His First Story

Her belly tightened. She inhaled, sharply–a reflex–and rubbed her palms over her abdomen. As the tightening subsided, she breathed again. But the next wave hit her before she could get off the couch to find the phone.

This was Ellie’s first pregnancy, and she wasn’t due for three more weeks. She’d insisted Matthew go to Chicago, kissing him out the door that morning as the winter’s first snowflakes fell on the car behind him. And it hadn’t stopped snowing yet.

It’s all new to us …

Giving birth or handling any emergency sets our actions into automatic motion. We run out of gas on a deserted road. Our elderly parents aren’t answering the phone–in another state. While hiking, we come upon a bear.

What can we do, especially if the situation is a new one for us?

Or is it? 

Our brains’ database searches for stories we know. Whether in a book or a movie or a family story, we’ve learned from others’ experiences and this is why–to help us in similar situations.

Stories empower us.

Let’s do this …

We become participants in story as we read or watch or listen. We experience what the characters experience–biologically. Our brain lights up in the same areas as if we had been the character ourselves.

Birth stories teach us about miracles and strength.

Coming-of-age stories show us how difficult it can be to grow up while we discover with the protagonist that we, too, are unique and strong.

Love stories give us hope that there is someone for us, someone who understands us and accepts us for who we are.

Adventures allow a safer way to feel the thrill of events for those of us who might not put skydiving or war or swimming with dolphins on our bucket list but might like to try certain thrills.

Mysteries, crime, science fiction, historical and more have their own flavors, and since we all are different, provide us with stories that appeal to our own tastes.

Even contemporary fiction has a wide range to give us a glimpse into different cultures than we are in. Socioeconomic, gender, race, and religion differences–to name a few–blur in the pages of story.

Family stories told around the dinner table or at family gatherings tell us not only where we came from, but inspire us with what our ancestors have overcome.

Ellie’s story

Even though Ellie was alone, she was also the youngest sister of four. She’d listened to her sisters’ and many friends’ birth stories. She’d read, not just childbirth books, but also birth stories, and she knew what to expect.

But more importantly, her brain knew she could do it. Again, or so it thought.

Once she knew her midwife was on her way in her four-wheel drive Subaru, she called Matthew. Together–Matthew from his hotel room, Miss Cassie beside her–they encouraged Ellie as she labored to give birth to her first. But because of the stories she already held on to, she knew she could do it.

Hours later in the early dawn hours, she rocked her newborn baby. She stroked his soft cheek. And she told him his first story.

What’s the first story you can remember? Do you have a favorite type or genre of story?

A Gift for You

When it’s someone’s birthday or a friend’s baby shower or another anniversary, I like to give presents that bring joy or are at least useful to the receiver.

Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and money for both the giver and recipient.

Writing is my gift to the reader. The stories I tell, the blog posts I compose–all are purposed for the reader to connect with the emotions of the story and/or to bring something useful to her life.

If I have nothing to say, it’s like I’m sending a friend a handwritten letter filled with junk mail.

Instead, I want to make you glad you went to the mailbox, glad you found a long-awaited letter with just the news you wanted to hear.

Why do you read a blog? What do you want to read about? I’d appreciate your comments below.


Who’s First At Your House?

A young couple in the pew in front of me caught my attention. The mother held a curly-haired toddler on her hip. She danced with him to the worship music. His legs bounced like he was riding a bucking horse.

I wondered if he was the couple’s firstborn, one they’d waited a long time for, because she seemed entranced with him.

The father looked at the two of them often, but the mother didn’t acknowledge him. I’m sure the dad was proud his wife was a good mother, but I felt sad for him. He couldn’t compete because the mom saw only her son. She smiled and tickled and teased him between songs.

I wondered what her husband thought: I’m so glad she’s a good mother. Or I remember when she delighted in me.

She held the toddler on the same side as her husband so the little fellow was between his parents. After about fifteen or so minutes, she passed him off to her husband, but their son wanted his mother after only a few minutes. She rewarded him with a dazzling smile.

What if she’d put the child on the other hip so she’d be next to her husband? What if she’d made eye contact or whispered to her husband or leaned into his side? What if when he looked for that connection, he found her smile at him or her hand brushed his face?  

Did she prefer being a mother over a wife? Her actions seemed to say that. Babies and young children naturally charm us so it’s true we don’t need to be told to adore our children. Their chubby cheeks and soft skin compel us. And those smiles that light up their face …

But the Bible tells wives to respect their husbands. Admire, esteem, defer to.

God reminds us of this, maybe because once we have children, we can forget. Likely because we can get so busy. But if love is proved by action, loving our husbands means showing him he is our first love. To demonstrate we value him in ways he understands, such as when we consider, prefer, include him.

There are everyday opportunities to show respect if we look.

But when we fail, we need our husbands to let us know. In the same way, when he forgets to show the love we need, we should remind him. Nicely. It’s our responsibility to the marriage to admit what we need from each other. Again, nicely.

Spouses are vulnerable to a co-worker’s attention when there is a lack of respect or love at home. We’re too busy. We’re exhausted. We take care of the children, the home. We’re in charge of the meals, shopping, the bills. Especially when both parents work outside the home.

It’s not just another item on your to-do list to nurture our marriage. It’s non-negotiable, something we just need to do. Because it matters.

Who’s first at your house?