Friday, September 7, 2012


Someone recently asked me about a sentence at the end of my intro paragraph on the front page of my blog.  I have written that "I believe that stories save us."  What do I mean by that?  In general, I mean that I have experienced that as the stomach craves food, and as our skin craves touch, our brains crave stories.  That's why reading is such a pleasure and that wise preachers illustrate their points with stories.  This is why we watch TV, go to movies and listen to news on the radio, there is something deep and powerful in us that seeks stories.   Stories give us encouragement, meaning, perspective, connection, relaxation, challenge and pause.  My girls are always begging me to tell them stories about things that I did when I was a kid (like the time I stole a bag of crackers from a store when I was four . . . but that's another story).

But I have another illustration about how stories save us.  This week has been a very difficult one for me and my kids.  Everyone is still adjusting to the new school year.  Afternoons in our home have been filled with tantrums, whining and general unhappiness.  We've had several occasions where a child (who shall not be named) has gone up to her brother and screamed in his face, causing him to scream and begin hitting his head (very unpleasant).  I have been battling a headache that could not be vanquished by neither copious amounts of ibuprophen nor desperate prayer.  I needed help.

In the midst of this grumpy week, I experienced a small but welcome miracle. We had recently checked out a "book on cd" from the library of Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It's one of the beloved "Little House on the Prairie" books from my childhood and I was eager to share it with my girls.  I put it on and they were instantly calmed and mesmerized as the narrator told stories about farming, and family meals and animals and one room school houses.  My girls were able to let go of their complaints of each other as they laughed together about the antics of Almanzo, the main character, and his siblings.  I put some watercolor paints in front of them and they quietly painted pictures on recycled paper as they listened to the stories for almost two straight hours!  It was so tranquil and quiet under the stable leadership of the cd narrator that Josh even ventured out of the refuge of his room to ask for a snack.  

As parents (and as friends, as teachers, as ministers, and so many other things), it would do us well to remember the gift of story.  We ought to find ways to connect by sharing our stories.  We should work on the art of telling a good story.  We need to recognize how we are helped by the right kind of story and seek out quality stories to help us where are in our lives.  How might you be blessed by the power of a good story today?


  1. Susan, I LOVED Farmer Boy. And the whole series! I tried getting Abby into the first one, Little House in the Big Woods, but it didn't catch as I had hoped. Perhaps I'll try the audio version!!! It is certainly a gift to know how to tell a good story.

  2. Susan, this is totally tangential to your point, but I am filing away your example in my head for when we have kids. Putting kids in front of a TV is so bad for their development, but how can a parent not occasionally resort to that for some peace and quiet? Books on tape! Genius!

  3. So true! Up till now, neither of my kids have been too interested in audio books, but we have entered a new stage (at 10 and 5 years old, it's about time!) Every day, I need a good story. Every day. Thanks, Susan!

  4. Loved your reflection, Susan. Any ride in the car for our family is audio library time...we've done all of Narnia, Harry Potter and our on our second time through the Hobbit. When it's a good story, our kids look forward to rides in the car. Now if they would only read books as much as they like to listen to them! Looking forward to talking tomorrow.

  5. Susan, thank you for blogging and sharing your thoughts. I just recently got the blog url from yasi. It is inspiring and encouraging.

    Amen on stories. Aren't we always trying to make a narrative out of events in our lives? From politics to the stranger we meet. It is the stories where the power of God is manifest that is most interesting.