Why Do You Choose To Love Me?

Recently, I was asked to portray Mary the Mother of Jesus for East End Fellowship’s Youth Group gathering. Our theme this semester is Back to the Future, so this week we wanted to discuss the past and how it affects our future. In a stroke of pastoral genius, Rashad had the students travel to three different “stations” of three varying characters from the past: Rosa Parks, Bill Bojangles, and Mary. The students would meet these characters in their defining moments in history, the moments where they felt most hopeless but clung to hope in the Lord to persevere.

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Now, I’ve always had a sort of distaste for Mary, a woman solely defined by her identity as “mother”. I certainly recognize her importance in the nativity narrative and her humility and grace before the Lord, but I’ve never particularly enjoyed her character. So, whenever I am asked to play her (and being the only experienced, female actor in a church often guarantees many such requests) something inside me balks. But this time was different. I was not asked to portray the sweet, angel-faced thirteen year old giving birth in a barn, but the ragged middle-aged woman forced to watch her eldest son be brutalized, nailed to a tree, and then suffocate to death. This Mary, surrounded by candles and sitting near the cross she had just watched Jesus be ripped down from, was in uncontrollable sobs. As stated earlier, I’m an actor and I love my craft, and as I sat there honing it and searching my memory banks for a comparable feeling of loss, I realized I had no point of comparison. I was disheartened, thinking “I want to present the deepest level of pain to these students, I want them to understand that true hopelessness comes even to those closest to the Lord, so this can’t seem fake or dramatized… but I just don’t know what to draw on”. I sat looking up at the cross, hoping for some divine inspiration, when the Spirit gently whispered “Do you know what I’ve done for you? You were in critical condition. By your very nature you were poisonous, so I hung there on that tree and made you whole. Don’t you see what I’ve done?” Then I couldn’t control it, I erupted in sobs, heaving and weeping and asking the Lord “WHY?! Why would you do that for me? For us? I am so beyond not worth it!” And then there I was, the weeping Mary sitting before the cross, asking the same question: why her son, her baby, her love would give himself up for those that killed him, those that followed him, and even she who birthed him. I liked Mary in that moment, a more tangible, earthly mama crying out to the Lord asking “Why do you choose to love me?”

The “performance” went well. A few high schoolers left in tears, others in stunned silence. Some young middle-schoolers came in chuckling and left with wide-eyed contemplative stares. When it was all over, I sat shivering for a moment, releasing Mary back to the ethereal realm from which she had come. And as I was unwrapping my lace head cloth, one of the student leaders came bounding up the stairs to tell me how my depiction of Mary had moved him and to offer me a restorative hug. We blew out all the candles and returned down the stairs and back into the crowd together. We then broke into small groups where I was greeted by my high school girls with hugs and praise. “How do you make yourself cry? Teach me to cry?” and “Remember us when you’re a star!” They shared their hopes and I applauded them, shocked that they would share things so personal with a girl they’d known for only a few months. Makari, easily one of the most beautiful and vibrant people I’ve ever met, shared her dream of becoming the “Christian Tyra Banks”, empowering women to find their true worth in Christ and hugging me round the waist when I shared my similar dream of being the Christian Jennifer Lawrence. We returned to corporate worship, dancing and laughing together in the presence of our very tangible Lord.

Just a few weeks earlier, I went on a bike tour of Church Hill along with Rashad and two student leaders (called SLAM Leaders). Riding through the historic streets of Church Hill flanked by those two students, Chris and Jarrell, racing and giggling, I have never felt more at home. In that same week, one of the high school students asked if she could share her story with me. She said she just wanted someone she trusted with everything. Now we have journals in which we write to one another, everyday about everything.

And through every single one of those precious moments I am confronted with the same question Mary asked me that night surrounded by candles: Why do you choose to love me? You’ve known me for all of three months and, while I have certainly made enemies with my strict rules and course behavior, some (not all) of you have chosen to love me. To trust me. To help me clean up when you don’t have to. To share your secrets with me. To understand that I discipline because I love. To catch me as I fall off a skateboard. To laugh with and at me. To give me hugs when your peers have torn me down. To play with my hair and compliment my socks. And, as always, to be Jesus to me. Why do you choose to love me? I don’t know, but I’m grateful.

20 Things On My First 20th On This 22nd

Today, July the 22, marks the completion of my first month of being 20. So, with the rise of “list blogging” I figured I would share 20 things about myself on this 22nd. A fairly blunt person, I always wish it was socially acceptable to be brutally honest about who you are upon meeting someone. So, I give you the 20 things I wish I could share without making a terribly awkward first impression.

Cupcake me

Salut! Je m’appelle Micah Fae!

Paris is

1) I freaking love language. Yo hablo espanol y/et j’apprends le Francais! I hope to fluently speak/sign 4 languages by the time I’m 30, those languages being Spanish, French, Italian, and ASL.

 

2) I love Jesus. Like a lot.

 

coffee

3) I also love coffee… almost as much as I love Jesus…

 

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4) The third of my great loves is my dog Mackenzie. A breathtaking golden retriever girl, my love for whom is unrivaled by any human love I have ever felt. I often tell my friends that I could never love a man as much as I love that dog… and that’s totally accurate.

 

no patriarchy

5) I’m a feminist. I believe in the complete social, religious, economic, political, and cultural equality of all genders. I do not believe that men and women are made for different “roles” but I by no means hate men… even if I could never love one like I love Mac Loo.

 

menchi

6) I’m mildly obsessed with dinosaurs… My soul dinosaur being the Mamenchisaurus.

 

toitey

7) I will only use a well-lit bathroom stall. In fact, in my church, I have claimed a toilet as my own. His name is Lenny.

 

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8) The only physical characteristic I like about myself is my hair, for which I use shampoo made for horses… it’s not weird.

 

oh ian...

9) As my beloved Nikolle so delicately put it “You’re wonderfully intelligent but you watch a lot of crap TV”. For example, I am shamefully obsessed (and I do mean obsessed) with the Vampire Diaries. Mmmmm Ian Somerhalder…

 

jc rew

10) I have (and wear) dress shorts even though… what in the heck is a “dress short”. Ah J Crew… you are my downfall…

 

11) I have trust issues… not that I’d tell you where they stem from… I don’t trust you enough for that.

 

IPV No more

12) I am deeply committed to ending sexual assault and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

 

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13) I’ve never had a manicure. Or pedicure for that matter. And I am totally ok with that.

 

harmony

14) I’ve spent so much of my life singing harmony for beautiful vocalists like Tricia Jane Wiles that I actually can’t hear melody lines. My mom and I make a practice of driving down the road switching radio stations while she tells me whether or not I’ve found the melody line, which I never have…

 

homeless

15) I feel most at home with the homeless of New York City.

 

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16) I am so small that I can still fit into clothing worn by 5th graders. Most people envy this “skill”, but struggling to find a wardrobe not entirely comprised of rainbow socks and bubble gum pink dresses is actually fairly difficult.

 

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17) I can’t add. Like, at all. No exaggeration here. 5+8= not a clue.

 

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18) I have a deep-seated fear of being fat. Having said that, some days I eat like a football player and others I eat nothing at all. But I will eat ALL the trailmix!

 

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19) If you’ve met me, you’ve met my journal. My recycled paper composition notebook is plastered with stickers proudly proclaiming “EAT FRESH, EAT LOCAL”, “PAINTED LADY TATTOOS: Hell Yeah It Hurt!”, “Shenendoah Valley Justice Initiative”, and of course a drawing of a dinosaur from a children’s sticker book. It goes everywhere I go and holds many a private thought.

 

let me be that iam

20) I am hyper-critical, brutally honest, and upsettingly judgmental. I don’t like to be touched and I’m a book snob. I love animals more than people and will always choose a kitty cuddle over any other kind. But like my animals I am loyal and odd and enigmatic. So “let me be that I am and seek not to alter me”.

Marginalizing My Existence Is Not A Way Of Flirting Sir

I work as a Server at a fairly conservative, very successful restaurant chain in my very conservative, not as successful small town. For the most part, I really enjoy my job. The customers are friendly and excessively southern; my coworkers are generally cordial and well-meaning. The atmosphere is helpful and family-oriented with an ambience created by 50s “Tack and Feed!” signs and mason jars. It’s a great place to work… until you take your dirty dishes to the dish room.

No-whistling

As I rolled silverware one evening, I was approached by one of the dishwashers (the human kind, not the Maytag variety). He expressed to me that the dishwashers ran the restaurant and that we servers were only useful as something for them, the “real” workers, to look at. I laughed it off, understanding that he was mostly kidding and deserved grace, until later when that same man knelt next to me as I looked for a missing part, a pivotal piece of the all-important juice machine I was tasked with cleaning before I could leave. I explained to him my cause, thinking maybe I could enlist his help, and bent to continue my search. He responded immediately saying, “I didn’t know you was gonna do that, girl. You just bent over right in front of me. It was nice, I liked it”. I sprung to my feet, shocked and mortified. He rose to meet me and my eyes locked on his as I screamed “NO! It is NOT ok to speak to me that way! Do you understand me? Who told you that treating a person like that is alright? Because they lied!” By this point the entire cast of confused and embarrassed servers had stopped to investigate the madness, among them a male manager who stood unmoved and unfeeling. No one said a word as my offender sputtered out some nonsensical excuses, “Girl, girl, it won’t like that” and “what you talking about?”, the usual nothingness. I responded calmly “You will not speak to me like that again and (gesturing to floor) thank you for helping”. Resume business as usual.

I finished my work, fuming and near tears, feeling the weight of every woman who had ever been treated this way. He had literally stopped me from doing my job in order to comment on my body, not metaphorically or proverbially, literally. Not only that, he had informed me earlier that my only real purpose was providing something for he and his fellow dishwashers to look at. But here’s the kicker: I am competent. I am a person. I have an incredible memory and love for language. My mind is both musical and mechanical. I am smart and occasionally funny. I am capable and self-sufficient. I am fearfully and wonderfully made… and you decided to see my butt?! My itty-bitty, less-than-impressive butt?! I weigh 90lbs for goodness sake! When the Lord created me His brushstrokes painted in wit and intelligence and compassion… but when He finished His first statement wasn’t “Damn! That girl’s gonna have a butt worthy of commenting on while on the floor of a chain restaurant looking for a piece of a juice machine”.

I have never felt such objectification and I never want anyone else to feel it again. But if you have felt it, I invite you to comment and share your story. That’s the only reason I wrote this blog piece… I needed to share my story, to know that other people can identify. So please, join in.

Je Vous Presente

Je vous présente Tricia Jane:

Lover of Jesus
Dreamer
Student at VCUArts
Incredibly Talented Dancer and Vocalist
That-Weird-Girlie-Tomboy-Mix-Girl
Kick Ass Gamer
Hopeless Romantic
Missionary
Leader

Tricia and Micah 4

Talk about #tbt, this girl has been in my life since Day One, and that was a very complicated day. Our friendship has been one of extremes: great love and loyalty accompanied with great pain and complexity. When the above picture was taken, our relationship was in a particularly weird place… let’s just say we haven’t always followed Girl Code Rule #1: Sisters before Misters. Tricia and I have endured so much together and we always seem to come out on the other side

Tricia and Micah 1

But we’ve learned a lot and are now more dedicated followers of the sacred Girl Code. Tricia Jane is incredibly gracious, talented, exceptional, brave, beautiful, strong, honest, and authentic. Her physical beauty is genuinely breathtaking and should not be underemphasized, but her heart is her crowning glory.  Once a bubbling ball of soprano shrieking, Tricia has evolved into an elegant warrior for Christ. She is currently lighting up the Richmond theatre scene with Jesus’ love. In fact, light is the best way to describe my dear friend Tricia. She is a spotlight in the deepest dark, a candle when the power goes out, and a familiar bonfire of passion and warmth. I am convinced that God has no problem finding her on this giant Earth because she must glow like a car dealership having a “Midnight Blowout!”

Tricia and Micah 5

Often mistaken for sisters, Tricia and I are known for our super tight harmonies during worship, our ear-splitting screaming powers, and our strange ability to remain close after all we’ve put each other through. I am deeply and truly grateful for this girl. She has molded and shaped me in a way that only she could. She has taught me forgiveness. She has taught me what it is to be genuinely worshipful. She has shown me grace. I love you Tricia Jane Wiles, thank you for being my spotlight on the darkest of stages.

Tricia and Micah 3

I Need Your Help

Doggy KissesThis is a super cute picture of me getting lick-attacked by a doggy named Lucy that is totally unrelated to this post but also super cute!

As I have mentioned before, I will be living missionally in North Church Hill this coming year. As a missionary, I will rely on funds from people that love and believe in me. As of yet, I have raised exactly $0.00 dollars… only $12,000 to go. However, I believe that my God is faithful and that He desires to abundantly provide for His children.

Those of you that know me well, know that I am nearly incapable of accepting help. You have a 200lb box that needs carried up the stairs? I will do that and don’t you dare get in my way! But I am learning that is entirely natural to need the help of those that surround you. In Nehemiah 2:1-10, Nehemiah, the servant to King Artaxerxes (whom we shall call Artie), learns that his home has been struck to ruins. The city he was raised in, and the families that he loves, are in poor condition and in need of his help. King Artie, knowing his servant well, asks Nehemiah why his face “looks so sad” and Nehemiah tells the King of his city. The King then asks what Nehemiah wants and that’s when Nehemiah does something incredible: he prays. Leaving King Artie waiting for a response, when he is a common servant who’s life may be endangered by this disrespect, he prays! After his prayer he responds to the King, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it”. BOOM! After, working out the logistics, King Artie agrees, sending Nehemiah to the city in Judah armed with guards, gold, and enough supplies to rebuild his home. THAT IS INCREDIBLE!

Why am I telling you this story? I mean, who has even read Nehemiah? Isn’t that the little book we just ignore? I believe this little book draws an exact parallel to my situation now. I want to go into my city, the city of my ancestors, and rebuild it. I have had many a minimum wage job and even now am applying for more, but I must leave those behind to renew Richmond city, just like Nehemiah had to leave his job at the King’s side. To do that, I need your help. I have spent many hours in prayer, just as Nehemiah did before answering King Artie’s question, and know that I must go.

How can you help? There are actually a couple of ways: 1) go to chatrichmond.org/donate, choose the Yearlong Internship in the drop-down box labeled “Designation” and type in my name (Micah Thomas) in the “Who would you like to support?” box to donate or 2) you can email your address to thomasmf@dukes.jmu.edu and I will send you my official support letter and an enclosed envelope in which you can send your check made out to “Church Hill Activities and Tutoring” with my name in the memo line.

 

So, if it pleases you and if I have found favor in your sight, will you help send me to the city of Richmond where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it?

I Wrote a Poem for You

This is what a feminist looks like

I wrote a poem, a sort of slam poem one might say, and spent a great deal of time deciding whether or not to share it with you all. But I’m pretty proud of it. And even though it’s better read aloud, I’m still excited to present it to you. So here it is.

Love, the Ladies

Don’t tell me
That I’ll understand when I’m older
Don’t tell me
It’s the natural order of things
Because my God does not create inferior beings
Don’t tell me
The proverbial “he” is naturally stronger
Better
More worthy
Higher
Nearer to the Divine
Don’t steep me in those lies

Don’t tell me
That I’ll get it when I’m married
That marriage will “tame me”
Mold me
Change me into something meek
Don’t label me as soft, kind, gracious, sweet
Without remembering me as
Vital, empowered, incredible, set apart
Don’t tell me I’m your “baby”
Your “doll face”
Your lesser
Don’t you dare place me in that box
Ha
Good luck trying
For though I am little, I am mighty
And I will not go down without a fight

Don’t tell me that this is Biblical
Chemical
Natural
“The way it’s supposed to be”

Don’t tell me
What I like
Who I am
What I can and can’t do
Don’t saddle me
With your weakness
Don’t associate me
With soft, baby pink
And if you do
Know that it is the strongest color
I could’ve chosen

Don’t tell me
That I’m fragile
Emotional
Unpredictable
Don’t place those assumptions on me
Don’t tell me
That I’m pretty
But neglect to mention that I am
Smart
Powerful
Unique
Influential
Strong
Infinite

Don’t you even tell me
That it wasn’t his fault
That my dress was too short
And my mind too impaired
Don’t tell me
I should’ve fought
When my body
Froze
Don’t tell me
That I must have wanted it
Because I didn’t scream
Don’t you dare
Call this a “woman’s problem”
Which only allows you to absolve yourself of the
Guilt
To make me a statistic
Instead of a survivor
A survivor
Tell me I’m a survivor

Don’t tell me
That I’m fighting a losing battle
That I’m trudging uphill
That I can never win
Don’t even try to tell me
That I am alone
For I am surrounded
By Beloved Warriors
I am held up
By the Almighty Creator
The Great I Am
He Who Provides
She Who Is

Don’t you dare tell me
That we’re past all this
Don’t tell me
That I can relax
That we are all equal now
Don’t criminalize
The “F” word
Don’t forget
That every “ism” has “ists”
And we are mighty
We are many
And we are growing

Don’t tell me any of that
Don’t you dare

Instead
Tell me
You’re in
Tell me
You love deeply
Unashamedly
Unabashedly
For eternity
Tell me
You’ll pick up your sword
And take your place alongside of me
Tell me you will fight valiantly
Until this war is won

Bring to me
Your talents and gifts
Your concerns and reservations
Your weapons and war cries
Your peace signs and olive branches
Show me
Who you are
And what you’ve got

Promise me
Promise me now
Vow to me
That you will love yourself
Enough to fight
Give me your word
That you will believe in the
Power of Yourself
In the
Beauty of Yourself
That you will never give up hope

So ready the horses

There’s an army rising up

Je Vous Presente: Premiere Partie

Allow Me to Introduce You: Part One

I’m teaching myself French. My accent is terrible and actually burns the ears of those who hear it, but my grammar is pretty ok. In any case, if you intend to stick with this blog of mine (and I hope you do) there are a few people you need to meet. So, allow me to introduce to you just one of many people that makes my world go round…

Je vous presente Rachel Layne:

Lover of Jesus
Fellow Christian Feminist Theologian
Student at University of Virginia
Bread Fanatic
That-Girl-That-Knows-Literally-Everyone
Dryly Hilarious Comic
Self-Proclaimed Einstein
Coffee Shop Connoisseur
Missionary
Leader

Rachel and Micah 2

INT. DAY. KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOM.
It is the first day of school and smallish children in new clothes with new backpacks file into the room. Setting their backpacks down and (reluctantly) placing their lunch boxes in a cubby hole, the children mill about looking for potential friends and soul mates. Enter class bully making a beeline for a cute little brunette with some seriously intense eyewear.
Bully: Hey four eyes! (smacking at glasses)
Rachel: Ahhhh!
Enter plucky little blonde, late as usual, with horse lunch box and a don’t-screw-with-me attitude rushing towards bully and glasses girl.
Micah: HEY! Don’t you ever do that again! (pushing Bully aside and leading Rachel toward a little plastic chair)
Rachel: Thanks… You wanna be best friends forever?
Micah: Sure!

13 years later and here we are. Rachel no longer needs my protection (mostly because she got rid of those monstrous glasses and replaced them with contacts) ((I kid, she’s just awesome now)), but we are still the best of friends. Rachel and Micah 3She is the most intelligent, open, honest, friendly, level-headed person I know. She is the constant logic to my hair-brained schemes while simultaneously being the life of the party. More seriously, she is my rock, my sounding board, my forever friend. Rachel is one of the very few people in this world that I trust entirely and without question.Rachel and Micah 5

I can’t live without her; in fact, I don’t want to imagine a world without her. She was born two days before me and I firmly believe that two days is all I could last without her in my life.

Rachel and Micah 1Some have called us the classic blonde/brunette best friend pair, but we are so much more than that. She is so much more than that. So, if you plan on spending any time with me, expect to be hearing a lot about her.

 

I Owe You an Explanation

Hey Friend,

As I sit here in my incredibly boring philosophy class, waxing poetic and philosophizing and such, I realize I owe many of you an explanation… I am taking a year off of school. I am putting colleg eon hold. I am disrupting the safe societal order that I have so comfortably cozied up to. I am going to tutor in Richmond instead of pursuing my goals as an actor and teacher in the university setting.

So, if you’ll have it, I’d like to humbly offer the story of how I got here:

I was supposed to be in New York City. I was supposed to be attending the New York Film Academy’s One Year Film Acting Conservatory on one of the largest talent scholarships they have ever offered. But, as always, God had other ideas and His ideas always seem to be much better than my own. As I made preparations for my move to the Big Apple, I felt a strange darkness where there should have been great joy. I asked my Heavenly Daddy about it and He made it clear to me that University (of any kind) was not a part of His plans for my next year. He asked me to trust Him… and so I did.

On March 29 as I sat in this very same incredibly boring, offensive, and infuriating Gen-Ed philosophy class, I began to pray and was prompted to visit chatrichmond.org (I recommend you visit too). I soon found that CHAT hosted interns to live missionally in the North Church Hill area as teachers and tutors. I immediately emailed the founder of CHAT, asking if he would consider hiring an undergraduate into the graduate intern program; he responded saying that he had never been asked that before, but I was welcome to apply. It was the last day to apply, and I needed to fill out a standard application, find two references, write several short essays, write one full-length essay, and send in a five minute video of myself teaching… and I had five hours to turn it all in. Now isn’t that just the way?

But God is faithful and I managed to get it all in on time. After several phone interviews and hours of prayer, I was officially accepted as a CHAT After School Tutor for the 2014-2015 school year. My duties during the next year will include tutoring, one-on-one discipleship of a high school girl, assistant leading a small group and Bible study, aiding students in maintaining a profitable entrepreneurial project, leading visiting college groups, and participating in summer camp leadership. Most exciting, I have the opportunity to teach a two-hour theatre class every Friday to 30 or more Church Hill Academy students.

I am ecstatic. I am nervous. And I need your help. I will be living as a full-time missionary, fully supported and funded by those that love me, believe in my teaching ability, and want to bless the lives of high school students in North Church Hill. The goal is to raise $1,000 a month for living expenses. I realize how much that is asking of the ones that I love, but I believe in what I am going to be doing. I believe in the organization that I am serving. I believe that God has blessed me with a unique group of friends that comprise a beautiful blended family. If you feel called to give, to partner with me in this next year, I ask that you email (thomasmf@dukes.jmu.edu), call, message, find a carrier pigeon, or send a smoke signal. If you cannot give, but still wish to stay updated, keep reading this blog, shoot me an email, or send over that carrier pigeon we talked about earlier.

I am fully sold out to this cause. I am ready and excited. And I am slowly learning that it’s ok to ask for help, that it is natural to need the people around you. I need you, I’m counting on you, and thank you.

Until next time!

 

CHAT logo

 

I am Beatrice Cumberbatch

Beatrice

… and I am not nearly so clever as I think I am. But I am deeply infatuated with Sir Benedict Cumberbatch and inseparably attached to Beatrice of the Bard’s Much Ado About Nothing. I am also an avid lover of the written word (preferably Austen’s), theatre (preferably Shakespeare’s), dinosaurs (preferably Mamenchisaurus), and coffee (always Fair Trade). An actor and an activist, a feminist and a hick, a loud mouth and deep  thinker, a muddled ball of contradictions as my high school theatre teacher once said.

That same teacher (who I hope is reading this blog now) also told me I had a story worth telling. And I believe, as I spend this next year working in inner city Richmond as a teacher and tutor, that story will become one worth sharing. So, I present this blog as a forum for discussion not only about current gender equality issues, social injustice, and my untamable love for all things bread-related, but more importantly as a place to share stories from my experience at Church Hill Activities and Tutoring.

What is this Church Hill Activities and Tutoring you ask? I knew you would. CHAT is a gospel-based program designed to “equip and serve the youth of Church Hill to make transformative decisions, ultimately changing lives and revitalizing communities”. CHAT is a “faith-based community of Church Hill neighbors and friends who share a passionate belief in the power of fellowship to transform communities,” that hires young people like myself to come and be missional teachers and tutors for the youth they serve. Combined with the unfailing love of Jesus Christ, CHAT believes that education is key to the healing and success of North Church Hill. I get to be a part of that and I’m hoping you will join me for the ride. 

But more on CHAT later. I am now supposed to promise to write everyday about one particular thing, in one particular way, but I won’t because I’m Micah and you can’t make me.