Sources of Inspiration for Memoir

When my grandson discovered a little pair of slippers in our guest room closet, he asked why they were there. I smiled because his question led me to read a story I wrote for him. The story explained how I gave away those outgrown slippers that he once wore at our home, and how God intervened to retrieve them. Afterwards, my grandson said he would never get rid of those slippers. This is the power of memoir.

Unlike typical memoirs that look back at ancestors, memoirs about the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is a bit of a futuristic look. Each story contains a potential life lesson. Every lesson can be related to a Bible passage. The most important element to writing a faith-filled memoir is connecting each story to a Scripture message. As you write, take time to consider which Bible verses might apply to your story.

By incorporating life lessons and Bible verses with real life events, the memoir becomes a vehicle for passing along a faith legacy in a most personal way. This is probably a lot easier than it sounds. Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Some are obvious, others come from unexpected places. Here are excerpts of five types of inspiration, with suggestions for life lessons and Scripture passages that might apply: 

  • Milestones
  • Special occasions
  • Reminiscing
  • Introspection
  • Dreams

Milestones

These are the ordinary daily activities of life that often bring smiles to our faces or tears to our eyes. 

One of the first routines we started with you was reading. Early childhood development research showed kids were more likely to succeed in school if someone read to them right from the get-go… This is when you were still honing your skills at rolling over from your back to your tummy, discovering your fingers and toes, and living on a diet of Formula… One afternoon, I caught Papa reading to you from a children’s Bible. You were sporting a pacifier and a very attentive countenance. It was clear that you were both enjoying the shared experience.

I treasured every moment and new accomplishment. Seeing how attentive you were to Papa as he read gave me hope for your future… They served as reminders to view whatever time we have together as a gift.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 2:26

Special Occasions

Specific details can help make memories easier to capture and provide family, cultural, and historical information. Will future generations relate to Spiderman – or play dates? Perhaps not, but they will relate to the fun of birthdays.

This was the most fun I’ve had on a birthday in as long as I can remember. While photos were snapped, we celebrated your special day with a full-tilt Spiderman Cake and giant balloons… I’ve learned by experience that anticipation is part of the fun. You helped pick out the balloons and pick up your birthday cake from the bakery. You were so excited to see Spiderman sitting on your cake that it almost got dropped it in the store!

Some people see birthday parties as a lot of work, trying to get all the details down to perfection. Others engage in the childlike enjoyment of being with people they love, and do their best to work out the details. It really is about celebrating…

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful.” Proverbs 15:13a

Reminiscing 

Do a historical dig into your childhood memories to show how life used to be as a way to imagine how different the future might be.

This year, you were old enough to help us decorate our house for Christmas. Watching you hang ornaments on the tree reminded me of a childhood Christmas memory…  When I was about 10-years-old, my Dad was out of work and our family was on a tight budget. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, I overheard my parents talking… I clearly remember Dad bringing home a Charlie Brown variety of tree on December 23. If you’re counting, that’s the day before Christmas Eve… It is still a sweet reminder that Dad cared enough about our family to create a traditional Christmas.

Whenever it seems like things are not going to work out the way I hope, I can think of that Christmas tree my dad pieced together and remember how much he loved our family… I wondered, was God, my Heavenly Father, using this time to teach me patience…

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

Introspection

By sharing feelings, this story taps into universal emotions. This example also illustrates how easily moving from the here and now to the past flowed naturally.

When you awoke with a baby screech, Mom carefully lifted you up… I marveled at your attentiveness, how you responded to lights, sounds, and voices at only a few days old… Given the chance to hold you, I placed you on my lap, facing up, cradling your head in my hands. You looked directly into my eyes, as if you were trying to communicate. “Can you sense how much joy I feel, having you so near?” 

As I held your tiny form in my arms, I prayed to God on your behalf, making the solemn promise, “Lord, if it is your will for me to be an influence in this child’s life, I will do all in my power to teach him about Jesus.” Holding you asleep in my arms, I read the passage from Luke 2:21-40… I wondered how our Father will grace your life.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 

Dreams

Dreams might be the most unexpected category of inspiration. While we sleep, our minds head off to work. The periods of transition between consciousness and unconsciousness can uncover veritable treasures, proving it is not necessary for everything you write about to be an actual event.

I awoke this morning from a frightfully vivid nightmare… You were in the habit of running toward the street when we were outside… I stopped you every time, but what if I was too slow to react? Through the haze of awakening, I dreamed I was chasing you down our driveway and grabbing you from the path of a speeding car…

When I realized my experience was only a dream, I knew God was with me… My prayer that day was that you would come to know Jesus as your Savior during my lifetime, giving me the assurance that at the appropriate time, we will be reunited in the light of God’s eternal glory.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Imagine your grandchildren as adults reading to their children what could be your most powerful testimony of Christian faith. Keep your words kind, positive, encouraging, and loving. Let this be the incentive that keeps you writing to your grandchildren about your time together.