A Sixteen Year Old Daughter Teaching Mom Lessons on Vanity and Pride

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A few months ago my oldest daughter, Michaela, expressed her desire to participate in the St. Baldrick’s  fundraiser.  This is an event where the participants raise money for childhood cancer research then have their hair completely shaved off.   My youngest daughter, Cora, and I looked at each other with looks that were mixed with shock, reservation, and uncertainty.   The thoughts and feelings that flooded over me in that moment are embarrassing.  It is amazing who and what God uses to reveal the nasty parts of our human nature.  My first thoughts were “Oh that hair is so beautiful, she has prom, senior pictures, etc…”  Pure selfish prideful thoughts were my initial response.   How nasty and foolish of me.  During her elementary school days it was mom that encouraged her to donate her hair to “Locks of Love” a couple times.  The last time was in fifth grade.    Going to a “Bob” haircut for fast growing hair was apparently reasonable for my  prideful heart.  We later learned that those wigs were charged for and not donated to children with cancer with that organization so I stopped encouraging the drastic haircuts.   In the mean time her thick beautiful locks have grown and grown.

As parents we often don’t realize the impact our conversations and prayers have on our children.   Our lives have been heavily impacted by children with cancer in the area we live.  A year and about four months ago my life long friend since the fourth grade’s son, Collin,  was diagnosed with bone cancer.   He and his family have been in the brutal battle with cancer since the day he was diagnosed.  They have had blow after blow yet continue on taking one day at a time.   They have to continue living life one treatment, test, and surgery at a time.  There is another family with a three year old daughter, Lexi, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer this last year.  I watched Lexi’s mother grow up from the church youth group into a wonderful wife and mother.   Lexi has now completed her treatments and we pray the cancer stays away.  There are many other families impacted by childhood cancer just within our small area.  So as I have talked about and prayed for Collin and Lexi specifically Michaela was listening.

She felt a passion to do this in honor of Collin and Lexi.  Her selfless reason to give her hair made my initial thoughts and emotions that much more embarrassing.  The next thoughts were “It is just hair, she is beautiful with or without hair, SHE DOES NOT HAVE CANCER ANITA!!!”   Dear God please forgive my pride and vanity!!  God there are so many families impacted by childhood cancer and here I am so very very selfish!!!   She is alive and healthy!  Her hair will grow!  Her body is not poisoned by healthy cell devouring cancer.  Her body is not poisoned by the treatments to fight that atrocious disease.  This painfully shy child at age sixteen is willing to have her head shaved in front of her classmates.  This painfully shy child is willing to walk around with no hair for months as it grows back. This child who has no job is giving what she can, her hair, to help someone else.

This humbled momma continues to learn so much and most often through my own children.

The high school she attends does this fundraiser annually.  This year there were 33 students that participated and they raised over $20,000 toward childhood cancer research.  We can learn so much from the ones that are tomorrows future!!

Our children are listening even when we are so far from perfect ourselves we should watch what we do and say.  We are shaping the future of tomorrow.   Sometimes they shape us, in spite of ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Hug Like it’s Your Last

Joes grandma

We can learn a lot from this sweet lady pictured above.  Her name is Donna.  She is my sister’s husband’s grandmother.  Great grandmother to my nephew and niece.   When I think of the definition of “Fun Grandma”  she fits the description perfectly.  My sister’s picture captures her character as you can see.

How many grandmas do you know that play volleyball into their 80’s?  She is the only one I know.  Donna played volleyball regularly unless her health held her back here in these last months.  She even played up to about a month ago.  Donna is a cancer survivor having battled cancer in her 40’s.  It took another 40 years before it reared it’s ugly head again.  In the meantime she LIVED.

Being a distant non-relative  I know her from just a few family gatherings, the stories, and the impact she has had on my sister and her family.  Living 9 hours away she was able to make one last visit back in early November and was present at my niece’s birthday party.  As she was leaving that evening and saying her good byes she stopped right in front of me.  What she did next has truly made an impact on me.   Donna turned looked me right in the face and in the eyes and said the sweetest most sincere good bye.  She then hugged me so very tight.  This 87 year old volleyball player could squeeze tight let me tell ya!!!    I knew she was saying her goodbyes to everyone and she made this “non-relative” even feel significant by her sincerity.

A few weeks ago while she was still physically able she wrote in a card for my nephew’s birthday and the family waited to mail it for her so it would arrive on his birthday.  She passed just the evening before Ben’s birthday.  What a treasure her sweet words of love and encouragement in that card will forever be.

Donna has got me to thinking “What if we lived everyday like a cancer survivor?”   “What if we treated every good bye and every hug as if it is our last?”  We don’t always know when our life on this earth is coming to a close.  None of us know when our last breath will be.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

This Christmas hug your family tight.  Look each other in the eyes and say kind and sincere words of love and encouragement.  This Christmas have fun and laugh!!  We just never know when it is our last.

Instead of Bringing “Sexy” back Lets Bring Back Some Mystery

This gal is far from being a fashionista or new trend setter, but having eyeballs does qualify me on some level in the world of fashion.  The new trend I would love to see is “Mystery is the new Sexy”.   If you find yourself stumbling across “The People of Wal-mart” photos or just take some time to people watch while out and about you are going to pick up what I am putting down real fast.  These thoughts were triggered recently as my life path led me to stumble upon a tube top that happened to be size 3XL.  A mental image of a lady wearing this in a public setting popped into my head and left me feeling disturbed.  Actually if it had been size zero these thoughts would have still been triggered.  There are some articles of clothing that really are not flattering to any body size or type.  This blog is not  meant to be judgmental, but to stimulate thinking on how we present ourselves to the rest of the world.  This blog is not meant toward one gender over the other as men can leave some mystery as well as women.

There has been an article floating around social media that I still have not actually read, but I keep seeing the title that “The dad bod is the new sexy”.  Then there is a photo of a man with a rounded belly, undefined muscles,  with a beverage in his hand.   A mistake I made yesterday was mentioning this to my 45 year old husband.  He walked into our bathroom as I was getting ready for church without his shirt on and triggered my recollection of this article.   As I told him that the dad bod is the new sexy he puffed up his chest, threw his shoulders back and exclaimed “Well then you are married to the sexiest man alive!!”  We had a few laughs, but it continued the thoughts on how much nicer we all look in nice conservatively flattering clothing.

Personally  from my female perspective the more clothes a man has on such as their work uniform, tool belts, a full suit, etc.. the more attractive.   If a man were telling the truth especially when searching for “Mrs. right” the more clothing such as work uniforms, a nice “mystery” providing dress, etc… a woman adorns the more “marriage potential” they have.

No matter what or who we are what we wear does leave an impression on others.  Do we leave a respectful impression with an element of mystery of who we are or is there no mystery that leaves a person really not wanting to know anymore about us?

1 Timothy 2:9-10 “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

You are Beautiful “God Don’t Make no Junk”

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On Monday I encountered a woman who had several negative things to say about herself.  When she stated “I am ugly” for the first time another friend of mine was nearby and stated “no you are beautiful”.  My reply was the infamous “God don’t make no junk”  statement to her.  (I did a search trying to find who originally said “God don’t make no junk” and came up with 3,200,000 search results.  The saying has been used in a lot of sermons.) Anyhoo as our encounter continued she continued to sneak in very negative comments about herself and her appearance.  As I found out more about her family I asked her “Does your family love you?” she replied, “Yes”.  I then proceeded to tell her “Well then you HAVE done something right! The media and Hollywood give us women a fake image of what beauty is.”  “Us women don’t get enough credit for what we do and who we are.”  “The fact that your family loves you shows that you are truly a beautiful woman.”  We both started to grow teary eyed at this point because I too fight those negative feelings from time to time.  As I am sure every female on the planet, if being honest, would say they fight them from time to time as well.  Giving her a smile, a hand pat, the fact that I had no further time to go into a biblical sermon I simply finished with “No more negative comments about yourself…you ARE beautiful!”

I am far from being a counselor.  How helpful those few words were I don’t know.  I do feel her struggle.  Outward beauty has been a struggle previously in my life.  At this point it is more of feeling the pressure to be “Superwoman”.  The pressure to work full-time and totally rock as a nurse, to have a perfectly clean house, a perfectly manicured yard, to serve in all capacities at church, to do fun and creative things with my children, to attend every game and performance, plus the burden of wanting to help so many, but not having the resources of time and finances to do everything…the list goes on and on…  Monday I started feeling ill and by Monday night I spiked a fever.  The last two days I was stopped dead in my tracks with no energy to eat or shower. Beauty was far from my thoughts as my hair had a great start in forming dreadlocks if that were a style I chose to pursue. The illness has required me to call off of work and back out of any responsibilities for two and a half days now.  My house is a wreck needless to say.  My family has had to fend for themselves for food.  The only positive that I can muster from feeling crummy is that it does show what all I do accomplish through the day.  When a person is unable to fulfill their normal activities of life it does leave a hole.  My father would often get so doubtful of his ministry as a pastor of a small church.  He would wonder if he was making any sort of difference.  The hole he left when he died is so evident of the difference he made in this world.

We are all beautiful and have a specific purpose that God has planned for us.  Our human nature brings in the negative and doubtful thoughts of our worth.  God reveals our worth if we take the time to listen and to walk with Him.  I love reading Proverbs 31 and pray that God will allow my life to somehow come close to the beauty of “the Proverbs 31 woman”.   “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

What is Beauty?

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Reaching my fourth decade now in life I have come to the realization that as women “beauty” and its definition will be thrown at us from every angle our entire life. There is a new thing going around Face Book to post five pictures that make you feel beautiful. There is a stubborn part of me saying “I do not like any pictures of me and I really just don’t want to!” My wedding day I felt beautiful, I felt beautiful when my children were born (even though completely “water logged”), I felt beautiful while breast feeding them in the rocking chair in their bedroom, I feel beautiful with my family, I feel beautiful on a quiet morning reading my Bible and sipping my coffee, I feel beautiful when a patient remembers my name and says “thank you”, I feel beautiful when what I do or say makes someone laugh, I feel beautiful writing, and I feel beautiful taking a quiet walk in the beautiful surroundings of God’s creation. Each time I see a picture of myself I think “ewww is that what I look like?” When I look in the mirror it is not the same as what I see the camera reflecting (cameras must always get my bad side). God created us exactly the way He wanted us. Everything He made is “good” and beautiful. The bible says in Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Growing up I struggled with having a big nose. I definitely still don’t “love” it. It serves its purpose to provide filtered moistened air to my lungs. It sticks out plenty to get sunburned and produce freckles. Just yesterday I wacked the bridge of my nose with my locker at work and saw a few stars. Note to self; “step back from the locker when opening it”. Early on I came to the acceptance that it is the nose God gave me and any other nose would look out of place on my face. As a kid I was a fan of Michael Jackson. He was a handsome guy before any plastic surgery. Quite frankly by the time he died at age fifty he looked like an alien life form from all the plastic surgery. Nothing is ever as beautiful as in its original God created form. A ninety year old woman who has taken care of herself, but allowed the natural aging process to happen is very beautiful.

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Wearing fun things and having fun hair is ok, but should not define us. We should not allow the media to define what it is we need to be beautiful. This must be where my “selfie” conviction comes into play. What do I want the world to see? Do I want it to be my physical appearance or the beauty God created within my life and my soul?