To ALL Who Mother

I wrote this a couple of years back and thought I’d brush it off again for Mothers Day weekend. This weekend used to be a painful one for me, but it is now something to be celebrated. Not because I have a house full of children, but because I’ve allowed God to enlarge my definition of motherhood over the years. 

Mommas, I’m thinking of you today. Those of you who are battling potty-training, bad attitudes, and car seats. Those of you who are driving every-place-in-town for soccer, dance, baseball, etc… Those who are losing sleep over your teenager trying to carve out their own personality. 

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I’m thinking of you mommas who gave birth to angels who were here for just moments, then gone from this world. You mothers who have never held your child, due to miscarriage or because of exercising your legal right to choose, only to realize the true gravity of your choice later. You are a mother. It’s absolutely okay to grieve, even if others think you should be “over it” by now. 

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I’m thinking of those of you who are not yet mothers but long to be. You who have spent years trying everything to become a mother…Thousands of dollars, tears, and heartaches only to stare at yet another pee-soaked plastic stick that brings nothing but disappointment. I’m thinking of you. 

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I’m thinking of you mommas who have devoted your whole lives to raising fine children, sent them out into the world as upright citizens, and now your empty nest has left you feeling empty and confused. I’m thinking of you who are estranged from your babies, no matter how old they are. Those of you who love your Prodigal and are waiting for his or her return. 

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I’m thinking of you mommas who no one else seems to recognize, because of your non-traditional mothering. The stepmothers who do all the work but get little reward. The grandmas and aunts and friends-of-the-family and foster moms who raise others’ children because somebody can’t or won’t do it themselves.

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I’m thinking of you adoptive moms who’ve spent months or years trying to build your family by way of a distant partnership with another momma you never knew. I see how it hurts when you have to put up with dumb questions from nosy strangers. I see how it stings when people ask ridiculous things like “…but don’t you want to still try for one of your OWN?” I’m so sorry that some people can’t see what incredible mothers you already are. You are so noble and I love you for it. 

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The truth is, all of us mother someone. We help shape others’ lives, encourage them into the person they’ll become, bandage a few boo-boos and wipe a few tears along the way. So look around you today. Celebrate all mothers and those who mother, and think of who might be hurting more than smiling on this day. Look for the ways they mother and thank them for contributing to the future of our world. Hug them and let them know that if they’re hurting, you’re hurting alongside them. 

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Much love to you, mommas. Allow God to enlarge your definition of motherhood as he has mine. You’re my heroes. 

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-Krysten

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Go Ahead, Feel that Pain

Cramps are a killer. {My apologies, Dude-readers…stick with me} Ladies, you know exactly what I mean. They create levels of pain that fall on a spectrum, anywhere from simply annoying to a DEFCON 1, staying-home-from-work-in-tears kind of deal. There’s just nothing else to say about them… they’re pure pain.

And for this kind of pain, there are little miracles like Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. We know what causes the pain, we know it will be temporary, and we don’t have to live with it and let it ruin our lives.

It was a big day for me when I actually realized that pills like this, while they’re super helpful, don’t actually FIX our pain. The chemicals don’t travel to the site of our pain and do something to stop it. They can help with inflammation and such, but when it comes to the actual pain, it doesn’t go away. These pills work with our nervous system to basically block our brain’s ability to understand that we are in that pain. This works for a short period of time, to get us through a day or two, then the actual pain starts to go away and we need these “helpers” less and less.

But these little pills also cause problems of their own if we take them for too long or if we take them too often. See, they’re meant to be temporary, short-term. But if we go to them to stave off our pain for too long, they can actually cause damage to other organs, or they can continue to mask pain that actually could be trying to alert us to bigger problems we need to deal with.

That’s really the same with anything we go to in life that gives us temporary comfort. Some of us don’t take pain-relievers very often, but there are plenty of things we medicate with so we don’t have to notice pain as much.

Late-night ice cream? Sounds like what the doctor ordered. Too-many-shows-in-a-row on Netflix? That will eat up some hours so we don’t have to actually deal with stuff. Working long hours so we can finally feel like we accomplished something since we feel like we’re failing at the other millions of things in our lives? That’s a pill many of us pop far too often.

There are lots of things in life that we run to so that we can feel better short-term. And short-term, they aren’t all necessarily bad. But for the big pain in life, let’s not just block our brain and heart from feeling that. Let’s press into those painful things and see what’s really causing it so it can actually get fixed.

If you’re like me, perhaps you have a lot of painful/difficult things starting to pile up on you. Let’s go one at a time. After all, nobody gets a hip replacement, a heart transplant, and splints their broken fingers all in one day. I mean, *disclaimer,* I’m no doctor here, but I don’t think that’s usually how it works. We’ve got to triage our pain and address the most critical thing first, right?

What is that thing, that if we let ourselves feel it and deal with it first, will make the maximum positive impact in our lives? Maybe we make the commitment to have integrity in our speech at all times, which would improve our relationships as well as take care of our people-pleasing/over-committing pains. Or for some of us it might be focusing on our physical health by starting to exercise regularly, which not only improves our body but our quality of sleep and our mental attitude. Or perhaps it’s time to finally seek some professional health for those traumas visited upon you in childhood, that have insidiously been keeping you from living a full life for far too long.

My dear people, if you have the cramps, take the dang OTC stuff and get on with what you need to do. But feel the rest. Face those pains head-on and root them out. Don’t allow the temporary fixes and defense mechanisms to mask the pain so long that we can’t see the other, more serious problems. After all, if ignored long enough, these small pains will demand our attention later when they refuse to be masked and have created much bigger, harder-to manage pains.

Take the pain in prayer to the God who created you. Take the truth of it to a trusted friend to help you start the next steps. Take it to a professional who can help you sift through the ancient kinds of pain. Use this pain as a wake-up call now, and don’t be afraid to feel it.

Lovely people, I’m a firm believer that God uses many things in this world to help us through life. One of the big things he uses is other people. Whether that be in our own community of people or through the music, art, or writing of someone we’ve never met, we are all really here for one another. As someone who loves to read, I find a lot of helpful wisdom in good books. Others’ experiences can give us the ME TOO realization and help us to not feel alone. Off the top of my head, here are some books that have been instrumental to me in helping me process pain and see it as an opportunity. Many are written from a Christian faith-perspective but can be helpful to anyone.

One More Step by Rachel Wojo

CS Lewis’s The Problem of Pain

Daring Greatly and Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Beth Moore’s Breaking Free

Glennon Doyle Melton’s Carry On Warrior and Love Warrior

Love & Freedom to you,

Krysten 

 

 

I chose ME today. 

I chose me today.

At 4:50 in the morning, I chose me. 

On this, my first day back at work after a beautiful summer. When there are a million things to be done and a million reasons to get to school early. There are things that need printed and copied and labeled and prepared. There are 26 little faces that will be there to meet me tonight, to see their new space. There are a million reasons why I should have chosen to go in to work extra early today. 

But instead, I chose me. 

I chose to drag myself out of bed, past any options the snooze button would have given me. I chose to start my day with clear, cold water and the laces on my shoes. I chose to crank up the fan and increase my heart rate and strength. I chose to jolt my muscles wide awake and make them do what they’re meant to do. 

I chose to take 30 minutes or so to invest in myself. Me. 

And after that I chose me again. I chose to put healthy foods into my body while I put words of truth into my heart. Words that told me  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) And that includes me, even when I feel like I’m coming apart. 

I chose to take the first hour of my day and invest in myself. Because I’m learning that when I choose to put myself last, I’m really not that good for anything (or anyone) else. 

Those kiddos who will count on me every day? I’m choosing me for them. My husband who shares this space and life on earth with me? I’m choosing me for him. And every face I encounter throughout my day, wherever I find myself? I’m choosing me for them, too. 

Because the best version of me has a lot to offer this world. But I can only offer it when I choose myself, giving good things to myself first so I have something of substance to offer. 

So today, I chose me. And I think the world, at least my small version of it, will be better for it.

If any of you know a teacher, then you completely get what back-to-school time entails. They essentially disappear from your life for a period of at least a few weeks while they work ridiculously long hours resetting the school year for a new group of kiddos. It often means they are running on fumes… Not getting enough sleep, eating junky food, and putting themselves at the bottom of every list. That’s always me, but this year I’ve decided to switch things around a bit and start treating myself as if I’m just as important as those around me. Because I am. And you are too. I hope you’ll be inspired to choose yourself today in some small way. 

What Makes Us Think We Can Do This? 

The brake lights appeared in my right peripheral view and in an instant the car was right in front of me.

No signal. No warning, just a 4-door Chevy driven by a person with little regard for my safety or anyone else’s. I slammed on my Honda’s brakes and shook my head, again. It had been the same with several other cars around me. I’d seen it happen over and over on the short stretch of the freeway between here and there. 

Right then I was acutely aware of all the other cars and drivers around me. That old rickety truck with a ridiculously high stack of pallets that were barely held on by one tattered rope. The lady next to me putting on makeup in her rear view mirror. The man in front of me who was concerned with whatever he was reaching for in the back seat. The handful of people I saw with my very own eyes, whizzing by at 60 miles per hour with one hand on the wheel and the other one texting furiously. 

Amidst all that and hundreds of brake lights going on and off, I thought to myself, what makes us think we can do this? 
Seriously. I mean… When Henry Ford unveiled his first model, did he ever dream that one day we’d be crammed onto four-lane roads by the thousands, barely paying attention to what we’re doing as we commandeer our own personal ton of metal just inches from one another? 

What makes us think we can hop in this hunk of metal made up of more little parts than I can count, jet onto the road next to all the other distracted crazies, and somehow make it home safe like nothing dangerous ever happened? 

I’ll tell you what. It’s faith

I have faith that all the moving parts under my hood, some held together by mere tiny springs (I don’t know what you’re called, but I’ve seen you, little whatsits!) will function for the most part as they were intended, working together in a very particular sequence of timing to make this car move. And I have faith in myself that I’ll remember where I’m going and the best way to get there. Or at the very least, I’ll have faith that my cell signal is working so Siri can guide me there. And craziest of all, I have faith in all of the other drivers on the road, that their whatsits will work correctly together too, and that they know and obey (most of) the laws of traffic and adhere to the majority of the unwritten rules of courtesy when driving amongst other folks. I have faith they will not slam into my car on purpose or completely ignore a red light or a stop sign. 

That takes quite a big measure of faith. 

And that same faith is exactly what makes us think we can do anything

We need faith to even think we can do anything. 

It takes faith to take that leap into a new career or a new city. It takes faith to look another person in the eye and say, Yes. It will be you and only you forever. Let’s make that work. It takes faith to stare at a plus sign on a white stick and think Yes, I can do this even though you’ve never done it before and the responsibility is enormous. And it takes faith to believe that you’ve been created for more than just paying bills and dying.

It takes faith to believe that you’ve been created by a God who, after creating the whole world, still decided that you were needed. The world was not complete without you. It takes faith to think that He has put gifts and talents inside each one of us, and given us circles of influence in a specific combination that no one else has. It takes faith to admit that and take even a tiny step to put those things into practice in our world today. 

Today I’m on my way to the She Speaks conference, where about 900 women will gather under one roof to worship God and say I have faith that You made me, God. And I know You’ve prepared good works in advance for me to do. And I think these talents and gifts You’ve given me have something to with those good works I’m supposed to do here. I’m Yours. Show me what’s next

Whether you suspect God wants to use your writing, your voice, your research abilities, your interpersonal skills, your organizational gifts, your parenting, your generosity, or you living room, the assignment is the same: Have faith that you are made in His image, and that means you are a creator. Believe that you have already been given what you need to accomplish the things He’s prepared for you to do. And then hold fast to that faith, and take a step toward getting that business done. 

My She Speaks sisters: I don’t know what that next step looks like exactly for you or even for me. But I know you have faith simply because you’re showing up and making yourself available to His service. It takes faith to hop on a plane or in a car and travel hundreds of miles to a new place, to hang with a crowd of people you have mostly never met. It’s takes faith to walk up to someone and say hello, to introduce yourself and believe you might just make a new friend. It takes faith to share your dreams with someone and describe the talents you suspect God has placed within you. And that is the kind of tiny little brave faith that can move mountains. That faith is what makes us think we can do this. As we should. I am so excited to meet you and give you lots of hugs!

-Krysten 

Why I Must Buy the Books

“Here it is,” she said. “This is the book I’ve been telling you about! It’s the most amazing book ever! It’s just incredible. I just know you will love it too. It will seriously change your life. I can’t wait for you to read it!!”

Now excited, I replied, “Well thank you for letting me borrow it! Can’t wait to read it! ” 

“Oh, just one thing,” she added, “Make sure you don’t bend the cover or any of the pages or write in it or anything. I NEVER fold the pages or write in my books,” she scoffed. “That’s just crazy.” 

*BLINK*BLINK*

You guys. I have this love/hate relationship with books. 

Well, that’s not exactly true. 

I have a love/hate relationship with buying books. 

Sort of.

You see, the minimalist/debt-free evangelist in me leans toward the end of the spectrum where my mind says things to me like:

-You don’t need to own something to enjoy it. You can just get books at the library.

-What about all that de-cluttering you’ve done over your lifetime? Remember how freeing that was? You don’t really want to fill your space up again with a bunch more stuff, even if that stuff is books, do you? 

If you love books so much, just buy them digitally. They’re a fraction of the price and you can carry a whole library anywhere on your phone! That’s better, isn’t it? 

Every time you spend $7.86 at Amazon on that new release, you could have donated that money to {insert worthy, well-researched organization here} Imagine how much money that would be over a lifetime? 

I know, I know. And all those things are logical and even accurate. 
But y’all… Guess what’s at the other end of that spectrum? 

My heart. And my heart loves books like it’s my flippin’ J. O. B. 

Real books. Real, printed words, on real, amazing-smelling paper. Real, creatively designed covers with carefully chosen images and fonts. Real, actual pages to dog-ear and flip. The very reason bookmarks exist. Exhilarating. 

But my absolute favorite part of the books? (Besides holding them and turning pages and smelling them? Okay. It’s possible I have issues.) 

My favorite part is the margins

The beautiful, blank margins. 

The margins are the place where the books come alive to me. Because that’s where I document the difference they make in my life. The connections they make with me. The ways those words on paper are making me think and question and wrestle with new insights. 

Those margins allow the book to come to life. To come into my life. 

As I add my words and thoughts, the book becomes part of my life. If I read a book that doesn’t make me highlight and scribble in the margins, it’s likely a book I won’t at all enjoy or even remember. 

The margins make that book a living, breathing, changing thing. A story to connect to and journey with. The margins make that book part of my very own journey.  

That book lent to me, so pristine and museum-quality? I should have handed it back to her right away, but I didn’t want to seem rude. So I took it straight home, sat it carefully on the top shelf of my bookcase, and ordered my own copy from Amazon. And she was right. It was an incredible book, and my copy was full of life in the margins. (Her copy was returned to her “unharmed,” of course)

Do you, like me, love the margins, the notes you scribble in them, the ways you connect with real, live books? Then we get each other. 

I’ve been reading (and scribbling/circling/highlighting in) some wonderful books this summer. I’ll be sharing some of them here soon, in hopes you’ll be inspired to go out and get  your own real, actual copies and make them come to life too. 

People of Faith, Come Out.

The question why? doesn’t even seem to cut it very much anymore in our world, does it? There is simply no logical answer for it during a week like we are experiencing now. There is evil in this world, so much hate, and in Orlando this weekend, those things combined in one person and compelled him to carry out a sinister act. A deadly one.

I’m horrified, as most everyone is and should be this week, as I think of the lives taken just a few nights ago while I was sleeping safe and sound in my bed. When I learned of it, my heart sank down into my stomach.

So here we are again, and forty-nine beautiful, holy, created-in-the-image-of-God lives, are just gone. More than that have suffered injuries. And even more than that have suffered emotional scars that could take a lifetime to heal.

As a person of faith, I pray for their families. I pray that some measure of comfort and peace will reach them. I also pray for the injured and the witnesses, that they would heal both physically and in time, emotionally.

I pray because I don’t think it’s a waste of time. Our prayers are what connect us to the source of all peace, the something-bigger-than-ourselves, the very love itself that keeps us woven together.

But as people of faith, I think there’s more we need to do right now. More than praying. More than even donating money or giving blood. Those things in themselves are good, and we should do them. But there’s more to be done.

Because a sanctuary was invaded this weekend. A sanctuary not unlike the one in Charleston that was invaded just a year ago. It might not be the place many of us initially think of when we hear the word sanctuary, but our LGBT brothers and sisters certainly understand it to be just that, as they were gathered in this place of joy together.

They were dancing and singing and laughing and being free together. Free from judgmental eyes and hateful comments. They were in a sanctuary, free from the fear of being treated as less-than.

And they should have been safe there. They should have been safe to be themselves and enjoy a night without worrying if they would ever get to enjoy another. They should be safe there. They should be safe anywhere.

But the fact is that they aren’t safe everywhere. In the freest country on earth, an LGBT person is never quite free from the worry that someone will treat them in a manner that is disrespectful or downright dangerous.

So, yes, I want to #PrayForOrlando together with other believers. I want Americans to band together and grieve this completely senseless loss of life that happened yet again on our soil.

But I also want us as people of faith to acknowledge that this was a crime that targeted our gay community specifically. And I want believers inside and outside of the Church to understand that if we don’t specifically acknowledge that, and we skip right past that fact and just start to clamor about political positions, we’ve done a great disservice to the LGBT community and we’ve actually added to their pain. 

To my LGBT loved ones, I want to say that I see you. I can’t imagine how scary this is for you, to wonder if this will happen closer to home next time, or if you or someone you know will be the next target. I understand that this is by far not the first time you have had to be fearful of someone using hate as an excuse to violate you. I am so sorry for that.

I am sorry for the way the Church on the whole has, at worst, treated you as less-than-human, or at best ignored you. I don’t want to do that. I know each one of us are made in the image of God and He loves us all completely and wholly without condition. Every single one of us. I don’t think you need me, some white, straight, middle-class elementary school teacher to validate you in that way. But maybe there are some of you who have just never been told that. So please hear it from me. You are made in God’s image, you are beautifully unique and special and nothing will ever change that. We are all worthy of love and dignity simply because of that. And anyone who treats you as if that’s not true is simply wrong. 

I am so sorry you have suffered at the hands of people who, supposedly in the name of God, have said you are not worthy of unconditional love and respect. And I’m especially sorry for any of the same people who have hurt you outright with words or deeds. Please hear this: That is not what God is about. Anyone who claims that hate can be justified by slapping the name of God on it simply does not understand the overall concept of God.

You are loved by God and by many, and nothing in the universe can ever change that. My heart breaks this week for your compounded grief, as people who are both dumbfounded by more loss of life, and as members of a community who have known far too much violence and hate in your quest for love and acceptance. 

rainbow hearts

I pray my words fall on the hearts of my LGBT friends gently. There is much more to say, but for now, I just want you to know you are loved and seen and heard. 

To my friends who claim the name of Christ: I see you too.

One important note: There are those who, supposedly in the name of God, have spent large amounts of energy trying to convince men and women in the gay community that they are unworthy of love, that they are despicable, or abhorrent. I am not addressing those folks here, because I don’t in any way think they are actual followers of Christ. Nothing even remotely similar to Him is in their speech or their actions, and I do not refer to them as Christians (meaning Christ-followers) because everything they do shows that they are the opposite. They are ideological extremists, exactly like the man who murdered dozens of people in Orlando this weekend.

I am speaking to my brothers and sisters in the faith who follow the person and example of Christ as imperfectly but faithfully as possible, who understand that every single person on the face of this planet was created by God in His image.

To you I want to say that this needs to be a major time of reflection for us. How have we, as individuals or as entire fellowships, participated in this violence? It’s true we’ve never pointed a gun at a homosexual person, but have we fired shots with our voices or our silence? The hurt is the same.

I know you and I truly believe that your heart hurts for this whole situation. I know so many of you are uncomfortable and sickened with the way that the Church has treated many groups, including our LGBT brothers and sisters.  I have spoken with you over coffee and during times of study and I know that some of you don’t understand why this debate is even still happening. You are tired of being lumped in with the “ignorant Christian bigots” because that is truly not what you are. I understand. May I urge you to speak your mind, and to be a bridge for the people you love at both ends of that spectrum? Voice your beliefs and your love and your questions. I predict you will be loved all the more for it.

And I know that there are some of you who love Jesus and truly believe that an LGBT person has personally chosen their lifestyle, and you have a hard time understanding how that fits with what you have been taught over many years. I have grace for you as well, and I understand that you are on a journey of learning and you truly want to be faithful in that quest. May I urge you to tend to this in your own personal prayer life and study of God’s word on these issues (yes, deep study–that means whatever it takes, all the way back to the original languages for every single word if you have to) and to truly develop your own understanding rather than simply accepting what has been repeated to us over and over.

And please, if you have big opinions about the LGBT community but find yourself realizing that you don’t actually spend time with anyone who is gay, let’s just start there. Because I promise you that when you love those who don’t necessarily share your same background or beliefs, you will look at everything in a new light. Because it won’t be about an “issue” or a “culture war.” It will be about you and the right-in-front-of-you folks whom you love. And that changes everything. It no longer allows us to throw around cheap cliches and Christian-y catchphrases, but it forces us to ask what those words might mean to our loved one. That is the journey we must take.

And at every point in that journey, please remember that at no time did Jesus ever hurt people (and especially not entire groups of people) with his words or by ignoring their plight entirely. He was moved, deep down in his gut, with compassion for the masses. He always treated every single person with the love and dignity they were worthy of simply because they were created by God.

He was always on the lookout for those who were hurting, who needed love, and who needed to be reminded of their worth. He gave us the very best example of what it looks like to love in words and deeds. So let’s make that example our focus, and all else secondary to that. Let’s be about the business of standing side-by-side with those who are hurting. Let’s be that Samaritan, who defied all commonly held cultural parameters and looked past it all, seeing nothing other than a fellow human being lying bruised and battered in a ditch and said How could anyone pass this person by without reaching out? And if we become battered and bruised at the same time, so be it.

So yes, more love and less hate. Nothing can undo the hateful actions that happened this weekend in Orlando. Nothing, ever. But we can continue to assault evil with love every time we pray, open our mouths to speak, or encounter another human being. Every single day.

Whatever our personal beliefs are at this moment, there is absolutely no debate to be had over whether or not the people in that nightclub were loved by God and worthy of dignity and respect as human beings. That’s not even a thing. Not even.

But let’s ask ourselves: Will we, as people of faith, mourn alongside anyone who mourns, even if we think them to be different than we are? Will we love God’s people more than our perceptions? Will we come out and speak, take a posture of wanting to learn, and say that maybe this is awkward, unsteady territory but we are willing to go there because we want to love extravagantly like Jesus did?

//

As I’ve written and rewritten this over the past few days, it has dawned on me painfully that I should have said these things long ago. I should’ve said essentially these same things also to my friends of color and of other faiths, who have frequently been targets of violence and hate and continue to be. Sometimes it just feels as if the hatred and violence is compounded all the more by the thousands of competing voices yelling in the aftermath. As if anyone needs another opinion. But I will use my words more often on behalf of peace and on behalf of those I love. -Krysten

It’s Okay to Feel Beautiful

Dear Lady friends,

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel beautiful? A day when you just don’t fight with the mirror. You’re content, joyful, and you feel whole. You feel all glowy from the inside out. Nothing can steal your joy. There’s just something about the day and about yourself that feels…. well, beautiful. Do you ever have days like that?

Did you just say NO? I can’t really say I’m all that surprised.

And if you thought YES, my bet is that you’d give up your daily coffee before you’d admit that to anyone. I mean, that’s obnoxious, right? Wouldn’t that sound ridiculous to go around and say, I feel so beautiful today!

Weird, right?

What if each of us just climbed up on the roof and shouted I FEEL BEAUTIFUL TODAY!!!

Is it okay for us to feel beautiful? To say it like that? To feel completely unashamed just for one dang day?

Because pretty much everything in the universe tells us that’s NOT okay. Every magazine, every commercial, every billboard, every catcall, every snide comment from a family member, every diet plan, every clothing ad, every single thing tells me that I’m not enough. We even say it to one another in so many ways, don’t we, ladies?

It always seems we always need something more before we can be beautiful. We need smoother skin, a smaller waist, longer hair, whattheheckever. We always need SOMETHING else to make us beautiful.

We’re apparently not allowed to feel beautiful just the way we are, just because we are.

Apparently that’s not okay.

But I think we’ve been lied to. I think we’ve got it wrong.

It's okay to feel beautiful

 

Ladies, we ARE already beautiful. We are created in the image of God, who is Himself Good. He is Love. He is Light.

And if we’re made in His image, we are also those things. Those things reside in us and we have the capacity to bring good, to bring love and light wherever we go.

Is that not beautiful?

And more than that, each one of us brings our own individual beauty with us wherever we go. We bring our big, beaming smiles. Our eyes hold wisdom and wonder and that little sparkle of mystery. The little crow’s feet developing around our eyes give a peek into days we stood in the sun, soaking up life. In-the-moment, right-now life. That line between our eyebrows tells of some nights we stayed up worrying and praying about our wayward child. Those little wrinkles that are starting to triple on our foreheads tell of the surprises that have been shared with us, and the amazement of learning something new.

We carry all the colors of the Earth in our skin: caramel, coffee bean, light sand, peachy pink. We bring every glorious texture– smooth, straight, curly, zig-zaggy, wavy– in our hair. The curve of our bodies tells of our unique design, and the way we’ve run those miles and the times we’ve enjoyed dessert. The way life has been brought through us into this world straight from Heaven.

Our lips are pursed in truth-telling, instruction and character-building for our babies, and encouragement for every single person we mother with our love.

Our hands turn the pages of books, create delicious meals that nourish, reach out offering help and kindness, and create art that’s never before been seen in the world, including our little ones.

Tell me something that is more beautiful than all of that.

Women, we are the crown of creation. God created everything, including man. And it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so we were made. And whoa.

Then God was finished. Everything was perfectly in place with us reflecting all his qualities that couldn’t be reflected fully in man.

Through us He brought the life and the beauty that man couldn’t bring.

We. Are. Beautiful. It’s okay to feel it.

It’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror and speak to yourself the same way you would speak to a loved one, instead of firing off arrows of shame and condemnation. It’s okay to be pleased with what you see there, because our Creator most certainly is.

In this world, knowing our worth and feeling our beauty are priceless, extraordinarily brave things. Freeing things.

When we are unashamed, when we feel beautiful, we are being brave. And we are opening up space for others to do the same. Now that’s a thing of beauty, to be sure.

Ladies, let’s feel our beauty today. Look closely at yourself. Do you see it? On the outside, yes, but also what exudes from the inside.

You don’t have to wait to feel beautiful. You don’t have to wait until you cover your gray or lose 20 pounds or get that next miracle face cream.

You are beautiful right now, just the way you are.

Be who you are. Created, loved, unashamed. Feel your right-now beauty.

I promise you, it’s okay.

Lady Friends, would you be so brave as to share how you’re feeling your right-now beauty today? How you’re opening up space for others to feel beautiful? Would you share one thing you love and appreciate about your own beauty, so we can all share in your beautiful brave moment?