Music in the morning is much better than makeup. Here is a video of my creative process- before I step into the studio to teach or create paintings, this is behind the scenes just as I am.
I was born to a midwestern, pigeon-raising, paper-route-carrying good ole farm boy from Iowa turned Engineer, and a Texas gal full of hospitality and all-things-nice who moved to Chicago and became a nurse. These two fell in love, married and started a fresh new lovely life together in Southern California. 10 years later, I was born. And life was still lovely when I was young.
But as time went on, the idea of what lovely actually is became clouded. At 10 years old, the bullying began. The kids in my class started wearing designer clothes due to our affluent suburb of Los Angeles. The success of the doctors, lawyers, stars, and the socialite culture sheltered our little society from the realities of urban life.
We had enough growing up, we were blessed. My parents did well, but they didn’t buy into the full material life that others were saturated by. I became an outsider- never really fitting in. Kids can be mean- cruel even. Soon, names like weird, odd, not cool, and ugly flooded the vocabulary of my classmates. Lovely would not be how I described myself. For several years after, I became shy, embarrassed of how I dressed, and what I looked like. I even stopped making art and writing for a season, because my sketchbook and journals were ripped to pieces in a circle of laughter. I became too ashamed to make eye contact. I banded together with the few other kids that didn’t make the cut of the perfect cookie cutter mold society had built for us.
My parents, disheartened by the bullying, truly had enough when I came home not only with a bruised spirit, but with a broken black and blue finger. So they enrolled me in a private all girls middle and high school. I was so used to not fitting in at this point that although the bullying stopped, I still was living in the effects of feeling unwanted, ugly, and weird.
One day, when I was 15 years old, I was at my locker grabbing the books for my next class, and one of the popular girls from my grade stopped by the water fountain. She said, “Jen, did you know you are really beautiful?”
I couldn’t believe it! I had been teased, felt alone and believed I was hideous. Yet, all of the ugly lies I had carried inside ceased to matter in this moment, for this one statement from a truly lovely young woman in my class, became the undoing of years of shame I had held for simply being me. I knew I had been kind and thoughtful; attempting to include those who had been forgotten, abused, or left out – because I knew how they felt. But Beautiful? That was something I’d hear from my elderly relatives, because after all, they HAD to say things like that.
Not being popular and being bullied had hurt, but it actually taught me so much about life; about building substance and character. I learned that lovely people are indeed lovely BECAUSE of their enchanting and pleasing character. Coming from a society that thrives off the latest botox treatment, or the next refining surgical enhancement that is sure to get superficial attention- to me, all of this seemed meaningless.
The definition of lovely reads: “delighting in beauty, harmony and grace; love by moral or ideal worth.” There is not much in that definition on outward appearance. In fact, most of it reflects a beautiful character of LOVE, HARMONY (the internal calm), and GRACE (a charming virtue coming from God).
Over the years I have learned that each one of us is lovely- a beautiful reflection of the Creator. The One who fashioned us after Himself, and blessed each one of us uniquely in the goodness of who He is. When we are showing up to live life lovely- we then reflect our God-given character, a beautiful harmony just as it was intended. It’s about radiating love- even when the odds are against you, when life has beaten you down and you still carry on in perseverance. Being lovely is courageous and strong, lovely is a way of life. I choose to step into loveliness; join me, for I Am Lovely, and you are too.
I’d like to share a few verses that have taught me a thing or two about exuding true loveliness from the inside out.
Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Proverbs 3: 15-18 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
Proverbs 31:25-31 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Matthew 6:28-29 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.