Saturday, January 8, 2011

How I Journal

OK random post about how I journal just in case anyone wants to know.

It actually started about 15 years ago when John and I were in a bible study group.  We were doing a study that was part of some 24:7 series.  I really don't remember anything else about the title.  Anyway, this particular study required weekly scripture memorization and daily bible reading.  In order to facilitate accountability with the bible reading there was a little form to fill out.  We were encouraged to simply read a section of scripture ranging anywhere from a few verses to a chapter or two, whatever we wanted, and then pick out one verse that really jumped out at us, write down the verse and one or two sentences about why that verse jumped out.

I think it was the simplicity of the format that stuck for me.  I didn't feel like I had to have any answers or be particularly profound and since nobody else was reading it I could be totally honest in it.  Sometimes I just wanted to write things down because what God was telling me was so profound I didn't want to forget.

I don't think I realized that God was speaking to me through those journals for many years but as I continued to journal and write what I was noticing I started wanting to pray about it.  I started writing prayers based on what I had learned.  Asking God to forgive me or help me improve and change in a particular area or both.  Then as I wrote I would think of ways it related to my life or action steps I wanted to take as a result and I would write those things down too.  And in that I began hearing God's voice.

The whole thing has really been a process.  Some days I still really only write one or two sentences but other days I can go on for a page or more.  And those journals have been key to greater understanding of who God is and what he wants from me. 

Honestly I almost never go back and re-read them.  In fact it has only been in recent years that I have started glancing back at all.  I was sort of afraid they were just full of nonsensical ramblings and I would just feel embarrassed for myself.  Yet as I did start looking back I was pleasantly surprised to see that I really was learning things through this process.  Now, as I have started sharing with my family some of what God is teaching me it is fun to be able to say during the discussion, "Oh I just journaled about that a few days ago, let me find it" and be able to share a relevant scripture or quote from some devotional I am reading.

So that is most of how I journal.  I know some people want to journal their thoughts and feelings and this may seem like just a devotion tool but I find that when I write about my thoughts and feeling around a scripture I learn a whole lot more than when I just try to work it out on my own.

On a more practical note:  You know how people are always giving you some cute notebook/journal?  I had these empty pages around my house for years and didn't know what to do with them.  They were too cute to toss but taking up space.  Finally, I used them for my journals.  And I have noticed that I am using them faster.  I think the first one I used over a span of about 3 years because of how sporadic I was but now I am going much faster.

I have also developed a second journal of sorts that I use daily.  It is more of a practical life notebook style.  I keep it near by and sometimes toss it in my purse.  I write to do lists, grocery lists, menus, phone messages, phone numbers, financial notes for date night, currently I am working on my 2011 goals (although I will move those to another notebook I keep but that is for another day.)  I have read enough organizational books to tell you there are several ways to be more organized and efficient than to just have this type of notebook but I find the best thing to do is start simple and this is very simple.  What I do like is that I can look back on past menus or to do lists and see if I missed anything.  And if I loose a phone number likely I wrote it in there at some point.  It isn't organized into sections.  The information is not at my fingertips but must be searched for.  More than one topic might get scribbled on a page and some pages are simply full of Isabelle's scribbling.  But it has really helped me be more organized, avoid lots of loose pages cluttering up my house and always know where to write down whatever information I need to jot down.  Plus I am using up even more of those cute journals laying around my house.  I might even have to buy one myself pretty soon.

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