All About Personal Redemptive Stories on the Web

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The New StorySpot has been upgraded, and although there's still some work left to do on it, there are a LOT of cool new features.

This site is a good teaching tool for anyone who wants to learn how to naturally share how Christ has made a difference in their lives. It also presents the whole concept of God’s history with man from a story perspective.

Here's the link:

Here's a screen-shot of the site and few of the new features:

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~ Enhanced writing process, featuring Claire — the animated StorySpot assistant.

~ Authors can select 5 different basic storylines when writing their story and examine Bible examples for their stories.

~ We’ve also added spell checking, a friend-review feature, and even a “Christian-ese” checker.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Finding a Plot in Our Lives

“After air, food, and water, the thing we most need is that our lives mean something.

That life is meaningless, arbitrary, and random is espoused in many places, believed in few, and accepted with equanimity in none. The desperate eloquence of many who insist that such is the nature of life is itself a testimony to our passionate desire for meaning.

. . .Story is a vessel for carrying meaning.”

~ Daniel Taylor in Tell Me a Story (Bog Walk Press, 2001)

This is an excellent book. I highly recommend it.
Amazon has several reader reviews you can check out:

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

More Small Town Story

Continued from Previous Posts . . .

One series of stories my mom wrote followed the life of a local girl named Anita. Anita was about ten years old and had been diagnosed with bone cancer. Each week, my mother's column presented another angle to Anita’s story. First, she described Anita as a normal 4th grader – which she was. She loved playing with her friends, listening to music and had a blast making clay sculptures in art class. But after she learned of the cancer, Anita’s life changed dramatically. My mother’s columns shifted to details surrounding the trips to the hospital and the torturous chemotherapy. She wrote about Anita’s reaction to her illness and how her family responded to care for her.

Finally the doctors had no choice but to remove Anita’s leg to keep the cancer from spreading. It was a heart wrenching process for Anita to adapt to life on crutches and then with a prosthetic leg. Even though her young age helped her rebound more quickly than an adult, she could never again interact in the same way with her friends. Walking to class, carrying her books, even the routine of going through the lunch line at the school cafeteria became on ordeal. Her world changed radically. There was scarcely a person in the town who wasn’t touched in some way by watching and helping Anita and her family cope with a new world.

So, through the telling of her story, everyone in the town knew Anita as more than just another girl who lived down the street. And, because she was the girl who lived down the street, practically everyone in town had great empathy. Everyone knew Anita’s story and everyone believed in Anita. Her story rallied the whole town together. Neighbors and church members took extraordinary measures to make the long trips to the hospital as bearable as possible. Meals were prepared, transportation provided, encouraging words were spoken and extra hours were spent by Anita’s classmates and teachers to help her catch up on schoolwork. In some measure, the brutality of the suffering was lessened.

So, through the telling of Anita’s story, redemption occurred.

Friday, May 06, 2005

My Mom's Small Town News Stories

continued from yesterday . . .

Sometimes after an interview with a local townsman, she would find that there was much more she wanted to know – many more questions to ask, more details to connect. And, once my mother began to uncover a story, she just couldn’t stop! In fact, on several occasions, her “featured story” ended up as our dinner guest on Sundays after church. Now our whole family could finally “see” what she had been talking about all week! As we talked around the dinner table, my mom would conduct an informal interview – asking questions and listening to our guest tell his story. Sometimes it would be near 3 O’clock before we rose from the table – often at the insistence of our guest. The story had to end when our seats could endure no longer. For a 14 year old boy (me), sitting for 3 hours while our family conversed over the life of some schoolteacher, business entrepreneur or a fourth generation cotton farmer who owned a third of the county could not have been more boring.

The local chamber of commerce often described and promoted our town as “A special place with special people.” But I often thought, “what’s really so special about them?” My mom taught me: it isn’t their achievements, heritage, or even their social refinement ( or lack thereof?). They were special because they each had a story. I didn’t see myself as fortunate at the time, but I was extremely fortunate to be drawn in to some of these stories.

More later. Next time I'll share one of my mom's "featured stories" . . .

Thursday, May 05, 2005

What’s the Big Deal?

Is it really fair to say that my story – and everyone’s story - has any GREAT amount of significance? If you had asked me this question about 20 years ago, I would have clearly said “NO.” Even by the age of 14, I had heard more than my fair share of personal stories.

Until she retired a few years ago, my mother was a journalist for a local small town newspaper. In fact, it was our town’s only newspaper. And, basically, she was the only full time journalist. So in essence, for over 20 years, she wrote the newspaper! Whatever was news to her was THE news.

Now perhaps I make it sound a little like she invented the news. That was not the case. Definitely she is an excellent, reputable writer. And I think most people in the town would agree that her writings were not frivolous nor tainted with gossip. Yet, in this remote town, there just ain’t that much news to write about! People grow cotton or corn and raise livestock. The minutes at the city council meeting often describe meaty decisions such as what color to paint the town’s water tower or whether or not the sanitation service should move from a weekly to bi-weekly trash collection schedule. The police department investigates its fair share of crimes, but it’s not too unusual for the most exciting police work of the week to include rescuing a cat from a storm drain.

So, if there was scant news to scoop on, what DID my mother write about? . . . People! Normal everyday BORING people who lived in our boring town. A couple of times a month, she would pick a common stock citizen and write a full feature, front page feature story on that person’s significance in the town. My mother would say that she was simply discovering a local story and relaying it to the public.

More on this next time. . .

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Everybody Has a Story

I recently came across this link.

Does anyone know if CBS still runs this news segment? I haven't seen it. Regardless, I think it makes a good point:

Ordinary people have stories worth sharing! As the title of the show says, Everyone Has a Story.

I'm not so sure I would have agreed with the above claims until just a few years ago (I'll blog more about that soon).

Anyway, here's the scoop I found on the TV segment for CBS News:

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Everybody Has a Story – CBS TV Show

(CBS) Every two weeks someone throws a dart at a map of America. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman goes wherever it sticks, flips through the local phone book, and picks a name at random. He then does a story on someone at that house (assuming they’re willing, of course).

It doesn’t matter who they are or what they have to say. This is strictly first come, first served. No one is eliminated for any reason and every story gets on the air. The result – unique and wildly unpredictable television.

After meeting a family and convincing them that he really isn’t selling anything, Steve and his cameraman Les Rose usually spend about 2 days with their subjects. Much of the first day is spent trying to figure out the person’s “story”. The second day is mostly shooting and interviewing. Before leaving, the subject of the story throws the dart (backwards and over the shoulder to prevent aiming) sending them on their next adventure.

Since starting this project in 1998, Steve has profiled nearly 100 people from Maine to Miami -- from the Oregon coast to the Arizona desert. His youngest subject was a 5-year-old boy from Tennessee who likes to float balloons to his grandma in heaven. His oldest was an 87-year-old woman from Louisiana who still does her son’s laundry.
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Amistad "Lesson" Unpacked

“Now, what you don’t know and, as far as I can tell, haven’t bothered in the least to discover is WHO they are,” said President Adams.

( . . . Continued from
previous posts )

Amistad, a 1997 Steven Spielberg production, is one of my favorites. In this scene with John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) and Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman), Adams gives Joadson an important “lesson” which contained a kernel of legal advice yet was mostly a wise commentary on the nature of human character. It is a lesson worth studying.

Sage advice often brings a reverent response and Joadson hangs on every word the brilliant Adams gives him. Known as “Old Man Eloquent” by his colleagues in the House of Representatives, Adams skillfully presents what years of courtroom experience and international diplomacy had taught him.

What exactly is the point of his lesson to Joadson? What is his advice? Truly, the lesson is profound and speaks truthfully of life inside and outside the courtroom.

Adams tells us: Like nothing else, an individual’s story powerfully describes his or her personal worth and significance. When a story is given a personal face, it becomes powerful.

Note how Adams helps Joadson discover this truth in the movie: Joadson himself had a story – an amazing story of escape, survival and beyond. Yet, in the course of being wrapped up in his profession, he often forgot his own personal story for the larger scope of abolishing slavery. Understanding his own story was so applicable to helping the courts understand the plight of the Africans, yet this point eluded him. Adams helped him see that his story was incredibly much more than the summation of his credentials.

Adams asked Joadson if he would dare to sum up his life as simply “a Georgian?” He pushed Joadson to consider how he would describe his life. To communicate the significance of his life, would he simply list his credentials – perhaps his family genealogy, his academic achievements or maybe his job title or job description? “NO! What is your STORY?” Adams asked.

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