I've never been one to jump in front of the camera. Especially as the years pass, and the babies come, and things change.
Besides, the odds of me having a baby on both hips, or yelling at a child who's giving bunny ears, or even sporting some throw-up down the back of my shirt are high. So yea, I don't come running when someone pulls out a camera.
Which is ironic, you know, since I'm a photographer.
But A few weeks back I decided to embark on some family pictures. Afterwards, I laughed on the phone with a friend as I looked at my editing software and said, "but my hair looks flat...and I don't love that sweater...and are those wrinkles by my eyes?? DO I HAVE CROWS FEET!?"
We giggled and cackled like girlfriends do. It's mostly jokes, but we all know those come from deep inside where our insecurities hide and our pride tries to cover them up. It comes from the fact that image is SO important to the world these days and perfect pictures are a must on every social networking site.
I have those bad self image moments like all women have...more than I'd like to admit or talk about, actually. Times when I pick at the woman He made me to be and I decide that I'm not good enough. I think I unknowingly take in a lot more of the world than I realize, and before I know it, I have expectations and doubts and views of myself that really aren't of Him.
So anyway, Ella came up to the table while I was playing with our pictures and said, "Oh my goodness! Mom, I love this picture of just you and I! Can I hang it in my room??"
And my heart melted.
My worldly concerns were busted by the spirit of a child who sees love instead of imperfections. Her face literally lit up when she saw it. I was reminded that she will try to build a positive self image while she watches me live out mine. I have to step up to the plate, it's one thing to tell her about true beauty, but it's another thing to live it out.
Because these little kids don't care how much I ran this week, or if my hair is curled, or even if I've showered. All they care about is that I'm here with them, even if I'm in my favorite sweatpants.
God always gets me in those moments...He uses these kiddos in my life to speak truth all the time.
I started to realize, that picture is more than just me and my oldest babe. It's bigger than my insignificant insecurities and more important than my doubts. It's our life right now in this very moment.
It's me in this ever changing season of motherhood whether I like what I see or not.
In that picture is my families next generation and even generations of women that came before us who make us who we are.
There's the way my silhouette looks like my mom when I turn my head, and how my eyes are dark just like my Grandma Baker. There is the way Ella's features resemble mine when I was little and how our hair is the same exact texture. There are a million other teeny things in that picture that make up our history and our past...our makeup.
There is beauty.
And I'm not talking about outward appearance, but about the love that I know I felt in that moment when she belly laughed and showed those imperfect 3rd grade teeth. And the image of her safe and nestled right into her mama's arms, and how I felt like I wanted to sit there for hours and listen to everything happening in Ella's world.
There is grace in that picture. And there is so much to be thankful for.
A reminder of where I came from, and how myself nor anyone who knew me in my early years would've guessed I'd be a mother to many. How even in my rebellion God had a promise and a plan of redemption for me. How all my plans to be successful in a different way were foiled by the One who writes our story, and I was instead placed in a small town raising kids and living on love.
There is a mother and a daughter and a sister and a friend. A wife and an oldest child and two gals who love their mamas. There is a connection and a bond inside that picture that is far greater than anything I could pick apart on the outside.
There is a sweetheart, and a mother struggling to set the best example she can for her impressionable girl.
Look at her. Look at me. Look at us.
We're a handful. We've got good and bad issues. And we have a giant amount of love for each other that surpasses all my understanding. That's what that picture tells me now.
Pictures tell a tale, we need more of them together...even when my hair is in a knot and I have no makeup on. Because someday we'll want to look back together and laugh at this crazy season when I was in the trenches of mothering them.
They are my girls. I need them to know how wonderfully and fearfully they are made, and that starts with me.
Thankful for His definition of beauty, and thankful for His reminder that these little girls are always watching...always :).