Stories Stir the Soul

We landed back in the U.S. late at night, like always. What was not like always was that my brother and his family, who normally reside in Europe, were also in the U.S. Christmas in the U.S. was the goal. All of us. Together. Our trip was to last a month.

Ha. It lasted about 3 or 4 months. A blur of doctor appointments, eye surgery, and stress.

In the late night hours of collapsing back in to bed after a day of it, whatever it was that day, I cracked the pages of a book with a black cover and a bird on the front. I was transported to another world and lost all track of time. It only took me a few days to finish the Hunger Games.

I was enthralled with the story Suzanne Collins wove, reportedly coming up with the idea as she toggled between reality TV survival shows and war coverage. That made sense to me during our re-entry. Her story captured my mind in a period of my life when it was hard to switch off all the details surrounding a one month trip turned 3 month medical leave.

Our daughter wore glasses from the age of 3 1/2 after she woke up one morning with one eye looking directly at her nose. We went to the ER and then a opthalmologist. We patched, we saw doctors, and it was working.

Until it wasn’t working. I hadn’t really noticed how her eyes drifted during our extended time away from the US and US doctors. Looking at pictures now is painful because it is so obvious. But, I didn’t know then.

In Asia, surgery was not as successful so not suggested as an option by the doctors we visited. When our doctor in the US saw us for a routine check up about a week after we landed, he was blunt. Surgery. In a month or two. We left shocked trying to figure out if our friend would let us extend our stay by, oh say, a few months! He did, because he is incredibly generous.

Then, a routine check up for our son got us a 2 day turn around follow-up with a pulmonologist. That’s usually not a good sign. Didn’t expect that or the cystic fibrosis test he did a little while later. It came back negative. Our nerves were a bit shot and our management of his asthma revealed we needed to learn much more. Again, there was a bit of a difference between Asian (manage symptoms) and American (slam that asthma to the ground!) methods.

Then, our youngest kept getting ear infection after ear infection until he got a series of three high-powered and very painful antibiotic shots. He would glow when he was done, our pediatrician told us. He didn’t really glow, but it was a very long time before he got sick again. His persistent baby acne disappeared.

The Hunger Games books were my series in all this, an escape and also an explanation for a rough bout of cross cultural living problems.  I identified with Katniss, feeling disoriented in a world where everyone seemed tatted, colored, or highly styled. Asia was a grey district. America felt like the Capitol.

I’ve read the series through another time or too and still refer to it when I talk about re-entry issues.


Our shelves contain a dozen or so books on crossing cultures, raising third culture kids, and re-entry. They directly address great things and I refer to them and learn from them. We own many stellar books on spiritual growth and parenting kids too. I read them and recommend them.

But, my secret, which is now not so secret, is a good story. Good fiction, allegory, or memoir makes me feel and discover truth in a way a direct dealing just can’t. Stories let us discover ourselves through others. A good allegory like Hinds Feet on Hind Places can pull together half a dozen spiritual truths lurking in the sidelines of my conscious mind and connect my emotions too.

I just finished a weird selection even for me, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. It’s cool. I feel cooler because I read it. My vocabulary now holds the option of some surf jargon if I want to look like a complete idiot. I still don’t understand surfing.

img_6782But the book was about surfing as much as it was about life, writing, and facing ourselves. The waves he described and his experience with them transcend surfing. It was a fascinatingly well written memoir and got me motivated to keep living my life and keep writing.

Not bad for a story. Now I need to find another one. My bedside table is never empty, but it doesn’t always have a truly good book to turn to when the sun goes down and that’s a pity.



Priming the Pump

My husband is a mechanical sort. So was my dad. I know just enough from listening to them talk to make wild assumptions on what is wrong with machines. Most often I jump directly to worst case scenario. I get the feeling that is not particularly endearing to some, ahem, my husband.

Like the time we returned to our assignment in Asia after a 6 month absence. Our cute orange car waited 6 months for us parked outside. Friends cleaned it a time or two and started it a time or two, but it was lonely.

Our first morning back I headed to the car to go and stock our bare fridge and cupboards. The engine turned over, and over, and over, and over…and didn’t start. I gassed it and tried again and again. Our car was dead, I knew it. Stone cold dead.

I also knew just enough to know that maybe stepping on the gas repeatedly could flood the engine and undermine my efforts to bring Orangey back to life. I laid off, took a breath, and eventually got to the grocery store.

So, here I am years later trying to write again after months of upheaval and absence from my blog and not writing. I primed the pump last week at the library by checking out books on writing like Stephen King’s book On Writing which I stumbled across in the stacks.

I took it as a sign that it was time to try and begin again.

 Plus, I heard it was good. Stephen King’s writing is not my genre by a long stretch. But, his book On Writing is more my style and quite a fascinating and humorous read so far.

I checked out another on the craft of memoir writing. I haven’t cracked it yet. It sounds too serious, a little more ambitious than I’m ready to read.

My library trip and a couple short editing projects, and I felt a bit of the spark of desire to write again. It felt good. Like a visit with an old, familiar friend. Like unpacking a box and remembering a beloved object not seen for years.

I started to feel ready to write again.

Plus, an automated woman from wordpress called and warned me to pay up or I’d lose my domain. I didn’t pay up soon enough. I lost it and now must pay a fine for my procrastination. But, something about a call from wordpress made me think about writing again.

Like a kick in the pants.

I remember paying for my domain name last year. It was a huge step for me to put money towards writing. I was so serious about it. I realize I don’t want to pack up my love for writing.

So, here I am writing…







Last week in a fit of inspiration I instituted a redesign of my blog. Now I get why such decisions happen in a boardroom and not at a solitary desk. I don’t like it. It’s too austere with too many straight lines. A boardroom might have saved me.

Every theme I liked better cost money. I am too cheap to pay for anything on my blog. Which leads me to another problem. I have not invested money into my writing beyond paper, pens, ink, blood, sweat, tears, and time.

Now, money is not as important as time set aside for writing, but it says something that I haven’t applied material resources to my craft. What does it say? I’m not sure yet. I’m figuring this out as I type these words. I’m hoping that my conclusion paragraph will give a large “aha” moment for us all.

My relationship with money reveals much about my relationship with God. I’ve seen that over the years. Money and many other things go hand in hand. People talk. Money backs things up. Money gets things serious. Money leads to a lot of bad things but it also reveals what we are for.

Have I bought into my writing? Am I willing to buy into my writing? To commit to pursue something to point that I will spend actual currency on it? In this area of my life-my writing-what am I for and am I willing to go the next step and have it cost me?

I think I’m ready. I don’t know what form it will take. I might pay for the redesign I really want, or the class my coworker emailed our team about. Maybe I need to sit down and really ponder my blog and see if this is what I want write. Is there something else I want write?

Beyond those details is a larger realization-there comes a time when I need to put my money where my mouth (or pen?) is. Am I a writer? Yes. So maybe I need to invest more in it!

What talents or gifts will you invest in this year?


The dust of an international move filled the last many months of my life. Writing for the public during this swirl of emotions felt pretty risky. The things I post to the internet remain somewhere. I wasn’t sure what I was writing needed to remain anywhere except locked up in a journal!

We moved back to the U.S. of A. 5 months ago. The move began way before we told anyone. It began a year ago. Our life was shifting and we felt it long before we said it.

We felt weary. It wasn’t the kind of tired that a brief time in America or a vacation could relieve. At the same time our work went through major changes and while we could have stayed longer, we felt our best contribution was coming to an end. It was time. I don’t know how to say it more than that it was time for us to go.

Preparations and goodbyes consumed the next few months of our lives. Much of that time I mentally engaged in an ancient tradition straight from the Bible. I stacked the rocks of memories from our 13 years in Asia and attempted to give thanks for all that I’d experienced and learned during my time as a foreigner in a strange land. It was a bittersweet time of farewells, tears, and thankfulness.DSC_0109

Of course I engaged the Lord over a few regrets of things I wished I’d done, friendships I ran out of time to deepen, and work left to others to carry on. Releasing the past and the future was and still is my work these days as I continue to adjust to this new life I find myself living in America.

Over the past month my desire to write on my blog grew from a small spark to typing in my password and, now, writing a post. It feels good to arrive at the place in this transition to want to continue blogging. And, when I hit publish I hope the silence of the past months gives way to more regular posts!



Why Do I Blog?

I write because choosing just the right word to describe my daily life in light of God’s grace energizes me.  I understand who I am and my life more deeply when I put words to it.  I crystallize those feelings, that insight, these experiences with words.  I digest God’s truth from the Bible when I write.

My journal pages fill up with private concerns.  Newsletters serve a different purpose.  Occasionally I receive a grade on a paper.  I longed for an outlet for the thoughts that rattled in my head.

I write on a blog because I write when I blog and a few people told me they wanted to hear my voice.

Why do you write?