Aria Hope is the first girl in a line of seven grandchildren.
Opa sets her tenderly in his lap, exclaims over her bubbles, over her tiny, three-month-old fingers and her gaping smiles. She’s got a wise face and it rests on his, lined from years of working the farm, and they sit there marveling at each other.
Around them, seven grandsons play trucks and wrestle. Oma is baking bread and buns and the air smells like cinnamon. I’m in the living room with Trent and his sisters, and we’re laughing over something, but I keep glancing at Aria and Opa, sitting together so quietly.
Children are not treated their size, here. They’re treated large, with huge bowls of ice cream and strawberries and lots of hugs and stories. Oma and Opa bend low to look in their eyes, see the mystery in there.
There’s something about looking in a child’s eyes. When they see you seeing them, they come alive. It’s like God bending low and placing Jesus Christ on earth — it tells people they matter. They matter enough for the big to become small.
My Dad came to visit a few months ago, and even though Aria was colicky then, he rocked her and he walked with her and he sang to her. And when she stopped long enough to breathe, he exclaimed over her perfection. And I wept at the redemption happening before me. When I was young, I’d longed for my dad to see me. Now he finally was.
There was once a little girl who, when she was just a newborn, spent nearly a year in the ICU. And when she was older and it rained, this little girl came inside and told her mother that the rain smelled like God. The mother asked her how she knew what God smelled like, and the little girl said, “Because He held me when I was a baby in the hospital.”
I think this is why babies have that special, fresh smell. They have been held by a loving Father who smells like rain. Aria knows who made her. She can still hear her Father singing over her. She can hear His voice, exclaiming over her beauty — over the dimples in her cheeks and her perfect little fingers and toes.
She makes bubbles and God exclaims, just like Opa, “How marvelous, my child! You are amazing.”
The world will try to convince her otherwise. The world, with its weigh scales and airbrushed magazine covers, with its Hollywood standards and its disregard of the spirit, will try to strip every ounce of self-worth from her. I know, because it did that to me. For years I fought anorexia nervosa and it nearly won. I believed the lie that God didn’t love me — the hiss the enemy has been speaking to women since the beginning of time.
I’ve since heard Abba’s lullaby. I’ve felt His arms around me. I’ve smelled the rain.
You, who’s wondering if you matter at all — you do. The Maker of the Universe knows the number of hairs on your head. He collects every tear you’ve ever wept, because your heart? It matters to Him.
Let Him bend down and look into your eyes today. You’ll come alive. Hear Him exclaim over you. You are marvelous. The freckles on your nose, the way you tilt your head when you laugh or scratch your arm when you’re nervous — He designed you this way. Your Abba Father treasures you. He is searching the horizons for you, and when He even catches a glimpse, He takes off down the path, His robe flying, because He cannot. wait. to. hold. you. To throw a party in your honor, prodigal daughter.
To bring you home.
Related: Gift this inspiring cosmetic mirror to a daughter or a friend and encourage her heart with the truth of who she is in Christ — she is loved, accepted, beautiful!