Category Archives: Journal Entries

Memoir vs Autobiography


Adopted CS Cover.inddI recently wrote a memoir. A family member asked me, “Why wasn’t so-and-so mentioned in your book?”

“I didn’t include many special people, interesting places, and events of my life in the work, mainly because I wrote a memoir, not an autobiography.” I said.

“What’s the difference? I’m not sure I know. Isn’t a memoir supposed to be about all that you remember in your life?” he said.

That’s when I gave a brief comparison as I understood the differences.

“To me, a memoir presents slices of memory around a theme. The theme I chose was my adoption and healing love. The memoir began simply as a journaling of the various encounters I had as an adoptee with the love that finally healed my life and my wounded heart. Much of what I wrote when I started out was for my own personal reflection and not intended for publication. Only later did I see the theme emerge.

An autobiography, on the other hand, is a full, comprehensive accounting of everything in the life of the person writing. The autobiography organizes itself chronologically. The memoir or personal narrative, may meander through various memories and snatches of experiences surrounding the developing theme. Is that explanation helpful?”

“I think you should share that in an Introduction or Preface then.” he said.

“Perhaps a blog post will do. On behalf of my readers, I was trying to be brief and focused.” My family member seemed satisfied.

This is the simplified explanation of how I envisioned and wrote my recent book entitled, Adopted: An Adoptee’s Memoir of Healing Love. I hope I clarified the distinction enough to not be held guilty of leaving out him and others I love and value.

QUESTION: Is the explanation I gave clear and accurate as you think about the differences?

So, What’s the Source of Writers’ Distraction?


P1010240Republished for those of you who didn’t know me then. Plus, since the first posting I’ve completed and published three books. Two more are near completion.

 

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I am writing this morning.

I made sure everything was done in advance. I showered, shaved, dressed. I spent an hour with my Father-God. Then I ate. All this before my preset writing time which begins and 8AM and runs until 12-1PM. I even had Scrivener opened to the book I am working on and my Ideas binder opened as well. Then it started–as always! Distraction!!

Of course, it wasn’t the usual distraction. It never is. No, I saw a moth. Naturally, I could not allow it to keep fluttering around the window. So I grabbed my electronic insect swatter and zapped him into oblivion. Then I was getting ready to put the swatter back when it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked the batteries since last year (I don’t use the swatter during the winters in NH; I specify the state only because if you’re from Florida, you might consider it odd that I don’t use the swatter in the winter. NH bugs hide or come out in the summer.). Anyhow.

I checked the battery compartment and all seemed well. No leakage. So I put the electronic swatter back where I keep it close under my computer desk. Then I realized I needed to relieve myself of some of my morning coffee. So it was off to the loo. When I returned, I thought I was ready to begin. So I sharpened two pencils that didn’t need sharpening. And now I’m writing. And if you’ve gotten this far . . . You’re reading.

What’s with that? Why do we procrastinate? Fluff the nest? Circle around like a dog, five times to finally give in to the need, then plop down? I don’t have answers to this question. I hope you do because I expect you to comment and give us your best shot at what’s really going on.

Is it our natural curiosity? If it were just me that experienced this pre-writing distraction, I wouldn’t be writing this to ask you about it. I’d simply assume I’m weird, keep it to myself (except at readings), and that’s the end of the matter. But, I’ve read enough in the craft to know that this is a universal, systemic behavior. No, a plague.

I’m not alone. Others have spoken or written about this. But I’ve not really been satisfied with an answer that hits the bullseye. Why do writers/authors have to balance the checkbook, sort through old work, sharpen pencils, adjust the chair or organize the desktop before they begin to put words to paper/screen?

Is it fear? Are we afraid that when we finally do sit to face the blank sheet/screen, we won’t have anything to say? Are we afraid to get into the flow. I LOVE being in the flow . . . So it can’t be that. So what is it? Once we know its source, we can either get past it (or as CK writes–Work it).

QUESTION: What is writers’ distraction?

© 2013, David C. Alves

A Witness


I fall short in many ways. I’m sure I’m not a great pastor nor a good church manager, but I have regained my focus this past week.

As was John the Baptist, I am a man “sent by Christ” to be “a witness.” The Lord renewed this calling and assignment on Christmas morning–36 years ago to the date that I first received the truth about my sin and the Lord’s grace. During an early morning study time on Christmas morning last week, the Lord pointed me to Acts 20.24 as my verse for 2014.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24, ESV)

I am a witness of the love of Jesus for the lost, abandoned, fatherless, and those who have been discarded by the world. I am a witness of how weak ones–conceived and steeped in sin–are nonetheless loved by a gracious Father and treasured by a compassionate Savior. That’s why Jesus is Lord of my life. It is His doing, all by His grace. Of that, I am a witness and a sign. And I am healed of rejection and a broken heart. For I who was nothing am a son of the Living God (Rom. 8.14, 16).

Well, David . . . how do we know you can be trusted as a witness? Because Jesus gave the criteria for trustworthiness: John 7:18.

“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:18, ESV)

The Lord knows and so do those who know me best and have watched my life for many years.

It’s so good to KNOW whose we are, where we’re headed, and what our assignment is.

Advent Christian Pastoral Ministry: Irrelevance or Life from the Heart?


My writing space at the Mt. Flyer in Ludlow, VT

From my Writing Journal:

2/13/2013

The following is a quote from the book Seasons of the Soul: Stages of Spiritual Development, by Bruce Demarest:

“The challenge facing young Christians is to live from the heart more intentionally, more reflectively, and more prayerfully.”

Many of us Advent Christian pastors are retiring. We long to see young leaders step forward and take the baton. Unfortunately, the very values that they need to succeed, we have not modeled well.

We need to be willing to risk. Stepping outside the box is not high on the priority list for pastors who are playing it safe and preserving ineffective (and often unbiblical) expressions of church life. And truth be known, we have all done this. We need to be more deliberate about escaping busyness, spending alone time with the Lord, being Marys not Marthas, and valuing solitude and quiet.

The values and actions of the previous paragraph are counter-cultural qualities that are absolutely necessary to effective ministry as we continue to move into the 21st century. We must fear the staus quo and traditionalism more than we fear change or we will become irrelevant and our churches will continue to close. Unless we embrace what God is trying to work into the church, we will become irrelevant after all these years of ministry. I do not want to stand before the Lord and hear: “Safely done, my fearful and faithless servant.” I’d prefer the “Well done . . . ”

We still have time.

Before we older pastors pass the baton, we need to recognize and oppose our religious enculturation. Get quiet. Get alone. Be with him much. Deaccumulate, simplify, “live from the heart more intentionally, more reflectively, and more prayerfully”. Prioritize these values and disciplines, allow younger men to see us doing it, and we will leave a Kingdom legacy.

Are you Led or Pushed?


What a great day! What a beautiful morning. I slept until 9:15. Got up. Showered and shaved. Groomed my beard and hair. And dressed. Then went into the Cave and began a Custom Scan of my Cave computer. After that, I carried the laundry down for Marcy, greeted the ladies in my household, and went to my office downstairs. I made some coffee (haven’t had any yet, turned on the computer, scanned through my emails and answered a couple, then set up for my morning of writing to follow my first cup of coffee and prayer. So far . . . A wonderful, and joyful start to the day.

2013-02-27 10.36.40I love spending quiet, alone time with my Father. That comes with my first cup of coffee. I have a little sitting area, where I light my candle (inviting the Holy Spirit to make me aware of his presence and considering the flame as the ever burning love between me and Jesus). Then I sit with him in quiet for a season, mainly to still my mind. Sometimes I read a text of Scripture with that theme of quieting myself and being still before Him.

Once I’m quieted in his love and presence, I become spiritually Alert, sensitive, listening, waiting. I usually have a devotional reading and a book that I will go to if I don’t feel too much push toward it. I say “Push” because I’m always alert to anything that feels like a “push” to have to accomplish something. That is usually a sign that something in me is opposing the quiet and leading of the Spirit.

The Lord never pushes me . . . He LEADS me. He is in front, not behind. Sometimes he’s along side. But He has NEVER pushed me. He Draws. He leads. He sends. He walks beside. He walks ahead. He abides in one place with me. But He never rides me nor leads from behind.

That is one of the ways I recognize the voice of my Shepherd. “My sheep know my voice . . . And they will not FOLLOW another,”  Jesus said in John 10. Are you one of his sheep? If you have been drawn by him and if you have the high privilege of being one of his sheep, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, then you have something to look forward to. And you will find Him when you search for Him with all your heart. You will find it when you are willing to give everything for the remarkable, wonderful joy of knowing Him–the Shepherd of your soul–Jesus of Nazareth . . . Risen from the dead. Alive and looking for you.

So I guess my day is going to be another adventure. Whether good things or bad things happen (for there is no guarantee that we will not suffer) He is with me and I am with Him. My day is in his hands. And as he takes my hand with his, He will lead me through whatever lies ahead. All in all . . . I’d say that’s a great day!

©2013, David C Alves

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