Thursday, December 18, 2014

Your worst Christmas


Maybe you recall a Christmas that was simply awful—a time you were heartbroken, or homeless, or broke, or far from home, or jilted, or frightened, or sick—a time of anguish and sorrow, and life looked bleak.

You remember it as the worst Christmas ever.

But I’d like to ask you to think again.

Writing a memoir can be such a blessed project: Memoir requires taking long, deep looks at the past. Memoir involves pondering, examining, re-thinking, digging deep and finding gems we might not have known were there.
illustration in public domain

Sometimes what seems to be our biggest disaster or heartache turns out to be a blessingone we couldn’t have received without the difficulty.

Sometimes we think a calamity will destroy us but God is in the midst of our situations and, in the way only He can do it, He turns everything inside out and upside down andinstead of destroying usit makes us stronger and better.

Failures. Tangled messes. Catastrophes. Tragedies. Conflicts. Blows. Adversity. Upheavals. Disasters. Setbacks. Unwelcome surprises.

God can use our deep disappointments to get our attention,
shake us up a little,
clear our heads,
help us see we were putting our hope in something we shouldn’t,
open new doors for us,
give us new perspectives,
tenderize our souls,
and give us fresh starts.
God can do all that.

That’s what Romans 8:28 is all about: 
“…God causes everything to work together 
for the good of those who love God 
and are called according to his purpose for them.” 
(NLT)

A long time ago, H.C. Trumbull told this story:

“The floods washed away home and mill, all the poor man had in the world. But as he stood on the scene of his loss, after the water had subsided, brokenhearted and discouraged, he saw something shining in the bank which the waters had washed bare. ‘It looks like gold,’ he said. It was gold. The flood which had beggared him made him rich. So it is ofttimes in life.” (Quoted by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Streams in the Desert, January 20 selection.)

When turn-arounds and relief and solutions eventually come our way, it’s so easy to snatch them, run with them, and never look back. We too easily fail to recognize God’s loving intervention on our behalf, and we fail to recognize the good He has brought to us out of the midst of our hardships.

Take timemake time—to dig through the dirt and ashes of what you thought was your most disastrous Christmas, and mine those bits of gold.  

Search for evidence of God’s healing, new directions He provided for your life, new friends, and new hope.

Pinpoint the ways He strengthened your faith for the future.

Recognize these were all part of God’s unique plan for you and your life.

Gather all those discoveries and write memoir vignettes detailing the ways God was in the midst of your worst Christmas ever.

Write stories about the way He took a disaster or heartache and turned it inside out and upside down and turned it into something good—blessings you couldn’t have received without that difficulty. Instead of destroying you, it made you stronger and better.

If you’ll make time to do that, 
you can receive heaps of blessings.
Give it a try!


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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit: Christmas details


Here’s your 15 seconds of inspiration, 
your Tuesday Tidbit for this week:


Here’s a way to add richness to your memoir.

During these days leading up to Christmas, note sensory detailsnot just the typical details that everyone thinks of, but unique sensory details relating to your Christmas:

What smells do you associate with Christmas?
What sounds remind you of Christmas?
What feels or textures signify Christmas to you?
What sights do you connect to Christmas?
What tastes go along with Christmas? 

When you write vignettes about Christmas, include a few of these sensory details to add depth and texture for your readers.

If you have Christmas vignettes in rough draft form, look for places to add these sensory details.

Your readers will appreciate the effort you make
to include such details.

Let your readers experience what you 
smelled, heard, felt, saw, and tasted.
That way they can enter into your story with you.

I’m guessing they might even smile and say something like,
“Oh, I remember that…..
But I’d forgotten all about it until I read this story.”







Thursday, December 11, 2014

You are a God-designed link between generations past and future


We will tell our children,
and the generations that come after us,
God-shaped family stories our parents and grandparents
passed down to us.
Let’s not hide them
from our children and grandchildren.
Instead, let’s tell stories of what we have seen God do—
His power and might,
and the glorious and praiseworthy things He has done—
so that we and they will praise Him.
God commanded our ancestors
to teach such things to their children
so they in turn would teach their children
down through the generations.
This is His plan
to help all of us grasp and remember
His deeds and miracles
and live faithfully according to His ways.
Psalm 78:2-7, paraphrased


God established this ingenious plan—to teach our children and grandchildren what we’ve seen Him do—because He knows we’ll benefit if we know, love, and follow His ways.

Instead of preaching do’s and don’ts, tell stories that will help kids and grandkids discover for themselves what’s important.

People resist a holier-than-thou attitude, but they respond well to a story. Stories are powerful.

Your stories can entertain, 
they can cause readers to laugh, 
or cry, 
or maybe both, 
and they’ll remember your stories longer than 
lectures or preaching.

A story is up to twenty-two times more memorable than facts alone,” according to Professor Jennifer Aaker of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.   

Through your stories, 
others can benefit from your experiences: 
Readers can take in the wisdom you learned, 
avoid mistakes you have made, 
and make their own good choices. 
They can navigate through their own difficulties 
and mysteries, 
make sense of their own lives, 
and have a sense of direction for the future. 
Your stories can soften and strengthen hearts, 
pass on hope, 
and offer grace.

Write your stories. They are important!





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A remedy if you find yourself among the nine


If you find yourself among “the nine,” you can become “the one” by writing your memoir. Confused? Read on.…

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus crossed paths with ten lepers—despised, cut off from society and their loved ones, lonely, suffering, and desperate for healing.

They cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us!”

And he did. He healed them.

Then they all took off—we can only imagine their joy!—but one man turned around, fell on his knees, and praised God in profound gratitude for being healed of his leprosy.

No doubt Jesus’ heart was moved by the man’s gratitude, but he couldn’t help but wonder, aloud: “Ten men were healed. Where are the nine others? Where is their thanks?

Jesus seems hurt, disappointed, maybe even stunned, by their ingratitude.

Ouch!

How many times have you and I failed to thank God for what He has done for us? So often, when we get through something difficult or scary, we just wheeze, “Whew!” and get on with life. Where’s our gratitude?

Could it be that God is crushed when we fail to thank Him? Hurt? Disappointed in our ingratitude? Maybe even stunned?

Don’t be “one of the nine!” Be the one who made an effort to thank and praise God!

How?

This is where writing your memoir comes in! Write your memoir as a book full of falling on your knees in praise and profound gratitude toward God.

Your memoir can include all kinds of interesting, entertaining, even humorous stories about everyday stuff


childhood escapades,
dating,
friendships,
family times,
schooling,
adventure,
travel,
falling in love,
homemaking,
raising kids,
careers,
finances,
hobbies,
ministries,
health (or poor health),
setbacks,
surprises,
death of loved ones,
and all of those stories can include gratitude and thanksgiving to God.

So gather up your memories and write your stories!


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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit: Telling the next generation

Here's your 15 seconds of inspiration for this week,
your Tuesday Tidbit:



This is what SM 101 is all about!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving memories: Who spurred you on?


Thanksgiving is a time to remember those who have encouraged you, believed in you, and spurred you on.

It’s a time to recognize people who trained you, challenged you, and influenced the direction of your life.

Who taught you about integrity and hard work and self-discipline?

At this Thanksgiving time, think back: Who inspired you spiritually and modeled what a genuine faith looks like?

Who helped you find your way through the dark—took you by the hand, kept you moving forward, step by step, toward the light?

Who inspired you to become the very best you, to become all God intended for you to be?


This is important:
Look back over the years
and recognize that
God Himself placed those people in your life.
When they touched you,
they were reaching out in God’s name,
extending His hand,
smiling His smile,
speaking His words of hope and peace.

That's one of the ways that He,
in His unfailing love,
leads His own.

Who comes to mind when you read these words?

You have stories about key people in your life,
and only you can write them.
Someone needs to read those stories.
Through your stories,
God can use you to touch others,
to reach out in His name,
extend His hand,
smile His smile,
speak His words of hope and peace.

That's one of the ways that He,
in His unfailing love,
leads His own.

Connect your story with God’s story—
not as a hobby but as a ministry.


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