Cape Town Letters: A letter to my God Daughter Avery Lee Jones
I love you with a love that reaches you all the way from the other side of the world and finds its way back to me to send again and again. I am writing you this letter from Cape Town, South Africa where I am living now. I was remembering you when you were little and the commitment I made to be your God Mother long ago and so I wanted to write you to share with you little pearls of wisdom as I serve far away on the other side of the world. The letters I write to you from this place I am going to title: Cups of Tea & Pearls of Wisdom from Mimi—for Mimi is what you chose to call me when you couldn’t say, “Michelle.” It is a silly thing really, but I hope you will ask your Mom to buy you in the store some tea that comes from Africa. It is called Rooibos tea and is grown right here in South Africa. I drink it with a little bit of honey and some lemon sometimes and sometimes I drink it all by itself. When your letters come, maybe you can drink a real cup of tea with Mimi, who loves you so much.
Love is so important Avery…
It is the great study of life to be able to receive enough love to then be able to give it away beautifully and well in a world that is full of others who are sometimes in a different place than you. I met a woman yesterday who I pass by sometimes on the street. I was tired for lack of sleep and I didn’t take time to talk with her like I usually do and she smiled at me still. I realised our lives had touched each day enough for her to know the look of sleep on my face and not be offended for my needing to be quiet. She was at a beautiful place and blessed me for it and I was in a grumpy place that you have seen in me when you have witnessed me in the morning before my first cup of coffee. Always wonder about the place someone is in when they are grumpy before you receive hurtfulness into your heart. Always try and turn moments between you and others into moments of wonder, rather than moments of judgement, for people were made for each other all of us and so when we arrive in front of each other at different places, sometimes we have to extend grace. Be a giver of grace and love, like the woman I met yesterday.
You are living in the years where girls are not always nice to one another. You will be comparing your body to the bodies of your friends. You will want your hair to look like theirs and your clothes to have a bit of sparkle to them and for people to notice the beautiful in you and acknowledge it. These are the years where people who spend a lot of time thinking about things will share that insecurities are born in life and especially born in the lives of girls. You will begin to doubt that all of who you are and all that you have to give is not enough. So, your Mimi writes you from South Africa today to remind you that you are beautifully and wonderfully made. Your hair is that perfect shade of summer blond with those lovely little waves. Your eyes have that inquisitive nature to them and you are kind and wonderful and thoughtful. I love how you and your brother play together and how you care for him so well (especially when you realize you have not and then begin again in your journey of caring for him well)! Don’t believe the lie that you are not enough! You are amazing and I am thankful to have you in my life.
Conquer your fears Avery…
I still remember the first couple weeks of your life. I was actually living with your parents at the time in the spare bedroom of your old house. I was preparing to leave for seminary and was given the gift of seeing you just as you were born and spending precious, precious time with you those first weeks. The story is told that one evening your mother and I were sitting outside your bedroom holding hands. Your father walked by and looked at us like we were crazy (you know we kind of are), but we were waiting your cries out because that is what the books your mom had read said to do. You had to learn to put yourself to sleep on your own and it was terrible torture for us to hear you cry, but eventually after a couple of nights, you stopped crying. You learned to conquer those minutes of fear. You were a brave little soul right from the start!
Fear sneaks up on us in life in ways that hold us back from living fully, courageously. It is important to look at your fears closely and carefully and begin to face them, so that they do not make you freeze in moments when you should breathe, so always remember when you are afraid to breathe and wonder about why you are afraid. The bible has a great phrase, “perfect love casts out all fear.” It is found in a letter 1 John 4:18. I encourage you to read this passage with your Mom and talk with her about your deepest fears, where they might come from, and how you can work not to live scared in life, but to live with courage, hope, and risking in the possibilities that lie beyond fear. To love well means we have to release our fear of others who are different and our fear of being hurt. You will experience things in your life like pain and suffering, but allow those moments to teach you rather than define you. You were brave right from the start Avery.
Do not live in doubt Avery, but believe…
The great truth is that you are held in a love that has no beginning and no end. To learn to live in the love that God has for you, every person around you, and all of this beautiful creation is the gift of each new day. Never doubt in the possibilities that can be achieved when you live and breathe and find your being in God. Never doubt in the love of God. When I was a little girl, much younger than you, my grandmother used to make me coffee. It wasn’t until much later that I realised she was making me Café Mochas, for she would put just a tiny bit of coffee in and lots of chocolate and milk so that I could join her at the kitchen table as she drank. She used to say to me, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” I didn’t really go to church regularly as a little girl, so it wasn’t until years later when I began to read the bible that I realised my grandmother had taught me Proverbs 3:5&6 a famous passage in the bible. Learn to trust with every breath you breathe that you are a beautiful child of God, born into the world gifted in wonderfully amazing ways, to be a gift of love every day of your life to others. Never doubt in God’s love for you Avery. One day I will make you a Café Mocha, but for now drink your tea for I can actually see the questioning look on your Dad’s face when I ponder our later years: Mocha Moments with Mimi.
I am thankful for both your mom and your dad and for their willingness from the very beginning of your life to share you with me. I can’t wait to hug you next, but until then receive your pearls of wisdom and cup of tea.
With love from South Africa,
PS: Tell Ethan he will get a letter too and kiss him real big on his cheek for me!!!