Stories that Matter

Why Sometimes Storytelling Sucks…

I don’t rush the morning. I get up slow, head still hurting with thoughts that won’t go away. Heart still aching, full up with stuff I don’t know how to deal with.

I need to write this down. 

I wander the house, sipping coffee and snapping photographs. I’m not a great photographer, amateur at best, but I’ve always loved the idea of capturing the moment. It’s what I do with words as well. Capture the moments.

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It’s not that I don’t have the words. It’s that the ones I want to use wouldn’t be fitting.

And I’m angry all over again.

I need more coffee.

The old brown couch in the family room that has seen better days still hugs tight as I pull a blanket over my feet. I don’t need the blanket. It’s fairly tropical outside. It’s a comfort thing.

So I look at the photos and ponder the problem. What do we do then, with the broken?  My sigh is deep. Gut deep. Soul-searching deep.

God, not this. Not again. There is too much pain. Too much I don’t understand. The stories…sometimes they’re too hard to listen to. Too impossible to comprehend. Too painful to tell.

Not like the stories that sit on our tree. I like those. Those make me smile.

I collect ornaments, you see…to mark occasions, holidays, memories…so many now that this year we put up our fake tree as well because the real tree couldn’t hold them all…

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These things that sit pretty on the tree remind us who we are, where we’ve been. They tell our stories, moments captured in sparkly reminders.

Tell the stories. Yes, even the hard ones. Perhaps, especially, the hard ones. 

I’m not so sure I can. No, that’s not true. I can. I’m not so sure I want to.

Where to begin when the foundations shake under what you thought you knew to be true? How to offer hope when those you love are hurting, struggling through the impossible that has been thrust upon them. Unwanted. Unasked for. Undeserved. How to love when you want to strike out, hurt back…how?

Silent night…holy night. 


It’s a whisper. My heart’s cry. Because it’s all I know. All I can do. All we can count on. The hope that is in Him.


Those ornaments on our tree, they tell you something.

These scars we cover and the fresh wounds still bleeding, they tell a story too. We all have to walk through pain. Whether you’re carrying it yourself or carrying someone else’s. It’s unavoidable. Because crap happens. It does. We can’t stop it. We can’t stop sin or satan even though we’ll call it something else and step around it or simply pretend it doesn’t exist. Because we’re Christians and we’re too good for that you know.

Jesus, help.

So I sit here and I think about how I tell these stories. And why. How others may not want to read them. But there are those who do. Those who need to hear them as desperately as I need to tell them. Even now in this holy season when all should be merry and bright…darkness can snuff out light.

But not for long. Not forever.


Where there is light, there is hope.

With hope comes the promise of joy. And a peace beyond our comprehension.

Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will come.

Because we are loved.

Be still and know…




  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on December 15, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Offering light is what you do, Cathy. I come to your words when I am hurting, and find strength to go on. Your faith carries me. Know that.

    And for some reason, the innocence of the Border Collie poking his head out of the stocking brought tears to my eyes. Good tears.

    And for light and darkness…in this last of all my seasons, I do have a way of looking at it. Please bear with me, and please forgive what arrogance may be evident in my words.

    It’s said that one should light a candle, rather than cursing the darkness.

    I have rephrased that. “Illuminate, and fire for effect.” The translation is send up illume rounds to light up the kill zone, and kill every bad thing the flares reveal.

    There is a line from a poem by Henry Lee (who was captured by the japanese in 1942, and died in captivity) – “who would survive must learn a savage tongue”.

    I have much to live for, and my “storytelling” is coming to reflect that. Death may take me, but the last battle will be fought with a viciousness that will make the Reaper think twice about using this tactic, ever again.

    I will bear witness to this pain and make it a victory, and I hope that those that follow will be thereby armed, and made steadfast, strong in faith, and upright in Joy.

    Thus, the story.

    You want a war, Death? Bring it. I am ready.

  2. Cathy West on December 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Andrew, that reply is probably better than my post, 🙂 !! Your courage is a true testimony to us all. Light your candle, my friend. It burns bright. May you be blessed this Christmas and treasure every moment.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on December 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Oh, dear friend – I hope I may number you thus – I am humbled. Thank you.

      I will savour this season of grace and renewal, and I pray that its Gift of Love embodied will be a warm cloak around your shoulders.

  3. bethkvogt on December 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Cathy: The stories you write tell both sides of the story: the pain and the hope — and your blog post captures that today in words and photographs that are worth a thousand words. Keep writing. Keep hoping. Some days we just hurt … I understand that. But somewhere in the midst of the pain … hope still flames.

    • Cathy West on December 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you my friend. It is hard to walk through things we don’t understand, things we can’t fix, even though we’d desperately love to. I’m so grateful I can put this into words.

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