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.}


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

A Mean Game of Telephone {Introducing the Take Heart Series}

{Welcome to 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 in your reader.}

We can play a mean game of telephone with ourselves. My friend said it so well. We start with one single disappointment, little or big, and we tell it to ourselves again and again, each rehearsal of the hurt loosening the event from its real place and time and working it into the wiring of our minds.

The dream left behind in youth, the grief of barrenness, the postnatal hormones that take us to the edge of crazy, the practicality of family life clouding former romance, the arguments, the abandonment, the relative whose words tear down, the crumbling church and cold-shouldered friends, the messy nest, the frail body– any of these stories can twist in the secret conversation of our minds, turning fast from discouragement to despair, ending up a jumbled version of what we started with. But when we share out loud what’s been going through our minds, we open ourselves to real conversation, to words that keep the original hurt in perspective, to words that help us take heart.

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve been looking for hints on how to become a more cheerful giver, I’ve noticed my lack of resilience in times of discouragement. In those times, I desperately need others’ words to break up my own inner dialogue. It takes the people around me and it takes the Word of God. As my husband and I have begun reading through the Bible with the family this year, I’ve come across a phrase again and again, a phrase worth repeating.

“Take heart,” Jesus said to the paralyzed man lying on a mat, “your sins are forgiven.”

“Take heart,” He said to the woman with the blood disorder, “your faith has healed you.”

“Take heart,” He said to scattered friends wary of their future, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In each encounter, pain and guilt and fear could have been the end of the story. But then Jesus says, “Take heart.” Maybe your self-talk is so loud that you can’t hear Him saying this in your own situation, but when sisters share testimonies of His comfort in disappointment, of His miracle in impossibility, of His work in a troubling situation, we help each other stop the telephone effect.

This February, at Message in a Mason Jar, we will be talking about how to take heart in the context of life’s disappointments. Each week, we will hear the stories of at least two different women, including their walk through discouragement and despair and how Jesus met them in it, saying, “Take heart.”

On Tuesdays during the series, we’ll invite you to link up with your own Take Heart story based on the theme of the week (1- Growing a Family, 2- Romance, 3- Kinship/Community, and 4- Self-Care/Wholeness). On Thursdays, along with the story shared, we’ll offer fun and thoughtful giveaways that will encourage you to take heart in your own struggles.

{In what area of your life do you need to experience Jesus’ words, “Take heart”? How does your self-talk compare to His choice of words in these verses?}

When Your Wish Gets Grounded

{A special welcome to those visiting from Naptime Diaries. So glad to have you here! To keep up with Message in a Mason Jar, be sure to follow via email or RSS feed on the sidebar of the homepage.}

Sometimes you put a wish on your summer list, like, let’s say, a ride on a tethered balloon, and you check the status day after day wondering if the balloon is going to fly when your schedule is open. But finally you have to give up the wish to ongoing maintenance. And you wait a whole year. And then you put it on your list again the next summer and check the weather and drive there under a cloudless sky ready to ride it for sure this time. Then, as the previous group descends, you notice the balloon drifting a little, and how the basket sways in the slight wind. All of a sudden, you see a familiar silhouette through the basket netting, a friend’s rounded belly still keeping its secret from the world. You say how you should have gotten up earlier and how you should have called. Wouldn’t that have been fun to ride together, our two families on this last week of summer break…and what if the balloon brought the baby out today?!! That would be a story to tell. And then you see the cafe and you sit down for lunch and talk with your mouth full. And you wave and hug goodbye and rub that belly one last time before you head over to line up for the balloon. And just as you are ready to pay, you see the teen in charge corral the other would-be riders back behind the fence. You chase your desperate little ones back to the fence too. And the workers pull the ropes in tight and anchor the balloon for the day. And just like that, your little wish is grounded and your little ones get all stormy. But all is not lost. You can be happy for your friends that they got to ride. And you can head to the barn and ask the heirloom animals to cheer you up. And you can stumble on a little scene to share when you meet the ewe and her needy lamb….

Read the rest of the story at Naptime Diaries where I’m posting for Jessi today!