Last week, at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, I shared a story about my friend, Kathy. I called her a reluctant modern-day prophet, a “creator” who did not believe she could create with words, who came to a time in her life when she could not speak, but who used words to deliver God’s message.
My friend Kathy’s favored tools of creativity were a spade, a rake and a hoe. Kathy was a gardener. She lived in her garden and greenhouse, cultivating vegetables, flowers and herbs that she sold at a local farmer’s market – until illness took that from her. When she could no longer kneel in her herb garden or harvest potatoes, she heard God calling her to write. Kathy resisted at first, but she was a woman after God’s own heart, so she began writing out her conversations with God. Soon she was ready to share them.
Two years ago, Kathy asked me to help her set up a blog. She had some cultivating to do, she said, laying down stones in her journey through ALS. In obedience to God’s command in Deuteronomy 27:5, she was stacking up her words as an altar to God.
Kathy told her blog followers this:
“Years ago, God gave me inspiration to create a memorial garden; one that you could walk through with various stones commemorating events where God was mighty in my life. This was so my children and my children’s children would know the faithfulness of God in our lives. These writings are my memorial stones…used to build an altar, where we can worship and remember.”
Kathy went home to Jesus just six months after writing her first blog post, but her words live on, both in a printed collection of her writings and in a blog that can still be found on the Internet. People who have suffered or have loved someone who suffered, and even those who have simply doubted God’s goodness, are reminded by the reluctant prophet’s words, by her memorial stones, of the faithfulness of God in our lives.
Daniel Taylor, in his book Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories (found on Amazon here) quotes Alasdair MacIntyre:
“Our lives are like quest narratives — stories in which characters must overcome great obstacles to find something of great value.”
The reluctant modern-day prophet was on a quest to overcome the obstacle of living. Kathy loved her earthly life, she loved her sons and her friends, her church and her home. But, she also loved and trusted God. She surrendered to His will for her life and kept praising Jesus to the end.
In the final months after her diagnosis, Kathy wrote a short memoir for her family. Born in the late 50s, she lived through a period she called her “running wild years”, but eventually settled down to raise a family and help birth babies in her community as a much-loved and trusted midwife.
Kathy put memories on paper so that her family would know and remember where their wife, mother, grandmother had walked in her early life, what had formed her into the woman they knew and loved. When her voice left her and she struggled to even hold a pencil, she still would not give up her quest to leave a legacy and to declare her testimony.
Kathy’s memoir is not great literature, but it’s prize-worthy and price-less to those who shared a life with her.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments…” Psalm 78:5-7
Life stories knit us together, whether to family or to others who just need to know they are not alone. In these 31 days of October, I’ll be exploring the importance of STORY. You can read all 31 days by following the links under “31 Days of Story”. And, you can read blogs from other writers taking the #Write31Days challenge by visiting the website here.
Tomorrow: When and Where will you share your life stories?