Visual Story Network

God's people should be the best storytellers in the world. More importantly, we should be living great stories.

My Encounter with Darlene Graves

Last summer I preached in a white clap board church below the Mason-Dixon line in my home state of Maryland. Every few minutes I heard a strong, aging voice belt out from the back of the church an "amen!" or "hallelujah!" After the service, a beaming woman looked me in the eyes and waited for me to recognize her. "Darlene Graves, I haven't seen you in at least 20 years."

Now approaching 80 years old, I knew Darlene through her sons at my grade school, St. Paul's Lutheran in Kingsville, Maryland. After catching up, she gave me a copy her recently self-published autobiography, "The Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness." This self-published book is unlikely to become a classic, yet I was touched by it for several reasons.

1. She gave a clear sense that the most exciting life was the life found in Christ filled by his Spirit.

2. She was honest about the hard things in her life that led to choices she later regretted. She writes candidly about the codependency that haunted her until the later years of her life.

3. She did not gloss over the hardships in her life. Yet she told stories of how Christ allowed her to overcome.

4. She and her husband Dale lived a life of humble means while demonstrating extraordinary generosity. They made a practice of taking in homeless youths including Willie Wojik. Willie was the number one "head" (druggie) in my high school class. Through Darlene and Dale's influence, Willie had a profound conversion and has been walking with Christ for 35 years.

Don't Waste Your Life Story

For the sake of your children and your children's children I believe it is important that you do as Darlene has done. Capture your story in a way that will allow generations to know the glory of Christ revealed through your life.

My challenge to you is to capture your story. Here are several ways to get started

1. Begin to write your story. It doesn't have to be exhaustive. I would guess that Darlene's book is under 20,000 words. If you don't know where to begin, start with key stories and add more over time. Even though I'm a fan of the digital revolution, print media is more likely to be kept and passed around. If you are like me and don't care to hand-write or type, use some kind of dictation software (your phone has a basic version).

2. Audio record your stories. I have captured a number of key stories buy taking a few minutes to audio record story on my phone. The advantage here is that those who come after you will have a chance to know your story as well as hear your voice, tone and inflection.

3. Video record your stories. Again, I am suggesting a low budget, "good enough" quality. You can turn on your WebCam and record 2-3 minute stories or do the same with your phone. Just be sure to save them in a safe place. Then share them with some loved ones so they don't get lost and forgotten.

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