A pupper is the story at my house.

I’m coaching some new clients, and our initial sessions always include some intentional conversation about their lives and ministry settings. A quick recitation of facts can only tell us so much about a person or a predicament. When we go deeper, not only do we get to know the storyteller, but we may also see things we need to learn about ourselves.

For instance, we are delighted to have a new puppy at our house, but we are also older than the last time and more tired, spurring some good reflections about what we want and can manage in the next phases of our lives. How deep are our wells of love and patience and energy? And how much love, patience, and energy must God have spent waiting for us to catch on to things that will later seem obvious?

Here are some stories told in our blogging community this week that pointed to other things I appreciated hearing or needed to consider. What story would you tell this week if you met a friend for coffee?

Kathy Manis Findley takes us with her on retreat:

We shared some pain, too, and some loss. We shared times of disappointment and times of plain old survival. We shared stories that brought laughter to the lunch table. We shared communion, in a way, when we created community — a safe community for sharing some of the experiences that brought such meaning to our lives.

Read Kathy’s testimony, All Because of the Stories, at her blog, God of the Sparrow.

Nikki Macdonald brings us into the realm of rural ministry:

Out here, in the rural wilds [which are not quite as remote as some I’ve been through], there’s less scope for spontaneity of the ‘oh, I really fancy an avocado, I’ll just nip to the shop’ kind. The nearest shop of any description is the neighbouring village store 3 miles along the road. Alas, they don’t sell anything quite as exotic as avocados. They do have a decent range of stock for a small establishment, and they’ve recently begun selling lattes [not bad, to be honest] and making soup and rolls in the new extension. It has become a haven for hungry, and usually very wet, cyclists who pedal the route from Land’s End to John ‘o Groats. For such hipster needs as an avocado, I need to drive 17 miles up the road to the nearest country town of 2 000.

Read Of coffee, countryside and kirk… at a pilgrim’s process.

Jeff Nelson shares a story he has been reluctant to tell:

But lest I be viewed as preaching self care from some lofty perch, I feel the need to share an experience of my own. I’d rather not share it, to be honest. But this story is the main reason I value boundaries so highly.

Once upon a time, I had a church member live with my family for a few months.

(Do I have your attention now?)

Read Self-Care, Privilege, and Lessons Learned the Hard Way at his blog.

Linda Anderson-Little tells us what she saw in the mirror after explant surgery:

But as I peered at the new me in the mirror, all I could think was that I looked like Frankenstein and the Grinch in some horror-movie combination. Jagged scars across protruding bones looked as if this part of my body was suffering starvation; this image that was complemented by a concave scoop to my chest curving outward toward the round “mommy pouch” my first OB/GYN told me was my badge of honor for giving birth to three children. Dress me up in a Grinch costume and it would be a perfect fit for Halloween. Who could love this body? I did not. How was I going to get through this grief when I cannot even shower and dress for a new day without tears and a feeling of horror?

Read A Freshly Cracked Clay Jar at her blog, Soulstorywriter.

What stories have touched you this week? I welcome your links in the comments.

Martha Spong is executive director of RevGalBlogPals and a clergy coach. She is co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), with Rachel Hackenberg, and editor of There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, a collection of essays by members of the RevGalBlogPals community, as well as the forthcoming The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, a collection of psalms written by women faith leaders.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back to the specific post. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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