My word for 2016 is BEAUTY. I’m more than halfway through the year , and to be honest I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t spent more time studying the word. That’s right, I was sitting right here thinking about it and feeling bad when…. You guessed it… Lightbulb moment. I’ve been LIVING my word out right, and out loud . I started the year off by affiliating myself with BeautyCounter, a non-toxic skincare company, and in May I moved into my beautiful dream home. The word Queen Esther has been spoken over me twice now …. It’s big and scary and a little overwhelming. She was beautiful , and pure of heart , and powerful. She was as brave as any man. Damn it, she was a queen! Esther’s in today’s world will be feminine and proud of it . We will come to the understanding and ownership of the theme of beauty in our lives . No matter our size, or the number of friends we have … The beauty that was created for Eve and passed down to you and I … remains, and it is powerful. It’s powerful in the home , and it’s powerful in the workplace , it’s powerful in our highschools and youth groups , it’s powerful even in our doubt.
About 4 weeks ago I started watching YouTube videos ,mostly about beauty. I searched to find women my age , women who are embracing their differences , sharing their experiences and building tribes . ( Ms gold girl is my favorite )Yes, it’s about makeup, and so much more. I started to feel like I was wasting my time, but the Lord , ever patient , reminded me of my word . Beauty. I’m still learning . I’m listening . It’s ok to love beauty, we were created for it. So take your place , you standing at the oven , wearing pjs , and you the one who has gained a few pounds , take your place even though you are not 24…. Take your place . The place created for you by the Lord of all creation . You are beautiful . Inside and out. And here is a tribute to some of the most beautiful , powerful women I know .
What is it about love ? Somehow the very word manages to be a living , breathing thing. Constantly changing, always inviting …. Love is asking you to go a little further , get a little lower, speak a little softer. I have a confession…
I’ve had a terrible habit of asking my husband ( and my kids), ” do you love me ?” Even though , there is a mountain of evidence that they do, I needed to hear the words. They always say yes. Sometimes , I ask again… “are you sure , no really ?” What a child I was! A scared , lonely child. It has been a long road , beautiful and complicated. At 41 , I know that they love me. More importantly , I know that God loves me. He burned the book of my rebellion . He has called me Esther, and showed me amazing grace. Once I was able to grasp that, everything else fell into place.
Love is alive. Living . Giving. Laying down all around me. True love doesn’t just change your heart, it changes your mind.
There are dry bones and broken places. Yes. And, there is water , and healing enough for all of it. Cupping my hands to drink this morning, getting down low, the spot where I know …. My breath is prayer, and every prayer changes the atmosphere . There is joy in the small, and beauty in the morning routine , three teenagers dressing, eating, asking, arguing , singing, and walking out the door. There is a small wind and sweet smell blowing in my back door. I inhale as deeply as I can…prayer. It’s as still and as loud as it can be , all at once. There is an army rising but the weapons ,and the violence look vastly different than what I imagined. The weapons are tiny seeds planted, and the fighting is as gentle as that breeze blowing in.
Sometimes it takes everything you’ve got . Sometimes you stumble at the start, but you have heart , and that my lion boy is going to be the weapon that helps you finish well. You are amazing. You are strong , and I am so proud of how hard you work . I knew you were a runner in the spirit, a leader in your pack of peers, but now you are a runner in the natural! A sweaty, beautiful runner. I love you Z!
It’s been 2 years since our last first day. It’s always exciting. Little lion boy is not really that little anymore , he is taller than me now. I said goodnight last night, and his face was so full of hope, his eyes so full of courage. I see you there Jesus, in him. And I feel your love , through him. I am grateful for every day that I have with this boy of mine. He has changed me.
And so we begin again. A new day… Everyday. Walking by faith , and when we stumble, or even if we fall, we are going to be just fine. Our hearts have a hope that is bigger than our hurdles. As I write, love wells up in my eyes , and runs down my face. Fear is a sea that has been parted for me and my son today. We will walk through it. We will need your help again tomorrow Jesus, but we can talk about that then.
I can’t stop. I’m crying, and I’m laughing. It’s like rain on a sunny day. Unexpected , and beautiful. One of my best friends was at the camp with my 3 teenagers this week. She was behind the scenes , interceding and praying for hearts and minds. She texted me to say that she will never get over the things she saw. She had some specific prayers for my kids, and saw breakthrough . I am humbled to have friends that love my kids, that know my heart so well . I am down as low as I can go thanking Abba for his great love for me , and for my kids . They are not alone, he will never leave them. He sees each one. He sees Adam and his mans heart, strong and steadfast, but sometimes rigid, and he sees Belle in all her beautiful light, loud and bold, but sometimes , safe inside her box, and he sees Isaiah , the lions heart, the funny, friendly, creative , open spirit, he knows that Isaiah internalizes things so deeply that his wounds are frightening and fierce, he sees them and he knows. He knows that my heart beats for them. He sees the grown up children too. And the parents. He sees them too. And so I sit, waiting to go pick up my campers, and I cry, and I laugh. And I am not alone.
For as long as I can remember Thomas plays the same game with the kids at the beach. They build a sand castle , they create walls around it, moats and towers . Sometimes there is seaweed to adorn the corners, maybe shells . The point of this game is to work as hard as you can to build a structure that the tide doesn’t take down. The kids run around like engineers calling out -we have a breach on the front wall!! And then they build it back up. Sometimes , the tide is too strong, or the castle has been built to close to the sea, and we lose it altogether. I never knew how big a deal, how important a memory this was , until this year. Man child suggested we go down one evening and build… They threw themselves into the sand castle like it was the most important thing in the world. Everyone doing their own jobs. And this year we introduced the newest member of the family to our tradition.
To my babies who are not babies, and to Layla who holds my heart ,
We will build you , we will guide you, and support you, adding the wet sand of love and strength to your structure until you are strong enough to stand on your own. A beautiful creation , to be marveled at. And when the tide comes in , and it will , without fail, and it threatens to tear you down, wash you away, we will be there to support your walls. We will help you repair the breaches , and rebuild when neccessary. I could have never known 20 years ago , when Thomas started this tradition , what exactly it would mean to me. One more reason I adore him.
There was a time when all I wanted was to be wanted. As the wife, as the mom, as the friend, as the singer, as the writer, as the funny one, the pretty one…
It wasn’t this morning, it’s been occurring morning after morning for a long time. I’ve been waking up wanted . I woke up to the realization of what being wanted translates to for me… It’s being Loved. Big, boldly, with complete abandon , laid down.
I don’t know why it took so long to fully wrap my heart around it. Maybe because love is a journey down a long and winding path, instead of a quick walk across the street. I wish I could go back and tell the girl I was at 14 , that it was all going to be ok, that she was loved by a love so ancient and huge , that time was on her side, and that her love story was being written by the author of the world. Only God knows the beginning and the end. I would tell her then what I know now … You are wanted, you are loved. You always have been. Your name was KNOWN as the foundations of the earth were poured . You there, at the post office, at the elementary school, making lunch , walking down the hall in your highschool, and you there still in your bed….you are wanted.
My past is like a city in ruins, and my future is written in gold script. Beautiful and bold. Which way should I be looking ? I’m looking forward with a firm grip on the here and now. I don’t have to worry , because the plan is laid out. The crooked paths made straight . A hand to hold. Beautiful thoughts that carry so much weight. In every day real life , there will be struggles, there will also be enough grace . There will be sadness, but the joy is there too , every day, little moments like bubbles rising … Joy. You have to have eyes open to see it, you can’t be looking backward . For now , there is wind, and sun, and a sun hat ! There is a boy running around here saying “mom”, there is a girl at school who gets up and faces 9 th grade bravely each day, and a young man who comes home from 11th grade and still holds me tight. There is a young woman who is finding her way, day by day and learning to love in the best way. These are the bubbles of joy rising over me right now , today. I won’t look away.