One of the reasons I love the True Beauty Initiative is because it’s an avenue to recognize amazing young women in the area and let them share their stories in order to inspire others. I am definitely inspired by Jonelle’s story and I know you will be too!Jonelle is a 2016 graduate of Pittsburg State University. While she was at Pitts State, she was involved in Phi Upsilon Omicron (FCS Honor Society), Kansas Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (KAFCS), Gamma Alpha Lambda (Christian Sorority), Global Leadership Institute, The National Society of Leadership and Success, the Pittsburg State Track & Field team, and regular volunteer work in the community. Whew! Now that she’s done with school, she looks forward to having time to ride horses, read, go swimming, and hang out with her friends and family. I’m pretty sure she’ll be helping on the farm too!What I love most about Jonelle is that she has a heart for helping others. Her dedication and work ethic have made her successful, but her passion for helping others is what truly makes her shine! She especially enjoys working with kids a little younger than herself.On our photo session, Jonelle was all giggles. While she describes herself as an introvert, she has a bubbly side that comes out, especially when she’s with her friend Lacey. Jonelle loves the movie, “Finding Nemo,” and says, “If you know Dori’s character, you pretty much know me!” Pictured above is Jonelle and her best friend Lacey!Jonelle admits, “The smell of French Vanilla coffee brings life for me in the mornings, I’m a good cat mother, and baking and playing the piano are my stress-relievers.”While Jonelle has a spunky side, she’s also very reflective. I love how she shares the following story to give God the glory and inspire us to trust Him completely.“Easter Sunday last year, Michael and I were in a serious car wreck and my whole outlook on life was changed. It has by far been the most challenging year of my life, but I have been so blessed to see so many good things come from such a broken situation (“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.” Romans 8:28).
Since high school, athletics have been my identity and my faith just encouraged me when I needed it. I mostly associated with other athletes, I was careful about what I ate, and I was always working out. I let this shape everything I did and it became my idol and how I defined myself; eventually I could not imagine my life without track. I had passed up several opportunities to be more involved in my church, my family, friends, and campus because I was “too busy” with track. I was running my 3rd year of college track and was building confidence as I saw myself getting stronger and my hard work paying off. The wreck was a reality check for me; everything I had once defined myself to be was gone. I went from miss Independent, running and working out every day, to laying in bed with broken femurs, a broken ankle and broken toes, not sure if I would ever be able to run again. Yes, my situation could have been so, so much worse and I thank God it was not, but it was still very devastating.”“Last summer was a very humbling experience as I was awakened to how much I depended on God and the people around me. At first, I was bitter toward the person who had hit us because I felt like my future was taken away by someone’s stubborn will; then I began to question God’s love for me and why this had to happen to me. I became so bitter and depressed that I just wanted it all to end, I had no place else to turn except to my heavenly Father. When I came before Him completely broken, He picked up all of my shattered pieces and I experienced His strength, peace, grace, faithfulness, forgiveness and His love in a whole new way. I finally found my identity in Christ, as a beloved daughter of the one True King! (1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” And that is what we are!).
I realized I had not reached where I was without God blessing me with opportunities, supportive people, and my physical abilities. It was amazing to see so many people come around me to offer support, prayer, and words of encouragement. Knowing I had people praying for me and that God is working everything together for my good (Jeremiah 29:11) is what got me through and still gets me through each day. All of that said, I cannot say that I overcame this situation on my own. Only because of Christ, am I overcoming this situation and my selfish desires. Now I am finding my new identity and purpose in Christ! (“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Exodus 9:16. Colossians 3:1-3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Romans 5:2-5)”Despite her struggles, Jonelle is still smiling, and still giving the glory to God!What inspires you? I am inspired when I see other people living out their passions and not just talking about them. I am amazed when I see people sold out for Christ, sacrificing their time, energy and money for others; it is truly inspiring to see people so selfless.What makes you feel beautiful? Of course I feel beautiful when people tell me I am beautiful and not just physically but inwardly. When I can see something that I did (whether it was advice from my past experiences, or a small act of kindness), help someone else, I feel like God is using me and that is a beautiful thing. Helping others has a much longer lasting impact than physical beauty does.…And I LOVE the way she answered the following questions…
What’s your favorite thing about your looks? My favorite thing about my looks has always been my height and athletic build but since I have lost the majority of what I had, I am learning to love myself from the inside as I discover more of who I am in Christ, rather than who I am outwardly. Physical features change and pass away with time, but a beautiful spirit will only magnify physical beauty. (1 Peter 3:4, “Your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”).What’s your “not so favorite” thing about your looks? I could make a long list of things I don’t like about myself, I’m pretty sure most of us can, but then I’m reminded of Psalm 139: 13,14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” When I read these verses, I am reminded of God’s perfect creation–He never makes any mistakes. When I criticize things about myself, I am ridiculing God’s perfect creation and who am I to tell a perfect God that he messed up on my hair, my nose, my face, or my teeth, etc.?What’s your definition of beauty? My definition of beauty is a gentle, meek, loving, compassionate and truthful heart, which is displayed by one’s actions. Though I often forget my own definition because of the lies I have been fed through media, I have to remind myself that God makes things perfect, for a special and unique purpose. Therefore, we are made physically beautiful, we just need to work on filling our hearts and minds with Godly character qualities. (Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”)I asked Jonelle who inspires her. “My Mom is the woman that inspires me most. She is the hardest working woman I know and she is so selfless, loving, supportive and incredibly wise. She volunteers for all of the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do and never complains about it. She never asks for anything, she just does what needs to be done. She has loved me, my family, and people she doesn’t even know, with Christ’s love. From traveling to Texas to watch me run, to watching me take my first steps after the wreck, my mom has been my number one supporter. She has always been someone I can go to for good advice and 99.99% of the time, she is right. My mom is the definition of the Proverbs 31 woman and a prime example of true beauty!”
“7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school, and relationships with friends and family members.” (Dosomething.org)
With the above statistic in mind, what message would you like to send to girls a little younger than yourself? This might be a poor analogy, but beauty is like a good mystery! Life is the crime scene, full of all sorts of clues scattered everywhere in life, and it’s your job to weed out the lies and find the truth. My hint to you, is that you will be fed lie after lie from society about what beauty is but you will only find the truth of true beauty when you dig into God’s Word and discover it for yourself. True beauty goes so much deeper than physical appearance. Also, check out the song “More Beautiful You”, by Jonny Diaz! (There, I gave you three hints! ;) )Jonelle is an amazing young woman who keeps on smiling. Would you like to read about other truly beautiful young women?