Thursday, October 25, 2012

What stories would they tell?

“Stories are all around us,” writes Glenda Bonin. “They reside in people, places and things, and are waiting to be discovered.”

So true! So true!

Not just stories.

God-and-you stories.

Take a fresh look at possessions you could never give away or throw out.

What do you store in a special drawer or even in a safe deposit box?

What items would you stash in a safe place if tornado sirens sounded? What would you grab if your smoke alarm went off?

Look around and identify something you’ve owned for years and used a lot.

If those items could talk, what stories would they tell?

I think about that question a lot.

This week I gave away a set of dishes to a family that lost everything in a fire. I tucked a note inside the box that read:

“I bought these dishes in Africa and we used them during our seventh and eighth years there, and here in the U.S. all these years since. While you use them, ask yourself, ‘If these dishes could talk, what stories would they tell?’”

Someday—soon, I hope—I want, I need, to write stories based on my old blue American Tourister carry-on bag (a gift from Schiefelbeins—thanks, Rick and Marilyn!). It has has traveled with me for 19 years—from this planet’s most primitive places to this world’s most sophisticated cities—and what stories it could tell! Not just stories, but God-and-me stories.

What stories would my husband’s grandmother’s aluminum colander tell? My mother-in-law passed it on to me 45 years ago. Ah, yes, it could tell stories—five generations of stories!

Look around your house and ask yourself, “If this dining room table could talk, what stories would it tell?”

“If my old Bible could talk, what stories would it tell?”

“If these boots could talk, what stories would they tell?”

What about a photo? A photo album? A book?

A piece of furniture? A washing machine?

A piece of art? Jewelry?

An old coffee mug?

“Think about what they represent personally,” Glenda continues, “… aware that every item represents a story.…”

“Don’t be timid about interviewing yourself and others. A good interviewer asks questions and waits for answers.… Listen deeply, allowing as much time as needed for quiet moments of thought. Do not rush in with a new question until you are satisfied that the question has been fully explored. It is not unusual for one question to lead to another.… These moments are often where the best family stories can be found.…” (Glenda Bonin at

I like Glenda’s suggestion: Interview yourself, and “Listen deeply, allowing as much time as needed.…”

Then write your stories, but not just stories. Write God-and-you stories.

Remember, while you have been enjoying those common items—the dining room table, the colander, the old boots, the carry-on bag—God has always been with you, working in you, working on your behalf.

Stories are all around you. You don’t need news-making miracles to witness God at work. He is in your everyday comings and goings.

Like Oswald Chambers says:

“We look for visions from heaven 
and for earth-shaking events 
to see God’s power. 
Yet we never realize that 
all the time God is at work 
in our everyday events.…”

Write your stories!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Don’t Forget Your Memories! plus: Blog a book

Are you a blogger?
Nina Amir can tell you how to
in her new book,
How to Blog a Book:
Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work
One Post at a Time.

Click here for a book review by Jodi Webb,
Nina’s blog tour dates, and a book giveaway.

“The Sacred Act of Remembering”

“It’s amazing how quickly we can forget our own stories,” writes Jena Nardella.

“We are inundated with the immediate pressures of today….  But how much time do we spend considering where we have come from?” she asks.

“Dan, Charlie, Matt, Steve, and I sat together … and reflected on the stories of where we have come from. It has been painful, exhilarating, disappointing, beautiful—all of it.

“We sat there, circled together … and affirmed that we are blessed to be a part of such a story.

“And then we took the great leap to dream about where we are going next.… But we could not have done that until we had remembered where we had come from. Our stories can teach us, time and time again.” (by Jena Nardella at Storyline; emphasis mine)

“Many churches have forgotten the premium
that the historic Judeo-Christian tradition
placed on remembrance
and recalling the right things.
The ‘great sin’ of the Old Testament
was forgetfulness
(at least it is the most recurrent offense).
Remember’ is the most frequent command
in the Old Testament.”

(Clapham Memo, January 19, 2007, “Back and Forth,”
by Mike Metzger; emphasis mine)

What stories have you forgotten?

Your stories are part of a much bigger story than you might think.

What stories do you need to remember?

“May you be as blessed as we were
in the important and
sacred act of remembering.” 
(Jena Nardella in Storyline; emphasis mine)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Women of Faith’s 2012 Writing Contest!

If you enter the 2012 Women of Faith’s writing contest, your story could be published by WestBow Press!

Submit your previously unpublished, completed, full-length book, fiction or nonfiction, including memoir, of 10,000 words or more (or a manuscript that will fill a 48-page, 5 by 8 inch book).

The submission period begins in a few days—October 15!—and the deadline for submitting a manuscript is 11:15 p.m. ET, January 31, 2013.

Women of Faith and WestBow Press charge no entry fees or subsidy payments; no purchases are required.

Your manuscript could receive the Grand Prize: a free Bookstore Advantage publishing package courtesy of WestBow Press, including the option of having your book picked up by Thomas Nelson.

Click here to read about additional prizes for First Prize and Second Prize. Thirty Round Two finalists will also receive gifts.  

Click here for a brief video interview with last year’s winner, Amy Sorrells. After winning, she signed a contract with publisher David C. Cook. Just imagine!  

Click here to learn important details and get started. 

Give this serious prayer and thought.
This year’s winner could be your manuscript.

Many thanks to my sweet friend, Jen Puckett, for this exciting information!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Samantha’s memoir: “among the toughest, most draining, most rewarding things I have ever done”

Today we welcome Samantha White, psychotherapist, Positive Aging Coach, and memoirist. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she shared a story with us last December. Today she tells us about writing and publishing her memoir, Someone to Talk To. Be sure to check out her blog, too, Peace, Purpose, and Joy.

Welcome, Samantha!

I’m honored to be a guest here. Linda invited me to write about my memoir, Someone to Talk To: Finding Peace, Purpose and Joy After Tragedy and Loss; A Recipe for Healing from Trauma and Grief, and about the inspiration I received from the Book of Job. Obviously, I don’t keep my sentences or my book titles short, but I’ll do my best to say a lot in a small space.

One of the ingredients in my book’s Recipe for Healing is a spiritual belief system, a sense of some kind of meaning in life. When tragedy and loss—my  husband’s mental illness, the end of our marriage, betrayal by the next man I loved, the violent death of my daughter—piled up and left me flattened, unable to function and wanting to die, I had no spirituality to support me. How to move from a complete lack of faith to finding something I could believe in?

Ironically, Spirit—or God, the Great Invisible, the Force—found me instead, and planted Itself right in front of me. I heard someone say, “God works through people,” and a light went on somewhere in my head. I realized that even if I didn’t believe in a Heavenly Creator, I could believe in the loving acts of people. A gift from a friend, a subscription to a gentle, non-dogmatic magazine of daily spiritual devotions, offered me an entrance to a spiritual belief I could accept. I became more aware of the acts of love bestowed upon me every day by caring people.

Then there was the Book of Job. All I knew about it was that it was a long, tedious read about suffering. But when I was looking for something to listen to in the car, I came across a recording of the play J.B., a modern retelling of the story read by the author, Archibald MacLeish. I started listening to it in snatches. It gripped me, pulled me in, held me to its great surprise finish. I had never known that Job’s suffering ended, that his life became filled with joy and riches, his pleasure in life restored, all because he persisted in his faith!

So I opted to believe that there was a Divine force that would manifest through the people in my life and carry me to a state of healing. The climb was hard and long, and throughout it all the story of my journey was forming. The words and sentences gathered in me for many years, until I felt driven to express and share them with others who might find hope and courage in my eventual healing and joy, as I had found in Job’s.

I wrote feverishly, driven from within, compelled not to waste all the pain from which there was so much to learn. I was overtaken by an urgency to get it published, dogged by the fear that I might die before completing the project, and repeatedly told my husband how to treat the manuscript if I didn’t live to finish it. To avoid losing time writing book proposals and seeking an agent or a publisher, I opted to self-publish.

When it was finally completed, a great weight lifted from me. I had learned and grown from tragedy and loss, captured my experience in words, and offered them up to share with others. To my utter surprise, the book received a 2012 Nautilus Book Award in the category of Grieving/Death & Dying.

To me it is not as much about Grief and Death as it is about Healing—mine, and that of its readers. People tell me that they find it hard to put down, satisfying to read, and inspirational. I like to think it has wings taking it wherever it needs to go, recommended and given as gifts by those who find something in the story that speaks to them, that feels worth passing along.

Writing it was among the toughest, most draining, most rewarding things I have ever done. The only thing greater in all those aspects was the actual experience it relates. Taken in totality, it justifies and honors the pain that motivated all of it.

Do you have questions for Samantha? If so, leave them in the comments section below, or send an e-mail to grandmaletters [at] aol [dot] com (replace [at] with @ and replace [dot] with a period) and please write “Question for Samantha” in the subject line (so I’ll know it’s not spam). Thanks.