Friday, March 8, 2013

Memoirs--How to Begin?

My husband and I with our first son, Steve, in 1957
 My husband, Charlie, and I married six months after we met at Decatur Baptist College in Texas. He was a preacher; I felt that God had called me to be a preacher's wife. I was 19, he was 25 and had finished his years in the Army. We felt an instant attraction when we met. You must remember this was 1954. Girls were mostly housewives, very few women were in the working world. My goal was to get married and have babies because that was what I saw in the women who came before me.

After we married, as I listened to Charlie preach, I thought his stories were wonderful. They were stories of things he and his brothers did, but he always brought them to the conclusion of how God figured in the incident. I often thought, "Somebody ought to record these stories. They should not be forgotten."

Years later, when I began writing down things I remembered from my life and my husband's, I just started typing little stories. My main purpose at that time was to leave something of us for our children and grandchildren. Putting it all together and adding to it was the next step.

The title of my book of memories is A Heritage of Faith. I wanted our descendants to know what God meant to both of us. I wanted the book to be a help to them in years down the road.

I told about our parents and the heritage that had come from them. Charlie's parents were Christians. They lived on a farm and had no transportation, so it was hard for them to get to church, but they lived a Christian life before their boys. My parents were not Christians--not until I was almost killed when I was hit by a car at the age of seven. That accident brought my dad to the Lord, and he knew almost immediately that he had to be a preacher. It was a pivotal time in the life of our family, and it turned my family around.

I felt that I had a story to tell. My dad had told it for many years as he preached, praising God for saving my life and giving him salvation. In Chapter 4 of my book, I tell the story of the car accident that put me in a coma for a week. Doctors told my parents they had done all they could do; whether or not I woke up was up to God, they said. My dad began to pray, even though he did not know God and did not know how to pray. He offered God his life for mine. He told God that if I lived, he would live for Him. The chapter in the book takes eight pages, I've only briefly summarized it here.

My dad holding our firstborn son

Suffice it to say, I woke up with no residual problems, Dad trusted God a few years later (oh, he tried to get out of his promise to God, but God wouldn't let him), and we were a new family. No more cursing and drinking. Dad spent his time reading the Bible and being mentored by the pastor of our little church, and when I was eleven, he preached his first sermon. We went to church several times a week. Dad was the child of migrant workers with only a fifth grade education, but he got his G.E.D., he took seminary courses at night, and he began to preach. He preached until he died at the age of 79.

If you have a story that you feel is important enough to build a book around, you might want to start writing your memoirs. Start with that pivotal story. Write it, edit it, let somebody read it and help you think of more details, if possible. Don't think it unimportant. If it is important to you, then write it.

When I was first writing my stories, I mailed them to my mother. She made a cassette tape of memories and sent them back to me to help me with my book. I kept on writing every day, and soon I couldn't get through the day without writing.

You might think, "Who would want to read my story?" Your family would, for example. And who knows, it may make the best seller list. Mine didn't, because I did not understand how to market it. But people we knew, and some that we didn't, bought it and sent me letters about how much they enjoyed it.

So what are you waiting for? Can you think of a something that happened to you that was miraculous? Something worth putting down on paper?  Go for it. If you do, tell me about it in the Comments. I'll mention it in next week's installment of Writing Your Memoirs.


  1. I ABSOLUTELY Love that you shared those photos. Thank you so much. One time, I made a scrapbook for my grandma with all of her old photos that she had in a box because I wanted her to be able to organize them. I enjoy these posts!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Margo. Old photos are so nice. And so are old memories.