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Cynthia, Carol, Rhonda, Joyful, and Vicky!
Cynthia, Carol, Rhonda, Joyful, and Vicky!
Have you enjoyed working on your rough drafts this week? I hope so! I also hope you found last week’s definition of memoir helpful.
When we set out to learn something new, real-life examples always help, right? With that in mind, this week I’ll share a sample vignette (story/chapter) with you.
Below are excerpts from a vignette about three years my family and I worked in South America.
Be sure to read my comments below the story.
Rural Colombia, South America
I trudged up the steep hill, dusty red. It was only 7:45 in the morning and already sweat ran down my forehead and back. I looked forward to reaching level ground at the top and turning left toward my office, but first, I would stop at the post office.
Every day I delighted in peeking into our cubbyhole and finding mail from loved ones in the U.S. That had always been the best part of my day. But today, like so many days recently, my stomach knotted at the thought of what I might find in our mail slot. Would today be the day? Would we get our financial statement from two months ago and learn the bad news?
I rounded the corner at the top of the hill and stepped into the cool shade of the post office. I reached into our cubbyhole. Yes, this was the day. My throat went dry as I unfolded our financial statement.
Two months earlier, my husband, Dave, had fallen mysteriously ill. There we were, at the end of the road in the middle of nowhere.… We had no doctor, but we had a nurse. Alarmed at Dave’s symptoms, she insisted he had to go to the capital city, Bogotá, for prompt medical treatment.…
In Bogotá, doctors puzzled over Dave’s symptoms. He had a series of medical exams.… The doctors eventually sent him back home to us, but not before he had run up a bill of $400. That was a huge amount back in the 1970s, and it was $400 more than we had.…
We were not paid employees.… Nobody was. Instead, we depended on donations from people back home which they sent to our California headquarters and earmarked for our family. Sometimes people sent money every month, but others sent donations only occasionally so we never knew our financial status.
That was further complicated because it took two months to receive our financial statements from California and find out how much money we had.…
And that’s why my stomach knotted on the way to work, wondering, “Is this the day we’ll get our financial statement and learn we have no money left for food and rent?”
Now that dreaded day had come. I stood in the post office, financial statement in hand. My eyes skimmed down the alphabetical list of donors. To my surprise, among the B’s was a name I’d never seen on our list before: Bill and Marion Best.… My eyes ran across the page to see the amount they’d sent. It was $400, the exact amount of Dave’s medical bills.
“Wait a minute,” I said to myself. “Those bills were incurred two months ago.” I checked the date the Bests’ money had arrived in California. It had arrived just days before Dave’s illness. How could they have known?
I fought tears. How could this have happened?
God tells us, “… Before they call, I will answer….” (Isaiah 65:24). Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Yes, even before Dave got sick, even before we knew we’d have a need, God worked in the Bests’ hearts to meet our need.
So why had my stomach knotted over our medical bills? Because I doubted God’s desire to help. Looking back over my life, I see a pattern: too many times I have doubted God’s willingness to help me. I’m ashamed of that attitude. It must hurt God for me to doubt Him. Come to think of it, my attitude must deeply offend Him. Imagine! Suspecting God of being untrustworthy!
Since that day in 1978, with God’s help I am trusting Him more and more. Nevertheless, I am a slow learner and still skeptical too often, so the cry of my heart must be, “I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). And when I do, He patiently keeps showing me that He is trustworthy. Oh, yes, He is trustworthy.
From Come and Listen, Let Me Tell You What God Has Done, Copyright © 2009 Linda K. Thomas
Let’s recall memoir’s definition.
A memoir involves pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, and reflecting. In our writing process, we examine what God was doing as we see it in retrospect.
Spiritual memoir involves looking for the deeper lessons God had for us in the event. Discovering them usually comes later, in looking back. Remember this list from last week?
Looking back, what did you learn about yourself?
What patterns in your faith did you discover that you hadn’t noticed before?
What did you learn about God?
How did the experience change your life? What new person did you become?
How did the experience strengthen your faith for future challenges?
After that day in 1978, years passed before I recognize a pattern. I wrote in my story:
“Looking back over my life, I see a pattern: too many times I have doubted God’s willingness to help me. I’m ashamed of that attitude. It must hurt God for me to doubt Him. Come to think of it, my attitude must deeply offend Him. Imagine! Suspecting God of being untrustworthy!”
And what new person did I become? How did the experience strengthen my faith for the future? I wrote:
“… With God’s help I am trusting Him more and more. Nevertheless, I am a slow learner and still skeptical too often, so the cry of my heart must be, “I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). And when I do, He patiently keeps showing me that He is trustworthy.”
Friends, this week’s lesson has been extra long but I hope it helps you grasp what memoir is. Even more important, I pray that as you write, you’ll grow in understanding God’s involvement in your life and the rich blessings and deeper lessons He has for you.
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What is a memoir?