Don’t Make Your Brown Eyes Blue

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To ShopBefore we adopted her, I had imagined our daughter in my mind. I’m sure biological parents do this as well. I had no idea what she would look like, but I hoped for my blonde hair, the light blue eyes my husband and I share. I knew she could be another ethnicity or look as different from me as night from day, but I had hoped I’d see myself in her face.

Before her, the greatest love I’d ever known were for my tiny niece and nephew in whose faces at only a few weeks, I could see our family traipse across every expression. I didn’t know how it would feel to claim a child that looked nothing like me.

Then we met her in the NICU of an Texas hospital 4 years ago tomorrow. She had a round face, a rounded nose, and the darkest of brown eyes. She didn’t look like me at all. Her hair is brown, and her skin is olive toned, browning the moment she steps foot into the summer sun, just like my skin turns an embarrassed shade of pink.

Raising my daughter to grow into her beauty the way she is as a person, not because of how she looks, but because of who she is. And I love every bit of her so ferociously. I love the single freckle on her cheek, the slightly red sparkle to her hair in the bright sunshine, the ticklish spot on her neck, her ‘outie’ belly button. Her chocolate-brown eyes sparkle with life and light. My own seem pale in comparison. As she grows, so does her beauty, but the qualities that make her the most beautiful are her exuberance, unquenchable spirit, and indomitable joy. Her infectious laugh and insatiable curiosity fill every room. Somehow I love her all the more because she looks nothing like us, because she gets to write entirely her own story for us, none of that “she’s just like you were at this age” based on her DNA (although apparently the parental ‘I hope you have a child just like you’ curse works on adoptions, too).

But will she someday wish she looked like us? has she already and doesn’t have the words? She is already absorbing so much about the world. I worry if she will know how utterly beautiful she is because of who she is or will the media and playground bullies ever make her feel unpretty.

I came across an article yesterday (ABC News) about a doctor who has invented a laser process to remove the pigment from the iris, literally changing brown eyes to blue. While this procedure is not authorized or approved and could cause cataracts or glaucoma, my thoughts immediately went to my precious girl’s deep brown eyes and wondered if she would ever consider such a procedure as an adult. Would she risk her eyes to fit into some worldly version of beauty? I desperately pray that she never feels badly enough about herself to want to, but I know that very few women would describe themselves as beautiful. That some of the most naturally gorgeous women I know have told me they don’t feel attractive. I have always felt I’m pretty enough (post high school), but struggle with my weight.

Like my post from a few days ago, I know much of the parenting answer lies with me, the example I set about what beauty is and the way my husband demonstrates how he sees my beauty. I’ve taught her that she is beautiful because of her smile and heart. I try to say that we’re getting ‘fancy’ versus making ourselves beautiful when we fix our hair, but she sees me weigh myself, curl my hair, and put on jewelry.

We live in a society literally inundated with images of physical perfection. Even the kids on the Disney channel are model thin and picture perfect. Counteracting the multitude of messages she is getting won’t be easy.

But God is very clear about what He thinks is beautiful.

1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV  “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Teaching her to find and cultivate her hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty that is found in a spirit completely sold out for Jesus, has to be a large part of stocking her inner arsenal against the waves of lies the world is waiting to throw at her. Also, surrounding her with women who live this identity in Christ is crucial. Some of the women who attend our church are like this, so beautiful from Jesus just glowing through them. These are the women I want my daughter to know, to love, to see, to emulate, not necessarily be quite so caught up in physical beauty, but it’s hard. She’s cute. I love taking pretty pictures of her, putting her in frilly clothes, and need to make sure I’m not sending her confusing messages. Because God doesn’t really see any of those things.

1 Samuel 16:7b ESV “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

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I wonder what I would think of her if I couldn’t see her face when she’s thinking, or her eyes sparkle in the sunshine when she is playing on the swings. If I could only see her behavior, would she seem as beautiful? Would I?

The world will judge our fashion sense, our bad hair days, our bodily imperfections, but only God sees with what we are truly made, and loves us from the inside out. He judges our hearts.

Proverbs 31:30 ESV  “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

I think it is interesting that in just a few days, I’ve been meditating on what God wants from me, for me as a woman and parent, and I keep coming across verses that talk about how beautiful God finds the woman who fears Him, not as in afraid, but as in respects the righteousness and glory of our holy Creator.

Also, in those same few days, just my daily readings and perusals have brought answers to what God does not find beautiful. 1 Peter 3 talks about the outward appearance not being the source of beauty to God. In Isaiah 3, the wayward women of Zion are described as wanton, haughty, adorning themselves with necklaces, pendants, bracelets, scarves, anklets, etc.

The outward expression of who we are should be in our deeds of love and service to God and for one another; in that way we are made beautiful. I know that for me growing to understand how God sees me has made my own struggles with beauty and self-image grow fainter. The more I work on being truly beautiful in my heart as a Godly, gentle, loving woman, the less I care how the world judges the outside. But it took me 42 years to get to this place inside myself.

I don’t want her to ever waver from knowing where her true beauty lies, inside her heart and in the body that God knit together in her birth-mother’s womb. He gave her every feature, every strength, and every weakness so that she could become the beautiful work He has planned for her life and witness.

Maybe we should think in terms of “making ourselves beautiful” when we open the Bible, when we pray, when we choose to listen to God’s voice instead of our iVoice, when we fear the Lord and praise His name. Maybe then, she’ll make healthy choices to care for her body, but know that her beauty has nothing to do with medical procedures or iris pigment or body size. Beauty is in the quiet things between her and God.

Because the only eyes I want her to see herself through are her Heavenly Father’s eyes.

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Imagine your tiny tyrant – a Godly wife

How do I raise a Godly wife if I’m still learning how to be one?

I originally wrote this post two years ago, I’m both encouraged by how far I’ve come and humbled by how far I still have to go.

This morning I was reviewing the book I’m reading (The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace). The author discusses how she was a spoiled-rotten only child when she first got married. Her selfishness and lack of self-control were destroying her marriage.

I read this and for the first time really realized that my daughter is not only going to grow up to become an adult, woman, mother, but also probably someone’s wife.

I spent a couple of moments in imaginary terror, picturing my almost-four-year-old as a wife, crying over every slight, demanding her way, and throwing temper tantrums. Humorous, but not a pretty picture.

My daughter is a perfectly normal almost 4 year old. She plays nicely in her room, would watch PBS all day if I let her. She reads books, asks a million questions, loves life and her energy is boundless.

Sometimes her coping skills are overwhelmed by being hungry or tired, like any preschooler. Obviously, she will mature, but will she have the strength and peace to be a woman of God as an adult?

My tiny tyrant a wife someday? How do I prepare her to be a mature woman of God? Click To Tweet
Am I preparing her to be a Godly wife? How do I prepare her for that?

My daughter is almost 4, and hyper emotional. Every bumped knee or disappointment is the end of the world.

She is used to being the center of attention, and I’ve been wondering how to parent her appropriately to guide her into self-control, patience, self-reliance, gentleness, perseverance, and faith.

I’ve been quiet recently because we’ve been struggling with spring colds and her willfulness, and I’ve been seeking some of God’s answers.

My daughter has been a tiny tyrant for the past couple of weeks. Not everyday, all the time, but it’s been a daily struggle to deal appropriately with her deliberate disobedience.

But I think the answer to her current disobedient streak and to how to prepare her to be a wife or Godly woman are the same.

It begins with me. What kind of wife and mother am I? If I am angry, selfish, loud, short-tempered, she will internalize those attitudes just the way I internalized my mom’s cleanliness and organization.

I need to live the wife, mother, woman that I want her to see and grow to be. I want her to be joyful, loving, patient, kind, funny, strange, prone to dance parties and silly songs, devouring books and learning, and knowing she is loved by her earthly parents and Heavenly Father.

I need to live the wife, mother, woman of God I want her to be. I am the example she will… Click To Tweet

Just last night, I made dinner, had all the prep dishes washed, cornbread in the oven, coffee pots ready for the next day, salads waiting to be dressed, laundry washed and folded, even had time just to play mommy, and felt like a real grown up. I know – I’m 42.

I even managed be patient all day. It was just the daily life of a wife, but I felt really good about the day.  Why? Because the house felt not just tidy, but calm and peaceful, because I had been. For too long, my focus was how clean my house was instead of the condition of my heart.

Proverbs 19:14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Would my husband say that I’m a gift from God? Whoa, I had to pray about that. And if not yet, how do I get there from here?

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Fearing the Lord is truly understanding God’s holiness, mightiness, omnipotence, righteousness and accepting our need for redemption. I immediately stopped and prayed with David from Psalm 86.

“Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11).

Faith starts by understanding who we are in God and starting to live in humility. But faith has to be seen out loud, as well.

James 2:17-18 (ESV) 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

I want my daughter to see my faith, my fear of the Lord, BY my works, by my life. We’re human. We nap, we play, we laugh, and we love each other. And we serve each other and God.

I want her to see that service to God in my heart as a joyful blessing and want to serve Him, too.

This tiny tyrant rules my heart, but I need to raise her to be the woman and Godly wife she is meant to be.

This verse is very convicting for my bold, aggressive spirit.

Proverbs 9:13  The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.

The biggest change I could make would be to become soft, quiet, and gentle. What a beautiful witness that would be to my family!

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 

Recently, I’ve been feeling the Holy Spirit start to gentle me. My sinful nature is resisting, making me realize just how selfish I still am, but I see the beauty of a gentle spirit when I get it right.

When I get quiet, her unruly 4 year old nature doesn’t have a grip on my emotions like it used to. I can see her struggling with her sinful nature and guide her, instead of forcing her to deal with mine.

As a Godly wife, when I get quiet, he reaches for me and feels my love for him.

Titus 2:3-5 “3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Doesn’t that passage say so much? I need to be reverent, hard-working, self-controlled, pure, kind, submissive.

My answer for how do I teach her to be a Godly wife someday is right there. By example.

Proverbs 31:10 lists so many attributes of a Godly wife just in different translations of this one verse: noble, virtuous, capable, excellent, diligent, of strong character, valiant, and worthy. This wife’s price is above rubies.

How I long to exhibit this verse.

She will learn by my example. Even the world proves over and over we learn by imitation first and foremost, so I have to let the Holy Spirit work in me all day, every day so someday her husband can live in the home of my precious girl’s heart for God.

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Jesus, name above all names – Psalty’s Praise Album for Kids

Jesus, name above all names – Psalty’s Praise Album for Kids

Kids praise isn’t just for kids.

Today, my daughter, almost four, needed a nap. She has for the most part outgrown naps, but is growing and has just needed naps again this week. She couldn’t fall asleep over the busyness of the living room and wanted to be close to me instead of in her own room, so I turned on my iTunes Psalty Praise Album playlist for her. This is a CD I listened to (as an LP) when I was a child, and now she listens to the same songs. The music that I hadn’t heard in 30 years+ is so ingrained into my head that I knew every piece of dialogue and every song instantly when my mom bought her these cd’s last year.

I was playing the music and just sorting through my online tasks when this song came on. I’ve been struggling with my feelings of entitlement, not of riches or fame, but of being cherished and loved in an earthly, human weakness kind of way, and I’m losing. I ‘know’ I need to take my struggles to Jesus and ask him to be with me, but sometimes the how or the intangibility of God’s presence feels a lot like being alone. I am tired from all the physical struggles my body has put me through, I’m emotionally exhausted from trying to be the 1 Peter wife to my husband without fail, even when he isn’t the Ephesians 5:25-33 husband to me, or is so overcome by what the army is/does that he can barely be him, much less be anything for me.

I fell down yesterday, figuratively. I got angry and used words and tears to demand something from my husband he couldn’t give. I know it was sin. I asked his forgiveness, but I still feel broken over it, broken over the emotions that led to my melt down, and just alone. I feel wrecked inside. A dear friend, a lovely mentor in Christ, knows what I’m struggling with, knows the selfish needs and the fair ones, but pointed out Peter didn’t say act like this except . . . He said act like this. Period.

She also asked me to just focus on Jesus being my comfort, knowing he is with me, knowing he loves me, knowing he is suffering when I suffer and loving me even when the world or the people in my world aren’t right. When this song began to play, I felt Jesus’ presence. I felt his comfort and love. He didn’t save us to leave us alone. God is with us. And I celebrate being able to praise His name today and claim his redemption of all my sins, the ones from twenty years ago, the ones from yesterday, and the ones from tomorrow. Blessed redeemer, living word!

“Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.”

How precious are these words, how precious the knowledge that even at 42 I am God’s precious child. He wants to cradle me in His lap and wipe away my tears just as I do for my daughter. He wants to be present in my moments of deepest need and comfort me. I am so glad these songs and words are part of what I can share with my daughter and help her know she is never alone.

Seriously Harvard?

A mom friend posted on Facebook. “My 6 yo daughter is so smart! Harvard should get ready.”

She was being quippy,

But my mommy radar sounded an alarm, seeking some measuring stick by which to gauge if my daughter might also be in this very elite kindergarten predestined for Harvard group.

I began to type a long comment, but paused. She was being funny. Her daughter is super intelligent. I didn’t need to compare mine or have my parenting validated. I ‘Liked‘ and moved on with my day.

I needed to get a grip. AGAIN. Why was I so concerned with external success for my daughter? What am I raising her for? Seriously Harvard? was my first reaction to a friend's post about her super smart 6 yo. I had to get a grip. Was I really parenting for Harvard or Heaven?

Seriously Harvard?

Man, that sneaky pride and mother’s love (fear/worry) is a daily battle. I was reminded of a children’s bible video I had stopped to watch with my precious girl, the story of Samuel.

But really, it’s the story of Hannah who desperately wanted to be a mother. She prayed and wept, promising if God were to give her a child, she would dedicate his life to God.

Even in the children’s version, the story resonated with me. I remembered hearing it before in my own Sunday school days, but it never touched my heart the way it did on this particular day, which is the anniversary of the most important phone call I ever got.

But my story started way back in 2004, when for medical reasons, I had to undergo a hysterectomy. It was a heartbreaking decision, but the right one for my health.

A few years later, and I’m newly married, settled in Texas and ready to be a mom, but the finances to pursue adoption weren’t available. Prayers started then for God to make a way if adoption was His plan for us,  so we weren’t going into debt or jumping through hoops for our own desires over His.

When waiting on answers to prayer, it is always better to wait on God than force our own way. Click To Tweet

Two more years passed, and we had saved the money, thanks to frugal living and God’s provisions. But we couldn’t find an agency. It just seemed like it wasn’t going to happen.

I remember laying on our bed, sobbing, asking God if I wasn’t fit to be a mother or if it just wasn’t His plan for me, but to let me know so I could quit waiting, quit aching for a baby.

That was the moment I really surrendered my desire for a child to God and prayed for Him to make a way or give me strength to walk away.

Then a talk with a social worker led us to the right agency that we just clicked with. It took months of paperwork, fingerprints, background checks, home study visits, then more paperwork, but we were finally approved by as a waiting family March 1, 2010.

The sweetest moments in my life are when I surrendered my desires in exchange for God's gifts. Click To Tweet

Then it really was about waiting. A birth mother selects a couple to raise her child. You could wait a day or forever. After a few days of nervous excitement that we were finally approved, the newness wore off. The real waiting began.

Everyday could be the day, or we could be waiting years. With a traditional pregnancy, you have some sense of when it will be over (even if it starts to feel like the never-ending hallway nightmare around month 7), but emotionally, I just had no way to prepare my heart for this.

A friendly colleague asked me fairly regularly if we had heard anything in the first two weeks. I finally told her, when we got the call, no one would have to wonder. I’d be shouting from the rafters. But while I tried to be patient, I was watching one of my closest friends get closer and closer to her due date, being surrounded by all things baby.

Again, I finally brought it to God’s feet.

Lord, let me be patient and wait for your timing. Let me enjoy the time we have left as a couple.

Let me accept if the answer is no.

The last one, really giving it up to God felt like pouring my heart out onto the floor, but I remember the morning I prayed it and truly meant it. I let go. God, I’ll wait until your time is right, if ever. Until then, I will enjoy spending time with my husband and being a couple.

That was 7:30 a.m. My cell phone rang at 9.

“We have a match for you. We have a baby for you.”I could scarcely breathe.

The next two days was a blur of squeals and phone calls and officially accepting the placement for a baby girl due in June. That moment is one of the deepest moments in my life of feeling God’s presence and love, less than two hours after I surrendered my heart’s desires.

Hannah’s story in Samuel resonates with me because when I chose to put God’s will over what I wanted, deciding to be the mother God wanted for a baby, then God gave me this most precious gift, when I was ready to raise her for Him and not myself.

I was reminded again this week that I can worry if she attends Harvard, or just make sure I’m teaching her to love God. The rest really will go according to plan, His plan for her life, of which I am a handpicked part. He didn’t just pick her for me, he picked us for her, and why parenting for Heaven, not Harvard, is so much more important.

Pray ceaselessly

The other night, my daughter’s bedtime slid backwards a few minutes because her glow stick bubble bath ran a little long. It is her favorite thing. We turn off the lights in the bathroom and let her imagination run wild. She played until the water got cold, and her fingers were tiny raisins. By the time I was finishing her second story, asking her what was special about her day, and preparing to say her prayers with her, sleepiness turned her into a tiny ball of hysterical giggles. I snuggled her and kissed her nose, letting her laughter rise up into my heart like champagne bubbles, treasuring every moment.

After a few minutes. I tried to get her to calm down so we could say her prayers, but even as I was explaining to her why she should stop giggling and close her eyes, I felt God tell me not to stop her laughter. That prayer wasn’t something He wanted her to learn was serious and stodgy all the time. That unwittingly, I was teaching her to only pray at certain times in certain mindsets. I pictured Jesus asking the disciples to let the little children come to him, as they were, not as the disciples thought they should be. I could almost hear God sadly telling me that her precious, infectious, baby laughter was music to His heart, too. I felt so convicted.

And woefully unprepared. How do I teach my daughter to pray? Certainly, quiet-folded-fingers prayers have a place, but what does God call us to do? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reads, “Pray without ceasing.” Pray constantly. In every moment.

Wow. I think about this verse all the time, about what we’re supposed to do as followers of Christ, but how do I make that part of who we are as a family? How do I demonstrate my humble attempts at constant prayer? How do I put prayer in my parenting that doesn’t just involve pleas for my sanity?

I don’t want God to sit on a shelf like a dusty Bible no one reads, or be put away and only brought out during important times. I am a little new at doing that out loud, at portraying prayer in an obvious manner for my daughter. I have tried to make prayer something we do together several times a day. We have a good morning prayer that we do sleepy-eyed and fuzzy brained to thank God for another day to be alive, we focus our prayer on having the right heart for the day, on being obedient and open to God’s word. A focused morning prayer helps me remember my goal in parenting her for the day is to point her toward heaven, not Harvard as well as remind her to start listening to God’s voice for her life. We pray over lunch or over dinner and before bed, sometimes while we’re in the car. But to model a running dialogue with God is a little daunting. I’m not sure how to do that.

My daughter is three and very silly. Today she wore a play grocery basket on her head like a hat, but with her baby doll stuffed into it. I asked her what she was playing, and she said, “magic bunny hat.” How she walked around like that for 30 minutes with a straight face, I’ll never know, or why she didn’t use a stuffed bunny??? but I really don’t know how to teach her to pray all the time. The only thought I have is to model it. To pray out loud whenever the mood strikes, to be in an attitude of prayer while I’m having Bible study or even in the little things.

I’ve prayed over the laundry. A few months ago, there was a specific moment I felt called to pray. I had a whole load of my husband’s army uniforms which for the uninitiated includes the most horrible socks to fold. He had left the load in the dryer for days. It was aggravating me, and I felt God nudge me to fold it for him instead of grumble at him about it when he came home, but when I dragged myself to do it, I wasn’t being very joyful in my service. I summoned some joy and when my daughter came in to help, I told her we were going to pray and thank God for this laundry that meant that Daddy is home and not deployed again, thank you that his service is allowing me to be home and care for him and our child, thankful for our family, and thankful that God gave us a family to love by helping with the laundry.

It was a moment that felt right for a lot of reasons, not the least of which I got to model a great attitude of being a helpmate and joyful giver in front of my daughter, but also of how prayer can be eyes open, in the moment, and just conversational.

In fact, there have been a couple of times this year, I’ve caught her talking aloud to someone most definitely not visible, but I hear her call God or Jesus. Once she was sitting at the kitchen island holding up a tiny scrape. I asked her what she was doing. She replied, “I’m telling Jesus about my boo boo.” And I listened to her finish telling Jesus how she got the scrape and how her wonderful body would heal that scrape. She thanked him for her body and asked him to help her feel better. She chatted animatedly just as she would if she were talking to me.

Hmm, maybe I’m the one who is really learning how to pray.