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, In the Spring Issue of Calla Press, we are featuring testimonies of women who have stories of brokenness through motherhood, depression, marriage, and faith. I urge you to thoroughly read through every story. It’s stories from women who have known the struggles of their identity in motherhood and stories from women who suffered under the hands of depression and anxiety. These are our every-day life stories. They’re words from women not wanting to get out from under their wooly sheets because of the darkness they’re in, words from deep places of women’s hearts that ultimately give glory to God out of their brokenness. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-11 My heart and soul have been poured out in the making of the spring issue of Calla Press; my prayer is that the Lord uses this magazine to reach those who are in need—to help them realize they are not alone, they can do it, and that God is being glorified through their every-day life. You matter, not because of anything you can do, but because—simply—you are His. The beautiful composition of the magazine would not be possible without our lovely contributing photographers, artists, and writers. We are so grateful for their willing and giving hearts. I also want to thank my husband for encouraging me every step of the way. You are so loved, ladies, remember that.
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8 Dash of Love by Cassie Downs 10-13 Loss and Hope by Rebecca Kayne 14-15 Emily Barbara Photography 16-18 Spiritual Battles of Motherhood by Christina Briggs 20 Come Home to Me Poem by Katherine Duncan 23 Meet Artist Laura Brady 25-26 The Uneven Frame by Haley Nicole Maherg 30-31 From Scars to Sanctification by Brandy Klindworth 32 Guiding Star Poem by Melody Lipford 35-37 Meet Artist Vanessa Multon 38-40 Together Poetry by Louisa Saylor 42-43 Flowers Hospitality 44-45 Meet Artist Tasha Cathey 46-50 Finding Beauty in the Brokenness by Sara Ward 51-52 Meet Our Contributors
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All photographs within the magazine are by Lauren Bryant Photography unless otherwise stated. The images within this magazine are not affiliated with the writers, artists, or poets themselves unless otherwise stated.
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By Cassie Downs Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 CSB
My Gran Dianne was a dumpling queen. Her chicken and dumplings were good enough to make you want to slap your grandma (unless she was the one making the dumplings). It’s never good to smack the hand that feeds you. Now, I've eaten my fair share of dumplings in my day from different people, but there is no comparison to Gran Dianne's dumplings. Just like my hubs, Dustin, would tell you there is no comparison to his Grandma Brown’s pecan pie. There is something special about these two dishes, and I wanted to learn how to make them. So, like any good grandmother would do, they each showed me all the secret ways they put their famous dishes together: what to look for, how to sniff out whether they were ready or not, everything I needed to know. Since then, both our grandmas have gone on to bake for Jesus, but one thing I've learned while making these dishes is that there's a secret ingredient - love. When I first started making dumplings and pies, I couldn't figure out why mine tasted
differently than theirs. My youngest son brought the secret ingredient to my attention. ‘Mom’, he said, ‘you have to add a lot of love to it’. He was right; I needed to pour the same love into those dishes as my grandmothers had done for me. And I dare say, there is a lot more we need to be pouring love into besides our cooking. In the scripture above, Paul commands us to do everything in love. It's not a suggestion or a cute thought, it's a command. God's very nature is that of love. He created us in his image and likeness, and therefore, we are to extend that same love that God poured into everything He created, into everything we do. In our jobs, relationships, hobbies, and giftings, we need to do everything in love. Imagine a world where everything was done in love; every word spoken, every dish baked, every song written, every relationship built. What a world that would be, and what a world it can be, but it starts with YOU. Live each day doing everything in love and tell me if it doesn't change your world.
Cassie Downs is a Bible teacher, author, retreat host, and serves as operations pastor at The Hill Church. A leader full of passion for seeing women follow Jesus and His plan for their life. Cassie is an avid reader and loves to travel. Cassie lives in Stockton, Missouri with her husband Dustin and their three children. Connect with Cassie at cassiedowns.com.
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Written for our family blog in September 2014, 6 months after losing our son William who was born prematurely due to complications with my pregnancy.â&#x20AC;?
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We have just passed the six-month mark of having lost William. I feel I am finally ready to share a little bit of my journey through this experience. It has been hard. Desperately hard. In the beginning as I spoke with others about our loss I tried to lighten what I was feeling by expressing hope and peace. Those things were felt in moments. But those moments were small. So I faced this dilemma of how to talk about my feelings as I struggled with them more than I had thought possible. I didn't want to create an uncomfortable situation for those who worried about us. But now, as I have hopefully crossed the mountain of this trial of faith and have started down the other side, I wonder if I did the right thing. Because the truth is, I have struggled. I know my husband has struggled. We have had to fight to keep a hold on our faith and adjust our understanding of how our Heavenly Father and His plan for us and our relationship with him all work. We have learned that sometimes having Faith is a decision you have to make- to hold on to what you have once believed to be true, despite a painful situation that makes you question everything. To just hold on and try to weather the storm.
Because it was this moment that I thought I was prepared for. I had of course considered the outcomes of this pregnancy, and I thought my faith could handle it. But when it came right down to it, I KNEW in my heart that our Heavenly Father could heal me. He could heal me and our son. But then he didn't. And I felt betrayed. I felt like I have spent my life trying to be obedient, and I had this righteous desire to grow our family and welcome this sweet boy into our home, and I was thrown into this fire of the worst pain I had ever felt. I wondered where God was, and I was angry. The part of me that hurt and doubted was at war with this part of me that knew all of these things: that being righteous doesn't mean we will escape pain, and that God loves us and had given us so many blessings along the way. And so as I was angry and hurt and betrayed I was also feeling such guilt at my struggle. Because shouldn't I have enough faith to NOT struggle? Shouldn't I be able to accept God's will and feel sorrow at losing William, but have peace and faith enough to not let it rock my world? After months of considering this, I have come
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to a few conclusions. It is okay that this incredible trial has rocked my world. It is okay that it caused me to doubt, to question, to be angry. This was a TRIAL. It was a hard, monumental, TRIAL. Would it have been a trial if I had been able to breeze through it? To say "this hurts, but it's okay"? Sure. I would love to be at that point. Where nothing that comes my way could ever sway me. But it's okay that I'm not yet. I don't think many of us are. And I think it's unfortunate that we feel sometimes like we have to pretend that we are okay when we really, truly aren't. That we have to put on a face that says we are not struggling spiritually because we are afraid to be judged by others, or because we feel guilty about how we are struggling. It's handicapping to not feel able to reach out and get others support. Which is especially sad because the more I look around the more I see that everyone has hard stuff. Really hard. And most of us reach that trial that rocks us to the core. When we have to decide to hang on or let go. And wouldn't it be great for someone else who has been there to reach out and to say "Hey. I GET IT." Those simple words would make such a difference in those moments.
I know that they have made a huge difference for me. I have just recently been so touched to hear and read experiences of a few people who have faced their own terrible struggles, and have come through stronger. And it has been amazing the healing I have felt to see where they are now, and to know that they have been through the same struggles feeling anger, betrayal, depression, guilt, questioning and pain. To know that other people who I respect so much truly "Get it." And so this is mostly what I wanted to say. That these months since Williams death have been HARD. SO HARD. To be honest and say I have really struggled. It hurts to miss my baby so deeply. To have my arms honestly ache for my son and have nothing that can really take that pain away. To have this trial that has tested my faith in many ways. But to say that I am okay. It is getting better. And to let anyone else who is struggling to know that it is okay to struggle. We are meant to struggle. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I GET IT. And it does get better. It takes some work and it takes some time. But it does get better. As we moved into our new home we planted 12 | Calla Press
some flowers on our front porch. It was the middle of a hot summer and they quickly wilted. The flowers fell off and the stems turned brown, and I was sure they were beyond saving. Out of sheer frustration at the amount of time and money I had put into these flowers, I continued to water them, although with little hope. Much to my surprise these apparently dead plants began to grow new petals, that were even more beautiful and much heartier than the ones before. Those flowers have been on my mind a lot. And I think that they are a perfect example of this trial... of trials in general. That sometimes we feel like we have been hurt in a way we just can't come back from. But as we do those things we have proven in the past, even if it seems beyond
hope at the time, we will grow from the experience and come back stronger than we thought possible. That is my hope. That those areas that have become shriveled and wilted will over time become stronger. And I think that over time they will. I have chosen not to give up. I have chosen to hold to those things that I believe to be true and to fight for my faith, even as parts of it have needed to be examined and pruned. But I also hope that I will no longer be ashamed of those wilted parts. That I can share my struggle, and that my honesty can help others in the same way that the honesty of others has been a comfort to me. Because that is what this life is about.
I'm married to a wonderful man named Joey and together we have five beautiful children. Although I have a bachelor degree in Genetics and Biotechnology and a Masters in Business, I'm lucky enough to be living the dream as a full-time homemaker (aka domestic goddess). In the past several years I've also been turning my love of photography into a small side-business, which has been a joy and allowed me to have an artistic outlet. Other hobbies include reading, playing the piano, and binge-watching Netflix with my favorite guy.
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Emily Barbara Photography
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I’ve always known I wanted to be a
mom since I was 22 years old. That’s right! My friends were working on their careers, while I thought about having a family of my own one day. I was married at the age of 26, and nine months later… we were blessed with our first child. Our tiny, brown eyed, beautiful son, Nicholas. We planned to have children two years down the road, but God had other plans. Holding him in my arms was the best feeling ever. My husband and I were thrilled to welcome our son into the world. Little did we know of the battles we were to face in the weeks and months ahead. Depression reared its ugly head for the first time. I cried almost daily, trying to calm my child from crying. He was colic. Neither one of us were prepared for this extremely tough season of our lives. Our precious little one began vomiting food almost daily, causing him to lose weight, which was dangerous at the tiny size he already was, which was six pounds. Nothing I did soothed him, making me feel like a failure as a mother. I was unable to breastfeed him, due to his inability to latch onto me. It was a stressful time for us newbie parents. Sleep deprivation, insecurity as parents, and fear for our son had taken its toll. Our baby boy had Pyloric Stenosis, causing him to vomit and lose weight. But God in his mercy and grace on us, provided wonderful friends and our pastor of the church we attended, to come to the rescue. I’ll never forget the love, cooked meals, drives back and forth to the hospital, and the many prayers that were lavished upon our family. Thankfully, our son recovered from surgery at six weeks old. He grew out of his colic phase at the four month mark. Hallelujah! Moving through the next phase of our lives, we welcomed our newest addition. Our second child. Nicholas was three years old at the time. He was adorable, peeking his little head over the plastic bin at the hospital. He was thrilled to be a big brother to our little Logan. It’s been a blessing,
and a joy to witness the closeness between them throughout the years. Don’t get me wrong… they’ve had their moments, but what siblings don’t. Right? There are times, however, that made me wonder if I’d survive motherhood. Periods of terrible twos. It’s a real thing. I’m sure mother’s out there can relate. The time I stood in line at the grocery store, trying to hold it together, while my son screamed in the shopping cart. All because I wouldn’t buy him a candy bar he wanted. I panicked, feeling the stares of others on me, while I remained calm, pushing the cart forward in order to purchase the groceries I bought for the week. Sweat poured down my face, as my sons cheeks reddened with fury of no candy bar. My anxiety escalated, but I knew I had to be strong to not give in to his cries. Every emotion went through my mind in a short span of time. Minutes felt like hours, as I put the items on the conveyor belt. The cashier smiled at me. I wondered what she was smiling about. Was this funny to her? Because I wasn’t laughing. I prayed for patience that morning, only to find myself being, anything but patient. The words of the cashier made my whole day. “Good for you mom.” She said. A smile formed across her face. “I’m sorry you had to listen to my son’s screams. I feel awful.” I replied. “Children need to learn early on that they can’t get everything they want. You’re doing the right thing. Keep it up. You’ll be thankful you didn’t give in.” She said. Years later, I’ve seen the fruits of her words. I’m reminded of Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. It’s my prayer everyday.
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Another summer’s coming to an end. I’m nervous and excited for what 2019 has to bring. The Lord reminded me recently, of the book of Matthew, as I layed in bed the other night. I found myself anxious about our boys growing up. Our oldest will be 16 years old this year, while our youngest will be 13. We’ll officially have two teenagers now. This year will be interesting to say the least. My husband and I will need many prayers.
you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying, add a single hour to your life? V.34 Therefore do not worry, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are
deep breath, and know that we serve a mighty God who’ll go ahead of us in times of trouble. We must remember to put on our spiritual armour daily, which is the beautiful Word of God.
I need to believe what God says in His word is true. I have to trust Him to take care of my family, instead of worrying about things that can go wrong or are out of my control. It’s important for us mothers out there to take a
Christina Briggs is a Freelance writer, currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, two sons, and their Husky, Toby. Her writing has appeared in Parenting New Hampshire, Newport News, and Road Tripping. She enjoys Travel and is a complete Foodie. @ChristinaWrite3 Twitter @christinab4714 Instagram 18 | Calla Press
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Should each and every moment be spent Beneath a canopy of oak tree glory Dappled with red sunshine Colored through by crisp gusts of wind that Remind me who I am, screaming an epitome of Glee to thrill the supple edges of my lungs I will sing, I will sing, shelter me Should my barefoot toes graze the earth A thousand times, casting death and dust Into the far corners of this evil land as I dance, and dance twirling beneath Your watchful eye I will breathe, I will breathe, I am Yours Should the oceans rise to reach the stars and Paint me a picture of the melodies they weave, Far above all there is yet so near, and my Heart cannot contain the oneness so lovely it Dares to claim who it belongs to I will scream, I will scream, it is well Should the mountains meet the moon and Hum a quiet mist about the depths they found Beyond the gravity of their stars The darkness whispering dreams of dawn become All the majesties of morning You will cry, You will cry, come home to Me
Katherine Duncan is a writer, poet, and calligrapher. She is passionate about celebrating the art we all have to share as artists created in the image of a creative God. Katherine is the author of the self-published book Sounds of Home: A Collection of Poems. She resides in Columbia, SC with her husband Daniel and her golden retriever Daisy, her biggest fans. 20 | Calla Press
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change. I chose to resign from my position with a major global chemical company in January of 2019. I had a high-stress career I thought I wanted. I began by doing clerical work, but in three short years, I had landed myself in a leadership position and was helping manage a $30 million-dollar maintenance budget. I had poured my life into my career, but what was it doing for me? It was not fulfilling; it was sucking the life out of not only me, but my family also. I missed my husband and I missed my children and we all lived under one roof. This career was causing tension between me and the ones that loved and needed me the most.
bought my daughter a new bed and decided I
would assemble it by myself. I can follow directions. No big deal, right? I had almost completed the assembly, and there was one screw that was being stubborn. I had to unassemble half of the bed for the screw to fit. A piece of the bed was not aligned perfectly which caused one screw to become uneven. The one uneven screw slowed down the entire process. I was beginning to become angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed, but God began to speak to me. I could hear him say, “Mama, when you are off by a little, maybe even a little uneven, everything and everyone else in your world is too.” I had no idea how much I needed this lesson. It may seem trivial, and a little silly, but God was calling me to press the reset button. I had to make a
During that season of my life, I was tired. I was exhausted. I was irritable. I was mean. I was anxious. I was uneven. I was not the wife, nor the mama God had called me to be. It was not easy to walk away from a career I thought I longed for. It was not easy to walk away from a substantial income. It took a lot of prayer. I second guessed myself and God so many times, but because of THAT season, I began to discover who I truly am. I found myself in God’s word. I found myself being intentional – being intentional with God, diving intentionally into His word, speaking to Him intentionally. I found myself being intentional with my husband and with my children. I even found myself being intentional with other people. I truly began to love the woman that I know I am called to be. I truly began to love others. It is amazing how God used an uneven bed frame to help me reset my life. You see, God has had plans for my life and your life long before we ever existed. We are called to follow those plans – not question them. I tried so hard to convince myself that I needed my career – the title, the accomplishment, the financial 25 | Calla Press
security. There is no title or amount of money that will matter when I get to the Kingdom of Heaven. The only thing that will matter is the work that I have done for His Kingdom. I am not saying having a high-stress career and raising a family is impossible. It just was not in the cards for me. It was not Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plan for my life. When I completely surrendered everything to Him, I began to find who I am.
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“I feel numb inside.” When I look back on my journal entries from 2016, I read about a girl that felt stuck, lost, and numb inside, with big dreams that felt light years away. I was working as a waitress, working myself to the bone with the dream of being an artist, but had no idea of what next step to take to make that reality. Little did I know, God had already planned exactly what the next step would be. A few weeks after writing about feeling numb, I found myself physically numb from cold. January of 2017, in a moment I can only describe as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a frozen Minnesota waterfall collapsed on me and pierced my dominant hand with an icicle. Some have called it a freak accident, others may have seen it as a tragic event, but today I believe it was a miracle in disguise. I was rushed to the hospital with my best friend at my side. They quickly stitched up a gash on the back of my head and wrapped up my injured hand. At this point I had no idea what damage may have been done, but knew that one of my fingers looked to have been hanging quite limply. At one point, amputation of my index finger was considered a strong possibility, as they didn’t know how they would salvage it. They brought in a hand-surgeon specialist and I underwent surgery that involved replacing missing bone with metal, implanting a nerve graft, and reconnecting broken tendons.
Very much on the forefront of my mind were questions about whether my hand would ever gain function again, or whether I’d be able to hold a pencil again - even more so, whether I’d ever be able to draw or paint again. Without working hand function, I left my serving job and devoted a large chunk of the following months to hand-therapy. Eventually I gained courage to pick up a pencil. For my first writing practice, I wrote thank-you notes to those that had visited me in the hospital. As I continued to write and sketch, it became evident that drawing, the thing I was afraid I would never be able to do again, actually turned out to be some of the most effective hand-therapy. My hand got stronger and stronger, and I figured out how to hold my pencil in a way that meant my halfway-functioning index finger didn’t interfere. Within six months of my accident, I began receiving requests from local businesses to complete commissioned artwork. With a local mural job lined up, I felt a nudge. Something inside me knew that it was time to full-fledge pursue my purpose as an artist. After nearly losing my life, and then almost losing the ability to create art, I recognized that life isn’t a promise, and purpose is entirely worth fulfilling. My accident felt like God giving me a wake-up call, a redirection, and a second chance to live out His calling for me rather than continue to live passively and stuck in fear. I could feel God had something more for me, and it turns out, He did. Within one week of my decision to pursue art full-time, I received a message from my best friend, the one that had been with me at the time of the accident. She wrote me 30 | Calla Press
from her job in Dubai, UAE where she was working as a travel nanny. She asked if I wanted to fly to Dubai to paint a 4-wall jungle-themed mural for a children’s playroom, and within just 9 months of my accident, I sat with her in a beautiful Middle Eastern home, painting parrots, tigers, and waterfalls, living out a dream that felt light years away just twelve months prior. God’s faithfulness didn’t stop there. I went on to illustrate a published children’s book, complete 10 more murals, and marry the love of my life. We moved to Alaska where I officially launched my own art product line under my current business, Ladder Mouse. Dreams have continued to come true as I’ve acted out God’s will for me with faithfulness. Opportunities to teach art classes and sell my work with markets and retailers, are opportunities and connections that I know could only have been orchestrated by God, with none of my own doing. I want you to know that you are a vessel made for a purpose. You were created completely unique, with a perfectly designed plan that only you can fulfill by utilizing your unique skills, gifts, passions, and characteristics. When you act in faithfulness, even when you are afraid and paralyzed with the numbing fear of uncertain outcomes, God blesses this faithfulness tenfold. He tells us that He has absolutely nothing but the best in store for us, and that we can trust Him completely.
When you pursue that calling you’ve been putting off due to fear, or address that small conviction that’s been eating at your heart, or do that scary thing, or take that courageous leap, God will be cheering for you. He will be there to guide you and reward your faithfulness by opening doors and presenting opportunities that you could never have imagined up yourself. You will begin to see how everything is intertwined, and how your past supports His plan for you today. All you need to do is act with faith, even when you’re afraid. Allow these verses to guide and comfort you as you take the leap. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Brandy Klindworth is the owner and artist of Ladder Mouse, creating functional art for the modern naturalist inspired by flora, fauna, and fungi. She currently resides in Alaska with her husband as an Air Force wife, both having been born and raised in Minnesota. After a near-death experience that caused Brandy to lose some dominant hand-function, she has become a passionate advocate in encouraging others to pursue the purpose and calling God has their lives, even in the face of fear and uncertainty. She hopes to use her gifts in artistic creation as a gift back to the ultimate Creator.
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Endless miles of water... You created for us Father. Yet, we’re afraid to leave the shore. What we fail to realize Oh what we fail to realize Is that you, Lord You’ll always be Our anchor. That keeps us grounded in the storm. How can we not look at the planet Around us and see That your power Created every bird and tree? With your hands you made Every living thing. You’re the artist Of our scenery. How can we not close our eyes And feel that something greater Is in our presence That controls all of nature? He is the very planter That instilled in us a seed. That helped us grow, Into who we’re meant to be. How can we not hear? Your voice in our heart Oh if we listen Simply listen We’ll find…. He becomes our guiding star Just listen.
Melody Lipford is a recent first-generation college graduate with a Bachelors in English Literature and minor in Spanish from Emory & Henry College. As a freelance writer and creative by heart she loves using language to empower fellow sisters in Christ of how truly beloved they are in their Father's eyes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I was ready to do you good.
We, together, find His perfection
To be present with you
In the black ink written on rice paper.
The way a mother holds her nursing child
We hear Him together as the pages of His book crinkle in our ears
Close to her breast in the stillness of the night And sings the lullabies of trust, While her child is calmed. So, I, nourish you with truth that is offered through our Saviors Words.
As we ravenously consume more. Together. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in these moments together, In the quiet, In the forging of our souls together,
I was ready to not only share the Gospel with you, But my whole self. My mind, body, and soul All that I was In order that you might fully comprehend What is the breadth, height, and length of our Fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love. With me. Together. Although I failed to perfectly show you the righteousness of Christ,
Like David and Jonathan, A knitting of a mysterious kind begins. As we learn together To commune with our Creator, The bonds of familial love weave our faith together Into a body. The body of a beautifully adorned bride Who eagerly awaits the kiss of her groom. We will wait. Together.
Where I fall short,
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I have been a spiritual mother. I have failed miserably. I have caused my precious children in the Lord to stumble. However, I have been affectionately desirous of each of my daughters in the Lord. I desire to show a gentle patience to their person, while seeking them out in order to gain them. I do not mean gain them in the sense that they become mine, but I gain them as part of my spiritual family. Their spiritual and eternal welfare and salvation is what I have been earnestly desirous of. With readiness to do them good, imparting to them, not just the Gospel, but also my soul, I have been willing to run into hazards, venture into the unknown, as well as spend and be spent for their souls. Not perfectly… I have done a deep, deep disservice
in my failings as a spiritual mother. Just like any parent does, I also have caused damage. But God’s grace is there to show Himself a better Father than I could ever be. My prayer is that my spiritual children spread abroad to left and to the right of this earth. That they would people the desolate cities where Christ’s name is not known. My prayer is that my spiritual children reach the nations for Christ as arrows from my quiver, while taking down the cunning enemy. My prayer is that the Lord grants me more spiritual children in spite of my failures as a disciple maker. Call it what you will: mentorship, discipleship, mothership… God, I pray you will always allow me to be a spiritual mother.
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Everything was set, Everything was finished, Everything was good, But very good was diminished. Until the wait was over. He took her from his side Each curve and each line Perfectly placed for Adam to trace, He couldn’t believe his eyes The captivating beauty of God displayed. The culminating gift that creation needed Was met in the woman, She the turning point of not good Made perfect where man couldn’t. The empty void and need no longer aching. Bearing the image of her Creator She became the man’s helper, his ezerOne whose strength wins battles. This being beautiful beyond his wildest dreams The same beauty and strength found in me, The daughter of Eve.
The story behind the poem: Often times when we think of Eve we think of all that is wrong in the world- all that needs to be fixed, straightened, made right. I want to celebrate the very good creation that Eve was, is and will continue to be through me being a woman. Just as the Holy Spirit waited to come to His people, so Adam had to wait for the helper (his ezer) to come… I represent God as Helper. “Ezer” is translated in Scripture as “one whose strength wins battles”. My strength is in Yahweh.
Louisa Saylor is a pastor’s wife, poet, teacher, and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is passionate about using the raw materials given to us in creation to join the Father in creating through written word so that His children are equipped and encouraged in their faith journey. She and her husband serve at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Monticello, Florida. Louisa blogs at thefarkingdomjourney.wordpress.com
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I love a bouquet of flowers. Not as much as I love a load of a clean, folded laundry if my husband asks, but still, I love cut flowers. I also love a field of flowers. I remember going to the local botanical gardens often with my mom as a child. We would spend several hours there multiple times a month. The flowers were beautiful! Daisies are my favorite, but to see fields of violets, iris, or daffodils also makes my heart flutter a bit. Tending to a flower garden takes work, patience, and diligence. It means knowing the type of soil you have, guarding the garden from weeds and bugs, and giving the flowers the proper amounts of water and sunlight to flourish. On the other hand, a bouquet of flowers requires far less work. You simply pick up a bouquet at the grocery store or flower market, bring it home and cut the ends. Fill up a vase with water and there you go! Kindness is like the bouquet of flowers. Beautiful and brightens a space. Kindness provides happiness and cheer to the room.
Everyone loves a bouquet of kindness. If we’re being honest though, kindness doesn’t require much from us. It means a smile or complimenting someone’s shoes. It costs us little to no time or energy. Hospitality, on the other hand, is like the flower garden. It takes time, patience, and intentionality. It can get messy. A bouquet of flowers doesn’t create much mess, but a garden is full of dirt! Intentionally loving the people you encounter on a daily basis can get messy. Biblical hospitality means to love strangers. I define it as loving well on purpose. In order to live out this call to love strangers, we have to place ourselves around strangers. This gets uncomfortable for introverts like me. Perhaps you're not an introvert, but you’ve been wounded by broken trust in the past and you prefer to keep your small, safe group of friends and not extend beyond that. In order for us to show hospitality, we must move beyond the ease of kindness and put in the hard work. This may 42 | Calla Press
mean sacrificing our personal time on the calendar once in a while. Maybe it means sacrificing some finances to serve others at their point of need. Hospitality, for you, may mean being more aware of the people around you and listening more than you talk. When people are involved, things can get messy and we can get tired. Keep at it. The rewards are worth it! Loving well on purpose comes with a higher investment than kindness. Just as gardening requires proper balancing of the circumstances in order for the flowers to flourish, you and I need to find the balance in our lives in order for hospitality to flourish. Give too much time and resources and we are
like a garden who is shriveled from too much sun. Fail to give anything of ourselves, and the weeds of greed and complacency take over. As you see bouquets of flowers, let it be a reminder to smile at someone you pass and spread a little kindness. This spring, as you see flowers blooming all around, can I encourage you to let them remind you of hospitality? To cause you to examine your life and test the soil? How are you doing at loving well on purpose? What areas can you improve on? The beauty that is spread through lives of intentional hospitality is just as breathtaking, and far more life-changing, than even the largest field of flowers!
Rachel Schelb is an introvert who frequently gets confused for an extrovert. She love tacos, breakfast food, Diet Dr. Pepper and kayaking. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been been married to her best friend, Andy, for 11 years and they have two small kiddos. Most importantly though, Rachel is incredibly passionate about the biblical call to show hospitality! Through her blog and podcast, Rachel shares practical tips and biblical encouragement to love well on purpose! www.facebook.com/officialrachelschelb www.instagram.com/rachelschelb www.rachelschelb.com Podcast: Love Well On Purpose with Rachel Schelb â&#x20AC;&#x201D; found everywhere podcasts are heard. 43 | Calla Press
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This essay was excerpted from the book, Made for Hope: Discovering Unexpected Gifts in Brokenness. When my son’s disease was at his worst, we learned to keep our lives small, to not travel far, in case we had a medical emergency. Though I missed traveling, it seemed far easier than trying to travel with a medically fragile twoyear-old. We hunkered down and stayed home, but when Silas died, a door to the world suddenly opened. No longer were we strapped to home. No longer did I have to say no to traveling more than three hours away. “Hey, there’s a spot open on this church trip,” Sam told me one day. “You could still go if you wanted to.” Even though I wasn’t exactly feeling like a social butterfly, the thought of Florida sunshine in January sounded good and I thought that volunteering might take my mind off things in the meantime. We would be working at a nonprofit organization called Give Kids the World that provided weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with lifethreatening illnesses and their families. These families, who are typically visiting Disney World, received free accommodations through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and got to enjoy all the amenities of the resort. Serving kids with
life-threatening diseases in a happy place seemed like a good idea even if my heart was a little wrung out from grief. Only three months had passed since Silas had died, and our plans to go on a Make-a-Wish trip to Florida and stay in this same location had been cut short. On the one hand, I looked forward to getting away and doing something other than feeling gloomy. On the other hand, I was worried that all I would do was think about Silas. A few months later, Sam and I packed our bags for Florida and went to work in the cafeteria, where we filled cups with soda, carried trays of food for families, and wiped off tables. The cafeteria resembled a cheerfully decorated restaurant filled with stuffed animals, candy stripes, and storybook characters. As I was carrying trays, I noticed a family who had two kids who were in wheelchairs. One of the children was fed by a G-tube, while the other could only eat by mouth as long as the parent fed him. While sitting at the table, the dad carefully poured formula into his child’s
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feeding tube. He patiently sat there waiting, holding the syringe that slowly drained the milk down the tube into his daughter’s stomach, while the families at tables around him shoveled eggs, sausage, and toast into their mouths. It reminded me of all the times I delayed eating to prepare Silas’ feeding tube. I wanted to say something to the man, to let him know I understood what it was like to be in his shoes, but I hesitated. We had been told not to ask questions about the kids and their medical conditions. This was their family vacation, a chance to escape from all of the daily burdens of living with a disease, without dealing with curious onlookers. I snuck glances at them as I brought families refills on their drinks. After they fed their children in the wheelchairs, they finally began eating, then packed up their medical supplies and wheeled their kids out the door. Another man entered the cafeteria with his child, carrying a familiar looking bag of formula and G-tube supplies. The cafeteria wasn’t as busy, with empty tables spread out across the room. I walked up to him and said, “Your G-tube supplies remind me of feeding my son.” The man looked startled and didn’t say anything. I realized the mistake I had made bringing up the topic of feeding tubes without warning. What was I thinking? I hadn’t even introduced myself. I smiled awkwardly and walked away, realizing I had said too much.
That’s when it hit me. I’m not one of them anymore. I was excluded from the club of parents who had children with life-threatening illnesses. My child was no longer fed with a feeding tube or used a wheelchair. If I tried to explain to them that I understood, they would only hear my sad ending and hope theirs wasn’t the same. Standing in the restaurant with a dripping washrag, I realized that not being in the club should be a relief, but it felt like loss. I wanted my son with me, to be one of the families carrying bags of medical supplies and formula around an overcrowded, humidity-drenched Disney park. Nobody had warned me how angry I would feel about being kicked out of the club— the same club I had begged not to be a part of in the first place. Now I was in this strange place, stuck between the world I used to know and the new place into which I was thrust without warning. I knew I wasn’t alone in being kicked out of the club—this happened to those who move from the married club to the singles club, or when your child is diagnosed with a serious disease and you are forced into the sick child club. It doesn’t matter how much you rail against being kicked out of the club. The world now sees you differently. Your identity has shifted, whether you like it or not. After working at the cafeteria for several hours, Sam and I drove a special tram around the resort complex. Most families were still at the parks this evening, so we circled a vacant vehicle around an empty resort, until Sam asked, “You want to drive it?” 47 | Calla Press
I had never driven a tractor, let alone a tractor designed to shuttle families, but since the park was mostly empty, it seemed like a good time to learn. “Okay,” I said, crawling into the driver’s seat. Since there was an extra pedal on the floor and I had no idea how to use it, I got my first lesson in driving a tractor with a manual transmission. Several attempts later, I was steering the tractor around the park with no more rocky starts. As we listened to the engine’s hum and circled the deserted resort, I thought about what it would have been like to stay here with Silas. I tried to imagine tucking him in bed in one of the storybook villas or taking him for a ride in the tractor I was driving. I imagined us eating in the cafeteria as a family, our plates piled high with pancakes. I grappled with holding up two versions of my life: what might have been and what was. We circled the park, a slow train moving in the dark, as I watched my old life fade. I would never stay here with my son. I would not sit at a table in the cafeteria, or go on the carousel, or ride the tram with Silas. I would let go of those dreams, like a distant train moving across the landscape. I was learning to let go, but I was learning to be found too. I was discovering that no matter how much I changed because of the brokenness, some things did not. God was still the same. No matter what else changed in my life, my identity in Christ had not. I would always be a child of God, no matter what I lost
or let go of. He would meet me even in the hard and messy places. He would reveal the beauty found in the brokenness. He would show me this wasn’t the end of my story, even as I watched the slow train of what might have been disappear into the dark. For a long time, my first identity was as a wife and mom. But when you lose somebody, the world sees you differently. A widowed woman I know was excluded by some of her married friends, because she no longer fit into the married club. She didn’t want to be kicked out of the club and her feelings were crushed at being left out. Our world has this strange way of ripping off labels when life changes and most of the time, we are not even aware of how much it hurts. One of the most painful identities to lose was being Silas’ mom. Even though I will always be his mother, I realized on the trip to Florida that I had to go back to the core of who I was and claim my God-given name as a child of God. I have learned, rather painfully, that all the things I think are mine can be taken in a moment. Being called mom or wife is a true gift, but these gifts are not ours to control and learning that lesson was one of the most painful ones. Even though our identities might change over time, God never leaves us without an identity in him. No matter what we go through, no matter how many times our identity shifts, his does not. In the uncertainty, I still knew one thing was true: I am his. When the world is turned upside down, this is the one thing we can hold on to. No matter what else is taken 48 | Calla Press
from me, my identity in him can never be taken away. The Bible reinforces this identity as God’s children in 1 John 3:1a, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” The Father’s love for us is so incredible that he invites us to be part of his family. When we believe in him, we become his sons and daughters—an identity we are given for eternity. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). As we let go of what we thought was ours, we learn to lean harder on the promises God gives us for eternity. Like Jacob wrestling the angel (Genesis 32:22-31), we might wrestle with the
loss of our old identity, but what we are given in return—an identity in him that can never be taken away—is a gift that heals us from the deepest of wounds.
When life unravels, it isn’t my old identity that vanishes. I was, and still am, Silas’ mother. But I have a new identity that can never be stripped from me. No matter what changes in the world’s eyes, I am always a child of God. That is something that can never be stolen. Not by loss. Not by brokenness. Not by death. My whole world can crumble, but none of this alters the fact that I am loved by God. In every place, I am his.
Sara R. Ward is the author of Made for Hope: Discovering Unexpected Gifts in Brokenness. She is a wife and mom to three children, including a son who passed away from Leigh's disease in 2012. She writes about grief, child loss, adoption, and faith on sararward.com. She is a writer for adoption.com and has been published on the Today Show Parenting Team, Focus on the Family and Homeschooling Today. 49 | Calla Press
Cassie Downs Brandy Klindworth Christina Briggs Rebecca Kayne Rachel Schelb Sara Ward
Louisa Saylor Melody Lipford Katherine Fowler
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Emily Barbara Lauren Grigg Brianna Nuttbrock Tory Baker Kass Ortiz Lauren Bryant Cover by Hannah Cochran
Laura Brady Tasha Cathey Vanessa Multon
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