Work Stories: Krista Vossler's hiddenness calling

Welcome to the newest post in a brand new series of guest posts on the subject of our everyday work lives. For the remaining weeks of Ordinary Time, I’ve invited some friends to share a one-day snapshot into their work life that will help us see what they know to be true right now about who they are made to be.

Today’s guest is a kindred spirit from our time in Austin. From the time Krista and her husband Blake welcomed our entire family into their small apartment in the middle of a hot summer for a homemade dinner when she was like nine months pregnant, we’ve known we’d be lifelong companions. It’s been my delight to watch Krista wholeheartedly pursue her calling as an artist, mother, wife, peacemaker, and friend with integrity and wholehearted surrender. She is fiercely committed to each place and relationship Jesus invites her to pursue, and we, her neighbors and friends are all better for it.

Krista’s words remind us of the kingdom paradox that only as we embrace our hiddenness in Christ do we have eyes to rightly see the unseen realities in our relationship with God, others, and our own selves. In that hidden place, we see and are truly seen. As we read today, may God grant us His eyes and ears to see what is hidden yet glorious in each wild and precious life.

p.s., If you live in Austin, you can hear Krista’s music at the Parish House (1618 Ashberry Drive) during the East Austin Studio Tour this coming Saturday, November 10 at 4pm.

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Lately, when thinking about vocation, this line from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” comes to mind: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/
with your one wild and precious life?” I’ve often wished it tattooed on my forehead, mirror-image so that when I wake up in the morning and stumble into the bathroom, I can read it first thing.

At the moment, I am a homemaker, a homeschooling mother, a musician, and a co-laborer with my husband at a three-year-old Anglican church plant. More importantly, I’m hidden with Christ in God. I’m made to work and love out of this identity--to welcome and encourage, feed and comfort strangers and friends; to nurture my children and raise them to be peacemakers and little lights in the world.

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Real talk: While the above paragraph is good, glorious and true, I have consistently struggled with vocation and calling since birthing my first child eight years ago. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I am slowly learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and recognize the call to rest in my identity in Christ. And to be bold enough to acknowledge my vocational desires, while being rooted enough to bless others’ work without playing the comparison game.

A few mornings each week, my goal is to get up before my kids so I can hit the treadmill--mostly for my own mental health, but this week due to Austin’s boil notice and the fact that we’re recovering from a parasite-that-will-not-be-named, I’m sleeping until they wake.

We eat breakfast, do chores, see my husband off, check e-mail briefly, tidy up; and then we’re off and running. The school day begins with a collect from the Book of Common Prayer, a hymn, and scripture. Part of my vocation is embedding life-giving words into my kids’ hearts. This crucial time helps me do that even when I’m feeling in need of revival. After that, it’s up to the kids to set the schedule for the morning, but our non-negotiables are snack-time with poetry and exercise of some kind. A couple of mornings a week we’re at a nature class, sketching at our local wildflower center, hitting up our favorite art museum, or taking piano lessons from Grandma; but most days we’re hunkered down at home reading, singing, baking, playing, dancing, memorizing, observing, creating.

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I didn’t always plan on having kids nor did I always want to homeschool, but this journey of joy and destruction (our family’s joking-not-joking phrase for what child-raising has been to us) has been a place of deep healing as well as a place where I have had to recognize my need for God in new and devastating ways. Will I homeschool forever? I don’t know, but in this season it’s been a beautiful thing.

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After lunch, I attempt to check in with myself and God--where and why was I impatient? Are there triggers that set me off? How am I feeling in my body and spirit? If the kids are engaged in reading or building quietly, I practice Lectio Divina or listen to Pray-As-You-Go. Today I’m struggling after a particularly intense session with my EMDR therapist, so I’ve got some interior work to do. Thirty minutes to an hour later, we’re back at it--with a break for tea-time--until we leave for ballet (for my daughter), spiritual direction (for me), or a meal-drop (for a friend).

Nights are for lesson-planning, song-writing, studying, offering hospitality and/or connecting with my husband. At the moment we’re helping to plan a gathering about living the liturgical year, and I’m processing notes from a conference I recently attended so as to share it with our church community. I plan on joining the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network for a group call tomorrow night, but tonight I’m heading out to get caught up with friends who function as a family.

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More real talk: Vocational callings--outside of homemaking and hospitality--generally end up being embodied in small ways at this stage in my life. I play an occasional show and help out at church by being on the worship team. Though I long to do more gigs and connect with more people through music, it’s not possible at the moment. At times, I feel like giving up, throwing the towel in on this “whole music thing.” But it’s one of the spaces where the Holy Spirit comes rushing into my life in a palpable way--where I feel most alive, my truest self.

In the same way, my call to serve people on the margins looks less like going to rallies, writing salient think pieces and being a social justice warrior and more like owning white privilege, confessing my sins and connecting with, reading about and listening to people who don’t look like me. This in itself feels like hard work right now, but I’m pondering ways I can affect change on this front. I’m feeling a bit of a shift in our church community and I hope to get in on the action as we grow into our name and our calling.

Because of the hiddenness of much of my vocation and Christ’s desire that we minister to those overlooked and forgotten, I’d love to share this song in closing--a song that breaks my heart wide open every time I hear it:

“Little Things With Great Love” (listen at the link below)

--By Audrey Assad, Isaac Wardell, and Madison Cunningham

In the garden of our Savior, no flower grows unseen;

His kindness rains like water on every humble seed.

No simple act of mercy escapes His watchful eye —

for there is One who loves me: His hand is over mine.

In the kingdom of the heavens, no suff’ring is unknown;

each tear that falls is holy, each breaking heart a throne.

There is a song of beauty on ev’ry weeping eye —

for there is One who loves me: His heart, it breaks with mine.

Oh, the deeds forgotten; oh, the works unseen,

every drink of water flowing graciously,

every tender mercy, You’re making glorious.

This You have asked us: do little things with great love,

little things with great love.

At the table of our Savior, no mouth will go unfed;

His children in the shadows stream in and raise their heads.

Oh give us ears to hear them and give us eyes that see —

for there is One who loves them: I am His hands and feet.

Krista Vossler is a third-culture kid who still can’t believe she’s put down roots in the great state of Texas.  She’s a lover of Jesus, her husband, two kids, and the Anglican Way. Occasionally, she sings for her supper (er, tips).  Check out her latest recording here or come out to The Parish House during the East Austin Studio Tour (November 10, 4pm).  If you want to meet Krista at church, visit Church of the Cross in Austin, TX.  Finally, if you’re an Anglican interested in racial justice and supporting multi-ethnic churches in your denomination, check out A.M.E.N. (the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network).  

What about your calling?

What are some the ways you feel hidden in your pursuit of God’s calling on your life?

A song and a prayer for all of us this week

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
— a prayer for Compline from The Book of Common Prayer

(You can read all of the Work Stories here.)

What's one of the most lavish meals you've ever experienced?

An amazing breakfast - smoked salmon and eggs on Irish toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice and homemade scones - at our splurge hotel in Ireland (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford)

An amazing breakfast - smoked salmon and eggs on Irish toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice and homemade scones - at our splurge hotel in Ireland (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford)

I'm thinking about feasting this week.  You too?  Probably the fall, and the anticipation for festive get-togethers around the calendar corner.  

I'm thinking about feasting because in a few days I have an essay going out into the world at one of my favorite sites.  A place that values feasting and hospitality and the sacramental life.  (I can't wait to share the story of me and my new curmudgeon monk friend in a couple of days!)

I'm thinking about feasting because I stumbled on a gorgeous television series that makes a cinematic artform out of food preparation.  I have never (and maybe will never this side of Heaven) be able to afford the lavishness of the feasts these genius chefs create.  For now, I'm completely satisfied to imagine the taste and smell through the skillfully directed camera lens.

Chef's Table reminds me of another favorite reality foodie show our friends Shaun and Katie introduced to us last year.  I'm not a foodie and have barely ever travelled out of the U.S. and still found myself weeping during some of these food and culture stories.  Also: Phil Rosenthal is a precious man, don't you think?

The conversations about feasting always remind me of my favorite foodie movie of all time.  You want to talk about the reality of the Gospel found in food?  Watch this movie and give thanks.

I was talking with a dear new friend yesterday, and told her my conversation starter for the week.  She told me a sweet, sweet story of a meal she and her husband enjoyed with friends in a fabulous NYC restaurant just before having children.  She joked that sometimes we get a bit super spiritual answering these sorts of questions.  When I asked if she'd reply with her story when I posted the question on the Facebook page, she teased that she'd probably give the "spiritual" answer which, obviously, involves the Eucharist.  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

Fair enough:  let's keep clear that our so-called spiritual and secular lives are a seamless garment. After all, that's the whole point behind the term "sacramental life".  Ordinary, visible things making plain the invisible graces carrying us through the present world.  

Which reminds me of something my friend Laurel commented on the Facebook page yesterday.  She mentioned some good feasting memories that were a lot about the quality of the food.  Then she mentioned a memory where the food was only a side dish to the unforgettable scenery.

 I have some great memories like that, as well.  And I've added a whole new cache of memory from our trip to Ireland this past summer.  And they don't replace some of the simpler meal memories of eating pondside with my family at my grandparents' little cottage. Or the time, mid-July, Brian and I grilled steaks for a dozen family members while we all floated on a motorized raft across an Adirondack lake. Or the time my friends feasted with both food and art for my 38th birthday.  

Feasting of any sort is pure gift, don't you think?

 What memories do you have of the best-tasting meals of your life?  

I'm listening.