Ever have a day when you’re feeling less than beautiful? Hit play on a few of our favorite “Beautiful” songs and your spirits are sure to soar.

Our Beautiful Playlist

“Song of the Beautiful” by Christy Nockels

“Beautiful Things” by Gungor 

“Beautiful Exchange” by Hillsong Live

“Beautiful Love” (Theme From “8th & Ocean”) by The Afters

“Beautiful Jesus” by Kristian Stanfill

“You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham

“Beautiful One” by Tim Hughes

“Beautiful” by MercyMe

“Beautiful Lord” by Big Stuf

“Beautiful” by Bethany Dillon

“Beautiful, Beautiful” by Francesca Battistelli

“Something Beautiful” by Newsboys

“A Beautiful Life” by MIKESCHAIR

“More Beautiful You” by Jonny Diaz

By Leslee Stewart

Recently, I’ve been looking for some resources to help make conversations about God a little more understandable for my boys, ages 5 and 3. One of the books I3 in 1 cover found is 3 in 1: A Picture of God by Joanne Marxhausen.

This book was originally published in the mid-70s. In fact, growing up, I can remember my parents reading this book to my sister and me. The book uses an apple and its peel, flesh and core to demonstrate the three parts of God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

When I was home over Christmas, I found my parents old copy and “permanently borrowed” it so I could begin reading it with my boys.

I just love this book. Using simple pictures and words, it tells how all three parts of the apple are apple. The peel is apple. The flesh is apple. The core is apple. They are not three apples. Just one apple.

Apple parts

All three persons of the one true God are the same way. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. God the Holy Spirit is God. They are not three gods. They are one God.

3 parts of God

The book goes on to share how all three parts of the apple have different purposes. The same is true with the three parts of God.

In the short time I’ve had the book, I’ve fallen in love all over again with the way it beautifully, yet simply illustrates who God is. I believe it is going to be a great conversation starter with my kids and would be a wonderful gift for any young person in your life.

You can purchase 3 in 1: A Picture of God from Amazon.com.

Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife,
stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody.

by Leslee Stewart

For 15 years, I have saved all my photographs in a giant plastic bin in the bottom of a closet. Last January, I’d finally grown tired of looking at the mess every time I opened the door, so I set a resolution to get them organized. I went out and bought some nice photo storage boxes and promised myself I’d give them a new, orderly home. Well, this week I finally did it. Sure it only took me 370 days to get around to it, but I did it. (Don’t ever let it be said I don’t meet my new year’s resolutions…even if it’s in the following year. Ha!)

After going through all the photos, I decided 2003 was a great year. It was the year I landed the job of my dreams. I went on an amazing anniversary trip to Maui with my husband. I weighed a heckuva lot less than I do now (Hello, poor self image. Why did I think I was fat back then?!), and I had really cute hair in almost every picture. It was a pretty great year when I looked at it from a 4×6-inch view.

And I’ll be honest. Seeing pictures of the younger me kind of left the current me in a funk. I spent the next couple of days in a pity party, secretly longing for the good old days.

Then I was snapped back to reality, thanks to one of my kids. He’s been getting up in the middle of the night lately, and I’m the one getting up with him to put him back in his bed. Well, one dark morning, as I was stumbling back to bed at 4-something a.m., I put my head on the pillow but my mind wouldn’t stop talking. As I lay there, I realized 2012 marks 20 years since I graduated from high school. (How did that happen??) I started thinking about my high school friends, wondering what they were doing (and what they looked like now) and how I really needed to get myself back to 2003 shape if I was going to show up at a reunion.

There was no chance of going back to sleep, so I got up and decided to read my devotion and spend some time in prayer. Nothing quiets the noise of my mind like prayer. While I was writing in my prayer journal, I happened upon this quote in the margin,

In His wisdom God does not show us all that lies ahead. So we enter a new year to live it day by day. What is past is past. Today we start anew, and what we do today will make our life for tomorrow…each day let us follow more faithfully, more courageously, more daringly the lead of our great Captain who bids us follow Him.” – William Thomson Hanzsche

As I sat there in my quiet house, I began to let go of the “2003 me” pipe dream and realize that the “me of today” is amazing. I have a husband who adores me, children who are healthy and happy, true friendships and a loving family. More importantly, my spiritual life has grown exponentially since 2003.

In the photo-centric world we live in, it’s easy to find yourself looking at other people’s “facebook lives” believing they have it better than you. But when you really stop and take stock of all the blessings that surround you, you see that your life is more abundant than any 4×6-inch glossy could ever portray. Good hair, or not.

Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.”
(1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT)

By Valerie Sercu

With the New Year here, many people make resolutions to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle. My personal testimony is about how when I became physically healthy it directly impacted my spiritual development and relationship with Christ.

I am 37, married, and have two small children. I guess you can say I have always been “athletic.” I ran my first 5k at age 6, swam on swim team at age 7, made it to state in hoop shoot basketball at age 8, and ran track in high school.  So, I did have the mental training and dedication to strive to be better in whatever I was out to achieve.  That was all great and good, however during that time I was dealing with ugly realities in life that I had no control over. Sexual abuse as a young child. Moving to another state at 12 years old. My parents divorcing when I was 14, and my mother and my only sibling moving out of my daily life. 

Although always growing up in church, and accepting Jesus at age 6, I dealt with my pain through many years of various addictions. I smoked cigarettes for 17 years.  Yes, do the math; I started smoking at age 12!  And remember I said I ran track in high school?   Well I did, but during track practice when everyone was running down to the pier and back, I was running to my house, watching All My Children, puffing on a few Marlboro Light 100s.  I would then dab some water on my face to make me shimmer, pop in a piece of Wrigley’s double mint, then head back to the school  track, bragging on what a great workout I had!  I did that for YEARS!  

Not only did I struggle with my pack (or more) of cigarettes a day habit, but I had also a serious food addiction for 15 years. I grew up with parents who had a very unhealthy relationship with food, and I am sure I learned some of the impulsive obsessive behaviors that they had. The rest of the behaviors I took on as my own, and the beast lived in my head for too many years and could have taken my life more than once. 

I tell you these things so you will know that living a healthy lifestyle does not come natural to me. It is something I have fought for and I have learned to redefine as I live each day focused on how God desires me to live. I have always believed that what goes in is what comes out. Garbage in, garbage out.  Whether that is the food that we feed ourselves, the thoughts we allow in our head, or the people that we surround ourselves with. If we know where we want to be, we have to do the work and begin something, and see it through fruition. 

The turnaround in my life began when I saw other people in my life achieving great accomplishments. I wanted to stop being a victim and begin to be victorious.  I always had the dream of running in a marathon. I had that voice in my head that said, “You can’t. Valerie, you’re a smoker. You never follow through on anything. You will fail.” But one day, I CHOSE to tell that voice to take a long walk off a short pier, and I put my last cigarette out. The only logical decision then was to set the date for my first marathon. Which is what I did.

For me, when I began training, I would plug in my mp3 (this was before the iPhone, people), and listen to praise music while I ran.  Before I knew it, the tears were flowing and I had several miles behind me.  The burdens that I was carrying when I started were left on the pavement behind me. When I felt tired, I would chant to myself, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”

When you decide to live a healthier lifestyle and incorporate exercise into your routine, don’t be discouraged with its challenges.  Like my Italian grandma Rose would say, “It’s like making a lasagna…one layer at a time.” You may choose to have an accountability partner, friend or spouse to support you, or use your own voice for encouragement. This is such a magnificent time of year in Florida. A perfect time to get outside with your kids, ride your bike or walk with a friend. With small kids at home, I try to fit exercise in when I can. I will walk/run my son to school. Or when my kids are napping, I will use Exercise on Demand on the TV for an amazing workout in my living room. Just try to be creative and make it fun. There is a great program called Couch to 5k that can inspire you to get on track for living a healthier lifestyle. You may also be encouraged by running/walking for a cause.  Because of Ezra is one that touches me a lot, and motivates me. 

The Holy Spirit will find you and touch you wherever you are.  We just need to give Him our time and open our hearts to listen to Him.  His presence is so mighty and He can bring you healing from years of pain, even through exercise!