Fifteen.

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Today, January 13th 2014, Emily and Jessica are 15!

Happy Birthday beautiful girls – I remember being 15 and thinking I knew it all. Honestly, really believing it. I was so sure that I could leave school at 16 and rule the world.

I was also reminded on the way to school today that the twins are one year away from driving (*insert nervous laughter*).

Birthdays! On the way to school Jess asked me ‘Why are you so excited about our birthday Mom?’                                        I said this… give or take a few words.

“Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: ‘thank you for being you.’ Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: ‘thanks for what you did, or said, nor accomplished.’ No, we say: ‘Thanks you for being born and being among us.’ On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say, ‘We love you.’…Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. These are ways of saying: ‘It’s good that you are alive; it’s good that you are walking with me on this earth. Let’s be glad and rejoice…” Henri Nouwen, Here and Now.

So girls as we enter into this important year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I pray you will know how much you are loved unconditionally, by us and more importantly by God. I pray you will look in the mirror of your soul and see beauty by God’s standards. I pray you will know the knowledge of God singing over you. I pray you will learn to hear His voice – and respond. Know that you are called, unique and gifted. Know that you have God given purpose and destiny. I thank you God for amazing mentors around you both. I thank God that He has entrusted us with you. I thank God for you!

And for me Lord…as you see, this parenting is not ever, I mean, not always easy. Help me to respond not react. To know daily that Emily and Jessica are not ‘teen me’ (phew). Teach me that yolo’s are a gift, and one that I could use a little more often.  That taxi-ing all over town, all the time, to many different friends, is also a gift. Lord, give me wisdom. I will be praying this a lot… Amen. Did I mention wisdom?

Love you girls,

Momma xoxo

Ps. Don’t forget the letter I wrote to here!

Stretched. Exploring Beauty.

Day 15
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Dear Girls,

Do you remember when Josiah asked recently ‘when you had a belly button was it an inny or an outy’ or the time Bella asked ‘why is your tummy cracked’.

Babies have a way of stretching you beyond recognition.

You did just that with my body when I was pregnant.

‘Ouch’ people would say as I walked past them. ‘Got to be triplets’ they’d whisper.

39 weeks.

Then at 39 weeks you arrived. Emptying my body of your life. And that skin, that wrapped around you and held you tight. It fell and refused to get back up. That rock cake now Pillsbury dough. The pressure to return to our pre-baby selves is strong. That was never going to happen with me with elasticity loosely offering control.

Your Dad and I watched a documentary about beauty last night. We saw children on catwalks, a Mom fulfilling her life through her child. We saw a face peeled off, sliced and made tighter. We saw women die from anesthetic in the name of beauty. We saw social websites for the beautiful rejecting the ‘not so beautiful’. We saw the creativity of photo-shop edit out the Creators design. Natural life replaced with an untrue sparkle in the eye, quickly obliterated with the words. You’re fat. We watched a world of dissatisfaction.

Now… I know this is not breaking news. But this message is loud this week.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong but I have raised you with a healthy body image. But I fight a bigger demon. And as you switch on your media, you are told, sold an alternative message. It’s a lie.

The biggest choice you will make is who to believe…

I will always encourage you to eat healthily and it’s not because you are gaining weight. I will ask why are you standing staring in the fridge when you have just eaten because it’s about health and good choices.

You know we do our best to eat well – for the most part.

You see me working out to the T25 Beachbody DVD, we all know that 25 minutes or thereabouts of physical exercise is recommended. I feel better when I exercise, I would like to live a long time, and I enjoy the endorphins and the energy that exercise guarantees me.

You know that alongside good physical health I will always speak of a positive body image.

It’s time to rock your own brand of gorgeous. Good health goes beyond sizes.

Some thoughts:

“Do you say that tree isn’t pretty cause it doesn’t look like that tree? We’re all trees. You’re a tree. I’m a tree. You’ve got to love your body, Eve. You’ve got to love your tree. Love your tree.” Eve Ensler, The Good Body.

“If we really knew who God created us to be we would never want to be someone else.” – Bill Johnson

Positive body image leads me to my final thoughts, for this letter anyway.

Let’s talk Maasai. The beauty of the Maasai living in a commercial village fascinated Robert Biswas-Diener he wrote here of his travels through Kenya. The Maasai were free from the influences of media. Of propaganda. How would they know how to be beautiful?

One question he asked was “How satisfied are you with your physical appearance?” To his surprise, everyone in the village regardless of age, number of teeth, or quality of dress, told him that they were completely satisfied with the way they look. They have simple standards for beauty; they focus mostly on those aspects of appearance they can control, and take character traits into account when deciding what is good looking.

In the Maasai language, the word for physical appearance (which roughly translates as a person’s “goodness”) can also be used to describe their morality. In fact, so closely related are these two concepts that the Maasai typically think about attractiveness in terms of both physical attributes and character traits alike, suggesting that beauty is not only skin deep.

When he asked the Maasai about what constitutes a perfectly good-looking person, their answers frequently included friendly, well respected, disciplined, and brave.

And girls, for you to believe this Maasai translation of beauty in the midst of the lie is the bravest thing of all.

I’ll leave you with a challenge.

‘Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. 1 Peter 3:4

Love, Mom xoxo

PS. It’s Friday night, time for pizza.

NaBloPoMo November 2013