Playdates with God: Tell

Grandpa and Grandma Phillips

We spent yesterday at the family reunion and it made me miss my grandpa. It also made me remember this post I wrote three years ago:

We did not know our story.

We did not know that our father was the ninth child of a farming family—spoiled by sisters old enough to mother him. We did not know how hard they worked, or how hard they loved, or how they had their very own salt cave. We didn’t know that our uncle—dad’s oldest brother–had been a prisoner of war, didn’t know how the family would sit around the radio in the evenings and listen for news, or how one of the few times my grandpa spanked my father was during one such listening when he—small one that he was—would not be quiet.

Aunt Martha and Uncle Edwin

We didn’t know.

We didn’t know what a perfectionist our grandmother was, how she wouldn’t let her sister-in-law work on her quilts, or how she made extra money making rugs out of rags. We didn’t know how she wasted away from the cancer—how she waited too long.

We didn’t know our grandfather loved a fast car, or how he would shift the thing into neutral at the top of the hill and see just how far he could coast.

We didn’t know.

We didn’t know our roots ran tangled all over this place. We thought we were untethered…alone. No one told us otherwise.

Me and my sibs

When I would sink deep in sorrow, grieving our lack of story, I would hug the Bible to my chest and take heart from knowing I was part of a Bigger Story. That I have this Father–whose story started time–and these brothers and sisters and these ancestors in faith. Oh, yes, that is a rich heritage.

And it was these roots—the faith ones—that gave me courage to ask.

On my grandpa’s 98th birthday, I started asking. And people sent stories. Pages and pages–written in long hand, emailed, spoken into my tape recorder at the family reunion, or laughed over and rapidly scribbled down later.

I learned how my grandpa lost his big toe (I didn’t know he was missing one). And how my dad loved candy as a boy. I read letters from my uncle, written while he was serving our country. I poured over wedding photos and aged family snapshots.

That’s my dad on the gate. And Old Prince.

With each story collected, I was planted anew. My roots plowed deeper, weaving through the soil of the past until the dust quarried from my blood recognized the curling, twisting roots of these others.

Our stories are intertwined—we share the same blood.

I don’t know why, but it mattered.

And I stand here today with faith roots and family roots anchoring me deep—steeping me strong against the storms of life—and I know…

A story has to begin somewhere.


Don’t hoard it, keep it to yourself, be ashamed, or too sad to tell.Wrap arms around your sweetest, stare long into the fire and tell of your days gone by. Tell of legs strong for running, of favorite pets and bicycle ramps, tell of the lasts, but especially the firsts: first kiss, first car, first broken heart, first loss…


Because it matters.There is someone who wants to know. 
And something amazing happens in the telling. Love blooms.

Over at The High Calling, we’re still talking about Sabbath. Will you join us?

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:


  1. JViola79 says

    I love what you shared here. It is so true that there is so much to be learned as we look back at the stories hidden in the lives of our family. This was inspiring. I always love when my mom shares not only her own stories with me but those of my Gram as well. Thank you for reminding me to ask more questions 🙂

  2. amyscanderson says

    oh, it does matter. This is beautiful. So glad you collected the stories. Something about that helps collect us as well.

  3. says


    Because it matters.There is someone who wants to know.”

    Thanks for the encouragement to tell because I tend to think no one cares; it’s too boring. But we never know who’s listening or who needs it or who could grow from it.

    Glad you reposted this one, Laura. It’s a message we need to be reminded of over and over.

  4. says

    Laura, this is so powerful. It’s a reminder to me to keep asking to hear the stories and to savor my place in His big story. I still have a grandma on a farm across town- think I need to head over there this week and give her a hug.

  5. Kate @ Teaching What Is Good says

    I was blessed to have my grandmother live with us from the time I was 5. She became my best friend and every Saturday night was Canasta Night where I was only allowed to speak French (needless to say, I was pretty quiet during our games). But I got to hear all the stories. My siblings weren’t interested, but I was enthralled.

    Now, I make sure and pass on these stories to MY children. I want them to understand their heritage.

    Thanks for hosting the link-up week after week.

  6. says

    Love the old photos and your message. Family gives us roots even with all the baggage that comes along with relations. What would we be without memories? Today I am thankful we have the gift of remembrance and roots in families.

  7. Sylvia R @ says

    Thank you, Laura, for this moving family history and the admonition with it. Oh, the similar family stories it reactivated from my archives–along with an accompanying surprise of tears!! Yes, there’s much to share that I’ve left lying dormant, unsaid, and if I don’t “TELL” *they’ll never know, either!

  8. DeanneMoore says

    Thank you Laura for sharing your story…the stories of those who are part of your story, the Bigger One. I absolutely loved it and it reminded me of my own. I needed your encouragement today. I wrote one of my stories and I linked it. God bless you always.

  9. says

    It really does matter, doesn’t it, Laura? I did something similar a year ago or so when I used for about six months to unearth a giant load of family history, photos and all sorts of treasures. It’s an uplifting thing to know how our families persevered and lived this life in all kinds of conditions. It kind of gives me more perseverance as well. Thanks for sharing these photos and stories again. I must have missed them the first time through and they are delightful!

  10. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    Oh, this is so nostalgic and beautiful! That photo of your and your siblings are my favorite. I wonder if it is you with the black? pants. Yes, our families are precious. I am one of six children and we all come together every December for our summer holidays at our family’s holiday house. But I can assure you that every January we all promise never again! Until the next December.
    Blessings XX

  11. Kim Adams Morgan says

    Laura, What a beautiful story. I also had my reunion this weekend. I miss it most years, but surprised everyone by attending this year. I spent a lot of time going through old family photos albums and asking questions about my grandparents who have been gone for some time. I wish we had the wisdom then that we have now to soak up all the knowledge so we could carry it forward with us. Kim

  12. Michelle Eichner says

    How beautiful! I love family history. Thanks for the impetus to find out the stories in our families. Hugs to you! Michelle

  13. smoothstones says

    What I love best about this is that you asked (and received, but ASKED). So much is gained when we but ask.

  14. Amy L. Sullivan says

    It’s amazing. The stories they tell. All of my grandparents are now deceased, but I hold onto tidbits of their stories. Ohhh, it makes me want to turn back time, and go grab coffee with them. Thanks for sharing a part of you, and thanks for sharing the pictures…awesome.

  15. Megan Willome says

    I keep trying to get all the pieces of this story so that maybe someday I can tell it. So far, it just dribbles in here and there from various sources, sort of like with your grandfather.

  16. soulstops says

    Thank you, Laura, for sharing part of your roots and encouraging us to look, listen and share. I never knew both of my grandfathers although I knew, thankfully, my two grandmothers. Love you 🙂

  17. pastordt says

    So lovely, Laura. Thank you for reposting this one – 3 years ago is before we met, i believe. Somehow, I thought you had no contact with your family (or very limited contact) so I’m glad to read of these wonderful connections and story-sharing. Thanks so much.

  18. says

    This is timely. Yesterday was the 97th anniversary of my Italian grandfather’s birth; we’ve been without him 6 years now. I remembered, and I took myself for ice cream, his favorite dessert. There was much shame in his family about his story. He didn’t know part of it himself until he enlisted in the army, and that part he kept from his children until his 50th anniversary. I have wondered how he would have been different without the shame.

    He loved golf, reading mysteries from the library, and crossword puzzles.

    I loved reading these bits of your story! Thank you.

  19. sojourner says

    times pass
    lines write
    tell the story
    of each life
    as we converge
    in and out of relationship

    Laura, I think I remember this post from the past when I first started blogging. It has been a long, long time! I’ve missed visiting her and it looks like things have changed for you!


  1. […] These kids teach me about acceptance, about love, about grace. And I begin to understand that our struggles are what make us human in each other’s eyes. I begin to understand once again how important it is to share our stories. This is the only thing that will help us see past skin color and invisible social barriers this world has imposed upon us: Sharing. We were created for each other. To share our stories. […]

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