The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

Tag Archives: beauty

When a Mama Just Has to Get Out of the Way: Guest Post by Lynn Cowell

My youngest daughter was getting ready for school one morning when I saw her squeeze her eyes shut tight. She stood frozen in front of the bathroom mirror, her purple tooth brush in hand, and she shook her head side to side as if she were chasing a bothersome thought out of her mind.

I placed my hands gently on her long silky locks and asked, “Honey, what’s wrong?”

My eight-year-old opened her eyes and met my gaze. Then she shrugged her shoulders. “Nothing’s wrong, Mom.” she replied with a quiet sigh. “Sometimes I just can’t look at myself in the mirror too long, or I notice things I don’t like.”

My heart sunk.

I swallowed a lump of sadness rising in my throat and looked at my little girl–big blue eyes, rosy pink cheeks and a wide contagious smile.
What could she possibly see that she doesn’t like? I wondered as I wrapped my arms around the budding beauty at my side.

Raising daughters is no small task. And calling out the brave beauty in our girls is, inarguably, a giant job.

That’s why I’m so grateful for this new book, Brave Beauty, written by my Proverbs 31 Ministries sister and friend, Lynn Martin Cowell. Lynn has a passion for equipping young girls with the confidence of Christ. And Lynn has a heart for us, too— for all of us who are raising daughters or nurturing granddaughters or walking along side the next generation of young women. And she wants to put resources in our hands that will help us to teach the girls we love above brave beauty.

Lately, I’ve been curling up with my little girl and reading her Lynn’s words from the pages of Brave Beauty. ‘Cuz it’s my prayer that my girl and yours will one day look in the mirror and see what Jesus sees–brave and beautiful daughters of the King.

May Lynn’s words be the gift to you that they’ve been to me…

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When You Wonder if You’re Beautiful

d6.16Welcome, friends! I’m so glad you’re here.

If you’re stopping by from Encouragement for Today, I hope you’ll stick around for a while and make yourself at home. I pray you’ll discover this is a place where faith is spilled and souls are filled.

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I’m also scheduling speaking engagements for the 2015-2016 school year, and I’d love to be a part of your next ministry event! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to know more about my speaking ministry or if you have questions about the topics on my speaking page.

At Proverbs 31 today, I’m talking about daddies and daughters and the one thing that could set you free to dance. It’s a story about refusing to settle for less than your Father’s lavish love and grace.  I hope you’ll take a moment to read it here.

But before you go, I’d love to tell you one more dancing tale.

Think of it as an invitation to become the woman God’s always dreamed you to be…

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I noticed the change in her eyes the moment her Daddy handed her that red rose and told her she was beautiful.

I’d told her, too, of course, as I was helping her get ready for the Father-Daughter Dance. 

I’d told her when I’d zipped up her brand new dress and listened to her chatter about disco balls and dancing shoes and the lyrics to her favorite song.

I’d told her when I’d smiled at her gap-toothed reflection in the mirror and wound her fine blonde hair around the steamy silver curling wand.

You are the prettiest six-year-old I know.

I’d told her when I’d dotted her puckered lips with light pink gloss and dusted her wispy bangs with a poof of hairspray.

You look like a beautiful ballerina.

I’d told her when I’d watched her practice her groovy moves on the living room floor and when I’d snapped photos of her posing like a pop star on the back deck.

Your smile is going to light up the dance floor.

But it was her Daddy’s words that made my girl cheeks glow with ruddy radiance; her Daddy’s words that made her eyes sparkle with confident joy.

It was her Daddy’s words that made my daughter stand a little taller, her Daddy’s words that made her hold her head a little higher.

It was her Daddy’s words that trickled truth into my daughter’s heart and shined contentment through her  smile.

 A mother may instruct her daughter in beauty, but it’s a father who calls it out.

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Hannah handed me that red rose before she grabbed her daddy’s hand and skipped gleefully to his waiting truck.

“Put it in water, okay, Mommy?” she said as she waved one last time at me over her shoulder.

I nodded and watched my dancing duo pull out of the driveway and disappear down the hill for their special night.

And then I sat on the front step and remembered how I’d felt when I’d first heard those words, too…

You’re beautiful.

I wasn’t wearing a fancy dress, just old pajamas covered in spit- up.

I wasn’t heading to a dance, I was just heading into another day with screaming children and dirty dishes.

But for some reason, on that day long ago, my Father’s words had stirred something deep within me–

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare…” (Song of Songs: 4:7, The Message)

I’d read His whispers on the wafer-thin pages of my Bible that morning while my baby snoozed in my arms and my saggy-diapered toddler stacked blocks at my feet.

I’d known my Father’s voice since He’d captured my heart as a little girl.

I was familiar with His gentle kindness and His saving grace.

But these words… they were new to me.

They were like water for my parched heart.

“You’re beautiful…”

The baby woke and the block-tower collapsed, and I scribbled that holy writ in my journal with a bright red pen before the day unfolded in sticky spills and angry wails.

And over and over again, I read them aloud–in between diaper changing and toddler chasing, face-wiping and baby burping–and slowly, my Daddy’s declaration seeped deep into the jagged cracks of my aching soul.

“You’re beautiful…”

Oh, how I wanted that to be true.

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When You Feel Like the World is Watching You

envelope-with-letter-mdDear daughters,

Have I ever told  you about the time I found the envelope in my mailbox?  

It was the summer of my fourteenth year, those dangling few months when I was no longer a junior high student and not yet an official high-schooler.

And in that lazy stretch of Iowa heat, a few ornery boys tiptoed up my front steps and made a special delivery to the black metal box by my front door, the one that held the daily newspaper and the steady stream of bills.

Those were the days before snap chats and text messages, decades before Instagram and Twitter.  That was the golden era of LYLAS and BFFs, of scribbling our sentiments onto notebook paper and folding them into tiny cute triangles that fit perfectly into the back pocket of someone’s jeans, right next to the purple comb that served both function and fashion. 

But my special delivery wasn’t especially cute or clever.

It wasn’t folded with flair or decorated with fancy squiggles.

It  was just a plain white envelope with my name written across the front in messy boy scrawl.

 My mom found it when she stepped outside to collect the mail before lunch, plucked it out from between the Guideposts magazine and the utility bill. She glanced at the unfamiliar cursive and then hollered at me through the screen door. When I heard her yelling my  name, I set down the book I was reading on that velvety olive green couch in our living room, and I made my way to the front step.

Mom waved the envelope in the air and dished out a little good-natured teasing as she relinquished it into my hands. “Looks like your secret admirer  stopped by when you weren’t looking…”

I smiled a bit as I ripped open the seal to peek inside, because I figured it was a goofy note from the boys up the street or a silly poem from a girl friend who had made her brother address the envelope to throw me off.

However, that mystery letter wasn’t a love note or a rib-tickler.  

It wasn’t a quaint little verse or a cheesy Hallmark card. 

 It was a glossy page ripped straight from a Playboy magazine, an advertisement for a “miracle product” that would grow a woman’s chest-size in just thirty days or your money back. Guaranteed.

And written at the bottom of the page that had been folded in half were these irreverent words scratched in blotchy blue ink … Maybe you should try this.

I’m thankful to report that I had to read it twice before I understood what the message was implying. 

You see, girls, here’s the wonderful truth about my girlhood–until that day, I’d never eyeballed a derogatory  picture of a woman’s body.

I’d never peeked at the pages of a lewd magazine.

Or hated my own barely-budding physique.

Or obsessed for very long over my twig-like-shape.

By God’s grace I’d lived in a world without pornography or coarse comments. I’d been built up instead of torn down, encouraged instead of criticized. 

I had a daddy who loved me and a Heavenly Father who did, too. And I’d already begun to understand that my value was found in Jesus.

Sure, I spent an hour in the bathroom with a curling iron each morning, and I rarely left the house without slapping on too much shimmering rose pink lipstick.I wasted plenty of time posing in front of that full-length mirror in my parents’s bedroom (How else could a girl decide if she liked those neon striped leg-warmers better with the hot pink leggings or the lime green ones?) 

But, honestly, on most days, I was okay with the fourteen-year-old-me God had made me to be.  

Until that envelope landed in my mailbox.

I remember standing there in the June sunlight trying to process what was stuffed inside that envelope, and I felt the red rising from my toes to my forehead.

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My mom looked up from the stack of mail she was sorting just long enough to see my crimson face. And, without a word, she reached for the paper in my hand and read it for herself.

She gasped and muttered something about naughty boys, and then she ripped up that ridiculous advertisement right then and there and tossed all the pieces like confetti into the garbage can. She hugged me and told me I was beautiful, and assured me that those boys didn’t know what they were talking about.  They had too much time on their hands. And boys will be boys, after all.

It was a dare, I was told later by the boy up the street. Just a stupid little dare. 

But even after we’d scrapped the pieces of that stupid little dare, the contents of that envelope didn’t feel little or light, they felt big and heavy and uncomfortable.

 I remember just sitting on my front steps that day watching the neighbor kids across the street racing their shiny-red tricycles up and down their driveway and just wishing I could be little once again, too. Because when I was little I never felt awkward and insecure. 

I realize now, as I look back on that moment, why that envelope rocked my world on that sultry summer’s day.

You, see, it wasn’t the suggestion that I was flat or unattractive that left me feeling self-conscious and unsure.

It was the realization that someone was watching.

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When You Want Your Daughter To Have Magnetic Beauty

Okay, I’ll admit it. I was spying on you. 

Kind of. 

I mean, I couldn’t help but slow my steps when I walked by the open bathroom door this morning and heard you humming. 

And then, I saw the way you studied yourself in the mirror when you thought that nobody was looking. 

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And I nearly gave myself away with an embarrassing sob.

That’s what I wanted to do right then and there— to cry happy tears and jump up and down and thank Jesus for that glimpse of beautiful He just gave me. 

‘Cause when you leaned in close to that fourteen-year-old in the mirror, you smiled.

You looked at her  fly-away curls and her imperfect complexion, her not-yet-brushed teeth and her make-up-less face, and you flashed that girl in the glass a satisfied grin.

A magnetic grin.

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I flattened myself against the wall and set my laundry basket down, pretended to be fiddling with the freshly-folded clothes I’d been delivering to your bedroom before I started spying.

And I just watched  you for a moment longer.

I thought about all those prayers I’ve uttered since the day I first held you in my arms, all wrinkly and pink.

I pondered the promises I’ve plucked straight from the Word and claimed as yours, day by day and year by year.

Honestly, I don’t know where my own wishes for you end and God’s dreams for you begin, but I hope; oh I hope, that they are one and the same.

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When You Wish Your Name Were Bluebell (Or How to Grow Into the Girl of Your Dreams!)

IMG_1655We’re standing in line at the Dollar Tree, Maggie wiggling impatient in her favorite purple tutuwhen the elderly woman behind us bends low to look my jittery one in the eye. 

“You’re as beautiful as your dancing dress,” the sweet grandma says.

Maggie smiles a thank-you, and the woman continues to chat with my youngest as I dig through my purse for fifty-six cents. 

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” she asks.

Maggie stops spinning and tilts her chin upward so she can return the gray-haired-conversationalist’s steady gaze.

Then my youngest rolls her big blue eyes in a dramatic fashion matched only by surly teens and drunken sailors, and she replies in a voice dripping with annoyance,“Well, my mother named me Maggie, but I wish she’d named me Bluebell.”

“Oh,” the shocked woman replies, her freckled brow furrowing as her voice trails off to a whisper.

Maggie crosses her arms in an un-lady-like harrumph and the dumbstruck grandma suddenly acts extremely interested in the fruity-flavored lip balm lined up in tidy rows along the check-out counter.

I shrug my shoulders and flash the poor woman a feeble smile; then I will the cashier to hurry as she rings up my bag of cheap wares.

DSC00352I grab my  mis-namegirl’s hand and hustle her out the door.

“Why don’t you like the name Maggie?” I ask as we veer out of the parking lot.

“I’d just rather be named Bluebell,” Maggie responds, her lips pursed in a pink pout. “Or Daffodil or Lily….” she adds.

 “So, you’d like to be a flower?” 

“I don’t want to be a flower,” Maggie laughs. “I just want to be beautiful like a flower.”

I shift my eyes to the road ahead and then study my littlest girl in the rearview mirror.

The light turns yellow, and I slow to a stop, but for just a moment I’m  not glancing at the ballerina in the backseat.

I’m gazing back in time…

For just a moment, I’m a fourteen-year-old girl standing in front of the filmy bathroom mirror; a girl who dreams of being called by a new name.

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