Beauty Will Be My Life
I have a pixie who is in love with beauty. When she was three years old, Brielle informed me, “Beauty is my job.” Bri never saw a flower she didn’t pick or a sunset she didn't gush over.
One day while practicing her piano, Brielle informed me she was writing a song.
“Do you want to know the title, mom?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Beauty Lies Ahead.”
She was 7.
Inherent within her soul is this longing for beauty. I don’t ever want to squash that.
But still I feel the tension in a world that clamors for beauty in ways contrary to truth. We are living in a culture where often beauty is simply superficial. It is so much deeper and richer than that. When I speak of beauty, I am talking about a broad sense of beauty that John Ruskin refers to as true wealth. "The real appreciative possession of what is good."
I am raising three pixies, bringing up a generation of girls that I pray have a heart for beauty. I want them to recognize wonder, to laugh in amazement when a butterfly lands on a mountain bike tire. I want them to rejoice when the sun sets again, the same routine way it does every single night.
Here are seven simple ways that Tim and I are trying to teach the pixies what beauty truly is (and how it can be Bri's job):
1) Set Up Stations Within the House for Art, Reading, or Music
This is the year of painting for our family. Tim began watercoloring with the girls at the beginning of the year and it is now one of their favorite things to do together. For awhile we had a paint station set up in Tim's office. Now that we moved, we are looking for a new nook to inspire painting. We even take it outdoors once in a while.
Stations can be set up anywhere. A family room, dining room, or bedroom are all conducive to creating. In one of my favorite books, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer writes,
"Children growing up in an atmosphere where beauty is considered an important part of daily life cannot help being inspired to develop their own original ideas...nor can they help being prepared to live aesthetically themselves."
You don't have to be the most talented artist. It's the expression of the painting that causes wonder both in your life and in those around you. Conversations are generated around the canvas, or whatever medium you choose to use.
2) Read Aloud Men and Women of Faith Hero Stories like Amy Carmichael, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, or Harriet Tubman
I just bought the Christian Heroes: Then & Now book on Amy Carmichael at our local Homeschool Room. I am so excited to read this book with the pixies. I remember reading Elisabeth Elliot's biography on Amy Carmichael when I was in college, A Chance to Die. It had such a profound impact on my life.
Reading inspiring stories of men and women of faith who possess lovely legacies open up young hearts to beauty and truth. They learn to value what is worth fighting for and treasure what is true wealth. Through Gates of Splendor is another one of my favorites, which details Operation Auca, the inspiring story of five men who lost their lives bringing the gospel to Ecuador.
3) Flood the House With Music
Our girls grew up jamming to Ms. Lacey’s rock n’ roll. Whenever she comes to visit, there’s a dance party soon to ensue with her and the pixies. I love this. I want them to experience music in all it’s forms. The girls recently discovered an old cd with kids singing praise music and they’ve been listening to it to fall asleep.
Tim plays classical music during their art sessions. Bach and Beethoven blare from the study doors. We also bought the girls a Luna ukulele for Christmas which they love to strum around the house. One pixie will be practicing the piano while the other strums the ukulele. This morning Zion picked it up and created her own little melody while her sisters were playing a game at the table.
Few things declare beauty like music.
4) Buy Beautiful Literature
When we lived in Oxford, we were surrounded by old bookstores. There was no end to the beautiful literature that could be found upon the shelves. We began collecting first editions of some of our favorites and those books made their way back with us across the Atlantic.
You would think that having two bookworm parents would naturally produce bookworm pixies. But truth be told, my girls' reading ebbs and flows. Sometimes my oldest can’t put a book down. Others, it’s hard to keep her still enough to get into a really good book. I don’t panic about this. I realize that there are rhythms to our life, and some rhythms provide more time for reading.
I used to think that quality reading was more important than quantity reading. Now I recognize the value of both. If they are reading quantities of books, eventually it will flow into quality reading. Plus, it’s strengthening their reading muscles.
Currently, Lyric is obsessed with Nancy Drew. I look at the clock each morning surprised that she is still in bed. Not because she is sleeping in, but because she is waking and choosing to stay under the covers a bit longer because her appetite for the book is greater than her appetite for breakfast.
5) Get Outdoors
We’ve planted a garden. The truth is I am no green thumb. My husband is the landscaper. He’s so good at cultivating, and I’m learning a lot through his knowledge. The girls love this about their dad. Daily they run outside to check out the raised garden beds. “The radishes are now an inch taller! The cucumber leaves are turning yellow!” Their excitement is contagious and we all run outdoors to see life growing.
Our new house connects to a greenway. We love it because we can walk or go for a bike ride on the path. There's nothing like walking outside and breathing in the fresh air to awaken one's soul.
6) Hang a Bird Feeder
We have a bird feeder hanging outside our breakfast nook window. Every morning I hear the girls shouting at the squirrels who try to climb the feeder and steal the food. They scream at the top of their lungs at these rodents. The pixies have become protectors of the birds. They love to tell us what new winged creature has landed on its perch.
7) Go Camping
My youngest, Zion, calls our family “the adventuring family”. Ingrained in her spirit is this idea that we love to explore. Tim recently bought a top tent for his Rover. Although I had my doubts, I have to admit it’s pretty amazing. With a memory foam bottom and several feet off the ground, it’s what this mama needs.
Tim and I talk a lot about where we want to invest our time and money. What better way to spend it with your children outdoors in God’s creation? Surrounded with beauty, the air feels fresher, the water tastes cleaner, and the grass is definitely greener.
Last week he took all three girls mountain biking at the National White Water Center. I was hesitant to let Zion, my youngest, go along. I thought there was no way she would be able to keep up. I tried to talk her out of it every which way I could think of. "You get to stay home with Mama all by your self. We can do something special." She was having none of it.
So off Zion went to tackle the three mile mountain bike ride. Was she able to keep up? Check it out.
Elsie de Wolf once said, “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful--that will be my life.”
No matter how faint a glimpse of beauty the impression leaves a sizable impact on young souls. Cultivating a hunger for those things that are good...true, lovely, admirable, is one of our greatest responsibilities. We can teach the next generation about true wealth...the appreciative expression of what is good.
I'm taking a hint from my middle pixie to let beauty be my job. And what a beautiful life it is.