Saturday, October 1, 2011

The BEAUTY and BONUSES of memoir

Wednesday I told you I have an exciting idea for you and your memoir—a spinoff from Sharon Lippencott’s two-column timeline.*

Let me explain:

Sharon’s two-column timeline is a document to include in your memoir (see Wednesday’s post*) for the benefit of your readers.

Beyond helping your readers, a timeline also offers bonuses for you, the writer:

First, in the process of making a timeline, additional stories will come to mind. Jot them on your list of stories-to-write-someday.

The second bonusI’m so excited to share this with you!—results from adding a third column to your table. In that column, list what God was doing, specifically, in and for and through you during those years. (Think of your three-column timeline as a working document for you, the writer, rather than a document to share with your readers.)

This sample shows what such a timeline might look like:

I titled the third column “‘I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11, NCV)” but other ideas include: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8) and “All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old” (Psalm 139:16). You can find any number of appropriate titles.

Filling in that third column will take time, and thought, and prayer—and it might even be a bit mysterious—but the effort will yield rich blessings!

This is where, in my opinion, memoir is deeper and higher and wider than other forms of storytelling: Pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, and retrospection won't let you remain on the surface of your life.

Memoir, within a spiritual context, invites you to look for the deeper purposes and lessons God has for you in your life's events.

Here’s the third bonus: In new and specific ways, you’ll discover God has been involved in your life, sometimes in momentous ways, sometimes in everyday ways, and not just now and then, but always.

Remember last Saturday’s post?* Sometimes we don’t realize God plays a role in everyday events, but He does.

He created each of us for Himself and for His unique purposes.

He plans for us, enjoys us, and delights to have a loving relationship with us.

God is always with us, always active in our lives.

Maybe what you thought were only coincidences and chance encounters were much more—they were God in action: orchestrating, arranging, and shaping your life’s direction.

And that brings us to the fourth bonus: Recognizing God’s loving involvement in your life transforms you and deepens your faith for the future. If you doubt that, give it a try—write your stories, include your discoveries of what God was up to back then, and see how those discoveries change your faith in Him!

Ah, the memoir genre is so rich for people of faith!

So, friends, I encourage you to fill in that third column.

Dig deep,
mull over,
reflect on,
and sort through what God was doing in the midst of your life’s events.

Don’t be content with your life’s historical facts alone! Be deliberate and unhurried in filling out that third column. The exercise offers you bonuses you won’t want to miss!

*Related posts:
Your personal timeline will help your memoir’s readers    

What is a memoir

Everyday wonders  


  1. This suggestions has so much potential! I'm excited to play with it. Thanks!

  2. Hi, Sheila, let me know how creating your timetable works out. I agree, the potential is amazing, maybe even life-changing from a spiritual standpoint.


  3. Just after you wrote this I saw on line an article about yet more changes to FB; changes that will show a member's life timeline. I am not on FB but perhaps you've already seen it there.

  4. I like the idea of thinking back to what God was doing at a certain point in my life. I need to do this more.

  5. Joyful, yes I've heard about that but haven't checked into it. I suspect it's a timeline that starts with the day a person joined Facebook, but I might be wrong. I suspect I've forgotten a whole bunch of stuff I posted on FB. I might be surprised!

    Olive tree, YES! Looking back and recognizing what God was doing has been life-changing for me. He was so much more involved than I imagined, especially during those times when I seemed so all alone. He was really there, doing things in the background to carry out His good plans for my life.

    Thanks for stopping by!