Monday, September 8, 2014

Beautiful Jennifer

"Helping others is the reason I have to become a nurse.  It is my passion and what God meant for me to do.  My job in the E.R. has touched me in so many ways because of the people I have met and been able to help, even in small ways.  I am so glad that I lost my old job, because that experience helped me figure out what I really want to do!  I've had such a rough couple of years, but I know now where I'm headed and what I've endured to get to where I am.  I'm still standing after all I've been through, so I think I'm going to make it!  I am strong!"

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beautiful Jessica

  "What is your response when other people say, 'I could never be a foster parent!'?"  
  "That's what I used to say, but now I say no matter how difficult, heartbreaking, or inconvenient it may be, they're worth it. Imagine the heartbreak they are feeling...ours doesn't compare.  Kids in foster care are America's orphans, and the Bible has a lot to say about taking care of orphans. It's something we are commanded to do."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Beautiful Friends, Danielle and Sarah

"How have the two of you stayed close friends, even though you live far apart?"

  Danielle:  "We are opposites, but complement each other so well.  No matter how long it's been since we saw each other, we fall back in like we haven't missed a day!  We know each other and all that we are and we're just cool with it."  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beautiful Rachel

  "My boss said my dress was too short and she didn't want men looking at me like I was a lamb chop."  

  What do y'all think?  Is it up to Rachel to make sure men don't look at her like she's a lambchop?  Or is it the responsibility of men to look at Rachel's face, get to know her, and invite her out for a lamb chop (or pizza, or steak) dinner?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Beautiful Sarah

Me to Sarah:  "What do you think is beautiful about you?"

 Sarah: "I don't know, the last time you asked me that I said my eyes.  But I wasn't thinking on a deeper level at the time.  Now I need to try that again...What do you think is beautiful about me?"  

  Three of us stand, looking at Sarah for a moment and thinking how great we think she is, in so many ways, and I say, "You're a peacemaker," and the others nod in agreement.

  Sarah:  "That's funny you should say that, because that's what my family has always said about me.  I am a peacemaker."

  (She also has beautiful eyes.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rethinking the Beauty Blog

    Aubrianah will be starting college next month and I am starting a new job this week, so we will be doing a bit of reworking on Just the Girls: Real Beauty!  We aren't stopping, we LOVE this project, but the posts will be more streamlined and to-the-point and will come faster!  We hope you'll keep following, we think it's going to be beautiful!   

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beautiful Inspiration

 I love every Real Beauty we interview, and Candice is one of my favorites.  Candice's occupation is one I can't talk much about, but she has dedicated her life to the preservation and the cultivation of beautiful relationships.  She doesn't get to do a lot of dressing up or get to pay a lot of attention to her outward appearance on a daily basis in her job, but she is consistently becoming more inwardly beautiful.  

  A lot of Beautiful Girls credit their mothers as their inspirations, but Candice's mom is truly exceptional in her inspiration and has given us three inspirational women!  She raised her three girls on her own, with no shortage of trial and heartache.  I've met all three of them, and they are all amazingly Beautiful Girls who have been featured on this blog.  My next goal...get that momma in here for her shoot!  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beautiful Girls Encourage More Beauty

  When I think about Beautiful Girls I know, Carina is definitely at the top of the list.  She is vivacious, driven, fun, and smart.  Carina sparkles.  She's living in Washington DC this summer where I'm sure she's wowing everyone!

  Here's what I love most about Carina.  I love the way she encourages my daughter and other girls around her to be more beautiful.  

  Really Beautiful Girls like Carina get that sparkle ALL OVER everyone around them.  They can't help it.  My daughter is beautiful, but she's even more beautiful when she's with her friend.  Carina's other friends are beautiful, too, but they're even more beautiful when they are together.  Get them in a group and look are going to be stunned!  

  Beautiful Girls!

Carina and her gorgeous friend, Julie!  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beauty Moves 2

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about friends who have moved away.  I still miss them.  

  Lynchburg is a transient town, though, and it goes both ways.  Plenty of beautiful girls move here to go to school and then move on...some stay here and begin careers and families.  

  I've been helping a friend move this week.  She's been here a while, and I'm hoping she'll stay for good.  Kristy came here for school and then met a beautiful guy and they decided to stay.  Now they have a couple of cute boys and one more on the way.  

  Kristy realized (about half-way through this pregnancy) that one bathroom between 4 boys and herself just wasn't enough.  Because she's a little crazy,  she decided not to wait until the new baby arrives, but to go ahead and put her house on the market and buy a different one.  Timing worked out just so that she is now 2 weeks to her due date and, just a few days ago, signed a contract on a new house that has to be completely painted, cleaned, and moved into.  Oh, and the extra bathroom she needs for all those boys?  It's pink.  

  Kristy's belly is full of baby, she's tired, she's sore...but I've seen huge  smiles out of her.  She watched God work the timing out on the sale of her old house and the move-in of the new, and even though she gets frustrated at times, she mostly laughs.   


  Marielle just did a Just the Girls: Real Beauty shoot recently.  I heard about her when her husband and son showed up at the church I attend, looking for a place to worship and a place to live.  Marielle and her two other children had stayed in New York to tie up loose ends there.  
  The family had felt God's call to move, so they did. It is a fabulous story of being open to His leading and just moving, one trusting step at a time.  They didn't know anyone in Lynchburg, they didn't come to attend school, they had no place to live and no jobs.  They just trusted.  Marielle and her family very quickly became an integral part of the church, found a great home, got the kids in schools where they are thriving, and found great jobs.

  Kristy and Marielle and their families are cultivating beauty.  They've trusted God and they've trusted their husbands to move them, and they've done it with much joy.  

  What has God prompted you to do, and have you listened?  Tell us about it!  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beautiful Bride!

This Beautiful Girl got married yesterday!  Congratulations, Leah and Zach!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

See Beauty Run

  Sometimes, when I'm feeling busy, I think of our friend Leah.  Leah and I are not in the same life phase.  I have two grown children, Leah has none.  I've been married for 18 years, Leah is just a couple of weeks away from starting her first year of marriage.  I'm finished with school, Leah is in the midst of it. Leah is, well, I'm not so young.   Even though we have very different lives, she is an inspiration to me.  

  I'm a busy woman, just like you.  I have things to do, friendships to kindle, dishes to wash, and Facebook statuses to update.  ;)  When I'm feeling too busy, I think about Leah, and how busy she is, and how fulfilling her busy life is to her.  If happy girls are the prettiest, then Leah is one of the prettiest I know!  

  Leah has a full class load as a college student.  She hopes to have a fabulous job in her field of study when she's finished, but for now she's happy to be working at a local Sheetz.  Yeah, I know, I thought the same thing when she got the job at Sheetz..."Really?  That doesn't sound like a happiness-inducing job!", but I've never heard her complain.  In fact, she seems to be thriving there and enjoying it!  

  Working and school enough?  Nope, not for this busy Beautiful Girl!  She also has plenty of hobbies, does the social media for the Rachael Horton Compassionate Care Fund  (Leah LOVES social media, animals, and this awesome non-profit).  She also makes time for her friends and her family, and she always knows the best movies to see and shows to watch and music to listen to and etc, etc, etc.  Leah knows a lot about a LOT!  

  Oh, did I mention she's planning a wedding?  By the pictures I've seen so far (on social media, of course!), it's going to be unique and fun...just like Leah.  

  I can't write a Just the Girls: Real Beauty post about Leah without mentioning one of her greatest loves.  I'll go out on a limb here and say she loves this particular thing almost as much as she loves her groom-to-be, Zach.  Leah loves to run.  I've heard people say they love to run before, but I don't think I've ever met anyone who loves it as much as Leah.  She loves marathons, virtual 5K's, running around the block, whatever kind of running there is, Leah will do it.  She'll do it in heat and cold and pouring rain, and then she'll write about it on her blog See Leah Run.  Read it, she might inspire you to run, too!  

   So how could someone with whom I have little in common have anything to offer I can learn from?  Leah hasn't inspired me to work at Sheetz or run, but she does inspire me to fit more profitable things into my day than I have in there already.  Do you ever find yourself trivializing the lives of women who are unlike you?  Look closer, Beautiful Girls!  We are on this journey together, and we can be inspired by every woman around us. 

  Who inspires you?  Let us know and we'll do a Just the Girls: Real Beauty story about her!  We'd love to meet her and find out what makes her beautiful!




Monday, April 28, 2014

Beautiful Superhero

  There was a video going around earlier this month about moms.  It vaguely annoyed me at first, but as it was increasingly shared I settled in to figure out why.  

  The video was made by a greeting card company, and it focused on 'the world's toughest job'.  A job was advertised and the interviews were conducted online.  As the job was described, each job-seeker's reaction was recorded.  The 'toughest job in the world' required standing up all the time, constantly exerting yourself, no vacation time, workload increases on get the idea.  Near the end of the video, the 'toughest job' is revealed as, of course, being a mom.  

  Generally, the video is very sweet.  We do forget that our moms do a lot of work.  I mean, we're like superheroes, right?  I think we are, too.  I have two grown children, though, and I'm telling you....I'm a superhero who SLEPT.  I also didn't stand up all the time.  

  Apart from the video being a little over-the-top, though, here's what my vague annoyance was all about.  The card company seemed to want to make us feel guilty for the trouble we put our moms through.  Mom sacrificed for you, and you can't even send her a lousy card?  Call your mother, she gave up her sleep, her vacations, her fun, her very LIFE for you.  

  I asked my friend Faith to bring some props to her photo shoot, something that made her feel beautiful.  She could have used the opportunity to get away by herself, to dress up and spend a little vacation time from her two little boys.  We would have even let her sit down.  Guess what she brought.  

  She brought her son William, and she brought her son Tucker, and she brought their superhero toys.  

  Faith spent her Just the Girls: Real Beauty shoot doing what makes her feel loved, special, and beautiful.  She hung out with her children.  Faith doesn't think she's sacrificing her life for her boys...they make her life amazingly gorgeous!  Those two guys never have to feel guilty for the 'work' she's put into them, because it is blessing for her to do it.  

  William and Tucker are blessed because Faith is their mother.  And Faith is blessed because William and Tucker are her sons!  They are BEAUTIFUL!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Beautiful Foster Mom

  James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  

Several of my friends are doing foster care right now, and watching each of them with their foster daughters and sons is such a blessing!  Do you know a foster mom?  We'd love to interview her!

  Jessica is a beautiful girl.  She's married and has a young, adorable, energetic son.  She certainly had enough on her plate already.  But Jessica and her husband decided that they had some more energy, time, and love to they started fostering.  

  We can't show you Jessica's little lovey's face, but she is very obviously a Beautiful Girl and she is much loved!  

  Are you interested in foster care?  I have friends who have shared their home and family with all ages of kids in need.  My family fostered teen girls for years.  It can be difficult and it can be heartbreaking, but it is needed and it is a wonderful way to be a light in a dark situation.  It's not only the children who benefit from foster care, it's their own families and it can also be YOU!  

  Want to find out more, or think you can't do it?  Send me a message or comment here and I'll put you in touch with someone who can encourage you.  Or just call your local Department of Social Services to get started! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

All the Beautiful Girls....

  As you know, we've made a new commitment to Just the Girls: Real Beauty.  We want to photograph 150 women and girls this year. We've had a slow start because of the weather, but today we made up for it by photographing nine beauties!  

  Those sessions aren't ready yet, but I wanted to go ahead and share one very sweet and thought provoking moment.  

  Even though Aubrianah and I have been thinking about this project for a long time, we still struggle with the concept.  I skipped Sunday School last week to go home and change because I thought I 'looked stupid'.  Aubrianah changes outfits, sometimes several times, because she doesn't feel comfortable.  Even today, on our way to the Real Beauty shoots,  she was talking negatively about her arms and I was worrying about whether this shirt makes me look fat.  We are not immune, even though we make a conscious effort to increase that immunity.  We aren't the only ones, most of the women I know point out the areas of their bodies they are not happy about...and most of us do it often.

  We had a great time with ALL the beauties today, but there was a very specific and very strong affirmation of what we are doing at the last shoot of the day.  Aubrianah's friend Carina, who is a completely adorable college student, took a moment to encourage Aubrianah.  Carina told her she is 'radiant', that she loves her, that she is sweet and kind. She said more, her words actually made us all a little teary!

  Aubrianah is a teen, and teen girls don't often affirm one another in that way.  The more empathetic and thoughtful ones are hurt by the perceived indifference of others, and most are torn apart by flat-out discouragement.  

  Carina has made it a point in her life to be a champion of other girls.  I think that's beautiful.  She said, and I agree, that it isn't guys who do the most harm, it's other girls.  Even when we are grown up we still tear down other women in order to build ourselves up.  

  One of the Just the Girls: Real Beauty goals for this year is to catch ourselves before we attack other women.  No more "What is she WEARING?" more "Did you hear what SHE said?" more "Can you BELIEVE she did that?"  But I think we need to add a little something more.  

  Will you join me in following Carina's example?  Will you take a moment at every opportunity to tell another girl that she is radiant, or kind, or sweet, or amazing? What an impact it will have!  We are all women, and we are all beautiful!


Friday, February 14, 2014

A Little Help for More Beauty

  A few months ago, Aubrianah and I spent some time on a photo shoot with a Beautiful Girl and her family.  Dana is a friend-of-a-friend (or she WAS, now we count her as a friend-first-class!), we didn't know her well but we had both remarked about how much we liked her and how beautiful she is!  So we were surprised on the shoot when Dana told us that she doesn't think she is beautiful.  

  Even though we had kind of let Just the Girls: Real Beauty die out a bit...after all, it was just supposed to be a summer project...Dana's comment inspired us.  How could someone so vivacious, so bright, feel that she was not beautiful?  We decided that we want to make a new commitment, until we don't hear the "I'm not beautiful!" comments from women!  So we made an appointment with Dana to be our very first Beautiful Girl of 2014.  We hope she will be the 1st of a 150-Beautiful Girls goal!  

  During her shoot and interview, we learned some very interesting things about Dana, more of which you'll hear about in a future post!  The best part of every Real Beauty shoot is uncovering all that gorgeousness!  Dana is a mom, wife, and nurse.  She has a beautiful home and a loving husband and loyal friends. She's a Believer and has a close relationship with the Lord. She LOVES to refinish furniture, and she's great at it!  We saw some of her pieces and they are lovely.  Dana has a lot of beauty in her life.

  Dana also suffers from depression.  

   Personally, I (Ruth) have struggled with depression and substance abuse since I was a teenager.  I've been in two treatment facilities, once after a very nearly successful suicide attempt.  
  When I became a Christian, the lure of substance abuse was taken away from me.  I'm thankful for that, but I am still very careful to keep away from that kind of temptation.  
  The depression, however, still sometimes haunts me.  

  Christian women like me and like Dana, in my opinion, have a slightly more difficult time asking for help.  We are told we just need to "Trust in God", "Pray through the depression", "Buck up!", or my favorite, "Just be happy!"  

  I know several Christian women who are, or were at some time, on anti-depressant medications...but they keep it a secret from their Christian friends and family.  The guilt of needing the help keeps many other women from seeing their doctor to get medication.  

  Dana wanted her Real Beauty post to be an encouragement to those women, the women who aren't asking for help because they think it's lame that they need it.    There is no shame in getting help.  
  Dana tried praying through the depression.  She tried 'bucking up', and she tried being happy.  But we are flesh and bone and mind and sometimes our bodies just need a push, something to help get us over the hump, a little help for MORE beauty.

  Since Dana started on her medication, she is able to reach her full beautiful potential!  Her mind can be clearer, her priorities less chaotic, her thoughts less jumbled.  

  Depression is real, it's physical.  Yes, please have encouraging friends around you, please find someone to talk to and find someone to keep you accountable. Get outside your own head by helping others and serving the community.  But when those things aren't enough, it's OK to get yourself to a doctor and get a little help!  It can make you MORE beautiful!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Beautiful Plans for 2014!

     Photo credit: Jessica Hedrick Photography

  Happy 2014!  Aubrianah and I recently spent a bit of time with a new friend during a family photo shoot.  The gorgeous mother of two confided in us that she doesn't think she is beautiful.  Her statement was ironic, because Aubrianah and I had just discussed, on the way to the shoot, how beautiful and cool this woman is!  

  I was surprised at the conversation, and it made me realize that our work with Just the Girls: Real Beauty is not over.  In fact, it's not over until every woman we meet knows she is beautiful.  

  So, Aubrianah and I have made a new commitment to Just the Girls: Real Beauty.  And we have goals.  We hope you will help us, because beauty is magnified when it is shared!  

1.  No non-beautiful talk about ourselves.  That means no "I look so fat!", no "My hair looks awful!", none of that stuff!

2.  No judging, comparing, or competing with other women.  No judging what she is wearing, her motives, or her way of doing things. No comparing ourselves to her...either to make ourselves feel better OR to make ourselves seem less than her. If she does something well, we will cheer. If she does something poorly, we will encourage. If she does something unkind or unthinking, we will look past it and pray for a change in all our hearts. 

3.  Photograph and interview at least 150 girls and women for Beautiful 2014!  

  We need you, beautiful girls, if we are going to meet our goal.  A Just the Girls: Real Beauty photo shoot is ALWAYS free.  All you have to do is show up and be beautiful (and you already have that second one down!).  An individual shoot/interview takes about 15 minutes, less if you are ready to tell us what is most beautiful about you. 

  In past Real Beauty interviews, some women have had beautiful stories to tell us.  They've been about childhood trauma, loss, trials, all the things that define who we are.  Please read back through some of the blog posts and be inspired to tell us your own story...if you want to share!  If you don't, that's ok too!  Aubrianah still wants to photograph your beautiful face and we both want to talk to you!

  If I know you well, I'll probably be coming after you.  If I don't, please contact me!  Also, we want to know about women YOU think are beautiful, so please tell us about them.  

  Have a beautiful year!  We plan to make 2014 the most beautiful year yet!