Thursday, October 25, 2012

What stories would they tell?

“Stories are all around us,” writes Glenda Bonin. “They reside in people, places and things, and are waiting to be discovered.”

So true! So true!

Not just stories.

God-and-you stories.

Take a fresh look at possessions you could never give away or throw out.

What do you store in a special drawer or even in a safe deposit box?

What items would you stash in a safe place if tornado sirens sounded? What would you grab if your smoke alarm went off?

Look around and identify something you’ve owned for years and used a lot.

If those items could talk, what stories would they tell?

I think about that question a lot.

This week I gave away a set of dishes to a family that lost everything in a fire. I tucked a note inside the box that read:

“I bought these dishes in Africa and we used them during our seventh and eighth years there, and here in the U.S. all these years since. While you use them, ask yourself, ‘If these dishes could talk, what stories would they tell?’”

Someday—soon, I hope—I want, I need, to write stories based on my old blue American Tourister carry-on bag (a gift from Schiefelbeins—thanks, Rick and Marilyn!). It has has traveled with me for 19 years—from this planet’s most primitive places to this world’s most sophisticated cities—and what stories it could tell! Not just stories, but God-and-me stories.

What stories would my husband’s grandmother’s aluminum colander tell? My mother-in-law passed it on to me 45 years ago. Ah, yes, it could tell stories—five generations of stories!

Look around your house and ask yourself, “If this dining room table could talk, what stories would it tell?”

“If my old Bible could talk, what stories would it tell?”

“If these boots could talk, what stories would they tell?”

What about a photo? A photo album? A book?

A piece of furniture? A washing machine?

A piece of art? Jewelry?

An old coffee mug?

“Think about what they represent personally,” Glenda continues, “… aware that every item represents a story.…”

“Don’t be timid about interviewing yourself and others. A good interviewer asks questions and waits for answers.… Listen deeply, allowing as much time as needed for quiet moments of thought. Do not rush in with a new question until you are satisfied that the question has been fully explored. It is not unusual for one question to lead to another.… These moments are often where the best family stories can be found.…” (Glenda Bonin at

I like Glenda’s suggestion: Interview yourself, and “Listen deeply, allowing as much time as needed.…”

Then write your stories, but not just stories. Write God-and-you stories.

Remember, while you have been enjoying those common items—the dining room table, the colander, the old boots, the carry-on bag—God has always been with you, working in you, working on your behalf.

Stories are all around you. You don’t need news-making miracles to witness God at work. He is in your everyday comings and goings.

Like Oswald Chambers says:

“We look for visions from heaven 
and for earth-shaking events 
to see God’s power. 
Yet we never realize that 
all the time God is at work 
in our everyday events.…”

Write your stories!


  1. I love this. It is so true that everything around us is part of the great story of God's dealings with us. Great post, Linda!

    1. Thanks, Lia, for stopping by and for leaving your words of encouragement. :)


  2. What a neat idea. We don't live in a weather or fire vulnerable location, so this is not something I've given much thought to. This post prompts me to consider it more deeply, so I have two steps to story.

    1. Hi, Sharon, for most of my life I lived where we had earthquakes and volcanos and tsunamis and forest fires, but now I'm adjusting to living in tornado alley (which threaten more frequently than the others). This has given me a different sense of what material things are important--not for me so much as for my kids' and grandkids' future references, their family and spiritual roots.

      Thanks, Sharon, for stopping by and leaving your comment. :)


  3. Super approach to thinking through story resources. Here is a quote I like: "Every person from your past lives as a
    shadow in your mind. Good or bad, they all helped you write the story of your life, and shaped the person you are today." Doe Zantamata

    1. Wow, Wayne, that's a super quote! And I believe it's true. I'll have to add that quote to my collection.

      Hope you're having a good week, Wayne, and thanks for stopping by.


  4. Linda,
    I love this unique way of thinking about the stories of our lives, especially the part about interviewing ourselves. There's so much all around us. All we need to do is stop and look around. Thanks for the great prompt!

    1. Hi, Kathy, that's what caught my attention too-- the part about interviewing ourselves, and giving ourselves plenty of time to listen and get answers. I'd never quite thought of that before.

      How are you doing in your editing and final polishing of your memoir? I'm so excited for you! :)

      Hugs and smiles,

  5. Thanks so much for this particular call to action, Linda. I'm going to walk around in the next few days and take notes on some of the things we own and then spend some reflective time thinking through the stories they might tell. As always, so helpful!

    1. Hi, Diana, you are the most prolific storyteller I know! You're sure to find some interesting material as you look around the house at your possessions.

      I didn't think of it earlier, and now I wish I had pointed out that the material possession is just that--a material possession--and the point is not that IT is important, but but that it can help us remember. It can even help us understand ourselves better and our relationship with God.

      Thanks for stopping by, Diana.


  6. Linda, I'm finally catching up on some long overdue reading. I love the concept you've set forward here. I can think of a truckload of memories in the things around me, in photographs -- oh, my! Thanks for a much needed nudge for some prompts. My writing has faltered since the death of my brother-in-law. In fact, I can't even find the want to write anymore.

    Blessings, Sherrey