Trina Holden is infectious. She has a free spirit that draws you in and a grounded wisdom that makes you want to stay. I intermet (can I coin that phrase?) Trina in 2012 when I became a fellow contributor for Kindred Grace, and narrowly missed meeting her in real life when she moved from my parent’s neck of the woods to Alabama. She is an inspiring author and blogger who has graciously allowed me to pick her heart about some themes from her most recent release, Embracing Beauty.
If you read my review, you’ll know that Embracing Beauty has been both challenging and life-giving in my own journey to embrace my God-given body and beauty. I hope Trina’s words, in her book and in this interview, encourage and exhort you as much as they did me.
I asked Trina to weigh in on her writing journey for this book, so before we get to my specific questions, here’s more on the process behind the pages.
Trina Holden: My first few years of motherhood were severely style deprived. (We won’t even talk about the years before that!) Around year 4, the Lord started to work in my heart addressing some deeply rooted lies about my worth and revealing a clearer picture of my identity in Him. The freedom I found during this season allowed me to branch out in every area of my life, including my wardrobe, which led me to finally having some success in the area of dressing myself well.
It was actually friends on my Facebook page who suggested my next book be about dressing well in the season of motherhood because they apparently thought I was good at that. Because I never saw myself as a fashion blogger, or imagined I would write a book about beauty, I felt like the nudge to write the book was actually from God. I started to collect notes and a few blog posts I’d written on the topic, I realized this was a subject I was, in fact, passionate about enough to write an entire book.
I began the process in November, 2012 and hit a wall around January 2013. This is when I got to the end of what I’d planned to write about but had a feeling the book was not complete yet. I felt the Lord directing me to dive more deeply into the ‘why’ behind the process of embracing beauty. I felt called to answer questions I didn’t know the answers to, so I spent a lot of time studying Scripture, praying, and begging friends to pray for me as I wrestled to put into words why it was even worthwhile to mentor mothers toward style. The Lord met me as I put my fingers to the keyboard, and I still say, He wrote the first 3 chapters of the book.
Finally, it was done. Not perfect, but it was my best. (That’s an important lesson I’ve learned with self publishing…if you wait till it’s perfect, it’ll never happen. Instead, put forth your best effort and trust the rest to God.) My husband designed my cover as he did my last book, formatted it, and finally hit ‘publish’. The book has been gratefully received by a small group of friends, and that has been a delight. But I have a growing conviction that the main reason God had me write the book was for my own heart.
This book has inspired me and held me accountable to embracing beauty in my own life for the 9 months of carrying my 4th child, and now 5 months postpartum. I feel like I would have thrown in the towel on embracing beauty in this last year if it weren’t for the fact that I wrote a whole book about it! This book is a printed testimony–an altar of remembrance–that reminds me of a time God called me, met me, changed me, and gave me the gift of beauty in a season I wasn’t expecting it.
ECG: In chapter 1, you mention several purposes for beauty. Which has been the most challenging for you to adopt and live out?
Beauty as worship is still rather mind blowing to me. I pursued beauty for so many lesser reasons and with such earthly motives. But realizing that I can worship God even in what I clothe myself in, and in my attitude toward my outward appearance? It both overwhelms and excites me.
What does taking time to care for yourself look like on a daily basis?
My number one rule of self care right now is making sleep a priority. No amount of makeup or cute clothes can help me if I look like a corpse from sleep deprivation. In this season, making sleep a priority means I have very little time to myself, and I am not as productive, but it also means I start the day with a refreshed countenance, and that is huge. I can leave the house without make up if I have had enough sleep!
I thrift shop about once a month, and ONLY buy an item if I love it. That way my wardrobe, though small, is all favorites.
And–I groom my massive eyebrows during bath time. There you have it: the beauty routine of a SAHM of 4 small children.
How do you (personally) maintain balance between focus on personal appearance and the Biblical perspective on beauty?
I see my outward appearance as a way I can bless those around me. When I veer off from seeking to bless to seeking to impress, that’s when I know I need to go back to Scripture to refocus.When I remember my identity as beloved daughter of the King, it takes so much pressure of to make sure my appearance is ‘perfectly fashionable and trim’. Instead I can relax into the body, face, and season He’s given me, and celebrate whatever beauty I have in front of me.
Have your beauty/style strategies changed over the course of having your children? Can you tell the difference in your attitude with your first pregnancy and this last one?
I’ve changed so much! During my first pregnancy I was so motivated by fear that people would think I had no clue how to dress my pregnant body. I was also always trying to look as skinny as possible even when my body was anything but. In my last pregnancy I was able to embrace my width knowing it was a season, and just enjoy finding things that were comfy and my favorite color. Oh, and I embraced drape. First pregnancy I wore cotton blouses. Oh my word, those make you look twice as big as you are! Last pregnancy? I didn’t buy anything unless is draped or flowed. Maxi skirts and knit or bias-cut tops. I felt elegant and thinner even though I gained 20 more pounds than my first pregnancy!
I often experience culture’s definition of beauty as a weight and a burden. What’s the best way to combat that burden when you aren’t even close to fitting that definition?
Ignore that definition. Realize it truly is a mirage. Every body that’s touted as ‘perfect’ has had plastic surgery. My body is normal, my body is amazing in that it has carried 4 other humans, and my body is preforming and looking exactly as my artistic God planned it to. Who am I to resent the way He designed my body to change during motherhood, when each of the changes is purposeful in order to nourish another life well? There are days I rest in that, there are days (yesterday, in fact) when I have to preach to myself. Either way, this is fact: My body is beautifully designed by a God who loves me no matter how much I weigh.
What would you say to a woman just beginning the process of embracing beauty?
Exactly that–it’s a process. Celebrate each time you experience the success of a good hair day or an outfit combination you love. Know that dressing yourself well and true to who you are is an art form, and a skill not mastered in a month or even a year. Celebrate that fact that even if your outfit flopped, or you didn’t lose your baby weight as fast as you wanted, it has no bearing on your true worth. There’s skin deep beauty, and heart beauty, and the one who doesn’t let the former define her will radiate the latter.
Trina is giving away an ebook copy of Embracing Beauty! How do you choose to embrace beauty? Comment on this post to enter the Embracing Beauty giveaway. Winner will be selected on Wednesday, April 11th.