Welcome to Random Journal Day -April! Our Featured Journal Keeper this month is Carolyn Wiley, she has been sharing her journal pages with us faithfully for a while. You may recognize her journals, because they are in perfect order on a shelf and often pictured. I love seeing them, and appreciate her portion… please welcome and enjoy her input here today!
From the moment I learned to write, I’ve been obsessed with words. The idea that pencil on paper can create words that can create stories captured my attention when I was five and that attention hasn’t waned. My mother started buying me notebooks before I learned cursive. Those first stories were simple, and I don’t know that they fall into the category of ‘journal’, but they paved the way.
The summer between middle school and high school, the transformative event in my life happened, though—I met Jesus Christ. And with that meeting, I began spending time with God, and keeping journals. I actually addressed my journal (a large three-ring binder) to Jesus Himself. Those early journals reveal my baby-hood in Christ along with my typical teen longings for boys to like me, about all the social activities I was involved in. They are sweet but very simple.
When I was 20, I transferred away from the University in my hometown (where my dad was a prof) to two Colleges in the next state. One was a State University where I got a degree in English Literature, the other a Christian College where I got a degree in Biblical Studies. At this important moment, my journals took the physical shape they’ve had ever since. I bought simple blue composition books. Along with them, I also had my trusty New American Standard Bible. Because I was going to study the Bible as an academic subject, I wanted to be certain that my personal Bible and quiet time were housed differently from those academic tools. It was a perfect marriage. Back then, we used the Revised Standard Version in class, so my NASB was used only for my devotional. I’ve always had a specific version of the Bible that I use only with my journal. I have used the same blue composition books for 36 ½ years now. That has been exactly what has happened as I open my journal, open the Word, and allow God to speak to me.
I often don’t have the faintest idea of what I want to write when I open the journal, only that I’m responding to the Word, or even just an itch in my fingers to hold the pen and move it across the page. But as I move it, one word at a time, God meets me, and the words flow—more than I’d have guessed. If you asked me to say such words, I wouldn’t have had them. It’s the Holy Spirit working in my journal to teach me about Himself.
I know that I’ve become somewhat obsessive-compulsive about these journals. For one thing, I once had to use ONLY a specific pen in my journal. Every single day, I’d use the same pen so the journal looked uniform. This small thing reminded me that my conversation with God was an ongoing thing. In the last few years, however, I’ve been using different colored pens for each day. As I’ve aged, I’ve liked being able to find things more easily. And, of course, I’ve always used exactly the same kind of blue notebook. This is because I’ve loved the size, flatness (for the practical reason that I’m left-handed), and the continuity. However, just last week, I finished the last of them. There are 76 now but apparently due to the rise in computer use in high schools and colleges these composition books are no longer being made. For the last six months I’ve been searching for them to no avail. However, they are merely a tool God has used in my life. He will use the next simple notebook I chose, too. I know that. And this is the most important thing for me.
There are many, many ways to meet God in one’s journal. As I said in the beginning, I am story-teller. Though I love what other can do with mixed media in their journals, and feel slightly envious of their artistic abilities, for me there is only words. This is the way God has met me. But what is most important (for each of us), though, is intention: that God meet us. That we go to our journals to be met by Him, that we give Him access through our hands, our pens, our fingers, our paint. By whatever means He’s gifted us to worship Him, we bring our gifts, and He comes.
My journal tells my story, but only if you look very carefully. A long time ago, when I was trying to find out when something happened in our family, I went to my journal to see if I could figure it out. My journal doesn’t help with such things straight on.
But my favorite Psalm is 84, and I hope my journal reflects this verse (5):
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”
You can visit Carolyn at her blog A Word About Words and monthly here to have a peek into those little blue gateways of hers for Random Journal Day!
Now it’s time to join in the party. And since the link will be up early, I know some of you might not be ready. That’s ok. Now, GET TO IT! 😉
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