Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 9th October 2012

How They Know They’re Beautiful {Plus a Book Giveaway}

Dear Farmer-Husband,

It was the way our girls pressed into you while you put up fences. They leaned on you, our strong man.

I missed it at first – all that tender, windblown love pressing into steady, sure love. I took two dozen photographs in the garden that day. But I only saw the real beauty later, after I uploaded the photos onto the computer. I spotted the two flowers standing next to you: those pink blooms, fast-growing.

garden and girls

They wait for you to drive up that country lane, kicking up a dusty welcome. They chase you like you’re the hero come home. You are.

The girls are well-scrubbed, and lotion-scented. You smell like the barn. But they want to be near you anyway, Daddy. And you let them.

In the photograph, you work with strong hands. I can see now that it was hard work, pounding fence posts into stubborn soil.

You could have shooed them off. But you let them stay close, and without words, your actions told them they’re valued and beautiful.

In the photograph, you’re putting up fences because you want to protect what we’re growing on this farm. There’s always something lurking in the shadows, wanting to devour what we grow.

Sometimes, the thief in the shadows consumes not with teeth, but with lies. He is the enemy, the prince of this world.

I know that the thief might whisper into the ears of daughters. It’s his modus operandi. Remember that day, when our daughter, blooming on a slender stem, said her legs were “chubby?” We looked at each other wide-eyed because we know where that kind of talk can lead.

I read words this week, in Chasing Silhouettes, that brave book that Emily wrote.  She wrote about “days smudged with counting calories and streaming tears. Days filled with frowns, fierce yells and fists pounding against my father’s chest.”

Our girls are healthy, happy eaters. But we know what the enemy is capable of. And we know the statistics. Emily wrote that 80 percent of children have been on a diet by the time they’ve reached fourth grade.

That’s a stunning statistic about children — children our daughters’ ages.

I remember what the enemy’s lies did to me back when I lost my coveted title as skinniest girl of the eleventh grade. At 100 pounds, I went on my first “diet.”

But you, good father, good husband? I hear you speak louder than the lies. I hear how you tell our girls that they are beautiful -– sometimes with actions, often with words. They need both.

I remember when our oldest daughter’s hair kept breaking off three years ago from some kind of disorder with a long name. The doctors said there was nothing they could do. We had to crop her hair short, and she cried, and you told her how pretty she looked. We prayed, and her hair grew back, and you loved her with long hair, too. When she said her teeth were crooked, you told her how much you adored her smile.

And when these girls lean in close, you let them.

You can’t buy our girls beauty, like a pair of designer jeans or a salon pedicure. And you can’t leave it to me. I can tell them they’re pretty, but they need to hear it from you.

You’re a farmer. You plant seeds in soil and in hearts. And I know the roots go deeper in a well-tended garden, even if the fences don’t hold.

I love you, my good man.

~ Your wife, who appreciates all the ways you love the three of us, for all the ways you let us know we’re beautiful…


Emily Wierenga I write about body image today, because it’s important. And because I want to tell you about an important book for people and families struggling with eating disorders. This book is a remarkably brave book, written from the trenches, by an exquisite storyteller, my friend Emily Wierenga.

Her story is wrenching  —

“I was that girl you are trying to save. The one who is all rib and screaming and slamming of door, the one who once laughed, who now wants to die. And this is killing you,” Emily writes.

Chasing Silhouettes

Yes, her words are haunting, wrenching. But the story is mostly one of hope –redeeming and inspiring hope for the hurting. Chasing Silhouettes is a comprehensive, practical resource for people who are trying to help a loved one battling an eating disorder.

I’d like for you to have this book. Leave a comment here by Saturday (Oct. 13)  for a chance to win a copy of Chasing Silhouettes. (Share on Facebook or Twitter for additional chances to win.)


{Purchase Emily Wierenga’s new book Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder within the first four weeks after its September 25, 2012 release date and receive a special invitation to watch an online forum on eating disorders with bestselling author Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, FindingBalance CEO Constance Rhodes and author Emily Wierenga. Readers must email a scanned receipt, a picture of them with the book or tell us when and where they purchased the book to events@ampelonpublishing.com, and they will be logged in to receive a special invitation to watch the event. They may also submit questions for the panel to answer, some of which will be selected and answered during the forum.}






 We write in community every Wednesday about the God-Things that make you go, “Hmmm…”

Some call them coincidences. We call them God-incidences. And those goosebumps you get sometimes when you know the Holy Spirit is at work? Yep. They’re God-Bumps. Link with us here …

  • VikkiCH

    a dear friend’s 17 yr old daughter has been fighting an eating disorder for 2 yrs and is presently hospitalized. She feels nauseated just talking about food. It’s such a sad disorder for this beautiful, brilliant young woman.

    • i am stopping to pray for your daughter right now. i have been there myself. praying for peace and courage and strength for your girl. and for wisdom and perseverance for you.

    • oh, rereading. praying for your FRIEND’S daughter and for her….

    • vikkich- I’m stopping right now to ask for Spiritual intervention for your friends daughter- she is God’s child first- lifting her up and praying for protection – tks for sharing

    • Oh VikkiCH … I’m just now getting to the comments, and wanted to let you know that I am praying (right now!) for your friend’s 17-year-old. Emily wrote in her book: “Healing cannot be hurried. … Your child will want to brak free, but won’t know how to live without it. It’s this moment you are waiting for.” … Praying for a breakthrough moment for this girl, Vikki.

    • oh vikki. please let me know how i can help. my email is wierenga.emily@gmail.com. praying…

  • You paint a beautiful metaphor of the power of a father’s love.

    Thank you for sharing…

  • Thank you for hosting the blog hop – and for hosting the give away, too. I’ve been following Emily’s work, and I’d love to read her book.

    I love this post about your girls and their daddy. It’s so true that our children need the love and support that a father gives. It’s so touching to see my son with his Dad 🙂

    • Hi Paula … Her book is amazing. And I’m sure you’re not surprised by that statement, if you’ve been following her book.

  • I have two small daughters and I have hated my own body since I was ten. I keep getting a glimpse of a different image of myself that the Lord is trying to show me but it’s a hard thing to accept myself as I am.
    I am desperate to see my girls grow up secure in their beauty, in and out, and their uniqueness and value. They are so precious.
    Thankyou for this.

    • Praying right now, Helen, that you would see yourself as the beautiful woman that you are, uniquely created by a God who is “enthralled” with your beauty! (Psalm 45:11)

    • oh helen. i pray God would give you that glimpse. thank you for your beautiful heart. e.

  • beautiful piece, jen! i have emily’s book waiting on the top of my “to-read” stack!

  • Thanks for a lovely visit via http://blackpurlsknitpickings.blogspot.com/ and your badge there. And thank you for the info about the book. I pray I won’t need it, but it’s always good to have a current resource for this issue. Sadly, in this day and age it’s a much-too-common problem. Blessings.

    • i agree kaye. it’s an all too common problem. bless you.

  • Kim

    I’m going to share this with my daughter and son-in-law. Their little girl is only 9 months old, but all too soon, she, too, will face these battles. I loved this tribute to your farmer husband. I just might be able to relate.

  • Vicki Musselman

    LOVED this writing. So good to encourage our husbands and cheer them to keep on keepin on toward the finish line. As well as the message toward the girls. The enemy seems to be working overtime these days on the youth and they need to hear that the way God made them is good.

    • i agree, friend. the enemy seems to be working overtime. thank you for this insight. bless you, e.

  • Such important wisdom, so beautifully put!

  • Reading that reminded me of my own dad. He had three girls and we all knew we were beautiful in his eyes.
    Thanks, Jennifer

  • Every word abounds in love and beauty. Oh that more men could understand the glory, value, and honor of being this kind of father.

    Your man, he is changing the world by loving you all well.

    • We are blessed. I know it. I know that not every woman, or little girl, receives these kinds of positive affirmations. Thank you, Eyvonne.

  • kristi hudson

    I guess I relate but in the opposite direction. I am overweight it keeps people at a distance. I learned early on fat girls aren’t the attention getters. My weight keeeps a distance between me my sin and others.

    • Hey beautiful … You are beautiful, you know? Sending you love. I’m so glad God made you. xo

    • oh kristi. i know this empty feeling, even though you relate in the opposite direction, it all stems from a similar feeling of un-loved. may you know the love that you crave. may you know it good and deep. praying for you. let me know if you ever want to talk: wierenga.emily@gmail.com.

  • The words of a father can make a big difference in the heart of a child. It’s scary what kids go through these days, the thoughts they think about themselves, the comparisons they make. Praying for my own children’s heart and our responses as parents. Blessings to you!

  • Jennifer Konfrst

    My daughter is 12, and we’ve worried about these issues since she was a teeny chubby-faced toddler. We also worry about our son, who is small and short, which is just another way he feels different. We’re working so hard to communicate to them that their worth is between their ears and behind their ribs; it’s a constant struggle. Nice to be reminded we aren’t alone.

    • Yes, Jennifer … You mentor me with your words, in reminding me to communicate to children that “their worth is between their ears and behind their ribs.” So grateful for your words in the comment box. God bless…

    • oh jennifer, i love your heart. i love that you’re so conscious of it. i wish more parents were. bless you. e.

  • Your beautiful writing left me thinking about my own dad. He was a very distant father, not really knowing how to do the ‘dad thing’. I struggled all my life with self-worth until my heavenly Father convinced me that because of Him, I am valuable. The really precious gift? It’s never too late for a dad to impact a daughter’s life for good. Even though my dad is now in the last stages of Hospice care, he never lets an opportunity go by without telling how much I am loved and valued.
    Your farmer-man is surely imprinting value and significance into your daughter’s hearts. How cool is that?!
    Thanks for this beautiful post!

    • Mary … Thank you for sharing about your experience with your father. I’m so glad that you’ve grasped onto the enormous love of your Heavenly Father, and that your earthly father is now taking those opportunities to let you know how much you matter. This is such a beautiful picture. Praying for you now, Mary, as you “walk him home.” ((Hugs))

    • hi mary, i agree… only our heavenly father can truly make us feel valuable… but i love the redemption in your father-daughter story. my dad and i are really close, now, too. bless you. e.

  • Pam

    Beautiful beautiful words. Your husband and daughter are blessed to have a wife and mom who sees so deeply… and your girls to have you both.

  • This is one of those posts that stir up all kind of thoughts and emotions. I am both grateful and saddened at the same time. I am reminded that though the enemy comes to kill and destroy, Christ comes to give Life.

    A beautiful write. A wonderful tribute. I’ve missed you, my friend.

    • grateful and saddened…. i understand this. bless you michele-lyn. e.

  • Georgi

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Pingback: How to really tell the truth | Eyvonne Sharp()

  • thankful for my own sweet daddy – and my husband – we have boys but even so work to teach them about balance and moderation with food (cause they are lil pigs) 😉 we want them to learn that whether they “eat drink or whatever (they) do – do all to the glory of God” I’ve had friends suffer in this way & have been frightened for them. Thank you for sharing!

    • do all for the glory of God… i love this. thank you for sharing friend. e.

  • Oh my goodness. Spoken from one mama heart to another. And next week on my blog I am covering the issue of EDs. Emily’s book is on the top of the list for resources. I haven’t read it yet. But I will.

    • i love that you are doing this, laura. thank you for connecting with me. let me know if i can help you in any other way. bless you, e.

  • I shared the giveaway on Twitter, too. https://twitter.com/GretLouise/status/256069672158515202

    • Thank you for sharing, Gretchen! I’ll put your name in the drawing twice, and I’ll be praying over each of your names before the drawing … that you would be blessed by the Lord, and feel a strong sense of His love for you.

    • thank you for sharing, gretchen! e.

  • That is such a sad statistic about children and diets. Sounds like a wonderful book!!

  • If only all fathers knew how important they are in shaping their daughter’s self esteem!

    Beautiful post, Jennifer. Your girls are blessed to have their dad.

    • I agree, Jeraalea. I realize how blessed I have been … how blessed I am. I don’t want to take it for granted.

  • What a beautiful picture of the power of a father’s love! Thank you!

  • I really like how you did this, moving out from that photo. I would’ve never seen the connection to Emily’s book coming, but it came, and it was well done.

  • Dana

    It is so important to start telling our daughters that they are beautiful and instill in them confidence before the world attacks them! They have to learn who they are in Christ so they are confident to stand strong against the world’s attacks!!

  • praying God’s protection on your girls…may they continue to lean into their loving dad, and God…what a gift 🙂

  • Janet

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    One day a few weeks back I saw the most wonderful sight and it gave me tears in my eyes. I saw a dad who is an avid jogger usually pushing a jogging stroller carrying his son, every day. This day he was jogging with his little girls and the stroller. Going more slow but taking the time with them. I saw the kid’s mom the other day and shared with her what I saw. I wanted to encourage them 🙂 It was beautiful.

    Thank you for the giveaway. I would like to be entered to win.

    • Janet, That’s so wonderful, that you took the time to share this with the mother. I’m sure you made her day! What an encourager you are! – Jennifer

    • what a good daddy. this is beautiful. thank you for sharing, janet. bless you. e.

  • Oh, how this book is touching lives. And your words to your farmer-husband? This is the real stuff of love. Oh,how I pray we love well when it comes to our boys. Pray this leaning in on God will lead them to good places. Love you,Jennifer.

  • Love this Jennifer. And coming from someone who didn’t have a father like your husband is to your girls, its such a gift, the way he shows how much he loves them.

  • Jennifer you are blessed with a wise and loving husband who is a man after God’s own heart.

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Such a beautiful post and tribute to a very special husband and father. Your girls are so blessed to have you both. What you are saying is so important in many ways, and the how your husband cherishes these girls will affect their lives for years to come. My father was not demonstrative. I know he loved me, but it would have helped so much had he said it (he finally did….but it would have helped so much). I tell my husband how important it is that he express love to SHeridan. We both do, but it is so incredibly important that he does. THank you for sharing your husband’s example, which I pray will encourage the fathers of many a young girl. Beautifully written, Jennifer.

  • This is so beautiful, jennifer. And so, SO important. May I just tell you a sweet/sad observation I’m making as I watch my two moms disappear into the vaporous territory of memory loss? My MIL was adored by her dad and she knew it. She has never really known that she was losing her mind and generally, if there is a complaint of any kind, it is always directed outward, at others – it is THEIR problem. Contrast that with my own dear mom, whose father was an abusive alcoholic. She is consumed – literally consumed – with fear and anxiety that others think she is not measuring up, that she’s doing something wrong, that she is disliked and not wanted. It breaks my heart to watch and to hear. Whether those connections could ever be ‘proven’ scientifically, I have no idea. But I make them in my spirit. The impact of a loving dad on any child is huge. But on a girl child? ENORMOUS. So I join with you in thanking and praising your husband, and my own, for loving all of their girls so very, very well.

  • Ohhhh the tears are flowing! Such great words…such awesome thoughts…and so true. Thank you for the reminder that this exists and even though my daughter is 4 years old and we feel that we tell her too often that she is beautiful…it is not often enough. Thank you for sharing…

    • i love how you love on your daughter, jamie. thank you for this. bless you, e.

  • I, too, was that girl….the one who was skeletal, yet when she looked in the mirror saw fat. At 19 years of age, I weighed 95 pounds and was eating around 600 calories a day. I couldn’t stay conscious, yet I couldn’t be thin enough. The demon of anorexia had me firmly in its grip. I wrote about it at my blog several years ago and how God placed caring people and an amazing book in my path to help me move in a different direction.

    God bless your man!!

    • Leah … I didn’t know this about your story. Would you be willing to share a link here in the comment box? What book helped you?

      • I wrote about my journey with anorexia on my blog several years ago. You can find it at http://www.leahadams.org. Scroll down until you see the ‘categories” tab on the right sidebar. Click the ‘eating disorder anorexia’ link and that will take you to the series of posts I wrote. Obviously the oldest one is at the bottom. They are best read in order.

        The book is entitled “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” by Jeff van Vonderen. It hit this nail squarely on her head.

    • oh wow, leah, this is a powerful story. i too would love to learn what book helped you… and i agree. anorexia is a demon. so thankful for your freedom. e. (ps. if you would ever like to guest post for my ED blog, i would be honored: http://www.chasingsilhouettes.com) just email me at wierenga.emily@gmail.com.

  • Jillie

    Jennifer…this is just so beautifully written! A subject of enormous importance. David and I have one daughter. She truly is beautiful! Voted “most beautiful baby in the nursery” at birth. I kid you not. David has told me that he learned to love Jessie properly through me. I often reminded him to lavish love and support and togetherness with her, in whatever she wanted to do. I encouraged ‘date nights’ with her, just the two of them. Those kinds of things do more to foster a girl’s sense of self-esteem and worthiness than anything we Moms can give, although our role is monumental as well. Jessie married 3 years ago, and deliberately chose a man who reminds her of her Dad!
    I’m not begging sympathy here, but I grew up in a home where my Dad regularly engaged in ridicule of me, for sport, in front of company. He was the one who made me aware of my weight problems in highschool, when there was no weight problem. He made me go on diets with him, and we’d go walking in the evenings. The only good thing about it was that I had him all to myself at those times. To this day, I battle my weight. And my Dad still points it out to me, like I’m unaware. God bless all the Dads out there, like your sweet husband, who love their ‘little women’ well. Thanks so much for this, Jennifer!

    • Jillie, God bless you, my friend. You’re ending that cycle. You’ve let them know they’re beautiful.

      (And P.S. — I’ve never seen you face-to-face, but I can say it with certainty: You are Gorgeous!)

      • Jillie

        Well now, Miss Jennifer…I wouldn’t go THAT far!

    • oh jillie, i ache for you. i pray that deep down you will know how cherished and beautiful you are. thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent here. God bless you, e.

  • It’s always a treat and blessing to pop in here. You bless me so with your encouragement. Blessings to you this evening.

  • Cindy

    Your words kept me honed on to the screen. I have two newly teen grand daughters and I tell them that they are gorgeous constantly, inside and out. But it is their father’s words that are the cement. Thank you for this extraordinary post. God bless.

  • I cannot wait to dive into this book! I think it would be beneficial to any person…be it someone who has or is struggling with an eating disorder, a parent of a child who has struggled to fight for them and love them and also for those bullies who plant that seed that someone isn’t a “perfect” image. As someone who hasn’t struggled with an eating disorder, but has struggled with self image for years, within the past couple of years have I finally realized my worth to Jesus and not to others. Our society is in a bad situation with how we treat others because let’s face it…most people have the “every man for himself” mentality. As an instructional assistant in the school system, this is even an underlying theme that we teach, but we should be concerned for others at all times.

    • oh ashley, i love your passion to get hope and encouragement out there! thank you, for helping spread the word. bless you, e. (ps. my longing is to get it into the churches and schools… so appreciate your heart.)

  • Maggie

    My mom first took bread away from me as an elementary student. How I wish I would have read a book like this in my teen years!

@suzanneeller It's a short flight south! The guac awaits. ❤️🇲🇽🍹🌴🌊