Mikaela, What More I Could Say.

14 06 2011

To My Daughter, Mikaela:

16 to 17 will be a year you look back on time and time again; it has been a marker year. You have tackled so many things in 365 days:

  • from your education (finishing two years in one to graduate a year early, seriously; who does that?),
  • to wise career moves (getting your N.L.S and W.S.I so that your can move into some potentially higher paying jobs to get you to your next steps)
  • to your personal life (deciding you had enough with school and its shenanigans, you bulldozed a new path to freedom,  and created many new and real friendships),
  • to your spiritual life (such new realizations about Truth and who Jesus is to you).

If ever you have found yourself in a “new place” you are in it now.  So here you stand; 17. Many things behind you, some major events ahead and you might wonder who you are in the middle of it. I can’t say completely — really how can one person define another — but here are twenty things I know to be true about you. They are not in any order, but they came easily to mind and I write this with the greatest of pleasure:

1. You Are Expressive

I love going to movies with you because you laugh at all the funny parts; you don’t acknowledge humor with a nod or a polite “haha”; when something is funny you LAUGH OUT LOUD. Not everyone does that, and I love being with you and your laugh; your laugh makes me feel good. I love that you demonstrate what is happy, and tragic, and “disgusting” and embarrassing and disappointing. You aren’t erratic but neither are you all evened out. I love your wackiness, your curiosity, your extremes, and how “out there” you are; being with you is like eating spicy Indian food (a number 7); you have flavor.

2. You Are Transparent

Along with that, you are transparent, and that is really an amazing trait. You are open about what you think and feel (even if sometimes you are confused about it at the same time). You aren’t afraid to be seen. I know we all hide things about ourselves, we portray things we aren’t, but I would say you are more real than less and that helps our relationship to be honest. I love that about you.

3. You Have A Voice

You have something to say. You have always had something to say: ideas, opinions, suggestions, arguments. It’s a learning process, to know how to express those things and when and to occasionally hold on to them; but I am glad you have them. A voice submitted to Christ is a powerful thing, Mikaela. Chew on your words, make sure they have the right motivation and be selective with them, but never be afraid to use your voice. God has given it to you and He has plans for your words.

4. You Are Competitive

You play to win. This of course has a good side and a shadow side, as all things do. They say that one of the things that stress people out is the drive to win. So, keep an eye on this one, but don’t lose the gutsy side of this. You don’t have to be the best, but you have a best and you ought to play to your strengths. So keep stretching yourself and keep looking at what can be accomplished and say, “I could do that!”  Push yourself and keep trying.

5. You are Determined

If I were to give you a #1 trait, this would be it. You are DETERMINED. You set goals and meet them and even when the goal is far off, you make a strategy that gets you to where you want to go. Will this ever serve you well in life, Mikaela; as long as you remember that a girl “makes [her] plans, but the Lord determines [her] footsteps.” Be flexible, but when you see the go…you just pour all your God-given determination into that thing and do it.

6. You Are Teachable

When I look back at your life, we have had some very frank conversations. Because of who you are, you push boundaries; you have fiery Scottish blood (dad’s side of the family); sometimes that has been ok, sometimes it has not. So, we have had some sit-downs where dad and I (and a few others) have been up-front with you. And Mikaela, how I have admired your posture: You can really take it. I am not saying that you have always just been compliant, but you have always arrived there. You are able to look at yourself and say, “Yeah, maybe I have something to learn.” You are not too proud to admit it. You don’t fall apart under admonition. As strong as you are, you have a gentleness that will hear people. Keep that, you must keep that. It will grow you in wisdom.

7. You Are Soft Hearted

What makes you teachable? You have a soft heart. You are so tender on the inside. I have seen this over and over, especially when you have struggled with something. What ever you are expressing on the outside, on the inside you want to do what is right, be in right relationship, be a loving, honest, honorable person. There have been many times when you have wondered who you are in the middle of friends and family; sometimes you have been so frustrated! Sometimes you have poured out hurt, jealousy, discouragement so honestly; but at the center of all that is this pure and beautiful heart that always admits so softly, “but I don’t want to be that way.” How I love this about you. I love that no matter what goes on around you, who you are is so lovely.

8. You Are Brave Relationally

How far back do we go with this one? Kindergarten? You have had a few bumps relationally and most people would just walk around those and let them be what they are. We have called you to confront problems; to go to people and sort things out; to try to reconcile. Sometimes you were just this little blonde thing against a towering adult, but you Mikaela…you handled it. You made appointments with people and sat down and talked things through. Sometimes we said at the outset, “You aren’t going to win, but it is still the right thing to do,” and you followed through. In your short life, you have done these kinds of things with bravery that has taken me 43 years to try to drum up. I love that you pursue the honest conversation. I love that you move towards people and not away; that you know how to stay at the table. In this way, you are more adult then many actual adults.

9. You Have Loved Your Enemy

You have had some harsh things come your way. Crushing things. Nasty words aimed so directly at the most vulnerable parts of a young woman’s heart. They have come so randomly; they have caught you at such unguarded moments. We have had more than a few tears over these things; my own heart broke over the cruelty of it. Mikaela, how I admire you for how you have chosen to love your enemy instead of becoming bitter and hateful. When I called you to pray for those who hurt you, you did. When I asked you to walk in their shoes, or think about their home-life, or try to imagine that other person’s own struggles, how is it that you could do this? Just the other day we mentioned a name of someone who had really stung you, and you were quick to say, “But she’s changed.” You are a forgiver; I am so proud of you for this.

10. You Are Reflective

I love how you live life reflectively. This will serve you so well in the days to come and you will get better at it. When you don’t just REACT to whatever is going on, but choose to take some time to ask yourselves good questions so that you can RESPOND thoughtfully, that is so mature. I saw this in action very recently as you looked at a situation from more than one angle and gleaned lessons from it. You expressed those lessons to me; you told me a story of how you used to see things, what you learned recently and how that has now changed how you think.  You notice what is going on in your head and you look at it and wonder about it and make something of it. Reflection is excellent self-leadership and I see you really taking a hold of this tool in your life.

11. You Can Change Your Mind

At this age, I see something so wonderful happening in you: the ability to change your mind. This comes from good reflection, which I already mentioned. You look at the pieces on the table, new information, new realizations and you are able to form a new opinion and new attitude. You are not stuck. You are not too proud to change; you have and you do. I think you have an honesty about yourself, I think you know yourself enough to know that you don’t always get it right and so you leave lots of room for growth. Yay Mikaela!

12. You Are Sentimental

OK, I have to admit, this one caught me by surprise; but then again, you have always surprised me. With your gusto and determination and strength, I just didn’t see it coming: you are a sappy romantic! No one loves a good love story more than you, or melts at the sight of a cute baby, or can’t resist an adorable puppy, or is moved to tears or feels the tragic turn in the plot of the book more than you! You are SO sentimental!!! I love that you really, really feel things; I love all that emotion; I am in good company when I am with you.

13. You Hate Bugs

I don’t see this changing.

14. You Are A Teacher

You have always been good at telling others what to do and how to do it; I used to tell you not to be such a mother! Over time this has mellowed nicely and what you are left with is a wonderful ability to teach. You kick into teacher mode without even knowing it, leaning in, bending down, bringing a special patience with you. Your voice softens without you even being aware of it as you try to pass on a skill. You break things down into steps; you are joyful when you engage with others to help them learn something. I don’t know what you will become, but I think you will always be an excellent teacher in whatever you do.

15. You Are Musical

How can I not refer to you singing on the trampoline or as you rode your bike in the culdesac? There is music in you; you love to hear it, sing it, play it and at times, write it. I absolutely love experiencing music with you because like everything else you do, you bring passion to it. Don’t lose the music in your life; it will always be the first thing to go, so don’t let it.

16. You Are A Sojourner

A sojourner is a traveler, someone who is temporarily in one spot, moving on to another. I think this word describes you Spiritually. When you were young you had a beautiful connection with God; you met Him early on; you wanted Him early on. Faith is a journey; learning to trust is a journey. So, naturally, you have journeyed – a step closer, a step away, a step closer, a step away – back and forth you have been testing your faith, finding God. I have watched you, prayed for you, feared for you, celebrated for you and at this point, I see something new in you. I see how you and Jesus are really walking together and you are accepting that you know some things and don’t know others and it is ok to muse and wonder and question, and…to believe. I see the compassion of Christ alive in you; I see a longing in you to know Him truthfully. This, out of everything you will ever do, say or be, is the thing that matters to dad and I the most: that you will know Christ and experience His extravagant love for you.

17. You Are Action Oriented

You are brave, adventurous and you love to have fun; and fun often involves something physical. You just have this great tenacity about you when it comes to athletics.  My first memory of this was the monkey bars at Rose Valley when you were really too small to climb them. You got up and over and then fell flat on your face in the bark-mulch. Then you got up and you climbed up again. When it comes to athletics, I am not saying you have been the star of the team, but you love action and trying new things and star or not, you still go-for-it. Maybe once or twice you have said, “I am not good enough,” for a particular activity, but mostly you don’t put restrictions on yourself. You get out there and try, with the classic toss of your gorgeous blonde hair, and with gumption to spare. You already have such a list of cool things you have done, and I have no doubt that list will grow! Keep that adventuresome spirit Mikaela; don’t shrink back (but be wise…had to put that in).

18. You Are Organized

Really, there is no way this can’t make the list; this is a list after all, and you understand lists. If you plan to do something at 9:00 a.m. (wait, that might be too early)…let’s say 10:00, you will have a list, a contact list, a budget and a schedule by 10:15. This is just true about you.

19. You Are A Writer

If parents live vicariously through their children, then this is one of the things I will live happily through you. I love that you are such a good writer. It actually astounds me; how many times have I had to double-check: “Did you actually write this?” It’s just so good, so professional, so descriptive; is it possible that my little girl has all this swimming around in her head? Indeed! I do the happy dance.

20. You Are A Leader

Because you can organize; because you have a voice; because you think things through, because you want to walk in obedience, it goes without saying that you are a leader. I see you frustrated by delay, by disarray; it drives you crazy when there is a lack of direction. Having the traits of a leader and figuring out how to be a leader are two different things, because leadership requires winning people over, working with people, tons of patience, and you have to be convincingly confident and gentle with people at the same time. Being a leader is both joyous and a super big pain-in-the neck at the same time. I encourage you, as you explore this side of you, to be an excellent observer, to read about your gift, to not demand it but offer it. Don’t leap into leadership, but don’t be timid about it either. Be prepared for some bruises and failures, but if God calls you to step in, know that He will give you everything you need; only He can give you everything you need.

20 ½ . You Have Honored Your Parents

Honestly, I could write way more than 20 things, so here is 20-and-a-half. Mikaela, we have asked you to do some hard things. We have called you to things that most teenagers aren’t called to. We even asked you to not date until after you graduated and would understand more about your heart and more about how the world works. I know sometimes we have frustrated you and given you reason to roll your eyes. There have been times you have pushed back and we have pushed back, back . We never expected that we wouldn’t get any heat from you, it is natural to question; but at the end of the day, you honored us through your obedience. We hope you know that there is a special blessing for those who have honored their parents, and Mikaela, at 17 I hope those blessings begin to pour out with ridiculous goodness on you. Thank you for submitting to us even when it was “so annoying.”

I know parenting is not done, nor will it ever be over (it will just change). But the kite-string is lengthening more and more quickly; and even when at last it is only in the tips of our fingers, and finally completely released, we will always be here for you, always try to be as unbiased as we can, to be as honest as we can, and to assure you that never, not for a second, can you lose us. We will always follow your life with great investment and interest.

But we are at a new place, aren’t we? Our desire is that, now, you will take the best of what has been offered to you and extend forgiveness for the rest, and chart a wise and joyful course.

Happy Birthday, Happy Graduation.

I love you; we love you; we always will and we give you our blessing.

Mom

After-word: If you are ever having a lost day, come back and read these things. They are not everything you are, but they are some of my favorites about you.

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