We Are Poetry

{Sign Up for the Story Circle through (in)couragers Today!}

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading several works-in-progress, offering little bits of free-time for writing proposals, editing prologues line-by-line, and helping writers dream in the right direction.

The novelist with her first draft, the photographer and her poignant captions, the memoirist with her hard days on paper, the children’s writer/illustrator with a fresh idea. As I sift through their work, an old verse comes to mind, the one that talks about how each of them is God’s poeima. But when I go to look up the verse, I barely get into the sentence before I’m held in place by the smallest word. If only I had the flourescent yellow highlighter from my college days, that one word would be glowing…we. Continue reading

Be More than a Comment at the Bottom of a Post

{Psst! Registration for (in)RL opens today!}

Photo by Nate Embrey

It was like I was peeking through a slat in the fence, watching these would-be friends with boards and nails and hammers in the yard, their words building up a space for women to belong.

I read their stories on the (in)courage site and whispered my comments down below, like a little knock at the gate. I clicked over to each of the writers’ personal blogs linked from the site and took it all in, a stockpile of exquisite material uncovered. But there was something biting at me like little mosquitos hovering over summer grass. Continue reading

The Cabin Connection {A Less Digital Life…Day 5}

IMG_2062This summer, I was ready to swear off all social media. The net just wasn’t working for me. It seemed like every time I’d step into the avenues that were supposed to be connecting people, I’d instead find people putting themselves on pedestals, sacrificing family values to get followers and turning sacred things into marketplace currency, like the moneychangers in the Temple. So, when some friends said their cabin was available for the weekend AND that the cell reception was unreliable, we opened our hands for the key. Continue reading

A Friend for the End ~ Link-Up {Take Heart…in Kinship and Community}

Today in our Take Heart series, my friend Christie Elkins shares about how she felt God’s comfort even as she and her family watched their church crumble after almost a decade of ministry.

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I exited the door, turned left, my worn ballet flats sliding slightly on the waxed floor. I scooted to a pause, for a moment. I had no idea which way to turn. It was then she grabbed my hand and showed me the way. Holding my breath, I followed blindly.

That was the end.

The beginning was almost eight years prior. Fresh out of college, newlyweds, we were seeking a place to worship with no abandon—a come as you are, a welcoming smile, a deep conversation about sin on a moldy secondhand couch. Despite the bugs, the dust, and the scratching of heads in the community, we went full force with a group of believers and launched a church in an old building on a forgotten side of town.

They said we were too young, too loud, wore too much black.

That was the beginning.

What transpired over the years to come was unexpected. It was fulfilling yet lonely. It was open arms or cold shoulders. It was encouragement in the most unlikely of places. It was the building up of lifelong friendships. Or the ones that got away who have not spoken since. It was worship with the sunrise, gospel sharing overseas, loving people at home. And still finding bugs here and there.

It was a whirlwind courtship between the Maker and his clay. He molded us. Changed us. Made us whole. Gave us direction.

They said we were too busy, too scattered, and had too many kids.

We visited a church. A different church. We had never sought out a church before– it seemed one always found us, especially with my husband being in the ministry. It was awkward. And uncomfortable. And when my daughter said she had to go to the bathroom, I jumped at the chance to exit the service.

So, I exited the door, turned left, my worn ballet flats sliding slightly on the waxed floor. I scooted to a pause, for a moment. I had no idea which way to turn. It was then she grabbed my hand and showed me the way. Holding my breath, I followed blindly. “The bathrooms are this way”, she smiled, and guided me down a long, shiny school hallway, with fluorescent lighting blazing into my eyes.

I gripped her hand tightly, fighting back tears. At that moment, the only friend I had, the only encouragement in ministry was my five year old child.

Everything is beautiful in its time. From the first moment of cracking open that dust filled building to the painful service where we stepped down from an eight year life of church ministry. There was a time—a time, a purpose, a place in His plan for the astounding things that happened over the course of those years. And while most would expect the closing to be hurtful and cold, it was not.

Because what we had with these believers is hard to explain. It transcends time. It defies odds. Because that is what happens when you allow faith to take its course. It does not have to make sense to anyone but Him. So you hold on to that tiny, sweaty, five year old hand, take a deep breath, and trust.

We are all headed in the same direction, we are just taking different hallways. We are going forth. Ready. Prepared. And as He guides our paths, we need not seek a friend for the end.

Those friends have been there all along.

Christie ElkinsChristie is the mother of three rambunctious little ones, wife to a pastor/cop, and a writer to anyone who will offer a listening ear. She began her blog, My Walk With Eden in 2008 and spends her days trying to homeschool, paint her nails, and save the world, all before naptime. Christie is also a newspaper columnist at the LaFollette Press, sharing weekly, humorous tales in her column entitled “Letters from the Nest,” and is an Allume blog contributor. She and her family reside in the Appalachian mountains of east Tennessee, where sweet tea is served at every meal and hospitality is second nature.
You can find Christie on Twitter, on Facebook , her blog, and LaFollette Press.

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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 2013Now it’s time to share YOUR Take Heart story. Enter your information below to link to your own blog post on how you’ve been encouraged to “Take Heart…in Kinship and Community,” whether it be in the struggle of extended family dysfunction, leaving a church, or working through conflict with a friend. In your post, link back to our page here (you’re welcome to grab the thumbnail graphic to use in your post) and invite others to join in. Then, be sure to visit and comment on the posts that link up before and after yours and encourage each other!



If the Tee Fits: The (in)RL Beach House Is Back Again

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I hadn’t payed much attention to what I was wearing yesterday morning. I had rolled out of bed in my pajamas and stayed in them after sending my son off to school. But when I opened my browser to enter my details in little boxes for the second go ‘round of (in)courage’s worldwide meet-up, I looked down and noticed the letters sticking out in 3D over my expanding belly. Screen print stretched on the comfiest of cotton and lycra with the word (in)RL.

I’ve loved the (in)courage community since I first found my way there through Ann Voskamp’s blog. All of these likeminded women full of creativity and wisdom, I saw them gather together at the beach house for their (in)courage writers’ retreat. When I first saw those pictures and read their reflections, I was writing alone…no one to bounce ideas off of, no venue for sharing, no one near who fully resonated with my attraction to expressing ideas in the written word.

Then, I got invited to the beach house…or, rather, the beach house came to me. I went to (in)RL last year knowing one college friend out of a whole table full of women. But the introductions that day spring-boarded relationships that made my online life feel less virtual and more 3D, like the letters on my tee turned materni-tee, like the (in)courage ladies at the beach house talking out loud over the sound of waves, showing emotion in facial expressions instead of emoticons.

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Since that meet-up last April, several of us local bloggers have continued to meet at cafes or schedule summer play dates with the kids in tow. We have helped each other roll out of bed in the morning, encouragement that I desperately needed when exhaustion and morning sickness tried to keep my eyes closed past the alarm clock this fall. We attended Influence together and widened our circle to new locals. And this winter, I’ve pulled up a chair to the lovely classics book club I kept hearing so much about.

Now, when we see each other on-line, we know the voice behind the words, the face behind the avatar.

Things look a little different for me this spring than the last. This expanding belly means I’m trading one happy event for another. Our third little one is scheduled to arrive the very week of the Wiley family’s annual trip down to Ft. Myers, the beach tradition Grandpa and Grandma Wiley started back in 1957.

While we’ll miss being part of the yearly fun in the sun in early April, I will be happily sidetracked with the warmth of a baby girl curled on my chest. And then a few weeks later, I’ll be taking her along to the “beach house” all the same. Thanks, (in)courage, for bringing it back in all it’s casual comfiness. I’ve grown a bit since last year, but the (in)RL T-shirt still fits.

{Did you take part in (in)RL last year? What was your experience like? Register here to take part in your own local (in)RL experience.}

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