Beauty By The Book

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From celebrated Hollywood starlets to the covers of Cosmo, our society seems obsessed with beauty. Actress and Main Floor host Nancy Stafford (best known for her starring role as Michelle Thomas on Matlock) digs below our culture's fixation on outward appearance to show you that true beauty is more than skin-deep. "Every woman has beauty," says Stafford, "but not everyone sees it. I want you to see it." In Beauty by the Book she bares her heart to readers, laying out the Scriptures, promises, and truths women ...
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From celebrated Hollywood starlets to the covers of Cosmo, our society seems obsessed with beauty. Actress and Main Floor host Nancy Stafford (best known for her starring role as Michelle Thomas on Matlock) digs below our culture's fixation on outward appearance to show you that true beauty is more than skin-deep. "Every woman has beauty," says Stafford, "but not everyone sees it. I want you to see it." In Beauty by the Book she bares her heart to readers, laying out the Scriptures, promises, and truths women need to know to find their true value. Her liberating reflections will help you see yourself as God sees you -- worthy, lovable, and beautiful.“Mirror, Mirror, on the W all…”

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you see a unique individual created in the image of Beauty itself—one chosen, Cherished, and valued in the eyes of God? If not, you may be looking in the wrong mirror—one distorted by emotional wounds, lies from your past, or the unrealistic standards of our culture.

“Everyone has beauty and worth,” says Nancy Stafford, “but not everyone sees it. I want you to see it.”

Nancy shares her own poignant story and holds up the true mirror of God’s Word—inviting you to see yourself as God sees you, to absorb His truth, and to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the King is enthralled by your beauty!

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What People Are Saying

Laura Bagby
Part autobiography and part devotional, Nancy shows women that true beauty isn't face creams or dress sizes or firm triceps, but rather the spiritual fruit that the Holy Spirit stirs within us and the biblical promises we cling to as we soak in God's presence....All the while she weaves in both the blessed highpoints and the painful lessons of her personal life and intermingles key Scriptures and prayers that speak to the soul.

Talking as a Christian first, a woman second, and a TV star third, it's obvious what Nancy values most as she seeks to encourage and inspire other women in their unique beauty: her continually transforming life in Jesus Christ.

Like Mary who sat at the feet of the Master, drinking in His presence, Nancy knows how to get you on your knees weeping before the Lord....You will thirst for more of Him. In her soft, yet very honest style, Nancy depicts God's incredible love, His forgiveness, and His great purpose for you. You will gain hope and freedom as you grasp your new identity in Jesus Christ. As she brings you closer to the Cross, you will be brought closer to your true self: need of a Savior to take your from cultural definitions of beauty."

(February 20, 2002, Laura Bagby, Producer)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590529812
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 0.55 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 5.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Stafford graduated from the University of Florida and reigned as Miss Florida. After landing her first role on the NBC-TV daytime drama The Doctors, she became a series regular on St. Elsewhere and as Andy Griffith's law partner on Matlock. Nancy now hosts Main Floor, a syndicated series featuring the latest fashion, beauty, and lifestyle trends. She lives with her husband, Larry Myers, a professional musician and pastor, outside of Los Angeles, and frequently addresses women's groups, colleges, churches, and other organizations.
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Read an Excerpt

Beauty by the Book

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You
By Nancy Stafford

Multnomah Publishers

Copyright © 2002 Nancy Stafford
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1576739503

Chapter One

The Power of Appearances

He does not judge me by appearances ...

Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.-John 7:24

The hotel ballroom was jammed. It was the biggest fundraiser of the year for the American Red Cross. Everybody who was anybody was there. Philanthropists mixed with politicians mixed with Rotary Club. I was Miss Florida. I wore a red evening gown draped with a satin and velvet sash that said so.

Ouch! With every move of my head, one of the three-inch bobby pins keeping my crown aloft jabbed into my skull and pinched my teased scalp, bringing me to near tears. I imagined a handful of hair being yanked out at the roots. Surely I must be bleeding by now. Better check. Looking for an escape route to the ladies room to recrown myself, I saw ... her. As Sherlock Holmes referred to the character of Irene Adler, she was ... The Woman.

Tall, regal, elegant, graceful. Golden brown body and near platinum blond hair. Her ivory crepe evening gown stood out like a lighthouse in a sea of blinding rhinestones, bright chiffon ... and pageant-sashed red. Proof of her refinement and elegance. She was compassionate too, I could tell. Probably a Red Cross volunteerand a philanthropist. She laughed easily but had a mysterious reserve. Royalty, maybe? Sweden or Bulgaria, I guessed. Someplace far away. And elegant. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was a vision. Did I say she was elegant? She was everything I wanted to be.

Then, unbelievably, I saw that she was looking at me. She gave a small, elegant smile. Wow. Warm feelings washed over me. This creature, this vision had noticed me! I felt as though she was inviting me into some inner circle. I glanced around. Nope, nobody else. Just me. Of all the hundreds of people in the whole room, she was looking at me! Then I felt the bobby pin jab. Oh yeah, I had a crown on my head. Who wouldn't notice?

It didn't matter; I had to meet her. I grasped the sleeve of my pageant chaperone, Donna Jean, and we slowly made our way across the room. To my amazement, The Woman had begun to walk toward me too, weaving her way through the crowd like an ivory ribbon.

We both began to speak at the same time. Laughing nervously, I deferred. After all, she was The Woman. She brushed a platinum wisp off her perfect face, smiled that elegant smile, and then, in an octave lower and a volume louder than I expected, said in a gravelly kind of rasp, "Ya know, I was Miss New Joisey once-st. Miss Casino, USA. Yeah! Woulda gone onta da nationals too, but dem blankity-blanks found out about me an one-a dem judges. Ah well, dat's da breaks. I just came ta dis ting wit Joey. Hey, Joey! Get me anudda drink!"

I was stunned. A bucket of cold water in the face would have been less startling. Hoping that my bulging eyes and slack jaw hadn't given me away, I managed, "Well ... uh ... I'm not the least bit surprised! You're ... beau ... tiful!"

That which is striking and beautiful is not always good; but that which is good is always beautiful.-Ninon do l'Enclos

How deceived we are by appearances! We exalt some people and dismiss others, sometimes at first glance, based on how they look to us. That's what I did. I supposed some things about "Miss New Joisey" and attributed certain qualities to her based purely on her appearance. At a glance, I made her the embodiment of beauty and grace, only to find that she was a flawed mortal just like the rest of us.

That evening shook me. Yes, I've laughed about it over the years as a "funny story," but its deeper truth haunts me. How many times have I dismissed people with true elegance and inner beauty just because of their packaging? Do I still blindly deify some, yet blithely disregard others? Even in a tiny way, am I prejudiced toward the attractive, while missing the true beauty of the seemingly plain ones in front of me? Truthfully now, what do I think deep down when I look at that ratty street person, that pencil-thin and fashionable neighbor, that grossly overweight woman, or that photogenic superstar? Even when we know better, we judge. We esteem and we disparage, we elevate and we denigrate-all based on appearance.

But even though we sometimes do, God is One who does not judge by mere appearances. And how grateful I am for that fact when I'm the one He is looking at.

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.-Iris Murdoch

* * *

Our Longing for Beauty

I will gaze upon the beauty of the Lord forever ...

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.-Psalm 27:4

The truth is that we need beauty in our lives. We were made in the very image of Beauty: Christ Himself. Our first home was a place unsurpassed in its natural beauty-perfect, in fact-Eden. We are born with a deep longing for and appreciation of beauty. Our spirits are drawn to it. It calls to us, nourishes us, stimulates us.

Think about how you feel when the beauty of nature surrounds you, how nourished, refreshed, whole. A shady forest trail, a sparkling sandy beach, a majestic thundering waterfall, a tiny fragrant garden-all have the power to renew us. We drink in their beauty; we savor it.

What happens to you when you see a powerful work of art or hear a stirring piece of music? Don't you feel nurtured and nourished when you walk into the elegant lobby of a great hotel or a tastefully decorated home, enjoy a deliciously magnificent meal, or meet a vibrant, confident person?

Beauty is a baby's toothless, dimpled smile that makes you grin from ear to ear. It's a fragrant bouquet and the mellow taste of a rich red wine rolling slowly in your mouth. Beauty is art that transfixes. Literature that transports. The violin cry that breaks your heart and moves you to tears. The driving drum that bores deep in your bones and inflames your soul.

Surrounded and awakened from slumber, my senses can hardly take it. Stop! I cry. Then, No! Give me more.

What delights us in visible beauty is the invisible.-Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

At its most magnificent, though, earthly beauty is but a paltry taste, a dim foreshadow, of what awaits. C. S. Lewis reminds us that the beauty we are drawn to-nature or art or music or books-is not the ultimate, only the conduit:

It was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.... They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

What we yearn for is the beauty of heaven. Eternity has been set in our hearts, and it burns there in our secret longing. Lewis writes:

In this universe ... the longing to ... bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely ... the promise of glory ... becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.... Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.

One day our longing and ache will end. Our hunger will be satisfied. Our great heart-cry, the one thing we ask-to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord-will be answered. The door will open. And we shall be one with Him. Until then, we long for beauty and desperately need it in our lives.

In all ranks of life the human heart yearns for the beautiful; and the beautiful things that God makes are his gift to all alike.-Harriet Beecher Stowe

* * *

The Importance of Beauty

He crowns me with love and compassion ...

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.-Psalm 103:2-4

A woman's appearance is an important part of her need for beauty. A woman can be interested in both blush and the board-room, mascara and ministry, fashion and physics, hair gel and home-schooling, or working out and working with the homeless. One doesn't cancel out the other, and wanting to look good doesn't make you a shallow person or a self-consumed sinner.

We all know that how we look influences how we feel. Be honest: Don't you feel better at the post office when your hair looks good, you have on a dab of makeup, and you're dressed nicely? Isn't it better than waiting in line hoping that nobody sees you in your sloppy clothes, with your dirty hair bundled up in a ponytail? (Okay, okay! I admit it: That was me you saw in the express mail line!)

And have you noticed that when you feel better about yourself, you're more apt to smile and talk with others? Believe me, I wear makeup so much for work that I love the days I can run around in sweats or shorts and not have to do my face or hair. And I do. (You've seen me at the post office, remember?) But I also know that I feel better and more willing to engage with others when I'm confident about my appearance.

According to some psychologists, when you're looking after your appearance, you're also looking after your self-your emotional life, your self-esteem. It seems to follow that taking care of yourself automatically improves the way you see yourself. You respect yourself. And by caring for your appearance, you are telling the world that you are a person worthy of respect. The bottom line is that when you feel better about you, you're more confident, so you can forget about yourself for two seconds and focus on somebody else.

Psychologists are also becoming more aware of the link between making the effort to look good and feeling happy. They note that people who are depressed or emotionally fragile just don't think it's worth the effort to groom themselves. As one therapist told me: "When people are very depressed, their self-care is low. When we start to see grooming reemerge, we know they are improving. There's no doubt that both psychological and physical health demand that people pay attention to their needs."

I've seen firsthand the psychological and emotional benefits of improved appearance. When the beautiful actress Rhonda Fleming lost her sister to cancer, she determined to create a place of beauty, care, and compassion for women going through that nightmare. She established the Rhonda Fleming Center for Women with Cancer at UCLA Medical Center and filled it with warm colors, lovely furnishings, paintings ... and love. Then she asked our mutual friend, Vera Brown, for help.

For thirty years, my dear friend Vera has been the facial, body care, and makeup maven to L.A.'s most beautiful people. But her favorite clients aren't film stars, cover girls, or socialites; they are women fresh out of chemotherapy.

Every week for many years, Vera joined Rhonda at the cancer center, giving these ladies what they needed to feel feminine and beautiful again. She brought wigs, creams, makeup ... and hope. She rolled up her sleeves, dipped her hands, and soothed away the pain, fear, and loss that cancer causes. Her creams are legendary, but it was her touch that restored.

A dozen or more women would gather in a room, some just days after surgery or hours after chemo. Unhurriedly, Vera gave each woman a facial, did their makeup, and taught them how to have beautiful eyes-no lashes or brows required. And as she did, she told them: "Nothing comes out of a jar that does as much for you as your spiritual attitude. When you have that and love yourself, you're truly beautiful."

Vera is proud of the business she's built-the photo-lined walls, the magazine spreads, and the national awards-but true satisfaction lights up her beautiful face when she talks about "her girls." These women are proof of the psychological benefits of improved appearance for the self-esteem of cancer patients. Paying attention to the way they look has a huge therapeutic impact on them. Suddenly they realize that, no matter what has happened to them, their beauty is more than just the sum of their parts. They see that they are worthy of attention, and just knowing that makes it easier for them to cope. And as they adjust, they are better able to pour out on others the love and compassion that encourages their beauty and helps them flourish too.

Several years ago, Vera had to begin to practice what she preached: She woke up one morning to find a lump in her breast. And the women she had embraced, cared for, and comforted now surrounded her with love and support and affection.

There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.-Virgil

* * *

Mere Appearances

He sees my heart ...

The Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height.... The Lord does not look at the things man looks at Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."-1 Samuel 16:7-8

I remember the day I noticed my family was different. I think I was five.

I was with Mom and Dad and my older brother, Tracy. We were in a shopping mall. A young family nearby glanced our way, looked a little longer, and then began to snicker and stare. The father saw us first and elbowed his son. The two children pointed, giggled, and, to the amusement of their folks, began to imitate my parents. The boy dragged one leg in an exaggerated limp, like a monster in a cheap horror film. The girl formed her arms into a huge circle, puffed out her cheeks, and waddled with great effort. The father pretended to shush the children, but he silently laughed his encouragement. The mother cupped her hand over her mouth to hide her expression of half giggle, half disgust.


Excerpted from Beauty by the Book by Nancy Stafford Copyright © 2002 by Nancy Stafford
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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