Thursday, August 27, 2015

“We need honest, true-to-life stories to show us how”

Courage. Joy. Integrity.

We all want to possess those attributes.

We want to teach our children and grandchildren to live with courage, joy, and integrity—and your memoir can help do that.

“If we are going to live with courage
and joy
and integrity,
we need honest,
true-to-life stories
to show us how.
What excites me are stories
with all the grit
and beauty
and squalor
of human beings
attempting to live in service to God
and loving their neighbor.”

Peter Mommsen, author of Homage to a Broken Man:
The Life of Heinrich Arnold—
A True Story of Faith, Forgiveness, Sacrifice,
and Community

Your memoir can do that! Your stories can offer others courage, joy, and integrity—and so much more.

Sure, your stories might include grit and squalor, but beauty can blossom in them, too:

Dig deep and peel back layers—because when you do, you’ll discover the ways that common people living everyday lives serve God and love their families and their neighbors, because the Good Book says:

“The most important [commandment] is this,” said Jesus.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.’
The second is this:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31, Matthew 22:37-39)

Your stories can inspire readers to live like that.

Do you doubt the power of your stories? If so, think again:

For such a long time, I felt my story wasn’t important,wrote Mick Silva.

“I didn’t know who my story had made me. It’d been too buried. But exhuming it, the healing had been profound, pulling from the ashes of charred memories.… And the things I’ve discovered have been treasures.…

Mick continues, “[T]hrough writing I’ve discovered that…protecting and preserving our stories is about discovering God’s story.  What he did through us, with us, in spite of us, continually pursuing that story is a matter of faithfulness and obedience, to become aware and invest in this life he’s given. To speak its life-affirming power in proper words and context, it can be the delight of our lives, an endless source of inspiration.”

Read that paragraph again, and maybe even again.
Take it in. Ponder that message.

And then, write your stories!

Write your stories as a celebratory offering to God.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Do you need inspiration to finish writing your memoir?

Have you heard of George MacDonald, the prolific and beloved Scottish author in the late 1800s? He can play a big role in inspiring you to write and finish your memoir.

Originally a church pastor, he was driven out of the pulpit because congregations disliked his beliefs.

Desperate to provide for his family, he turned to writing—and in doing so, his spiritual teachings have reached millions more people than if he had served in one small church, and they have lasted more than 100 years beyond MacDonald’s death.

MacDonald possessed “the ability to include insightful principles and profound spiritual wisdom in a top-flight, well-written, compelling story,” writes Michael Phillips in the Preface to The Fisherman’s Lady.

His many books included a number of genres (my favorites are his novels). Michael Phillips writes this about all of MacDonald’s works, “And in whatever he did I sensed the same wisdom coming forth, the same penetrating spiritual perception concerning intensely practical concerns.” 

My Scottish ancestors lived in this valley in the Highlands.  :)
MacDonald “firmly held that the deepest insights about life were not to be found in distant obscurities but in everyday relationships and ordinary contacts with the world. Therefore, his books are filled with commonplace lives. We see an agrarian world of thatched cottages with their peat fires, porridge and milk…. This was the Scotland he loved, and his truths, like his people, were simple yet subtle.” (Michael Phillips, from the Introduction to The Baronet’s Song)

What MacDonald accomplished, you and I can accomplish in and through our memoirs!

By writing vignettes about our everyday lives, we can tell stories that teach spiritual truths, convey practical wisdom, and introduce readers to God’s love and His ways.

And it’s so important to write (to reiterate what Michael says above) a top-flight, well-written, compelling story.” 

We need to hone our writing skills and be sure our finished memoir is well edited and compelling. We want our readers to enjoy our stories!

And, like MacDonald’s writings,
yours and mine can outlive us.
If we get our stories into the hands of our kids
and grandkids and great-grands,
who knows how many future generations
will receive the blessings of our efforts?

(In the 1990s, because MacDonald's use of Scottish Gaelic dialect from the 1800s was nearly impossible for readers to understand, and because few of his books were in print, American author Michael Phillips edited a number of MacDonald's novels, rewrote them in modern-day English, and published them. I highly recommend them to you. And I highly recommend that you get acquainted with Michael, too.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday Tidbit: Offering readers hope

Here’s your 15 seconds of inspiration,
your Tuesday Tidbit:

Hope is the answer your readers are searching for.…
We write hard things to inspire others.
We inspire them to overcome their fears,
and to tell them they are not alone
in their dark night of the soul.”

Kellie McGann,
guest blogger at Wayne Groner’s

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Your ancestors: What role do they play?

Do you agree with Victoria Costello?

If you agree, or disagree, leave a comment below or on Facebook.

(Can you find me in this photo? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I’m back from family time! With photos!

I took a break to enjoy some very special family times, and here’s a photo to give you a hint as to what it was all about:

That’s my granddaughter, Maggie.

If you read my memoir, Grandma’s Letters from Africa, you’ll recall that Maggie was born a few months after my husband and I moved to Africa, and the memoir is a collection of letters I wrote to her over a four-year period.

Here’s an old picture of Maggie and me when, by God’s delightful grace, I had returned to the US for meetings about an hour away from where she lived:

When I wrote the letters, I knew she was too young to read or understand them, but I also knew she’d grow up and would one day enjoy the stories I wrote for her.

And yes, she grew up! (How did that happen so fast?!?) She got married last week, and started her student teaching this week. Wow!

We are now looking at photos and reliving the countless fun times we had with Maggie and our son, daughter-in-law, and their whole family. Dear precious family members traveled from Washington, Idaho, and California to celebrate with us. We had a week full of love and laughter and pranks and games and eating, lots of eating.

And now, it’s back to writing!