Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Saturday Snippet: Endless ideas

Welcome, Kathryn and Rhonda, to S M 101!

Did you enjoy adding sensory details—sights, sounds, tastes, feels, and smells—to your rough drafts? See last Saturday’s Snippet if you missed it:

Jamie Jo left a comment saying she’s enthused about adding sensory details to her stories. I find such revisions loads of fun and hope you do, too.

Having trouble describing a smell? First, is it a stink, a stench, or a reek? Is it an aroma, a fragrance, or a scent?

Next, do a Google search to see how others describe a similar place or situation or person, but beware: this is fun and it could get addictive. Your options are almost endless.

It never occurred to me that outer space has a smell, but it does. Check out this link:

Last Saturday, I met with LC and SW, former members of our local class, and I've just gotta brag on those two.

LC shared a touching conversation she had with her son who recently returned after a challenging deployment. He said, “Mom, don’t buy me a birthday present this year. All I want is your stories. Write me your stories.” That chokes me up. You, too?

LC is delighted with his suggestion and has given herself a goal: she’s aiming for a finished memoir by Christmas. Good for you, LC!

SW has written a number of vignettes (dozens of pages) and a long list of vignette ideas to write in the near future—she brought her list to show us! Way to go, SW!

How’s your list coming? Ideas can pop into your head at the most unexpected moments so keep a pencil and scrap of paper handy at all times!

Now for our Saturday Snippet:

The following might give you story/vignette ideas to add to your list:

I had such fun on the day that _______________________________________________.

My life suddenly changed when ____________________________________________.

The most courageous action I’ve seen someone take is: _______________and this is how it changed my life: _____________________________________________________.

Related posts:

Definition of memoir:

Last week’s Saturday Snippet:

P.S. Blogger apparently hasn’t solved its various problems
(leaving comments, and photos of Followers)
but you can leave comments on Facebook at this link:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are your stories important?

Welcome, Shanda and Joyce, to S M 101!

Do you question whether you should write a memoir for your kids and grandkids?

Do you wonder if your life’s stories are important?

Wonder no more: They are! Believe it!

For starters, Deuteronomy 4:9 is a command, not merely a suggestion.

(When I type those words, I smile because I hear echoes of my mother’s voice when, as a kid, I balked at a chore she gave me: “This is not a suggestion.”)

I like the way the New Living Translation words it:

Be very careful never to forget
what you have seen the Lord do for you.
Do not let these things escape from your mind
as long as you live!
And be sure to pass them on
to your children and grandchildren.

Our responsibility to our offspring comes up again in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly
to these commands that I am giving you today.
Repeat them again and again to your children.
Talk about them when you are at home
and when you are on the road,
when you are going to bed
and when you are getting up.
Tie them to your hands
and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
Write them on the doorposts of your house
and on your gates.” (NLT)

Because of these and other Bible verses, writing your memoir is far more than a hobby. Writing your memoir is an important ministry to your family.

Remember why you are writing. Your memoirs help shape the spiritual lives of the children, grandchildren, and “spiritual children” God has given you, and anyone else you choose. Not everyone has children, but all of us have “spiritual children” who look up to us—more than we realize.

Take a few minutes to think back:

Bring to mind two or three of your life’s difficulties or challenges,

and recall the ways God answered your prayers,

and the people who encourage you through their own words and stories—in person or in writing,

and remember what God taught you about Himself,

and how, through the experience, He strengthened your faith.

Do your kids and grandkids know those stories?

Perhaps you’re like me: I pour out my heart to God in both good times and bad, but too often I keep those God-things private. I suspect my kids and grandkids know only a fraction of what I’ve seen the Lord do for me and for our family.

Because of that, I’ve found this Bible passage an inspiration, a challenge, a motivator:

Remember … that your children were not the ones
who saw and experienced … the Lord,
… his majesty, his mighty hand….
It was not your children
who saw what he did for you
in the desert until you arrived at this place….
Deuteronomy 11:2-7 (NIV)

Today, I encourage you to take those verses personally: It was not your children who saw what God did for you—perhaps in a “desert” or maybe in a less traumatic event—but your kids and grandkids need to hear your stories.

Always remember: You are important to God. Need reassurance? See my post at

And your stories are important. Believe it!

You have stories that only you can share.
Connect your stories with God’s story—
not as a hobby, but as a ministry to your family.

Your memoir could be the finest gift you ever give.

Related post: What is memoir?

Related post: You are important to God

P.S. For the past day or so, Blogger has experienced problems with both photos and comments. Sorry, friends, but I cannot reply to your comments! Blogger promises they are working on the problem.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Snippet: Invite readers into your story


Welcome to new followers here and on Facebook:
Bella, Wayne, and Jennifer!

Several of you have blogs and I’m really enjoying getting acquainted. Because you have rich inspiration to share, do us a favor: Leave a comment below with a link to your blog. We have a great "scribe tribe" going on here!

Now for our Saturday Snippet:

Barrington continues: “… these acts of memory will serve you well. They… push your story deeper, pull your reader closer, and lift the heart of the story out of obscurity into a sensory world that you and your readers can inhabit together.” (Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir)

Revise your rough drafts by adding sensory details: sights, sounds, tastes, feels, and smells. Doing so invites readers into your story with you.

Take joy in writing your stories!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Your memoir: one little step at a time

Welcome to newcomers here and on Facebook:
Karin, Betsy, Wayne, and Bella.

I hope you’re currently writing rough drafts of short God-stories your kids and grandkids need to know.

Later we’ll tackle writing techniques, revising, editing, and polishing, but for now, give yourself freedom to accumulate story ideas and write and write and write your rough draftsand enjoy yourself! 

Please be underwhelmed at the task of writing a book. In fact, avoid thinking “book.” Instead, concentrate on individual short stories.

For the next several months, take easy little steps: I suggest you review the definition of memoir (see below) and write a few accounts, three to six pages each. That’s do-able, right?! These rough drafts will eventually be chapters in your finished memoir.

Start with easy topics. Remember: You’ll learn the craft of memoir more easily if you begin with straightforward events.

I’ve seen too many beginners tackle a traumatic story, only to have their still-raw emotions sidetrack them. Inevitably, discouragement leads them to abandon that story and give up on writing their other stories, too. Don’t let that happen to you!

Instead, start with less painful events—how God helped you find a job, for example, or brought your best friend into your life, or helped you make an important decision.

Have fun and get creative. Here’s a story idea: Using a hymn or song, write one or more vignettes by connecting key phrases and stanzas to your personal story. For example, you could frame several vignettes around the dear old hymn, How Great Thou Art (lyrics by Carl Boberg).

Let’s look at the first few lines: “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all The works Thy Hand hath made, I see the stars….” Write a vignette about a time you sensed God’s presence while gazing into the night sky. Maybe you were camping in the Rockies, or fighting on a dusty battlefield in Afghanistan, or flying in a jet toward a strange city for a job interview.

Here’s an excerpt from Lori Loomis’s memories of camping in Africa:

There's NOTHING like lying in the warm sleeping bag
in a safe tent under a canopy of a zillion stars--
and listening to the animal sounds.
At first, the different animal noises made me jittery
because I was unsure of just what they were.
But like old friends, you learn to recognize their voices.  

That could lead to a God-and-Lori-and-the-stars vignette. Perhaps you, too, can write a God-and-you-and-the-stars story.

Take the next lines:  “I hear the mighty thunder, Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed....” What God-and-you-and-thunder experiences come to your mind?

One of these days I’m going to write a vignette about this beloved old hymn, and I’ll explain why I can’t sing it without choking up.

I’ll write what I picture will happen after I die and come face to face with my Creator. I envision that scene every time I sing: “Then I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim, ‘My God, how great Thou art!’” What about you?

Yesterday my friend Esther blogged about this hymn and the special role it played in her life.  She even included old family photos. It's a fun read. Click on this link for Esther's How Great Thou Art. (Since links don't work on my new blog, you'll have to copy and paste this URL:

In Know any good songs? Linda Austin suggests:

Think way back to when you were little—
what children’s songs do you remember?
I have a 45 rpm record, made in a little booth
similar to those photo booths in the malls,
that carries me and my sister’s scratchy voices singing
"I’m a Little Acorn Brown"
and a Japanese children’s song, "Ame Ame," about rain.
Our mother taught us just a few Japanese songs
which my sister and I now treasure....
If you’re writing stories of your childhood,
think about including a few songs, ditties,
 jump rope sing-songs—a little bit of music history.

What song comes to mind when you think about falling in love? Falling out of love?

What songs helped shape your roles as spouse, parent, and friend?

What songs helped solidify your faith? Dared you to take a wild-eyed, screaming, sobbing leap of faith?

Have these suggestions given you ideas for stories you need to tell? I hope so! Jot down a line or two now, as a reminder, and some day soon—next week, next month—craft another chapter for your memoir.

Several of you tell me you’re finding surprises of joy in writing your stories, and I pray that will be true for all of you!

You can receive the latest posts from Spiritual Memoirs 101 in your e-mail inbox. It’s easy! Type your e-mail address in the little gizmo in the right column toward the top.

Follow on Facebook (click in the right column). I post extra tidbits on Facebook. You don’t want to miss them!

Related post: What is a memoir?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Snippet: Risky Business

Welcome, Ellen and Patricia, to S M 101!

Wednesday we'll continue with
the art and craft of writing your memoir,
but for today,
here's your Saturday Snippet of inspiration!

In what specific areas do you need to risk growing
so you can write your memoir?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You are important to God

Welcome, Jamie Jo and Kimberly, to S M 101!

You are important to God. Yes, you!

Some people doubt they are important to God. Are you one of them?

I used to be.

For decades I assumed I was as significant as one grain of sand on all the ocean’s beaches. I imagined that if someone up in heaven were to nudge God and point down at earth and say, “There’s that little Linda Kay,” God might say something like, “Oh, yes, that little freckled kid, the lefty, the one with the big ears.” I suspected, however, that He’d be so busy taking care of all the other little specks of sand that I’d get lost in the crowd.

I’ll never forget when, decades later, I read Psalm 139:13-17. The message changed my life. From that moment on I never, ever felt like a mere grain of sand.

Read it for yourself, because it’s not just about me—it’s all about you, too:

You [God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—
how well I know it.
You watched me
as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together
in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!

The first time I took those words in, my heart cried out, “Such thoughts are too wonderful to me!” (Psalm 139:6)

Look at this ultrasound of the newest member (#40!) of our family, Anna, my grand-niece. God is, as I type, knitting her together in her mother’s womb, in utter seclusion.

In His marvelous workmanship, He is determining Anna’s eye color, skin tone, height, and talents.

God’s holy hands are crafting every last detail: Anna’s hair texture, nose shape, toe length, fingernail shape, and tooth enamel.

With loving attention, He’s creating Anna’s personality, her heart, and her soul.

In divine complexity, He’s planning every moment, every day, of her life. He’s filling out her calendar pages.

Friends, God created you with the same intimate knowledge and love. With holy hands, He determined your appearance, your attributes, your soul. You are the precious work of His hands. With delight, God created you with a unique purpose for your generation.

“He says you are a work of art, a masterpiece. When He made you, He placed you in the perfect setting, gave you the desired appearance, abilities, temperament, gifts, strengths, and yes, weaknesses.

“When you were born He said ‘Look at you! You are just what I had in mind—just right for your place in My story. I have a great storyline already planned.…’” (from Living the Story by Judy Douglas at

The more you grasp, and accept, how important you are to God, the better you can write stories of what He has done in your life and—of great importance—the better you can share with your children, grandchildren, and all your readers, that they are important to God. They are no mere accidents. God intricately created them and planned for them from the very beginning.

Remember, your stories can help shape your readers’ faith and define their identity in your family and God’s family.

In what specific ways will you use your stories to impress upon your children and grandchildren that they are important to God? Let them know life is sacred.

Write stories that tell your readers they’re God's masterpieces. Tell them God treasures them. Make sure they know they’re God’s workmanship, created deliberately by Him (Ephesians 2:10).

Related post: What is memoir?

Several of you are finding surprises of joy in writing your stories, and I pray that will be true for all of you!

See the little square box below with the “f” in it? Click on that and this post will show up on your Facebook wall! Try clicking on those other little boxes, too, and see what happens! There’s one for e-mail, one for Twitter, etc.

Spread the word. Invite your friends to join us. Everyone has stories to tell!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Snippet

I told you’d I’d post on this blog only on Wednesdays, but I have so many things to share with you! I can’t help myself—I’m here on a Saturday!

And starting today, each Saturday I’ll post a snippet, a morsel to inspire you onward toward your finished memoir.

If you have a snippet you’d like to share with the rest of our writer friends, leave a comment below or e-mail me at and be sure to put SPIRITUAL MEMOIRS in the subject line so I’ll know it’s not spam.

Here’s this week’s Saturday Snippet:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Your Easter vignette


Welcome to  new followers here and on Facebook:
Taylor, Bettyann, and Rebecca!

Esther has posted five parts of one vignette on her blog and is working on more, and Sandy has written over 60 pages! Way to go, Esther and Sandy!

I suggest you all follow Esther and Sandy’s example: Write, write, write!

Write a collection of vignettes (think of them as chapters). Most people write stand-alone vignettes—that is, self-contained stories your readers can understand without reading your other vignettes.

The rough drafts you’re currently crafting, and those you write in the future, will become individual chapters/vignettes in your finished collection—your memoir.


Think about Easters from your past.

What scenes live in your mind? Good Friday church services? Easter Sunday church services? Easter egg hunts? Easter baskets? New clothes? New hat and gloves?

What people come to mind? What churches? What houses?

What smells and flavors? (the fragrance of Easter lilies filling the church sanctuary, Grandma’s ham dinner, the taste of Easter eggs.)

What colors? (Easter egg stain on your finger tips, teeth, and tongue.)

What sounds come to mind from your past? (Grandpa’s laughter when you first arrived at his house.)

What was your most unusual Easter?

What was your saddest Easter?

What was your happiest Easter?

In what places around the world have you celebrated Easter?

Did you ever have to skip celebrating Easter for some reason? Why?

How has your understanding of Easter changed over the years?

Reflect on what God was doing in Easters past: How was He changing you?

What was He teaching you, and how long did it take you to figure it out?

What do you remember about learning the real meaning of Easter?

How has your life changed as a result?

If you could go back and do it over again, what would you have done differently?

What advice would you give your readers about Easter?

Write another chapter of your memoir!

Include Bible passages and explain why they’re relevant. (See the Bible Gateway search box, below in the right column!)

Add sketches of your floor plan, neighborhood, town, photos of people and places, churches, mementos, or part of a road map if you traveled out of town. Try to include addresses and dates of these events.

Make Easter come alive for your readers!

You can receive the latest posts from Spiritual Memoirs 101 in your e-mail inbox. It’s easy! Type your e-mail address in the little gizmo in the right column toward the top.

Follow on Facebook (click in the right column). I post extra tidbits on Facebook. You don’t want to miss them!

Related post: What is memoir?