The Story Swap

I wish one of you would volunteer to come be my personal assistant. If you could only see my office right now. It’s been a busy week and promises to get even more so.

I will be speaking at Santiam Christian on Saturday in honor of The Redhead. This is a benefit fundraiser. I am looking forward to spending the evening with The Redhead’s family. Please join us if you are in the valley.

On Sunday I will be at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon. I will be speaking at Kilns College @ 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. If you are in the area, please come join the discussion. We’ll be talking about Voodoo Christianity and how to recognize it in ourselves.

Daughter Konnie is having surgery Friday so appreciate the prayers for her.

We had a wonderful time at the retreat on Saturday. Women from Hermiston’s First United Methodist sponsored the event but opened it to the public. This was the first time they’d put together a retreat and buddy, I’m telling you there was nothing these women didn’t think of.

We met at the beautiful Riverfront center at the Port of Morrow.  That’s a picture of the sunset over the Columbia from the center. There’s a lovely lodge nearby and a walking path. The event was catered and women drove in from all around the region.  Many had remembered me from my days as a reporter & columnist.

One of my favorite things to hear as a writer is that someone tore out some column I wrote and saved it in their Bible or on their frig door. I’ve long felt that the purpose of community journalism was to serve as the front porch used to — to offer people a place to sit and talk about who did what when. As a child, eavesdropping on my aunts and uncles or my parents conversations was my most favorite thing to do. Were you like that?  How I miss those times, holding my breath in the dark so to hear them all the better.

But I digress.

The first 20 minutes of the retreat I met a woman who told me the reason she came was because it was her son’s birthday.

He was killed in an horrible explosion a couple of years ago.

She brought her daughter-in-law to share in the day. “I thought this would be a good way to remember him,” she said.


It was in that moment that I knew that this coming together in community was going to be a powerful day, and it really was, largely due to the women who put this entire event together.

They had been praying for months and it showed. Their prayer team was in place and had met regularly, seeking the Spirit’s direction for all involved.

We had table discussions following each presentation.

What was your most terrifying moment? was one of the questions.

Virginia recalled the time she drove a school bus years ago and came upon a road that was closed due to a fire. She had to turn that school bus full of children around on that country road, causing the bus to teeter on the edge overlooking a canyon. She said her knee was shaking so badly she wasn’t sure she’d be able to get that bus turned, but she did.  Virginia had a lot of jaw-dropping stories.

Between the morning session and the afternoon one, we had a wonderful catered lunch and just some together time. I had opportunity to visit with several women and learned that we had some military wives in the crowd. Always a bit of surprise here in Oregon where there is  no military installation, though we do have a National Guard Armory. I met one gal whose husband has just deployed and one whose husband has returned from a tour in Iraq. There was even a woman in the crowd whose grandson had been killed in action.

I asked the gals if they would mind if I interviewed them in front of God and everybody and they graciously agreed. Oh. My. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after those ladies spoke. It’s so easy to go about the busyness of our lives and interact in the most casual of ways. But when we take the time to talk hurt to hurt, healing to healing, that’s when we witness the Spirt of God move like the currents in the Mighty Columbia.

The verses that keep coming back to me are from Isaiah 41: 19-20

I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland,  the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand,  that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Why do these things happen?

So that others will see and consider that the hand of the Lord is upon our lives.

This is only half the room but boy are they bright and cheery for so early on a Saturday morning.

The event was catered and was well, see for yourself.

God only gave me one voice and it’s behind this keyboard but these gals? Well, let’s just say they put the OY in joyful.

There was time for crafting.

Time for walking.

Time for speaking.

Time for reflecting.

And best of all, time for swapping stories with each other.

The Story Swap. It’s what I love most about when you all get together here, too.

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  • John in PDX

    Please send my respects to the Redheads family. I hope to see them all at Thanksgiving and I am bringing my shotgun. I hope everyone makes it! I think about the Redhead all the time.
    Thanks for doing the fundraiser. If I may be so bold –
    Please post where we can send a donation online. I know you hate Amazon & etc but I will be in Ft Lauderdale, FL and can’t attend.
    Tomorrow is Vroom Vroom in Wisconsin.
    Please answer your phone when I need bail money.

    • John in PDX

      By the way – I re-read my post – the shotgun is for duck hunting.

  • Sounds like a wonderful time. I love community journalism.