I had the immense gift of time spent in Portland last week at the Storyline Conference hosted by Donald Miller.  Oh, my patooties.  It was so rich and wonderful and thought-provoking and challenging and……..  _________________.  {insert almost any adjective on that line, please}

I love the concept of story and narrative.  After attending a writing class taught by Anne Diskin years ago, I found myself loving teaching writing to 4th graders.  And that says a lot….thirty 4th graders in one small space can truly run a phenomenal gamete of writing abilities and styles. {aka….buy a BIG bottle of Advil at Costco, because you’re gonna need it}   But Anne’s techniques, combined with a wonderful approach stolen gifted from my dear friend and former roommate, Kim, made my heart flutter and butterflies took over each day when 11am rolled around during narrative writing season.  We made countless lists of people, events, moments in time.  Then we attempted to incorporate all the golden nuggets “good writing” should have.   It was almost a mathematical approach.  Creativity in the midst of formulaic thinking.  Holy MOSES, did those kids come alive and write and create and express and impress and share their hearts.   It was rather amazing to hear their lives and memorable moments scribbled out on paper.

Writing is like that.  It can be formal and tight and hidden.  Or it can be the door to authenticity, connection and gut wrenching honesty.  Don’t get me STARTED on the poetry writing that came out of those bunnies.  Tears seriously come to my eyes when I remember those sessions.  Holy ground in Room 18. That’s all due to the influence of the amazing Alison Seevak.

So, despite the fact that it’s summer and I have an almost mobile 8 month old and a very busy 4 year old, I am going to try and carve out time to think through the idea of story.  As Donald Miller says in his book, A Million Miles, “A story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling the people around us what we think is important.”

Thus the questions must be asked:

“What kind of story am I telling with my life?”

As the “main character” in my story, “What message is my life sending to those in the story with and around me?”

“What do I and what do we, as a family, want??”

{and by want, I’m talking about the bigger picture wants…although things get so sticky when owning a home, having our kids attend a “good” school, and being able to buy groceries at Whole Paycheck Foods creep in}

“Am I willing to enter into conflict?”

(because let’s face it, pushing toward a bigger goal is going to include facing conflict and frankly God’s made it pretty clear that he’s ok with us sitting in conflict…)

I loved this visual image Don painted for us at the conference.  He talked about “good stories”.  Stories that have made for amazing movies.  Clearly a story whose chief end was a guy getting a Volvo, and whose entire career and every move was solely for the purpose of attaining this Volvo….this “plot” would be awful.  And boring.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself, do you just want a Volvo out of life (not that Volvos are bad!!!)?  What is your inciting incident?  The incident that disrups your comfort?  The moment where something enters your story and forces you to jump into the discomfort and the fear?

I was reading A Million Miles back in September/October 2010 right before and after Drew’s birth.  Here’s some quotes that I copied from my library copy of the book into my journal.  Enjoy, be challenged, and most of all, don’t go brain dead.

“The world collapses in on itself when people do not allow God to show up through them.”

~pg. 118

“The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.”

~pg. 143

“People seek for something better, yet fear change.  Often afraid to choose better story–the current situation is bad, but FAMILIAR.”

~pg. 100-101

“…most of our greatest fears are relational.  It’s all that stuff about forgiveness and risking rejection and learning to love.”

and finally…

“Life is staggering and we’re just used to it.”


Click here to catch a visual of the conference in picture and art and words artistically rendered by Mike Rohde.

2 thoughts on “Swirling

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