You are beautiful.

Today, my eyes were still puffy from a good 'ole pregnancy cryfest last night, my hair was pulled messily into a clip, and the undercurrents of nausea churned in my stomach.  But early in the afternoon, my sweet daughter asked me to come into her playroom to play "hair salon."  In my weariness, I hesitated but then decided to sit down on the carpet and let her begin.  The first thing she said as she removed the clip and ran her fingers through my knotted hair? 

"You are soooo boooootiful, Mommy."

Yes, on a day when I felt the least beautiful, I was reminded quickly by a 3-year-old who, thankfully, does not yet have a knowledge of physical insecurities, what real beauty is.  I immediately felt remorse for thinking otherwise about myself and thankful that I hadn't voiced it outwardly so she could hear.  She was right.  In that moment, real beauty was being myself, being present, sitting on the floor playing hair salon, letting her make my knotty hair even frizzier.

I was recently mailed some stickers and a kind note from an Instagram friend, Rachel, also known as mightyviolet.  I remember receiving them on another day when I felt very not-beautiful, in the middle of my horrific first trimester sickness when I could barely get out of bed much less shower or wear anything that didn't resemble tattered pajamas.   Earlier that day, I had actually said aloud, "I don't think I could possibly feel more unattractive."   Yet, as I removed a sticker from the envelope and held it in my hand for a few moments, I was struck by the truth that I am beautiful despite all the lies I let myself believe.

I was created by God and am precious in His sight and that alone makes me beautiful indeed.

In the envelope were several "you are beautiful" stickers that I'm slowly going through, sending them to other women as I have the opportunity.  As I nestle each one inside a little note, I hope I'm passing on some love and encouragement to another woman who might also have a moment of pause and realize that she, too, is beautiful despite what she or anyone else thinks.

I dread the day my daughter first sees something about her own appearance and disapproves, but it is going to happen.  I remember the moment her perfect little body came out of mine, and it sickens me to think that she could ever see something so intricately created by God as anything less than beautiful.  Yet that's exactly what I do to God when I think or say something self-deprecating.  I imagine the disppointment He must have felt when Eve first expressed shame in the Garden of Eden, hiding her perfect body from the God who created her.  With all of my heart and soul, I do not want to pass on that legacy to my daughter.  I hope she always hears from me that she is beautiful - and that her beauty comes from what she has on the inside that shines outwardly.

Whoever you are, please know today that you are made in the image of God, you are loved, and you are valued for more than how you look.  The battle may start again tomorrow, but for today please remember that you are beautiful.  And that's the truth.