{Celebrating Beautiful} Your Child Is Already Accepted, by Teri Lynne Underwood

In blogging for the last 5 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with and reading about so many amazing people and families doing so many amazing things, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: parenthood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.
I got to meet Teri Lynne Underwood when we both attended the She Speaks conference in 2014 (I think I say that a lot – I made so many friends there that I still keep in touch with!) Teri Lynne was further along than me in the writing and parenting journey, and she has been a tremendous encouragement and resource to learn from. She is always quick to make time for me and share what she knows and has experienced. Teri Lynne just released her first book, Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most, and it is SO good! Be sure to grab a copy if you are in the middle of mothering to a daughter! 
Here is Teri Lynne Underwood on Celebrating Beautiful…

From my spot in the parking lot, I watched as students poured out from the high school as the final bell rang. I saw couples walking hand in hand, groups of boys laughing, and girls engaged in what looked like serious conversation.

As I continued to wait for my daughter to exit the building, I noticed the slumped girl with her head bowed.  She shuffled to her car, just a few spaces away from where I was parked.  My heart ached for this girl I didn’t know. Her demeanor revealed the discouragement as heavy at the book bag on her back.

I wondered what her story was, who was waiting for her at home, when she’d last been encouraged.

As my own girl climbed in the car, I asked about the girl I’d seen. “She’s a loner, Mom. She never talks, and I’ve never seen her with anyone.”

And, from there, my girl launched in her own animated description of her day, my questions already forgotten in her enthusiasm.

By the time we got home, I knew about all the antics that had taken place that day at the high school.  Casiday did her homework, and I started supper.  But the picture of that heavy-hearted girl kept surfacing.

I whispered a prayer as I finished our meal preparations.

Again, I found myself wondering what the girl’s story was.  Was anyone at her house preparing her dinner? Who would help her study for the Chemistry test? Who was there to love and accept her, just like she was?

It’s what we all want, right? To be accepted fully and lovingly.

And it’s what we want for our children as well.  We long for them to avoid the sting of rejections, the pang of loneliness. But, we know there will be days when our babies do know the heartbreak of being unaccepted.

How can we prepare them? How can we help them navigate the inevitable relationship struggles they will face?

In seventeen years of parenting, I have found the best answer is this: to remind them time and again of the acceptance they have in Christ.

Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother, the One who will never leave or forsake them, the one who has chosen and called them by name.

It’s a lesson we keep teaching, a truth we keep repeating. Because it’s the truth that can change everything. When the days come and your son or daughter aches from being left out or different, make sure you’ve laid a foundation upon which to build, a foundation of truth and hope found in Scripture.

We all crave acceptance—but the freeing truth is, we already are accepted by the One who fashioned us and created us in His own image.

Here are a few verses I love to speak over my daughter to remind her of the acceptance she has in Christ…

For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. Ephesians 1:4

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:16

The Lord is near to all who call out to him, all who call out to him in integrity. Psalm 145:18

We all crave acceptance—but the freeing truth is, we already are accepted by the One who fashioned us and created us in His own image.

Teri Lynne Underwood is a pastor’s wife, ministry speaker, and Bible teacher. As the founder of www.PrayersforGirls.com and mother of a 17-year-old daughter, Teri Lynne is a cheerleader for girl moms and the author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most. Connect with Teri Lynne on  Facebook and Instagram.

To My Son as You Turn 8 Years Old

To our incredible son…

Happy Eighth Birthday!!

Eight years ago, you made me a mommy, and life hasn’t been remotely the same since…and I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. Eight years ago, I was 25 and most of our friends weren’t even married yet, and as you’ve grown up, so have I.

In the last 8 years, I’ve experienced the depths and breadth of joy and frustration and hope and love more than I could have ever conceived on the day we found out you were on your way.

You are such a homebody today, and we laugh about it all starting when you were five days late and had to be evicted from your warm, cozy home. You have personality tendencies of your mama (introverted homebody) and the brain of your daddy (science and math-oriented), and I think that’s why you and I get along so well…because we really complement each other.

Your curious mind is one of my favorite things about you, and when asked on a worksheet at the beginning of the year to describe yourself, you quickly wrote “love to learn” on the first line. You can read for hours about the solar system or Lego formations or Guinness Book of World Records, and I can’t wait to see what your brain comes up with as you grow.

You love to read, and you currently have 6 chapter books going at the same time!

Connor, you are one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I don’t think it’s ever crossed your mind to hit someone or name-call or say something mean out of spite. Being around you makes me a better person, and I pray that you influence your peers in the same way, because we could all use a little more kindness in this world.

You say the most insightful things out of the blue, and it feels sometimes like little reminders from God. The other night as we drove to your Cub Scout meeting, you commented that your classmates learn at different paces and in different ways and excel at different subjects and activities, and “it’s cool how God made our brains work differently.” Your acceptance and understanding for all kinds of people and abilities is beautiful.

To our firstborn, our problem-solver, learner, travel buddy, reader, dinosaur expert, goofball, hug-giver, best brother, and encourager… Happy Birthday. We love you beyond your wildest imagination. Multiplied by infinity.