Sunday, January 18, 2015

At the Feet of the Storyteller

As many of you know, I’m an Appalachian girl. I grew up in the Southern Blue Ridge Region of Appalachia, which includes southwest VA and northwest NC (as well as some parts of TN and GA).
Now if you know anything about Appalachian culture, we are a mesh of mostly Scottish, Irish, English, Welsh, French … with some German and Native American sprinkled in too. The larger influence is from Scottish and Irish – and with that influence came the wonderful gift of oral storytelling.

My grandmother was a master storyteller. She’d sit on her front porch or at her kitchen table and recount family stories back six or seven generations, and they weren’t boring ‘history’ lessons. They were the types of stories that made you draw closer to listen. Some made you wonder if she was telling the truth or spinning a tale with a little more flare than usual, but her stories ….were true! That’s what made them even more amazing!

Horse thieves, moonshiners, mountain preachers, midwives, shotgun weddings, tragedies, and hilarious mountain antics spilled from the rise and fall of her soft voice. It was mesmerizing and exciting. The call for story pumped to life as I sat by Granny’s knee and listened. The stories stirred my imagination and reminded me how God’s thread of redemption made it from different parts of the world to my heart – and the stories inspired me to do something about that amazing truth.

Now, my grandmother was a pretty amazing storyteller, but what spoke to her hearers the most, was the grace, peace, love and purpose within her stories and her life. Though many captivating moments weaved through her tales, the Truth printed on the pages of her heart brought a deeper fascination into the stories she told. Family members, neighbors, friends far and wide, came to talk with her, and usually, at some point or other, she ended up telling a story.

She never aspired to be a writer, but she’s the first person who called me one, and nurtured that gift as only a lover of stories could do. No, she never did anything the world would recognize as grandiose with her stories, except share them with her family and friends, as reminders of God’s grace throughout generations, but she kept telling them. Her whole life. Even on her deathbed she shared with me about having to brush her teeth with ‘pinebrush’ because they’d never had toothbrushes. J (Humor was a very important hallmark of a storyteller too, btw)

She was a storyteller because of her culture and upbringing, but she was an amazing person because of her imitation of the Ultimate Storyteller.  You see, she lived the Truth she explained in her stories. Her kindness and generosity bled into her everyday choices and words because she recognized the Grand Story of life was about our need for Jesus and His plan to save us. Hope, even in the midst of incredible pain, always found a place in her stories. Why? Because she knew what perfect Hope was and abided in the Giver of Perfect Peace. She'd be the first to tell you that there was nothing amazing in her, but God's grace empowered her to love, be kind, and choose forgiveness. And that's what people saw in her life and heard in her stories - God's grace.

I was convicted by this truth over Christmas as I worship and thanked God for his miracle, because as writers we are storytellers. Our tales may be great or small, but they reflect our hearts and our purposes. The beautiful thing about storytelling is that it can be refined, just as our souls are refined to become more and more like Christ.

Storytelling is the avenue Jesus chose to bring understanding and change hearts. Why? Because our hearts beat for hope, and all the best stories provide it – the very best give the answers for how to find it :-)

What do I want my stories to show to readers? As a Christian author, my ultimate desire is to bring Light into the Darkness and Hope into Despair by sharing the love of The Storyteller. Whether in overt ways or subtle brushstrokes, I hope the stories I pen will give readers a taste of something beautiful, something life-changing. From comfort, to laughter, to joy, to knowing that someone else understands – stories provide an avenue to the heart other methods can’t create.

How do we, as Christian authors, bring beauty and hope to our stories? How does the Light of hope shine into our words even when we’re not trying?

By drawing closer and closer to The Ultimate Storyteller. As we sit as his feet, learning of his love and grace, it shapes our lives … our stories into something worth telling. He birthed the gift in us, now He bids us to make it grow.  As we learn more about Jesus, rest more in His care, understand His love more deeply, His story writes itself into our lives and becomes our story.

And THAT is always a story worth telling :-)


Pepper Basham writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all.  She is represented by Julie Gwinn and is debuting her first novel in May. You can follower her on Facebook: , Twitter: @pepperbasham, or visit her website:




Tim Suddeth said...

This is great. Who wrote this? I don't see a name.

Pepper said...

Sorry, Tim- I forgot to put my bio. I'll try to fix that when I'm back to my computer :)
Pepper Basham

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Love this, Pepper! <3 Love your heart and love the gift you've inherited!