story, part ii

if you weren't around, check out yesterday's GIVEAWAY!

About a month and a half ago I shared a little about the Storyline process and curriculum we've been going through at church, and I talked about how important stories are, and how I wanted to document this process.

If you remember, last time I mentioned we had to come up with a "theme" for our life's story, and mine ended up as this:

God is faithful and is calling me to live in community with and lead/teach others.

Since then we have had to look at the roles we lead in our lives, and then hone in on the five we really want to improve upon or live well. [Donald Miller urges you to select no more than five to begin with, so that you aren't spread too thing. Wise.]

I decided, for now, the roles I wanted to focus on are:


Once I really started thinking about these five roles in my life, I was slightly overwhelmed. These are big things. The only role I feel like it's okay to utterly fail at is the role of a writer, because if I fail in that role, I don't screw up others' lives. Right? 

Once my roles were decided, I was then led to create inciting incidents and ambitions for each one. If you're not familiar with the language of story, then "inciting incident" may seem like a crazy or made up thing, but basically an inciting incident in a story is something that happens/an action that helps move the story forward/changes the main character. So the idea in Storyline is that we come up with our ambitions/dreams for each role, and then decide on our own inciting incidents. 

Basically I decide:
What is a better story I want to write for my life?
What will make me get off the couch and write that story? 

What makes me get off the couch? Well that becomes my inciting incidents. 

I'm a little hesitant to share some of this stuff here, because that makes it very real and tangible and seems like it holds me more accountable. 
But I think that's the whole point. 


  • To be a place of refuge and trust and to model Christ/love them like Christ/ point them to Christ
  • Create intentional time as a family that points us all to Christ
  • Pray for children daily
  • Create a safe, inviting, warm place for them to call home; a place they look forward to being
  • Live in the present with my children
  • Prepare them to do my job as mother and wife
\inciting incidents\
  • to have 2-3 fun activities throughout the week that are outside of normal day to day [baking, library trip, picnic, a craft etc].
  • to keep a prayer journal for each girl and pray for them before bed time most days
  • to continue and expand "quiet time" with the girls
  • to memorize scripture with Blythe [and Becks when older] at breakfast: one verse per week/two and grow from there
  • to read 3-5 books a day with them, and move into chapter books when older 

Where I am at currently with these ambitions:
I have started their prayer journals and have been pretty faithful about keeping them. Blythe and I still have our quiet time most days, yet I'm still trying to figure out ways to do this better. I've started a couple of verses with Blythe and she is doing pretty well with memorization. Reading a lot of books. I need to plan more activities and be more present daily. 


  • Show Brent love by being more present and doing things he enjoys
  • Create intentional time together that GROWS us as a couple and TEACHES us more about each other and our marriage; ask better questions
  • Take a trip, without kids, once a year/every other year
  • Create a safe, inviting, stress-free space for him to which he looks forward to come home
  • Encourage Brent in his role as our family's leader; be someone who is easy to lead
\inciting incidents\
  • to put my phone on the counter when he comes home until the next morning-- only check if incoming call or text.
  • to take a small trip/weekend away together once a year without girls
  • to text him a question everyday that I've put thought into
  • to have "coffee shop/bookstore dreaming date" at beginning or end of each year
  • to take one day every week to play a game/make something together/do something active/side by side
  • to take a big trip for our 10 year anniversary [2018]
Where I am at currently with these ambitions:
I have been good about putting my phone away a couple of evenings, other evenings not so much. The trips are obviously in the future, but I think we should start planning/saving/brainstorming now if they are ever going to actually happen. I've been trying to ask him better questions and text/email him one "thoughtful" one each day. Hoping to get in the groove of playing/creating together next week [if you have our Monopoly Deal or Wizard cards, speak now!] 

this one scares the crap out of me

  • Leave a legacy for my children through writing [including grandparents' stories]
  • Teach others how to tell their stories through their writing
  • Write something worthwhile that has a broader impact [besides immediate family/friends]: publish
\inciting incidents\
  • to blog 2-3 times a week
  • to continue Grandma Pat project more intentionally by visiting her every other week this winter
  • to come up with something work writing a book about [???]
  • to start writing a book
  • to begin interviewing/gathering stories from my parents and Brent's parents for our children
Where I am at currently with these ambitions:
I am trying to work ahead on blog so I can post more. I have not started our visits to Grandma Pat's. I'm always brainstorming book ideas and waiting for "THE" one, and I think I just need to start writing. I actually thought of something that isn't what I thought I would write, but it may be a place to start. I haven't started "gathering stories" in any tangible way from our parents yet. 

 /sister/ sister-in-law/

  • Create/maintain sibling relationship we can rely on throughout future; model these well for our children
  • Be a better sister-in-law by knowing big hurts and joys happening in siblings' lives 
\inciting incidents\
  • to contact all once a week in some form
  • to ask leading and better questions when all together 
  • to create annual 5k walk/run event for Irwins to all participate in [coordinate with Brent]
  • to send a card every three months for no reason
  • to pray for them weekly
  • to visit once a year in their homes
Where I am at currently with these ambitions:
These seem to be a little harder for me, because they aren't looking me right in the face everyday [which is why I think I need them on my list, because I do want to have the best sibling relationships possible and model them for my girls]. I've been texting, kind of spotty, but texting. [I talk to my sister everyday, but want to do better with sister-in-laws: Hey, BETH! You're probably the only one reading this ;)] Brent and I are brainstorming for 5k. I have a little while to think about cards. Need to be more faithful in praying. And I have visited Kali, and we are tentatively planning a trip to Oklahoma to Brent's brother. Now just need to plan a trip to Joplin! 


  • Have time of RETREAT and SOLITUDE once a month [away from home]
  • Have quiet time with girls regularly
  • Pick a personal study or book to go through alone/with Brent/ with close friend/mentor every other month
  • Carve out time for study/book, as well as prayer/time in Bible/ time to journal nearly daily
\inciting incidents\
  • to continue quiet time with the girls
  • to find someone to study book/bible study with
  • to pick book/study and complete [1 every 2 months]
  • to RETREAT [away from home] every month and a half
  • to wake before the girls three times a week [or more] for solitude, study, and prayer [wake FOR my girls not TO my girls]
Where I am at currently with these ambitions:
I have selected a book to study [Inside Out by Larry Crabb], so I just need to purchase and find someone to study with [Brent may be the first winner!]. I am really excited about "retreating", and plan for my first one at the end of the month. The last thing on the list will obviously be one of the hardest things for me to do, and I have yet to actually do it. If I keep failing miserably, I may just have to block out time during nap time or before bed, even though the morning is ideal. 

Sometime I will add leader/teacher to the list of roles, but for now I feel these are all attainable [maybe not the book], and things I can work on and improve on every day.

Up next I will anticipate conflicts that are bound to arise, and then determine what "climactic scenes" I want to play out with each role [i.e. when will these stories be over/achieved to the point I can start writing another one?].

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Hannah said...

I'm so glad you shred this. I love everything about it and I feel like so much of it [all of it, really] are things that I need to work on in my life. I love how you have listed out what you are going to do to make it happen. And oh, that book... for too long I have been thinking and thinking about my book and ideas and characters and what not... I need to start writing if I ever want to be published. Which I do.

Jillian said...

Interesting concept. Love the intentionality. Thaks for the inspiration!