About ten years ago, I had a rhema moment while reading Deuteronomy chapter four. Priscilla Shirer describes a rhema moment as an instant when “a word in Scripture zings you” and you know God is speaking to you. It’s a flash of “Aha!”
Deuteronomy 4:9 tells us to remember what we’ve seen God do for us and to tell our children and grandchildren. I read the verse many times before, but that day I had a rhema moment. The verse took on new meaning and urgency. I knew I had to do something about it.
At the time I wasn’t even sure what a memoir was, but soon discovered it is a perfect format for telling kids and grandkids what God has done. A couple of years later I started teaching memoir classes, first in Washington State, and now in Missouri.
Inspiration and celebration
In my classes and my blog, I seek to inspire memoir writers to celebrate God’s goodness, faithfulness, holiness, and splendor—and even His sense of humor. The theme of my blog, Spiritual Memoirs 101, is Deuteronomy 4:9.
When people sign up for my memoir classes, I often hear, “A memoir class! Terrific! I love journaling!” Yes, sometimes people confuse writing a memoir with journaling, or with writing autobiography, so let’s look at them.
Your journal is private, but you write a memoir for others to read.
An autobiography documents your entire life, starting with your birth, but memoir focuses on a segment of your life—a specific theme or time period—which you explore in depth.
In other words, a person can write a memoir based on a theme: coaching high school tennis, for example, or working as a bush pilot in Alaska. My memoir, Grandma’s Letters from Africa, covers my first four years in Africa.
God in your memoir
Pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, and reflecting are necessary ingredients in memoir. In the writing process, you examine what God was doing as you see it now, in retrospect. You’ll look for deeper lessons God had for you in the events of your life.
- Looking back, what did you learn about yourself?
- What did you learn about God?
- Do you now have a better understanding of God’s purpose for your life?
- How did the experience change your life? What new person did you become?
- How did the experience strengthen your faith for future challenges?
May God help us remember all we’ve seen Him do for us, and with us—and even in spite of us.
May He give us a longing to write those stories for our children, grandchildren, and “spiritual” children as well—precious people God brought into our lives whether we share DNA or not.
Your stories are part of God’s stories and God’s stories are part of your stories. People need to hear those stories. Believe it!
Linda Thomas is a former Teaching Leader with Bible Study Fellowship International. She and her husband, Dave, worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators for three years in South America and eight years in Africa. She blogs about her first four years in Africa at Grandma’s Letters from Africa.
Photo courtesy Linda Thomas.
How has God influenced your writing?