Friday, June 28, 2013

TAKE NOTE if you “Follow” this blog and use Google Reader

Many of you “Follow” this blog, Spiritual Memoirs 101, with Google Reader. But GOOGLE  READER  WILL  BE  A  THING  OF  THE  PAST  on  MONDAY, July 1.

To continue with SM 101 and the other blogs you follow, you’ll need to make changes right away! After Sunday it will be too late!

Your best, easiest, and most dependable option is to subscribe by e-mail. Here’s how:

(1) See that box in the right column near the top? Simply fill in your e-mail address and hit the “enter” key.

(2) You will then see a screen entitled “Email Subscription Request.” Follow directions and then click on “Complete Subscription Request.”

(3) After that, check your e-mail inbox for a verification message from “Feedburner Email Subscriptions.” Click on the link in that e-mail to confirm your subscription.

After you do that, each time I publish a post, you’ll receive it in your e-mail inbox. Simple as can be! (If you don’t get an e-mail confirmation in a day or so, check your spam folder and be sure to mark it as “not spam.”)

You can also follow on Facebook. Simply click on the word “Facebook” here in the right column. Be sure to click on “Like” if you haven’t already. I add helpful and interesting materials several times a week over at Facebook.

If you prefer to switch to Feedly, which many people are doing, the following links might help you. A couple of them are blog posts by other bloggers for their followers, but their info is valid for those of you who follow Spiritual Memoirs 101. (But remember, the easiest and most dependable is subscribing by e-mail.)

Google Reader is Going Away But I Hope You'll Stick Around

Three Easy Steps To Switch Your Google Reader to Feedly

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Are you taking off your shoes, or plucking blackberries?

Do you know for certain God is always with you, always working in you, always acting on your behalf? And are you making that clear in your memoir?

Sometimes we don’t think God is always with us, or realize He is, but He is. 

“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 and in the people around us.” (Oswald Chambers; emphasis mine)

"Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but ... at supper time, or walking along a road.... Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea, and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, 'Children, have you any fish?'; the two men at Emmaus who knew him in the breaking of bread. He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks." Frederick Buechner, The Maganificent Defeat; emphasis mine)

God is always with us, always working in us,
always working on our behalf.

Let’s not miss Him!

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
    ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In your memoir, 
don't be content to merely pluck blackberries.
Stand on holy ground. 
Take off your shoes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Get real

“Only when you break down your usual way of thinking—the convenient, comfortable, easy, polite response—will you touch the textured grain of your life,” writes Natalie Goldberg.

“Submerge yourself below the standard version of the way your mother, father, school want you to remember your childhood to the way it really was for you,” she says. “If you were miserable, say it. If you hated peas and those white cardboard containers of milk, put that down.…”

Goldberg calls you, the memoir writer, to authenticity, to give yourself permission for “the disintegration of the not-true world you tried to maintain.”

Doing so can refine of the truth, upgrade the truth, hone the truth—not just for your readers but for yourself.

Each of us wrestles with distorted views of reality, sometimes because we choose to do so and sometimes because we are mere humans. This side of heaven, “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror.”  “We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, Good News Translation, The Message)

Do your best, nevertheless, to strive for what’s true and right. 

“Maybe you’ll find,” continues Goldberg, “that you were wonderful after all but [for all those years you had] believed your brother’s image of you instead. You weren’t a dummy for loving Shakespeare and Keats. You were just different.”

Energetic, passionate, and considered by many to be a master, Goldberg is a mentor and a cheerleader to all who want to write a memoir. She says, “It’s odd how we’re are supposed to be cool, smooth as butter, act as though there is no place in which we weren’t accepted or hurt. How ridiculous. This is a tough world. This is your memoir. Get real about your life.” (from Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir; emphasis mine) 

Look over your vignettes. Question your assumptions. Search for places you wrote what you felt obligated to write—for whatever reason.

Straighten up distortions, first in your thinking and then in your writing. Revise and polish your story to make it more authentic.

Doing so will benefit you and your readers more than you might imagine. The truth has a way of setting us all free.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Inspiration to keep you writing your stories

“Young people are educated in many ways,” writes David Brooks, “but they are given relatively little help in understanding how a life develops, how careers and families evolve, what are the common mistakes and the common blessings of modern adulthood.”

Dan Allender helps us with this perspective, “Our story begins with the characters who gave us birth, including their past relationships with their parents and issues such as success and shame; power and abuse; love, loss, and addiction; heartache and secrets; and family myths. Our birth is a beginning, but we owe our existence to the generations that came before us. Our beginning … took place before we were born….” (To Be Told)

“I discovered how much the stories about the women who came before me, who are now gone, matter to me now,” says author Joy DeKok. “I can draw from their wisdom and learn from their decisions, mistakes, and successes. As a society, we often discard our elderly or those already gone as insignificant. This lie birthed a passion in me to urge men and women of all ages to preserve and share their stories now so this generation and those to come later, will have the benefit of their wisdom and life-knowledge.…

“The world, or my corner of it, [is] changed when I share the past forward. … The past can only have value in the future if we preserve it now.… The world is hungry for real-life stories.… We want to watch how people  cope, respond, mess up, and succeed.… People want our stories.” (Joy DeKok, author of Your Life a Legacy)

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation will commend your works to another
they will tell of your mighty acts. 
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty.… 
They will tell of the power of your awesome works.… 
They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 
(Psalm 145: 3-7, NIV)

You have a story inside that younger generations need to hear. Only you can write it best. Connect your story with God’s story and write yourself onto the pages of your family’s Christian history.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Is your family talking about it today?

Is your family talking about what happened sixty-nine years ago today? I hope so.

Much of the world honors what happened on this day in 1944, D-Day, when American, Canadian, and British troops invaded Normandy, France. The event started the liberation of France and western Europe and led to the downfall of Nazi Germany.

Military and civilian casualties were stunning.  Melissa Marsh, World War II historian, describes that day as “a bloody, horrific and terrifying day.”

Melissa urges us to consider real people who experienced D-Day. Think about it: Whether you knew them or not, probably some of your ancestors were involved in one way or another. Be sure your children and grandchildren know their stories.

“Sometimes, we need to take a step back,” Melissa says, “and look at the individuals who made this invasion possible—the infantryman, the paratrooper, the tank drivers, the landing boat drivers, and on and on.

“It wasn’t just about military strategies and generals and officers,” Melissa continues. “It was also about the common soldier.

“It’s easy to group these individuals into one entity: the military. But,” she reminds us, “each one represents a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a sweetheart. Each one had a family, a friend, a wife, a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, a lover.”

In my family, for example, on D-Day, almost every young man my mother knew lost his life. Almost every boy she dated, almost every boy who pulled a prank on her, went to church picnics with her, flirted with her: gone.

Her sister’s boyfriend, heading toward shore, in the face of enemy fire, jumped overboard. The boat’s motor blades took his life. (Read more and see a photo at Your Family and D-Day.)

What are your family’s stories? Where did they live during World War II? London? Canada? Germany? The US?

Today I have a treat for you. Take a couple of minutes to read this account of a French girl who was age six when the war started and twelve when the war ended. During those years, she and her family suffered severe hardships, food shortages, air raids, and bombings.

They also experienced D-Day. It was no dry material in a history book for them!

Recently, more than sixty years later, she wrote to her grandson, Alec, “Ah, unparalleled joy when, on June 6, 1944, we heard that the Americans and Allied forces had landed in Normandy.… What an incredible feat they accomplished that day. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of them!” (Be sure to read Lest We Forget: D-Day, June 6, 1944 at the blog, French Girl in Seattle. Her collection of photos is superb.)

If you include D-Day accounts in your memoir, keep in mind that this genre includes digging for deeper lessons.

You’ll need to ponder, examine, and unravel. How did D-Day impact your family, both positively and negatively? Why? What benefits do you enjoy today because of the sacrifices of so many on D-Day?

If you lost a loved one or friend, what did God do to comfort and provide for those left behind?

For those whose family members returned home after the war: In what specific ways did God protect them and give them courage and stamina?

How did the experience change their lives? Strengthen their faith? Change their lives’ directions?

What was God doing in the midst of D-Day—for your family, your parents and grandparents? Your nation? This world?

Those involved in D-Day and World War II experienced events that shaped them, and they in turn shaped their children and grandchildren, and they still shape who we are today. God uses such events to form important family values and attitudes that run through the generations.

What stories can you pass on to your children and grandchildren? They are important!

Here are excellent resources for you:

Melissa Marsh has her MA in History with a special interest in World War II. Her blog, The Best of World War II, has photos and a wealth of information.

The World War II Data Base includes photos and information about numerous countries.

For inspirational reading, “The Hardest Decision I Ever Had to Make,” by Erwin A. Thompson, World War II Hero.