I am so honored to have the post I wrote about #MyFaithHeroine , my beloved Swedish Grandmother, MorMor, Mildred Sandquist Martin (1913-2012) highlighted on my dear friend, Michelle Derusha's, blog. I was chosen as one of three winners in the contest she sponsored for the very worthy promotion of her book, '50 Women Every Christian Should Know' published by Baker Books. I am part of a huge chorus of the extended Martin clan who knows MorMor belongs on this list. Thank you Michelle. The greatest gift is to remember. :)
I will be walking through five weeks of the #AtlasGirlBookClub and the theme this week is VOICE. Join us in asking the hard questions as we walk through Chapters 1-7 of Atlas Girl.
'It is a beautiful fall', this finding your voice, says my friend, Emily. I met her four years ago in my early days in blog-world through her Imperfect Prose link-up and a poem I had written called 'this broken one.'
Poetry was my first real fall into creative voice. Mrs. K. at my junior high wore a teacher-smile as she tried not to cringe reading about 'the peace of love, like a dove, that spring brings after all of the strife of life.' I was proud of my rogue notebook filled with these frivolous words and pondering not directed at any of the perfection of straight A's I was running hard after. And while I see from the eyes of a literary critic the rigid confines of rhyme that almost mock the true art of poetry, my truest notes of voice always find their running rhythm back to it.
The poetry changed in the heights of my reaching bid for independence as I gave myself the freedom to question and find the God-seeker beyond my conservative religious tradition pushing the bounds of Christian faith. Then there was the mystery-laden when all my dreams turned to dust amid the pain of heartbreak, and I wrote a journal full of things like this ::
I wonder when
Confused and a bit dark as I wrote, this voice seemed strange, but the rhyme remained. It was like I was someone new who struggled for a fullness of words. I would look back on this time as a single hinge in my life re-directing understanding of what it means to walk in faith and integrity as a pilgrim longing for Home.
When I returned to my high school alma mater as a math teacher, I found my former English teacher and showed him these poems. He interacted with them as someone who knew me and was kind and encouraged me to share my art. So I sent some of my 'new poetry' somewhere very unlikely to publish it ;) and received the rejection as a full indictment of my emerging voice. But Mr. Smith also said something that stayed with me : 'math-types make the neatest writers.' He saw math in the form of order and rhyme as a unique representation of my voice--something I had never seen.
Then mama died and the heartbreak that still ached lanced into rivers of muddy and murky and no little blood flow. My only dream that hadn't shattered two years earlier was the one I had been praying for mama's full healing from her chronic illness, beginning a year and a half before the cancer came. All of the well-meaning yet misguided importance that had inspired me became so small in the light of the mystery of grief in this veil of tears. And I lost the beloved voice I trusted most whose letters and spoken wisdom threaded together a multi-lingual, rhyming, math-geek who waxed poetic in the rest between far away adventures.
But as with every story the Great Author promises to bring to completion, I found that this voice was never really lost. Through Emily's Atlas Girl blog tour, and the soul-desperation of a life with myriad transitions that almost unnamed me, I found the unmistakable yearning to find and embrace the one-in-all-the-world voice God created and redeemed me to speak. (He is calling you to this too, friend.)
I read an e-book Emily and her friend, Mick Silva, wrote called 'A House that God Built'. (it will soon be available to the public and is highly recommended :) The longing converged into the desire to know and worship God through writing an inspirational memoir. Then Emily introduced me to Jo Ann Fore and I have been walking through a workshop Jo Ann designed called 'Free Your Story.'
The world aches for hope wrapped in the raw&real & grace&truth of the Word wrapped in flesh. #AtlasGirlBookClub
— Abigail Alleman (@abbyalleman) November 5, 2014
I outlined the story arc and chapters of the memoir and began to write. I did not know, but I was pretty sure I had not yet found my voice. I prayed for God to show me this unique face that brings Glory to Him and wrote in anticipation of that 'beautiful fall.' I asked God to weave together a math-geek, Spanish and Hungarian speaker, identical twin, farm girl, urban dweller, theologian, teacher, lost-girl wanderer and long-time youth minister grown from daughter & sister to wife & mama. To the human eye underscored by hissing lies I have heard all of my life it seemed a random jumbled mess of impossible request. But these are not the eyes I have been given. Rather, it's the faith-eyes to see there is a new name the Eternal Abba Embrace has already given me and the words of this voice are growing up into that name.
I wept yesterday as I read Brittany Maynard's story. I wept for the terror of cancer that kills and steals and destroys along the way. And I wept for all that despairs in the clinging to ultimate things bound in this life. I wept in the face of what I know--the death of dreams falling limp through hands on the slippery silk of fleeting days. And I wept for all of the hope that longs with pregnant yearning to be born in the lives of the living dead.
I felt it too. The weight increasing as I write a memoir moving towards a uniquely-voiced memorial of the journey I was graced to walk in caring, along with my beloved family, for my mother. I let the ache pierce deep. Looking fully into this yawning chasm, I prayed for the courage to speak the voice I have been given. I laid down clinging doubt and frivolous desire for fame in a name that begins and ends with me. I picked up the promise of the voice in the wilderness, preparing the highway of our God who is light shining in every darkness and He will not be overcome.
Because it's a world in desperate need of hope that comes in the raw & real, grace-filled & truth-speaking of the Word wrapped in flesh. Those who rise relentless, the fools that will not stop believing and giving voice to the Gospel. The ones who live knowing they are not their own and are willing to die to pride, or being understood, or fear, or the shallow that entices. The ones with courage to lift voices in the harmonic strains of story that bring fullness to the melding song of generations marching through milennia toward the sure light of Redemptive Glory.