Weekend Walk, 1/12/2013: Take My Picture

“Take my picture, Mommy!  Take my picture!”

In the middle of Sunday morning chaos, pulling on stockings, buttoning dresses, clipping 006on bows and tying on ribbons, my three-year-old twirled in her dress and posed for a Kodak moment.

And I clicked the camera.

I don’t ever remember being this way, so eager to say, “Cheese.”  I’ve always been the one declining photos, offering to hold the camera, tossing into the trash any pictures of me I don’t like.

But when I’m out and about with my daughters (or even just running around the house frantically trying to get four females ready for Sunday morning church service)… they want to stop and take pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  Not of the scenery.  Of them.

It takes us three times as long to walk down the Main Street of our town and probably twice as much time on location on our family “field trips.”  But I don’t mind.

I love that they feel beautiful enough to want to pose.

There was a day I stepped into the bathroom to put away a stray toothbrush, and I caught one of my girls watching herself in the mirror.  She smoothed her hair and glanced up at her reflection, pleased with what she saw.

How beautiful is the girl who feels beautiful in her own skin.

This rare gift, how do you teach it?  How do you help them keep it for life?

Somehow, most of us grow out of it.  We glance in the mirror and critique the image or sigh in frustration.  We step on the scale and slander ourselves with our thoughts.  We pose for that picture and know we won’t be happy with it later, not with the smile or the hair or the wrinkles or the chin or ….

Even my husband, in the early days of falling in love, would sit across me from the table and I could feel him watching.  I didn’t know where to look.  I was uncomfortable in his gaze.  What imperfections would he see in me if he looked too closely or watched too long?

Later today, I’ll take my seat at a piano and offer up the music for a wedding ceremony.  There will be a moment at that wedding when the soloist will sing, “How Beautiful the radiant bride who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes” (How Beautiful, Twila Paris).

The beauty of the bride isn’t so much the hairdresser and the hair spray, the makeup, the gown.

It’s that she walks down that aisle feeling loved.  In a moment, she knows she is wanted, precious, and she radiates the joy.

And it’s beautiful how she loves him.  So we, thinking of another, run out of time to be so self-analyzing, so self-criticizing, so self-condemning—so “self.”

It’s a verse for meditating on all week, with a reminder of how beauty is looking to God–our Groom–thinking of Him and less of me.  Beauty is caring for others.  Beauty isn’t feeling shame, but feeling redeemed, feeling precious, feeling loved.

“Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:5).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

You Get What You Get And You Don’t Throw a Fit

I thought I was going to have all boys.

My interests trended toward Legos, GI Joe, computer games, and airplanes and not so much to princesses, Disney movies, ballet, and ponies.  So, it made sense that God, sensing my aptitude for being a boys’ mom, would give me sons.

Fully prepared to head out on a blue shopping spree following the ultrasound for my first pregnancy, I was shocked . . . stunned . . . surprised speechless when the doctor announced he was pretty sure my son was actually a daughter.

I cried.

It’s got nothing to do with wanting a boy in the traditional sense—that somehow it’s our duty in life as women to birth sons and have male offspring and all that.

Instead, I cried because I felt so much more pressure knowing I’d have a daughter.  I had assumed that my husband would be primarily responsible for teaching him how to pee in the potty and for having “the talk” around puberty.

More than any of that, my husband would be responsible for modeling Godly manhood and I could be the really cool, supportive, fun mom who showed my boys what to choose in a wife.

(Moms of boys can insert laughter here, knowing it isn’t at all as easy as I’d envisioned.  What can I say—I’d never had a child of any kind before!  I was a foolish innocent.)

Having a girl meant I would be fully in charge of the potty and I’d likely be the one explaining the birds and the bees.

Oh, and I’d have to live like the woman of God, the wife, the mom, the friend . . . that I wanted them to become.  Plus, I’d have to be on my best behavior all the time because kids pretty much don’t blink and miss stuff.

No pressure or anything, right?

Thinking it was a fluke, I went to the ultrasound for my second pregnancy awaiting the announcement of a boy.

She wasn’t.

I was even a little surprised during my third pregnancy when the doctor looked at the ultrasound pictures, looked back at me and said, “I can’t say this is a boy.”

I was surprised, but I wasn’t disappointed. By the time I had my third baby, I wasn’t really sure I’d know what to do with a boy if I had one!  Over time I’ve grown to love having a house full of girls and have learned a million lessons as a result.

Like the fact that an affinity for pink, purple, princesses and ponies isn’t as environmental as I thought.  Without any help from me, my oldest daughter became the princess of all princesses and the ballerina of all ballerinas.

Like how to style my daughter’s hair into a fishtail braid.

Like how to help daughters live with emotional balance and become strong women who aren’t abrasive and compassionate women who aren’t pushovers.

Well, to be honest, I’m still learning that last one.

It’s still overwhelming at times and I feel unfit many days.  Never having played “hairstylist” as a child, I have no idea how to fix up my daughters’ long tresses.  I kind of fumble around with nail painting and wouldn’t know how to behave in a nail salon if I ever grew brave enough to enter one.  I’m no fashion expert and zero help with their ballet lessons.  I still hate shopping.

Still, even when I get it wrong and stumble through life as a girls’ mom, I’ve learned to love pink and purple, rock the dress-up games, clap big at their ballet performances, and snuggle them close at least once a day to tell them how I think they’re so beautiful outside, but more importantly inside where it really counts.

In her book, MOMumental, Jennifer Grant shared a lesson she’d been taught by a college professor:  Prefer the given.

Originally used by the author, Charles Williams, the phrase means “choosing to appreciate what we have instead of being dissatisfied with the grace and other gifts God gives us” (Grant p. 11).

Now, I haven’t been fond of everything my kindergartener has picked up from her friends at school, but one day at dinner she repeated something a boy in her class said, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

That I loved.

Isn’t it the same lesson I’ve been learning over time and the same one Jennifer Grant was teaching in her book?

It’s the lesson of contentment, preferring this life God has given me over any childhood fantasy or pre-childbearing delusion.

It’s preferring the here and now instead of being trapped by the past, obsessed with worry over the future, or determined to rush past the beauty of this moment in an effort to move on to something “better.”

We all make a million plans that never turn out the way we expect, we dream of what life will be like and then sometimes sit in speechless shock when it doesn’t work out that way.

Paul’s life certainly didn’t end up the way he ever expected.  Yet, it was Paul who wrote, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6) and Paul again who wrote “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

For those of us who’ve ever struggled with knowing God’s will, Paul tells us what it is—be thankful for what God has given you, all the time, even if it isn’t what you wanted or planned.  Give thanks and trust that God knows what He’s doing.

You can check out my full review of Jennifer Grant’s book MOMumental and even read a free download of the first chapter here.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King