#TellHisStory: Why We Need Your Story

November 13, 2013 | 46 comments

I’ve always had a pen in my hand. I used to write news stories in my Sesame Street notebook, in fake cursive.

My family tells me that one of my first words as a child was “why.”

Jennifer Dukes

So it made sense that I grew up to become a news reporter. I wore fancy suits, and chased down politicians and police chiefs, with a fake leather briefcase slung over my shoulder.

I still have my Rolodex — who uses one of those anymore? — and sometimes, I’ll thumb through it. I remember how my heart used to pound inside my chest, with this thumping, electric beat of excitement and dread as I careened toward my deadline. The next morning, before first light, the newspaper skidded onto my doorstep, with the perfected flick of the delivery man’s wrist.

And I slipped into my heels for the next day’s news cycle.

It all seemed so normal and ordinary, but when I look back on it now, I see how insane it really was: the macabre crime scenes, and the shouting matches at press conferences, and the angry mayor on line 2, and the short-tempered editor breathing hot orders across the newsroom.

I seriously cannot believe I didn’t spend more time crying in bathroom stalls.

What kind of crazy am I, to admit that sometimes? I miss it. I don’t miss the hard stories, the death, and the natural disasters, of course. But I do miss the being-in-the-thick-of-it, the knowing-the-news-first, the asking hard questions, the grand responsibility of presenting news to the public in a way that treated folks on both sides of the political aisle fairly. I especially miss sitting knee-to-knee with common folks who had uncommonly cool stories to tell. I miss gently weaving their stories in a way that would reveal some universal truth about us all … in a way that would make ordinary folks feel good about who they were or what they did.

I quietly exited the news scene years ago, when the city exhaled our family straight to the soybean fields.

I don’t cover the news anymore. But I still love to tell the story. (I’ve asked God if it can be my theme in glory.)

Over the course of my 41 years on earth, I have written millions of words, depositing them into thousands of news stories, magazine articles, blog posts, and most recently, a book that I’ll get around to telling you more about, one of these days. ~wink~

I have come to learn something really important that’s worth sharing: the best words a person could ever say will probably never make it to the front page, might never lead a newscast or make it between the covers of a book. They are the words you speak to God, to your children, and your grandchildren … and to your very own self.

The most important words are written, not on newsprint, but on human hearts.

And that’s the heartbeat of #TellHisStory — the peeling back of what’s happening inside of you.

We need your story. Not only the stories of those among you who are the self-described writers — though we need those too.

We need ALL your stories.

You, the preacher.

You, the kindergarten teacher.

You, the Instagrammer.

You, the grocery store clerk, and the traveling saleswoman, and the grandma.

You are the chroniclers. Your stories will help the rest of us make sense of the world. We are your people — we are your grocery-store customers, your grandkids, your neighbors, your Facebook friends, your blog readers, the people in your dentist chair, the weary women who get your well-timed greeting cards in their mailboxes.

We need you. We need your stories. So we know we’re going to make it. So we know we’re not alone.

So give us your poems, and your laments, and your narratives, and your hearts-spilled-out-red-on-the-pages. Give us your Instagrams and your one-liners and your laugh-til-we-cry mama-confessions.

Give us you. We are hungry for more heart in this world.

I had a women tell me the other day that she was afraid to share her stories in community with us at #TellHisStory, because she was worried her writing wasn’t “good enough.”

I told her what I’ll tell you: If I waited until I thought my words were as good as I wanted them to be, I wouldn’t have written a single news story, blog post, or book. I’ve always wanted more time to make things sound a little better.

But at some point, we release what we’ve got, and later, we look back to discover that our imperfect offering bears a loveliness all its own. Because it was truth — truth that rose up to the top of our hearts, before it rolled out of our fingertips.

And you look back, and re-read your words, and you see it there —

It’s the shimmer of something sacred, a story that connect your one precious life to the heart of God.

There are stories here, there, everywhere. What’s yours?



So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer or a grammarian to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here.

[badge url=’https://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/’ title=’#TellHisStory – a community of God/’s storytellers’ image=’https://jenniferdukeslee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/tellhisstory-badge.jpg’]

Are you on Instragram? Let’s connect there. I’m here. Where are you? Tag your Instagram with #TellHisStory, and feel free to link them in community below.


by | November 13, 2013 | 46 comments


  1. kendalprivette

    god made some of us for story, yes? i’m an addict.

    • dukeslee

      There could be worse addictions. 🙂

      Love your stories, Kendal.

  2. DeanneMoore

    Life swirls together into chapters that we remember. But I want to write about the days, the hours even…writing to me helps me love, myself and others, but reminds me of the Bigger Story always and how pages upon pages are unfolding in a eternity unending. Thank you Jennifer for always encouraging others to #TellHisStory

    • dukeslee

      It’s my pleasure. I never would have dreamed that I’d be telling stories out of my own life, Dea. I always felt much more comfortable asking the questions. Only for the last four or five years have I turned the notepad around, asking myself the questions. It’s exciting and frightening, all at once… So grateful for your participation in #TellHisStory.

  3. Jean Wise

    as a journalist I love this post! You are so right too.

    • dukeslee

      Jean, Remind me. Were you in newspapers?

      • Jean Wise

        Actually still am. I am a stringer for our local daily paper. I write a weekly health article then cover an occasional village council meeting or school board and write odd things like car care. My favorite is the personality profiles. They assign me 3-5 a year. Everyone does have a story and I love discovering that. Thanks for asking…

  4. Elizabeth

    I saw the word poem in there and I smiled. Your words are beautiful. SO SO life giving, life affirming, encouraging and filled with love. Lovely Jennifer. This I do hope is your book cover inside or back or a prologue or a somewhere in your book. And when that book comes out, I will be waiting over at my place to tell His Story through your story and to help in any way I can to promote your book, to share your work, to tell others about this book. Love to you friend. So much.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, poet-friend, for your encouragement on the book. I don’t have this particular type of message in the book, not overtly at least, though I do talk some about my news career. Thank you for offering to help when the book comes out. You are my people, right here! I need your prayers, and I would be grateful for help promoting the book. Love you.

  5. JViola79

    I read this earlier & can I say, I am grateful for these words! I am glad that my words need not be perfect (which they are far from), that I need not be worried to share (YES!!! I have battle huge insecurity) but that you have provided a place to just be me (the only me I have). And I am grateful that when I come here, I find others being the only you they are. For it is through the journey of others that I find the push to continue my own journey.


    • dukeslee

      Joanne, I’m so glad that you are able, with God’s help, to move past your insecurities and share your stories. I think we all battle insecurity, especially when we unzip our hearts for public viewing. But I also believe that when we do, we create safe places for others to share their hearts. It’s like what C.S. Lewis said: “Oh, you too? I thought I was the only one.”

  6. Eileen

    “The most important words are written, not on newsprint, but on human hearts.” Love that reminder.

    • dukeslee

      So glad, Eileen.

  7. Kris Camealy

    Your story is beautiful. I am grateful for how you encourage and inspire us to keep telling our own. I never tire of the encouragement. Love you, lady. XO

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for your words, Kris, and for your stories.

  8. Candace Creates

    Thank you for sharing your story Jennifer. I have wondered about your background in writing because I always enjoy reading your words. I so appreciate this space you have provided for us to share our stories with each other.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Candace,

      Yeah. I don’t talk about my past writing life very often. And I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe because it feels like some separate part of my life. But those experiences do inform and affect my life today, so I probably ought to reflect on them a bit more. I do have a couple of chapters in my upcoming book that reflect more deeply on those years.

      Thanks for being here, Candace.

      • Candace Creates

        I can’t wait to read the book!! How exciting for you. Congratulations!

  9. Michelle DeRusha

    I like what you told the woman who was scared, Jennifer, because I tell you what, we ALL feel that way sometimes, don’t we? I read a blog post about writing earlier this week that scared the bahooey out of me – I left there feeling like maybe I shouldn’t be blogging and writing, like maybe my writing wasn’t God-ordained or God-breathed or good enough or whatever. Nothing stops me in my tracks like fear, that’s for sure.

    • dukeslee

      Yes, yes, yes, we do ALL feel that way. I seriously cannot remember a time when I’ve said to myself, “I’m completely satisfied with this story, blog post, book, whatever.” But at some point, we have to move on.

      I think I know what blog post you’re talking about. Michelle, I can’t crawl up in your heart and say what’s happening in there. But from my view in the bleachers, I see God’s hand all over your writing. Please, please … press on, and keep leaning into Him. You’ve impacted so many of us with your God-inspired words.

  10. Shelly Miller

    The way you love people is inspiring Jennifer. Thank you for being you.

    • dukeslee

      What a sweet word of encouragement for me this morning, Shelly. Thanks for the lovin’.

    • Karrilee Aggett

      Yes – what Shelly said! 😉

  11. Being Woven

    Fine words for these ears…the encouragement to write and tell our stories without fear. And learning about you quite a bit more…You are quite the woman in so many ways. I am grateful to have come by, Jennifer. Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • dukeslee

      Yeah. I haven’t shared a lot about my pre-farm-wife life, have I? It seems like forever ago, but it has greatly affected who I am today. Grateful for your stories, Linda, and for your thoughtful words here.

  12. Nannette Elkins

    I love this so much! Especially when I started my blog…just 7 months ago…I seriously felt the hand of God nudging me. I was sent home from overseas with a disability, well partly because of the disability, I needed surgery, two surgeries, and we decided we could serve in the States for a while until I was better. I was devastated to discover my insurance would not cover the surgeries and I was relegated to “the couch”…in constant pain…hardly walking, with degenerative SI joint disease. I thought my ministry was over. But if I had heard an audible voice it could not have been more clear and He said, “Write…” But I am not a writer!! “Write…” I argued a few more days until I could argue no more the burden was so heavy.

    So I stepped out of my comfortable comfort zone and I have been flying with HIM ever since. He has sent me to the weary, given me friends around the world, hungry souls that I facetime in faraway places to give Bible studies to, and blessings beyond measure.

    I could go on…but for your sake I will stop!! 🙂 Thank you Jennifer, you have been such an encouragement to me, you will never know what #TellHisStory and you personally have meant to me. God bless you friend! ♥

    • dukeslee

      You go right on, girl. You tell it! I am so inspired. Look at what has resulted from your obedience to the nudge. Fantastic!

  13. Lyli Dunbar

    I love a good God story. Thanks for sharing yours so beautifully and for allowing us to share this space on Wednesdays to share ours. Hugs

    • dukeslee

      You are welcome, Lyli. We are glad you share your stories in community with us.

  14. Summer

    What a gift you are…pastoring the writers, the story-tellers, those of us struggling to make meaning with words. You breathe life into us, encourage us and then send us back out. Thank you ever so much, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      I’m struggling right along with you, Summer. I always wonder, “Is this ever going to get easier?” 🙂 …

  15. MsLorretty

    This is a sacred space Jennifer. Thank you for making room for THE Story in all of us. Bless your heart!

    • dukeslee

      I receive that blessing! Thank you, Lorretta… xo

  16. Michelle Anderson

    I love the phot of you and your family. The weather looks amazing. I love this story too!

    • dukeslee

      Thanks Michelle! The photo is from 2005, when a former colleague from the Des Moines Register was up here taking photographs for an essay I wrote about moving from the city, back to the farm. I should have given a credit line. The photograph was Doug Wells.

  17. Cheryl Smith

    What a wonderful blog site! So glad I found you today! Thank you for the wonderful link-up, and may God bless you and your sweet family! Love, Cheryl @www.cherylsmithministries.blogspot.com

  18. Lynn Morrissey

    Wonderful, Jennifer I’m so glad that you left the newsroom for the farmhouse. You took your story right along with you, and I love how you encourage others to tell their stories too. Something really hit me as I read this. We do not even have a story unless another person’s story is intertwined with ours. Our stories are permeated by the stories of others–story lines weaving and threading together to create this rich and varied tapestry. We live in community, unless we’re hermits or monks. So what we write we truly write in community and must, of necessity, include others’ stories.. I am always amazed when women don’t think that they have anything to write or that their writing isn’t good enough. Each woman (each man, each child) is given a unique voice by her Creator, and He has given her the gift of language with which to speak it. I have found that journaling is a wonderful way to discover your voice in the safety of the blank page nestled between secure covers. And I have also heard women’s writing voices when they have shared their writing in my journaling classes, often for the very first time. Writing our stories ultimately gives us courage to speak and share them, which brings us full-circle to living this thing called life in community. Bless you for being such a community-builder, dear Jennifer!

  19. soulstops

    Thanks for telling your story, His Story and encouraging us to tell the stories God places on our hearts…Appreciate you 🙂

  20. Rebekah

    Jennifer, I love the picture of you as a sweet little girl and the old vintage telephone with a pen in hand!

    You create such a gracious place for us to gather and tell of His salvation from day to day. Ascribing to the Lord the glory due His name.

    You have been a wonderful mentor and loving encourager to Tell His Story. Many thanks! Each week I am encouraged and inspired by your beautiful words here.

    • Lynn Morrissey

      I loved her photo, too! Adorable!

  21. Alicia Bruxvoort

    My mom says I followed her around with a crayon and a notebook before I could write, and demanded that she scribble down the stories I dictated. And now, I’ve got three girls who have all done the same for me. Thanks for offering your beautiful space here for storytelling. My mom is probably relieved I’m scripting words here instead of chasing her around still! 🙂

  22. Amy Jung

    Thank you for encouragement to write and for YOUR stories…they are so enjoyable, inspiring and touching!

  23. Dawn Paoletta

    That picture is ADORABLE! I am so glad you are a storyteller for God and that you encourage us/me to be who we are in Him with our words. Ya know…I dreamed of being a News Journalist/Reporter as a kid. I guess it was a God seed, but just grew differently then what I would have thought. Thanks for your words, they bless!

  24. Mindy Whipple

    “The most important words are written, not on newsprint, but on human hearts.” Thank you for this space where people can share their stories that never cease to touch my own heart.



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