True Beauty Challenge

Our culture today is polluted with a cesspool of lies fueling young woman’s minds and hearts into believing that happiness rests in looking a certain way or reaching an ideal weight.

Our culture is plagued with false truths about beauty and self-image because often times women don’t know what their true and lasting identity lies in. Confused, women turn to the media for reassurance and guidance. And what does the media tell them? It tells them that in order to be considered beautiful they need to look like the latest ninety-five pound manufactured celebrity on the cover of People Magazine. So, because of society, countless women strive after false beauty, perishable fame and attempt to quench their thirst for happiness with fleeting pleasures. But Truth tells women that lasting beauty stems from virtue and character, which is found within.

Made in His Image is exceedingly excited to introduce you to Hollie Danis, author of The True Beauty Challenge.

Hollie Danis is a wife and mother of two children. She is passionate about faith, young women’s ministry, and the pursuit of true beauty through virtue. She studied Catchetics/Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and has worked both as a volunteer and employed youth minister.

This Lent, challenge yourself to give up something more radical than chocolate or soda. Give up something with a more fulfilling reward. This book is about more than giving up makeup. It is a prayerful study that will transform your understanding of true beauty and leave you reaping the rewards of confidence, virtue, and a lasting beauty that radiates from your soul.

Grab your girlfriends, mom, sisters, etc. and embark on a life changing journey. Take the True Beauty Challenge and come to know yourself as the beautiful creation God made you to be.

Still not sure what to give up for Lent?

No problem. Click here to order Hollie’s book The True Beauty Challenge.

I challenge you to strive after True beauty this Lent and always.


Haven’t Done this in a While

Today was an AMAZING DAY!! I finished up a long week of business meetings this past week and one of the things I did, along with the help of some exceedingly successful business men, is finalize my mission statement for Made in His Image. Now, you might be thinking, that’s probably really easy to write. But in reality, each word has to be composed in just the right way and there have been countless drafts.

I am exceedingly excited to announce the final mission statement: To begin a dialogue, a discussion, in a safe and compassionate setting, to foster hope and healing, and to empower women to turn from victim to survivor. Ultimately, to provide holistic medical treatment and healing for women suffering from eating disorders, physical, and or sexual abuse, which entails, educating all women on the nature and dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. 

Its beauty brings me to tears! For part of the reason I was created was to found and launch Made in His Image. And it feels incredible to be doing what I was created to do. And to celebrate, I did what any normal ex-professional baker would do. I made cupcakes. These Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes remind me of my dear friend who is recovering, so I made these. Goodness gracious I love that girl!! And here is the recipe (I haven’t baked in a while).

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Baileys Frosting

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperatue
4 – 6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
pinch of salt

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling:

Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Cool until thickened, but soft enough to pipe.

Fill the cupcakes:

Using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting:

Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. Add salt. Slowly add the powdered sugar beating until combined. Slowly add the Bailey’s until you reach your desired consistency.

The Princess Moment

I wanted to thank you all for your prayers for my friend. Thank you so much for your thoughts and concern. Awesome news – she is now breathing on her own and talking. And she remembered who I was tonight! Please keep praying for her, especially for her brain function to return to normal. Life is precious my friends, cherish it!

Tonight we have a very special post and story from Catherine, Made in His Image’s Counselor. I am very grateful for her insight and willingness to share.

By: Catherine DiNuzzo

As a mother of two toddler-aged daughters, my world seems to be inundated with princesses. My husband and I swore that we would never let Cinderella, Arial, Sleeping Beauty, or any of the Disney princesses (that we’re all told we can’t live without) to infiltrate our home. However, thanks to grandmothers and good-hearted, well-intentioned friends, the princesses found their way into our lives. We have princess dress up, princess books, princess figurines, princess tea parties, princess t- shirts, and princess blankets. The list goes on. We are constantly reminded of the stories of princesses.

As a counselor, teacher, and public speaker, I have talked with hundreds of young women about the value of seeing that finding love is a process, one that takes time and purposeful actions. As a parent, especially a parent of little girls, I was concerned about the false reality that these Disney princess stories depict and what we’d be teaching our children. Would exposing them to these movies negate these important virtues that I had been so keen on teaching to others? I’m not trying to pick on Disney, but if you’ve seen even one Disney princess movie, you know what I am talking about. The stories don’t depict real life, and often depict situations that most likely will never happen for most women.

The stage… Princess sits alone, singing a song. Prince happens by, possibly on horseback, and catches a glimpse of her, a fair maiden. In an instant, they’ve fallen completely in love, just like that. It may have been a glance, or the wind blowing in her hair, or even the sparkle in her eye, but regardless, the connection happened. Immediately, he has miraculously overcome all obstacles in her life, he has swooped in to whisk the princes from her troubles, and he then takes her away to live “happily ever after.” This is quite the false reality! Once these Disney princesses entered our lives, there was no going back. I took this dilemma to prayer and like God does so often, He revealed to me an answer.

The part of a princess story that women fall in love with is the idea that a man could see her across the room, and without even speaking to her, could fall head over heels in love. That he would, in that moment, come to save her from all that hurts her, and will give her the “happily ever after” that she has dreamed about. There’s no pre-requisite or requirement on her end, just being present. So many women desire this, and I was one of them.

Like many young women, when I entered college, I went on the search for my princess story. I thought that in order for me to be found by my prince, I had to focus every moment of my life on getting ready for my special moment. I obsessed about being the skinniest, the prettiest, and the smartest. I made it a point to be at every party. If there was an opportunity to make “the moment” happen, I had to be there. Through this process of trying to force my princess moment, I lost myself. After lots of tears, many heart breaks, and even an abusive relationship, I began to think that there was something wrong with me, and that my princess story would never happen. At this point, I was feeling completely lost and my self-worth was nowhere to be found. I no longer knew who I was because I had been working so hard at being what I thought my prince wanted me to be. I was placing my personal value in the wrong things.

I was at my lowest point. I sat at dinner with a dear friend, lamenting about the princess story that would never be my story, and at that moment, with the love of a true friend and the help of the Holy Spirit, I learned that I already had my princess story and I didn’t even know it. There was already a man in my life who loved me for me. And like all good princess stories, there was nothing I needed to do to gain His love. He was there, to take away my hurts and to give me my happy ending. I finally realized that I had my princess moment because I realized that God was all I needed… God is my “princess moment.”

What I have been able to teach my girls is basic, yet it can be expanded to something all women need to know and understand. I teach my girls that God is the King. Not a prince, but the King. He is the King of everything, both on heaven and earth, and He is also our Father. Therefore, if our Father is the King, then we are daughters of the King, and that means that we ARE princesses. My girls love to hear this!

What I had failed to realize all those years was that God had always loved me. He didn’t love me because I fit into a certain size, or because my hair or clothes were the latest fashion-style. God loved me because He created me and I am His. It didn’t matter what I looked like, what I had done, or what I failed to do. Our value cannot come from anything but the fact that we are God’s daughters and He loves us unconditionally. If we place our personal value on anything but God and His love, it will come up empty every time. God loved me fully and completely, simply because I am me. He also comes to take all my hurts and my fears, and He promises an eternal “happily ever after” princess moment.


Dear Friends and Readers, please pray for a very dear friend of mine. It’s a life or death situation, she was found last night, is in the ICU now, and still hasn’t woken up. Please join me in prayer for the precious gift of her life – her beautiful life and friendship, mean the world to me.

“Behold, I make all things new.” – Rev 21:5


Olympian Speaks of Child Sexual Abuse

One of the most heart wrenching aspects about directing Made in His Image is reading the hundreds of emails I receive that express a sense and belief of worthlessness coming from the writer. Often times, this sense of hopelessness is related to their past traumatic experiences – specifically abuse.

Women tell me, “If I talk about it, or cry, I’m weak.” This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions in regards to abused victims. Today, Made in His Image welcomes a very special post – the story of Margaret Hoelzer, The U.S. record holder in the 200-meter backstroke. I challenge anyone who says Margaret is weak. 

Please believe me when I tell you from the deepest depths of my heart that you are NOT worthless! You are precious. And I know it doesn’t feel like you are, but you must cling to hope for your healing and freedom. I can’t wait for you to read my book – Choosing to See Beauty. I wrote it just for this reason. I’ve been where you are tonight, I know how you feel and my life is a testimony to healing found in the Father. His healing is for you too. Always HOPE!

The wallpaper border was meant to be peaceful, serene. A soft shade of blue covered with images of rose-colored flowers and white lattice. It was supposed to ease the nerves and bring a sense of calm to the bedroom. But with each piece that Margaret Hoelzer and her mother stuck to the wall that afternoon, the more secrets that came spilling out. The more the meaning of that border changed.

“I was paralyzed. It was like I was in a tunnel,” said Margaret’s mother, Elizabeth Livingston. “And I just kept praying to God to give me the strength to get through this and give my daughter the strength to keep talking.”

It was any parent’s worst nightmare. Ten-year-old Margaret began telling her mom how, between the ages of 5 and 7, she thought she might have been sexually abused by the father of one of Margaret’s friends. For three hours Margaret kept talking, telling of how the man touched her here, lured her there. He had shown her adult magazines and exposed himself to her. She spoke with a level of detail and knew things about the male anatomy that a 10-year-old girl simply shouldn’t know. Her mother was horrified.

Beginning that March afternoon in 1994, life would never be the same. Margaret would hide in the closet every time her mom left home. She lost any sense of self-esteem. She lost her trust in people — to the point that she wouldn’t kiss a boy until 10 years later and even now, at the age of 25, has still never had a serious boyfriend.

“Sexual abuse is like a disease,” Margaret said. “It just attacked my self-esteem. My first lesson that not all people are good, that adults aren’t perfect and don’t always have your best interests at heart? Yeah, I learned that at 5 years old. And that just kills any trust you have in the world.”

Fifteen years after that afternoon in her mom’s bedroom, Margaret Hoelzer is at the Water Cube in Beijing, a third Olympic medal draped around her neck. The world doesn’t know what she’s been through, doesn’t know the demons she’s fought to get here. Margaret believes the time has come for it to find out. After all, this has been the plan since she was 11, since the day a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue a case. The jurors told her it didn’t mean they didn’t believe her, it didn’t mean that nothing had happened. It just meant they couldn’t prove it. But try telling that to a fifth grader who lives in a world where you do something wrong and you’re punished.

“I was devastated,” Margaret said. “The pain was immense. And I remember thinking that I don’t ever want anyone else to have to go through that feeling of helplessness. That was when I began to realize, if the timing was ever right, if I could ever help someone else, I was going to tell my story.”

The nightmare

Margaret Hoelzer is comfortable. She’s wearing her favorite jeans, sitting in one of her favorite Seattle restaurants and eating one of her favorite dishes — a crepe stuffed with egg, tomato and spinach. She smiles, she laughs. And with every move, her curly blonde hair bounces up and down and her baby blue eyes jump in and out of the restaurant light.

But with one question, everything changes. Her voice turns robotic. Her eyes go hollow. Her hair stops bouncing. Her words sound as if they’re coming out of a machine, absent any feeling. It’s a defense mechanism, she says, the only way she can talk about what happened without emotionally collapsing. She takes a deep breath and begins.

“It was a friend’s father,” she says. “There were several incidents.”

The U.S. record holder in the 200-meter backstroke starts with the night she slept at her friend’s house and heard the door creep open in the middle of the night.

She says the abuse eventually stopped when the alleged attacker and his family moved to another town. Hoelzer has not seen or heard from the man or his family since. She denied repeated requests to name her alleged attacker. A spokesperson from the Madison County (Ala.) District Attorney’s Office confirmed that there was a case involving Hoelzer in 1994, but could not provide additional details, citing child abuse privacy laws.

“It’s never been about him,” Hoelzer said. “It’s never been about seeing him or screaming at him or getting some sort of revenge. I’ve tried to focus my energy on myself.”

Hoelzer said she didn’t begin to grasp the severity of what happened until she confided in a friend just before her 11th birthday. The friend insisted she tell her mom, then Hoelzer met with the Huntsville Police Department and the National Child Advocacy Center, which is in Huntsville. A psychologist told Hoelzer she was likely being groomed for rape and that her outgoing, chatty personality probably saved her. Suddenly, the what-ifs terrified the girl.

“Sure, I was being told this as a ‘thank God, you’re so lucky, you’re one of the lucky ones,'” she said, “but at the same time, once I realized the seriousness of what could have happened, the fact that I might not have been able to have kids and all that, it was like … oh … my … God. I was absolutely terrified.”

A lack of trust

At 5 years old, life lessons are simple. Be polite, mind your manners, don’t talk with your mouth full, respect your elders. Adults are always right. Do what they say. Don’t talk back. Trust.

For 11 years, Margaret Hoelzer lived in the trusting world, trusting adults. After she told her mother she had been molested, and she grasped how close she was to being raped — as a first grader — that sense of security was ripped from her. She lost her self-esteem. She lost her sense of control. She lost her trust in the world.

“I had to teach her at an early age that not all adults are right, that trust is something that is earned,” said Margaret’s mother, Elizabeth. “And that just ripped away her innocence. And you can’t put a Band-Aid on that and fix it.”

Everywhere her mother went, Margaret had to be by her side. If her mom was upstairs putting away laundry, Margaret was there. If Elizabeth was downstairs cooking dinner, Margaret was there. A psychologist suggested that Elizabeth walk the family dog for 10 minutes a day, hopefully teaching her daughter it was safe for an 11-year-old girl to be home alone for a few minutes. But the moment her mother left, Margaret panicked, hiding in her bedroom closet.

“Those were some of the worst 10 minutes of my life,” Margaret said. “This is at like 3 o’clock in the afternoon, it’s a sunny, beautiful day, my mom walks the dog for 10 minutes and I am absolutely horrified.”

Margaret eventually grew comfortable with being left home alone. But it took time. She wasn’t able to live alone until last year. And even then, upon purchasing her first home, the deciding factors weren’t a spacious bathroom or an open floor plan, but rather a home that had no porch, no patio and only one door. She’s still “anal retentive” about locking doors, even locking her house every time she goes to get the mail.

But there is perhaps no part of her life that has caused Hoelzer more anxiety than relationships. The outgoing, engaging woman will turn 26 later this month and has never had a serious boyfriend. She didn’t even kiss someone until she was 20. In high school it wasn’t a big deal, she said. But once she got to Auburn, she realized she was different. Her friends started dating; Hoelzer was nervous even talking to a guy.

“We would all be sitting around talking about the things girls talk about and I was so uncomfortable, so self-conscious,” she said. “Half of my friends weren’t even virgins. And not only had I never done that, but geez, a kiss? What is that? Like the ‘pre-base’? If first base is being felt up, then kissing is before you even get up to bat. I mean, how am I supposed to hit a home run if I hadn’t even gotten out of the dugout?”

Hoelzer’s relationship issues were one of the reasons she returned to counseling two years ago. She’s liked boys, had huge crushes, but has never been able to overcome her emotional issues to pursue a relationship. In counseling, she learned that part of her problem is a lack of trust in men, part of it is a fear of vulnerability and part of it is trying to overcompensate for a feeling that her alleged attacker didn’t care about her.

She’s realized that one of her defense mechanisms is pursuing men who are unavailable. She’s also learned about her tendency to ignore a man the instant she thinks he might have an interest in her. It’s all her wall of defense.

“Basically, when you’ve been abused, you usually go either the promiscuous route or the nun route,” she said. “I went the nun route. I was scared of anything that had to do with any of that. For me, sex was so special and so sacred that I wouldn’t go anywhere near that until I was completely in love with someone. And I wouldn’t let that happen. So I avoided anything and everything that came with it.”

Hoelzer now believes she is as open to a relationship as she has ever been, despite her trust issues. Her deepest fear, she says, is the potential failure of her sixth sense, that intuition that subconsciously saved her when she was a little girl. What if she senses that a man is safe to open up to but she later finds out otherwise?

“That’s been the defense mechanism that I’ve used my entire life,” she said. “It saved me as a little girl and it’s saved me as an adult. So my fears are much greater than being rejected. It’s the fear of what will happen if the only defense I have against the world no longer works.”

Going public

Two days after her second-place finish in the 200-meter backstroke final in Beijing, Hoelzer and her two closest friends stand at a crossroads. While visiting the Great Wall of China, they can’t decide which path to follow. To the left: the more challenging, more strenuous but more rewarding trail. To the right: the smoother, flatter, easier route that most everyone seems to follow.

The Olympian and her friends veer to the left. Along the way, Hoelzer tells them she’s ready to share her story. All her life, this has been the plan. Achieve Olympic glory, give herself a platform, then tell what happened in the hope of raising awareness about child sexual abuse.

The pool has always provided escape. There, she has had control. She has had success. She’s never had to rely on anyone else, be it a teammate or a judge. It’s always been her, the water and the clock. It’s fitting that she would use her salvation — swimming — to try to help others.

“Swimming helped give me self-esteem,” she said. “A lot of athletes compete because they want to prove they are better than the average person. I always felt I had to prove I was as good as everybody else. My accomplishments brought me back up to normal.”

Said Elizabeth: “Swimming has been a godsend. I truly believe that she was given this gift for a purpose. She always said, ‘If I ever make the Olympics, if I’m ever in that position, I want to help others.’ This was always her motivation. This was always what she worked so hard for.”

Hoelzer knows the statistics are staggering. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 8 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. One in 20 children will be sexually abused each year. And an estimated 40 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse live in America today. Yet it’s a taboo topic. An estimated 30 percent of all incidents never go reported.

“It happens. It happens so much more than people realize,” Hoelzer said. “It happens 40 to 50 times the rate of childhood cancer. And with all due respect to childhood cancer, that’s easier to talk about than someone being molested. People can’t even say the word, ‘molested.’ I want to change that.”

As much as she didn’t want to tell what that man allegedly did to her, as much as she didn’t want anyone to know she didn’t kiss a boy until she was 20, Hoelzer wanted to help. She believed that if her story could inspire one child or even one adult, it would be worth her anxiety.

So last September, a few weeks after returning from Beijing, Hoelzer sat down with a reporter from The Associated Press and told her story. It wasn’t easy. She broke down in tears several times. And deep inside, she wondered: What if nobody cares? What if nobody listens? And on a smaller scale, how in the world would she get a date now?

“I honestly worried about that,” Hoelzer said. “I mean, it’s hard enough for relationships to work for ‘normal people.’ What guy would even want to date some nutcase who has all these trust issues?”

Setting herself free

In the months since she told her story, life has gotten easier. The woman who pushed herself in the water, setting the goal of winning a gold medal in world-record time so that she could have the platform to tell her story, no longer feels the burden of swimming under such pressure. She no longer melts down when she fails to meet her lofty expectations. She’s learned that a gold medal isn’t everything. A world record isn’t everything. The hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls from friends and strangers all across the world have proved to her that two silver medals and one bronze provide a pretty nice platform, as well.

“She has overcome more than just about any other swimmer on the Olympic team to get where she has,” Marsh said. “These demons have absolutely held her back. How could they not? But now, feeling like she can be open and vulnerable as a human being? How could that not help her? How could that not set her free to reach her fullest potential?”

Going public is only the beginning of Hoelzer’s plan. She majored in criminology and sociology at Auburn and wrote college papers on child abuse. She plans to someday work in the field and also would like to start a foundation that would financially support the National Children’s Advocacy Center. One of her goals is to increase awareness of the signs parents should look for if they think their child has been abused.

“She’s incredible, just an absolute inspiration,” says Catherine Hereford, the development director for the NCAC. “She sees that she has a platform and is using that for absolute selfless good. Personally, I can’t imagine telling the world something so personal and private.”

A week after Hoelzer’s story appeared on The Associated Press wire, she stood before some 500 people and spoke at the principal fundraising banquet for the NCAC in Huntsville. The woman who doesn’t get nervous before races, who’s never had a problem with public speaking, talked about the team that helped her reach their shared goals in Beijing. She talked about family, friends, coaches and nutritionists. And she talked about the Advocacy Center, the people who helped her find her way through the darkest part of her life.

That’s when it hit. That’s when even the greatest defense mechanisms in the world couldn’t hold back the tears, couldn’t keep Hoelzer from stepping back from the microphone.

As she gathered herself, the audience came to its feet and applauded.

“I couldn’t help but stand there and think, ‘That’s my little girl up there,'” Elizabeth said. “That’s my little girl telling the whole world about her nightmare, just so she can help other people. This is greater than anything she could ever accomplish at any Olympics. She is showing the world that no matter what obstacles you have to overcome, you can still chase that dream. You can still have hope. She’s truly an inspiration.”

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for He can be reached at For the complete article click here.

Victoria’s Secret Model Quits to Reserve Body ‘for My Husband’

I once saw a young woman’s facebook status which read, “My number one goal in life is to be a Victoria Secret model.” My heart ached for her, as I thought how sad. These models are what countless young women aspire to be like in today’s society and it’s revolting.

Do you want to know something?

At my lowest weight of 90 pounds at 5’8” I was the most miserable I have ever been in my life. But I was thin so why wasn’t I happy? Because I lacked God’s peace and didn’t find my worth in Him. True peace and happiness isn’t found in being thin or a Victoria Secret model. It’s found in discovering your identity as a beautiful daughter of God, created in His Image and likeness.

By Jennifer Abbey for ABC News

One Victoria’s Secret angel might be turning her back on lingerie modeling but she’s not giving up her wings.

Model Kylie Bisutti, 21, has decided to leave Victoria’s Secret because it clashes with her Christian beliefs.

“My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing,” Bisutti told FOX411′s Pop Tarts column.  “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 OK for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.”

Bisutti beat out 10,000 hopefuls in 2009 to win the Victoria’s Secret Model Search. She was 19 and recently married at the time.

“Victoria’s Secret was my absolutely biggest goal in life, and it was all I ever wanted career-wise. I actually loved it while I was there, it was so much fun and I had a blast. But the more I was modeling lingerie – and lingerie isn’t clothing – I just started becoming more uncomfortable with it because of my faith,” Bisutti told FOX411. “I’m Christian, and reading the Bible more, I was becoming more convicted about it.”

But wearing the coveted angel wings and walking the runway with Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr wasn’t quite what Bisutti had hoped for.

“It was pretty crazy because I finally achieved my biggest dream, the dream that I always wanted, but when I finally got it, it wasn’t all that I thought it would be,” she said.

Bisutti had decided to leave the lingerie company awhile ago. On Dec. 1, the day after the nationally televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in which Bisutti didn’t appear, the model posted to her Twitter page, “For all of you that were looking for me in the Victorias Secret runway show this year, I wasn’t in it. I have decided not to model lingerie Because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it. My marriage is very important & with divorce rates rising I want to do everything I can to protect my marriage and be respectful to my husband. God graciously gave me this marriage and this life and my desire is to live a Godly faithful life, I don’t however judge others for what they do. Everyone is convicted on different levels.”

Bisutti hasn’t completely given up on modeling just yet. The beauty also posted to her Twitter page, “I am still modeling but only with brands that respect my decision not to wear lingerie. I am also doing TV work now :).”

She appears with Jennifer Lopez in a new Kohl’s commercial, and she’s working on a new television show to hit the CW in September. “My goal is just to be a better role model for the youth. I just want them to see me as somebody that they can look up to and somebody that’s going to be dressing appropriately and I’m not going to get into things that I wouldn’t want them to be getting into,” Bisutti told FOX411.

“I want to go over the top because I don’t think enough people go over the top about how serious all this is.  I just want people to see something different about me because I have that faith and I think it’s so important for everyone to have.”

So Don’t Be Afraid to Show Them Your Beautiful Scars

I have received several emails in the past few weeks that inspired this post today.

Yesterday evening I read an email before going for a run. It echoed many I have received and my sensitive heart truly ached for the young woman who wrote it. Of course I could pray for her, but was there anything else I could do?  I pondered those thoughts as I rummaged through my winter clothing to find my Nike running pants.

Yesterday it was cold in Nashville. I’ve definitely grown accustom to the warmer weather of the south, so when it’s registering high forty’s I bundle up. My mom always use to joke that if anyone in our family was missing a blanket in the winter they would probably be able to locate it on my bed.

I laced my Asics tightly and turned on my ipod, and as my feet hit the pavement all I could think about was helping this woman who is a prisoner inside her own body. I’ve never met her, like the majority of the people I receive emails from. Yet I know most of them. I know their stories. I know their pain and I know it well; and I’ve shared their struggles in a unique way.

This woman and many others have expressed their fear in getting help, and that is what I desire to address today. I want to be vulnerable with you and share part of my story. It is my hope that God will use it, to inspire those who need professional help to seek it out. Several years ago I was very sick and didn’t know what was wrong. In order to conceal some information, because it’s in my book, I will condense the story. I went to IPS (Institute for the Psychological Sciences) in Arlington, Virginia. While there, I participated in two full days of intensive psychological testing. It was one of the most emotionally and physically draining things I have ever encountered. Several weeks later I went back to hear my results. I was diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder due to various life experiences. Three doctors recommended for me to engage in intensive trauma therapy for two years. I finished in a year and a half.

The thought of getting help consumed me with trepidation.  Why should I go and reveal my heart and soul to a psychologist? In my naivety, I convinced myself that:

1. They will never understand.

2. I don’t even know how to form words to describe how much it hurts to a friend, let alone a stranger. 

3. I can’t afford it.

4. I’m scared and the thought of talking to someone makes me shake with nervousness. 

5. What if the people who hurt me find out that I told?

6. If I get help and cry I’m displaying a sign of weakness. 

Well, after completing a year and half of intense trauma therapy I can tell you from my heart that:

1. There are doctors that genuinely care and understand. They might not have experienced the same difficulties you have, but are trained extensively to help you. It takes tremendous faith and trust on your part to trust them.

2. There are countless ways to express your pain and struggles. It will take time, but you can start slowly and build up to revealing more. You can also draw as well to express your feelings, trauma and emotions. Art therapy is very common and helped me tremendously.

3. I worked 7 days a week in the beginning to pay for the care I needed. In addition, I was awe-struck at the generosity of my doctors who made my care affordable for me. Two doctors never even sent me a bill for thousands of dollars of care they administered. They wrote off the entire bill. One receptionist told me “In his twenty-five years of practice I have never seen him not bill a patient.” People genuinely want to help and it’s good for wounded hearts to receive love through others generosity.

4. It’s okay to be scared. I would actually be concerned if you weren’t. When I first met my doctor I was terrified. I had only spoken with him once on the phone and the sound of his voice frightened me. I knew God wanted me to see him; I knew in my heart He wanted me to take this leap of faith. So I packed everything I owned into my Honda Accord and moved to Tennessee. If it didn’t fit in my car I left it behind. The first time I met my doctor in person, I knew everything was going to be okay. He was one of the most gentle, patient, faithful and educated doctors I had ever encountered. Was I still scared despite those characteristics I listed about him? Of course, as that is only natural, but sometimes, we are our own worst enemies. We need to learn to trust those who are deserving of our trust.

After God, I credit him for my healing. Made in His Image would never have been possible without him. He now sits on the Board of Directors for Made in His Image.

5. Contrary to what I thought, you are exhibiting tremendous courage and strength in seeking out professional help. It might not feel as if you are, but you are. Your vulnerability, bravery, determination and perseverance will shine through the darkness, it simply takes time.

Two years ago I sat in Arlington, Virginia at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) when Dr. Kathryn Benes compared me to a solider returning from war. Dr. Benes is the Director of the Catholic-based Psychology Ministry at Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver. Prior to moving to Colorado, she served as an Associate Professor and the Director of the training Clinic at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. Dr. Benes also developed a nationally recognized, diocesan-wide mental health program that ultimately became a doctoral-level psychology internship site in the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Psychology, an institution accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). This program is currently the only APA-accredited internship site in the nation that is specifically designed to train psychologists from a Catholic perspective.

Seeing Dr. Benes’ credentials and hearing what she said about me helped reshape my thought process. Also my brother is a Captain in the Marine Corps and has served two missions overseas, if I knew he needed help I would encourage him to get it. And would most certainly not think him weak for receiving that care. I would think him tremendously courageous for embracing what needs to be dealt with, instead of simply ignoring it. Why didn’t I see myself as worthy of the same care? Why wasn’t I good enough to receive help? 

I wrestled with those thoughts and came to discover my dignity as His daughter worthy of care. Our Father desired nothing more than to provide, protect and take care of me in my illness and beyond and His generosity is boundless. He simply asks us to trust Him.

Will you not let Him provide for you the same way?

So don’t be afraid to show them your beautiful scars, ‘cause their the proof, yeah you’re the proof – Matthew West