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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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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