Celebrate Real Beauty

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Last Thursday I had the privilage of sitting down with Sunni Spencer on Episode 2 of LAB: The Podcast. Sunni is a deep soul with a light way, shaped by joy and pain. She is kind and brave, a light in our world. Burning in the places we need it most. She has shattered ceilings and found herself in pieces. Her life and story will inspire you to dream, confront your stereotypes and invite you to write real beauty into your own.

After we recorded the episode, we spent some time defining real beauty with our live audience. It was awesome to hear each voice weaving together a picture from different perspectives but all with a powerful common thread. By the end of the discussion it was the Spirit of beauty that gave us definition. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. The Spirit of Jesus living and revealing this fruit in real, flesh and bone, life is truly beautiful.

In a world that so often and so loudly defines beauty based solely on appearance we wanted to offer a different perspective. To hold out and celebrate real beauty, flowing from the source. Life and beauty radiating from the inside out. And that led to an invitation. An invitation for our friends in the room to celebrate one person in their lives who help us see real beauty.

On Thursday, October 3rd, we all met at Sunni’s shop and raised a glass to celebrate. What a treasure to share these beautiful stories with you!

1 Samuel 16:7 says: The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. While my sweet and smart friend, Kim Thresher, is certainly beautiful on the inside, she, more importantly, has an even more beautiful heart. She is always generous with her time, talent and treasure, frequently putting others’ needs and wants above her own. She is a passionate and relentless advocate for the downtrodden. She’s come through the other side of grief, disappointment and heartache with unimaginable grace and dignity. She is a light and blessing to many, and a loyal and trustworthy friend. This is a kind of enduring beauty we need more of in our world.

I would like to nominate Heather Pfundstein as a woman who embodies faith and beauty. Heather decided long ago that Jesus was to be her first priority. Last year Heather shared with me that she was going back to work and would not be able to be a part of a day bible study. It ends up that she approached her potential employer and told them she would not be able to be at work until noon on Thursdays as to not interrupt her commitment to study the Word of God. SHE WAS STILL HIRED! Jesus shines through her eyes and joyful temperament. Her excitement for Jesus in her life is contagious. Heather should definitely be highlighted as a woman in Tampa that exudes the life and beauty of Jesus.

I wanted to submit Megan Turnquest as a person who exemplifies true beauty both in the way she radiates God's spirit and how she cares for others. In all that she does- work, worship, Awanas, Seminary class, friendship- she gives it her all, bringing joy & love wherever she is. And in my darkest moment she was there to remind me of Truth, of God's light leading me in the dark, and offering all of herself to make sure I knew I wasn't alone and had someone to lean on in my grief. Beauty is found in sacrifice, in humility, and in full surrender to our King Jesus, and my dear friend Megan exemplifies all of that and so much more.

My nominee is Rowena Barnett. I met her in February of this year and we became close friends since. I see so much beauty in her. She has so much grace and wisdom, drive to walk in holiness and purity, to glorify God in all that she does, to hear His voice and to follow Him. When I think of her, I see royalty, loyal and honest. She studies the Word and shares her faith testimony with others. Her inner beauty reflects outside making her even more beautiful! Her love for people and her gift of giving is inspiring.

Kristen Morris - A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. I trust her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, Kristen treats me generously all her life long. Kristen's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. Kristen looks over a field and buys it (Realtor!) First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. (and the Insta-Pot!) She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. (Girl Scout Leader, Academic Foundations, Friend, Volunteer) She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. (Well, maybe not this one :) Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises! Todd Morris

I nominate Merriann Metz because she is beyond amazing and beautiful. She is generous, selfless, kind, compassionate and strives to make the world a better place for those around her with a grace and love I have never seen before. She is the best and most beautiful person I know.

My nomination for a Woman of Beauty is Evy Vogler. I was so inspired by meeting her last night, her presence radiates love, acceptance, and beauty. Her positive outlook, trust in God/her heart's calling, and ability to see others through the eyes of God is unlike any beauty I have witnessed before. She set an example that showed me what it is to truly love a stranger. I went home and prayed for God to shine light into my heart so that I may be a better instrument of Divine Love. That was inspired by her! What a beautiful gift she is to this world.

I would like to celebrate the real beauty I see in Alexandra Goebel. The real beauty is seeing God's Spirit emanate from her. She has such a wonderful connection to the Spirit, and her life priorities reflect a true love for God and creation. This is revealed in her beautiful actions and beautiful prayers.

Cammie Elliott exemplifies real beauty. As I've grown closer to Cammie this year, I've been blessed by God's presence in her heart and spirit. She is rooted in God's truth and that truth overflows to others through her own flourishing and good fruit. What does this look like in Cammie? She carries herself with Christ-confidence, a twinkle in her eye, a bright, beautiful smile and words for others that are sweeter than honey. I'm blessed to call Cammie Elliott my friend and ministry partner.