in God.  They've heard the stories of women who have lost husbands, young girls who have faced or are facing medical crises, and self-made business women who triumphed over adversity.   They've also met women who are just plain fun to be around, and women with beauty that shines so brightly the girls had to wear sunglasses just to photograph them ;) .

  This blog is just a small part of what the girls have done so far, it's just our little chronicle of the work they are doing. You can find much more information on the project and the photographers by reading the 'About the Beautiful Project' and the 'About the Beautiful Photographers' tabbed pages. I also hope you will scroll through and meet some Beautiful Girls, some of whom are already posted here and many more who will be posted later!  But the main purpose of reading this blog is to be inspired  to find, and then celebrate, the beauty YOU possess!  We (Aubrianah and Faith, and 'the moms/drivers/prop carriers/appointment makers/blog writers' Ruth and Cindi)  have been touched by beauty, and we hope you will be, too!

If you would like to do a Real Beauty shoot yourself or nominate a Beautiful Girl you know, RB shoots are always free and you can email me for more details at .
Both girls also do regular photo shoots, too, for a fee, and you can email me for those details, too!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beautiful Moms

I recently asked a group of little girls, “Who is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?”  Without exception, every one of them said, “My mom.”  Then I asked a group of pre-teen and teen girls, “Who is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?”  The answers were very different.  Actresses, singers, and models dominated their answers.  What happened?  I have some theories:
1.        Smart = beautiful.  The older a girl gets, the dumber her mother becomes.  Thankfully, this usually shifts back, but not until a girl has children of her own!
2.        Celebrities don’t discipline our daughters.  The fact that they (probably) do discipline their own daughters is lost on ours.
3.       TV and movies tell our daughters that it is ok to do things their mothers don’t want them to do, and that their mothers are trying to hold them back from ‘finding’ themselves. 
4.       Celebrities and singers look good all the time.  Our daughters see us when we haven’t had our coffee yet.

  My daughter has culture thrown at her every day, images and commercials and products that try to beat into her what she is supposed to look like or be like to be beautiful.  I am her mother, so I have to be there to balance it. I’m not going to shelter her from the world that IS, I’m going to show her what it SHOULD be.   I make a special effort to have her around women who can show her what Real Beauty is, and then she has to choose.
What can we do to stay #1 in our daughters’ beauty ranking?  I don’t know, because I don’t think it matters.    I would like for my daughter to think I’m beautiful all the time, but I don’t need her (or her brother or even her father) to always think I’m beautiful  in order to know that I am.  That’s what I want to teach her, to be secure in her own beauty no matter what others think.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, for all of us Beautiful Girls!

Now, call your mother and tell her she's beautiful!  She might not NEED to hear it, but she will LOVE to hear it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sharing Beauty

I was nervous to approach Jill for the Real Beauty project.  I barely knew her, she and her husband Thayer used to bring their two little boys to the AWANA program at our church back in 2008.  That summer, Thayer was killed in a motorcycle accident. Because I didn't know Jill well to begin with, I didn't stay in touch with her.
  Fast forward to just a few weeks ago.  Aubrianah and I were talking about women we'd like to include in the project, and Aubrianah said to me, "What about Jill?"  "Jill who?" I said. That may sound callous, but I was surprised at her memory. Aubrianah was barely 11 at the time, I had never discussed Thayer's death with her, and she had never even spoken to Jill. I believe that God brought Jill to her mind.  So, even though I was nervous to approach Jill, I felt like we needed to see if she was willing to share her story.  I thought, "Either Jill needs us, or we need her."
  Jill didn't need us.  For the last three years Jill has been busy raising her boys, sharing her story, comforting others, and turning tragedy into beauty.  She didn't shut down, she joined in a community.  She got her boys involved in Kids Haven and developed relationships with other young widows.  She organized a monthly sort of support group, so women who had experienced loss could all spend time with other women who 'get it'.  Just this year she traveled to Uganda with Mission Link International.  The organization has recently started a widow's ministry and Jill got to share her story and hear stories from beautiful women who live in a different country but share the same loss.  For three years Jill has been sharing beauty.
  Even though I loved hearing Jill's story and hanging out with her during her shoot, I still didn't know why the Lord had brought her to Aubrianah's mind.  And then I read Jill's blog.  Jill didn't need us or our project, we needed her!  I read almost every bit of her blog that very night. She doesn't try to fake perfection or write long eloquent posts. Her openness, her humor, and her willingness to share her innermost thoughts have inspired me. What good is beauty if it can't be shared?    I have seriously been touched by beauty, and I am blessed to be a part of this project and to have met Jill!  

You can read Jill's blog at

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Legacy of a Beautiful Girl

We want to do something special today.  July 4th would have been the birthday of an especially beautiful girl, Faith's grandmother, Carolyn.  Carolyn's daughter (Faith's mom), Cindi, wanted to pay tribute to the legacy left by this extraordinary woman.  You will leave a legacy, make it a beautiful one.  Carolyn did, here it is:

My mom would have been 68 years old today.  Wow!  It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since she passed away, but it’s been over 9 years.  Because it’s her birthday, I want to celebrate what made her (one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known) beautiful.
There are so many things that made her beautiful that I won’t be able to list them all!  The most important thing was her love for the Lord – all of her “beautiful” characteristics originated from her relationship with God.  She loved to have FUN!  She loved to sing.  She did so many things for others.  I honestly think our Amish neighbors forgot they had a horse and buggy – mom took them everywhere! J  Even if she was busy, when someone came to the house (expected or unexpected), Mom made them feel like she had all the time in the world for them. 
I asked friends and family to name what they thought made Mom beautiful.  They are listed below.  One thing written was this:  “Looks or talent meant nothing to her.  She loved all.”  That triggered a memory.  We used to attend concerts like the living Christmas tree and others at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio.  There was this mentally handicapped man there one night.  No one was talking to him – most were probably trying to avoid him -, but Mom talked to him and helped him with whatever questions he had and he was so happy!  He sat with us through the concert and was beaming from ear to ear.  He sang his heart out…..loud and off-key, but he was so cute and excited to be praising God.  After that, every time we went there for a concert, he would find us and sit with us.
·         *She was the most genuinely kind person I have ever met.
·         *With her excitement for life, she inspired us all to live to the fullest.
·        * Looks or talent meant nothing to her. she loved all....
·        * ummm...everything
·         *Her infectious laughter ... I still hear it and I'm so glad!
·       *  Laughter. She liked to laugh. She was funny. Hospitable. She had a way of making a person feel at home and at ease. I was pretty insecure as a kid (still am I suppose), but not when I was with her. Gracious. Only Jesus can produce real Grace! Only Jesus can create real beauty! People like your mom are carriers. She helped others see something more.
·         *Genuine caring. No matter who was talking to her, she gave them 100% of her attention.
·       *  Her kindness,generousity and her big heart
·        * Her voice :)
·        * Laughter
·        * Her hospitality. Your home was always open, welcoming and warm
·        * Fun and full of laughter and love.
·        * She was the kind of person everyone wanted to hang around. Her singing voice. She included everyone and listened to us kids when we talked, even if she did tell us to "shut up".:)
·         *Your Mom's BEAUTIFUL singing voice & piano talent! I remember the song she sang at your wedding - thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes! Such a wonderful & kind lady with a great sense of humor!
·        * Warm, comforting, and sincere. Always felt at home when visiting. Miss her a lot.
·        * Your mom’s smile was as beautiful as a smile can get and when you added in the laughter, THATs what made Carolyn so beautiful Miss her so much!!!
·       *  Her unconditional love for her family! Cindi, I still can hear her in my head calling me by my full name Carla Jean! lol. What a beautiful woman my Aunt Carolyn was!!!

It’s wonderful to see some of her amazing characteristics in my daughters:  I see her in Joy’s energy, laughter and love of life; I see her in Esther’s caring of others and devotion to the Lord; I see her in Faith’s gift of helping others and in her “artsy” talent (something that most definitely did NOT come from me!).
I am so sorry that Faith is the only grandchild who really remembers Mom, but I am so very thankful for the years I had with her and that I can share who she was….everything listed above…with my kids.