Make a Family Valentine

family valentine

Personal Background Investigation-Assignment #30 Creative Ways to Leave a Legacy Series: Make a large valentine for family members to write sweet messages on and post it annually.

Such quips as “Let’s have some kicks for ’86” from my son, and from my daughter: Valentine’s Day is good but you’re the best” are treasures to remember for years to come.

Create a Family Cookbook

On the heels of the Christmas gift-giving season, this comment from a high school friend about giving meaningful gifts stuck with me. Her goal is to give away presents that are meaningful. “Gifts should either feed the body, care for the body, inspire the spirit, or instill a memory.”

I asked her for examples of meaningful gifts she had given and she shared some wonderful ways to pass on family history and traditions.
In the next several blog posts, I’ll share her suggestions for creative ways to leave a legacy in the form of assignments to consider.

Personal Background Investigation-Assignment #29 Consider compiling a personal cookbook with family stories and photos associated with the recipes.

family cookbook

Out with the Old, in with the New

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #28- Share an “out with the old, in with the new year” remembrance.

happy new year

Scanning Facebook at year’s end, I happened upon this post from a special high school friend and with her permission share it below. Her words spoke volumes to me as to how capturing and sharing life incidents can leave a lasting impact.

The old year ended on a solemn, disappointing note that complicated both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, despite our best collective efforts.
It was still a huge relief for the process to finally end.
Now, to begin again, face a repeat process and just let things evolve as God would have them…and persevere through it.
In the course of last evening, while at supper, I met another widowed woman traveling alone on a 3 day journey from Michigan to Englewood. Her story tumbled out, was very like my own and she was overwhelmed by more than she could manage alone. I very nearly brought her home with me for the night because she was so weary and exhausted, facing 3 more hours of driving. Still she persevered on her journey knowing that comfort and friends awaited her, so I prayed for her well-being and safety on the road.
When I returned home, there sat a beautiful potted plant at my gate, with no giver’s name, no card, just left there for me to discover.
What a delight! Someone had thought of me!
It was a sign of encouragement to me, at the end of a weary, disappointing day to persevere on my own journey, to hold fast to the knowledge that God is with me, that there will be unexpected promise and delight, and the comfort of family and friends awaiting me at my own journey’s end!
Sojourning sister, I hope you are safely home and that you slept well!

Remembering Mother’s Cooking

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #24- What kind of cook was your mother? Growing up what was your favorite meal?

My mother was a southern cook. That generally meant food served fresh, fried or with added fat or sugar. My favorite meal was a toss-up between breakfast and dinner.
I loved her breakfasts of big cathead biscuits, smoked sausage, country ham, thick slices of smoked bacon, fresh yard eggs, rice and/or grits, homemade fig and strawberry preserves. Sometimes she would fix sawmill or tomato gravy for our biscuits. Of course there was coffee and in the winter months, hot sassafras tea–good for colds and flu. We almost always had a big dish of homemade butter, a jug of fresh milk and a quart jar of honey on the table.

My favorite dinner: fried chicken, butterbeans, fried okra or squash, buttered corn of the cob, fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with biscuits and honey or cane syrup. End the meal with banana pudding and wash it down with sweet iced tea. Yum.

Banana pudding

(Memories of LaVelle Pitts)

Remembering Answered Prayer


Looking to your past to remember times when God answered prayer in your life can be an encouragement to you and others.

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #23- Describe a memory of answered prayer in your life.


The Lost Cows
There was no stock law in Florida when I was growing up. All livestock roamed wherever there was grass and water. Sometimes our cows would wander off and we’d have to go find them.
cow behind bush

One day five cows went missing. We searched all the customary places, but didn’t find them. For several days Dad sent me on my horse to look for the cows. Mom and Dad were anxious. These were beef cattle that Dad was going to sell to buy supplies for the family and farm.
They had special prayer for God to show them how to find the lost cows. The next morning, Dad got up and said he had a dream and believed God showed him where they were. In the dream, he saw the cows grazing several miles east of our farm near Highway 79.
Even though this place was far from where the cows usually wandered, Dad was confident God had shown him where they were. We went to the location. Much to my amazement the cows were in the exact spot Dad saw in his dream.
I started believing in prayer at a young age. (From LaVelle Pitts memoirs)

Leaving a Worthwhile Legacy

Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #22–family on beach
(Photo courtesy of

I had to look twice to recognize that the fish in the surf was my granddaughter. At age seven, she shares my joy of the beach.
Though I stand safely a few feet into the water, she goes out beyond the breaking waves with her dad, preparing to ride the next “big one” on her boogie board. Sometimes she washes to shore with the tide, at other times the force pulls her under, and she soon surfaces sputtering and wiping her eyes, already anticipating the next ride.
There is something joyful about watching your family embrace love, I’m sure God shares that feeling as He watches us reveling in the wonders He intentionally provided for us.
I see Him smile when I relax against the backdrop of swishing waves, or when I find that one perfect shell, or smell the scent of fish and salt carried in the wind. In spite of the happiness over my granddaughter loving the beach, my greater joy comes from having her beside me in church, knowing my God is her God.
I am blessed to have all of my grandchildren, those living close and those hundreds of miles away, in church on Sundays. Although the credit is not all mine, this is the legacy I am most proud of.
What are you sharing with our family? Do they share your love of volunteering, or crafting, or running?
Can they make homemade noodles as well as you? Do they can green beans in spite of the work?
Most importantly have you shared God with them? Can they see the Savior in your life?
Not all of our children will follow or ways, but we have the responsibility to try. Spend some time in prayer this week, my friends, for your family—those in the faith, and those still yearning for the love of God.
Thanks to Regina for sharing. Check out Regina’s website and look for book, Deadly Decision, coming out October, 2014.

Remembering Family July 4th Celebrations

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck


Personal Background Investigation- Assignment #20
How did your family celebrated the 4th of July?

A Royal Heritage

princess ever after 4
Could there be royalty in your background?

Welcome to guest author, Rachel Hauck. Her book, Princess Ever After, is a great example of a fictional background investigation in which the heroine discovers she is a royal princess.
Rachel sends a note of encouragement to memoir writers:
I kept diaries for 17 years. I wrote in a little red kid’s diary when I was six years old! I’m still baffled how or why I thought to record my life at that age, but I did. Not often but I did write things down.

Now I look back at those journals and laugh, blush, groan and smile. Above all, I remember my yesterdays, and all the good in my life. Yes, even in the struggles. It’s amazing to read about myself at 16, 17, in my own words. I feel so distant from that energetic, optimist girl at times but yet, I AM still that energetic, optimist girl and I think she’d be happy with the choices “we’ve” made in life.

For Princess Ever After, I wrote diary entries from the heroine’s Gram’s perspective. It was her writings that helped the heroine discover and accept her real identity.

I was talking to my sister about my diaries, wondering what to do with them since I have no children, and she assured me her children would love to have them. So, after carefully editing them, I think I’ll leave my yesterdays to my nieces and nephews. 🙂

Whether you’ve kept diaries, journals, or blogs of your life, you can tap into your memories to deepen your stories and your characters’ internal journey.

Happy Writing!
Thank you Rachel for great tips to writers working on their personal background investigation!