Do you sometimes struggle to describe yourself to a stranger? You know, those uncomfortably long pauses at formal dinner parties, followed by the required, ‘so what do you do?’ Now, if you’re a lawyer or a doctor, I’m sure you don’t even flinch at that question, but as a stay-at-home mom mixing with high-flying accountants, a little part of me used to cringe at it.

When I began to write, I would sometimes mumble, ‘I’m a writer’, but that would lead to the inevitable question, ‘what do you write?’ which led to further mumbled, long-winded plot descriptions (I hadn’t yet mastered The Elevator Pitch—still haven’t, in fact). Eventually, I just settled on saying, ‘stay-at-home-mom’, at which point my corporate companion’s smile would take on that slightly frozen veneer, their eyes surreptitiously darting around to find someone else to converse with.

I was setting up an email footer a while ago and the question arose again as I contemplated what should be below my name. What exactly am I? From somewhere deep inside me, two words arose that, for the first time, felt true: The first was ‘Pilgrim’, the second ‘Storyteller’.

As a Christ-follower, I am a pilgrim on a journey of faith. If there’s one thing I’ve come to realise about being a Christian, it’s that it isn’t merely a statement of belief. That initial declaration of faith is only the beginning. Then comes the challenging (and exciting) part of growing and walking in that faith. I have been on pilgrimage for more than thirty years, and sometimes I still feel like a complete novice. But every now and then I reach one of those places that gives me a beautiful view of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Such is the place I’m walking along now, and if you draw alongside me for a while—as pilgrims often do—I’ll share this part of my journey with you.

The second description—storyteller—started from as long ago as I can recall. Stories have captivated me from the time I pressed into my father’s side as he read from the Dutch storybook. I took over the role of reading to my dolls, and finally my children. Somewhere along the way, a desire to write my own stories took hold and has never let go. And weaving stories from my faith journey has been the greatest joy of all.

A storytelling pilgrim. I like that. I’m not sure if it will carry much sway at the formal functions, but who cares? It gives me an understanding of myself and what is important to me.

Many of you have come across the storytelling side of me through my books and the short stories I post on this blog, but over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a bit more of my pilgrimage with you. That’s because I’m doing something I haven’t done before.

This year, I joined the Renovare Book Club, and the first book we’re reading is The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas. I’m only on chapter 3, but already I realise…this book is very challenging and very deep (I actually want to write deeeeeeep). I feel the invitation to blog about my journey with this particular book, and I do hope that you come along on my pilgrimage and allow me to share some of what I discover.

In medieval times, those on pilgrimage would often greet a fellow pilgrim with the Latin word, “Ultreia”. The one he greeted would reply, “Et Suseia”.

Ultreia—let’s go further. Et Suseia—let’s go higher.

Further and higher—that’s where I want to go. I hope you’ll take the journey with me.

This is part 1 of my Pilgrimage Blog Series. Read A Call to go Deeper (Part 2)