Imperfect Prose on Thursdays: The day I knew my calling

 Welcome to Imperfect Prose on Thursdays! From this week on, there are NO PROMPTS. We’re going back to the basics, focusing on REDEMPTION only. Today, i.p. team member Tara Pohlkotte of Pohlkotte Press shares her thoughts on calling.


I grew under the shade of other people’s callings – my daddy’s to be a preacher, my brother’s to be a musician.  The church around me bestowed gifts on its members, a topic of casual conversation and deep conviction.  And still, I remained to myself almost 30 years, without calling; afraid of getting my calling wrong, of limiting myself, but mainly of failure. 
An introvert in an extrovert world, I seemed to lack the outward hot passion in those that surrounded me.  Withdrawing into my stories, I devoured words and penned my own.  I stood on the hills of Tara beside Scarlett, hands and back aching with labor in the fields, the smell of the fire that consumed Atlanta seeped deep in my skin.  I felt the soft fur brush upon my cheek, heard the snow crunch as I stepped from the wardrobe into Narnia, and lamented with Anne Shirley the fate of flame-red hair.   
These characters, these stories became a part of how I viewed the world. They shaped my understanding that behind the headlines, history lessons, and artifacts of time were a host of real lives, personal stories that painted a picture fuller and deeper than what we were taught by just looking at statistics.
Until a year ago, I kept these lessons inside, exploring instead all the ways I thought I should be gifted.  It has taken a year to unfurl what has always been a part of me: the need to be engrossed in the telling of humanity, the need to mark the world with my words, until I found myself fully claimed.
Stories are my calling.  Not just the writing, but the seeking, the holding of stories, listening as humanity groans and rejoices.  Stories that are told sitting criss-cross- applesauce with children who have lost their mothers and fathers, stories told while laying deep into the night listening to six-year-old dreams, or failing in love with corners of the world laid bare in between the pages of a book or broke open on a wide screen. 
I hold these truths learned deep within me so that I may give voice when we have lost our way, to whisper them into the ears of the next generation; to open our eyes to keep searching for the greater story being told all around us.
I believe in the power of stories – that when we tell our own, we find communion and when we truly hear another’s, we make our first steps towards peace.  I believe in my calling to bear witness to life, to hold a corner of your grief, to laugh with you until tears roll down our cheeks.  So please, pull your chair up close to mine.  Extend your wounds, your scars, so I can trace them softly as you tell me the history behind each one. 
We have all been named, and called chosen.  As we cling to the skin of this world, let us hold fast to one another through our shared stories, our shared humanity, while we tip our chins back, whispering the promises written out past the stars.
every thursday, we gather together to celebrate redemption. here are the details:  

1. link up a post (old or new) that relates to redemption.
 
2. put the ‘imperfect prose’ button at the bottom of your post, so others can find their way back here (see button code in right-hand column of my blog) 
 
3. read other’s prose, and encourage them!
 
 so won’t you join us, as we “walk each other home”? (ram dass)


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URGENT PRAYER REQUEST:
Hello. My name is Teneale, married to Rob, and I’m Emily’s sister in law. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with our third boy, named Lucas. At our 18 week ultrasound we found out that our baby has a hole (VSD) in his heart. We went for further testing with a heart echo and found out that not only does he have a large VSD, but also what is called an interrupted aortic arch. This basically means that the top half of his aorta is not connected to the bottom half. He will need open heart surgery within the first week of his life to correct this problem, as well as fix the VSD. 75% of children born with this heart defect are also born with a genetic disorder known as 22q deletion, sometimes referred to as DiGeorge syndrome. At his echo they found evidence of a thymus gland (which regulates immunity), and that brings us down to about a 50% chance. He is growing well from what they can tell on a ultrasound in every other way, which we are so thankful to God for. He is 6 lbs 1 oz already, which we are also very thankful for. I will be scheduled for a c-section in my 39th week, I’m thinking around April 1. Please pray that his aorta will be large enough to be usable to attach to the bottom half of his aorta. At present, it is smaller than a normal aorta, but as long as it keeps growing with the heart for the next 4 weeks, it should be usable, which we also praise God for. Please also pray that he does not have the genetic disorder 22q deletion. Please also pray that my surgery goes well, and that Lucas’ surgery also goes as well as possible. A quick recovery for both of us would also bring us home sooner. We are expecting at least a 3 week stay in the hospital for Lucas. Thank you all and God bless.

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51 Comments

  1. “We have all been named, and called chosen. As we cling to the skin of this world, let us hold fast to one another through our shared stories, our shared humanity, while we tip our chins back, whispering the promises written out past the stars.”

    Tara, I want to take these words and paint them up and down the halls of my house. So grateful for you and Emily and the others that have welcomed us into this community of story.

    Reply
    • i love that image with you paint brush in hand :) so, so happy to be doing this together!

      Reply
  2. I just watched Gone With the Wind again, staying up late while visiting my mom back home. And don’t even get me started on Anne Shirley. Why I do believe we may be kindred spirits.

    And this calling of treasuring another’s story? That’s something that rings true in the core of my soul. I love to just listen to other people’s stories–especially the elderly. We all want to know our lives, our stories matter.

    Beautiful write, Miss Tara! Wait–is that how you got your name?

    And, emily, I’m honored to pray for Teneale.

    Reply
    • we are kindreds :) – – and yes, my mom fell in love with the name Tara when she read GWTW. I guess I come by the love of story naturally :) I’m such a book nerd I even walked down the aisle to “Tara’s Theme” at my wedding :)

      Reply
  3. Teneale, I am praying for you, Rob, Lucas, and the rest of your family. Praying that the Father continues to hold you all in the palm of His hand and that you experience peace and miraculous healing.

    Reply
  4. I agree with Brenna…I’m saving that quote, hiding it away in my book of favorite words…
    So thankful for your calling and that you share it so beautifully with the world.

    Reply
    • and I save your friendship, tucked up tight in my heart. so thankful for your words too darlin’.

      Reply
  5. Tara its so good to hear your voice in this. I love the way God made you. I’m a kindred scavenger for the story in every nook and cranny. I never tire of it. So incredilby lucky to know you and sojourn with you in this wild writing life. Can’t wait to see what God does with your words in the future.
    And Teneale, my husband’s mother had thirty abdominal xrays before they knew she was pregnant with him. They told her to abort because he would be so terribly disformed. He was born completely healthy and proclaims the Word of God as an Anglican Priest. I believe in miracles, that they are part of every day life. I’m praying for you and that baby with destiny in his heart.

    Reply
    • Shelly – you were one of the first people i really *connected* with, you know, the ones you always smile to see them stop by, always excited to read their words… i am so, SO grateful for you and to share this road.

      Reply
  6. I am 37 years old, soon to be 38 and I still have no idea what my calling is. I spent the last decade pregnant (births in 99,01,02,03,05,08,&10)and now that stage is over and I need to figure out what is next.

    Reply
    • Not to butt in, but if you are a Bible-believing kind of girl, I highly recommend a spiritual-gift assessment. , which may help you in identifying God-given areas of strength.

      Reply
    • Karmen, I know this. I’ve lived this. The most amazing thing about this life is that we are constantly in a state of unfolding. I have been having the pleasure of watching my mama unfold recently, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman slowly discovering who you are. And let’s not forget that decade of fruit, of giving yourself over to others, mercy. what a beautiful part of your story. xo.

      Reply
  7. Tara, you have the gift. Your words drew me in and made me want to hang around for a while. :)

    Praying right now for your little one, Teneale!

    Reply
    • if I made you want to hang around, then i’ve done my job… i want you to lean in just a little closer so i can hug ya. :)

      Reply
  8. Tara, your writing never disappoints me. (there. now go live up to that, right? ;) ) i not only love your words, i love being your friend, watching you love and live and trace scars and listen to deep stirrings. here’s to walking each other home!

    and Emily, praying for your SIL and that baby. what a time this must be for them.

    Reply
    • no pressure, no pressure at all ;) You know, friends like you, with your words and your spirit? make me long for another bend in the road, just to walk and talk together just a little longer. so grateful.

      Reply
  9. praying! We serve a miracle working God.

    Reply
  10. Tara you are a beautiful, beautiful soul. I think I am just now exhaling from this piece of beauty. I am with you in this, this love of not just telling the stories, but hearing them. Tracing them. I could sit forever with the old and the young and just listen. Quietly. And here, right now, I am in this quiet place in my life and reading your heart and appreciating all that you are. How God has gifted you. What a gift you are in my life my friend. xo
    ** Please know that I am lifting your little one up, Teneale.

    Reply
    • oh, Danelle. i know you know this passion in which i speak. the kind that shows up quiet, but that burns and spreads until the need to soak in more and more overwhelms and humbles. i see so much beauty in this quiet place in your life. i see so much beauty right there in your soul.

      Reply
  11. Beautiful post. I, too, love to hear other people’s stories. I think that so much can be explained and easier to understand once we know someone’s story.

    Reply
    • i love you being here Christine! Yes! so much can be explained, and learned, and understood when we truly LOOK at one another, when we listen to hearts instead of issues. story does all that doesn’t it. i’m so glad you’re a part of mine.

      Reply
  12. oh dear Tara, I love your heart. you are a treasured friend, and I cannot begin to tell you the beauty found in your words.

    you speak in silence and roar. <3

    Reply
    • and i feel just the same about your heart and words Rachel, truly. everytime i read you, i think “how does she do that? get inside me each and every time.” xo

      Reply
  13. Praying for baby Lucas and family for healing and strength.

    Tara – your line,”exploring instead all the ways I thought I should be gifted.” oh how I get that. I have struggled in every phase of my life to figure out how I should be gifted instead of just embracing what God was calling me to do with what I had/where I was. I am realizing right now that the best thing I am doing is being a mom. Maybe that sounds silly, but I realize I am good at it – not in a better homes and gardens/pin it on pinterest way – but in just being a mom that plays trains on the floor and reads lots of books and does STORY with them in all sorts of forms. It is my calling in this season – and I am learning, by grace, to embrace it.

    Reply
    • Amanda ~ oh darlin’. there is nothing silly about owning your beautiful aptness for being their mama. no one else could do it better. that picture at the top of the post is one of my babies. she brings me into myself in ways i am just discovering. it is what makes me alive with the power of stories, this breathing them into my children, of watching their world expand. Your calling is beautiful. just beautiful.

      Reply
  14. This is really lovely, Tara.

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  15. I agree, I am compelled by stories, too. Also praying for baby Lucas.

    Reply
    • love being surrounded by all these story people. make my heart really, really happy.

      Reply
  16. I’ve finally started owning the label “writer” this year. Accepting my own calling, I guess.

    Reply
    • Own it girl! it’s so empowering to whisper your heart out loud {after its done being terrifying that is.} I see you here, and am so proud of you.

      Reply
  17. Prayed for your sister in law, believing in God for a miracle on her behalf.

    Tara~your story put words to how I’ve been feeling about myself. I wish there was a job out there that paid you to read books, I’d be all over that!!

    Reply
    • Alecia, if you find that job, send me an application!! I am so loving meeting all my fellow storycatchers. :)

      Reply
  18. Said a prayer for the requests.

    Tara, this speaks so deeply. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  19. Prayers for Teneale and her precious son.

    Reply
  20. You have indeed found your calling; blessings do resonate. Prayers too – been down this path with my brother. God Bless you and your family!

    Reply
  21. It’s good that you’re sharing that gift with the world. Through the years I’ve sometimes been absorbed in my creative world and I think of that old Simon and Garfunkel song “I am a Rock”, which describes a lot of creatives.

    But I know my own calling is to reach out.

    It’s important to involve your stories with real people, faults, vices and all. Great writing. Thanks for sharing.

    Josh

    Reply
  22. Prayers for Lucas and his opportunity to be born healthy and well. This post was so beautiful. It’s such a blessing to know what we are called to do. There is so much clarity when it is revealed. I’m learning that callings may not be the same for the whole of one’s life. (So did Pope Benedict) I’m keeping my eyes, and heart, open for what God has in store for me next.

    Reply
  23. Praying for Lucas and for you and Rob. Don’t ever forget that God is the surest and most steadfast anchor of our souls, and He has great plans for Lucas’ life through this!

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  24. Tara,

    This is lovely, and I resonate as words bubble to my surface throughout the day, and sentences compose themselves under my breath in the car, in the shower, as I walk, etc. It is a fun passion to practice and to hone. Keep writing too. I love pulling up my chair to yours. :)

    Teneane, I am stopping now to pray for your Lucas, friend.

    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com

    Reply
  25. You’re speaking my language here, Tara. I also believe well in the power of stories. Thank you for sharing yours.

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  26. Oh this is lovely, thank goodness for those who bare the scars that we may see our own and know that we are ok, ok to be real and then heal. AMEN!

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  27. Oh, Tara, I am SO GLAD you’ve “discovered” your calling. Your stories put skin on the love of Jesus and they make me want to love Him more.

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  28. Such a great guest post, Emily! Thank you for allowing Tara to share her story.

    Reply
  29. Teneane, praying. Tara, a blessing. always.

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  30. I hear every word of your story and I’ve lived it too. It’s a hard thing to wait for the calling to come. I love your words, Tara. Can’t wait to see where the stories take you!

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  31. Oh gosh, Tara, you write beauty and take my breath away. I agree with everyone else– I’ll be saying those last lines over and over to myself for awhile. Oh, the way you see the world– what a gift.
    Love, a fellow story- teller

    Reply
  32. Tara, your words are beauty. I love image of softly tracing over the scars that life has left behind. That requires intimacy and true care to actually notice the scars that mark us. There is such power is knowing and being known.

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  33. (Have tried to comment a couple times now in the past few days, but I don’t think it’s gone through. Apologies if it shows up more than once!)

    Tara, I’m just reading your work for the first time, but I so relate to what you say, especially the part about being an introvert in an extrovert’s world. And Gone with the Wind was one of my favorite books growing up. ;)

    Emily – Thank you for hosting this beautiful community and link up. I’ve been silently visiting for a while now, but I’m glad to link up today.

    Teneale – I’ve been praying for you, Rob, and baby Lucas and will keep you in my prayers.

    Reply

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