Let’s Chat! About Beauty and Beholders

Beauty and Beholders

Beauty. Most of us can agree beauty is as subjective as beholders themselves.

What’s the origin of the well-known idiom, Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder? I looked it up. 

Irish romance novelist, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, coined the idiom in her 1878 novel, Molly Bawn

We may apply this truism to the latest beauty pageant: “No! Not Miss Tall and Dignified! Miss Petite and Sassy should’ve won!”

Or to a “find” on Antiques Roadshow: “Egads! That piece of junk is worth more than the national debt!”

Memories of Beauty and Beholders

Which reminds me of living as a military family in Germany in the 1970s. Not long after arriving, we began hearing about American couples going “junkin’.” On those Wednesdays, German locals would set out on sidewalks any items they considered junk. And Americans flocked to them.

One couple might come home with a gorgeous 100-yr-old “shrunk”. (Think hutch on steroids!) Another, a finely carved, 150-yr-old grandfather or grandmother clock. And another, a set of generations-old hand-painted plates. To the locals, “old” meant “ugly”, but to Americans, the older, the more beautiful.

But that was before Antiques Roadshow debuted in 1979 and we learned the truth of a similar idiom: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

A Family of Beholders 

No better illustration exists than this one from my family history.

My mother and father both came from impoverished backgrounds. Mother had two dresses–one for Sunday and another for every other day. Daddy finished high school at 16 and struck out on trains heading in the direction of one harvest or another, sending his paycheck home to help out.

When Mother and Daddy met, 16-yr-old Mother lived with her widowed mother and brother in an uncle’s barn. They would have lived in the uncle’s house, but there wasn’t an inch of space after the rest of the Great Depression-deprived family moved in.

Beauty in the Great Depression

When they married, Daddy was working for a local farmer for $5 per week. He borrowed $5 for his and his bride’s wedding clothing and paid his employer back $2.50 per week.

Daddy made a deal with his employer to live in an old farm house situated on a piece of land he worked. Some would call the house a shack. But considering where Mother came from, she called the old shanty a castle.

Beauty Reborn

Decades later, after Daddy was a landowner in his own right and had built Mother the brick home she always dreamed of, she took up oil painting. Their first home had deteriorated by then to nothing more than weathered clapboards on the verge of collapse, unlivable.

Mother decided she’d paint the old place the way it looked when she and Daddy claimed it as home—to preserve the truth about what it looked like. The two of them “worked” on the painting for months, angling their heads left and right, recalling details, Daddy noticing something not quite right, and Mother making an adjustment or two, adding a little something here or there, their memories guiding her hand. 

The above painting is the thing of beauty the two of them came up with.The reality, however, was something altogether different, to which the photo below attests. 

Beauty Goes Full Circle

You might say Mother was as subjective a beholder of beauty as you could find. But I wonder … Is that so bad? Consider this: Romans 3: 11-18 paints an ugly portrait of humankind.

“There is no one righteous, not even one … no one who understands … no one who seeks GodAll have turned away, they have together become worthlessthere is no one who does good, not even oneTheir throats are open gravestheir tongues practice deceitThe poison of vipers is on their lipsTheir mouths are full of cursing and bitternessTheir feet are swift to shed bloodruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes. (NIV)

However … Zechariah 2: 8 paints an altogether different picture:

“For this is what the Lord Almighty says [to you, His people]: ‘…  whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye …”

Beauty, Up Close and Personal

I love this photo of my grandson Braden when he was 3. When I look closely enough, I can see myself in his eyes. I’m so close to him, my love so intimate that it’s as if I’m a little person within his eyes. 

That’s the intimate picture Zechariah paints of God’s love for His pitted-with-flaws people. He holds us so closely … treasures us so deeply … we’re embedded—implanted— within Him … the apple of His eye.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that subjective view of me any day. I’m pitted with flaws, scarred, bruised, and covered in the scabs of sin. I’m every bit of the ugliness the apostle Paul lays out in Romans. Just as unrighteous. Willful. Bitter and despicable. Yet in God’s eyes, I’m … if not an apple, for sure I’m a peach! 

I’d be a fool to reject that kind of love.

~ ~ ~

Dear Lord, please give us eyes to see You as our Eternal and Holy Beholder
and ourselves and others as the Apple of Your Eye.
~ For Jesus’ sake

16 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! About Beauty and Beholders

  1. Marilyn R

    Linda, this was a lovely post filled with memories of your heritage past and present, along with the wonderful Word of God. I had heard about the Germans sitting the old out on sidewalks for whoever wanted it as they preferred the new. So thankful God sees the beauty in all of us despite our blemishes, imperfections, heartbreaks we cause, etc. but always loving us and calling out to us as He truly sees the beautiful individual He created in each one to share eternity with Him by following His plan of Salvation. God’s blessings and thank you for sharing.

    1. Amen, Marilyn! Aren’t we blessed.

  2. I love reading your stories, Linda. Your mom and dad are beautiful people. Thank you for reminding us of God’s love for us.

    1. Thank you, Gail. You’ve made my day! 💛

  3. Patty

    So interesting about the American and German view of old stuff or junk! We are going to an estate sale tomorrow hoping to find some interesting old ‘junk’.

    1. Thank you, Patty. I hope you find a treasure trove at the estate sale.

  4. Shamekka Sheffield

    This was beautiful to read💕

    1. Thank you, Shamekka. My mother left me lots of beauty to write about.

  5. Perrianne Askew

    Wow! Deep and meaningful thoughts. I LOVE your mothers painting. I’m sure it has a lot of meaning for you. She is quite talented!

    1. Thank you, Perrianne. I never knew when I was watching (and dealing with 🙂 Mother all those years ago that she was giving me such a wealth of writing material. 🙂

  6. Carlene

    What beautiful thoughts, reminding us that riches are not measured by material possessions.

    1. Thank you, Carlene. That’s so true about riches, isn’t it?

  7. Becky Smith

    Wow! Great post! Love the family history, and the painting is wonderful!! Your words are so encouraging and inspiring! Thank you!

    1. Aww. Thank you, Becky! It’s a blessing to me to share stories like this one. God bless you today!

  8. Paula Shreckhise

    Beautiful post! Thankyou!

    1. Thank you, Paula. Your words encourage me. God bless you and yours today and always!


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Let’s Chat! Author Carlene Havel

Welcome, Readers! And Welcome, Carlene Havel!

This week we’re welcoming Carlene Havel as guest blogger. Carlene and I have been writers-group friends for several years. 

Carlene Havel writes historical stories set in Biblical times. This week she’s sharing some background on the creation of her latest release, Song of the Shepherd Woman.

**Join in the conversation below to be entered into a drawing for a print copy of Song of the Shepherd Woman.**

Postscript: Congratulations to Leona Atkinson, winner of a print copy of Carlene Havel’s Song of the Shepherd Woman.

In Her Own Words: Carlene Havel

Readers almost always ask authors two questions.  First, how on earth can you write a whole book? And then, where do the ideas come from?

How Carlene Does It

Carlene HavelThe first question is simple: perseverance.  I’ve realized, to my regret, that the fairytale of the shoemaker elves does not play out in real life. Books don’t write themselves!  Therefore, if I want to be an author (and I do, oh, I do!), the price tag is sitting in front of my computer, transferring the thoughts in my head onto a manuscript. I sometimes visualize each word as a snowflake, small and insignificant in and of itself. Yet when enough of them accumulate, they can become an avalanche.

Where Carlene’s Ideas Come From

Carlene HavelFor me, inspiration comes suddenly, unexpected, for no obvious reason. Most often, I imagine a dramatic scene. For no particular reason I can figure out, I see some characters, hear them speak, and feel their emotions. When I see this “method” on paper, it seems crazy. Maybe it is, but it works for me.

For example, my latest release Song of the Shepherd Woman began at Christmastime, although it’s not a Christmas story per se. As I read through the familiar verses from the second chapter of Luke, the shepherds abiding in the fields captured my imagination. How amazed they were to receive Christ’s birth announcement from an angelic choir.  What joy and hope they must have felt as they ran to the stable in Bethlehem.

But then, how did others react to their story afterwards? Was it possible people thought the shepherds drank too much wine? Or simply fabricated a fantastic story? And what if one of the shepherds had a child, a baby boy, who happened to be in Bethlehem when Herod’s henchmen came looking for the Christ child?

Totally without my consent, a character took shape, a disappointed idealist, a man whose life and dreams were shattered early in his life. But suppose, after years of hopelessness, this man was given another chance? What if . . . 

How Carlene Havel Crafted The Shepherd Woman

Carlene HavelI didn’t start writing immediately.  Instead, I bought a book on raising sheep. When I couldn’t put the book down, I knew I was hooked. I kept thinking about the old shepherd, somehow reluctantly accepting responsibility for an innocent child. I felt his conflicting emotions, and I knew I had to tell his story.

Writing Song of the Shepherd Woman, like all of my books, was a labor of love. Sharon Faucheux wove her historical research into my narrative, resulting in a story we hope readers will love as much as we do.

Song of the Shepherd Woman

Carlene HavelIn the first century, Channa’s stepfather gives her to her maternal great-uncle Avram to raise. He is known to be a peculiar, perhaps dangerous, man with a wife who cannot speak.  Nevertheless, they are kind to Channah and teach her how to care for sheep. When her stepfather unexpectedly announces her betrothal to a Jerusalem tanner, the girl is forced to leave the only home she knows. 

Channah looks forward to a loving husband, but soon learns she is to be Enos the tanner’s second wife. The beautiful first wife is barren, and she resents her youthful rival. Channa struggles to adjust to marriage and city life, cherishing the hope of someday having her own child to love.

How You Can Connect With Carlene




You can purchase Song of the Shepherd Woman on Amazon.

~ ~ ~

Dear Lord, we bow before you in submission, trusting You as our Good Shepherd You feed us, sustain us, and protect us. You and You alone are worthy of our praise. As authors and readers, we thank You for the gift of words and the messages they transmit. We thank You for calling Carlene to write messages of the Savior. Please bless each word she writes for You.
~For Jesus’ sake

18 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Author Carlene Havel

  1. Marilyn R

    Nice meeting Carlene Havel her on your blog, Linda. Perseverance and praying will always win when God is in it. “Song of the Shepherd Woman” calls my name. I enjoy Biblical fiction and how God inspires authors to write them. Blessings.

    1. I’m with you 100%, Marilyn! Thanks for joining us.

  2. I love Carlene’s books! I highly recommend this one as well as her others.

    1. It’s great to have you in our circle, Gail. You’ve encouraged us both!

  3. I have never read one of Charlene’s books but I surely hope to now. I love reading historical biblical fiction and look forward to reading this book Song of the Shepherd Woman.

    1. You’re entered in the drawing, Leona. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come again.

  4. I’ve enjoyed all of Carlene’s books. Great interview!

    1. Thanks for joining us, Kim!

  5. Inspiration comes the same way for me, Carlene! It could be just a word I read, a person I see, or something else entirely. Great interview, ladies! 🙂

    1. Thanks for joining us, Emily.

  6. Julie Cosgrove

    I love Charlene’s Biblical character books. They really bring the time period to life. I think Song of the Shepherd Woman is my favorite…or maybe The Scarlet Chord…or the Daughter of the King. I can’t decide. Don;t make me decide!! Just keep writing them.

    1. Love it, Julie! How can anyone resist such a recommendation? I can’t!

  7. All of Carlene’s books are awe inspiring. Lovely writing, descriptive scenes and believable characters.

    1. So good to have you in our circle, Vicki. You’ve encouraged Carlene and me both. And you’re entered.

  8. I loved The song of the Shepherd Woman. The characters and setting seemed so real.

    1. Hi, Billie. I loved Carlene’s description of how inspiration comes to her. It inspired me 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  9. I love your comment about perseverance. It is the first and maybe an author’s most important discipline.

    1. Agreed, Pat. Thanks so much for popping in. You’re entered!


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