Living a Better Story

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The point of a story is never about the ending….It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.

— Donald Miller

Hubs and I have been reading and discussing this book over the last few weeks. Yes, I’m cheating. It’s on the Booking It reading list for March. But, FishPapa grabbed it, devoured it in three days, and insisted that I better read it soon he was so bursting to talk about it.

The crux of the book is that each of our lives has a story to tell. And we get to work with the Author in making it the best story possible.

It’s also a call to take your eyes off the TV or whatever mundane pursuit you got going and to dream a bigger dream for your life and for those around you. Hubs wanted me to read it so that we could dream a bigger dream together.


It is well worth the money for the book. I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob.

Living a Better Story

The idea that our lives are similar to stories we might watch in books and movies is not a new one. But, for those of us who love to read or write or both, it’s a poignant illustration all the same.

Think back over your past. Some chapters have been full of excitement, comedy, tension. Other chapters have plain old stunk. There’ve been characters you’ve loved and characters you’ve loved to see leave the scene.

It’s the hope of every writer — and every reader — that the book get better and better the farther into the story you get.

If it doesn’t get better, well, then it’s not a good story. You’re not going to want to read it again. You’re not going to want to tell your friends or your kids about it.

You’re not going to walk away changed.

And so this challenge to live a better story really hit me. Hard. I want the chapters of my life to get better. I want it to be something worthy of a reread. I want to be changed by the living of it.

I want to encourage you to live a better story, too.

Dream a Big Dream

One of our conversations post-book revolved around the idea of contentment versus change. Once upon a time we were told that it was wrong to change your life. The idea was that if you were discontent, then you weren’t trusting God. You should just suck it up and be happy where you are.

To that I say phooey.

Now, certainly, there are some things that we don’t have a say in the matter. If God is only going to give me one child, then to a certain degree, I do need to strive for contentment, and to trust that He does have a plan for my life that’s different (and better) than what I want.

There are, in fact, many circumstances that we can’t change: sickness, death, divorce. Those are situations where other players are involved and we don’t get to call the shots. Contentment and, more importantly, trusting God are essential to walk that path gracefully.

However, there are a wealth of situations that God does let us guide and direct. And there are even seemingly insurmountable circumstances that folks have risen up against because they allowed “discontent” to move them to change. Slavery, Nazism, civil rights.

Thank the Good Lord that there were people “discontent” enough to fight evil.

Most of us don’t have such tremendous work to do in our lives or such tremendous evils to fight. But, each of us has something we could change about the way we live.

About the way we think.

About the way we love people.

Your big dream may be about how you parent or how you treat your spouse. It may be about how you spend your money, where you live, or what you do with your days. The big dream may be traveling around the world, starting a home business, or working to save a child from a life of poverty.

Whatever it is, dream it big.

Let this year be the year when we dream big dreams. Don’t think you can’t do it. Once upon a time, getting out of debt and living debt-free seemed unbelievably impossible. Today it’s a reality and an immense source of freedom and peace of mind for my husband and me.

As long as it’s legal and honors God, I say, “Go for it.”

Age, sex, education, these things can appear to be hindrances, but they don’t have to be. Whatever your big dream, it probably won’t be easy. Good things never are.

But, it will be a better story. It will be worthy of a reread.

You will be changed by the living of it.

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  1. OK so this is the third post I’ve read today about dreams and desire’s… I’m not really dreaming right now, I’m more in the trenches. For the most part I’m just happy, there are things I would like someday, but I’m not actively chasing them. I’m not sure I know where to start, but sounds like He’s trying to get my attention, and get me to start dreaming and reaching again. I loved your post. Now to figure out where to start….

  2. Awesome Jessica. I LOVED that book. It gave words to the life we are trying to live. I was “yesing and amening” every second paragraph. I plan to write about it… someday.

  3. As others have said… this was a great post. I LOVED this book and read it last year after I had read Blue Like Jazz, watched a private screening of the movie and had heard Donald Miller speak. Wow! Now the hard part is to live it .. not someday.. or when I am fit/wealthy/
    skinny/in a bigger house etc… but now.. right here, where God has me today.

  4. Jessica,
    I have just ordered this book online. What you’ve written here is so very close to what my husband & I have spoken about in the last week. We so desperately want a better story for our lives! Soon as my husband walks in the door from work I’m getting him to read this post.
    Happy New Year to you & your family in 2012.

  5. Jessica, first I want to say that I thoroughly enjoy both of your blogs. You are writing an amazing story…thank you for sharing pieces of it with us! I read Don’s book about three years ago and it was lifechanging for me… my story hasn’t been the same. My “phrase” for 2012 is “en route”…. in our story, our past is past, our present is precious, and our future is secure in Him… so no more fear. We are “en route” to heaven and He’s got us. I’m going to go with that and keep “writing” my story… best wishes to you and your family. I look forward to reading your blog in 2012!

  6. Great post! I may have to adopt “Living a better story” as my mantra for 2012! I, too, want “the chapters of my life to get better” and my life to be “worthy of a re-read!”

    I will say, I have written a Goal list for 2012 and among other things, you have inspired me to start a blog to record my thoughts and family happenings (even if only I read it), read more for pleasure, meal plan/cook from the pantry in January, and actually write down our assets/liabilities and follow a budget!!!

    Thank YOU Life As Mom!!!

    1. Wow! That’s awesome! Yeah! So fun to see our paths cross again in this way. We’ll have to meet for lunch on one of my trips north.

  7. Great Post. I needed to hear that, I can’t wait to let my hubby read this also. We said this is going to be a year of recovery for our family. We need to get on track with a few things and yes we are dreaming big and seeing what the Lord has in store for us. Can’t wait.

  8. Just picked up a Kindle copy for $5 with a Christmas gift card. Looking forward to reading it!

  9. I love the concept of living our lives as stories of which God is the author and we are the coauthors. I read an interesting article by Eugene Peterson once about how God likes to interact with his children through the art of story, and how we can read the Bible and live our lives through that lens as well.

    Thanks so much for this post. There are some big dreams I’m meditating on for 2012, and I appreciated the affirmation and inspiration I gleaned from this post as I pray and make plans for the new year. May you have a happy and blessed new year!

  10. First just wanted to let you know…LOVE your blog. I am downloading the book onto my iphone now to listen to in car on my commute.

    You are the 3rd person in the last month that has recommended this book so I figure this is God telling me to read it at this point! lol

    I think it is so awesome that you and your husband can read the same books to discuss. My husband HATES to is one of my fav pastimes!

    Happy New Year!

    1. Enjoy! As for book reading, there are a few handful of books that we both like. This is one of them.

  11. Wonderful post. This is exactly where my husband and I are this year. We are looking at what we need to change to make things in our lives change, our habits, our parenting, our structure, our communication…We can be content and grateful and yet strive for more and better in our lives, but like everything in God, it takes balance.

  12. My big dream is to reach my goal weight by May/June of 2012 🙂 🙂 I’m almost half-way there already. My other big dream is to find a way to make a living from what I love to do, so that I can stay home and take care of my family 🙂 Happy New Year to you and your family. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  13. This is a beautiful and inspiring post! Thank you, Jessica. Can’t wait to read the book…hope it’s available for Kindle download. My big dream and goal for 2012 is to finally get our family on firm financial footing. Pay off cc debt, put some money in the bank for emergencies and get off of the paycheck to paycheck stress that can’t be what the Author intended. Along the way, I hope to be a grace giver to everyone I meet (including those I live with and myself). Dreaming big dreams over here!

    1. Yes, I think it’s five bucks on Kindle. You’re dreaming beautiful dreams over there! 😉

  14. I loved that book! In fact, I think I might read it again…it seems like a great book to start out the year with. I haven’t yet nailed down any specific dreams and goals for this year, but I know in general, that 2012 needs to be better than 2011!

  15. Thanks for the encouragement to have our best year and best story to tell!

    I’ve be thinking a lot about the new year lately and thinking about what I’d like to accomplish and how I’d like to grow, and most importantly how He’d like my year to go. Looking forward to seeing what He has for us in 2012.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  16. What a wonderful post! This is, in fact, the first thing I’ve read on this beautiful first day of the New Year 2012, and I must say: Thank You.

    Next step – ordering the book from Amazon, of course. But then – re-reading your post, and sharing the link to it on my own blog, Wine Before Five.

    Sitting here & reading your post, I was thinking of the phrase that life is not about the station, but about the train ride – as I listen to the low moan of a train rumbling through the village at the bottom of the hill. I’m quite sure now that each time I hear that train whistle throughout the day, I’ll be reminded of your wonderful New Year’s kick-off post, of Living a Better Story, and there will be a smile on my lips and a li’l extra warmth in my heart.

    Happy New Year, and: Thank You!

  17. I love this post, Jessica. I would say that our biggest dream is to be self-supporting and self-employed as landlords, which means that the steps we’ll be taking this year will be to actually finish the project house, seriously reduce our mortgage through extra payments, and – for me personally – finally write a book. Welcome 2012 – we’re ready for you! 🙂

  18. What a great post to kick off the new year! I just added that book to my Amazon cart {one of my goals this year is to actually READ. 🙂 Planning at least a book a month}… and Donald Miller is one of mine and my husband’s favorite authors. My One Word for this year is Persistent… and I look forward to achieving a lot of personal growth. Happy New Year!

    1. Hubs went on to read Blue Like Jazz almost immediately. The guy is hilarious!