When you come downstairs, dressed for the day, all I can do is smile and think, “I want to be more like you.”
Plaid tights, sparkly tutu, flower shirt and wild, crazy hair. You are beautiful, untamed, open-hearted and totally you. You are completely comfortable filling the space where you stand, sparkles and all.
At 3 1/2 you wear a minimum of 3 1/2 outfits a day…and though I hate the laundry, I love every bit of you. Your dad and I have renamed the COVID19 pandemic: “The Chronicles of Cora’s Clothes.”
Homebound, I’ve had lots of time to observe you and your thought process for getting dressed. From what I can see, you have two requirements when you pick out your clothes for the day. First, and foremost: Does it bring you delight? You have an affinity for red plaid, tutus, Elsa, unicorns and necklaces.
Secondly: Will it work with your plans for the day? Because girl, you’ve always got a plan that you’ve dreamed up, and assigned roles for each of us! You tell me, “Mommy I’m wearing pants because I’m climbing the pirate ship with Bubba today and giving the ponies a picnic. Can you get me the towel plates?” (translated= paper towels)
Well honey, you don’t need jeans AND a skirt.
“Yes!” you tell me. “I need pants under my “kirt” because I’m climbing with Bubba!”
Oh right, of course, the “kirt” or skirt, can’t be forgone because it’s your Pony Picnic attire. So adding pants is the only plausible option as you plan to climb and seek adventure alongside your brother.
But you know what isn’t one of your requirements? Worrying what other people will think.
You have no fear. No doubt. You trust yourself.
Before you even eat breakfast, you run down the stairs into the basement and yell,
And every morning he looks up from his desk, with a big smile and says: “Cora, you look beautiful, I love it.”
You always smile right back at him, and some days you even nod your little chin and say,
You know you are lovable.
And you know what your Daddy loves?
He loves that your outsides are reflecting what he knows to be true of your insides.
You are brave and adventurous, so pants protect you from skinned knees. You are spunky & fierce, and your wild, untamed hair tells the world the same. You have as many feelings as there are colors in the rainbow, so your colorful clothes capture the spectrum of all the feels you have in one day. And above all else, you love soft fabric like we love your soft heart. No puppy, baby or roly poly goes unnoticed or unprotected by you.
You know you are deeply loved, and it frees you to be exactly, completely and unapologetically you, in your original design. It frees you to chase your creativity because outcomes don’t matter when you are safe and loved.
And my little one, this world needs you. ALL of you. Not just a little bit, or a few select parts. We need your humor, compassion, big creative plans and spunk.
And you remind me that the world needs all of me, too. Not just a little of me, or parts of me, but all of me.
And somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten your simple rules.
Most days, as I get dressed and prepare for my day, I let the outside world speak louder than my soul.
Most days I let the opinions, expectations and standards of others dictate how I present myself with my clothes, my actions and my words.
So daughter, help me remember.
Help me remember to let my outsides reflect what brings my insides delight.
You remind me that the essence of who I am, is designed to exist and take up space in the world, because I was designed in the likeness of a good and loving Creator. His plan was not for us to dim or conform but to shine and show up authentically. When I do choose to show up, I can hear His voice say, “my daughter, you are beautiful. I love it.”
You also remind me that my imganinings…my dreams….my big creative plans are an expression of my deep-most delights. And these delights were given to me as precious gifts by my Father.
But so often I stop listening to my imagination where my dreams are born. I fear my creativity can’t be trusted because it’s not profitable, or will take too long, or could infringe on my family or has no guarantee of success (by the world’s standards, at least).
But not you. You delight in your creativity and imagninings. It’s as if you know that creativity is sourced by the Creator Himself. Because it is, my dear one. Don’t ever forget it. Please don’t let the outside world slow you down with skepticism, hesitation or worry. Keep believing.
Trust your dreams where all ponies have food and a community that loves them. Where everyone is celebrated and there is a never-ending supply of birthday cake to prove it:) This dream could change your corner of the world!
I’ll keep dreaming too and remember that I can trust my imagination. I’ll show up for the plans that make my soul feel alive regardless of whether or not the world says it will work or is worth it.
- Linking arms with other women, even if it’s slow, because I know we will go farther together.
- Being bold and speaking the truth, even when it’s hard.
- Giving my opinion loudly, knowing there’s a good chance I’m wrong and laugh when I am.
- Chasing my doubts and questions, right into the open arms of God.
- Setting a big table, where everyone can pull up a chair and we make space for all voices, colors and perspectives.
- Writing about where I see God and how He’s teaching me, even when it feels insignificant or small.
- More laughter, more yoga, more coffee.
- Listening to people’s stories and learning to lean in instead of fix.
- Always believing that the hope of Jesus is here and near.
I want to stand, just like you, unafraid, with my outsides reflecting my insides.
I want to yell, and probably a little too loudly, “Daddy, look!”
And even if part of what I present on the outside is offensive, because I’m wearing bad assumptions, righteous anger or entitlement or my creative plans fail because my ego took over, I will still choose to trust my Father and hear Him say,
“My daughter, you look beautiful. I love it.”
He doesn’t love me because I’ve met the world’s standards of beauty or carried out the perfect, mistake- free plan.
He says I’m beautiful because I’m His creation
and He Loves me because I belong to Him.
The grace of His Son Jesus says, let’s try again. I am with you
His hope says, there is life on the other side of fear. Walk through it, I am with you.
So we stand. We don’t shrink. We chase the dreams that lead to more faith, more hope and more love. We let His love shine in us and through us.
Cora, thank you for helping me to remember the power of my Father’s love.
Let’s help each other to never forget.