Filled with examples of journal entries, essays and writing styles – The Gift of Family Writing
is for writers of all ages, by writers of all ages. ~ Jill Novak
“All my children have a lot of words. They talk constantly. I just have never really known how to turn that into writing, yet after reading your book, it all seemed so simple.” ~Melissa Parsons
The Gift of Family Writing is the culmination of eight years of discovery—the journey of how our family began writing together and the joy we’ve experienced along the way. It’s bursting with examples to help you and your family capture your life stories as they happen; and it’s packed with practical tools and ideas that will inspire your children (even the most reluctant ones) to value their personal experiences and write about them creatively. If you feel that writing isn’t your strong point, you’ll gain confidence from this method, and so will your children.
The Gift of Family Writing Will Teach you how to:
- Enable children of all ages – preschool through high school – to capture their life stories as they happen
- Equip ALL your children, regardless of their learning styles, to become confident writers
- Encourage even the most reluctant writers to utilize their oral storytelling skills as the basis for their writing
- Inspire children who hate to write
- Develop the practical techniques that “real” authors use as they write from what they know
- Strengthen family relationships through the written word
- Communicate vision and a hope in Christ to each of your children
- Express gratitude for loved ones through tribute writing
- Preserve your spiritual legacy for future generations
If you’re looking for a way to make writing a
natural part of your everyday life, you’ll love this book…
and your children will too!
Did you know you can teach your children how to write and preserve family memories at the same time? The Gift of Family Writing transcends age barriers – it works beautifully for little children who can’t read, but have a lot to say, and it works for older children who hate to write or those who are gifted storytellers, but can’t get their thoughts on the page due to developing spelling or handwriting skills. It transcends learning styles, and establishes a strong foundation for writing from what you know, utilizing many techniques that “real” writers use.
The Gift of Family Writing isn’t just for children, it’s for parents, too! You’ll be inspired to put your pen to paper as you read about the different ways you can write to and with your children. Family journaling, memoir, personal essay, letter writing, and spiritual testimonies, and tributes are just a few of the genres that you will explore in The Gift of Family Writing. You’ll be motivated to make writing a priority when you see how the written word can strengthen family relationships and preserve a spiritual legacy for generations to come.
A Learning Lifestyle for the Whole Family
The Gift of Family Writing isn’t an activity, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of seeing and thinking, a way of appreciating the little things in life, a way of savoring everyday moments and valuing the individuality of family members. Written by Jill Novak and published by Remembrance Press, The Gift of Family Writing will show you how to connect your family’s hearts on paper and nurture family relationships.
“[Jill Novak] has written a truly helpful resource that will bless all families. What a gem… visually appealing, inspiring, and practical.” – Ann Voskamp, Holy Experience.
“Fantastic… an inspiration and a comfort.” – Rebecca Ponce
“Has motivated my children like nothing ever has before. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!” – Leslie K.
“Exactly what I’ve been looking for.” – Susan Nelson
“Now I’ll be able to clearly trace the hand of the Lord in our lives, and I’m so excited about that.” – Colleen L.
“You blessed me abundantly… may the Lord bless you in return.” – Shannon
“Deep in my heart I was wanting a way to preserve [our family] memories, but never had a clear idea of how to do it. Now, I do!” – Sheri Graham.
“I have been deeply encouraged to cherish the special, everyday moments. How valuable it is to see life through that perspective and capture it on paper. I started doing that recently, then your book arrived and the message brought it all to life and spurred me on.” – Barbara S.
What’s so refreshing about Remembrance Press is that it reminds families how to take an ordinary day, and write about it so simply and beautifully, that it turns a plain day into a cherished memory; giving your family a written record of the blessings from the Lord. Remembrance Press shows how important communication is, through our writing and actions, to demonstrate the love of God, and how it starts with our families first. – Gena Suarez, Publisher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
Nonetheless, all children love to talk about what’s important to them. Have you heard the writing potential in your children’s oral story accounts? Do you have a child who struggles with the act of writing but could be a great writer if someone would just connect the dots for him? We want all of our children to freely communicate what’s on their hearts, to tell us about life from their perspective. Well, journaling their life stories on a regular basis allows them to do that, giving them ever-present subject matter from which to explore how to use language and grow as a writer.
To inspire your children in the area of journaling, here are six practical steps to take to unleash the writer within.
1. Help your child understand the writing process.
Writing is thinking. It’s a process by which we take the inner working of our minds and hearts—our thoughts, perceptions, and feelings, and express them on paper. Your child needs to know these things: You don’t know what you’re going to say until you start to say it. Writing is a process of discovery. It will take your mind places you didn’t know it was going. It will make you use words you didn’t even know you knew—and that’s the fun part.
If your child says there is nothing to write about on any certain subject, just tell him he won’t know what he’s going to say until he actually starts saying it. Tell him to listen for a title or the first sentence, and once he hears it in his head, take it from there.
2. If you can talk, you can write.
No two people are alike. Each one has a different way of expressing himself—his own writing voice consisting of inborn rhythms, vocabulary choices, and ideas. Is your child an auditory learner? He needs to know his talking voice can become his writing voice. That’s why journaling is so valuable. It will give him an opportunity to become familiar with his unique writing voice as he records his life stories.
3. A reason to write.
Imagine a world without words: no Bible, no books, no journals, no letters—no past, only present. No remembrances of your life because you didn’t like to write or you wouldn’t take the time to write it down. “Preserving your life stories for now and future generations” is reason enough to write.
4. Write from what you know.
Writing from what you know is much easier than having to make it up. You’re never at a loss for writing material when you write from your personal experience. Have fun and be creative. Everyone can write and should write, not because they have to, but because they get to.
5.Transcribe the entry.
Transcribe journal entries for little children or older children who are not fluent (unable to take all the words they have in their head and put them on paper). Become your child’s scribe until he is able to take over, either through writing in a journal or typing his entries on the keyboard. Help him gain confidence by removing the hindrances until they’re a non-issue.
6. Read other people’s journals entries.
Reading other people’s journal entries is all that is needed sometimes to unleash the writer within. When my son, Eric (21) was home for a visit in September, we gathered together as he began to read his journal entries from when he was a boy. Then, my daughter, Anna (13), began to read some of the entries I had transcribed for her when she was a little girl. It was a poignant moment as we relived the past through the words of their experience, and it was just what Anna needed to hear. Later she said to me, “I want to a creative writer just like Eric!” Yes, I thought, this is exactly why Eric began to write. I read other people’s journal entries to him.
All four of my children’s journal entries (ages 15 to 2) can be found in The Gift of Family Writing. Spanning a period of eight years, I documented the process by which they learned to write, what they wrote, and the simple methods you can utilize to encourage your own children to grow as writers by journaling their life stories as they happen. You can purchase The Gift of Family Writing here.
For the Writer, Poet or Artist… Looking for a word of inspiration? Just pull this little volume out and find a quote or poem to stir you to higher thoughts in the midst of your daily routine.These “Gathered Thoughts” are sure to brighten your day, lift your spirits, and spark your imagination and creativity. Gathered Thoughts will prove to be one of the most valuable resources in your library.
To enter the giveaway, read the directions below and leave a comment.
Your comments for the April contest were so uplifting, we’re continuing on the same theme: This contest centers around the beauty of homemaking. What makes a house a home? What makes a home beautiful? Is there a homemaker (present or past) who you admire? Why?
Tell us what some of your favorite aspects of homemaking are. What activities or recreations do you enjoy doing with your family that center around being home? Answer any of the above questions and have fun. We can’t wait to read your comments!
Contest ends Monday, May 14th – 12:00 midnight.
I was asked what supplies we use for nature journaling (I’m glad you asked!). Below is our basic supply list. I also have a workshop entitled Becoming God’s Naturalist which explores creative and practical ways to get the most out of nature study and nature journaling. It is available in a two CD set along with The Gift of Family Writing. You can find these resources in our bookstore:
Our Basic Supply List for Nature Journaling
Paper – For finished drawings we use individual pieces of 110 lb. cover stock fastened to clip boards (available at Wal-Mart). The completed drawing or painting is stored in a binder inside plastic sleeves. That way the children don’t have to worry about ruining previous drawings.
Sketchbooks – My children love having their own sketchbooks. Right now they’re crazy about large formats. Buy a couple of different sizes. You can never have enough sketchbooks! Just about any brand of sketchbook will do. Look for Beinfang or Cannon.
Watercolor paper – You don’t have to buy watercolor paper for beginners, but if you do, try a watercolor block. The paper is already stretched so you don’t have to worry about it buckling. I like to work on Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press. It is available in different sizes (the 9 x12 is nice). We also paint on 110 lb. cover stock. It holds up pretty well as long as your brush isn’t excessively wet.
Pencils – Our favorite all-purpose pencil is Faber Castle. You can find them in most art stores. Buy soft art pencils B, 2B, 4B, 6B and aqua or water soluble art pencils. Let the kids experiment with the different textures. They’ll tell you which ones they like the best.
Artist pens – by Faber Castell. These pens are great for noodeling, doodeling, and sketching. My kids love these pens and told me to put them on the list.
Watercolor pencils – Derwent available at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Ebay.
Erasers – We use plastic erasers by Staedtler which are available from Wal-Mart in packages of three. Plastic erasers remove pencil marks without hurting the paper. Kneaded erasers work well for picking up tone.
Paints – I like Prang 12 count paints for children (little kids can use Crayola). They offer a wide palette to mix from and are relatively inexpensive. I also purchased a set of Grumbacher watercolors for myself. These are not necessary if you are just starting out, but you can get them on sale at Michaels for $2.00 a tube. Some children, like my Elizabeth – now age 15, loves tube paints.
Try not to let age be a limiting factor when it comes to art supplies (my mother let me paint with oils when I was 10).
Brushes – Purchase fine quality brushes of different widths and shapes for watercolor. Inferior brushes will ruin your efforts to control the paint. If you’re watching your budget, purchase a couple of sets of packaged brushes from Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby. They may have to be replaced periodically but they are much better than the brushes that come in paint boxes.
Just as every child can write from what he knows, every child can draw from what he sees. Children who rarely pick up a pencil on their own can learn to express themselves creatively if they are exposed to the right environment – one that’s filled with the beauty of God’s Creation, the work of inspired artists, and the tools of the trade.
One day when I was reading my Bible, the Lord led me to find the Hebrew word Revach which means “to breathe freely, to revive, to have ample room, to be extended, to be refreshed.” It also means “deliverance and liberation from distress.” Over the last ten years the Lord has shown me that this word speaks figuratively of the pages of our journals. We are refreshed and renewed as we slow down to record our life stories. We are revived as we remember the hand of the Lord in our lives. There is ample room to express what’s on our hearts to Him. Our journal pages become a testimony of deliverance and answered prayers. We have liberation from distress as we see how God faithfully uses our trials, past and present, to conform us to the image of Christ. Often, we’re too busy trying to cope with everyday struggles and minor irritations to see the connections that God makes with us—the answers to our prayers.
A spiritual journal is a practical way of recording the good part of life; sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His still, small voice. 1 Kings 19:7 (NASB) says: “And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him [Elijah], and said, ‘Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you…’ Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rock in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
Do you ever wonder what you’re doing here? I know I do! Sometimes the journey is too great. There are times of intense struggle when we feel our hearts will break in two, and we have no strength to take another step. It’s at times like these that nothing but the voice of God will do. A prayer journal is a place to hear God’s voice as you record your spiritual journey. Journaling gives you hindsight and vision, showing you where you have been, what you are doing here, and where you are going. A daily record of the Bible verses that you study, your struggles, your prayers, and the answers to your prayers will all be a legacy to your children of your relationship with the living God. Father, You are the Living Word. Help us to draw near to you in the pages of our journals and lead us to Revach.
“This morning I made the last entry in the journal that I’ve been keeping for over a year. It was a bitter sweet feeling to close those pages, but I eagerly anticipate starting another journal. What dialog will fill the new pages? The tears flowed freely this morning as I fought to quiet my heart, as I sought a connection with my Father. Finally, the words came rushing from His heart to mine, and from my heart to His. I am thankful for His faithfulness. He never turns a deaf ear.
Upon the White – By Jill Novak
I thank you Lord for this new day To write upon the white,
Words committed to the lines Broken and contrite.
In the morning when all is still My prayer shall rise to Thee,
Praises from a longing heart Thy hidden face to see.
In the morning when all is still My words shall then take flight,
Into Your presence – upward, rise Expectant, giving sight.
I thank you Lord for words of life To write upon the white,
Words committed to the lines, broken and contrite.
The Gift of Family Writing Bundle consists of the following products:
The Gift of Family Writing Book and Audio Workshop by Jill Novak – The Gift of Family Writing is a result of what I’ve discovered over the last ten years from teaching my four children (pre-school through high school) to journal their life stories. Just like your children, they are so unique, with different learning styles and temperaments. But I have learned that all children – not just the naturally gifted ones – can confidently express themselves if they are taught to value their life experiences and write from what they know. For parents and children. Book on CD with instructional audio workshop on CD.
Letters to my Children CD Workshop by Jill Novak – We blog, instant message, and email our friends and associates on a regular basis, but sadly our own children get lost in the mix. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. See how to keep hearts connected by writing meaningful letters and spontaneous notes to your children. Jill Novak shares inspiring and practical tips for establishing a letter writing ministry that will strengthen your family relationships and become a testimony for generations to come. Learn how the written word has the power to change hearts, transform lives and give vision. Create a legacy of love for your children and grandchildren, one letter at a time with Letters to My Children –A Legacy of Love for all Generations. – 2 hours
Forget Me Not Faith CD Workshop by Jill Novak – God is writing “His” story every day, and its right at the end of your fingertips. This workshop will inspire you to record your family’s spiritual journey with purpose and clarity. Reflections, observations, prayers, testimonies, tributes, poetry, and letters can all be preserved in a Book of Remembrance (Malachi 3:16) that will strengthen your faith and make an eternal impact for generations to come.
To order your bundle click here
Like you, I try to nurture my children’s hearts everyday, but the truth is that the busyness of life and countless outside distractions keep me from preserving words that bring life, direction, and vision–unless I write a letter. Letter writing bridges the gap between the words I long to express, and the words my children and grandchildren will remember the rest of their lives.
A Legacy for All Generations
There are as many reasons to write a letters as there are people to receive them. Still, a practice so commonplace in previous centuries has become a lost art to our generation. Many parents are rediscovering the truth in the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword!” and have committed to writing letters to their children on a regular basis. Whether you are writing about a moment you’ve shared, saying thank you, or giving your child a vision for the future, letter writing is vital for nurturing relationships.
The Inspiration for Writing to My Children
I know that my mother liked to dabble with words. I have a few of her precious attempts at poetry and prose, but the writing that I hold dear to my heart are the two letters that she penned to me over her whole lifetime. It hardly seems possible that I lived with her for 22 years and only have two letters to show for it.
Her poetry gives me glimpses into her heart, her love of family and nature – things we share in common – but her letters give me a sense of belonging and purpose. Her words, though few, are well chosen and give me the vision to write letters to my children on a regular basis.
Two Letters from my Mother
It’s about 4 a.m. Christmas morning and as I lie here thinking of all of you I want to cry for the joy God has put in my heart for our family. I’ve always prayed He would do special things with each one of you. I prayed for your salvation when I really didn’t know Him so well. Can you imagine what He has in store for all of you now that we really know Him? Know Him like we never knew Him before! May the power of God which transcends all understanding be yours forever and may the Holy Spirit hover over all of you, and protect you every hour of every day.
In the Love of Christ Jesus,
I want you to know how much I appreciate you thoughtfulness. Everything you do and say is very much appreciated by me, but I don’t always have the chance to put in words what I feel. In loving Claire, you might have some idea how I as a mother have felt for you. That doesn’t change because you are a woman, it just becomes a mature caring at this point and seeing your relationship with Claire tells me that the love my mother had for me has come through to be seen in your love for Claire. Love is what it is all about isn’t it? God love your little family, and may the Holy Spirit abound richly in each one of you.
Little did my mother know the impact that these two letters would have in my life and the lives of her grandchildren. She left a legacy of love and a memorial to her relationship with the Lord. You can do the same. Letter witting is one of the most effective ways to minister to the heart of your child and give him a vision for his life.
Last week, my daughter Elizabeth came to talk to me when I was working on the revised edition of The Gift of Family Writing. She glanced at the monitor and saw the two letters that my mother wrote to me. As she snuggled into my lap, I began to read them to her. I didn’t realize until that moment that she hadn’t heard of these letters before, so I explained that they were the only letters that my mother wrote to me over her lifetime. “Well, I hope you write lots of letters to me,” she said. Her comment challenged me once again to make it a priority to write to my children on a regular basis.
The Gift of Family Writing is filled with examples that will inspire and equip you to begin a letter writing ministry to your family today. Learn about the many different types of letters that you can write to your children.
My Daughter turned eighteen last week. What a milestone! I wanted to do something special for her, so I wrote her a letter. I wrote about many of the memories I have of her life and then I wrote some verses of Scripture based on the theme of “fearing the Lord”. On the envelope on put stickers that were symbols of things from her life.
That same week one of her friends was having a “princess” party. She secretly wrote to each girl’s father and asked them to write a letter to his daughter to be read at the party. Writing is difficult for my husband. He agonized over this letter. However, the final result was beautiful! He wrote of memories he had of her and inside things that only she and he shared. What a cherished gift.
Now I plan to write letters to each of my family for the holiday season (we celebrate Hanukkah). Thank you so much for the inspiration.
Be Inspired by Jennifer’s Letter in
The Gift of Family Writing
Like the genealogies of the Bible, words beget words and stories beget stories. Before you know it, you’re recording the ordinary moments of your day, and something extraordinary happens—you and your children become writers! The gift of words and the means of expressing them flow from the heart of God to all of your children. When you teach them to capture their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions on paper, you enable them to remember; and in remembering your family members are bonded to each other and the Lord in a more profound way.
Families are constantly changing. Children grow up and leave childish things behind. As time goes by, the memory of your home life with them fades. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Your family’s life stories and unique spiritual heritage can be preserved through The Gift of Family Writing.
Remembering the Past
Every family has at least one member who can remember—as if it were yesterday—events that happened in the family when he or she was a child. My husband Robert (the only boy among three sisters) is the storyteller in his family. Most of his accounts are about the family farm and fishing trips in Canada. Our children were raised on these stories and value them as part of their heritage. When our family moved to a farm in 1999, new “farm stories” began to take shape. I recorded them in a journal, knowing we would forget these experiences if I didn’t write them down. My husband’s love of storytelling had rubbed off on me.
Gradually I was drawn to read books about recording your life stories and writing from the heart. Geared toward adults, these books focused on writing memoirs or life stories for your children and grandchildren. As I read, a thought arose in my mind: Why aren’t we recording our children’s life stories as they happen? We’re with them all the time. What wouldn’t any of us give to read—in our own words—the accounts of people, places, or things that mattered to us when we were young? How much easier it would be for our children to write their life stories now, while they’re still fresh on their minds!
I began to really listen to my children. I was amazed to hear how many words they used to describe their experiences, and surprised at how naturally they expressed themselves. The younger ones only needed me to write their stories down. A bond formed that wasn’t there before; I was hearing the hearts of my children through the words of their experience.
Recording Your Life Stories
You may not have thought about recording your life stories together as a family. I know I hadn’t. I’m amazed that it never occurred to me to have my two oldest children narrate their daily experiences to me when they were younger. I didn’t realize that we could write about all the wonderful things we’ve done together as a family or that I could preserve my spiritual walk so my children and grandchildren would know the awesome God we serve. One thing I’ve learned, though, it’s never too late to journal your life stories. As long as you live and breathe there will be plenty of experiences to preserve on paper.
Order the Gift of Family Writing here: http://remembrancepressbookstore.com/collections/the-gift-of-family-writing
If there is one word that describes The Gift of Family Writing, it’s relationship—the relationship of family members to one another through the written word. The written word has the power to bless, bond, heal, guide, and give life because written communication is a gift from God. Only within the security of family relationships do we have the freedom to express what’s on our hearts and anticipate a response. Through journaling and letter writing, relationships with God and our family members are strengthened.
Interactive journaling is an exchange of words between parents and children, siblings and spouses. This type of journaling is nothing like the secret diaries we grew up with. Family members are encouraged to minister to one another by writing in each other’s journals. Interactive journaling allows words to be given away as gifts for the purpose of building strong relationships; it’s a form of communication that bridges the gap like no other.
Lately, as I have been transcribing one of my children’s life stories or entering a word of encouragement in their journals, I’ve wondered how I can convey the joy I feel when I know that I am connecting with each one of them in such a profound way. I used to think journaling was an option, but I’m not so sure anymore. If there’s no record of your family’s walk with the Lord, what do your children have when they leave home to start families of their own? Only memories! What does the next generation have? A few impressions of their godly heritage—that’s all! When I pondered this question these words came to me in the form of a poem.
No Words ~ by Jill Novak
I had a family but I kept no words
To describe the way their faces looked
Or the way they used to call my name
I try to remember but it’s all so vague.
My mind is old and cannot see
Beyond the veiled tapestry.
The life I know I must have lived
Beyond recall and ever dim.
I ask myself, how can this be?
Oh, memory, how you fail me.
I am often asked, “What kind of words can we write in each other’s journals?” You can write words about everyday moments, special times, Father’s and Mother’s Day, birthdays, blessing parties, anniversaries, observations about life, words of encouragement, apologies, words of healing, and the testimony of your spiritual journey. I’ve highlighted the possibilities in The Gift of Family Writing.
Order the Gift of Family Writing and Audio Workshop on CD here .