Thursday, March 28, 2019

Key women: What differences have they made in your life?

In honor of Women’s History Month (whether you’re a man or a woman), let’s think about those women who have gone before us, lighting the way, setting our hearts afire, showing us how to live and love and make a difference—Mother Teresa, Erma Bombeck, Rosa Parks, Elisabeth Elliot, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Esther (of the Old Testament), Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malala Yousafzai, and so many others.

They might not have been prominent or famous—women like your mother, sister, professor, babysitter, choir director, doctor, neighbor, colleague, best friend, employee, caregiver, pastor, or maybe even a stranger—those who were the role models, visionaries, trailblazers, inspiration-givers, change-makers, and hope-creators.

Pause and think about the way God brought them into your life. Spend a minute thanking Him!

And, you know me—you know what I’m going to say next! You could write an entire memoir based on the women who shaped you, taught you, nurtured you.

With that in mind, here are a few quotes to get your memories and ideas buzzing:

“A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” (Erma Bombeck)

“If you don’t speak up now to help right wrongs, someone else will—but you and your family won’t survive. Who knows? Maybe you are in your position for just such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14-15, paraphrased)

“‘There, it does seem so pleasant to talk with an old acquaintance that knows what you know. . . . Conversation’s got to have some root in the past, or else you’ve got to explain every remark you make, and it wears a person out.’ Mrs. Todd gave a funny little laugh. ‘Yes’m, old friends is always best, ’less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of,’ she said.” (Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs)

“The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”  (Malala Yousafzai)

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” (Erma Bombeck)

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” (Rosa Parks)

“A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.” (Gina Carey)

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“I don’t know exactly what’s next but I’m stepping forward with grit anchored in grace.” (Julie Graham)

“If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” (Max Lucado)

“The fact that I’m a woman doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I’m a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“She is clothed with strength and dignity.” (Proverbs 31:25a, NIV)

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26, NIV)

“Blessed is she who believes that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45, NIV)

“…wherever the Good News is preached in all the world, what this woman has done will be told, and people will remember her.” (Mark 14:9, NCV)

“How blessed . . . the woman you instruct in your Word, providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil.” (Psalm 94:12, The Message).

“God proves to be good . . . to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope for help from God.” (Lamentations 3:25-26, The Message)

Did several women come to mind when you read those quotes? I hope so!

The most instrumental women in my life were my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, and aunts.

Elizabeth, the Kenyan lady who worked with us during our eight years in Africa, was and still is a major role model. (You can read about her in my memoir, Grandma’s Letters from Africa.)

Amy Carmichael, too, influenced me through her devotional, Edges of His Ways, as did Mrs. Charles E. Cowman and her devotional, Streams in the Desert.

Recently I was talking with my husband about my best friend in high school, Cindy, who, in her soft-spoken way, changed the trajectory of my life. Without even realizing it, with one short question she changed the way I studied and took tests. On another occasion, she modeled how to stand up to peer pressure. Many decades later, her examples still inspire me.

Who are or were the noteworthy women in your life?
What stories can you write about them?
Choose two or three and get started writing vignettes.

Soon, give serious thought to writing even more such stories
and compiling them into a memoir.

Just think:

Your stories could have a far-reaching
maybe even life-changing
impact on your readers.

To paraphrase Mother Teresa,
your memoir might not change vast numbers around the world,
but it could be like a stone cast into the water—
it could create many ripples.
And who knows how far those ripples might reach?

Your memoir could be someone’s much-needed
“word spoken at the right moment (Proverbs 15:23).
(If you missed Tuesday’s post, click on that link.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tuesday Tidbit: Your memoir, a wise word spoken at the right moment

Reading time: 1 minute, 29 seconds

“We have stories to tell; stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life,” writes Saul Rubin. “What more have we to give one another than the truth about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how?”

Think for a minute—isn’t that what memoir is all about?

Believe this: God has made you wise in at least one aspect of life and faith. Surely you have stories to write out of that wisdom!

Your memoir could be someone’s much-needed “word spoken at the right moment” (Proverbs 15:23).

  • “Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare to her” (Proverbs 8:11).
  • “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).
  • “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding” (Proverbs 3:13).
  • “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).

But how do you become wise?

Chuck Swindoll writes about having a conversation with a friend in which the topic of wisdom kept popping up, “things like intuition, diligence, integrity, perception, consistency, loyalty. . . .

“Wisdom is hard to define,” Chuck said, “because it means much more than knowledge and goes much deeper than awareness. . . .

“I asked [my friend], ‘How does a person get wisdom? I realize we are to be men and women of wisdom, but few people ever talk about how it’s acquired.

“His answer was quick and to the point.


“I paused and looked deeply into his eyes. . . . I knew his one-word answer was not theoretical. He had walked the path. He and pain had gotten to know each other well. . . .

Take a couple of minutes to read the rest of Chuck Swindoll’s post, How God Gives You Wisdom. You won’t regret it!

He concludes, “When we have responded as we should to life’s blows, enduring them rather than escaping them, God gives us more maturity that stays with us and new measures of wisdom which we are able to draw upon for the balance of our lives.”

I suspect many of you know exactly what Chuck’s talking about,
and what his friend was talking about.

How did you acquire your wisdom?

Someone needs to know your story. 
Don’t keep him or her waiting!

There you have it, your Tuesday Tidbit.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Recognizing God—or not

Reading time: 47 seconds

“In the moment it can be hard to see where God is leading us,” says Richard Stearns, “but looking back we often see His fingerprints.”

Stearns captures what memoir is all about, especially what we at SM 101 are all about:

We look back over life—we inspect, reflect, seek to detect patterns, connect dots, follow breadcrumbs—and discover God had His hand on us all along. His fingerprints are all over everything. (Click on that link.)

But dear Frederick Buechner shocks us 
with this sobering truth:

God lets us choose 
whether to recognize Him and His fingerprints.

Buechner writes:

“There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him. . . .”  (Frederick Buechner, from Now and Then and Listening to Your Life)

I urge you to set aside time to search for God’s fingerprints.

But I have to warn you: Be prepared.

Prepare to discover links, insights, and joys.

Prepare to be surprised and delighted.

Prepare to unravel life’s mysteries (or at least some of them).

Prepare to make better sense of your life.

Prepare to find a deeper faith in God.

Prepare to feel great about it!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

“Your struggle to share your struggle"

Ya just gotta love Mick Silva and his ministry to writers. This quote of his is one of my favorites.

Yes, often you and I must struggle to share our struggles, but what a glorious result is possible! You and I can offer light to those in dark places. What a joy!

If you’ve ever been stuck in a dark place, I suspect you’ve never forgotten those who shared light with you. You've never forgotten how they changed your world.

Now it’s time to pass that on to others.

I’ll keep this post brief because I’m enjoying a visit from my son and granddaughter, but before I sign off, below you’ll find a couple of verses to bless and inspire you to keep on struggling to share your struggles. Remember, you and your memoir are light!

For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth). . . . (Ephesians 5:8-9, NIV)

But you are a chosen people . . . God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tuesday Tidbit: Your need to ponder

Reading time: 48 seconds

Pondering is a must in writing a memoir.
You need to slow down,
uncover, excavate.
Till the soil and sift through it.
Unearth buried experiences.
Return to key events and relive them.
Rethink them, reevaluate them.
Make sense of them.

And most important: You need to discover what God was doing.

"Pondering is thinking, for sure, 
but it has the connotation of peaceful contemplation, 
rather than anxious conjectures. 
I want to . . . take time to reflect and ruminate over 
the experiences God has allowed me to pass through. . . . 
I don't want to simply react to or vent 
about what has been going on 
in, around, and through me. . . . 
I want to take time to thoroughly digest it all." 

"Days pass and the years vanish 
and we walk sightless among miracles. 
God, fill our eyes with seeing 
and our minds with knowing; 
let there be moments when Your Presence, 
like lightning, 
illumines the darkness in which we walk. 
Help us to see, wherever we gaze, 
that the bush burns, unconsumed. 
And we, clay touched by God, 
will reach out for holiness 
and exclaim in wonder: 'How filled with awe is this place 
and we did not know it!'" 

There you have it, your Tuesday Tidbit.

Now, go ponder!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Your memoir: A God-designed link between generations

Reading time: 1 minute, 7 seconds

We will tell our children,
and the generations that come after us,
God-shaped family stories our parents and grandparents
passed down to us.
Let’s not hide them
from our children and grandchildren.
Instead, let’s tell stories of what we have seen God do—
His power and might,
and the glorious and praiseworthy things He has done—
so that we and they will praise Him.
God commanded our ancestors
to teach such things to their children
so they, in turn, would teach their children
down through the generations.
This is His plan
to help all of us grasp and remember
His deeds and miracles
and live faithfully according to His ways.
Psalm 78:2-7, paraphrased

God dreamed up this ingenious plan—to teach our children and grandchildren what we’ve seen Him do—because He knows we’ll benefit if we know, love, and follow Him and His ways.

Instead of preaching do this and don’t do that, tell stories that will help kids and grandkids discover for themselves what’s important.

People resist a holier-than-thou attitude, but they respond well to a story. Stories are powerful.

A story is up to twenty-two times more memorable than facts alone,” according to Professor Jennifer Aaker of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Your stories can entertain your readers,
they can cause readers
to laugh,
or cry,
or maybe both.
And they’ll remember your stories
longer than lectures or preaching.

Through your stories,
others can benefit from your experiences:
Readers can take in the wisdom you learned,
avoid the mistakes you made,
and make their own good choices.
Your stories can help them navigate through their own
difficulties and mysteries,
make sense of their own lives,
and gain a sense of direction for the future.
Your stories can soften and strengthen hearts,
pass on hope,
and offer grace.

Write your stories. They are important!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tuesday Tidbit: God’s fingerprints all over everything

Reading time: 45 seconds

How can you personally discover what A.W. Tozer discovered, and how can you work his message into your memoir?

Here Tozer is reflecting, a must in writing a memoir. He’s looking back, seeing the seemingly random pieces falling into place, noticing the deeper meaning, detecting a pattern, grasping the bigger picture.

It’s your job, as a memoirist, to notice—at least at some point—God’s fingerprints all over everything.

I have a hunch Lawrence Kushner’s thoughts, below, will inspire you, as well:

“God is . . . quietly, invisibly, secretly guiding our steps; feeding us our lines; moving us into position; unifying everything we do. We are chastened to realize that what we thought was an accident was, in truth, the hand of God.  Most of the time we are simply unaware. Awareness takes too much effort, and besides, it’s more fun to pretend we are running the show. But every now and then we understand, for just a moment, that God has all along been involved in everything.” (Lawrence Kushner, Eyes Remade for Wonder)

Consider how you can do some significant reflecting yourself 
and discover God’s fingerprints all over everything.

There you have it, your Tuesday Tidbit.