At the beginning of October, I participated in the Breathe Christian Writers Conference in Grand Rapids and was honored to share “Morning Words” with other writers. Today and tomorrow, I’m sharing with you parts of that message.
A story from my message was featured here earlier this month and it’s featured on the Breathe blog today. Drop by Breathe to read about my friend Kathy, “the reluctant prophet”.
And here, part one from “Morning Words”.
I live on a farm in northeast Indiana, but I grew up in a little stone house at the edge of a small town. Years before we moved there, a previous owner covered his simple wood frame house with big rocks and stones of all shapes and sizes, gathered from around the world. Set together with mortar, like bricks, the stones transformed a plain square structure into a unique, fanciful cottage with curved archways and an attached grape arbor.
As a little girl, I loved running my hands over those stones and imagining where they’d been before becoming part of my house. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was growing up surrounded by stories – stories of faraway places, people I would never meet, adventures that had unearthed each unique stone.
That solid, stone house is where I first discovered my love of story. With five kids to feed and clothe on a mail carrier’s salary, books were a low priority in our family and there weren’t many reading options in our house. But our favorite neighborhood babysitter brought over her books and she read to us from them. Her bedtime stories awakened in me a hunger for more, and a desire to write my own stories.
Two other buildings in my hometown formed and inspired me as a writer – the brick Carnegie-style library and the little limestone Catholic chapel that sat behind it.
From the day I discovered the library’s basement-level children’s department, I knew I’d found my happy place. It was dark and musty and very small, but it held a world of wonder and a wealth of stories. The library is where I met Laura Ingalls, Ann Shirley, Captain Hook, The Boxcar Children. The days when I’d pedal my bike across town to mount the steps up to the library and down into the children’s section were red-letter days for me. I’d spend an hour or two devouring what I could of books the librarian recommended, then select one, maybe two, that I could fit in the basket of my bicycle and pedal home.
The limestone Catholic Church where I was baptized, attended catechism, was confirmed and took my first communion was another world of wonder, and of stories. A different musty, incense-laden smell greeted me as I climbed the steps to dip my fingers in the marble bowl of holy water, made the sign of the cross and slipped quietly into a wooden pew at the back of the sanctuary.
The bronze depictions of the Stations of the Cross were my first exposure to the passion of Christ. At a time when the Bible was meted out by nuns and priests, these images were my scripture. And the colorful stained glass windows were a palette for the stories I created in my head of who Jesus was and what he would come to mean to me.
Story stones, story books, story sculptures.
Where did you first find your stories? What are the roots of your creative nature? How do your stories connect you to God and to others?
We’re down to the last two days of the #Write31Days challenge. It’s kind of a bittersweet thing — I can’t decide if I’m relieved or sad. I do know that writing at least 500 words a day for 31 days (that’s 15,000 words, folks) has convinced me I can move on to the National Novel Writing Month challenge. In fact, I’m already registered. Follow along for weekly updates on my historical novel and maybe a few excerpts throughout November.
Life stories knit us together, whether to family or to others who just need to know they are not alone. In these 31 days of October, I’ll be exploring the importance of STORY. You can read all 31 days by following the links under “31 Days of Story”. And, you can read blogs from other writers taking the #Write31Days challenge by visiting the website here.
Tomorrow: Taking Risks With Our Stories Can Grow Our Faith