Dear Daughters, Who should we let in?

Dear Daughters, Who should we let in?

There’s a lot going on in the news these days. One of you doesn’t even like to hear the news. You cover your ears when it comes on. I know. It’s hard to hear how broken our world is. But never ever forget, sweet daughters of mine, we have the Hope. We have the Light. We have the Love. His name is Jesus.

There’s a lot of talk right now about who we should let in and who we should keep out. Here’s what I’m doing, girls. I’m waking up every day and asking the Holy Spirit to fill me, to take hold of every selfish, prideful thought and action I’m prone to and replace it with sacrifice and gratitude.

There’s this quote from Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way I keep circling back to…

We could all be the ones outside the gate. We all could have been Gordon, fallen on hard times into hard ways; we could have been the ones fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army slitting our child’s throat in the middle of the night; we could be the one born into a slum, violently raped and left for dead, the one born into AIDS, into starvation, into lives of Christless desperation. The reason you are inside the gate for such a time as this–is to risk your life for those outside the gate.

Are there risks in this sort of a life? Yes, absolutely. But hear me loud and clear, beautiful daughters, we are not here to live a safe life. We are here to be clothed in the armor of God with the Living Sword in our dirt-crusted hands and bruised and bloodied knees. We are not here to look pretty. We are here to say to the cast-out, the forgotten, the left behind, “You are beautiful, child of God.” Does this put us in the bulls-eye? Yes. Does this mean we might go somewhere scary, live somewhere less desirable, and sometimes stare straight in the face of evil? Yes, it does. But you have nothing to fear. The devil wants you to think other people are your enemy. But we know who the enemy is, and we know who the Victor is. We will take the gospel at His Word. We will refuse a life that is bubble-wrapped, sanitized, and shiny.

We will risk our lives for those outside the gate. And if in doing so, our Sovereign God should call us home, we will know we used up every breath, every drop of sweat, every beating pulse of this earthly heart to show a broken world a Savior who stretched out His arms on a wooden cross to spell out L-O-V-E.

Go forward, my beautiful Esthers, and show God’s life-changing love to a desperate world.

I love you,

Momma

 

 

{Dear Daughters} Let’s talk about beauty.

{Dear Daughters} Let’s talk about beauty.

I was reading this series on motherhood around the world. The stories were fascinating, but I loved the one about parenting in the Congo.

On weight:Jill: There’s no need to step on a scale on the continent of Africa. I know I’m gaining weight when I start getting compliments on my appearance. More specifically, my butt. I’ve been told, with great kindness, that I looked “nice and fat” after returning from a vacation. The tailor who recently made me a dress looked at my lackluster curves and reassured me that she could figure out how to add in boobs and a butt via some magical seams.

Sarah: Recently I took some photos of some of the Mamas in my children’s lives, and Mama Youyou gently brought me Mamitsho’s photo (above) saying, “Madame, umm, hmm, well…Have you seen this photo of Mamitsho? Well, hmm, has she seen it? Is she okay with this?” I told her I thought it was a lovely picture of Mamitsho, and in fact everyone who has seen it comments on how nice she looks. (In retrospect, I guess it was only Americans giving the compliments.)

“Well, Madame, it’s not a good photo,” said Mama Youyou. “She looks skinny. It must be embarrassing for her. You can see her”—and then she yell-whispered—”collarbone!” Body fat is a precious thing here; a sign of nutrition, comfort and a good life.

Jill: The different perspectives on bodies and beauty are something that comes up fairly often. I just read an article in a local magazine about tia foin, the dangerous trend of women using prescription medications to fatten up a bit. It’s the same discussion as we might see in the pages of Marie Claire or Elle about weight-loss drug use among women, but with a completely different spin.

Excerpt from 13 Surprising Things About Parenting in the Congo from cupofjo.com

So, if our country defines beauty as skinny, but the Congo defines beauty as “nice and fat” what does that mean? It means beauty is subjective, sweet daughters. And we can listen to what the glossy magazines tell us about beauty or that boy in math class or the cluster of whispering girls in the corner. Or we can listen to what the pages of Scripture tell us.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to . . . bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. Isaiah 61:1, 3

Beautiful daughters, we can one day talk about acne and frizzy hair, and then later talk about wrinkles and grays. We can lament post-breastfeeding woes and the joys of cellulite and the torture of barre class. We can laugh and chat and share products. As long as you know deep down what beautiful really is.

Beautiful is a brave, vulnerable soul willing to share her story. Beautiful is stripping away the mask and showing the daily markings of grace. Beautiful knows her worth comes from the cross and not the scale. This is a beauty that only gets better with age. Daughters, I hope you will learn to look in people’s eyes to see the beauty that goes soul deep, to hear someone’s story and see the hand of God, to revel in beauty from ashes.

That kind of beauty isn’t the work of makeup or hair product. That kind of beauty is the work of your Creator, your Redeemer. 

From the Back Seat

From the Back Seat

My week has been one covered in germs and Lysol and stuff I won’t even type because I love you too much for that. Four of us had a vicious stomach bug that wiped us out, and while sweet Peach managed to miss the stomach stuff she acquired a double ear infection and a bad case of bronchiolitis. This afternoon I had to take her back to the pediatrician so he could determine if she needed a breathing treatment. On the way, Lyd asked if we could puh-lease get home before Daddy would because she needed to finish decorating the table. I remembered on our way out the door I had seen that she had already set the table for dinner and added a few “decorations” to Matt’s spot at the table. I grinned in the rear-view mirror and told her that while I wasn’t sure we would make it home before Daddy I loved her heart. “That’s a Jesus-thing you’re doing, Lulu,” I told her, “setting a place for someone, inviting people to your table, making them feel loved and wanted.” She piped up from the backseat, “Mom! Do you think that’s my purpose?!” By now my eyes were smarting, and I rather enthusiastically responded, “Yes! Yes, I think this is your purpose, sweet girl! To make a safe place for people to feel loved and honored and welcome.”

There in the middle of a week that has felt like one big blur of germ-infested nothingness and on the way to a second doctor’s appointment in 24 hours, God gave me a gift from the back seat of my minivan. I drifted back to a conversation Matt and I had with Lyd in the middle of teeth brushing and band-aid applying last night where she asked us how a person knows the purpose God has for her. And I thought of one of the verses I added to my prayer journal recently, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Later in Matthew 22 Jesus would give the same command to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and remind them of the second commandment which is like it, “to love thy neighbor as thyself.”

There in all our sickness and weariness, God gave me a beautiful gift–the opportunity to see the reverberations of a thousand prayers echo forth from the backseat. That my daughter would know her Creator has a purpose for every breath she takes, every word she speaks, every beautiful, messy soul she invites to her table. 

Girls & Swimsuits

Girls & Swimsuits

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetY’all, I’m done with the ice. Maybe if it was pretty, fluffy, white snow, but this gray, dull ice–no, thank you. I bought some tulips Saturday with the goal of willing spring to Memphis. So far, it’s done nothing, but at least they are pretty to look at. But, Lord willing, warm weather will soon be here, and that means swimsuits. Ah, swimsuits. I took advantage of the silver lining to a five day stomach bug (a few pounds lighter) and went swimsuit shopping last Saturday. If someone could come up with a more flattering light bulb to put in those dressing rooms, I think that person would be rich. And adored. Kind of like the angel/genius who created Spanx. But I digress…

I’ve been looking for swimsuits for my girls too. Lyd is moving out of the toddler section and into the big girls’ section. Good gravy, I was not ready for that. I texted my mom a little while ago to apologize for the grief I gave her as a kid when it came to swimsuits. Finding something that is both cute and modest is not easy. After several days of searching online, I ordered the girls’ swimsuits from Hanna Andersson. I’ve gotten several HA dresses for them from Costco, and I’ve been impressed with the quality. Knowing how hard my girls are on swimsuits, I need something that lasts. (Lottie wore hers from last summer inside out and backwards all day Thanksgiving. So, not only does it need to be able to stand up to sun and chlorine but also turkey and sweet potato casserole.) The HA ones were on the expensive side, but I found a promo code that saved me a little, and I just got two for each girl. When we are at the beach one can be drying while the other is being worn. HA had some cute Rash Guard baby suits too that cut down on the amount of sunblock I have to slather on Peach. (Squirmy baby plus trying to get sunblock in all those little baby rolls equals mom that needs a fruity drink. Am I right?)

During my search I found some other places that had promising possibilities as well. Look at the reviews yourself, but Lands End and LL Bean had some options that looked nice too. Old Navy online had some modest choices, but the patterns weren’t quite bold enough for Lyd’s liking. I’m sure there are department stores that have good choices, but getting three littles out in this weather sounded ludicrous, so I opted to search online.

Being the mom of three girls, modesty is hugely important to me, but I don’t want to just force them to wear something because I said so. I want to train them to choose modesty, not just acquiesce. (Although–in case my girls read this later–Matt and I aren’t afraid to use that deadbolt on the front door if we have to.) I searched online and found a few options that seemed appropriate and showed them to her while we talked about each one. While scrolling she pointed out another one and asked about it. I explained that the top looked like it might ride up when she was playing or swimming and potentially expose her chest. This gave us a good opportunity to talk once more about respecting our bodies. In the end she liked a couple from Hanna Andersson. (I was happy because they had matching ones for all three girls. I know the matching days are nearly over, but while she still thinks it’s cool I’m totally doing it.) I know modesty will be something we talk about a lot, especially as they get older. Matt and I have firm expectations for what the girls wear, but I’m hopeful that training them how to choose modesty now will help them make wise choices on their own as they get older. Of course, when it comes time for formal dresses, I might need a sedative or a burrito–or both–because I’m doubtful polar bear suits will be in style.

Oh, and if your child wears the swimsuit backwards, all modesty is lost. Just FYI.