(For those of you who do not know, Ella Smith is the heroine in the novel I began penning a few years ago.  I have surpassed the 50,000 word mark and so my work can indeed be deemed a novel; but the book itself has been sitting still for the last while)
This is it! This is what I want Ella Smith to know.  This is what I want every woman to know: you are beautiful because you are created in the image of God. 
I’ve been struggling the last couple of months with self-image.  It’s not a new struggle (and I’m quite certain it’s a very ubiquitous one); but, it is one that hasn’t even remotely shown its face in my life in the last year.  So it’s fresh for me. Trying to remind myself why I’m beautiful and not dwell on physical flaws and to reaffirm my self-worth.  I’ve also been struggling the last (too long of a) while with prioritizing my faith and listening to God speak.  I felt particularly down in the dumps the last couple of days and so committed to go to bed early last night.  I read a few pages of a parenting book that was given to us by the church for Rayna’s child dedication.  It spoke of how parenting requires you to listen to God. “Humph,” I thought “I should try that again: listening to God.” So I decided to ensure that I would rise in the morning to some personal time. When I arose and walked into my living room a spectacular sun rise lit up the sky above the mountain line.  It was a brilliant orangey pink and I was stunned.  It was just what I needed to be reminded of God’s spectacular creation. During the moments that followed I was reminded of 2 things that God has spoken to me in the recent days which I haven’t really pursued; so, I left my couch with a reminder to not only listen but act.  Sort of a “yes-God” compliant attitude. 
But God spoke to me again.  As if a gift and as if to say I’ll continue to speak to you if you will listen.  It was this evening at the gym while I was stretching and the pump-up tunes were blasting in the background. It was not a quiet, tranquil moment; but my heart was ready and so I heard it “You are beautiful because I made you in My image.”  And I was given a vibrant visual reminder of the sunrise this morning and the beauty of God’s creation and God saying that His creation is “good”.  I am beautiful.  Like that sunrise.  Created in God’s image.
I’ve been thinking about my novel and actually wanting to complete it and as of a month ago I actually have an outline formulated to finish it.  Part of the details require me to figure out what lasting and final words to give to Ella through the voice of her grandmother.  I love the verse in Ephesians 2 where it states “we are God’s masterpiece.”  And I think Ella will need to hear that.  But (I don’t think this will create too much of a spoiler for those of you who will actually read my book) in the minutes after I savored God’s words and finally wiped off my work-out mat and packed up to come home, I found my mind wandering: “Did I need to be here so I could know better what to say to Ella?” And the common thread of womanhood felt so strong to me: the need for security and the all-too-often search for it in the wrong avenues.  It’s a struggle, I believe, for every woman to be a confident woman who loves herself.  But this is vital so we can love those around us.  And what is vital to reach this place is to embrace our God who calls us His beautiful daughters.

So, Grandma Brown to Ella and woman to woman remind one another that you are a masterpiece, who is rightly called a daughter of God, and has been created in the very image of God! (Ephesians 2:10, 1 John 3:1, Genesis 1:27)