Sunday, February 24, 2013

Heart friends from China

We had the opportunity to get together with some of the families from our China travel group yesterday for our six year reunion. It was amazing to see the girls together and their connection. We hadn't seen them for three years but time is not a barrier for bond. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day.

We enjoyed a few hours at a great park in the Bay Area and then on to amazing Chinese food for dinner.

We treasure these families and Ava Lu's heart friends from China.

- Michelle

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Your beauty never changes

After a tender, intimate conversation with Ava Lu this week about friendship and navigating schoolyard relationships, she sat on my lap eager to share more of herself with me. Almost nose to nose with my beautifully crafted daughter, I placed my hands on both sides of her "just bathed, hooded towel still on" face and looked into her pure and perfect eyes and said "you are a very beautiful girl. . . on the inside and the outside, do you know that?" With a slight nod yes to me, she still held lock on my eyes. Feeling the need to reiterate this message to her to ensure it reached her soul, I said again to her in that moment, "do you know that you are beautiful?" While she nodded yes again, she spoke quietly and closely to me, "yes, but sometimes when I look at myself in the mirror, I think 'Ava Lu, you don't look that beautiful today.'" These little words pierced me. I thought, oh no, at the age of seven she is already feeling the sizing up of this world and experiencing the I don't want to play with you today messages that we as females let enter in as we go through life seeking connection to others.

Still very much in this close moment with my daughter, I say back to her with tender firm-ness, "you are always beautiful, your beauty never changes, you are very very beautiful, that will never ever change." She looked at me and threw those soft, clean, cuddly arms around my neck and said "I love you mommy, you are the best mommy I could ever have!" In that moment, I knew that what I was destined for, for that day had been accomplished, and, I heard the small voice in my head say, "this, Michelle, is what your life is all about."

While driving to the next stop on my busy calendar the next day and, at the same time, hoping and saying a prayer that Ava Lu has a good day today and that God gives her all she needs to get through the day, the reel of replay from my conversation with my daughter the night before, played through my mind. I thought, "wow, it is so puzzling to me (with a slight shake to my head) that Ava Lu sometimes looks in the mirror and sees herself differently from day to day. How could that be? Her beautiful 7-year old skin is ALWAYS perfect, she NEVER has a bad hair day, and no matter what she's wearing, she ALWAYS rocks it with her 'oh so cute' style." I mean, truly, as a mom, I don't ever recall seeing her not look beautiful on any day. I then immediately thought, this is exactly like me in the eyes of my adoring Heavenly Father. While life and circumstances change from day to day and the messages that I allow to enter my heart -- from the media telling me I don't look just right, or at work that I don't feel like I'm measuring up, or through other relationships -- change how I see myself as I look in the mirror; my beauty and value never changes in the eyes of God. I am amazingly crafted by Him and, THAT. . . regardless of how popular and fabulous I feel by any given input in my life, on any given day. . . never ever changes.

This truth and parallel, my friends, may be all the gift that I need to live the life I'm intended to live in 2013!

- Michelle