Listening to the Stories

The unexpected takes many forms.  A single phone call can change the shape of an entire day — or a lifetime.  A trip to the grocery store can yield blessing or bane, and this truth about life compels me to keep my ears open to the stories that are unfolding all around me like an invisible news feed:  unspoken needs, latent yearnings, veiled expectations all presenting as everyday life.  In What She Was Saying, Marjorie Maddox uses the tip of her pen to capture a series of vignettes that articulate life with all its spoken and unspoken panorama of the unexpected:

Sky Divers, beware in a world where the unforeseen shows up “in the guise of wind “and dumps a parachute’s invisible freight!

UPS Guys, know this:  The multiperspectivalism of a neighborhood renders you, The Man in Brown, as many things to many people.

People of faith:  Understand that the Bible’s spare narrative may not intend to convey vulnerability, but it is there between the lines, waiting to be discerned so that the disappointment of Peter’s wife or the desperation of Lot’s daughters can be mined in Flannery-esque prose that does not blink at unpleasant truth.

As I turned the pages of What She Was Saying and listened to the voices of a returning soldier, a teenage beauty queen, and a ninety-three year old with twenty birthday cakes in her freezer, I was reminded with poignancy that much of what I “write off” among my fellow travelers on this narrow path is really their way of seeking community.

As I traced themes of parenting and childlessness,  baseball and racial reconciliation, aging and the nature of beauty, I was surprised to observe that controversial issues are hardly ever linear, but instead come stacked like Matryoshka dolls, one inside the other, with the unexpected finding that the biggest argument may inhabit the smallest space.

What She Was Saying (and a polar fleece blanket) were the perfect companions for an afternoon of babysitting a napping grandson with a nasty cold — and also for an infusion of fresh vocabulary and exposure to a writing style that opens my mind to new possibilities.  Reading between the lines, I’m finding myself even more grateful for nearly twenty-seven years with a patient man who has always been willing to hear What [this woman] Was Saying — even in the days when there was no time for writing it down.

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This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

More from Marjorie:

If you enjoy poetry, you’ll love True, False, None of the Above.  Based on her reading, her teaching, and her embrace of a life of faith, Marjorie’s poetry examines important themes with clarity and an open-mindedness that spurs the heart on to more pondering.  You can read my review (written from a beach chair) here.

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I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

66 thoughts on “Listening to the Stories”

  1. This is lovely! Looks like a colection of different stories and poems…is it?
    It’s nice to check out your review of a previous work from her -:)
    Might you be interested in African Reads too :)?
    It’s here Michele https://faithpen.wordpress.com/
    Look forward to reading what you think about it.
    Hugs and Thank you for being a Heart Encourager
    God Bless

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    1. I’m amazed that you’ve started another blog, Ifeoma! Looks as if you’ve got a continuing story there, and it’s so great to get a glimpse of your culture and surroundings via fiction. You are full of surprises!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha Michele, I’m happy you got there….
        They are mainly fictions​. You know my daughter got me convinced to whip some up for her and tell them. So all the drama came with recording too😂😂😂
        I’ve had them siting in the pages of the book😎
        Did you get to read both?
        Yes i would type it out gently…..
        Thank you for your encouragement

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for a lovely review – you caught my attention by the way you summed it up as the “spoken and unspoken panorama of the unexpected”. AndI had to chuckle as you said you read through the book as you grandparented a sleeping babe. Oh, this time of grandparenting is special, isn’t it? 🙂 We have a grandboy that lights up our life also.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for a lovely review – you caught my attention by the way you summed it up as the “spoken and unspoken panorama of the unexpected”. AndI had to chuckle as you said you read through the book as you grandparented a sleeping babe. Oh, this time of grandparenting is special, isn’t it? 🙂 We have a grandboy that lights up our life also.

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  4. I was wondering the same as Ifeoma — even thinking paintings, as well. ? At any rate, you’ve done a good job of making it something to look into, Michele. Looks very interesting. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. ((hug))

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  5. Michele, it is so true that as we read different styles of writing our thinking becomes enlarged. This was such a good review to remind me of this. And like you, I find myself grateful for a man who will listen and converse with me each night 🙂

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    1. And I always love how the writing of a poet helps me to SEE. I’m thinking also of John Blase who just published a book of poems (on the day of his 50th birthday!).
      We’re both blessed by our guys!

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  6. Thanks for the interesting book idea! Different perspectives always yield a bumper crop of new thoughts and insights. Happy to visit from #ChasingCommunity!

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  7. This sounds very intriguing! And, as you know, my heart is being stirred by poetry also! (Still missing The Fox, I think.) I’m hoping your dear Grandson is feeling better by now. It’s rough to see them under the weather. Have a Blessed Weekend!

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  8. Michele – you do have a way with words! and you continue to draw us in causing all of us want to read every book you review! I love the idea of stories (testimonies really) of people’s lives and journey – I find I can always find something to learn or gets me thinking about things in my own life…. Thank you for linking up to #TuneInThursday this week

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    1. Marjorie has such a great way of conveying feelings with words. I suppose that’s because she’s a poet at heart, and poetry distills all the beauty into a small space. Glad that you ‘ve been blessed by your visit here!

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      1. Michele – You do have a point – a poet does have the gift to distill beauty into a small space. So well put. I look forward to hopefully seeing some more of your posts this week on Thursday – today we are neighbors at #TeaAndWord 🙂 Blessings

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I love and live for those stories. I work with many who have alzheimer’s and I sit and listen and ask questions as I help them with their daily care. It is a wonderful experience and I love it when they find joy aagain in their own stories

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    1. Angie, I am in awe of you. What a great ministry, and in a way, you are patients’ living journal as you willingly hold their stories for them, when they are no longer able to do it for themselves. Blessings to you and may God strengthen your heart for this good work.

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  10. This is so true: “controversial issues are hardly ever linear, but instead come stacked like Matryoshka dolls, one inside the other, with the unexpected finding that the biggest argument may inhabit the smallest space.” I’m going to look this book up. Have you read Spells for Victory and Courage by Dana Fitz Gale. It’s a collection of short stories that I think you’d enjoy. I just reviewed it for Literary Mama. Thanks for adding this post to the #Sundaythoughts link up : )

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  11. I had a weird dream last night about seeing parachutes in the sky being blown around and wondering if the people would be okay. I then read this blog post when I woke up with lines about my dream in it! Beautiful review of a beautiful book!

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  12. This sounds like an interesting book. We can learn so much from listening to others’ stories and seeing things from their perspective. It is important to be aware of those around us.

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  13. The size of my library is always at risk when I read your reviews, Michele! Reading your comments sent my mind on a dozen paths as I thought about what some of the people in my life are really “saying” with their interactions and conversations. Blessings, sweet friend. Have a great week!

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    1. Donna, I’m making it a priority to pack away some books this spring in order to make room on my shelves. A lot of our homeschooling books can go into the attic to wait for grandchildren — if indeed my daughters-in-law decide to homeschool. It will be good to get the shelves down to just one layer of books again!

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  14. I’m finding myself completely in awe with how very much you read, and how much you write! Sick, napping grandson? Are you a speed reader? In all seriousness, you have a wonderful way of reviewing books – like someone else commented, you make me want to read them all! Thanks for sharing on Inspire Me Monday! 🙂

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    1. Don’t be too in awe. I’m really behind on both reading and writing right now, and am going to take a week off from blogging in April. I love reading and always have so this blogging adventure is another way of sharing what I’m reading — and I love the conversation! Thanks for reading, Carol.

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  15. Michelle,
    This looks like a great book. Your summary left me thinking, I am going to go through my day listening to people with the thought, “What are they saying?” I am rushing around trying to catch up from a busy last week, and I think my listening skills have gone out the window. It will be a great experiment to see if I hear more. Thank you!
    Blessings,
    Maree

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    1. I’m finding your words to be really convicting, Maree, because I’m so much more task oriented than people oriented. I’m joining you today in the listening life. Thanks for sharing your experiment here.

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  16. Hey Michele, this review is so deep that I hardly know what to say, except that I feel like a kindergartner who needs to go back to school and learn how to formulate a sentence…and possibly use a period! Basically, Ms. Marjorie has got it goin’ on!

    Wonderful review! Thanks for highlighting her book. 😊

    Your fellow party-hopper over at #RaRalinkup,
    Tiffiney

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  17. I love your taste Michelle. Thank you so much for linking at #overthemoon! I look forward to seeing what you share every week. Please come back for #WonderfulWednesday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Enjoy your week ahead.

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  18. Michele,
    It’s so good to get the chance to visit here this week! Goodness! It has been a season for me! This book sounds beautiful. Our stories do all intertwine. I love the image of the little stacked dolls. 🙂 Thank you so much for joining me at #MomentsofHope ♥
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    Like

  19. Hi, I love reading your reviews and even the comments. I learn new information every time. This book of personal stories sounds so inspirational. Thanks for joining us again at the #LMMLinkup this past week.

    Liked by 1 person

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