Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: Writing about prayer doesn't need to be stodgy or stuffy or boring

Did your heart make a little skip when you read Thursday’s post—about including stories about prayer in your memoir? I hope so. Such stories can be powerful for your readers.

Stories about prayer can:
  • encourage readers to pray themselves,
  • watch for God’s answers,
  • enrich their relationship with God in infinite, eternal ways,
  • and change their lives!

Stories that include prayer don’t need to be stodgy. Or stuffy. Or boring.

They can include humor, suspense, play, adventure, joy, drama, science, and all kinds of lively, fascinating, exciting stuff.

The following quotes will bless you and, I hope, inspire you to write those stories that include something about prayer.

“Prayer is … putting oneself in the hands of God … and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa

“It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. Prayer is not simply getting things from God—that is only the most elementary kind of prayer. Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

“Prayer is the heart of fellowship with God. In it we open our total self to God in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Prayer is communion with God in which He speaks to us through the thoughts engendered in our minds and the decisions of our wills. How wonderful: we can share life with the Lord and Creator of the universe!” Lloyd John Ogilvie, God’s Best for My Life

Teaching kids, grandkids, and others about prayer
is one of the most important things you can do.

Your prayers, and your memoir, can outlive your life.

And there you have it—your Tuesday Tidbit.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What can you write in your memoir about prayer?

Does your memoir include a story about prayer? If it has a spiritual dimension, and if our theme verse resonates with you:  

“Always remember what you’ve seen God do for you,
and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren,”

then you probably will include something about prayer.

To help you, here are some questions to ponder:
  • Who taught you to pray? Or who modeled for you the importance of prayer?
  • Was there a time you were flat-out helpless to do anything but pray?
  • Think about key times in your life in which you prayed and you saw God answer.
  • What happened when God responded to your prayer with silence? Or when He answered your prayer differently than you hoped for?
  • When did a “No” to your prayer result in something even better?
  • What’s the most important aspect of prayer that you can impress upon your kids, grandkids, and great-grands?
  • What stories can you write about prayer (yours or someone else’s) to teach readers about forgiveness, grace, wisdom, and hope? And about loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? (Mark 12:30)

Here are inspirational tidbits to get your ideas percolating:

“Dear God, so often in my prayers I present You with my own agenda. I ask for guidance, and strength, and courage to do what I’ve already decided…. Help me to think of prayer throughout this day as simply reporting in for duty and asking for fresh marching orders. I want to be all that You want me to be, and I want to do what You have planned for me. May this morning prayer be the beginning of a conversation with You that lasts all through the day…. Amen.” (Lloyd John Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God, February 22 selection based on Ephesians 6:18 “praying always…”)

“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:1-3).

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; He will not despise their plea. Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created will praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:17-18).

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” (Max Lucado, Discovering the Power of Prayer)   

“Have you ever found that your Father has answered a forgotten prayer? I have, and I always feel ashamed; it is so rude to forget.” (Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways, June 24 selection)    

“One of the experiences of prayer is that it seems that nothing happens. But when you stay with it and look back over a long period of prayer, you suddenly realize that something has happened.” (Henri Nouwen, The Genessee Diary)

“... Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

“If you are having difficulty loving or relating to an individual, take him to God. Bother the Lord with this person. Don't you be bothered with him—leave him at the throne.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your  Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, don't keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8).

“Isn’t it amazing how often people try everything but prayer? It’s like the old saying: ‘When everything else fails read the instructions.’ The same with prayer. When everything else fails, try prayer…. But Elijah [in 1 Kings 18:22-40] didn’t use prayer as a last resort. Prayer was his first and only resort. A simple prayer of faith was his major contact with the living Lord. It set everything into motion.
            “Let me ask you a straight-out question: Do you, personally, pray? Now notice that I didn’t say, ‘Do you listen when the preacher prays or when your parents pray?’ I didn’t say ‘Do you know a good Bible study on prayer?’ I didn’t even say, ‘Have you taught on prayer?’ I asked, ‘Do you, personally, pray?’ Can you look back over the last seven days and pinpoint times you deliberately set aside for prayer? Even just a solid ten or fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time with God?” (Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives, p. 176) 

“ . . . Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances...” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  

What stories about prayer came to mind? 

Quick! Jot down a few notes now 
and work on that story in earnest in the next few days. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: Writing a memoir changes you and your memories

In writing our stories, sometimes, maybe even often, we uncover different memories than those we start with.

Your memories will change, as truths you long held about your life begin to unravel,” writes Bahar Gholipour, quoting from a conversation with memoirist Mary Karr. “Ultimately, you may end up a different person in some ways.”

Gholipour writes, “Your understanding of your life story will change, too.” That can lead to making peace with your past and with people in it. Another benefit can be better mental health. By taking a broader look at aspects and events of your life, and by connecting the dots, your assessment of yourself and your life can change for the better.

Gholipour continues,“But writing a memoir for therapeutic effect should not be your primary reason if you intend the draft for an audience of larger than one, says Sarah Saffian…. [I]f you as the storyteller are sitting at the computer roiling with emotion, then you’re probably not ready to tell your story.”

But when the time is right, get your stories into writing. You might not realize it yet, but penning your memoir could change your life.

You’ll enjoy reading the rest of Gholipour’s article, Writing a Memoir Is a Strange Psychological Trip….

And there you have it, your Tuesday Tidbit.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

“Hope is the answer” and you’re cleared to go

“During my intense grieving moments,” writes Dana Goodman, “other people’s stories gave me words to describe the ache that was indescribable. They gave me hope that a new day would dawn, and I would not be stuck in the black forever.”


“Sharing hope truly is the heart of this writing business,” writes Mick Silva. “Words are like packaging. They’re pretty or flashy or sad or boring. And while everyone appreciates good packaging, ultimately it’s the hope inside them that matters…. We each have to ask…whether we want to share hope or not.”

Read that again. “We each have to ask…whether we want to share hope or not.” That zings, doesn’t it?

The Bible tells us to comfort others
with the comfort we’ve received from God.
(2 Corinthians 1:4)

Your memoir can do that.

That means writing your memoir is not a hobby, it’s a ministry.

Eugene Peterson suggests the church should ordain writers in the way they ordain pastors.

“There are never enough storytellers,” he says. “There are a lot of people who want to write stories but they don’t want to go through the discipline, the agony, the immersion in life it requires…. I think writing is one of the sacred callings. I wish, in fact, that the church would ordain writers the way they ordain pastors….”

Is that a new thought to you?

If so, make time to ask yourself these questions:

How different would your writing be if you viewed yourself as ordained to tell your story?

Can you—will you—consider yourself ordained to tell your story?

Let’s take a minute to ponder: What does it mean to be ordained?

It means to be approved, authorized, appointed, anointed, selected, and chosen.

It means to be commissioned, empowered, assigned, entrusted, and consecrated. And cleared to go.

Have you thought about that question in the past few days?

Maybe something or someone maimed you, left you blemished, flawed, maybe even deformed—maybe in little ways, maybe in massive ways. Perhaps they left you broken, immobilized. Some scars are visible, some are hidden inside.

But remember: A scar is evidence of healing.

How did God transform your wounds into scars?

Who and what did God use to bring healing?

As a result of your experience, what hope can you pass on to others?

Are you now super-inspired to write your story? Please say Yes!

Believe God has
approved, authorized, appointed you.
He has anointed, selected, and chosen you.

Believe God has
commissioned, empowered, assigned you.
He has entrusted, and consecrated you
to carry out our key verses:

Always remember, and never forget,
what you’ve seen God do for you,
and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren.
Deuteronomy 4:9

Jesus said, “Go tell your family everything
God has done for you.”
Luke 8:39

Like Kellie McGann said, “Hope is the answer your readers are searching for…. Tell them they’re not alone in their dark night of the soul.”

“…Writing your story is the only way
to truly express what God did.
And you can’t believe just how remarkable he is
until you step back and see it for yourself.”
Mick Silva, Higher Purpose Writers

Your story can change a life.

Someone needs the hope you can offer.

So hear this:

You know what you’ve been commissioned to do,
and you—youare cleared to go.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: “Are you a success?”

You don’t want to miss Steve Laube’s message about being a successful writer. With wisdom and grace, Steve explores what a Christian writer’s definition of success should be—and should not be.

He writes, “This writing journey isn’t about how you feel about success, or how does success make you feel. It’s: What does God mean to happen for you and for your readers? What is God’s intent in this and how is He using you to accomplish that intent?

Be sure to read the rest of Steve’s post, Are You a Success?

There you have it: your Tuesday Tidbit.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

If your scars could talk, what stories would they tell?

Scars. You have a few. So do I. When writing our stories, we’ll almost certainly need to examine one or more of the wounds that caused our scars.

Keep in mind that a scar is not the same as a wound.

A wound is an injury, a laceration, a gash, a blow, a rip. Some wounds are superficial, but others are deep and agonizing.

On the other hand, a scar is “a mark left where a wound or injury or sore has healed” (Oxford American Dictionary).

Read that again: A scar is what you have after healing has occurred. After the bleeding has stopped. After the scab has fallen off.

A scar is evidence of healing.

When we think of a scar, too often we associate it with something damaged, defective. A disfigurement, an impairment.

But isn’t it better to recognize that a scar is something that has healed?

Think of your scar as an emblem declaring you’re repaired, a symbol of surviving, evidence your wound has mended.

So I ask: 

If your scars could talk, what stories would they tell?

Most of us are good at keeping our wounds and scars secret—maybe even from ourselves, but a good memoirist will not leave them in hiding.

Dani Shapiro says, “What we ignore, we ignore at our own peril. What we embrace with courage, perseverance, humility, and clarity, becomes our instrument of illumination.”

Our instrument of illumination. 

A good memoirist will
invite God to stand alongside—or maybe inside—
and help peel back layers,
get out a magnifying glass,
and discover the deeper, broader, bigger story.

A good memoirist will make time
to examine the chapters of his life
in which God used wounds
to turn his story in a different
and better direction.

That reminds me of Bev Murrill’s words about Romans 8:28, “Paul said all things work together for good for people who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes. That doesn’t mean what happened is good, but that God can use even the most terrible things if we will let Him treat the wounds and heal them.”

C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Your job as a memoirist is to look back and discover that extraordinary destiny God has been working out for youa destiny you couldn’t have experienced if it weren’t for your hardship, your wound. You have a scar to prove it.

How did God transform your wounds into scars?

Who and what did God use to bring healing? 

  • A doctor, counselor, or medicine,
  • a Bible passage or Bible study, 
  • a book, 
  • prayer, 
  • a strategically placed friend or relative,
  • time and distance,
  • writing or journaling.

God has many ways of turning wounds into scars.

Bev Murrill says God is capable of “turning ugly gaping wounds into scars that serve as badges of honor and trophies of the grace of God at work in me.”

What badges of honor
and trophies of God’s grace
will you include in your memoir?

Someone needs to know your story.

Someone needs the hope your story can offer.

If your scars could talk,
what stories would they tell?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: I need your help due to Facebook changes

HELP! Facebook has rearranged the content you see in your newsfeed. That means you won’t see Spiritual Memoirs 101’s posts as frequently as before.

If you’ve already “Liked” SM 101’s Page, keep it in your newsfeed by going to Spiritual Memoirs 101’s Facebook Page. Toward the top, click on “Follow.” In the drop-down menu, click on “See First.”

And if you don’t already follow SM 101 on Facebook, YOU’RE MISSING A LOT—quotes and quips and inspiration and instruction. Click here to go to Spiritual Memoirs 101 on Facebook. When you do, toward the top of the Page click on “Like” (you might also need to click on “Follow”). Then in the drop-down menu, click on “See First.”

And since I’m asking for your help: Please let your friends and relatives know about SM 101.

A family’s stories are so important!

There’s a reason God told us to always remember what we’ve seen Him do and to tell our children and grandchildren (Deuteronomy 4:9).

There’s a reason Jesus said, “Go tell your family what God has done for you” (Luke 8:39).

What’s that reason?

God created humankind to respond to stories.

God uses stories.
They are among His most compelling
and successful tools.

Learn more: Click on

There you have it: Your Tuesday Tidbit.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Tell yourself rewriting is not punishment

Writing your memoir’s first draft is an experiment. Even your second and third and fourth drafts are experiments.

It’s like trying on for size—like taking five yellow dresses off the rack and heading toward the dressing room. When you slip into them and look in the mirror, you discover only one yellow is the right shade; you look washed out in the other four.

So, you keep only the one yellow dress that’s the right shade—

and in writing,
you keep only the sentences
and words
and paragraphs
and openings
and endings
that fit—those that work best.

You can also compare writing and rewriting and polishing to arranging flowers in a vase. You do your best to create beauty but when you stand back, you see the bouquet is lopsided, or you didn’t distribute the colors well, or you’ve left a gap, so you rearrange it, tweaking it here and there until it’s just right.

With dresses and with flowers and with writing, we need to stand back, take another look, and adjust accordingly.

We can view rewriting and editing and polishing as a pain in the neck, or maybe even punishmentOR we can consider it an enjoyable process of enhancement.

Amber Lea Starfire writes, “As a teacher, it always surprises me when beginning writers resist the revision process, because that’s often when the best writing takes place.

“I think of the first draft as a kind of rough sketch—the bones of the piece,” she continues. “It’s during the revision process that the skeleton acquires muscles and flesh and features. And I often have to do major surgery, restructuring the skeleton, before I can write what needs to be said.” (You’ll enjoy Amber’s post, Writing is Revision is Re-Writing is Craft.)

Good writers revise and rewrite, often many times.

Dinty Moore says, “The difference. . . between writers who are successful in finding an audience and those who struggle, is when and where in the revision process a writer throws in the towel and settles for 'good enough.’” (Read his How to Revise a Draft Without Going Crazy.)

Don't settle for  just “good enough.”

Tell yourself rewriting is not punishment
instead, rewriting is beautification.

So, beautify! And have fun!