Real Beauty

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2

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I’ve watched this several times now, and I cry each time. I cry because… I hear the voices.

…the voice of the girl in 5th grade that said, “Why is your forehead so big?”

…the voice of the old boyfriend that said, “You know, there are lots of girls more beautiful than you.”

…the voice of the ballet teacher that said, “Your knees are way to big to ever dance well.”

…the voice of the world telling me all my life, “You know you’ll never measure up to that… to her… to ‘something wonderful’.”

I look at the women that went through this exercise, and… I relate. I feel their weight of their heart and their self-descriptive words. I see the girl in me: Insecure, critical, self-deprecating. And that girl – oh, my heart aches for that girl that I was (and can still be).

But thankfully, the Sweetest Voice I’ve ever heard breaks through all the noise. It’s a voice unlike any other – it’s small and quiet and whispers drips of Truth into my heart.

And the Truth is this – the Truth I wish I would have known before a I allowed all those other voices a place in my soul: We are not beautiful because of what we look like; our real value is not determined by our appearance.

Beauty isn’t the exterior. It doesn’t come from fixing up our hair and putting on makeup and letting it all hang out for ‘admiration’. (1 Peter 3:3-4). No. That’s the world’s definition – the definition that keeps us women hostage and broken and vulnerable.

The Sweet Voice told me (and continues to remind me every day) beauty is borne in gentleness, in sweetness, in a laugh, and a friendly wink, and soft words that build others up and not tear them down.

Beauty is confident and strong, yet humble; it is modest and captivating, bright and gracious.

Beauty is tenderness with my babies.

Beauty is a confident, lingering kiss with my man.

Beauty is my uncontrollable laughter with my girls that brings out every wrinkle around my eyes.

Beauty is my warm arms wrapped around a sister in need.

Beauty is heavy tears shed with a friend over loss, or heartache.

Beauty is thoughtfulness and unselfish presence and compassion.

Beauty is kindness to a stranger.

Real beauty emanates from me when His Spirit emanates from me… when His brightness overtakes the darkness that struggles to keep it’s hold on me. It’s when His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control trump my human tendencies to be anything but. (Galatians 5:22-23).

Real beauty isn’t dependent on what I look like… real beauty is Him living out through me.

So, today: LET’S BE REAL BEAUTIES – REBEL BEAUTIES. Let’s remember that we can’t make this dark world more beautiful with more lipgloss – we can only make it more beautiful when the fruits of His Spirit bloom on the trees of our lives. (Psalm 90:17).

The Queen of Leftovers and Lasts

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will [her]self be watered.

Proverbs 11:25

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One thing most people probably don’t realize about us mamas is this: we are Queens of the Leftovers and the Lasts.

We thrive on the left behinds that no one else wants, like the the burnt toast, the black jellybeans, the half-eaten bananas. We typically care for ourselves last, which means we’ve learned to persevere with cold dinners and wrinkly clothes. And, we don’t skip a beat when we are the last to get a break, the last to take a shower, or the last to hit the pillow at the end of the day.

It’s called Mamahood… and there is no place for selfishness, whining, or feeble knees.

If we have the right perspective, however, not all the ‘lefttovers and lasts’ are a bummer. Take today, for example. I fed the kids, fed my man, made lunches, and got everyone out the door. When all was quiet, it was time for me to get a bite; and, as I surveyed my kitchen to spy what had to be salvaged so as not to waste, here’s what I was left with:

About a half cup of quinoa at the bottom of the pot

About a half cup of quinoa at the bottom of the pot
About a handful of edemame and half an alatufo mango

About a handful of edemame and half an ataulfo mango

Hmmm…

Well, with these random barely-there ingredients, this Queen of Leftovers did this:

  • Put the 1/2 cup of precooked quinoa in a bowl.
  • Diced up the 1/2 of the ataulfo mango (aka ‘Manila mango, or champagne mango) and shelled the 1/2 cup of edemame.
  • Drizzled a bit of EVOO, squeezed a little fresh lime juice, and topped the whole thing with a sprinkling of Furikake, which is a Japanese ‘condiment’ of toasted sesame seeds and nori.
quinoa, edemame, mango salad

And lookie lookie: a beautiful, colorful quinoa, edemame, mango salad

Let me tell you: my ‘leftovers and lasts’ turned into something spectacular I probably never would have thought to throw together otherwise. It was beautiful. It was light. It was fresh and fragrant and exactly what I needed to start my day. Yum. Yum. Yum. (NOTE: This would be an AMAZING lunch for work, or even a side salad for a bbq.)

So, today, as we mamas do what we do best – serve, and love, and serve, and lay down all that we are for our little tribes – let’s do it with heads held high, joy in our hearts, and determination to be a bright light in our homes. Why? Because there is beauty in the leftovers and the lasts… the question is: are we creative enough to see it?

You Are Wanted…

love your man If you are married, can I tell you something?

Your man wants you. He wants every inch of you. He wants to love on your body and hold your hand and nuzzle your neck and grab you close.

You know what else he wants? He wants you to want him!

He wants you to love on his body and hold his hand and nuzzle his neck and grab him close.

Just like you wish your man would appreciate and respect you, he’s dying for you to appreciate and respect him.

He’s longing for you to say, “You are a good man – and I’m so glad I married you.”

He’s wishing you’d say, “I’m dying for you to put those manly hands all over me and make me feel 25 again.”

He’s dreaming you’d say, “When we put the kids down tonight – we’re getting naked and “watching a movie”.” (Notice I said “watching a movie“.)

Our men need us desperately. They need to know they are needed, and appreciated, and that without them our lives wouldn’t be the same.

I told my man jokingly the other day, “I think you guys are perpetually 15: you just need to know we think you’re really hot, that you’re really good at stuff, and that we think about you all the time.”

“Yep,” he said. “We are pretty simple.”

Why am I saying all this? Because life is hard… and, as a mom and a wife and a friend, it’s really easy for me to get wrapped up in ‘my’ stuff: what I need, and what I want, and what I wish he’d do or not do. (I’m also saying it because we can get all wrapped up into good food and eating well… but then we forget that what really feeds our spirit is LOVE!)

But it’s not about me… it’s about US… and, most importantly, it’s about my kids.

The kind of wife I am to my man is speaking volumes to my girls about the type of wives they should be someday. So, with this in mind, I LOVE MY MAN.

I love him unconditionally.

I love him when it’s easy… but I love him when it hard, too. (Because what good is it to love only the lovable? Anyone can love who is lovable… but the greatest love is shown when we love the unlovable.)

I love him through my tone, through my words, through my time.

I love him by taking care of my body and my mind… and by remembering that just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I need to be ‘a mom’. He married a woman – and a woman I shall be!

Am I perfect? Of course not. None of us will ever be perfect.

BUT, what I never let myself forget is that little eyes are watching our love affair. Little eyes are learning from our example what love looks like; little ears are hearing through our tone and our words what love sounds like. Our love affair is the first one they will ever know… and will be what they take into the world as the standard.

Can I just encourage you today that, if you are struggling with your man, take a minute and remember why you married him.

Remember the tingles you felt when he’d call you.

Remember what your first kiss was like.

Remember the excitement of your wedding day and how you never wanted to be apart.

Remember the woman you were when you married him – and how you captivated him with your smile and your touch and your warmth.

Remember how it felt to be in love… and then – choose to love him. And, keep loving him. One day at a time, one word at a time, one moment at a time.

Rebel on,
Elisha