Shaped

From generation to generation, women desperately hand down this focus. Our brains work intently on this skill, often fulfilled in days of determination (mostly wrapped in guilt) and sometimes even flavored with a drop of exhilaration. We pour our resources, our hopes, our emotions and our hearts into someday finding the ideal. We worship body image and the power of the feminine curve.

Nearly every conversation I have with the women of my family somehow winds back to flesh and bone. Gaining or losing 20 pounds, how to shape our hair, and concern for other body changes. Some seasons we are striving hard, looking to regain whatever beauty we have lost. Other seasons we have given up. Competing with ourselves is the most brutal of wrestling matches, and we often take this out by shredding the physicality of other women too.

Nearly every conversation I have with a friend will weave in these deep-seeded cultural matters. We are always running more, working to get one more size down and trying to finally achieve the perfect us. Even the women I have met who have achieved big goals like completing a triathlon, finally squeezing into their jeans from high school or achieving their health goals still say it is not enough. Yep, lots of blogs tell us we can be there, not to mention the remainder of media. But I am not here today to enter that battle. And I am not here today to say that we should never care about our bodies.

Something just itches at my heart. When I found out the baby I carried would be a daughter, I knew I had to really start sorting through this big mess we have dubbed femininity. Yes, I want her to know that she is beautiful (and I think she already does… nearly every person we encounter comments on what a beautiful baby she is…), but outward beauty is not enough to build a strong life. And honestly, inward beauty is not enough either, at least the self-propelled type our current Christian culture sets as the ideal. Even after pregnancy and these last 8 months to ponder, I still feel like I haven’t gotten very much farther in how to teach her to really deeply love her self, to not tie her self-worth up in beauty or accomplishments. Because I still very deeply struggle with these things.

But every night I do pray over my little baby love that even now, she would know Father’s love for her, and that all of the days of her life she would be rooted and grounded in how He sees her… His thoughts toward her are endless and unchanging. He delights in her. He always sees her as she was made to be, a brilliant life-giving force of a woman, a fiercely beautiful wise Eve of the kingdom of God. And maybe through parenting this life force, all of this will sink in for me too.

Perhaps if we lived fully surrendered to God’s grace, planted and rooted and grounded in Him, flourishing in His courts, we would finally get it. But somedays, I don’t even remember how to get there, and my heart hurts from this world and from the demands of daily life. Somehow, I need to learn and change and grow, because I don’t want to give this self-deprecating lens to my beautiful little seed of a woman. Someday, she will have to face these things head-on too, or they will shape her until her very last breath on this earth.

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Just like a deliciously dripping-with-goodness double stack burger, today you get two months for the price of one… Elleanna Joy is now 8 months old!

The holidays were awful for us (please reference the previous post), and then regular life hit again… and I found myself way past due in writing LeLe’s 7 month blog post. But I kept some notes on my phone, and now I am going to do my best to reach back through the cobwebs and start at the beginning of December.

Here are some 7-month photos to get us started!

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Often Elleanna reminds me of a cartoon character. One night during her evening baba, she fell asleep on my laugh and started snoring instantly. I didn’t even know it was possible to do that! She also laughs on walks. Anytime we get her into her carrier, whether it be a stroll around the neighborhood or a grocery store run, she giggles and talks pretty much the entire way.

On the night of December 11, LeLe learned the joy of mutual comedy. See, we have always been able to make her laugh, but that evening, we sat across the room from each other. I would laugh, and then she would laugh. We kept experimenting with different silly laughing sounds and telling each other jokes. Yep, my heart totally melted.

Elleanna is also quite a fan of puppy kisses, especially now that she can roll around and grab puppy ears.

December was also the month Elleanna fell in love with tags. Tags on clothes, tags on stuffed animals, and her taggy blanket. Oh, and of course, wrapping paper.

When we all finally recovered from being sick, we did get to take a trip to the Western Slope to visit friends and family. Even though Elleanna was working on cutting her first tooth at the same time, she still slept like a champ and had a great time visiting everyone. This was also the first time I pureed a veggie and chicken soup I had made for the adults for her. Her face lit up as she ate, chomping down every last bite I would give her. I think we really are successfully raising a foodie.

And here are some shots from her 8-month photo shoot:

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Lately LeLe has shifted to really exploring. She got a walker from her Nana and Grandpa for Christmas, and this opened a whole new realm of possibilities. Suddenly she can touch anything that is two feet off of the ground. The Christmas tree became a fascination (and it is now de-decorated half way up…and yes, I still haven’t taken it down yet… it is on my list!), as well as every single inch of wall and cupboard she can get feel.

She also wants to be involved with every moment of our days. When we are cooking, she wants to be in the kitchen, attempting to break into the dog bowls. If we are eating, she loves to sit in her bouncer or high chair and chat along with us, trying to get bites into her mouth.

My favorite new time with her is opening the mail. I am usually very bad at getting the mail on a daily basis, and I seem to only make it once a week, as we have these little lock boxes down the street from our house. So, I load my arms up with all of our postal goods and sit LeLe down right next to be on the house. She gets junk mail and envelopes in both arms and will flap them around and bang them together, just having a grand old time. We usually sit there for about a half of an hour, going through everything together.

And who cares about sitting still or even cuddling? Not LeLe. Life is too exciting. Life must be explored.

Elleanna now has 1.5 teeth! I have been quite surprised at how long teeth take to come in. Before having kids (and I definitely don’t remember my own tooth-growing experience), I figured that once the teeth cut through that they pop up quickly. So everyday we check to see how much higher the teeth have risen, sometimes at the peril of receiving a baby chomp to the finger.

One day Matt had LeLe strapped into the bouncer. He leaned over to her and started singing the Mario theme song… and she just dissolved into smiles and laughs! We call this her first music appreciation class.

Elleanna is also quite entertained by watching movies of herself. Especially movies where she is making lots of noises. It’s like she sees the screen of herself and then says “Finally, someone who speaks my language!”

And how about LeLe’s new hair style? Enter the peach fuzz! Her back head tuft is finally taking a chill pill, but new fine blonde hairs are rolling in, sticking out right and left just like her daddy’s hair… LeLe makes the best raspberries, tongue knocks and lip buzzes. She is vocalizing and experimenting. Can I just say that I love watching a human learn how to speak?

And as I type this, LeLe is trying to help, reaching as hard as she can for the mouse head and making excited squeaks. So I guess I better move on before she deletes all of this hard work…