Over the years, I’ve blogged often about story. As you would expect, stories are near and dear to my heart.
I love to read them, write them, and listen to others tell them. It’s my firm belief that everyone has a story. Not everyone is a writer, but all of us have life experiences to draw from. We may journal, write books, or simply share our stories aloud with family and friends.
One thing’s a given.
The stories that matter most depend on perspective. The greatest stories aren’t necessarily the trending story.
They might not win a prize or gain wide recognition, but sometimes, those are the stories we file away in our memory bank. We remember them forever.
For instance, consider this story.
As I prepared for the national ACFW conference last year, I met with my local chapter. A group of us mapped out our route to Nashville and planned accordingly. I would ride with a dear friend from our area.
Julia and I decided on the quicker route (still roughly an eight-hour trip from here), opting to steer clear of the straighter shot through St. Louis, which would take us about an hour and a half longer.
The caveat to that?
The route we chose would take us through some smaller towns with fewer restroom stops along the way.
Okay, I could do that.
Julia grinned. “Good, I think we have a plan.”
We finalized last-minute details over the next few days and when the big day came to set off on our trip, we were ready. We had everything we needed to ensure smooth sailing.
GPS on? Check
Annnd…we were off!
About an hour and a half into our trip, we stopped for a restroom break because the towns (and restrooms) were growing fewer and farther between.
Onward, we drove.
Two hours later, we knew we’d made the right decision to stop earlier.
We had to go again!
Well, it was hot, my friend. And yes—those waters did a mighty fine job at quenching our thirst. On the other hand, drinking a lot also raised another issue—we had to GO.
“You know…” Julia paused and glanced at the gas gauge. “I sure hope we find something soon. I don’t think I can wait much longer.”
Whew. Finally. I didn’t want to say it first.
“I’m with you. Let’s find someplace soon.”
We drove on.
We hadn’t expected road work along this route, and not just one, but both rest areas closed.
Oh. My. Word.
We were in a potty trouble hotbed. Mile after endless mile stretched before us with no gas station, restroom, or watering hole in sight.
“Wait! There’s a sign for a winery!” I almost clapped. “Surely, they have a restroom.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.” Julia’s eyes lit on the billboard before us.
But as we drove another fifteen minutes off the beaten path, clearly, that winery wasn’t meant for us to find. “And you know—I really have to go now myself. Bad.”
Gah. Why, oh, why, had I guzzled that last sip of water?
Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. I f you laugh now, you know what might happen.
Yep. We writer-gals were in a big, fat, need-to-potty pickle.
Please, Lord, lead us to something soon. (GPS was no help, because how did she know the rest areas would be closed???)
Well, my friend, God blessed.
Just when we thought we were doomed, suddenly—there it was. A shining, white beacon of hope just over the hill.
And next to the church, a small house, possibly a parsonage.
Julia glanced at me sideways. “You think? It looks closed.”
“Well, it’s the middle of the week. It probably is. But the house isn’t. Look—they even have their door open.”
“Cindy, we can’t just march up to someone’s door and ask to use the bathroom.”
I giggled. “Why not?”
Ah, the look on my friend’s face. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, we’ll see if they can open the church for us.”
And away we went.
We parked in the gravelled drive, and of course, Julia—for propriety’s sake—tried the church doors first.
Locked. Of course.
Meanwhile, I fended off some bumblebees and marched on up the gravelled path toward the house. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. I prayed the bees wouldn’t chase me. If I had to run, who knew what would happen?
Suddenly, Julia flailed her arms and flew down the concrete walkway to the side of the church.
“What’s the matter?” I called. “Are the bees getting you, too?”
“No! No! There’s an animal by the window over there! In that little culvert!”
“Well, what kind of animal? A cat?”
“No…it’s a… It’s a…”
“No! I think it’s a groundhog!”
“Is that all?”
“Well, I thought it was going to jump out of there and attack me!”
Okay— NOW I really had to go.
By the time we made it to the front door of the parsonage, tears flowed. Our breaths came out in fits and starts. We laughed so hard, it’s a true wonder the dear soul who answered that door didn’t slam it in our faces.
Oh, no. Maybe she thinks we’re nuts. Or maybe…drunk? Please, God…let this nice woman know we’re not a pair of crazies.
She smiled and opened the storm door.
Julia and I extended our hands and we poured out our troubles. (Absolutely no pun intended.)
Well, guess what?
Come to find out—the little house wasn’t a parsonage after all. It was someone’s private residence.
Go figure. Just our luck. Or…divine appointment, rather.
But… Miss Cara knew the pastor because he was her brother-in-law and he lived just over the rise.
I guess we had honest faces because this kind woman took pity on us. “I’d ask you inside the house, but my husband’s not feeling well today. I can let you in the church, though. I know where the key is.”
Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!
Afterward, I offered my business card to our new friend and we chatted a bit about our writer’s conference.
“Oh, that sounds exciting!”
Little did she know. *wink* 😉
We thanked this stranger in our midst, a fellow believer, and moseyed on our way.
An hour later, I received the most lovely e-mail from Miss Cara. She invited us back in the future for an arts and crafts fair.
“And don’t worry about ‘Woody’ the groundhog. My husband Phil took care of him.”
Turns out, Phil got a shovel and scooped up the furry guy and set him free somewhere in the meadow.
Ahh. Good times!
And this, my friend, kicked off our delightful 2016 ACFW adventure last year.
Even in the midst of trouble, God was with us.
The ordinary and unexpected stories we live every day? The mundane events and even the outrageous and unbelievable moments?
To someone those stories matter.
For those are the stories that resuscitate the weary or brighten a day.
Those are the stories we don’t soon forget. They’re the ones we pause over and relive because of how they made us feel.
Amen and Amen.
Now…hold your applause and please pass the coffee.
SHARING IS CARING
What’s your story? Why it matters.
Sometimes, the best stories aren’t the ones that win awards and ribbons. Like this one.
MORE THOUGHTS YOU MAY ENJOY
How fictional worlds influence a story’s effectiveness. Blending fact with fiction.
Writing to trends or writing stories that move us. Which is best?
What “story” do you remember most?
As a writer or reader, what stories resonate with you?
Thanks for stopping by today!
On Tuesday, September 19th, I’ll be over at the WordServe Water Cooler revisiting time management. Please join me as we chat about time, writing, and stories. (Yes. I will share a story!)
A reminder— The ACFW conference begins next week! This year it’s in Grapevine, Texas. I’m unable to attend this year, but my thoughts and prayers are with all the conferees, award finalists, and faculty and staff. To tune in to the live stream of the awards gala (on Saturday, September 23, 2017), watch the ACFW website or go here for details. Note: Scroll through the sidebar links for info. (View the 2017 Carol award finalists here and the 2017 Genesis award finalists here.)
Just a reminder, too, I’m hard at work on next month’s newsletter. If you’re not a member of my newsletter family, let’s remedy that! Sign up for the monthly love in the upper right-hand sidebar. (You can also sign up for my weekly blogs in the coordinating sign-up space.) When you sign up for either (or both) you’ll receive an e-mail with a confirmation link. Click it to confirm your subscription. That’s it! Let the lovin’ begin!