Wiping down a booth, a familiar voice drifted from the one behind me.

“How’s your cat?”

I smiled.

“Good. How’s Emma?”

It’s what he asked me every single time he came into Country Kitchen. One of my favorite regulars in early 2000, we had two things to talk about.

Seymour and Emma.

Seymour was my orange and white cat with a stub tail, which I think he was born with. I don’t remember anything we talked about when it came to Seymour other than the time he went missing for three days after he found a hole in my closet and climbed into the basement of my apartment building.

Past that he did pretty normal cat stuff like fitting himself into weird spaces and spitting up a hairball in the middle of the living room any time someone came to visit me.

I don’t know if my favorite regular would remember Seymour after all these years, but I sure do remember Emma.

She was a girl after her grandpa’s heart. Sassy and sweet, she knew exactly how to wrap him around her little finger.

A tomboy who looked “As pretty as a picture when her mom dressed her up for church.” She had blonde, long hair that she would only let him brush because she said it didn’t hurt when he did it.

He beamed when he told me that and I loved it because I was the same way with my Grandpa Ashburn. (Grandpa’s just seem to have the magic touch with untangling hair.)

Oh and that girl loved the mud. She was just a magnet for dirt. But she was well rounded, because Grandpa and her had some pretty fancy tea parties when he watched her in the afternoons.

One day he demonstrated with his coffee cup the way Emma had taught him to hold out his pinkie on her Whinnie the Pooh teacup.

I wonder about Emma now.

Does she stand in front a mirror and pinch the fat around her belly and give a deep sigh because she screwed up her diet again?

Does she scroll through all the #nofilter photos on Instagram and wish she could look like that without 20 minutes of make up in the morning.

Does she question every single thing about herself and wonder if she’ll ever just feel good enough?

Oh Emma. Let me sit you down in front of me. You are one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen. Yet he didn’t show me a single picture of you.

Instead, I saw you through the eyes of someone who loved you. If only you could see what your grandpa saw.

The way he lit up just at the mention of your name. The way his eyes crinkled when he talked about you climbing on his lap with a storybook.

You have no idea how beautiful you are.

And as I write this it strikes me.

What if I am Emma? What if we all are?

We stand in front of the mirror and tell ourselves just how ugly and unworthy we are.

But friends. We have a Father who calls us His beloved.

He delights in our smiles. He beams when we sit at His feet to listen. Or when we come to Him as a little child.

Jesus died on the cross with each of our names on His heart. He took each crack of that whip in absolute love for you and me.

Yet we sit and look in the mirror only to see someone unworthy? Can we just stop right now and think about how much we are loved by the only one who matters?

At this very moment, we can go to Him just like Emma went to her grandma. He can take the messy and make it straight.

Because God has just a magical touch when it comes to untangling hearts.

Truth is, I have no idea how Emma turned out. Perhaps she is full of confidence and I’m just projecting my own feelings of inadequacy onto my view of her. Well ... Google says that’s a thing.

But I do know that once upon a time pure love painted a picture more beautiful than any #filter or #nofilter could ever create.

And that picture was Emma. And me. And you, friend. Even good ‘ol Seymour.

Because our God loves us so.

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