Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Letter to 24-year-old Micha (For the Yoobs in my life…)

Why, yes, that is a cinnamon roll hug!

Dear younger self,

I have some things to tell you, not because I’ve really learned that much in the past 8 years, not because I’m sooooo wise now, but because some friends asked me to. And I love them so, okay okay, I’ll do it.

  • Remember when your cat Gretel died in 3rd grade and you told mom that you wish you had never had a cat so that you didn’t have to be so sad? Mom said: “Then you would have never had the chance to love her and hold her and have all the happy times with her.” Don’t forget that when you move from place to place. It ought to hurt when you leave people. It should hurt because you took the time to invest your life in theirs. It should hurt because they came in and out of your home.  You long for “stability” and physical stability is a good thing. But often stability at its core is simply about loving people: Being a family, living in a way that makes you present and available to people, and aching for friends who are far away.
  • People don’t talk enough about how important self-awareness is. Learn how you react in family relationships and friendships. Understand your natural weaknesses in managing conflict. Recognize the ways you tend to hurt people. Ask for forgiveness quickly. Go to therapy! (Seriously, go to therapy.) It will change the kind of woman, friend, aunt, sister, wife, mom, grandma you will become. Did I say everyone should go to therapy? I meant it.
  • Learn what you’re uniquely gifted to do. Know what you’re talented in, know how God has equipped you to serve, understand what you’re passionate about. Then do something with those things. The world is broken and you have the hope that so many are craving. Don’t waste your twenties (when you have the most time and energy you’ll ever have) focused on yourself. Always ask yourself what legacy you’re leaving.
  • Have grace on yourself for not leaving the legacy you wanted to leave. Do what you can do in the season you’re in. Have goals but don’t forget that you have a whole life to live those goals out. Stop calling yourself a failure. Learn that you are not a horse and Jesus is not a carriage driver with a whip. (Thank you, Debby Bellingham.) Believe that Jesus loves you and values your rest.
  • Forgiveness always feels almost impossible. That’s why we have Jesus. He’s almost impossible too but you still believe in him. To quote my friend Debby’s book, The Mentored Life, remember that you and the one who has hurt you both stand side by side at the foot of the cross, “under the mercy of God, in the liberty of forgiveness.” Bitterness binds you up and makes your jaw clench and your eye twitch. Forgiveness makes you free.
  • If you ever get married, remember that your husband is not bound to the same guilt-inducers you are. Just because you feel bad about yourself when you take a nap, don’t begrudge him his naps. (For example.)
  • Always hang out with people who are younger than you so you don’t forget who you used to be and so you don’t forget the vows you made to yourself, to God, to the people you love. (And so you don’t forget how to dress cute.)
  • Just because you didn’t learn any world history in high school (seriously, why didn’t I take that class? Who let me graduate?) doesn’t mean you can’t learn it now. Read! Learn stuff!
  • This is miraculous: If you use the gifts God has given you and someone praises you for it, you don’t have to imagine yourself Ms. Awesomeface or Ms. Worthless. You can actually recognize that God has made you into something good and you can love him more for it.
  • A thankful life is the best kind of life.

I love you, Yoobsies…

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Wednesday Morning Thankful

A goodbye SF pic we took last week. (Thanks Jonas Oppedal!)

Yes, it’s Wednesday. Thankful Tuesday is a day late, I know. But, come on, I’ve been moving! Have some grace on a girl. Here is a list of all that’s been happening since you heard from me last, in the form of a Thankful Tuesday list.

  • One day I was vacuuming the house for a 3-year-old Lightning McQueen birthday party and the next, I was standing in an empty living room. That’s weird. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to pack my house myself and that I got to celebrate my boy’s birthday with all of his friends on the day before we moved away from San Francisco. I’m also thankful I’m one of the lucky ones, who has gotten to live in so many wonderful places and love the people who lived there. I cried a lot on Friday and Saturday, and I’m thankful I did.
  • On Saturday, partway through the movers’ amazingly speedy packing job, I remembered I still had Sarah’s dress! (I seriously wanted to keep it, but my guilt got the best of me.) So, Brooksie and I took our last afternoon walk to Sarah, Caitlin and Cecelia’s. Of course, I forgot everything else but the dress so when Brooks wanted to eat and immediately pooped, Sarah and Caitlin helped me construct a makeshift diaper out of their kitchen towel and my headband. We laughed a lot and it was a sweet goodbye.
  • My brother Jason sent me a shirt a couple of weeks ago that says “Brooks was here.” It’s both creepy (see “Shawshank Redemption”) and entirely relevant to the past year of my life (see baby’s name). So I’m thankful.
  • I’m thankful for our trip to Monterey on Sunday to take August to the aquarium before we checked out of our apartment on Monday and flew out of town. After the difficulty of saying goodbye to our friends, it was sweet to be together as a family and just rest for a day.
  • I’m writing this in Philadelphia at nine am while drinking coffee next to my mother-in-law’s pool. (We’re here visiting family for the next couple of weeks while our stuff is on its way to Austin.) I’m thankful for movers! And for pools to put my feet in!
  • And, of course, I’m grateful for this season of the year. Summer really did exist all along, people! I’d just forgotten. And what a sweet feeling it is to be hot.  (Last night, when Chris and I decided to go outside on a walk, I ran upstairs to change into jeans even though everyone said, “Micha, you don’t need pants. It’s hot out!” But did I believe them? Of course not. That’s how jaded I am! This Texas girl will have to relearn how not to wear a jacket at night.)

Thankful Thankful…

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Hello, Emotional Micha!

Oh, friends. Let’s be honest here:

Filling our last week in SF with final events

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Watching my son say goodbye to his teachers and friends

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Trying to pack our stuff

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Planning two parties on Friday

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My little boy turning 3

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Emotional Micha

Here’s what you should know:

  • Emotional Micha has a lot of things to write but no time to write them down. Instead she forcefully picks toys off her son’s carpet while crying dramatically to her husband: “There’s never enough time!”
  • Emotional Micha will not be posting again this week. Instead she will be planning the two parties she’s hosting the day before movers arrive at her door.
  • Emotional Micha is an extrovert. That’s why she plans parties the day before she moves. Because she really, truly thinks that the best way to spend her last night in San Francisco is by throwing a party. And she’s right. (She just forgot to think about the details. As per usual.)
  • Emotional Micha is crying every time she talks about 1) moving, 2) loving her friends, 3) loving her church, 4) loving her children, 5) loving her husband. So, basically, don’t ask her about moving and/or love.
  • Emotional Micha will write all the posts she’s been storing up in her little heart and will post them next week.

Until then, I’ll be failing at keeping it together.

 

Love,

Micha

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Goodbye Thankful

Sunday evening as Chris and I ate some anniversary short ribs at The Slanted Door, he asked me: “What will you miss the most about this city?” Did I mention we were in the Ferry Building, staring out the window at the bay, watching sail boats smooth past?

My answer was easy, “Not counting friends,” I said, “I’m going to miss how beautiful this city is. I will never get over it.”

The first weekend we were here, we spent a day pushing August in a stroller up and down hills for almost seven miles. We walked from Pacific Heights to North Beach, along the bay to the Marina and all the way up to Fillmore. And I couldn’t believe the beauty of this place: the ocean and mountains and green leafy trees, beautiful houses with bay windows, parks everywhere. The view from the roof of our apartment in North Beach always made me feel like I was living in some European landscape: Colorful houses set on hills one direction, water on the other. I don’t think another city in the US can compare with this one.

The thing about this goodbye is that I keep forgetting it’s happening. Sunday was our last day at City Church. We were late, as per usual. Brooksie started crying during the sermon and I bounced with him in the back. During the last hymn, I joined my husband who looked at me with watery eyes, which, of course, caused me to sniffle a little. Then, we were normal. We said hi to friends, looked at pictures of Natalie and Jason’s new cat on her iPhone, forced August to pee in the potty so he could get a donut, made some jokes as we passed folks on the staircase. And then we were standing outside in the sunshine, opening the stroller, and walking away.

Maybe that’s good. Last things are hard. We walked the five blocks to our home, then we went on to our last farmer’s market and bought strawberries and cherries and peaches. We sat at Alamo Square park (with its fantastic view of downtown) in the sunshine and August covered his face and bare chest (we took his shirt off) in cherry juice.

Did I mention that two different shifts of friends who love my boys came from 3 to 8 so that Chris can I could go out for that anniversary dinner? And did I mention that when I went to bed Sunday night, it felt like any other night in this apartment we love?

But, this week is full of endings: My last Yoobs, August’s last day of school (today), my last Mom’s Group, Playgroup, pediatrician appointment, etc.

Perhaps if you can’t be thankful during the ending, you were never thankful during it. Or, maybe I should say it this way: I’m learning that if you live with a thankful spirit, that thankfulness bleeds over into the whole of things: their beginnings, their middles, their endings.

Today, I’m thankful for the people I’ve loved here. And I’m thankful for the place that held us near them for a sweet season. I’m thankful for endings full of peace and heartache and thanksgiving.

 

It’s still Grateful June around here. What are you thankful for?

 

 

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Seven

Sometimes I stop and look across the table at the man with the square jaw who is telling August to eat 4 more peas and then he can have another piece of bread, and that man is the boy I met at an acappella concert in Ithaca, New York of all places: tall and lanky and a little awkward around girls. Lucky for him, I was not awkward around boys.

Yesterday when I ran into our neighbors who share a wall with August’s room, I told them we’re moving this week and made a joke about how relieved they must be to not have to participate in every tantrum thrown in our apartment. They said what they’ll miss is the sound of August and Chris playing on August’s bed every night. The sweetest sounds, they said.

There are moments I’m so overcome with the joy of my life, with the happiness of being in love with a good man, with the sweetness of being loved, that I think it can’t have happened to me, this good, beautiful thing. Chris, I say, it’s hard to leave these people I love but I can ‘t believe I get to move wherever you are. Every time, I get to move wherever you are.

Seven years ago were we less in love? I could never state that as a fact. Maybe less aware of how we were capable of loving? In the same way that we loved cheese but had NO IDEA how good cheese could be.

Maybe that’s a dumb analogy. What I mean is this: I married the best of them all. And fatherhood has made him better. And time has made him deeper and wiser. And age has made him more handsome. And Jesus has made him more himself than ever before.

When I married him seven years ago, we laughed a lot. And now? We smirk and snark and cough and catch each other’s eye across the table when our oldest boy says something amazing and ridiculous. And I know what we will share when he comes home from high school having done something stupid. We’ll deal with it, like we deal with his poop on the floor or his 3 am nightmares. And we’ll look at each other and we’ll know whatever it was that we knew that afternoon in the meadow, beneath the towering mountain and the rumbling thunderstorm threatening overhead. We knew that the other was wonderfully our own. Somehow we had been given the other, not to possess but to carry. And, here, seven years later with two boys and a transition looming ahead, I see in his face that belief that this thing is possible and I say it again: I will and I will and I do.

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Cotton and Lorraine

Yesterday morning, my 94-year-old Great Aunt Lorraine passed away. She still had dyed flaming red hair which, even as she was in bed with hospice care, her daughter made sure was kept combed and nice, just as Lorraine wanted. Today my mom is in Dallas with my grandmother, who won’t be able to make it to California for her sister’s funeral.  I’m thinking about Cotton today and I’m reposting this piece that I wrote over a year ago, in her honor. This is for those blondes in their two pieces…

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Me with Lorraine from last year's visit



I spent two days last week with my mother and her sister, Vicki, visiting my great aunt Lorraine in Los Osos, California. It’s been fifteen years (that’s half my life) since I’ve hugged her. She’s now 92 and stunning, thinner and frailer but still absolutely beautiful with fantastic style and fire red hair (she’s had it dyed every three weeks for the past 50 years).

It’s interesting to me how I feel about Lorraine. I have many great aunts and uncles. Every one of my grandparents came from large farming families. There were plenty of relatives to run into from time to time growing up, but none of them were loved the way I’ve loved Lorraine. I saw her rarely in my childhood, every three or four years, maybe, when we took our family trip to the west coast, or when she came to Amarillo to visit my great grandmother “Mama Mac” (for whom my Mama Monk name draws some inspiration). Perhaps it was her love for white pant suits and big gold clip-on earrings or her forty-year commitment to the same Este Lauder perfume. (I was relieved to catch that sweet scent on her when we hugged.)

But I know the reason I love her dearly is because my grandmother, Cotton, loves her dearly. There was no way to grow up listening to Cotton’s stories of childhood and World War II and being a young mom in the fifties, without falling in love with Lorraine, my grandmother’s dearest, and wonderfully colorful sister.

Before coming last week, my aunt Vicki spent weeks scanning in old family slides from the summers they spent in California during my mom’s childhood. I’ve loved gliding through one photo after another, staring at these two beautiful blondes sunbathing in their two pieces. My husband has always had a secret crush on my grandmother in her young, glamorous twenties and thirties, when she was a gorgeous blonde with uniquely arched eyebrows and constantly tanned skin. But he’s been astounded by the two of these women together in black and white, bronzed on the beach, simply oozing elegance. I’m honored to say I will never be so lovely.

Last week, as I was scrubbing the toilet in preparation for mom and Vicki’s rapidly approaching arrival, I called to wish my grandparents a happy sixty-eighth wedding anniversary. (Yes, I wrote that correctly. Sixty-eighth.) I mentioned to Cotton how much I wished she could make the trip out to California to see Lorriane.

She said to me, “Micha, it takes a special kind of grace to accept what you can’t do anymore. And I don’t think I can travel out there ever again.”

I said, “Well, then, do you think you have it? That special grace?”

“I’m beginning to,” she said.

During my visit with Lorraine, I was shocked at how much her face is like my grandmother’s, the same expressions, the same quiver in her voice, arthritic fingers, hands covered with the raised veins that I have always loved on my grandmother’s hands, that I traced with my pointer finger as a child while I sat beside her.

I’ve always hoped that dying would be like every other change in my life. Remember how scary leaving for college was and how there was this wonderful longing for adventure mixed into that fear? I’ve felt that way about every move in my life. I felt that way about marriage, about having a baby, about leaving the ministry. As scary as the jump is, there has always been solid hand on my back, lovingly shoving me off the ledge.

What is that special kind of grace Cotton was talking about? Is there a moment when it arrives? Do I need to start looking for it now? I fear the day when I cannot see or talk to my two big brothers…when we’re too confused to have phone conversations, when I can’t get on a plane because I’m too frail to travel, when our grandkids don’t know each other and dread being forced into conversation at some Boyett family reunion.

But I pray there is some secret grace waiting in that moment, like the one I knew Thursday afternoon, when I lay my sleepy baby on Lorraine’s bed, sang him a song and snuck out of the room, stopping for a moment to stare at those two beautiful blondes smiling in the framed 1940’s photograph. A whole life ago, those girls posed. Young smooth hands and inside jokes, they shared memories of days on the farm in Floydada, Texas. They were working in California, waiting for their men to return from war.

I stared at my sleeping blond boy, whose right eyebrow arches in the same unique angle as Cotton’s. I thought, how is the world so beautiful? How is it so broken?

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Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

We sang this hymn this past Sunday. I love these words. I can’t sing it without tears. It was written by George Croly in 1854 and arranged by our church’s worship leader Karl Digerness in 2006. Listen to it here. (And if you like it, you should buy Karl’s new cd here.)

I won’t talk about why it’s wonderful. Except to say that the image of God weaning my heart from the earth is incredibly powerful. And for God to check my rising doubt, my rebel sigh? Oh, beautiful words. Sometimes I just need some guy named George from the 19th century to write my prayers for me.

 

 

Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart.
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel vision, no opening skies;
but take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee,  God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see the cross, there teach me to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The presence of Thy descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

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