Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on


Mine were made blowing dandelion fluff into the sky as a kid. I love the big white balls of dandelions. There’s a sign hanging that reads

Some see a weed; others see a wish.

I first learned, years and years ago, that dandelions are actually weeds, and my heart cracked. It actually did make me feel sad. Because I’d spent my whole life looking for them like I hungrily searched for honeysuckle. Both symbolized … freedom, wishes, idyllic and safe childhoods spent frolicking in Johnson grass, through sprinklers and up trees. I didn’t actually make wishes on the dandelions… but I did blow them so I could see them floating up lazily through the sky. In the book Haven, the narrator uses dandelions to make an oil that she hopes will scrub her clean, will make her new. How many people have made resolutions to be different than they are: to lose weight, to get that surgery, to start wearing make-up? When I think of wishes, I think of hope because if you wish for something, some part of you, hidden though it may be, thinks there is a chance, however remote, that it might come true.

Storytelling, for me, is blowing the dandelion fluff; it’s talking to stars; it’s wishing. Next Friday, I have an amazing opportunity to interact with readers and fellow writers, and I’m very excited about it. It is a wish I’ve had since I was very young, being able to spend time talking about and reading my work to others. Every page I write is a whisper for a better tomorrow. Every line of dialogue is me crossing my fingers as I pretend pieces of me exist in my most loved storylines. Every character I fall in love with is beloved because s/he displays some sense of who I want to be one day. Maelea’s courage, Daphne’s strength, Abrielle’s talent: these are traits I illustrate with characters because it’s who I’d like to be. Listening to music makes me happy, but it doesn’t ignite the flame of possibility in me like the idea of telling a story. I enjoy swimming, but it doesn’t make my heart soar with joy. Music, swimming, baking — it doesn’t break my heart into a thousand pieces, haunt my soul every day or leave me shaking like writing. Writing is catastrophically perfect because it demands all of my emotions, pulls me into this vortex where I end up sharing more than I wanted to yet exactly what I needed to, and challenges me to test the iron cages of my mind to find that they’re no longer locked. Changing a life doesn’t require moving mountains; the smallest measure of hope will work. And when I hear a story that’s raw with emotion, where the words stumble over themselves, sounding jagged and uncertain but honest, my heart awakens with a sense of purpose and inspiration that it lacked before.

That’s what we storytellers do. We instill hope time and time again

Walt Disney

Hope isn’t the finale of a firework show; hope is the sparkler that’s barely noticed by others but seems so big to you. Hope is a goal, a desire that sustains you when darkness covers everything else in sight. Storytelling isn’t something I just have; it’s a gift given to me. You don’t have to be great at something for it to be gifted to you. I’m not one of the greats, but God doesn’t really give us gifts for us to make money from it: He gives us the gifts we need to empower us to look beyond the scary to the possible in the impossible. I was young, maybe in the sixth or seventh grade, and a really, really bad night happened. I ended up on floor in my closet, just like Haven, in the middle of the night, because I was afraid of my tears being heard. Soon after, I heard about an publisher coming to my town; there were going to be agents and a presentation. I couldn’t go because I had to go to school so my mother went for me. I couldn’t tell you what was said at that meeting, I know I got a phone call from a publisher who didn’t do anything more than say, Don’t give up, but I what stuck with me was that my mother went to the event on my behalf. This meant she believed in me: if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gone. Her attendance at the event and the resulting phone call from the kind publisher showed me the possible within the impossible. God orchestrated hope, tangible hope, out a bunch of middle school, overly simplistic stories that probably didn’t stand a chance. Don’t you see how beautiful that is? Without writing, I don’t know what that girl hiding in the closet to try to get control of her tears would have done because she didn’t care about anything else in the world except stories. God knew this would be true, and that she’d need a wish that she could believe in, something more than words that she could cling to, and so the stories were there. When I was very young, nine or ten years old, I remember a night where I felt I was choking because he held my head to his body until I gagged, unable to breathe. Migraine exploded behind my eyes, only I didn’t know it was a migraine at that time, I hadn’t started having regular migraines yet; I thought I was dying. When he left the room, and I’d run to brush my teeth and scrub my face clean, trying to get rid of everything, I came back to my bedroom with characters swelling the room. The next day, I went to school and Mrs. Krutsinger let me read a story I’d written to my classmates. I still remember the feeling in my heart when those classmates approached me afterwards, asking me what was going to happen next in the story. Mrs. Krutsinger didn’t know it — I didn’t know it then — but that watered a seed my mother had planted: I had something to say that others wanted to hear. Mrs. Haymer, Stackhouse, Dr. Estes — teachers who either let me read out loud to classes or who took the time and interest to read my books — that dandelion seed of hope was nourished each time. And since writing and storytelling was still the only thing I cared about, it kept my head above water.

Hope became tangible when I wrote because it made me feel I had worth.

Every day and twice on Sunday I believe in the power of wishes. Except I don’t call them wishes because the word wish implies that you have to rely on luck to grant the dream. My own story shows too many coincidences and puzzle pieces that perfectly fit only because they were designed to for luck to have had anything to do with it. So, every day and twice on Sunday, I believe in the power of miracles. I also believe that I’m not that special because each of us has the same type of stories that I have: if we critically analyze our lives, and the defining moments of our lives, we find that Z couldn’t have happened without Y and Y couldn’t have happened without X and X needed W.

Miracles are God’s stories.

Stories that point us to Him because, ultimately, only He can save us. Without Him, my stories would still be handwritten in notebooks, hiding out in boxes, unseen an irrelevant: hidden secrets instead of sources of sunshine in my life, and in the lives of those who have been impacted by something I wrote. Because, ultimately, the real story is that we’re not islands. We’re not invisible because God is a God of relationships, and He’s a personal God: He knows what I need and that that is different today than it was when I was nine-years-old. Today, my world begins and ends with my daughters; I’d never write again if it meant their happiness, and He knows that stories are my way of sharing my heart, my past and my dreams with them. It’s also my way of passionately showing them that they, too, have a way out; they, too, have a story, a gift. In fact, every one alive does. Sometimes the noise of technology or the lies of pain or the doubts of insecurity blind us to the quieter, more subtle tugs on our hearts, and it’s possible we overlook what’s meant to be our story. Today, my stories are about children because I can’t let go of the little girl who hid in the closet, who told her sister the story of The Little Mermaid to help her go to sleep while she listened with one ear to sounds from the living room, trying to discern whether she’d be safe that night or not. My stories are about children because my childhood is my proof that He is real and that there’s a love unlike anything any of us have ever known, a love we won’t be able to fully comprehend until we see Him face-to-face. The healing, and the positivity, that comes from following our dreams is too precious, too beautiful, and too powerful to choose to see a dandelion as a weed instead of a wish.