Turning Two: A Mini Coming of Age {A Peter Rabbit Party}

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I’ve always called her my snuggle-bunny…a springtime baby who loves to curl up in your lap, put her thumb in her mouth and tuck her head into the crevice of your neck. But even the most gentle of babies must at some point catapult herself from the cradle of the caregiver’s arms. Continue reading

Through Thorny Ways

MasonJarRosesHymn{Gracia Rose turned two this week. I plan to post photos from this year’s party soon, but for now, here is a little background about her name and some recent reflections along with some pictures from the Rose Garden Party we hosted to celebrate her first birthday last year.}

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My thin sweater did nothing to ward away the chill in the air. The smell of wet earth hung on the wind. I slopped my high heels through grass and mud on the way to the stadium where my littlest brother would be sliding the tassel from one side of his cap to the other, crowded in by hundreds of other robed students doing the same.

Murky water seeped into my shoes on my walk to the concrete. I wanted to grumble, but all I could think about were the waterlogged feet of a woman on the other side of the world, a woman wandering with holes in her boots and a gun to her head. She had walked that way for days, then weeks, then months. By now it had been almost a year since she and her husband were forced from a bungalow on their second honeymoon by a gang of rebels.

The woman’s name was Gracia. And I prayed for her. Continue reading

To Build a Castle: A Cinderella Pumpkin Patch Party and the Good Idea that Should Have Stayed an Idea

cinderellapumpkinpatchbirthdayBefore you go thinking I’m the neighbor with the pumpkins still sitting on her porch come December, let me assure you that in the end this autumn story relates to the season at hand.

My October baby turned five this fall just before the leaves started to get their color. And so, we scooted ourselves over to the pumpkin patch, hiked through a mini forest of evergreen and found a thing of fairy tales, a pumpkin carriage. Continue reading

No Sugar Crash {A Less Digital Life…Day 15}

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I’d been putting off the week’s trip to the grocery…didn’t want to take the kids, but too tired to go late night. One morning I went to the half-bare pantry and settled on what was left for breakfast…carb-heavy, sugared-up CoCo Wheats. It tastes like childhood, the glory days of processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup, the days before we had a clue that Twinkies were bad for you.

Within an hour, I felt more tired than I did when I woke up. The pillow invited me back to sleep off that sugar crash. But I had kids to take care of, so I muddled through, sighing and shouting out when the sugar got to them too.

All day long, the smart phone is on the kitchen counter waiting on that buzz and chime. And aren’t I eating out of Pavlov’s hand with the way I go for it? The screen glows and so do I to pick up a little morsel of words.

Psychologists say infants need ready response to sense they are known and loved, even to feel they exist. You and me? Seconds after we walk away from the screen, we’re hungry again for something else, cluster feeders crying out to the world, tell me I exist to you.

Always on the buffet sits the story I’ve been taking in all my life, milk to meat. Page corners turn up like wavy noodles. By then, we had been flipping through this anthology during meals for five years, words nourishing my boy from babyhood to school age, us reading straight through from cover to middle. That day on page 943 of 1694, we found ourselves listening in on the strangest of dinner conversations.

There was this hand outstretched like a platter and it held a scroll. Eat what you’re offered. Eat this book. We laughed at the menu choice, but Ezekiel didn’t. He opened his mouth right up and swallowed it down like manna straight from the hand of God. It tasted like raw honey.

I didn’t have to explain it. Elliot dished out the exegesis. Ezekiel had to eat the words so God’s words would be inside him. Then he could say God’s words.

I’d done this before and I needed to do it again if I wanted to give up the sighing and shortness and instead give out words full of grace and truth. I needed to lay my Bible open on the kitchen counter like a cookbook, to check it more than social media, to let the soul feed and feel its worth, to taste and see that the Lord is good…all day long, no sugar crash.

lessdigitalHere’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Lay open your Bible on the cookbook stand. Read and savor.

 

 

{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

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Comfort Food for the Trampled Soul ~ plus giveaway winner {Take Heart…in the Quest for Wholeness}

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We pull our chopsticks from their wax paper wrappers, snap them apart and graze them against one another, like twigs starting a fire or iron sharpening iron, to smooth out the splinters while our food steams and cooks in the kitchen.

I turn the English and pinying side of the menu over to the real menu, the one my friend reads. I search the code for familiar symbols. She points to the boxes, lines and curves that she’s just spoken softly for our waitress, and teaches me how to recognize the characters. I keep up the work on the chopsticks while I practice my language skills. Curls of wood settle on the worn table. I flip the menu over to my cheat sheet and then back again to study the hanzi.

First, the waitress brings out a plate of snow peas. Then, another of stir-fried eggs and tomatoes. And my friend tells me how her grandparents made this for her in the countryside where she spent her girlhood sick in bed.

I lean closer to hear her faint voice. I focus my eyes on her mouth, reading her lips as she ekes out the words from her trampled soul. She winces always, as if something is coming right for her, and now I’m starting to understand why. Her parents had sent her away, their one child a disappointment on the Darwinian scale, barely surviving, unfit.

I look out the door of the restaurant at the wooden crate, a rickety step upholstered in red carpet. Yarny fibers collapse under the load of automobile crud, spittle and vegetable scraps. I hear her meaning through the language gap. She bends under her own load, wondering if she’s born to be trodden underfoot.

We dig our chopsticks into the comfort food and scrape it into our bowls, onto soft beds of white rice. Her words come out quiet like a prayer filtered into a feathery pillow.

“But when I see the film,” she recalls scenes from the movie based on Luke’s telling of Jesus’ ministry, “how He loves the sick…I am very surprised- very surprised!”

I lay my chopsticks across the rice bowl. I picture my friend laying down on her cot in the countryside, mostly dead like Jairus’ daughter, except my friend didn’t have a daddy calling out to Jesus for her.

But Jesus, He who laid down his own life to raise her up, He found her nonetheless.

Here she is across the table telling me about Him with her round face like the moon reflecting some distant glory. She clasps her hands over her heart. And I have to do the like. I bring my hand first to rest on my chest and then to cover my mouth. I want to say His name out loud in the middle of this place that is scared of Him. If only they knew His meekness, quietness, how He changes the diagnosis with a gentle touch.

“He sees you,” I tell her, “He knows your need.” She  feels this already and opens her eyes, not wincing like before.

We put our smoothed-out chopsticks to work. Ginger and sesame oil trickle from our comfort food, hit the taste buds and slide to the core, nourishing. She is quickened, suddenly feeling her worth under the care of our Great Physician.

Reposted from the archives (with recipe!).

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Thanks for visiting Message in a Mason Jar where we’re finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. To get posts delivered to your email box or blog reader, enter your email address on the homepage sidebar or enter http://messageinamasonjar.com/feed/ in your reader.

Take Heart Series ~ Feb 2013This week in our Take Heart series we’re talking about the quest for wholeness, whether physical or emotional. As my pastor reminded us in church this past Sunday, we are beings made up of body and spirit, which together form our complete nature, designed by God. Randy Alcorn shares the same concept in his book Heaven, explaining that God intended humankind to be both earthly and spiritual. We’d love to hear how God has helped you take heart in the midst of your own struggles with sickness, disease, or emotional trauma…anything in your quest for wholeness. Start writing and share your post in our link-up tomorrow. And finally, our winner of last week’s “Nest: A Study in Brokenness” giveaway from Be Small Studios (chosen at random) is commenter #6, Jenna Woestman!