Tail Light Dreaming ~ and a Giveaway! {Take Heart…in Growing a Family}

globetrotting

When you’ve watched shooting stars and new constellations freckle the sky in another hemisphere, boiled water from a dirty creek to make your porridge and wash your hair, walked the streets of shantytowns and felt the dividing line of color, sipped the rooibos and watched birds soar with ribbons on their tails, walked among fragments of coral and sponge and feasted your eyes on Table Mountain….

When you’ve whisked by the Pyramids through hot wind on the back of an Arabian horse, climbed through the night until your legs quiver to make it for a Sinai sunrise, prayed for real freedom on Tahrir Square, hiked the ruins of a castle, taken a finger to the black soot of St. Stephen’s cathedral….

When you’ve caught your breath hiking up the steps of the Great Wall, tried the ancient art of ink on rice paper, stood in the shadow of history at Tiananmen, run your fingers through stars in the water, memorized the sound of the coqui, whispered in the arches of a Mediterranean mosque, pried a monkey off of your head at Gibraltar, tiptoed up the spirals of Gaudi’s life work yet unfinished, and strolled the tiled courtyards of Al Hambra….

When you’ve logged all these miles in your memory bank, fallen in love with countries and left them behind for home, the seat of the rocking chair can feel so small.

I found myself stuck there a few months after my daughter was born. I bordered on claustrophobic rocking a baby who wouldn’t sleep without my arms as cradle. I’d tried the cry-it-out method, but I couldn’t bear it past 45 minutes. And now I was crying it out myself many days.

A friend at church asked me how I was doing and from the look in her eye she really wanted to know. I swallowed hard and told her I didn’t feel much like myself anymore, that I missed my connection with internationals, that I felt a little landlocked.

She knew something of it. Alyssa was longing for Tanzania, her heart having been left behind there on account of an unexpected move back to the U.S. four years earlier.

She prayed that God would bring internationals my way, that I might see that part of my life open up again. And I prayed that God would open up just the right ministry and allow her family to go back to serving in Tanzania.

A few days later, with just enough time to make it to a dentist appointment, I eased past the white line into the intersection waiting for the car in front of me to turn left. Green turned to stale green then to yellow then red. I watched for the car to turn out of the way of cross traffic and thought I might be able to sneak through behind. But before I knew it, the brake lights ahead of me turned to reverse lights and the car smashed right into my front fender.

Now I was really going to be late. I threw my gear shift into park and rehearsed what I’d say to the novice driver. I got out a pen to take down phone numbers and insurance information, told the kids not to worry, then jogged to the front of the car to check the damage.

A woman ducked out of the driver’s seat and came my way. “So sorry. So sorry,” she said in a familiar accent, her Rs sounding more like Ds. I turned my head from a minimal scrape on the bumper to the sight of umber skin and wavy black hair tamed back into a bun. I knew the look from my days walking dusty back streets in Cairo.

“Do you speak Arabic?” I asked her and then talked between the two languages, as much as we could, about how she had come here from Egypt and how I had stayed a summer there, how there was revival in the Coptic Church back home and in her own heart here.

I pulled off the pen cap with my teeth and soon we were exchanging numbers, not for insurance purposes, but for continuing the conversation out of the line of traffic. As it turns out, just that morning she had been praying that the Lord would send her a new sister, someone to encourage her faith.

To me, the run-in meant that although my primary area of ministry has shifted to my children, God hasn’t taken me off assignment with internationals.

Since that day at the red light, the Egyptian woman and I have shared a meal and chatted over several phone conversations. I’ve had the chance to teach a few rounds of international English classes at my church and interact with young mothers who are raising their children in a whole new culture. And I’ve found other opportunities to share this passion with my family as my husband, kids and I take part in a monthly international lunch with a diverse group of refugees who live in the apartment complexes around our church. My daughter Farah, whose name means “joy” in Arabic and Persian, provides a wonderful bridge between our family and those from Middle Eastern cultures.

As for the friend who prayed for me, when she and her family were commissioned to go back to Tanzania, she shared how they had been “…like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”

We may have the high honor of being mothers, but we are not only mothers. God shows His attention to our desires and dreams in the most interesting of ways.

My friend had cried out her dream for God to send them back to their hearts’ work in Tanzania and He had. I had cried out for a hint of my old passion to meet me here in my domestic life. The Egyptian woman had cried out for a believing friend. God worked it all together.

So what if it meant shaking up my schedule and my minivan.

{What dream or identity do you feel you left behind when you became a mother? If you are aching for that lost dream, have you brought it to God? How has He shown His care for you in response?}

stitching

scarveswithheartAnd now for this week’s giveaway from Scarves with Heart!

My friend Jenni Keller hasn’t let the domestic life keep her from having a global impact. She began making and selling these exquisite T-shirt scarves to raise money for a trip to South Africa, which happens to be my first love in globe trotting (so much so that I visited twice), the very place that started my decade of international travel back in college. Jenni’s work there opened up her eyes to God’s heart for orphans, particularly those facing HIV/AIDs. Each scarf sold will help provide funds for sending her back to South Africa on short term mission to use her mothering skills to care for the sick and abandoned. Today Jenni is giving away a handmade heather gray scarf with braid detailing to one Message in a Mason Jar reader! Simply comment below or your chance to win. For extra entries (include a separate comment here for each entry): subscribe to Message in a Mason Jar via email or RSS feed, like Message in a Mason Jar on Facebook, share this post on Twitter, share on Facebook, and/or share on Pinterest. This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, February 10.

stitching

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 post is part of our Take Heart series. This week we’re talking about everything from infertility to parenting woes. We’d love to hear about how God has helped you take heart in the midst of your own struggles in growing a family. Click over to Tuesday’s post to link up your story. The link-up is open through Friday night. And don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win our giveaway from Scarves with Heart today!

The Truth about Voice {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 14}

When I turn off the garbage disposal, I hear the sound of leaves shaking outside the window screens. Branches bounce, not in the wind, but with the force of something living. I lift my eyes and catch sight of a tiny trapeze artist swinging and jumping and somehow landing and balancing on the skinniest twig. He speaks the language of nibbles, chittering always with acorn-adorned paws close to his mouth. Everywhere he goes he is listening for fruit of the forest to fall, breathing in aroma of the woods, looking for the castaway seed to store up in his belly and his hollowed out stumps.

We writers are like this, always listening, looking for something to store away. We are gatherers, stockpilers. And later we share the bounty.

I drive down the street with my house in sight. One of the neighborhood squirrels darts across and forgets to look both ways. Lucky him, I’m a fool for animals. I slow and give him enough lag to get all the way across. But then he hears my motor and feels the rumble of my tires on pavement. He goes rigid for a second and then darts back and forth, not sure where to go. I push hard on the brakes and wait for him to make up his mind.

Writers big and small talk a lot about finding your voice. It’s this illusive thing that rattles in branches, peeks up from under a pile of leaves, whisks us away like the smell of campfire on the breeze. We chase it like we’ve got to have it in our hands before we hunker down and write. And sometimes we chase ourselves into the middle of the road.

I, too, have found myself darting side to side in a piece of writing, wondering whether the words in front of me fit my blog, my voice. When we go looking for our own voice instead of gathering story, we start to skitter this way and that, spooked by every sound and sensation, stopping short when we should be moving our pencils and tapping the keys and saying something. We wind up in the middle of the road wondering where to go, and we just about join the tread on tires.

We all have a voice. We don’t have to chase it to find it. If you want to know what yours sounds like, just open up and say something right from the beauty of your natural habitat. Sometimes you may sound like a poet, other times a mentor, at work maybe an expert at tax law or technology.

Your voice is a hearty compost of your passions, your experience, your environment, your message, your style, your lexicon of choice. It’s all there, every high note and undertone. Now, you just have to exercise it.

To hear the sound of your voice, pick up a pen and notebook. Open the closet or box of memorabilia bursting with the things you treasure…the things you hoard, even. You know…those accidental collages. And do what Amber Haines says, “Write what you see with your brave eyes, the objects your grandmother passed down to only you, the way you felt when all the clocks in the living room clicked at different times, that beeswax smell in the felt of your daddy’s fiddle case, the strings on the smooth bow.”

Write what’s under your nose. Write what you think, what you feel, what you see, smell, hear, taste, touch. Write it all with the words you use in love letters, in heart-to-hearts with bosom friends, the kinds of phrases you underline in your favorite books. Your combination of tone and meaning and passion makes a sound all its own.

It isn’t so complicated. Write about the things you love using the language you love…and out comes your voice flying high as that little acrobat swinging strong from branch to branch.

{What are your thoughts on the importance of finding or defining your writing voice? Have you ever been intimidated or closed-in thinking you need to find a signature sound and never stray? How does it feel to acknowledge that you already have a voice and that it may not sound the same in all times and places?}

This is Day 14 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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P.S. I’m in the process of transferring my blog. If you were already on my email list, you should find a new subscription request in your inbox. Be sure to click and complete the subscription in order to receive all updates. Thank you for being part of Message in a Mason Jar as we share in the joy of gathering everyday mercies and wide-eyed wonder together.