An interview with Sparrow Records’ Recording Artist and Singer-Songwriter
Nichole Nordeman about her involvement with the all-new VeggieTales adventure for girls,
Sweetpea Beauty—A Girl After God’s Own Heart, including her original song,” Beautiful For Me.”
About the story of VeggieTales®: Sweetpea Beauty—A Girl After God’s Own Heart
NEWS SOURCE: Hoganson Media
- Q: What was your favorite part of the show?
If I had to choose one, I’d say my favorite scene is Sweetpea in the forest finding beauty in all sorts of unconventional things that might not be considered beautiful to anyone else. Her friend Prince Larry says to her, “How is it that you find beauty in everything?” And Sweetpea says, “I don’t. It’s God who sees beauty in everything. I just choose to agree with Him.” And I thought that was a great way to look at ourselves. God’s the one who sees us as beautiful, and we can either choose to agree and say, “Thank you. I feel cherished and loved and I choose to believe that,” or “I disagree” and work like crazy to improve on His work.
- Q: Why do you think Sweetpea is described as a girl after God’s own heart?
I think that she’s described as a girl after God’s own heart because she is always looking for and finding real beauty in people and in the world around her, and seems to be able to look past all of the “surfacey” stuff everyone else seems to be getting caught up in. She’s not afraid to peel back as many layers as she needs to in order to find something beautiful. And I think that is certainly what God asks of us –to peel back a few layers and figure out what’s happening on the inside.
About the Song, “Beautiful For Me”
- Q: How did the lesson of Sweetpea Beauty influence the writing of the song, “Beautiful For Me?”
One of things that was most inspiring to me that I literally stole right out of the story line was the mirror idea. I was so interested in how devious that mirror was and how he gave Queen Blueberry the espresso and said, “whatever is inside your heart is how you will finally look on the outside.” And you know, it was just hysterical that she instantly sprouted facial hair and warts. I was instantly grateful I didn’t own a mirror that possessed that power. But the mirror throughout the whole story intrigued me and ended up being a pretty central part of the song. Because we all tell ourselves lies in front of the mirror, and we all want to believe in the improvements it suggests we make, it’s very difficult to walk away. In fact, I know an artist who was struggling so much with the issue of beauty in her own life that she covered every mirror in her house so that she would not even just casually walk by and sort of catch a glimpse of herself. She really wanted to get real beauty back in perspective. I thought that was really cool.
- Q: How does the song tie into the lesson of Sweetpea Beauty?
The song is written from God’s perspective, which is always a tricky thing to do. But I so much wanted to capture that moment where a person realizes from the Lord’s vantage point how beautiful He really thinks she is. And how broken hearted it must be for Him when His own creation is so unhappy with the work He’s done and spends a lifetime trying to improve upon it. I just wonder if that doesn’t break His heart a little bit. So I really wanted the song to capture how much He adores us and how we captivate Him because He made us in His image. I hope the song does that.
- Q: What lyric of the song best describes the theme of the show?
I think it’s one line after the second verse, where I say, “I want a heart that’s captivating.” To me, that’s it. I can stand in front of the mirror all day long and like what I see or not like what I see, or lose five pounds or gain 25 pounds, or cut my hair short or dye it brown…but in the end, I want a heart that’s captivating. It has to be about that.
- Q: How did you choose the title of the song?
Well, the title kind of chose itself. When you finish a song, you go back and you say, “what’s the obvious title?” Initially it was, “Beautiful To Me.” But as I thought about things from God’s perspective, I changed it to say, “Beautiful For Me,” which made it more about belonging. He created us to beautiful FOR Him alone, and I thought that was an important distinction.
- Q: Explain the line “You should have seen the day I made you beautiful for Me.”
I was trying to imagine How God must have felt when He deliberately designed us and formed us our mom’s bellies when we’re just itsy bitsy…and how much love and care went into that design. I was just trying to imagine what that would be like for God to care so much about His creation. And I know that on the day that He made each of us, He smiled and rejoiced and danced, and breathed life into us. So, that was a fun line to write.
About Parenting/Being A New Mom
- Q: Do you have a game plan for how you will deal with beauty issues with your daughter?
One of the lessons that my mom taught me early on was to be really proactive about what to expose children to…because in today’s culture, advertising campaigns are not passive. And so, our daughters are going to bombarded with images all day long. As moms, we really don’t have the luxury of just sitting back and hoping that they feel okay about themselves and not really being proactive about helping them understand what true beauty is about. When I was little, I was not allowed to play with Barbies, which was a pretty crushing blow to a five or six-year old. And I just couldn’t believe that my mom was going to be so strict about it. And she tried to explain in my little girl language about how it just doesn’t matter what you look like when you grow up…and to have a doll that everybody wants to look like doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what God wants YOU to look like and that’s okay. So even though I thought it was so unfair, I sure understand her wisdom in that now. She was choosing to be proactive in saying, “No, I’m just going to send her a different message.” And that’s how I want to parent. I want to be very intentional about sending the right messages.
- Q: What kind of role model do you hope to be for others?
Role model is such a loaded term because whether I want to be one or not, I am one whether it’s to an audience of music lovers or sometimes just to a six-year old and an 18-month old at home. That responsibility is there, and I think as a mom, and certainly as a mom of a daughter, it’s so important to me that I have a good perspective and appropriate priority with the issue of beauty in my own life because I’m the one that she’s going to learn from. I had such an awesome role model growing up, and I just hope to emulate my own mom in that way and for my children to notice that I do like myself and feel confident in terms of my self-image because I’m a creation of the King. And nothing validates me but that.
- Q: How do the choices we make as parents affect our children?
Anyone who has a child knows how sensitive those eyes and ears are. They pick up on way more than we wish they did. So our choices affect them deeply. I had a friend of mine tell me recently that she walked into her four-year old daughter’s room and saw her standing in front of the mirror and then kind of turned around to catch her backside in the mirror and went, “huhhh.” Big heavy sigh. All this at age 4…and my friend was just crushed because I mean it was cute moment, but it was also a hard moment for my friend who knew exactly where her daughter learned that heavy sigh in front of the mirror. So we have to be careful. I make mistakes all the time being so self-deprecating and wishing out loud that this or that was different about myself. All of those little teeny comments land in their spirits and like seeds, and they grow.
- Q: Are there any parallels you see in the story of Sweetpea relating to a girl’s relationship with her father?
Daughters and dads have such a unique relationship with so many special dynamics that don’t exist between daughters and moms. A dad is the first hero in a little girl’s eyes, and the way that he interacts with her and shows her how beautiful she is inside, is so important in initially forming that picture for the rest of her life. All kinds of studies have been done about little girls who did not spend quality time with their dads or who maybe were not validated by their fathers. And the truth is, they need it and if they don’t get that validation from dad, then they’re going to look somewhere else. We make a lot of noise about the relationship between a mom and daughter and the whole girl thing. But, the father-daughter relationship is a hugely important.
- Q: How do we teach our children to be authentic and real?
I think that just by affirming all of the beautiful things in their lives apart from the way they look, whether they’re boys or girls. There’s so much emphasis on what you look like, how much stuff you have…whether or not you measure up in a thousand different ways. Teaching children to be authentic and real is introducing them into situations that give them an opportunity to serve other people and to help those in need. For example, I love when you see a church youth group come back from a mission trip. They just look like different people. Their eyes are brighter, their hearts are fuller. They may not have even showered in a week, and nobody cares because they’ve just built a home for someone in Mexico. Those are the authentic and real moments that I think we need to really seek out for our kids.
- Q: As a parent, what do you think VeggieTales has for children?
First, how can you not love VeggieTales? It’s so very fun and clever. The subtlety and the humor are fantastic, but obviously the lessons are so important. You know, this is a concept that Jesus began when He started teaching in parables. He said, “I’m going to speak your language, so that you get this.” And that’s exactly what VeggieTales continues to do for my kids and so many others.
About the Pressures Young Girls Face Today
- Q: How can you focus on inner beauty instead of outer beauty?
I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t say that I read the occasional magazine or check out the latest beauty products. Some of that is okay because there’s a place for that. But when it becomes your everything, then it can become very destructive. We, as parents, can be vocal to the world of consumerism by supporting products and advertising that are getting it right. I love the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign. If you walked into my bathroom, you’d see lots of Dove products because I want to thank companies like that for giving us a good representation in advertising about the reality of what real people look like.” I would love to see more of that. So I think that as consumers, we can raise our voices a little bit and say, “more of that, please.”
- Q: How do you think the lesson from Sweetpea will speak truth to girls and provide healthy influence for them?
The lesson itself is timeless and hardly new. We’ve been talking about this as women and girls for years and years and years. True beauty, inner beauty, Godly beauty. But I think this will resonate deeply with a young audience because it’s VeggieTales, and they have a way of communicating things in an utterly unique way. But for us moms, it’s a hugely important opportunity to sit with your daughters and let this be a conversation starter. Sit down. Watch it together. Talk about maybe how you felt growing up. What were some things you weren’t crazy about the way you looked? And how do you feel about yourself now? I have always believed that moms who have healthy self-images have daughters who have healthy self-images.
- Q: What advice do you have for girls who struggle with the lie that only good looks are important?
I really believe that it’s okay to love beautiful things. I think that when God created us as girls and as women, He gave us a love for beauty in art and in nature. Women are just innately lovers and imitators of beauty. I think it’s in our DNA. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be pretty or that the lesson in all of this is to wear your ugliest outfit and don’t wash your hair for a week. That’s not the point. When beauty becomes an idol and something that gives way to self-worship, that’s when it becomes something dangerous. In Proverbs 31, it talks about a woman adorning herself for her husband. That’s a good thing. That’s a healthy thing. But when it starts to get more important than the things that God really values in us, it becomes dangerous.