#TellHisStory Featured Writer: Nancy B. Kennedy (And a Book Giveaway!)

March 12, 2013 | 63 comments

During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encour

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age you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight Wednesday to link up your God Story by clicking hereFrom now through Easter, we’re considering “The Lenten Journey,” though you are free to share ANY story that God lays on your heart.)

And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to my new friend, author Nancy B. Kennedy. (Bonus: We’re giving away FIVE copies of her newly released book, Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Moms.

 

If you’re like me, you had a “good girl” upbringing. We good girls never rock the boat. We put people at ease. We don’t let our emotions get out of hand, lest we make someone squirm.  We skirt around the tough stuff. We don’t ask deeply personal questions or bring up anything that might cause grief.

In order to write emotionally powerful stories, I have had to shed this good girl trait. Whether I am writing a personal story or ghostwriting someone else’s story, I have learned that it is okay to dwell in the uncomfortable moment, to pause and say, “Let’s stay here. I can see this is meaningful for you. Please tell me more.” It’s okay to let people choke up, to shed tears, to struggle for control—and that’s true whether it’s your interviewee or your reader. Uncover the emotional core of a story and then draw it out with detail, dialog and reflection.

The resource I’ve found most helpful in this regard are the story guidelines for Chicken Soup for the Soul submissions. These story collections are unabashedly emotional with a tried-and-true formula for tapping into readers’ emotions. Goodbye forever, good girl!

~ Nancy B. Kennedy

ABOUT NANCY:

Nancy Kennedy

Nancy B. Kennedy has enjoyed a career in journalism and has authored six books. Her most recent book is Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Moms, the third title in a series of inspirational story collections.

 

YOUR TURN: Today through Saturday at noon, I am hosting a giveaway of Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Moms. Nancy is generously giving away FIVE copies of her book. The book includes stories from dozens of funny and inspiring writers you may know, including New York Times-bestselling author Melanie Shankle of The Big Mama Blog, Sophie Hudson of BooMama.net, and Glynnis Whitwer and Lynn Cowell from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

I am also honored to have a story published in this book.

Miracles & Moments of Grace, Nancy Kennedy

To participate in the book giveaway:

Simply share one (or more) traits that your mother passed on to you, and you will be entered in the giveaway. You can offer simple statements, such as “her sense of humor, ” or “compassion for others.” Or you may share longer stories. I’m eager to read your comments!

(#TellHis Story Writers: You may also feel free to address your writing questions in the comment box, as we typically do for #TellHisStory. Those comments will also be entered in the giveaway.)

by | March 12, 2013 | 63 comments

63 Comments

  1. Sincerely, Jenni

    My mother passed down to me her maturity, level-headedness, and definitely her sense of humor. Also, it helps that we look like we could be sisters. 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      And you have a great sense of humor, Jenni! I’ve seen your blog and your Twitter feed! God bless you, Iowa girl. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jo-Ann

    My mother passed down to me her love and devotion to family.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      How wonderful, Jo-Ann. Your family is blessed.

      Reply
  3. ro elliott

    A heart of a servant

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      DEFINITELY like mother, like daughter. I know you well enough to know that! 🙂 xo

      Reply
  4. Dave Vander Laan

    My Mom so delightfully showed me the importance of ‘hospitality.’

    When I moved out of my parents’ home but lived only two blocks away, I’d see Mom in church and ask – spur-of-the-moment – “May I bring Todd and Mark and Kevin and Ed home for Sunday Dinner?”

    And she always said, “Yes!”

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Great story, Dave. I’ve seen you demonstrate this sort of hospitality out on the Hill, where you give of your time and listening ear to many of us! God bless you, brother.

      Reply
  5. lynndmorrissey

    Mother’s Melody
    by Lynn D. Morrissey

    She sang life to me unconditionally
    as I grew in her secret cocoon
    and bloomed to completion.
    She sang contentment.
    Nesting me at her breast,
    we rocked and rocked in quilted quiet.
    My curls rose and fell with her breath.
    She sang ivory lullabies,
    rock-a-bye babies, hush-a-byes,
    by yon bonnie banks and farmers’ dells.
    The tunes soared and swelled ’til I was compelled to sing
    a ring around her rosey beauty.
    She sang comfort on rain-throated days
    and brought tea and toast.
    I floated in her blue-quilt sea,
    gently bedded.
    She sang love to me sacrificially.
    I was in her.
    Now she’s in me.
    I am my mother’s melody.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hushed.

      And teary. Oh Lynn…

      Reply
  6. danivanzyl

    Where to begin??? My sweet momma passed down a lot…fierce devotion, unconditional love, a desire to live for God, and…a little naughtiness;)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’ve got a mama with a bit of naughtiness, too. At age 16, I rolled my eyes. Now, I love it. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Denise J. Hughes

    I come from a long line of women who loved books. My mother loved books. Her mother loved books. And I too love books.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      And Denise? It shows in your writing.

      Reply
  8. Jennifer Konfrst

    From my mom I learned to laugh, cope, and lean. And I am forever grateful.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Laugh. Cope. Lean. What a great legacy.

      Reply
  9. Jennifer Bush Dorhauer

    My mom made me the craft-happy woman I am today, the ability to create beauty from nothing, which has helped with everything from educating my children to teaching Sunday School to helping me make a house a home. Give me empty milk cartons, a box of toilet paper rolls, and several bottles of Elmer’s glue, and I can entertain a group of preschoolers for hours.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You. Are. My. Hero.

      Reply
  10. kelliwoodford

    my mom was (and is) a rugged individualist. she has taught me what it means to hold an unpopular opinion firmly, but with great grace. although she can get her feathers ruffled from time to time, my mom doesn’t let the issue become heavier than the weight of love.
    she has loved me and my sister both through the ugly, hard choices we were faced with as young people. and i know it’s no small thing to watch your baby suffer, but she has held our hand courageously while we’ve wept and i know her heart bled for us. but she didn’t take the easy way out. she stood by and didn’t bail and kept the faith. taught us more through her presence than her words.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I loved this and hope to be this for my step kids. Thank you.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      “taught us more through her presence than her words…” Good, good words for this mama. Thank you, Kelli. So this is where you get some of your grit, right there in the middle of all that grace?

      Reply
  11. Kathy Schwanke

    My mama passed on to me a love for Jesus, truth, purity, and people. She ran to the broken ones when they called, or opened hands and home when they came to her…The alcoholic that needed to go to detox- Mom took her down in the middle of the night over and over. The aunt having the nervous breakdown, we (family of dozen or so) took her in. She also passed on a hard work ethic raising babies, making bread, canning (though I was done with that when I moved out!), milking cows, doing field work, cooking…I’m getting exhausted writing about all she did. *Whew!* 😉

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Wow! She sounds like an amazing mother. And I know enough about you already to see those same traits in you.

      Reply
  12. Kent Dolezal

    Before a stroke took away my mothers ability to express her thoughts, Mom taught me how to respect “her” by calling her mom, mother or by her name (Ruth) and not her! Now when I talk to people I call them by name and don’t use an adjective.

    The other great thing my mother showed and taught me was moms love for Jesus and the Lord!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Kent,

      You know what? That’s really good advice. We each have a name assigned to us. We ought to use it as frequently as possible.

      Reply
  13. Lisa

    This might be long because this is part of my story that God has weaved through me to tell one day. I will try to be brief. I was not raised in any church. My mom didn’t talk about a relationship with Jesus or even talk about God that much. Only now, 6 years after her surprising death from cancer, have I found notes about believing in God among her papers. But when I look back at how I was raised, I see my mother teaching me the very things the most well-versed Christian mother would teach. Compassion, mercy, grace, and especially gratitude. Oh, I’d roll my 16 yr old eyes and call her a goody-goody and sigh at how she never fought anyone back. And now I listen to my 14 year old stepdaughter call me a goody-goody and sigh when I tell her not to repay evil with evil and when I write her little encouraging notes that get mysteriously slipped into her palm as she darts out the car door for school. My mother lives in me. And the most amazing…the most Amen-azing thing is that I now see Jesus living in my mother all of my life and I never knew it. I thought she died without seeing me come to true faith, but I see now that she was my biggest earthly teacher of true faith and I don’t think she even knew. It delights me to know she resides now with God and I will see her again and tell her I am so proud to have grown up to become a “goody-goody” like her.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Lisa,
      I’m so delighted you shared this part of your beautiful story here in the comment box. What a joy and relief that must have been for you to come across her notes after her passing. May God continue to grant you memories of those moments when she showed you Jesus, even without words. Perhaps it’s true, that many things we learn as children are “caught not taught.”

      Reply
  14. Prairie Sisterchick

    I do not know what my mama gave me……..

    I don’t even know her name.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Sensing the sadness here….just wanted to say I hear you and I am sorry for your pain. In situations like these, I am so grateful for the Lord who is the greatest Parent, One who willnever leave nor forsake us. I pray for His comfort to reach your heart this night, Prairie Sisterchick.I was nervous to reply as I realize I do not know your story at all,; but I couldn’t not respond to the ache in some way. I would like to say a prayer for you tonight if that is OK.
      peace to you, sister.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Prairie Sisterchick, I’m joining Lisa in praying. Right now. I, too, sense something underneath your words. So glad you’re here tonight.

      Reply
  15. Kerry Allor

    My mom is a pretty tough woman . She taught me strength in ever aspect of her life. She also taught me how to respect her and others in my life. She is struggling lately with the losing her hearing and trying to keep what little site she has left. I also realize to she had taught me honor her in helping her daily. She was one of my first teachers . I see her at 83 and she is still teaching me how to live a life with God in it and the importance of it.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Once a mother, always a mother, right Kerry? And here … your mama still teaching you.

      Reply
  16. Connie Brown

    My father was killed in an accident in November of 1969, my Mom was left to provide for eight of her ten children. The oldest two girls were married. No one in 1969 only had one parent, it just did not happen. It happened to my family. My Mom has an 8th grade education and worked as a waitress her whole life. What did she teach me? No matter what happens, never give up. Get out of bed every morning and keep moving forward. She never had time to read to me, but she made sure my older siblings did. She never gave up. When I became a Mom she would come to Iowa and stay with us, she read to my young boys, so I could have time to myself to read a book. She is my mentor, my friend, and my biggest fan…. I love you Mom…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Connie, sweet Connie. I didn’t know all this back-story on your life. That story about her not having time to read to you … but later coming back to read to your boys??? It makes me cry the sweetest tears, friend.

      Reply
  17. Simply Darlene

    – work ethic
    – giving of self
    – great adoration of blue jeans, cowboy boots, music & dancing
    – tenacity
    – love

    thanks for the opportunity to share.

    blessings.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh yes, oh yes. I see all five of those traits in you, Darlene! You’re amazing. You know that?

      Reply
  18. Carol Hulin (@CarolHulin)

    My mother passed on to me a love of books. Of reading. Of cherishing the written word. A family tradition is to read the Anne of Green Gables series every summer….

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Love Anne of Green Gables! Thanks for sharing, Carol.

      Reply
  19. Daniel Farrow

    The ministry of ‘Hugs’! Sometimes people need love with skin on and love without words. My Mom taught me that hugs can minister in that way. 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That’s awesome, Daniel. Did she also have a heart for prayer, like you do?

      Reply
      • Daniel Farrow

        Yes she does Jennifer. Her heart is to nurture and see young ones grow in their faith in Christ, and I guess I get my shepherd’s heart from her too. 🙂

        Reply
  20. Dot Khan

    To always look below the surface. If we will take the time to know people rather than go on first impressions, we will see who they really are. And often be met with indescribable beauty!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Dot Khan, Your mother sounds like a very perceptive and thoughtful person. We could all use more of that trait.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Barbara.

      Reply
  21. mnicholas2012

    My mom dropped everything in order to make memories with us children, four of us. I have so many memories I will be able to hold to when needed. Thank you mom.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      mnicholas2012 ~ What a wonderful legacy, and a great lesson for all of us. How blessed you are, to have memory upon memory with your family.

      Reply
      • mnicholas2012

        I am blessed with memories.

        Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Ava Sophie! Thanks so much for sharing your link. 🙂

      Reply
  22. Jillie

    Sorry to be the poopy one here, but my mother left me with many fears. She was always so afraid something would happen to us and instilled those fears in us. She tried to live her life ‘safe’, and taught us to do the same.
    At the same time, she was a very creative person with many and varied talents. Played piano, accordian, guitar, knitted, crocheted, sewed. She kept one journal in her lifetime of all the important moments written down. She used to tell me I had the hands of a writer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Jillie,

      Your truest story is the one that is always, always welcome here. I’m sorry you were left with such fear. Love you.

      Reply
  23. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    If only I could upload the photo of my mom draped in a pink feather boa at my daughter’s wedding! She just sent me the most ridiculous Easter Bunny apron which, when I opened it, caused me to laugh out loud. So whenever I come across online as quirky or strange, just remember apples don’t fall far from their trees.

    But seriously–because I am capable of being serious, my most enduring memory of my mother is my first sight of her each morning sitting at the breakfast table, Thompson Chain Reference Bible and Our Daily Bread open in front of her, praying for those she loves. If I have inherited even a measure of her devotion, I consider myself truly blessed.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      OH my, Nancy. And these are the characteristics that I always associate with you — the fun-loving feather boa woman who loves her some Jesus!

      Reply
  24. Susan

    My mom was very courageous! When I was growing up my father was very abusive to our family. To make things worse he was a police officer. My first experience with God was vacation bible school with my best friend. That’s where I began to know Jesus! I remember laying in a pile of leaves looking up at the sky wishing as hard as I could! It took a little while, but mom got the courage to leave and make a new life! She always said follow your dreams. There are four of us kids. The abuse left us all physically damaged in some ways, but we got out with our lives in tact. God does not give you more then you can handle. Instead He makes you incredibly strong. That was my mom. No matter what happened she did her best to take care of everyone. She remained the most loving, beautiful person I had the pleasure to know!

    Reply
  25. BRENDA JOHNSON

    Compassion for others…….

    Reply
  26. Kristin Hill Taylor (@kristinhtaylor)

    My mom would be there when we needed her, even if it meant rearranging her day. Even when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was almost 25, she was at the hospital with me 4 hours from her house as soon as she could be.

    Reply
  27. Sarah

    My mom– organization, service, and a love for the Word of God

    Reply
  28. Rachael

    My mother passed down the gift of hospitality. I am so thankful for that!

    Reply
  29. Beth

    I’m like my mom in so many ways, but I’d have to say the gift of patience.

    Reply
  30. S. Etole

    A respect of others confidences and the ability to persevere.

    Reply
  31. Nancy B. Kennedy

    My mother was a competitor! (You don’t have to enter me… I already have a copy of the book…)

    Reply
  32. Abby

    My mother passed to me the importance of memorizing scripture, hiding God’s word in my heart. I was not thrilled as a child at all the memorization, but am so thankful now that she did it. Interesting how the scriptures are still with me, and the words have so much more meaning to me today, then as a child.

    Reply

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