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This is part 3 of a 7 part podcast series on The Life You Love Manifesto.  You can listen to part 1 on a Life of Calling here and part 2 on a Life of Learning here.

Notes and Links

I begin with a short discourse on beauty. Beauty is not an afterthought with God.  It is essential to everything He is and does.  He doesn’t not create things merely for function but fills this universe with reckless and extravant beauty.  This is manifest most of all as He gives His son over to die for our redemption.  The essence of beauty is giving.  We, too, are creatures in whom He has placed an essence of beauty and we live fully when we learn to share that gift, that beauty, lavishly with the world.  We must learn to love what is beautiful, aligning ourselves with His truth.  I give practical examples for living with more beauty in our world, in our homes, and in ourselves.

  • Pay attention to the beauty in nature

creekwading As fate would have it, I’m talking about beauty in the first week of June.  HAVE YOU EVER seen anything like it?  I get choked up when I walk out to my garden and see my every kind of life bursting into bloom.   It would only take a brief look out your window to realize that God is the essence of beauty. His creation tells us something about His heart. It is magnificent, powerful, and beautiful. He has, with reckless abandon, lavished His beauty on the world. We stand in awe of the landscapes of nature; the clear, crystal force of a moving river, the delicate colorful petals of a flower, the gentle sway of a tree moving in the breeze. God is the ultimate artist. The Creator of all things has not made a world merely of function—He has chosen the wonder and beauty of the world as a means to draw us back to Himself. Beauty is transcendant. It reaches to the soul—it inspires us, and invites us—to know and to love.

 And God has ‘spared no expense’ at providing us with a world filled with delightful sights. At every turn, we see His handiwork. And we must teach the little ones to notice. We can do that in countless ways but one way is to expose them to the great artists of the past who have seen and captured the details of life in startling ways.
  • Create beauty in your home

af66ee3f61ca4b73d5fa766fbd35ff8a Creating an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere in your home is important and it doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Everyone benefits when time and care is taken to make your surroundings beautiful. Beauty invites us to ‘stay a while’, to relax, to enjoy ourselves. This can be achieved in a myriad of ways from playing classical music in your home, to bringing in fresh flowers, to lighting candles, to hanging artwork. Your children will be nourished by the very surroundings in which they live. I would go a step farther and say that creating beautiful, nutritious meals is an important way to literally ‘nourish’ our families. This is the perfect time of year, with summer’s bountiful harvest, to practice making meals that are both healthy and appealing. Take the time to use a tablecloth, set the table, use cloth napkins, and make a simple centerpiece of flowers or clippings from your yard. We all have to eat several times a day, so attack meal planning as if it were a job.  Here’s a little help from my years of trying to figure out how best to feed my troops! There is comfort and tremendous ‘soul’ nourishment to children when they come in from playing to the smell of fresh bread or homeade cookies. And just as our Father has lavished on us beauty and nourishment in abundance, we can share the same gift with our families. I mentioned my favorite home fragrances.  I love this one and this one, but this is my absolute favorite!  Some of my diffusers have lasted more than a year and provided endless olfactory inspiration!

  • Give generously of your beautiful self

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This category is, to me, the most important.  Because you and me? With our bodies that have born babies and heartache and loss?  We are beautiful.  Not because of how we look but because He has placed a beautiful essence in us so that we can offer it generously to others.

The essence of beauty is giving.

Christ is the ultimate in the beautiful.  He is always giving Himself, in every possible way, even to the point of death, so that others may live abundantly.  There is a extravagance in the way beauty gives itself that teaches us maybe the most important life lesson.  What makes something beautiful is the way it is lavishly poured out onto others.

The point was driven home a few years ago when I read the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. They devote a whole chapter to the power of a woman truly ‘unveiling her beauty’ to the world. I’ve given this book to my daughter to read because it changed the way I viewed my own physical and spiritual life. They describe the essence of a woman as beauty; that ‘Eve’ (woman) is the very incarnation in human form of the beauty of God. And they go on to describe that beauty is not some ‘conjured up’ set of external qualities, but is instead the essence of what God has already put inside of us. We don’t strive to ‘gin up’ beauty, we simply let down the veil—to our hearts—to the part of us that inspires, comforts, speaks, invites, and nourishes. We let down our guard to the beauty God has placed there, making ourselves available and vulnerable. And we do that by being ‘at rest’, ‘at peace’ with who God has made us to be.

“A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest…..she exudes a sense of calm, and invites those around her to rest as well……she speaks comfort….she offers others the grace to be and the room to become….in her presence, we can release the tension and pressure that so often grip our hearts…..Her spacious beautiful soul invites other to come, to be, to taste see that the Lord is good…A woman who makes herself vulnerable and available for intimacy invites others to do the same….in her presence, you can breathe again, you are free to be you….she unveils her beauty and invites you to life.

Oh, how I long to be a woman like that. So often our hurts and insecurities keep us from unveiling the beauty in our hearts. We fail. We protect ourselves. We draw the curtain tight so that noone will have the chance to hurt us. But God invites us to His table, where we once again obtain forgiveness and find the strength to make our hearts available. If there is one thing our family and our world needs, it’s to see us without the veil, offering our hearts and our presence ‘full of tender mercy and gentle vulnerability’. It will invite them to true life. It will captivate them. It will awaken their very souls to the beauty and paradox of God’s redemption.

Resources

The books I mentioned:

The poem I read at the end of the podcast: God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

 ***************************

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Mucho love to you beautiful people.  THANK YOU for offering your beauty so generously to those in your life! Now tell. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week? I’ll go first in the comments!

33 comments on “03: The Life You Love Manifesto|A Life of Beauty [Podcast]”

  1. Big sister (7) helping little sister (3) color – patiently, intently as if those pink bunnies and blue penguins were a masterpiece…and it was…beauty in the sacrifice of an hour quietly coloring and creating next to one another in the endless hours of summer that slow time and make sweet the preciousness of family.

  2. I’ll say the hydrangeas from our yard that I cut and put in a vase when our best friends came to our new house for the first time, after helping us move. I’ve dreamed of a house with hydrangeas for years and I’m so excited we have them!

  3. Watching my daughters face when she was playing with our cat. Pure joy and love for her cat…..love what pets can do for a family.

  4. My brand new granddaughter Adelyn Claire and the face of her big sissy, Elise when she laid eyes on her for the first time. It was one of those moments where time almost stands still and our hearts leap with joy! The kind Captivating speaks of when God has created a beautiful moment just for YOU.

  5. The woods border the yard of our home. While looking out my kitchen window Monday afternoon, I saw two very young deer grazing in my front yard. One of my curious kittens caught sight of these hungry critters and came closer to investigate. She crouched down under a nearby tree to take in the going ons. About that same time one of the young deer caught sight of her and came in closer to see what this furry little creature was. They were just about to touch noses when, simultaneously, they both jumped about three feet in the air. Cutest. Thing. Ever! Do you not just love God’s nature?

  6. I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty lately and how the world is trying to change our definition of what’s lovely. Shows like spongebob and Simpson’s (with their distorted, unattractive characters) worry me with the images they convey. Even “harmless” movies like Shrek teach that it is okay to trade beauty for ugliness. Thanks for another wonderful post.

  7. I have a shrub in our new to us yard that looked like a run of the mill rhododendreon. I had it mentally tagged to come out with the rest so I can replant different shrubs. We left on vacation and came home to a shrub covered in red star blooms that were opening to the more gorgeous pale pink flowers. Turns out its a mountain laurel (very uncommon in the pacific northwest) and its the prettiest plan I have ever owned. It made me pause and think about what other things (people) I have pruned before they’ve had a chance to bloom…….

  8. Oh Edie…I thought I was the only person to cry watching the bleeding heart blooms sway in the breeze. Or how much delight I found in my grand children’s faces when I showed them the most perfect white caterpillar, that they then named Frosty Tucker. How can anyone believe God is not The One behind the many perfect colors of the first week in June? My neighbor called out to me the other day as I stood in my driveway. She thought I was staring because something was wrong. But I was watching three kittens frolicking in my yard. What a gift!

  9. So much beauty in Spring (we live in WY, so our Spring is in full swing – it’s not summer yet!): lilacs, fluffy clouds, gorgeous blue sky, green grass, little bunny FooFoo eating said grass, the first robin sitting on the mailbox, the newborn baby of a young friend, warm air (feels beautiful!), the lightness of “hellos” with smiles tossed in because winter is OVER…though I have seen it snow on June 2.

  10. My sweet 5yr old in her first dance recital was a beauty to behold. I agree with my WY neighbor, the lilacs are finally blooming in SD this week and are a sight for sore eyes. Love’n the podcast Eddie, Thanks so much.

  11. As I let my kids run through the sprinkler for a few minutes, my 8 year old son giggled and said, “It’s so good to be happy like this!” That water sparkling in the afternoon sun was just perfect and I think he must have felt the wonder and beauty of the moment as well. This year I’ve been looking for ways to add beauty to my surroundings and sharing one post a week about it, so this podcast was timely and so encouraging. Thanks! And, can I recommend Sara Groves’ album “Add to the Beauty” to you? It’s one of my favorites…

  12. Edie,
    This podcast and post resonates to my very core. My whole blog is about the beauty that God has created for us. I’m sharing this on my blog on Friday.

    The most beautiful things I’ve seen this week were my pink and white peonies. They are some of my favorite flowers.

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us!
    Elizabeth

  13. I have a heightened sense of smell as well. Out on my daily walks, I will stop dead in my tracks with a friend and say, “can you smell that”? My jasmine is blooming like crazy right now and when I go outside to check on the tremendous growth of my little raised bed gardens, I’m lulled into sitting a while to enjoy the sights and scents in my backyard. God is so amazing to bless my little urban yard!

  14. What a wonderful podcast! I have so enjoyed listening to these and I get so much out of them! Thank you so much for doing this.

  15. Edie,
    You are so inspiring,eloquent, and lovely in all you write and speak. Thank you for the time and care you put into your blogs and podcasts.
    Blessings,
    Christi

  16. This week the most beautiful thing I’ve seen has been the Blue Ridge Mountains as I’ve driven back and forth from Hickory to Boone in the early morning and early evening hours. Absolutely breathtaking! Thank you for the gift of your podcasts! Listening to these has felt like an absolute indulgence… You are speaking life right into my heart. I’m a teacher at a classical Christian school and discovering your blog and now your podcasts feels like I’ve found a friend, colleague, and sister in Christ. btw…. This morning before I left for Boone, I cut some fresh flowers and placed in my daughter’s room. She is returning from a mission trip today and, because of your encouragement, I made the time to freshen up her room. She’ll arrive home before me today, and I hope those Black-eyed Susans welcome her in my absence.

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