It was year 1996 and I was 15 years old.
Sitting on the floor, daydreaming to Backstreet Boys new radio release “As Long As You Love Me”.
I had it playing on repeat on my little black boom box and a part of me felt it was written just for me.
I had this vision of being at their concert.
And out of all the girls there, Nick Carter was going to be mesmerized by me.
He was going to take my hand and pull me up on stage and sing that song without ever having his eyes leave mine.
There would be a spark that neither of us thought was possible.
A connection beyond words.
The beginning of a love story.
Where we were going to become absolutely inseparable.
Meant for one another.
To be together forever.
. . . . . . .
After dinner, I am packing up the leftovers and hubby is wiping off the counters and I tell him the story of how I was convinced I was going to marry Nick Carter.
“I just knew that all he needed was to simply see me,” I say, “and it would be love at first sight.”
“Wow,” he chuckles, scratches his head.
Clearly speechless and amused all at the same time.
And I laugh out loud because oh my goodness all of it sounds so ridiculous, so hilarious.
I was a typical bookworm teenager with long brown hair, big round glasses, trying to cover up the pimples on my forehead and waiting for my prince charming to sweep me off my feet.
I was a girl uncomfortable in my own skin, admiring the beauty queens in a Seventeen magazine, buying that blue eye shadow or that voluminous mascara, hoping it will make me pretty.
Now I was a mom.
Where did the time go?
. . . . . . .
Day in and day out it feels like my daughters will be little forever.
Then I notice the shoes are getting tighter, clothes are getting smaller, and they are getting taller.
They are growing into women.
Slowly yet so quickly.
And I look at the reflection in the mirror and see that I’m aging as well.
I am convinced I am still 22 but the fine lines around my eyes, the way my skin feels, the way my body looks, the way my face has changed – all of it reminds me how fast the clock is ticking, how fast everything is moving.
Slipping into my pajamas, I observe the cellulite, the sagginess, and voice the distaste with my body out loud.
Husband hears the words and frowns.
He tells me, this time more seriously, how it really wounds him when I insult myself.
He asks me to stop.
Reminds me that I am fashioned by God’s hands.
“And the girls hear it,” he says, “Don’t give them that example.”
A knot forms in my throat as I listen and nod and fall even deeper in love with this man.
. . . . . . .
A few years back I was at an outlet mall and didn’t think much of the advertisement ahead of us.
In fact, I don’t think I even noticed until my oldest, who was 5 at the time, spoke up.
“Why is she doing that, mommy?”
She pointed to a large poster plastered on a window of a Victoria’s Secret store.
An image of a models backside.
Wearing absolutely nothing but a lacy black thong.
Arching her back with her arms up against a grey wall.
Legs slightly parted, derriere sticking out high.
“Why, mommy?” she asked again.
I looked at the ad and sighed.
“They call it modeling,” I explained, “The truth is, it’s inappropriate.”
I took her hand and together we kept on walking while my mind was racing all over the place in trying to figure out how I could further this conversation with words that were easier to understand.
I wanted to tell her that what she saw was not the definition of beauty, not the definition of being a woman.
And it angered me.
To be in a situation where no matter how I was going to put it, no matter what I was going to say, it was still going to be TOO much for an innocent 5 year old to grasp.
. . . . . . .
We live in a world where self appearance is idolized now more than ever.
Wherever we look, women are being told to be sexy, to be flawless, to flaunt what they’ve got.
Young girls and mamas are chasing beauty above else.
Flipping through Victoria’s Secret catalogs and provocative fashion magazines.
Vying for the perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect outfit for a perfect selfie.
While little daughters everywhere watch and learn.
One pastor’s words immediately come to mind.
“Some people have the entrance of a palace and contents of a hut.”
It makes me think about my girls, how I want them to be far from that description.
I think about their self image, their future, what I want them to value most.
They sit beside me as I put on mascara and blush.
They ask me to paint their nails and beg me at the makeup aisle to buy them that shimmery lip gloss.
With fresh curls bouncing against their face, they twirl in their new Easter dresses and feel beautiful.
I watch them and smile and know how there is so much fun in being a girl.
They will have latest obsessions and boy crushes and relish in the moments of getting all dolled up.
And I want them to enjoy this process of flourishing and maturing and discovering.
But my heart is overwhelmed with a desire for them to hunger for God more than anything.
I want them to awake each morning with a strong sense of who they are in Christ.
To start each day with the question of how they can serve others instead of trying to look like some vogue ad.
I want them to become women of substance.
. . . . . . .
Two summers ago I read this prayer.
A prayer for a daughter.
As a mom, I knew this was the declaration I needed.
I needed to hang these words somewhere where I can see them, where the girls could read them again and again.
A daily reminder.
A discussion starter.
So I finally pulled some blank canvases out of my closet, squirted a tube of black paint onto a dish and began to write.
May she be bread and feed many with her life and her laughter
May she be thread and mend brokeness and knit hearts
May she be dead to all ladders & never go higher, only lower, to the lonely, the least & the longing.
Truth is, at the end of the day, it all comes down to more than just words.
It all starts with leading by example.
And I pray they see in me who I yearn for them to be.
That they won’t see a mom struggling with insecurities or a mom busying herself with the things of this world.
Instead they will see a mom after God’s own heart . . . .