Archives for posts with tag: journal

We aren’t the most structured family. I blame it on the number of kids. I blame it on my creative genes. I’ve even been known to blame it on my husband, poor guy.

But we’re trying something new. A few times a week, we’re gathering as a family to read before bedtime. We light the candles on the mantle and we bring our pillows into the living room.

Jessie, our 13-year-old, fills out a journal page and can then doodle as we read. (We found these amazing, free journal printables here: http://www.graceisoverrated.com/p/journal-pages.html)

Then, 4-year-old Benjamin is responsible for bring out the wooden cigar box that holds our notebooks. The rule is that we start by opening up our own notebook and writing something good about ourselves. Then, we pass our notebooks around so that others can write what they like about us.

The first night I took dictation for Benjamin, who whispered to me that he thought Jessie and 19-month-old Colt were his best friends.

“Did I tell Jessie that he was a big chunk of help?” Benjamin asked as I tucked him in to bed. When I told him no, Benjamin said he was pretty sure that’s what he would write the next night.

We’ve missed nights here and there, but I’m trying to not get too hung up on that. We just want to focus on some of the great gifts God has given us — each other.

P.S. I borrowed much of this idea from author (and all-around-gracious-person) Ann Voskamp. You can read how her family uses journaling as a spiritual discipline here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2009/06/journaling-as-spiritual-discipline_03/

P.P.S. Within 30 minutes of writing this, all three boys got in trouble. Perhaps I’ll wait 20 years or so before writing about parenting again.

For those who missed the chance to chat with Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, I’ve copied (and slightly adapted) the conversation we had on the Simply Faithful Facebook page and provided it for you here. Ann is truly a gift. May you enjoy getting to know her better and may you cherish her wisdom…

  • Simply Faithful Welcome Ann! We are so excited that you are here with us. If it’s OK, we’ll let you say a few words and then we’ll dive in to the questions.

Ann Voskamp Thank you for grace and the warm welcome!

  • Linda Gordon How did you come to know the many references you used in your book? I was totally amazed at how many different sources you knew and quoted.

Ann Voskamp Ahh… the wonder of listening to all the authors and words that have come before! I read a lot… and I think when you begin to answer God’s call — He also providentially has you cross paths with all the words and thoughts you need for the work?

And I remember writing that bibliography — many hours!

Linda Gordon so did you find the quotes as you were writing the book or were there ones you knew and wanted to be sure to include?

Ann Voskamp Yes, Linda — some I found as I read, during the writing process — only God moments. And others had been tucked in a file — as they resonated with the life God was leading me into…. Good questions!

Amy Kushnir Ann – I just stumbled upon this thread riding home from spring break in Texas – that answer about how God has you cross paths with all the work and thoughts you need for the work – profound! Just hit me like a ton of bricks! thank you!

Ann Voskamp Hi Tanya! Warm wave! Yes, the style …

The book is written in its own idiosyncratic language—prose meeting poetry, a strange kind of language.

Throughout Scripture, when a person came into the presence of God, the only language they had to stammer out anything was a different language than their vernacular. The only way to communicate their encounter with God was often through lyrical language.

I didn’t think a book written in that “prosetical” God-encounter language would ever find a real home out in the world.

But God had other plans –

And maybe that is exactly what we’re all hungry for—a powerful, personal encounter with God in a language all of its own?

Simply Faithful How did your editors respond? Were they supportive?

Tanya Shaw Herrold I agree. That connection to our perfect Maker is needed among us today just as in earlier times!

Ann Voskamp Well, Zondervan and Waterbrook both bid for the book, based on the first three chapters, so they knew what the style and voice was at the outset. Zondervan wanted something fresh and “outside of the box” — and were very encouraging to do exactly what God called. They told me to write just vertically, for an audience of One. And I did.

  •  Ann Beaudoin Meyer Hi Ann. I can imagine that sharing your personal life experiences through this book was a challenge. Even greater difficulty must be speaking to large crowds and the medias about such a personal, intimate topic. How do you think you have grown as your book continues to impact so many people?

Ann Voskamp Ah, Ann… such a thoughtful question. I think the Lord has asked me to live the truth/message of the book again now, in deeper ways. Can I trust Him? Is all grace? Will I turn blessings into burdens?

I think the journey has kept me very small and quiet and hushed under His wing. He’s used it to draw me closer to Him — relying only on Him.

When I am weak — He is strong.

Simply Faithful I loved your blog post about wearing rainbow socks and standing on his promises. I may borrow that idea!

Ann Voskamp Highly recommended, Marketta.

Ann Beaudoin Meyer I think that is the key, really appreciating those blessings. We turn them into burdens all too often!

  • Linda Gordon How long ago did you write the book? How did you meet your farmer?

Ann Voskamp Linda, it took me about 13 months to write the book? And I met the Farmer in his mama’s Good News Bible Club!

Linda Gordon That is good news! Was it love at first sight or a work in progress?

Ann Voskamp Ah, we were young… 14. We had our first date at 16. And were married when I was 20. Grace upon grace… Christ braiding us together in Him.

  •  Simply Faithful How did you get involved with Compassion International and what draws you to that organization?

Ann Voskamp We’ve always been child sponsors, since we were married…. and had several children sponsored through Compassion for many years. I became an advocate for Compassion about 3 years ago? And then Compassion invited me to live blog a trip to Guatemala in Sept. 2009 and Ecuador November, 2011, and see firsthand their work. That sealed it! My heart is forever with His children in need! The proceeds from One Thousand Gifts now has returned to the Guatemala City Dump to build an educational center — thanks be to God alone.

Ann Beaudoin Meyer Do you have plans to return to Guatemala?

Simply Faithful Lida Merrill will want to hear more about that! She has done a lot of missionary work in Guatemala with people who have disabilities.

Courtney Joseph Oh I love this!

  •  Lida Merrill Hi Ann, Thank you for your time this evening. Have your older children read your book?

Ann Voskamp Good evening, Lida…. My oldest, yes, he has — he’s nearly 17.

Lida Merrill What impression did it have on him?

Simply Faithful Is he the one who threw toast?

Ann Voskamp Before the manuscript was submitted, the children whose stories were told, graciously gave their permission, so he had read some of the chapters before. And Caleb was very generously positive. He came to me last week and said I really need to begin another book… Humbling grace.

Ann Voskamp Ah yes — the toast scene. Yes.

Linda Gordon How did keeping a gratitude journal work for him?

Ann Voskamp We have a family gratitude journal that together we work on and we keep sharing each day at the table our thanks — it’s become part of who we are… our new default!

Ann Voskamp Warm wave, Lucinda!

I’m not sure I even now think of it in terms of a gift for words?

I think I just wait over a keyboard and He gives the gift?

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson Your descriptions paint the picture so well i feel like I’m right there with you!

Ann Voskamp Thank you for grace, Lucinda… So kind.

  •  Lida Merrill Are you planning a return trip to Guatemala?

Ann Voskamp Yes! Us as a whole family! We will all return to Guatemala, Lord willing, next January? To celebrate what God has done with the Educational Center!  http://www.aholyexperience.com/?p=8753

Ann Beaudoin Meyer How exciting! What part of Guatemala?

Ann Voskamp ‎(The above link is about Guatemala and how it came to be that One Thousand Gifts is going back there, to BE the gift! I am blessed, I can bless — this is happiness!

Ann Voskamp We will return, Lord willing, to Guatemala City….

Ann Beaudoin Meyer thanks for the link.

Lida Merrill Yes, thank you.

Ann Voskamp I preach out loud to myself.  I count blessings out loud. I memorize Scripture and meditate on Truth. We read Scripture together after every meal, 3 times a day.Here is a bit of where we are memorizing — wonderful resource!

http://scripturetyper.com/Group/View/5d4f33dc33/

Simply Faithful Who selects the scriptures? I love all of your ideas but I know they take preparation, too…

Ann Voskamp Last year, our little country chapel, our faith community were memorizing Colossians together — so we invited blog readers to join us.

Ann Voskamp This year, our faith community is memorizing Sermon on the Mount together — so we made up the resources to share online also. Our son, Joshua, (14) makes up all the downloadable resources from the blog… the monthly Joy Dare, the free printables, the Sermon on the Mount booklet… We love working together! A wonderful way to bond!

Simply Faithful He does fantastic work. They are all gorgeous. A true gift! (Will you thank him for us?)

Ann Voskamp I will thank him for you all. Imagine a 14 year old smiling shyly.

Courtney Joseph I love how your son is able to serve along side of you!

  •  Cathy Spellman Roberts Do you use journaling as a technique as you teach your kids in other areas as well?

Ann Voskamp Yes! Just today I handed out new journals. One of the boys (9) wrote a new title on his journal: “My Life.” Perfect!

  • Cathy Spellman Roberts How do you continually try to keep the negative thoughts out. I know I try to start my day when I’m driving by concentrating on my gifts and listening to what God has in store for me for the day, and I try in the middle of the day at work or with my kids to clear the clutter, but I have a hard time keeping it out.

Ann Voskamp I understand, Cathy… You are not alone. I am with you. Singing hymns for me helps. As does quietly preaching Scripture back to myself — a way to take captive every thought.

Ann Voskamp http://www.aholyexperience.com/?p=9031

Cathy Spellman Roberts Thanks. Music is very healing — and soothing — indeed.

  • Ann Beaudoin Meyer I appreciated your honesty in the book, as well as your blog, about your struggles with parenting. I know I have this vision to be the “perfect” mom. After I yell at one of my kids it hits me in the gut. Good reminder to have a little grace with ourselves!

Simply Faithful I like that you sometimes have dirty dishes in your sink.

Ann Voskamp I do! And dirty laundry in front of the washing machine.  And some parenting days leave me in tears and hanging my head in deep grief over my own sinfulness. My mama said that grace is like a boomerang — if you offer grace to a boomerang to others — you receive the grace. You give yourself the grace on the bad days — knowing Christ’s love covers our sins. Right there with you, beautiful women….

Linda Gordon The part about the glass jar and cutting was so hard. Were you suicidal or trying to cut out the bad parts of your life?

Lida Merrill Your line about “hurry empties souls” struck a deep cord with me in regards to parenting. I think the hurrying I did when my children were little emptied their souls. Thank you God for always refilling them, but it is something I am very aware of with my grandchildren.

Ann Voskamp Beautiful, Lida — I preach it to myself out loud often “There are no emergencies. God is in control… no emergencies. Abandon the fears and abide in the Father.”

Ann Voskamp Yes, Linda, so hard. No, not suicidal… just looking in all the wrong places to relieve pain… escape from my own skin? Hard to think I was there once — but I really, really was. Only God.

  •  Lucinda Mellinger Anderson Ann, Thanks for your idea of singing hymns,etc as I struggle writing.. any suggestions on how to journal?

Ann Voskamp Well — I leave a gratitude journal out permanently on my counter. That helps. And I have journals all through the house  … for specific helps, if you search the journal category at the blog, I wrote a multi-week series a few years ago on how to journal in various, creative ways and readers sent in their ideas and photos of their journals and it was very inspiring!

Ann Voskamp If you scroll back through these, there are so many ideas from so many wonderful women!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/category/journaling/

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  • Lucinda Mellinger Anderson Ann, We are visiting our grandchildren,5 of them in Chicago and the job of getting ready for bed with a special movie after causes me to be grateful for all the noise, fun and hugs we get all to infrequent!! Thanks for sharing.

Ann Voskamp I am smiling, Lucinda! How wonderful! Much joy in Him to you all so beautifully there in Chicago! Blessed evening, Lucinda! It was a privilege…

  •  Simply Faithful Ann, we are so thankful for your time and for your many gifts.

Ann Voskamp Truly, it’s been a humbling grace. Thank you for yours.

Thank you for looking for Christ in the pages.

God go with you…

Eucharisteo, friends!

Ann Voskamp You’ve all radiated and exuded His joy tonight. Thank you!

Simply Faithful Blessings, Ann!

Lida Merrill Thank you for blessing us with your words.

Cathy Spellman Roberts Thank you Ann for your kind words and your time.

Ann Beaudoin Meyer Thank you for your time. I am sure that God will continue to bless use and use your words for the rest of us.

Courtney Joseph Oh bummer I’m late! So glad it’s all saved here to read!

Want to add even more meaning to Lent? Try adapting this journal/devotional from my friend at pinkroomponderings.blogspot.com. Hers is actually an Advent journal, but it would work just as well for capturing the lessons of Lent. Plus, I love the idea of using what you have on hand (in this case manila folders) and making something memorable.

A little more about the process from Angie’s blog:

Back at the end of November I participated in an Advent Journaling challenge. Each day we had an advent devotional and “thoughts to ponder” I was able to keep up with the devotional but am still embellishing the pages! I created my journal using manila folders. The devotional/study is on the left page and then my notes, prayers etc are on the right page that is embellished.

If you’re interested in a project like this, you should also check out scrapsmart.com. I love their vintage images and the fact that they actually offer images with religious meaning. Oh, and I love the owners of the business, too!

Another journal made by Angie. This one started as a composition notebook.

I’ve always been envious of people who go a step beyond buying journals — you know, the people who actually write in them.

Over the years, most of my journals have started the same way: “This time, I’m really going to write for more than just a day or two.”

Not surprisingly, they also end the same way… with lots of blank pages.

One journal is the exception, though, and that’s my prayer journal from 2001. That journal starts with explaining to God that my prayer life has been on life-support and asks for his help in getting closer to him.

For eight months I wrote my prayers — for new people settling in at work, for the man who would become my husband, and eventually for my daddy who died that year.

I’ve always wandered a bit in my prayers, meaning I’d start talking to God and jump from subject to subject. If I paused to try to listen for his voice, my mind would take off in another direction. Writing my prayers down helped all of that. I was more focused, and frankly, I found a new level of responsibility.

When I prayed for help in changing something about myself, it remained there on the page — in ink. I couldn’t forget that I needed work in that area.

Now, though, I know the most important thing that the prayer journal did for me was to peel back the layers of nicety. Somehow, it made prayer seem more like a conversation with my best friend, someone I didn’t need to dress up for.

My friend Rachel Doll grew up feeling that God was someone you needed to behave around. But when she and her husband, who is now a Presbyterian minister in Holley, NY, had a miscarriage, she was anything but well-behaved in her journal.

“Sometimes I had to skip pages because I had pressed down so hard that I couldn’t use the back,” she said, while one of her two daughters slept next to her.

Imagine God as a physical man, standing there in her home. She, a minister’s wife, was beating God’s chest and demanding answers.

“I would write horrible things that I would be embarrassed for anyone to know.”

But it felt powerful to question and freeing to express her anger and disappointment. Why would she endure all those infertility treatments only to have a miscarriage?

“Through writing I realized that God was there — not in the warm fuzzy way that I wanted, not hugging me and fixing things, but just standing there with me.”

And that was enough.

When Daddy died I remember praying that God would hold on to me because I wasn’t sure I could hold on to him. In fact, it took almost two months after Daddy’s death for me to make my next entry in my prayer journal.

I know you’ve carried me — even when I’ve tried to be angry with you. I’ve never felt so weak, Lord. I’ve never needed you so much.

A few years later I heard a woman say that when we pray, God is enclosing us in his hands. Then, to show us what she meant, she folded her hands together the way I had been taught to do in Sunday School.

That’s an image of prayer I can believe in.

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