An Interview with Trina Holden (and a giveaway!)

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.

an interview with Trina Holden

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.


Trina Holden

Trina is a wife and mother to four, balancing her passions for writing, homeschooling, and community whilst settling into her new habitat in Alabama! She’s author of three books: More Than Numbers (a free ebook!), Real {Fast} Food and Embracing Beauty. You can find her blogging at TrinaHolden.com.

Embracing Beauty {a review}

Embracing Beauty - a review

When Trina Holden‘s book, Embracing Beauty, debuted, I wasn’t a mom. I wasn’t even considering becoming a mom. A few short months later I was surprised by a positive pregnancy test. How quickly circumstances change. At the same time my belly was blossoming with new life, my heart was quickly wilting over my changing shape.

The weeks until James’ birth turned into single digits and I found myself mired deep in the negative self talk and depression about my body that had followed me around most of my pregnancy.  I’m not new to body image issues and pregnancy had maximized my struggles. My mind kept drifting to Trina and the book I hadn’t read because I thought it wouldn’t apply to my life.

I wasn’t necessarily in the market for style advice, but the title – Embracing Beauty – gave me a glimmer of hope that this fellow momma might have a ladder long enough to reach me at the bottom of my body image pit.

Curled on the couch, with my belly bulging between my knees and my iPad, I read straight through Embracing Beauty in one sitting. The cold Winter weather outside was no match for the warmth of Trina’s wisdom and insight about God’s design for beauty. The first third of the book was indeed the ladder I needed to start my journey to embracing beauty.  As a bonus, I picked up some stellar style tips along the way.

We are to accept God’s definition of beauty and walk in it, with our head held high and a smile on our face. And when others notice us, it will be for the love that accents every angle— confidence in God’s love for us and a selfless love for others because we are no longer consumed with the effort of bolstering our own worth with what we wear.

Trina Holden in Embracing Beauty

The journey has had its set backs. What I thought was the hardest thing about pregnancy is turning out to be one of the hardest things about post-pregnancy, too. I am easily side tracked by the world’s definition of beauty. But, beauty, like fashion, comes in all different shapes, sizes and styles. It isn’t confined to the cover of a magazine. Beauty can be found in extra pounds, puffy eyes, and busy days. My focus shouldn’t be on getting back to my pre-pregnancy physique but on allowing my body and style to be a reflection of God’s beautiful creation.

Let’s embrace today’s beauty by clothing ourselves with the truth of His unconditional love for us.

Trina Holden in Embracing Beauty

Trina’s advice on style is helpful and inspiring regardless of your season in life and, most importantly, she speaks the truth about beauty for every woman. Embracing Beauty has a message I will return to again and again.

Come back on Friday to read my interview with Trina and enter to win a copy of her wonderful book!

 

 

Dear Me… {a letter to my teenage self}

A letter to my teenage self

My dearest Em,

What a journey you have ahead! In your small (and by small, I mean tall and semi-chubby) self, you have no idea what joy and pain, triumphs and failures, love and heartache, adventures and mishaps are waiting for you.

I don’t want to alter your path too much with my words from the future.  I am grateful, though vexed at times, for the lessons I learned from your choices.  I would, however, like to offer some encouragement, and maybe a pointer or two, to make the coming years less of an emotional roller coaster.

Be Yourself!

Life got a lot more enjoyable when you began to embody who God created you to be.  Unfortunately for you, it wasn’t until college that you really started to act like yourself, and even then, you had days so driven by the whims of other people, Emily was nowhere to be found.

I realize it takes time, and trial and error, to discover who you are.  The process of discovery never really stops; but, the more you look to the Lord – the author of the life you live – the more confident you’ll be that YOU are speaking, acting, thinking, believing, not other people.

With that in mind: embrace your height, wear lace, start a book club, get your groove on, speak up in class, bake for everyone you know (and don’t know), share your faith boldly.  Indeed, people will judge, but at least they will be judging the real you, not who you think they want to judge.

Clippings from the Senior issue of the Tartan Shield, my high school newspaper. I was on staff for three years. {Ashley was my Maid of Honor}

About boys…

Teenage love is swirling around you in all its hand-holding, texting, and movie going glory.  The idea of a guy liking you is a heady thought, especially that guy you’ve liked since 6th grade and will continue to like all through high school.

Baking his name in cookies, toilet papering his house, and endlessly instant messaging him may seem like good ideas, but probably come off as a tad bit overeager (desperate, maybe?).   The triumph of getting him to admit that he thinks you’re pretty isn’t worth the endless hours you obsess and journal about him.

God seems a bit cruel, not allowing some romantic action to develop over the years.  Yes, a date to just one school dance would be nice, but deep down you know you only want to go for the dress.  Don’t fret, you’ll get to wear a beautiful dress when it really counts. God isn’t being cruel; He’s keeping you all to Himself until both you and the one who will cherish and care for you is ready.

I don’t want to give too much away (just wait until you find out where your “meet cute” is…), but know that your future husband meets everything on the list you so diligently made and has qualities you didn’t know you needed.

In light of all that, you won’t have a boyfriend until you’re 24 and that boyfriend will become your husband.  You saved your first kiss for him.  You saved your whole self for him.

It was worth it!

Reach out!

Friends don’t make themselves.  Your dependence on others to create friendships for you is unnecessary and puts strain on the ones that matter the most.  I know there are others around you who have the same difficulty moving past “Hello. How are you.”  Those people are friends in the making!

Shyness is not an excuse.  Come to find out, you aren’t shy.  Reserved, yes.  Introverted, yes.  Shy, no.

Look beyond yourself and reach out to those around you.  Not everyone you meet needs to become your bosom friend, but love and caring without prejudice should go without saying.

Reach out to the girl who gleefully pointed out the mating moths before 4th period.  Reach out to the foreign exchange student who’s too smart for his own good.  Reach out to the forlorn girl in PE who obviously has “sadness in her heart,” as mom would say.

On beauty…

I am hesitant to say much on the topic of beauty and self-image, not because you don’t need encouragement, but because I am so vastly in need of the same encouragement.  I don’t know what to say to keep you from negative self-talk and strict food intake.  You have already begun to build your self perception around a worldly standard.

Your family, your friends, your husband will spend many hours affirming you.  Their encouragement will all be for not if a confidence in Christ’s unconditional love for you doesn’t remain strong.

If you internalize anything from this letter, let it be this: You are valuable.  Your value isn’t directly linked to any sort of physical attribute or personality trait.  Your value is given by God Almighty.

Put your God goggles on and believe what you see.

In parting:

You will begin to notice a theme develop as God molds and shapes your heart and your path.  He never works when or how you want Him to work.  Initially, that’s quite frustrating and works directly against your perfectionist modus operandi, however, you cannot deny that God knows.  He just knows…

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

{Ephesians 3:19-21}

Amen, indeed, Emmy – Amen!

~~~~~~~~

Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl, has written a second book geared toward young women.  It’s called Graceful and Emily shares:

For the good test taker and the strict list maker. For the rule follower, the fear wallower, the messy, and the misunderstood. For the self-critic, the silent judge, and the girl who feels invisible.

For the girl who is tired of trying and the one afraid to fail.

You don’t have to be perfect, but do you trust the One who is? The God who came to save you also came to live with you, in you, today.

She encouraged others to remember what it was like to be a teenager again.  Many of us took that challenge and turned our reflections into letters to our young souls.  You can find a link up of other letters on Emily’s website Chatting at The Sky.  She has even created a wonderful video to spread the message of Graceful.

photo credit: Dr Stephen Dann via photopin cc