Free, at last.

free, at last

This all begins and ends in 2nd Timothy.

The Word of God is not imprisoned.

2 Timothy 2:9

We let our culture and our own finite understanding capture the Word of God, keeping it in chains. But, the Word is FREE and it brings FREEDOM to all who hear.

We let our sin habits shackle God’s truth. Our repeated offenses trap us in harmful patterns, when Scripture offers a lovely tapestry of truths to set our hearts free.

I think of my body image issues – how I’ve let culture complicate my relationship with my body, how I’ve let the world define my beauty and value, how I’ve let my physical appearance become an idol that distracts me from the Creator.

I have bound and gagged the Word of God that says I am (we are all) fearfully and wonderfully made.

There is sweet release when we really live out the truth that God’s works are wonderful – including us! God’s word gives us permission to love what He has created, to love our bodies, our features, our uniquenesses, because they reflect God as a Father and an artist.

The worth of a person is not bound up in their physical appearance. I believe that about others; why has it taken 27 years for me to believe this about myself?

God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face, God looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

Dwelling on the implications of that truth has been one of the most life giving gifts of freedom I’ve experienced lately. When I let go of fitting into a certain physical mold, I am free.

I am free from the pressure to be pretty because my value comes from my Creator, not the created.

I am free to be cherished right now, not just when I’m finally that size or photogenic or wearing that top.

I am free to enjoy a bowl of ice cream in the evening without worrying about it going straight to my bum.

I am free to feel good about myself even if I don’t wear the same pant size I did in high school.

I am free to not fit into some of my pre-preggo clothes.

I am even free to give away some of those pre-preggo clothes that I may not ever fit into again.

I am free to be healthy and strong and build muscle.

I am free to not count calories.

I am free to like my body even if I don’t have a flat stomach or a model physique.

I am free to buy clothes that fit and flatter regardless of the size.

I am free to have seasons of feasting and seasons of fasting.

I am free to not be the “prettiest,” blondest girl in every room.

I am free to be me and not to be her.

I am free to enjoy life without focusing on what I look like.

I am free to be God’s fearfully and wonderfully made creation.


Small shifts in thinking can lead to major transformation. And, when you aren’t always cognitive of those shifts taking place (or dismiss them as insignificant because they are so small), you wake up one morning and marvel at the new outlook you seem to have adopted overnight.

Start with one small shift towards accepting the freedom we have in Christ. One morning you may find yourself marveling at the transformation God made in your heart.

I know I have.

The Word of God is not imprisoned. Let it set you free.

photo credit: greekadman via photopin cc

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

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!



7 Ways to Embrace Your Body During Pregnancy

Despite my pregnancy body image struggles, I haven’t spent the entirety of the past nine months feeling like a two ton tank with legs. During my more rational and positive moments, I realized there were some things I could do to make myself feel more feminine and fit. Acting like a victim of my pregnant circumstance was not one of them. I still had/have days where nothing seems okay about my pregnant physique (except for the little one growing in there), but I never regretted taking action against my negative attitude, however small the action was. Here are seven simple and practical ways to embrace (or begin to embrace) your changing body during pregnancy.

7 ways to embrace your body during pregnancyPaint those nails – Painted nails are one of my superficial coping methods. Bright, cheery nail colors help me get through the dreary Winter months and just a slick of light pink helps me feel feminine anytime of year. So, it’s no surprise that keeping my nails painted during pregnancy has been a mood lifter. Prenatal vitamins plus pregnancy hormones usually make nails and hair (see suggestion below) grow strong and healthy. Take advantage of the length and strength of those pregnant nails – you’ll feel festive and more put together.

{My absolute favorite nail polish is Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro Nail Enamel. The flat tipped brush makes for easy and accurate application and the colors range from subdued French Rose to trendy Marine Blue.}

Take care of your hair – Even if your hair didn’t benefit from those vitamins and hormones I mentioned (though they really do marvelous things for most women’s hair), a good cut, wash, and styling session can do a world of good for your morale. I recently got my hair cut and felt like a new woman. Investing in quality shampoo and conditioner is good way to pamper your locks, too, if you aren’t in need of a trim.

Maternity Clothes – Don’t wait until you’re bursting out of your regular stuff to buy and wear maternity clothes. Put everything that doesn’t fit away so its not taunting you. Motherhood Maternity and Target were my favorite places to get clothes. (MM has tall jeans!) You may rebel against the thought of wearing things with ruching and stretchy waist bands, but chances are, you’ll look slimmer in them than in regular clothes you’re trying to make accommodate your changing shape.

You also don’t need to replace your whole wardrobe with maternity clothes. A well curated selection of maternity pieces should carry you through your entire pregnancy.  I ended up with 3 pants, 1 pair of leggings, 3 t-shirts, 5 or so sweaters, and 1 dress. Though I’m excited to expand my wardrobe pretty soon, I definitely didn’t grieve for lack of maternity options.

Avoid looking at pre-pregnancy photos – I got into several negative spirals after looking through older Facebook albums. All I could think about was how I wished I looked like I did in those photos instead of how I looked now in my pregnant state. The comparison is unfair and detrimental to your body image. I would avoid going down memory lane as much as possible.

Exercise – It can be difficult to get off the couch to pee in the midst of pregnancy induced exhaustion let alone exercise, but physical activity was truly one of the most effective ways of embracing my pregnant body. Even when nothing but a nap sounded good, I always felt better (and more energized) after getting off my bum and engaging in some sort of physical activity. I stopped jogging pretty immediately after finding out I was pregnant for fear that I would somehow bounce little James right out of the womb. In hindsight, that wasn’t necessary, but walks were a good alternative. I also enjoyed pregnancy workout videos in my living room when Winter really kicked in. You don’t have to let your arms and legs atrophy even though your middle is expanding. If you aren’t sick or bed ridden, I would push past the temptation to stay sedentary and get moving!

Wear mascara – Do whatever it is that makes you feel pretty and put together. For some women it’s a necklace; for others it’s lip gloss. For me, it’s wearing mascara. Most of the time during the past few months, I have looked like a ragamuffin – fuzzy socks, Tim’s sweat pants, unbrushed hair. I think Tim looks forward to Sundays when I make a concerted effort to look presentable. Though it takes some extra effort, I always feel better after I’ve showered and put some thought into my ensemble. But even if I’m staying in my yoga pants, taking a minute to put on mascara before I walk out the door makes me feel more human.

Guard your mind – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

I think this has been the most difficult, but most rewarding way to embrace my pregnancy body – praying for the strength to keep my mind focused where it needs to be focused. Even if you gain more weight than you wanted to or you just feel like a beached whale sometimes, you are still beautiful and full of life. We can ask God for help in keeping our minds on truth, purity, beauty, and praiseworthy things.

photo credit: Kit4na via photopin cc

The Hardest Thing About Pregnancy

They say that you take yourself with you wherever you go, that you are your one inescapable feature. I’m not sure who “they” are, but I would agree. You can alter your appearance, but you still look the same inside. You can move to a new city, but you pack yourself with the rest of your possessions. You can start a new relationship, but you have the same wounds and hurt that messed up the last one.

By default, external change does not generate internal change. [pullquote position=”right”]Trying to change who you are inside by manipulating outside circumstances is a dead end[/pullquote]. Transformation that begins in the heart is the only way to change who you are and God is the only one capable of heart transformation. I’ve been learning this lesson first-hand, lately, and it hasn’t been an easy one for me to grasp.


I’ve had a complicated relationship with my body for years. I’d be hard pressed to pin point one incident that was the catalyst for the dysfunction between me and my body, but rather, I have a host of memories that have contributed to a long standing hyper-awareness between mind and flesh…

Keeping quiet while the other girls at recess compared their weights; my 5’2″ frame holding far more pounds than the average elementary student. Or, my two junior high crushes liking other girls with much slimmer bodies than I had. Or, being nicknamed Big Em by my freshman year math teacher (more for my height than my weight, but still fuel for my poor body image).

By the time mid high school rolled around, I was in full obsession mode. My body and my weight were both things I had previously let control me and now it was my turn to control them. I already prided myself on being goal-oriented and driven in other areas of my life, applying those traits to weight loss and fitness weren’t difficult.

I enjoyed the results, but results became a slippery slope of wanting more. Despite being underweight, I still felt big, like my efforts weren’t enough. Eventually, when my hair started to thin and I became anemic, I realized I may have crossed the line into unhealthy.

[pullquote]In my quest to change my body externally, I totally missed the fact that I was still being controlled internally by my body[/pullquote], just in a more socially acceptable way.

The past ten years have been full of discovery and growth in this area. I know that obsessing about my physical appearance is a way I can feel in control when things in my life feel out of control. I know that I all too often place my value in the world’s standard of beauty. I know that looking a certain way may bring happiness, but it doesn’t bring joy.

I also know that I still struggle with this in a major way.

Being pregnant – knowing that my body was changing to take care of a little one – did not change my struggle. If anything, it magnified that fact that I still let my body control my heart and mind. I brought my body image issues right along with me the past nine months, making my changing form the hardest thing about pregnancy. I’m now three weeks away from James’ due date and am realizing this journey is far from over.

For the sake of this not becoming a novel, I’m breaking this post up into two parts… Tomorrow will be more about my current struggles and what I’ve learned while being pregnant.

Have you ever tried to change who you are by manipulating external circumstances?

photo credit: via photopin cc