My big, scary moving fears (or, when God gives the good gifts)

I cried when we found out we were moving to San Francisco.

I cried because we’d never be able to get August into a preschool in this crammed city packed with kids on waiting lists since their days in-utero. I cried because I had finally been able to afford a babysitter a few days a week in Austin, and I’d finally been finding the writing time I’d long-hoped of having. I cried because if I had to pay a gazillion dollars for August’s preschool, I’d never be able to afford a babysitter. I’d never finish this book I’m working on.

I sent an SOS out to my mom friends in San Francisco. A friend directed me to toward a Jewish Orthodox school that shares a program with the state to help kids of all incomes go to preschool for free. That’s right. I said, FREE. Five afternoons a week. California is paying August’s way and he’s also learning Hebrew, which is really cool. (Even though I was totally embarrassed on his first day when he told the teacher that “Torah” is a weird word. Ummmm. Sorry?) One more gift in the whole story? His friend Gideon from our church is in his class too.

When I first found out we were leaving Austin, I cried because I’d felt like August did not get to have the kind of outdoor life he needed when we lived in San Francisco before. Our neighborhood was very urban and also a bit unsafe. I never felt too worried outside during the day but I very rarely took him out on my own at night. The walk to the park was long and uphill and when I was pregnant/the mom of a newborn, it was difficult to find the energy to get August outside.

I cried that August and Brooksie would not have a place to ride bikes or run around outside without my making a big plan. (And we all know plans are not my forte.) I cried because I longed for garage parking. (Trust me, carrying groceries and a sleeping toddler down two city blocks while pregnant is a feat I don’t want to accomplish again.) I cried for a backyard to get outside in…for those short 30 minute increments when boys need to stop jumping on the bed and get outside.) The week we learned that moving to San Francisco was a certainty, I was in New Orleans speaking at a youth mission trip. My friend Carolyn sat with me after I received the news. I cried, face in hands, about the backyard thing. She said, “Micha, I’m praying for an outdoor space for you. That will be my prayer. Some sort of miraculous outdoor space.”

We decided to live in the neighborhood where people go to have kids. It’s far from the cool parts of town, which, of course, means that the apartments are bigger and sometimes (sometimes!) they have shared space in the backyard.

Can I tell you that the apartment we found was the second place we looked? We happened to be looking during the busiest weekend the city had seen all year. So much was going on that weekend that no one else showed up for the open house. (That is unheard of in this city where 40 people may arrive at an open house at once.) We got our application in and were approved before the owner had time to show it to anyone else. Bam!

Can I count the gifts? A washer and dryer, a garage, a shared backyard space (with the other apartment in our house), a short walk to two different parks and the library. And…I like it. I like that apartment. It’s actually really pretty.

Carolyn was praying for the outdoor space. My mom was praying for the garage and the washer and dryer and probably other things. What we weren’t praying for was a room for an office. And, yes, my friends. There is an office for me.

Above and beyond, right? What does that mean? I have this hesitation about saying: “Look! God gave me a washer and dryer!” because I know there are a lot of people who don’t get washers and dryers. I have friends here in San Francisco with two kids and  crazy lives and no washer and dryer in their apartments. Do I hold this out as an answer to prayer? Do I say: “Look how God loves me! I got a garage AND an outdoor space?”

I don’t know. I’ve asked these questions for years about so many good things in my life. All I can tell you is that I wept over this move and everything that stood in my way—the impossibility of preschool, the babysitter fee, the outdoor space, the washer and dryer, the cost of living—all of it was taken and shaped by God into something sweet and good. Some people might read that and say: “Oh, it’s because you have faith.”

Nope. I don’t have that much faith. But I do believe God loves me. Would God still love me if I didn’t get to sign a lease with an extra room for an office? Yes, God would still love me. And he would remind me in some other way, I’m sure.

But for now, all I have is the responsibility to celebrate. If I had a pair, I’d put on my red shiny party pants, and do the backyard-space dance. Then I’d do the FREE preschool dance. And then the washer/dryer dance. And I’d ask you to shout out the gifts you’ve been given too. And we’d all get our awesome shoes on and show the music what’s up.

Consider this your invitation to the party.

 

Photo: “Any Street, San Francisco” by Clarity on Flckr
  • http://www.kyndrasteinmann.com Kyndra

    Rejoicing with you in His Good provision!…K

  • julie

    so beautiful- thanks for sharing.

  • Danielle

    DANCE PARTY FOR MICHA!!

  • http://katieleigh.wordpress.com Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    I love this. Yes, God would still love you even if these gifts did not show up – but I’m so glad they are showering down on you at the moment. Dance party indeed!

  • http://foodloveswriting.com Shanna

    Praise God! He is such a good giver.

  • http://justabitofsilliness.blogspot.com Dawn

    Yay, yay, yay! So glad to hear of all this goodness that surprised you.

    I will put on my awesome shoes and shout thanks
    - for my husband, us even finding each other is a miracle
    - for God providing (in all sorts of weird, amazing ways) for upcoming financial obligations that we thought we’d never be able to meet
    - for finding delicious paleo cake recipes just in time to bake one for my in-law’s 50th anniversary party (my mother in law just discovered that she’s gluten intolerant and wasn’t going to be able to have cake at her own party)

    (I’m warning you though. I kind of dance like Elaine Benes.)

  • Mark Allman

    I will admit I am always kind of afraid to ask the question why I have received this blessing and someone else did not or why have they received a blessing I wanted and I have not. My heart seems to think just thinking these questions out loud makes a statement that God is not fair. Has God claimed to be fair. Nothing comes to mind. Why does being fair mean so much to us? The reality is we are horrible judges of what fair is.

    I am glad God is not fair… for if he was then our punishment is known. In a different sense I believe God is so good, and so powerful that what he blesses you with is what you really need and the withouts you have are withouts you can do fine with or you grow having them and the withs I have are what I needed and my withouts I need too. For we know we are different all of us.

    I have a tough time thinking God withholds because I am not good enough. I do not withhold gifts to my children because they are not good enough and we know God is a much better father than I ever will be. I also hope that blessings are not incentives. I want a blessing because God loves me not because I did something that warrants a “prize”.

    Is not the reward just to be with God forever?

    I do rejoice in your blessings. I rejoice that God shines through them to you.

  • Heatherer

    I can’t pass an opportunity to thank God, especially because this is a very challenging season in my life.

    I’m grateful for my baby boy, who suddenly at 10 months old went from stubbornly difficult to easy. The stubborn is still there, but that’s okay. The boy who refused to take bottles for months while he was away from me all day now sits it a chair at the table and looks at me with his coy “look how big I am” smile. We celebrate his birthday this weekend and I know I am blessed to have a happy, healthy, normally-developing child. If you took all these descriptors away, would I still be blessed? Absolutely, but I am grateful for these specific blessings.

    I am grateful for my husband, who washes the dishes nearly every night despite having hours and hours of grading from his first year as a professor. Who hangs out the diapers to dry as I dash out the door trying to beat the traffic rather than continuing to help him. Who puts up with my terrible temper tantrums – in fact, meets them calmly, gives me space to get through them, and then reminds me of God’s goodness.

    I am grateful for my job where I believe in the mission and my managers appreciate my work. And I am well paid with benefits.

    I’m grateful God allowed some of our best friends to buy a house across the street from us, though neither of us planned it that way. Both friendship and faith is enriched by their closeness.

    There are a lot of difficult things right now too. There are lots of places I wish God would act and change something. But when I start dwelling in that pit, I lose sight of the wonder of what I have. So I choose to be grateful for the blessings I have. I am also grateful for the blessings others have, even if they are things I might want for myself. God’s love is not tied to these blessings, but I am grateful that he demonstrates it to me through them.

  • Jeannie

    I was struck by your phrase, “But for now, all I have is the responsibility to celebrate.” I too have a great deal of trouble trying to explain (to myself or anyone else) how we can thank God for the good things yet not blame Him when things don’t seem equally/fairly distributed OR when truly bad things happen to us or others. I don’t really know how to figure that one out logically. But “the responsibility to celebrate” makes so much sense. When blessings flow, what other response can there be but joy, joy, joy.

  • Carolyn Callis

    YAY!!!!! God is so good. Put on the those (imaginary) shiny, red pants. I’ve got mine on! Love you!

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Ah, Micha. LOVE this. And I know this, too. When we moved to Santa Barbara, I lived in a parishioner’s guest house for four months, searching, searching for a house. We were leaving a large, comfortable old 1930′s Mediterranean in Altadena and nothing I saw even came close. By the end of six weeks, I was feeling a little bit desperate. A visiting missionary speaker sat in my office with me and prayed for me in a way I’ve never, ever been prayed for – before or since. She pictured God jumping up and down with joy at the gift of a house waiting for us. And six weeks after that, I found it – just as we were ready to make an offer on a place we really did not like all that well and which would never have been the place for us. THIS house has been and is. And I am embarrassed by the flooding of grace and generosity that every inch of this building and this immense yard shout into my heart every single day. And it’s been sixteen years. These things are God’s goodness in physical form and there are no answers to all the questions that rise – like why me? Where is your goodness in the lives of those who have so much less? SoI think you are right – our job here is to celebrate and say one long continuous THANK YOU. Enjoy it, friend.

  • michaboyett

    Friends, I can’t thank you enough for the dance party. It was awesome from here.
    So grateful to have you there to celebrate with me!

  • amy cormode

    Thank you for celebrating. For asking questions that don’t have answers. For being honest. For not being ashamed to tell of the good gifts God has given, even when we see someone else who doesn’t have this or that. For asking me to celebrate. I am glad for the deep reminder that acknowledging His Goodness and Delight in us transcends the need to answer all the questions. Cause those will just make your head hurt. Bless you Micha. And yes, ENJOY.
    My husband has just moved from graduate student (and you know that income) to real income land and it seems too good. I can put my own three kids in more hours of great care so I can take care of myself a bit and while it’s tempting to feel guilty I am realizing this just masquerades as my own feelings of unworthiness. So I will hold up my hands to the sky and jump for joy at the new gifts I have been given…and recognize where they truly come from. I think living into and enjoying these gifts must be the best form of thanks don’t you think?

  • Farah

    I’ve been sunk for the past six months deep in various forms of crazy-busy, but now that I’m looking at some time and space… I’m so happy to read this post, Micha. It helped me get over the shock of “What? You’re moving/have moved” of a more recent post when I checked back in (finally) with you and your blogself today. Miss you!!

  • http://www.moderndaydonnareed.com steph {confessions of a stay-at-home mom}

    once again, I come to thank you for your words. I needed to hear that God loves us, even if we do ‘the other thing.’ And that we don’t know if we receive (or don’t receive) based on our faithfulness – of ‘those things’ are a gift from God (yet a gift He did not gift others?).

    But we can celebrate. And know that God loves us – even if we struggle to know and understand that.

    Thank you!

  • Pingback: Thankful Tuesday: Advent thoughts, Christmas gifts, and baby cheetahs

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