We’re talking about beauty this week.

And as I sit and watch my oldest-about-to-turn-six-year-old son at Tae Kwon Do all lean and long, lithe graceful limbs – this strong, man of a boy – an image of him as a newborn superimposes itself on the Jackson I see before me.

Suddenly I’m back in a thatch roof cottage in South Africa and there’s a blonde haired baby about to teach me about beauty in ways and experiences I’d never imagined.

How could I have known where that steep stepping stone path would lead me? Past the weaver bird nests and the old avocado tree. Past the fading wooden door and the planters I got down on hands and knees to root at the entrance to our baby’s first home. How I could I have known that the smallness of the place would belie the big and beautiful lessons it would house?

I would become a mother beneath that dry grass thatch.

I would watch my body grow and stretch into a fullness I felt more in my heart than in my belly button.

And when we brought the baby home from the hospital I would discover what a mistake it was to pack all my pre-pregnancy clothes for the grand homecoming. I would be embarrassed when I looked in the mirror. I would gasp at the me I didn’t recognize and realized I didn’t like, since there was no good baby excuse to explain it away – all stretched out like that.

And I would want to hide.

Behind the bathroom door – a small and tiny space all decorated in deep blues. I would hide there when Pete came looking for me one night and tell him not to look, not to come in, because I was ugly.

He caught the closing door with his hand. He pulled it open. He looked me in the eyes and told me never to say that again. Never to call the mother of his new baby anything but beautiful. And his words wrapped me in a new truth that was warm and profoundly comforting.

That night in a small cottage on a South African hillside I discovered that ugly is usually not in the eyes of the beholder – especially when that person is the man who loves me or the God who created me.

Instead, ugly is born out of my own mouth and spoken over my own self.

Ugly worms its way out of my head and into my heart when I forget, when I refuse to remember, that all things God makes are good.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Tim 4:4.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31.

Calling myself ugly directly contradicts the good and beautiful God spoke over me first.

Staring at my beautiful son in full swing in his Tae Kwon Do class I am stunned by this realization. Only I can silence the voice of ugliness. And only when I see myself through Jesus’ eyes.

The same way I see Jackson through mine.

Beautiful.

{All photos taken just weeks before Jackson arrived in August 2005}
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