My darling Emma,
We often think of beauty according to its first definition: pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically. You have grown into such a lovely young woman–pleasing to the senses with your quiet beauty, and pleasing to the mind with your witty humor.☺
But as I think about the beauty I see in you as we celebrate your 14th birthday, it is that of the second definition: of a very high standard; excellent.
Oh Emma. You are far more graceful and full of character than I was at your age. It is ALL God’s grace. I never could have imagined sharing my life and my days with such a fine young woman. We have had our moments, and I know there will be difficulties ahead as well. You have known much more difficulty, and therefore responsibility, than perhaps I had planned for.
But isn’t that always the way? We as parents LONG for our children to know and love God, but we also long for things to be smooth and easy and light. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows the exact hard things which will forge deep character and far reaching endurance within us. I wish I could say that the hard things, the hard work is done…..but that would not be truthful.
What I can say, with great confidence, is that His faithfulness is unexhaustible. The depth and height and width and breadth of his love is unfathomable. And so, as Aslan says:
“…Every year you grow, you will find me bigger”– C. S. Lewis
I can look back, thinking of the times I longed desperately to put you in dance classes. Something in my heart told me that you were a born ballerina, but so often we lacked the resources for any classes, and quite honestly, we didn’t love the culmination of many of those mindsets and body images and so forth.
And so we said no. Many times, I carried the ache of feeling like I was depriving you-of keeping you from growing in something you were so obviously gifted in.
But please hear this very important secret in life:
Our God is SO good and SO gracious and SO kind that we can trust Him…even with the “No’s” in this life.
When God says “No”, it is never to deny us what would be for our highest and ultimate good, but it is to prepare us for a better “Yes.”
After so many years of watching others of your friends in classes, or after so many prayers that I had almost let go of the dream…..I cannot say what it is for this momma heart to see you worship your Creator with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength through dance.
God’s “YES” was so much better than what I could have dreamed up in my mind, that I could not have even thought to ask for it. For God to set you in a class with such beautiful–and I mean, EXCELLENT, young women of such character! For God to give Miss Eboni such a mama heart towards you girls! For her to teach you about worshipping from a pure heart, and to let the Holy Spirit move through you–not just in dancing but in loving others, praying for others…..To watch the way you girls have carried each other’s burdens in such a real and Biblical way…..
I am undone. And that is always the way it is with our good God. Sometimes, He asks us to bear a “no” for a season, which serves to pave the way for a “yes” far greater and more beautiful (excellent!) than what we hoped for in the beginning.
My darling 14 year old. Always receive “no”, even when it is hard, with the eyes of faith that see a better thing coming. Every year that you grow and mature, you will find your Good Shepherd to be bigger! More wise! More full of love and grace and goodness. Because as you grow, He expands your vision and your heart and your capacity to understand just how truly good and worthy of our worship He is.
I love you Emma Faith. Each year has been an increasing gift to me, and the growth I have seen in you these last few years can only be the Lord’s beauty–His excellence, upon you.
And so, my baby girl. Keep dancing for your Creator. Worship Him with every movement, every drawing, every creative endeavor, every opportunity to serve and love and grow. Worship Him when it’s hard and you can’t see clearly and when it seems like all you hear is “No.”
Because the truth is….as you worship, He is growing bigger inside you. He is forging character in the deep places and He is preparing you for the time when He will delight to say “Yes” to you. And every “no” you’ve endured will all become part of the beauty and excellence of the “yes” that lies ahead.
Practice telling yourself what is true more than listening to what you feel-because what you feel will change, while His truth remains steadfast and unmovable.
He will never let go of you. He is faithful beyond our comprehension. Keep reaching for Him and hear your heart cry out “Holy! Holy!” as He reveals His beauty (excellence!) to you.
Keep trusting the Holy Spirit, which is your deposit and your guarantee of His full and final “Yes!” to you in Christ. And let it cause your heart, your mind, and your soul to soar to new heights of excellence (beauty) as His mighty power is at work within. You can do nothing apart from Him, but oh! The joy of a life found in Him, where:
“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.”
And my prayer for you this year:
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.”
May it always be His beauty and His excellence upon you, and may He establish the work of your hands as you rejoice in His goodness.
Happy birthday, beautiful.