Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just a Slice


This post is part of a contest to win a scholarship to She Speaks, a women’s conference by Proverbs 31 Ministries. She Speaks is for aspiring speakers, writers, and ministry leaders who desire to learn how to “make the most of their messages, the nuts and bolts of speaking, writing, leading, and influencing.” Lysa is offering anyone the opportunity to win one of three Cecil Murphy scholarships to attend She Speaks for FREE. Click here for all the details. Even if you're not aiming for the scholarship but you'd like to go, hurry and register. The conference is filling up fast.

I hope to see you there!

{My post is longish. I apologize.}


My favorite people have always been the ones who tell stories. Spin a good tale and I will love you forever. My granddaddy was the first great storyteller I knew, his voice the perfect blend of Georgian drawl and impeccable grammar. I don’t even remember the actual stories; I just know that almost everything he said seemed as if it were part of one and I could never stop listening.

I am not a great storyteller, not in the epic or even ordinary sense; I just have a deep and abiding love for words. A friend recently said to me, Words are your friends. You really have a way with them. I floated on that compliment for days, buoyed by the hope that I might one day find a place among real writers.

As a schoolgirl, I endured math and science but relished spelling and vocabulary. I delighted in Greek mythology and history and the eccentric teachers who taught me to love them. In retrospect, it’s no real surprise that I settled on history as my trade. History, at its best and purest, is simply great story-telling.

Years later, I made my way through graduate school and visualized the book I would write once I became a bona fide historian. I had one requirement: it needed to be someone's story.

But the wonderful arrival of my firstborn heralded the beginning of the end of some of those book-writing dreams, which was just fine. I was overjoyed to be a mother. In the meantime, my academic dreams faded to gray. The story about slavery and freedom and against-the-grain Southern folk was shelved. In its place sat chronicles of motherhood and sleep-deprivation and survival...and of course the unspeakable joy that children bring.

In the midst of it all, writing took a backseat and I moved to the classroom. For the next five years I taught American History to college kids and served as a tour guide for a humble, nineteenth-century church founded by Southern abolitionists. I loved what I did...the teaching, the storytelling, the audience.

I didn’t know how much I missed writing until I left career and came home three years ago. That hard-wrought homecoming was just as much figurative as it was literal. In coming home, the layers piled on by performance and pretense began to peel away.

I began to write again and it home.

Through writing, I've begun to find myself {and yes, I do know how cliché that sounds.}

Writing is where I go when I can’t make sense of life, which is often. Writing comforts me in times of fear, anxiety, and confusion. It celebrates with me in times of blessing.

Writing reconciles me to my reality.

My stories these days are not so much stories as they are “vignettes,” a vocabulary word I still remember from the 12th grade, meaning slice of life.

A slice is about all I can eke out on most days. I write about motherhood and home, life and faith. I'm honest about my journey as a contemplative mommy with no place but a laptop and journal to bare her over-thinking self. I owe a lot to my word-friends; writing has saved me thousands of dollars in therapy, something I remind my husband of when everyone has run out of clean underwear...again.

But there's more to it than just the free therapy. While motherhood is sacred and a mission in itself, there are other causes dear to my heart, issues I can’t stop thinking about, stories that need to be told. If "the pen is mightier than the sword," I long to embrace writing as a form of activism, to lend a voice on behalf of those who cannot.

As for a book, maybe one day. The dream is still there. But for now, I've just got some stories….and some causes that I believe may need a mommy crusader, a word-wielding swashbuckler who just happens to drive a minivan.

My skills, however, could use some coaxing and coaching. I need help with things like finding my voice, maintaining continuity, telling the story powerfully, knowing my audience, the "nuts and bolts" stuff. I have so much to learn! That’s where She Speaks comes in. This is the third year I’ve longed to go. It seems like a perfect place to hone one’s writing within a context of encouragement and faith.

I sincerely hope this post will land me there, but even if it doesn’t, it always feels good to tell a little slice of my own story.

What becomes of it all...well, those pages have yet to be written.


  1. I LOVE this, girl. I hope this year will be your year to go - you deserve it!

  2. A wonderful author and speaker once told me, "God doesn't waste prepared material." I sincerely hope that She Speaks becomes a part of your preparation, dear one. This slice is just so expressive of your soul.

    Love you forever,

  3. it's good! i hope you win!

  4. This is beautiful! I love reading your blog, not only because of the great stories you tell of your life, but because of the beautiful way you tell them--you are a great storyteller, I just happen to think that maybe you are your own worst critic and don't see that... :)

    You definitely deserve the spot at SheSpeaks! You are the perfect candidate! Love and admire you :)

  5. I think you are a wonderful story teller! I hope you are able to attend SheSpeaks! If not now, then sometime soon.

  6. Well, now. Can I vote for you? If it's a scholarship to SheSpeaks you need, then I think it's a scholarship you should have. For you have more than just raw talent and a few vague notions. You have real talent, already refined in many ways, and real ideas that are the stuff of great writing. I so hope you win!

  7. You might put the pharmaceutical companies out of business with this post! Writing and expressing self is always better than antidepressants.

    I think, though, that you are selling your "vignettes" short. There is a time when one's musings become prayer. I pray that you are able to attend SheSpeaks but also pray that you would know that you already Speak to those of us who read your words and are lucky enough to know your family. - Matt's mother

  8. I was one of those college kids who sat in your history class. I thank you for the time and creativity you poured into your plans- it was the one and only history class I ever enjoyed. I brag about you to all the professors in my grad program.
    I hope you were able to go to this conference! I always enjoy reading your posts!



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