Story Ghosts

I discovered a piece of my Dad’s unspoken story through a man who never knew him. The man, quarantined to his wheelchair, sat next to my desk at work and told me what Vietnam did to a man. I sat rapt, at he told me how, like many soldiers, he had to learn how to talk about it.

The stories coated in blood don’t come easily; they come in nightmares. They come in a sound or random gesture that morphs the mind’s eye into a battlefield all over again. This can produce all kinds of reactions which no one really understands unless they’ve walked the same dark mine fields.

With his yellow lab curled at his feet, he told me how someone taught him to expel some of the darkness through telling his story.

The three step snake. I literally pulled around my desk and sat forward. The three step snake was maybe the only thing I remember my Dad mentioning about Vietnam. “By the time you took the third step, you were dead,” said the man in the wheelchair and the memory of my Dad.

But nestled within horror, there was the honor. The lifted shoulders, the dignity, knowing that despite what others thought of that war, or whether or not a soldier volunteered or was drafted, the man and my dad both knew they could go in and lay down their lives for something bigger than themselves. They didn’t run—they stepped forward into the unknown.

I have a Russian sage in my front yard. It grows wildly huge, and the first season 20160404_090547we lived in the house new sprouts of sage poked through the ground all over the front portion of the yard. Not wanting more bushes to take over the yard, I pulled, I hacked and cursed until I realized they were all connected to the same plant. I couldn’t see it at first because the branches were buried so deeply in the ground. This was the man in front of me. This was my Dad.

Although they were separated from each other through the dimension of heaven and earth, their stories live on just like their flesh and blood children. Part of my Dad’s story came to me despite his silence.

There’s something vitally important with our stories—something we can’t see in the physical realm, but something eternal. When people say to spill your heart out for your loved ones before you lose them, we all nod and agree, but if some things don’t get said, it’s okay. If there’s a story that needs to live on, God can extend it to you in His own boundless way.

The Story of Us…a (rerun) favorite.

I’m taking some time off this week, so I decided to post an old favorite. This blog also appeared on Christian ebooks today last year.

Blessings as you approach the cross this week. May Christ’s sacrifice outshine the Easter Bunny (not that I don’t like the Easter Bunny).


Stories that breathe – ghosts of family legacies, the mishaps, failures and the champions of our past are the myriad steps to a life well-lived for those big eyed-pink cheeked souls sitting around our dinner table.
Chloe loves to run; the destination not necessarily tangible. Mud puddles, my mom’s place in the country, sidewalks and fiercely windy days have been pounded by 5 year old feet. When I see her face, I know she is feeling the joy of doing something that has been designed into her precious soul.

On a family outing to the park, we split up to race each other home. Noah and John went one way; stroller and straight paths, Chloe and I went another direction on foot and ready to win. Our path was a little more challenging, and Chloe slowed to a walk half-way into our race.

“Your Papa won a trophy in high school. He was the fastest runner in the state of Arizona.”

Before I finished the sentence, she grew wings. We won. She just needed to know that she had the blood of a champion.

My great uncle wrote a family history with the good and the bad; everything tied up in an honest bow. There were stories of the warriors, the civil war cousins – one who camped on the others lawn, and then there were the details that sent prickles up my spine; the artists and writers and those in medicine whose passions trickled down the line more than a hundred years later.

What do we see when we look back?100_1331

Failures, victories, heroes and villains. One step forward, two steps back until a leap of faith makes a hero.

I tell Chloe about her Papa, and how he had his own struggles, but had feet like wings. He had little education but worked hard and found his final job working with N.A.S.A. He tried and failed, and tried again and again until his work literally reached the stars.

Family histories are a lifeline. We must tell our stories to our children, so when they need that extra push, all they have to do is reach back and grab the baton. We propel them forward by running our race hard enough to reach them, even when we have passed into the land of spirits.

But those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31