Faithful Living: Everyone has a story to tell

My son Dan is a trivia enthusiast and for quite some time has been telling me about a website called “Stumbleupon.” It’s built on a simple concept: Identify your areas of interest and the website will stream other websites related to those topics. This week I got around to visiting the site and Dan is right: If you’ve got things to do, don’t go stumbling! It will take you to websites you would never have the time to discover on your own and breaks open a fascinating world so wondrous you’ll be making travel plans or wishing you could.

Stumbleupon took me to the National Public Radio website and introduced the StoryCorps project, which arranges for mobile recording booths to travel throughout the U.S. and document the stories of ordinary people. Inside each mobile StoryBooth friends or loved ones interview each other. A trained facilitator guides the participants through the interview process and handles the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of each 40-minute session participants walk away with a CD of their interview. With the permission of participants, a second copy is sent to the American Folklife Center at the Smithsonian, where it becomes part of a digital archive.

Each Friday NPR airs a selection of stories from the project during their nationally syndicated program, “Morning Edition.” StoryCorps interviews are also available by podcast at

So taken am I with the stories people have to tell that I’ve encouraged storytelling in our family for years. And even though my children are young adults and no longer living at home fulltime, I regularly prompt them to tell me a story. I do this to satisfy my own yearning for a good story, truth be told. But the asking also signals other important messages: Your life matters. I’m interested. If I know some of what’s going on I’ll know how to pray for you. I’ll also now how to keep the dialogue going, even though we don’t see each other often.

My story comes from my daughter, the Yakima school teacher. This week she handed out donated sweatshirts to kids who returned their homework. Eight-year-old Eduardo chose a cool black hoodie with a bright green dragon on the front. After putting it on he grinned from ear to ear and all the boys assured him that he looked cool.

Minutes later my daughter noticed Eduardo standing beside a tiny sweater, decorated with baby-blue ribbons. He rubbed his chin. Crossed his arms. And lingered. Then, with a quiet sigh, he pulled off his sweatshirt, folded it up, and replaced it where the sweater lay folded.

Witnessing the great internal debate, my daughter quietly approached him and asked if he had changed his mind.

“My little sister would like this one,” he replied, “I want her to have it.”

Can you guess the outcome? This child of a migrant farm worker took home both sweater and hoodie, the perfect reward for his willing sacrifice and pure love for a younger sibling. Now that’s a story worth telling.

Reach Joan Bay Klope at



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