Pretty Words and Pretty Masks

By Beth Winze

“I’d rather live my life accepting that I’m not perfect, than spending my whole life pretending to be.” ~ Anonymous

          One of the most beautiful and the most faulty things about being a writer is that you create an image. Instead of simply saying big, green tree, I can say the massive, sprawling oak shaded the yard giving a home to the songbirds. No longer was the tree big and green. I gave you an image to replace a stereotypical one. Often times I catch myself writing more elaborately than I should and I do not wish to become so consumed with providing images that I paint the wrong image of me. A dear friend of mine posted something slightly like this the other day and it inspired me to do the same. We all need to come to a point in our lives where we can be completely real and open with each other. Filtered of course, but not afraid to show that we are only human. As I write this and you read this, this is not a way for me to try and gain praises or compliments. I am no fisher. But it is simply a way for me to tear down the images I made myself to be in my own mind.

Who Beth Winze really is……

Terrified to be alone for the rest of her life. Not sure who I am yet so I am searching for the real me. My mind keeps me awake at night with deep thoughts and fears of the future. I get nightmares quite easily and the stay with me for a long time. I am naturally a nervous person. I never leave the house without makeup on because I am not confident in my natural self. I have a massive imagination that sometimes never stops (good or bad). I overthink. I am never thrilled with my body image. I am a free spirit. I always seem to be perpetually stuck in a negative mindset. I can’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes, but I refuse to diagnose myself as ADD. My heart gets hurt extremely easy. Words effect me drastically. Hand written letters mean the world to me and I have a little box that keeps all the ones I have been given. I like to observe what is going on around me instead of always being in the action. I am quite lazy. People who look me in the eyes, ask me how I am doing, and refuse to take “fine” as an acceptable answer make me want to get to know them. I think I can carry the weight of everyone else’s emotions but I can’t. I sympathy cry…….like CRAZY (I try not to but seeing others hurting makes me hurt for them.) I am OCD a lot and little misplaced things irritate me. I use entirely to many British slang such as “bloody” “arse” and “peasants”. I am afraid to get super close to people because it has not always worked out for me in the end. My heart is vintage. I want to be a hardcore feminist, but I love guys to much. I cry myself to sleep when it gets overwhelming. I am working like crazy this summer so that I can go to college. I am scared to fail in college. I am excited for the freedom college will allow me. Christina Perri’s albums are the soundtrack to my life. I have a weird obsession with lion pictures. The first movie I cried to was The Lion King. I love cats and hate being made fun of and being called a cat-lady (it’s a passion). I am learning to grieve.  I am terribly clumsy and always have a bruise or cut somewhere. High heels still make me squeal like a little girl. I cry when I am mad. I am a wanderlust.

I want to be different than what the world tells us as humans to be. We are humans and we deserve so much more than to hide from each other. Life is not a masquerade ball that we can wear pretty gowns and hide our flaws. The most beautiful dancers are the ones willing to show their faulty steps.

“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.”
~ Ismail Haniyeh


Final Memories and New Pages

By Beth Winze

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ~ J.R.R Tolkien The Hobbit

          One of the best and worst things I emotionally go through is nostalgia. It is best when reminiscing with old friends on past memories, embarrassing and endearing alike. It is worse for incidences such as this morning. I officially took my last exam of high school today, an English in-class essay. Maybe it was because English has always been my favorite so it seemed only fitting that I end the last day of high school doing something I love. But that is what also makes it so bitterly sweet.

Waking up at 6:30 this morning for an 8:00 exam was not fun. But while I was getting ready it still had not fully sunk in that this was it. I can only compare it to planning a massive party. You work a long time organizing and making sure everything is in order. The food is prepared, the guest list is long, the tables are just right. The night of the party comes and goes, but than it’s over. And all those weeks of prepping and getting everything ready seem futile. It sure was a great party, but it leaves one hanging right after the high of busyness it started you in. High school has felt like a scramble all my four years; making sure my grades were passing, my essays were edited, my math tests accomplished, my science experiments not blown up. All of the work that piled on and on, summer breaks that were entirely too short, and winter months that never ended, all seem like a planned party gone too quickly.

I received an email last night from our youth group organizer telling us of summer plans. I mentally included myself in the entire list, but when I read down and saw it was for all rising 6th-12th graders I felt my heart do a little drop. I was not in that “rising” category anymore. My high school years are done, finished, nada, terminated, ceased, concluded – you get the idea. The Year of Graduation as I so fondly once referred to is here and it is whirring past me like a train with no brakes. Unfortunately, more often than not, I find myself the engineer of this brakeless train getting ready to crash headlong into my future.

Nostalgia will get the best of me. I want to hit the rewind button and go through it all again. To be stuck in a perpetual age of 16-18 (decidedly skipping the 14 and 15 age mark, because those were terrible years.). But no, as life moves on, so must I. So how do I even begin to step forward into a new lifestyle that terrifies me so deeply? Well first off, I think that tearing away from what I have known previously is important. I think this heartbreak and sadness I am feeling is what is going to allow me to move on from my current station. Those banners that say “Congratulations Class of ’14” must at some point be ripped out of their posts (figuratively). The pen I have been using to write the chapter of my life titled “High School” must be retired.

It is feels exactly like when someone hands me a new journal; clean pages that you do not want to mess up; brand new binding that you do not want to fold over too much. But at some point my pen will make contact with that first fresh page, and than it is easy. But I keep seeing that brand new journal on my desk refusing to open it. Terrified that I will mess up the first page of my new chapter titled “College”. But as all writers do, I must bravely take a new pen and risk it. I have to be certain of the uncertain. Instead of going backwards, or sideways as J.R.R. Tolkien refers to, I must take my sword (pen) and press down onto that new page. No matter how shaky my hands, no matter how fast my heart “pitter patters”, I must write this new chapter.

I am not, nor would have ever been, valedictorian. Homeschoolers do not have stuff like that. But this is my final high school speech. I refuse to give you the stereotypical, Hollywood ensured, high school speech in which tears run down faces, enemies kiss each others cheeks, and everyone breaks into song and dance while singing about the end of something old (too many references to High School Musical). High school has changed me though. I shan’t deny that simple truth. I am much more of a developed and mature person than I was in 9th grade. And for that I have thanks enough. I feel like I have a voice now (theoretically speaking). High school has given me a desire to write, the ability to conquer fears, a knowledge of things I never thought I would want to learn about, and friendships that are water tight. High school has also bestowed late nights, early mornings, little sleep, piles of homework, bad days and other such things I shudder at the thought of. But the most important thing is that high school has given me memories. Memories I will never forget. It has also given me opportunities to do things I would have never been able to do, and meet people I would have never been able to meet. As much as I dreaded high school at times, I survived and I would not trade a single day for anything else.

“She understands now what she, in all her worry, had forgotten. That even as she hesitates and wavers, even as she thinks too much and moves too cautiously, she doesn’t always have to get it right. It’s okay to look back, even as you move forward.” ~ Jennifer E. Smith, The Comeback Season

          But the biggest thing high school has taught me is that it’s okay to mess up a page or two in your chapter. If the ink runs, work around it; if it smudges, re-write that part, and if it bleeds through the next page, work with it. “College” is going to have it’s blotted pages, it’s smears, and it’s torn edges but in the end, when I look back on that chapter someday I will realize the beauty in it. I am going to be okay. I am going to be able to flip to “High School” occasionally and reminisce on those memories. But I need to use those words, quotes, and memories to continue writing the next chapter in my life.

          So here is to all the 2014 Graduates! Whether you are having troubles moving on or not, find encouragement in the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes. Do not be afraid to start a new chapter because of what your pen might do.

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.” ~ Paulo Coelho, Brida

A Writer’s Journal

By Beth Winze

A writer’s journal is it’s own work of art.  And just like other art pieces, it is only truly understood by the artist.  A glance through a writer’s journal would leave one in a splitting headache and pondering deep life thoughts.  It is like a neatly stacked pile of papers color-coded and numbered, that has been tossed carelessly into the whirlwind that is a writer’s mind.  It is cluttered, muddled, and chaotic.  But it is a beautiful creation made by the writer’s own hand.

Often times the pages are stained with rings of brown coffee from late nights of the pen bleeding over the once white pages.  Other times, little puckered spots are dotted on a page reminding the writer of the passion or emotions felt while writing that piece.  Dog-eared pages are scattered throughout because the writer knows there is some piece of gold hissing in that particular entry.

The cover of a his journal is slightly dirty with ink stains from pens that broke and bled.  There is not one ink color that is the same because a writer must be ready to write with anything at any moment.  The once crisp binding is flattened from thumbing through the past pages reminiscing on old writings.  Scribble marks, random notes, quotes are to the journal what paint strokes are to a canvas; absolutely necessary.  Loose pegs float out if held wrong.

A true writer’s journal is spontaneously fun and two pages over, depressingly sad.  What makes a writer?  Someone who carries their entire heart and soul with them in an ink-stained, dog-eared, coffee-ringed, tear-soaked, torn paged book.

A writer’s journal is a rough draft, twice removed, of his life.  It is a story that is filmed through the eyes, edited by the brain, and featured through the heart.  A raw, un-censored screen play at it’s climax and low points.  A writer’s journal provides posts like these.

This is my journal……..

wanderlust // a great desire to travel and rove about

By Beth Winze

In lieu of my Ode to Summer, I think it is only fitting to address my obsession with travel. The adventure that lies in exploring an entirely different area, uncommon to yourself, is beautiful and thrilling. I have a restless heart that desires to exist in time and space it is not currently residing in. A heart, such as mine, will never be satisfied with seeing the same thing over and over again on a regular basis. My eyes search for a transformation in the landscape, my ears yearn to listen to varying sounds, my heart needs a new beat, and my feet desire a new road to walk on.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Growing up, my parents force-ably (more or less) strapped us into our car seats and we traveled in our forest-green mini-van to all sorts of new places. Kansas, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and other such states. Sitting in my carseat in the van for endless hours allowed me to appreciate the stops we made to tour little things. My greatest memories in life are often spawned from adventures I have taken. My conversations usually start with “This one time, when I was in……” and they take-off from there. Not many memories that I treasure are of me sitting on the couch watching endless Netflix seasons. My heart clutches tight to the memories I have with family and friends in an environment outside of my normal routine.

Some of my greatest learning experiences have occurred because of my wanderlust. When I was little, my dad worked for a company that dealt with foreign countries regularly. My house became the resting spot for many of these traveling business people. And so my couch was no longer a couch while they were there, but it was a cushion in a Hindu temple, a canoe on the Amazon River, or a surfboard over Australian waves. I learned so much from these people during their extended stays. The Indian man that stayed with us told me all about his life in New Delhi and openly talked about his Hindu faith, while I, at the ripe age of 10, tried my best to explain my Christian faith. When the Australian came to stay with us, he told us of his visits to Steve Irwin’s zoo and all of the beautiful and deadly wildlife he had ever come across in his homeland. All of these cultural people that floated in and out of my life at varying times, created an innate desire to travel and grasp other cultures.

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
Anthony Bourdain

The most affluent people in my mind are not the ones that own luxuries beyond most people’s reach, but the persons who have traveled. These people are rich in the mind and emotions because of their travels. They know how to interact with people in a proper way due to their observations from other cultures. They know how to be diplomatic towards other countries’ cultures that are not our own. And their daily routines are varied and tend to be more flexible because going with the flow is something most learn to do while traveling. The seasoned traveler, in my mind, is the richest person by far, because of their unparalleled understanding procured through their gallivants.

The best part about having a serious case of wanderlust, is that I tend to look for a way to adventure anywhere. Whenever I am paired with the right person, adventure is usually not far behind. I do not even have to go further than the woods in my yard to explore and change up my monotonous routines.

My desire for wanderlust will not soon be quenched, but until than, I will continue to dream of far off places and exotic people until I can actually meet those destinations. So travel, explore, and adventure. Let the curious wanderlust-er inside you out!

“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
― Judith Thurman


This Is My Broken Hallelujah

By Beth Winze

I can barely stand right now
Everything is crashing down
And I wonder where You are.

These past few days I have existed in a thick bubble of heartbreak. I feel like at any moment more tears could burst from my eyes, but the fact is, they don’t seem to ever stop at times. It had been twelve hours since I cried last and then that song came on the radio. I had played it all day Saturday between counseling meetings and trying to comprehend the shock of the entire situation. “Broken Hallelujah” spoke to me on such a deep level that I felt like my heart had actually written it. When it started the first few lines I sang along, but when it got to the chorus I broke down. My mom looked over at me and said, “It’s amazing how God provides a song for every moment in our lives that personally speak to us at that moment.” Right now “Broken Hallelujah” is my song that I have been singing from a torn up heart.

     I don’t know the context of the song’s origin, but for our church and me, it fits our feelings in a way no one can describe. Friday night we learned of our new reality. Our pastor took his life. Not only did we lose a senior pastor that our church looked up to, but I lost a cherished friend. All I have been doing all weekend is going through a grief cycle I haven’t had to learn until now. I truly know what it means to grieve. Distracting myself is great for the moment, but when I’m all alone it hits me hard. It has become a physical pain that I carry around with me. The closer we got to church on Sunday the heavier my heart felt. When I sat down in the chair waiting for the service to start, I felt a deep ache. When the elders and pastors took their place on stage I couldn’t take anymore. His last sermon on Romans 8:28 seemed so tragically fitting for the events we are now living out.

     “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

A few week ago, I wouldn’t have believed I would have to lean on one passage of scripture so much. I didn’t understand how this could be for good at all. It hurts. It feels wrong. It is uncomfortable to feel weighted down every minute. I think that is why grieving takes so many levels in people. We know joy, we remember joy, and we remember what makes us happy the most. But when we are lead into a period of mourning and grieving, it’s not something we welcome. It is not natural for a person to want to sit in grief all day long.

I try to find the words to pray
I don’t always know what to say
But You’re the one that can hear my heart

     For the first time in my life, I couldn’t form a normal conversation. Instead I felt like a completely insane person that couldn’t arrange a sentence to say what I was feeling. When people would hug me and ask how I was dealing with the grief, I just looked at them, shook my head, and tried to say something without stuttering or losing my mind. I tried to pray all weekend. Cry out to God and ask “Why? What’s Your big plan in all this? Why would you make us walk through this?” But all that came out were sobs instead of words. But God knew my heart even when I didn’t know what to feel. And that was prayer enough. He knew what my heart wanted to say and that was my prayer. When my words weren’t coming to mind, God was. God orchestrated everything I came across this weekend to remind me to turn back to Him for comfort. I follow Kyle Idleman, the author of Not A Fan, on Twitter and this weekend he posted a tweet that were words my soul needed.

Kyle Idleman

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain
On my knees, and I call Your name.
Here’s my broken hallelujah

Because of my grieving heart, I can truly say that I have learned to appreciate the depth of my joys. And when I find that joy again, it will only make the pain I am in now so much more understandable. And that’s what I’ve got to keep leaning on and trusting that I will find joy again. This weekend has caused me to realize that being weak in front of Christ is never wrong. I never wanted to go to Christ when I was weak or broken , because I felt like in front of an all-powerful King, my matters would not be taken to mind. But I have begun to realize that Christ does His best work in our hearts when we have absolutely nothing left to give Him. I have raised my hands up to Him offering Him what is left of my broken heart. Singing on Sunday morning, “How Great Thou Art” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” truly made me realize what lifting a broken hallelujah to Christ is. When you can barely sing because the emotions try to take over your mind and you feel hopeless, but you still sing to Him, even if it’s a cry of hurt. That is a broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto
I raise my these empty hands to you
Here’s my broken hallelujah

Ever since we learned of his passing Friday night, my daily Bible verses sent to my phone have been nothing but God’s way of speaking to me.

Saturday morning the verse on my Bible app was 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 – “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This morning the verse was Isaiah 25:8 – “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”

I didn’t want to go to church Sunday morning and realize that he won’t be there anymore. I found such encouragement through his teachings and he was the one who pulled me from Sunday school lessons into the sanctuary to worship with the rest of the church. I keep remembering things about him and interactions I had with him more and more every day. My mom tells me that she believes this is God’s way of allowing healing to be around the corner, fond memories will replace the heartbreak at some point.

God has been nothing but vocal to me these past few days. I want to share the Jesus Calling lesson today that I read this afternoon. Nothing has penetrated my heart more deeply than Sarah Young’s words today.

“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure. When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid.”

On Sunday when the elders and pastors presented themselves in front of the church, there was an undeniable strength through them. Our youth pastor spoke a few words that remind me of the joy that follows pain. He gave us the story of Christ’s death- fitting as Good Friday and Easter occur this week. He told us how he imagined the disciples felt while they watched their friend dying a painful, hour’s long death. How the felt when He drew His final breath, and realizing the fact that He was gone. That was Friday. On Sunday, the feeling they got when the found the stone rolled away and their Christ resurrected. Our pastor’s point was that for every Friday we experience, there will be a Sunday. For every hour of grief we face I believe that God will give us a day of joy.

Tonight was our pastor’s visitation. Walking into CBC this afternoon it was rainy and cloudy matching my heartbreak. But walking out we were greeted with this sunset. I think this is God’s way of promising us that there is a sunset behind the storm clouds we are currently under. It’s just behind these clouds. And this is my broken hallelujah.

High Point, NC sunset


We Are Free to Struggle

The Struggle

By Beth Winze

“The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is.” ~ Robert H. Schuller

When Christ calls us to Him, He does not just ask for certain parts of our hearts, but instead He asks us to give up everything we have to Him. Being a Christian is not just a title, but rather a life-style. Christianity is not throwing a “thank-you God” in the end of a Grammy acceptance speech, but it is how you lived before getting that Grammy award that defines your claim. A common misconception among believers is the fact that once you accept Christ’s gift of salvation and live for Him, all your struggles disappear or become so insignificant they are mere potholes you can easily avoid. But on the contrary, these struggles seem to be emphasized after becoming a Christian. This is not a way to blame God for struggles whatsoever, but if God did not allow us to struggle through life, who would really prove they desired to live for Him? Struggles can be confining and make a Christian feel chained and incapable of escape, but Christ wouldn’t allow His children to be chained up and left for the wolves. When He sent His Son to earth to die for us, He broke all those chains holding us down. The real struggle is when we allow ourselves to hold onto the chains He has already broken. We aren’t chained to the ground anymore, but in our finite minds, we refuse to let Him take control of the struggles.

Tenth Avenue North, a Christian worship band I adore, has a song titled The Struggle. After purchasing this CD to add to my collection, I really listened to the words that were blasting through my speakers. Throughout their songs they mentioned the word “struggle” several times. I never thought, before listening to their album and some deep-thinking on my part, that it is okay to struggle. I had fallen to the thinking that struggling as a Christian was weak and showed a lack of faith. But one line that they sang in their song really solidified my new thoughts. “Hallelujah we are free to struggle; we aren’t strugglin’ to be free!” In fact, here is the song. The words capture my heart every time I listen to it.

Christians are going to struggle. When someone is determined to live above the burdens and yearnings of the world, they are going to tussle with pressures. It is a lifestyle change not accepted by the world’s standards. Struggling is a natural part of life and an even more natural part of Christianity, but we shouldn’t allow our struggles to chain us to the ground. Satan wants us to believe that we are chained to keep us from drawing closer to Christ. If he can keep our minds enslaved, there is no way for us to move forward. At a retreat this weekend, the speaker stated this simple but pivotal sentence, “When you go to God it doesn’t make your struggles easier, but you have someone to walk through the storm with you.” God sent His Son to die for us because He loves us so much he refuses to watch us continue to be broken by our chains.

Another thing that tends to cause us to struggle is our persistence in dwelling on our pasts. When we run to God, he forgets our pasts, but the Devil consistently offers it back up to us on a silver platter making it look appetizing again. As the speaker, aforementioned, stated this weekend, “When Satan brings up your past, remind him of his past and his rapidly approaching future of desolation.”

“Our chains are gone and we’ve been set free, so Children drop your chains and sing!”


The Danger in Reading – A Different Perspective on Reading

By Beth Winze

 “If you want a happy ending that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” ~ Orson Welles 

All my life, reading has been essential in my maturing from early childhood to my late teenage years.  I cannot tell you exactly when my fervor for reading came about, I think I simply have to accept the fact that it just did.  Throughout school I was told that reading was the paramount way to absorb new information and it only made your brain “think tank” abundantly superior.  No, it was not a chore for me to pick up a book when the teacher told us it was reading rest-time.  I remember running my index finger along the worn binding of the books setting on the shelf wondering what adventure I would pick up that day.  I would open the book and relish the crinkling binding, as I smoothed my hand over the inked pages, never hesitating to stick my nose right in the center of the book and inhale the adventure stuck in its pages.  (Of course, only when no one else was looking.)  There was simply something completely captivating in books.  In not just the words, but in its appearance, shape, weight, smell, and look- books just stole my heart.  It was the idea that I could live in another time period or experience a different culture without ever having to leave my bed.

Growing up, instead of being grounded like the normal pre-teen, I would have books taken away from me.  This was positively infuriating.  Props to my mother for finding a punishment so affective.  Crying, begging, yelling, and whining quickly ensued my book removals.  My mom would not hear the end of my discourse until she placed the book safely back in my grasp.

When I would open a book and the first line would be, “Dear reader,” I was immediately transfixed.  The book became personal to me in those two words- like there was something written amongst those pages that would reach into my deepest soul and captivate my person.

Whenever I received a new book I would flip to the very first chapter and read the first word on the first line.  And I would continue on to flip to the last chapter read the last sentence’s last word.  It was almost as if these two words I read would somehow give me a pre-emptive glance into what I was about to read.  It never did of course, but looking back now, my old habit has become symbolic.

I never thought of reading as dangerous.  No, to say such a thing is horrible.  But from the deepest part of my soul, I have come to believe it is.

“Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” -Helen Exley

I am currently reading for the second time The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  This book attributes to the recent realization of dangerous reading.  (Not in a bad way of course.  In fact, this book is my favorite book.)  I of course, being that old habits die hard, read the first word and the last word of the book, “late” and “do”.  Reading this book before, I can remember the treasure it held between its pages.  But these two words hold so much more meaning than my lame attempt at guessing an entire 318 page novel.  The words signify that this book will begin, and this book will end.  Whatever my heart decides to do between these 318 pages is not up to me.  I become completely vulnerable to the novelist and the story he has woven.

Another tragically dangerous thing about reading is the connection you make to the characters.  From Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy to The Fault in Our Stars Augustus Waters, you cannot help but emotionally tie yourself to this realistic work of fiction.  When they go through a whirlwind romance, you cannot help but hold future spouses to these impossible standards.  (Sorry future husband of mine, you will never be able to reach the same level of Mr. Darcy)  In being a vulnerable reader, one knows the immense power one single character of fiction can do to you.

 “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

So I the writer, encourage you the reader, to embark on a perilous journey not for the faint of heart.  Open your heart, mind, and senses to an entirely different emotional connection. Countless times have I lain on my bed sobbing through the last few chapters of a heart-wrenching novel because of a character’s death, loss, heroic rise, or wedding.  And in those last few moments of a book, when you can see the last sentence in sight, you realize the emotional journey you have been on is ending.  No longer will you be able to laugh at a character’s mishaps, or sigh at their first kiss, and cry when they hold the hand of their dying parent.  Just as all things in life that are good must end, so will the book.  But here is the most beautiful part.  As this book ends, another book is sitting somewhere on a shelf waiting for its binding to be crinkled as it opens, for hands to run along its smooth, inked pages and for another vulnerable heart ready to fall in love with a whole new set of characters and words.

This…..this is the true danger in reading.

Beauty 2.0

By Beth Winze

Dropping $25 on cosmetics anymore is a no brainer for most females.  It is a stress-free and swift solution to eradicate wrinkles, dark eyes, frown lines, and enhance your skin.  Magazines plaster painted faces, photo-edited curvaceous bodies, and flawlessly shaped eye brows on their glossy, alluring covers.  With mantras in bold-faced print on the front, such as: “Feel Beautiful All Year Round with [insert brand] Line of Makeup”, “Create Flawless Skin in fewer than Ten Minutes”, “Cover-up Those Wrinkles with This New Formula”- no surprise the majority of females in the United States have lost the meaning of true beauty.  In my reading this morning, I grasped just how much I have accepted the excessively manufactured make-up dynasty that controls my life.  Cosmetics that were designed to help enhance our natural beauty have now become our security blanket to hide any “inadequacies”.

While cat-eye eyeliner and orange-y face exteriors may put us under the misconception of flawless skin, it does not aid in covering up our true feelings about our beauty.  Every girl fights with beauty insecurities.  What makes a sixty-five year old woman look in the mirror and decide it is time for skin firming treatment?  Those wrinkles and crow’s feet show a life of joy and laughter, but she wants to appear youthful again.  What does the twelve year old girl in the mirror think right before she slips on bright, red lipstick?  No, make-up is not wrong when using to enhance the natural beauty in you, but when it is used to hide “imperfections” than there is a problem.

David Spellman, a clinical psychologist with Lancashire Care Trust states the ever-growing obvious, “I think the culture we live in and the magazine and TV images we see … affect children’s psyches – there does not seem to be one honest picture in the images we see in our doctored beauty culture. We are being increasingly particular of how we look and at a younger age.”

Not only are Victoria Secret models cavorting around in the skimpiest of boudoir apparel, but they are also giving the impression that evocative hair, make-up, and clothes make one prosperous in life.  What kind of image is this leaving in a seven year old girl’s mind?  Definitely not the right image of true beauty.  Not only are these models giving girls false pretenses, but when teenagers and adults little girls look up to do not display the confidence they need to see, these girls are found pining for reasons to consider themselves beautiful.

It took a shocking statement for me to realize how much I accept a lack of self-esteem.  A younger girl I am dear friends with looked up to me one day and said, “Beth, I do not understand why you do not see yourself as beautiful.”  My response came out somewhat befuddled, as I never chatted damagingly about myself in front of her, “What do you mean?”  She simply said, “I can just tell with how you act.”  Then she strolled off and I was left dumbfounded.  She could tell I was not solidly based in my true beauty.  This statement was enough to make me do a 180 and reconsider the way I saw myself.  I stopped the heavy make-up, and the desire to always be dressed to the nines in public.  I have found great confidence in only mascara and sweatpants.

Back to the glossy magazines that tempt us as we stand in line at the grocery store – they are completely phony.  It is easy to say but it is hard for our minds to accept the fact that those models are edited, and over-done.  You have probably seen the before and after comparisons of models, but just to drive the point home, here is an example:


(Picture Source:

Yes, the girl on the left is the same as the girl on the right.  It is amazing how lipstick, blush, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, mascara, hair, a painted on beauty spot, flashy earrings, lip liner, contacts, and teeth whitener bring out the true and natural beauty she was born with. *sarcastically said* “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.”  It is a terrible thing when a photo-shopped image can make us hate our mirror appearance.

I believe in models, but not the runway, lingerie, Abercrombie models – role models.  There is a world of difference between the two.  Use your natural beauty, and your personality to influence those around you.  Your deep passions and love will shine through and show your true beauty for what it is really worth.  I am not saying that all models are corrupt.  Look at Kylie Biscutti for example.

Kylie Biscutti won an online lingerie competition, at the age of nineteen, to walk the Victoria Secret runway as an angel for one show.  Biscutti modeled previously for boudoir shoots, but her Victoria Secret show placed her on the fashion model map.  Her husband prayed throughout her entire modeling career, but supported her descion to continue modeling, if that is what her heart desired.  Biscutti eventually had an epiphany and released everything and walked away from Victoria Secret modeling.  Her epiphany?

“My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing. I didn’t really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.”   

(Full Interview Link Here: )

Biscutti walked away from her fantasy profession in order to preserve her faith and image as a role model.  She went on to write a book titled “I’m No Angel”, in which she targets girls aspiring to be models.  In interviews she made it clear that right after the models come off the runway, it is not uncommon for them to collapse and/or pass out from botched crash diets.  Numerous models are covertly hospitalized after shows because of grave eating disorders and shortage of proper hydration.  Biscutti says that while she was in the modeling business, her managers would call her telling her she was gaining too much around the thighs and needed to drop in a horrifically short period of time.

Wearing make-up is not wrong, modeling for the right reasons is not wrong.  I will still continue to wear make-up, but I choose to use it as a natural beauty enhancer.  I do not want to hide under layers of fake disguising the real me.  My personality shining through is what makes me beautiful.  Everyone is beautiful.  We are all created in God’s image and we are wonderfully and fearfully made.  On my mirror are taped two verses.

1 Peter 3:3-5a – NIV translation

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”

Philippians 4:8-9 – Amplified translation

“For the rest, [sisters], whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].  Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of [a]untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.”

Getting ready in the mornings is a bit more convicting when these two Bible verses are right in your face.  Write them out and put them on your mirror and you will be forced to look at yourself differently.  The idea of make-up is not so important when you’re staring at the reflection of a princess.

Little Hands and Sparkling Eyes Alight

By Beth Winze

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

Tiny hands reaching for the whipped cream bottle, foam spray splattering everywhere, cookie chunks disintegrating to the floor.  Squeals of amusement resonated through the air as the mess left behind anticipated me.  I wanted to gripe at the preventable untidiness the customer made, but I could not.  As the grandma’s time-worn hands, held the child’s chubby, youthful ones, I could not help but miss being a child.  As the grandmother paid, the endearing child, despite the clutter made, stretched, with sparkly, bright eyes, to grasp her treat.  The child giggled and scampered over to the sofa to indulge her taste buds.  I grinned and recollected back to when I was the young age of six.

No longer do I clutch my grandmother’s hand, or find as much joy in a bowl of frozen yogurt as this child did.  I missed the tranquil joy that comes along with being childlike.  When did I grow up and abandon finding delight in the little things?  It seems like the older I get the more I regret.  You can go ahead and say that I am only eighteen and that outlooks like this should not be happening already for me, but honestly, they are.  Maybe it is because I feel submerged under piles of scholarship essay drafts, and work agendas.  Or maybe it is because young children and their unexplainable ease of elation have been around me more than ordinary.  Either way, I miss my younger years.

I recall being told as a pint-sized girl, to never hope to grow up faster than I have to.  I, of course, did not take their intelligence and only fantasized of the days when cosmetics, driving, shopping, and being employed would become mine.  I coveted growing up faster than I should have.  Pondering on why I did this, I could only come up with one answer.  I never looked deeper behind all the “glam” that comes with age.  I did not see the tension in other’s eyes.  I only looked at what they possessed, and anticipated having that.  In that case, age was what I craved, and I got it.

There is nothing I can do to stop growing up.  But I pine for the days when I would scuttle into mom and dad’s bed on a Saturday morning and snuggle with them until they rolled out of bed.  Or the father/daughter dances every year when my mom would place some blush and eye shadow on me, and my dad would dance with me, making me feel like royalty at a ball.

Now, contemplations of college, and the attempt at trying to grasp the thought of moving out inhabit the majority of my mind.  I cannot crawl into bed with my parents when I get scared of a thunderstorm, or have mom give me a Band-Aid over a boo-boo that I convince her is really there.  I suppose that is what hurts the most about growing up.  Those things I continuously took for granted are not there anymore.  College is fewer than six months away for me.  No more mom tucking me in at night.  This is what makes growing up tough.  Letting go of the fading familiarities of life.

As that grandma was returning her wallet to her purse and turning to go, I simply said “Make sure that she understands how important appreciating her youth is.” And her grandmother turned to me, rested her hand on my own, and sympathetically said with misty eyes, “Are you missing your youth?”  I just nodded and half-smiled back at her as my eyes began to pool tears.  “Do not worry about what you have left behind in your youth,” she responded, “but anticipate what is coming up in your future.” She patted my hand and called her grandchild to her side.  With that, they strolled out the door together, hand in hand, side by side.

I realize the significance of reminiscing.  It does not make it easier to grow up and think about your impending future, but it does not make the upcoming quite as frightening.  I am not ready to be mature enough to be on my own.  But it is essential to move on to my next phases in my life.  As the grandma that associated with me at work said, “Do not worry about what you left behind in your youth, but anticipate what is coming up in your future.”  I do not know what my future holds, but as I draft my scholarship essays and work for paychecks, I am only going to appreciate it for how it will spring-board me into my future.

About Stealing My Heart

By Beth Winze

Dear Future Husband,

Hunny, Babe, Boo, Hubby – I do not know what I am calling you at this point.  I promise it will not be Snickerdoodle.  I do not know you as I pen this, or, maybe I do.  I love you so much already.  I daydream about what your appearance is, how you talk, and any funny little nuances that you have that I will unrelentingly adore.  My mom prays for you as I do, quite frequently.  Let us just say that I cannot wait for you to ask me to be your wife.

But I need to tell you something about stealing my heart.  My heart has already been taken.  By two others.

I was created by a King.  I am a Princess of the definitive His Majesty.  My Creator has my heart resting securely in His affectionate hands.  Through Him, you and I have been fashioned.  I hope that I will not be the first one to capture your heart.  My desire is that I have to draw nearer to God to get closer to your heart- that He embraces in His hands.  This I truly wish.

The other one that has my heart is my Dad.  He has been there to remove my bicycle’s training wheels and give me the unsteady momentum to independence on two wheels.  He drilled my first and last effort at being a part of a soccer team.  He laced up my cleats even when I did not want to go.  God could not have given me a more picture-perfect example of a godly man.

I have kept my standards high.  But you will have to do a few things to get my heart.

First off, you need to get through God and yearn to repose in the palm of His hand, next to my heart.  It is there to stay.

And secondly, you have to tell my Dad what your intentions are with my heart.  He safeguards it and keeps me responsible with what I do with it, and will not let me offer it away to just anybody.

But do not let this alarm you!  I want you to have it as well.  I want you to know it entirely, inside and out.  You are the anticipated pulse it will beat in time with.

So, about stealing my heart, you have to go through some key preliminaries to receive it.  But once you do, know that I will love you with all my control that I have in me.  A love so strong it will be impossible to break.  Only commitment, adoration, comfort, and faithfulness will flourish from it.

This, I believe.


Mrs. Beth (your last name inserted here)

“Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it” – Proverbs 4:23