Nothing throws the blanket of anxiety around me like the question “What’s your story?” Such a simple thing to answer, but it catapults me into a panic. How should I respond? What am I going to say? After all, my story is just, well, ordinary.
An Ordinary Childhood
Childhood was a happy time. Days were spent playing in the tree house or riding bikes with neighborhood kids. We looked forward to the Miss American pageant each year, mainly so we could slurp 7-Up floats!
Books were a great friend for this shy little girl. Nothing suited me better than to curl up in a private corner of the yard, surrounded by azaleas, with a book in my hand. I solved murders on The Orient Express with Hercule Poirot. I fought for my life at Auschwitz during the Holocaust.
Though I traveled the world with books, my life revolved around home and family. I never imagined my college years would take me so far away – in more ways than one. It was an ordinary time, studying, partying and having fun. I met and married my college sweetheart, who was not a Christian. We moved away to a different state, and my heart moved away from the God I grew up with, knew, and loved.
During those years of married life I had been doing NOTHING to build my relationship with Christ. Here’s the extraordinary thing: God still loved me. He drew me back to Himself in a most unusual way: He pruned me through divorce.
We had been married eleven years, when I came home and found the note. It said “Babe, we need to talk.” My husband wanted a divorce. After all those years, I was being rejected. Utterly rejected. Tossed out. Like trash. It seemed nothing good could come from this. But God had other plans.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Fast forward several years. The Lord brought a wonderful, God-fearing man into my life. We married and began serving Him gladly in our local church. Everything’s coming up roses, and life is good. And then, the phone call.
“Ellen, Mama’s had a stroke.” I was able to spend precious time with her in the hospital. She fought hard for two months before the Lord took her home.
Who would have imagined it would be so hard…losing Mama? Her death brought a jumble of questions: Who am I, now that I have no parents? What legacy will I leave? What is my purpose? How will I remember my childhood stories? Mama couldn’t remember yesterday, but she could tell some tales from when we were youngsters! What’s a girl to do without her Mama? But God had a plan.
He began bringing the word “story” into my life. So much so, that I had to pay attention. I had write down the occasions it popped up. You know, so I wouldn’t forget! And to make sure I wasn’t crazy…
I googled story. Not “my story” or “your story”…just “story.” Here’s what I found:
The word story is derived from the Greek word meaning knowing, knowledge and wisdom.
Hmmm, one of my spiritual gifts is knowledge. What was God telling me? I began to write down stories from my childhood, stories from my ordinary everyday life. Stories of how God was working in my ordinary days. These evolved into my blog, and this is what I saw:
[tweetthis]God has been writing a story of His extraordinary faithfulness in my ordinary life[/tweetthis]
- When I was rejected, God caught me in His arms and assured me I was His beloved
- When I was overwhelmed with grief, the God of all comfort carried me until I could walk.
- When I didn’t know my purpose, He showed me the story He wanted to write with my life.
Who would have thought this shy introverted child, lover of words, books, nature and privacy, would be telling stories on the world wide web? No one, but God…
Linking up today with these lovely writers:
Barbie at The Weekend Brew
Kelly at Purposeful Faith
Holly at Testimony Tuesday
Holly at Coffee for Your Heart
Jennifer at Tell His Story
Christine Duncan says
How much do I love your admission that your story’s purpose is not founded in Him. Terrific! He will take it places you never dreamed. Building it so as to build His kingdom. I pray your beautiful words work on encouraging hearts in need today. Visiting from #LiveFreeThursday
Christine Duncan says
I meant to type IS founded in Him… clumsy fingers this morning, forgive me.
Christine! HAHA! I read your first comment when I was stopped at a traffic light. I thought “Surely, I didn’t convey that message?!?” Then at the next light, I saw this follow up comment! It made me laugh out loud! Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate your encouraging words! #LiveFree!
Kim stewart says
LOVE your words today, Ellen. I will never look at “story” the same. Way to #livefree!
Have a great day, kim
Kim, so glad you stopped by! When God is writing His story on our hearts, we can’t help but #LiveFree!
Jana Kennedy-Spicer says
Loved your “story” Ellen! I’ve wondered for many years if I had a story, well, a story worth telling. Isn’t God wonderful?! That He can take the broken pieces of an ordinary life and create something extraordinary?
He is indeed wonderful, Jana! As evidenced by your life and story! We are just broken vessels in the Potter’s hands. PS – I need to go back to your site and leave another comment. I rushed out of my house and didn’t have time to finish…Thank you for stopping by today! #LiveFree!
Valerie Sisco says
So glad we’re neighbors at Bonnie’s link-up today too! (Thank you for your sweet excitement about my upcoming trip.)
Your story is NOT ordinary! How encouraging that you lived through such a rejection in your marriage and made it through to the other side with God giving you another chance at happiness — I love that! And I want to know more of your story — hope you will continue to share on your blog, friend!
Thank you Valerie! Yes, the Lord has been so good to me! I appreciate you stopping by, and all your encouragement! Blessings to you!
Tarissa Helms says
Ellen, as I read your words I was reminded that sometimes we can’t always see the way He’s writing our stories in the moment – when life is difficult and hard to understand. But so often we receive the gift of hindsight and in the looking back, see His fingerprints over the narrative of our lives. Thank you for sharing your story and for the sweet reminder that no matter what I’m going through, God is weaving together all the ordinary details into something extraordinary. Hugs to you, today!
Hello Tarissa! Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, He does weave the threads of our lives together in a most beautiful way, doesn’t He? A pattern that looks like miss mash while being woven, but then turns into a beautiful piece of tapestry! Thank you for your beautiful and encouraging comments!
Oh, Ellen, amen amen! This is your message- and it’s one that will resonate with women so deeply. So thankful God revealed what He has been weaving together all along. So blessed to call you my writing friend!
Sweet Kristine, I’m so glad you dropped in! And I was so very excited to read about your book project! By chance, are you going to She Speaks? If so, I hope I will see you there!
What a beautiful story, Ellen. You have so much to share, Ellen, with your family, those at work, in your community, and with us! Keep telling those stories! (Loved your picture.)
Hey Betsy! I loved the picture in your post also! Such a sweet child! Thank you for your encouragement, today! Did you know it was your words that encouraged be to begin blogging weekly?!?
Hi Ellen! What an encouragement to read your story. I’m sure it was anxiety producing to look back, but what you have learned is so precious.
God loves you so much more than you could ever imagine, even in those tough, tough times. Thank you for showing me how important faith is, and even when I don’t see him, God is there.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you too <3
Happy Valentine’s Day Ceil! Thank you for your encouraging words. Yes, even when we don’t see Him, he is writing His story on our lives! So thankful for that!
Kasey Hanson says
I love your story, Ellen. I love how you ended it with “but God.” God made all the difference in my story as well. Thank you for sharing how awesome God’s story is.
Hi Kasey!So glad you stopped by! I’ve missed you, since I’m not on Compel right now! You are always such an encourager! Thank you for the many, many times you have encouraged me! And thank you for visiting!
Susan Mead says
Ellen, I LOVE your story. Powerful ordinary story. Powerful because God’s IN IT as He weaves thru the entire story line. Beautiful. Thank you for writing it and sharing it here. Susan
Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by, and for opening your “online” home to us! I appreciate you!
Beautiful, Ellen. Simply beautiful.
Thank you Kristi! Every story the Lords writes on our lives is beautiful!
What a beautiful story He’s weaved from your life Ellen, and He has so much more to write. I am so thankful you shared at The Weekend Brew.
Thank you Barbie! I do enjoyed sipping coffee with you on the weekends!
Tai East says
Ellen, so inspired by your story! Beautiful to see all that GOD is doing in and through you! Infinite blessings to you, Love! 🙂
Tai, thanks for visiting my little ordinary corner of the web. I understand I may meet you at She Speaks? Thank you for your encouraging words today!
Oh yes… the power of story and how He is writing it with us, in us, through us! How He takes all of our ordinary and makes it all extraordinary in His time! Love this! “What’s your story?” is such an open question and a great conversation starter but I am always wondering, what is it that you really want to know? 😉 I mean – I have lived a lot of stories now… so pick a topic and I will tell you my story with it! As a journaler and scrapbooker and writer downer of all things – I love that God has showed you that He has been writing your story all the while! That that is your legacy and what you leave behind… and oh how it reminds us of the importance of sharing and telling our stories to the generations behind us as well! Great post! So glad we are neighbors today!
Oh, Karrilee, how I feel you here! Which story indeed! There are so many! Thanks for stopping in today, neighbor!
Angela Martin says
So with you on this! Story? Ummmm…. And people assure me I have one but…
Booklover – I used to dream of opening my closet door to another world. It worked for Lucy Pevensie!
Recovered prodigal, ended marriage (oh, those moments, that feeling in the gut), fabulous redeeming husband from God, gift of knowledge – we’ve gotta have coffee!
Thanks for the definition of story. That’s wonderful.
Wait!?! Angela, you mean you’ve lived my life!! Yes, we must meet for coffee! We are kindreds! Thanks so much for stopping by today!