Journals, Blogging, and Devotions: My Journey

Years ago I read that all great Christians, in fact, all successful people in general, had one thing in common:  they all kept a journal.  Having a rather driven personality, and desiring to reach my full potential, I began keeping a journal.  It was not a smooth process.  I did not make this decision and begin a journaling process that continues to this day.  No, there were many false starts.

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I tried all kinds of journals.  I did prayer journals where I recorded the scripture I read and then wrote out my prayers.  I tried response journals where I read and then responded with what I thought the passage was saying.  Some journals were more personal–my heart-felt cries for help to God.  Then there was my cancer journal…

My journaling mirrored my struggle to have a regular quiet time.  If you thumb through my journals, and I would rather you did not, you would see that I would be consistent sometimes for months at a time, but more often for only weeks or days.  It was discouraging.  I always found a new blank book, though, and the clean white pages called to me, filling me with hope that THIS TIME I would succeed.

What is even more discouraging is what I find in the journals themselves.  As I go back through the years I find that I struggled with the same issues over and over and over.  I made very little progress. I was angry and bitter and miserable–not always, but more than enough. It wasn’t until I began to keep my journal on-line–on a web log, a blog–that I began to see real and consistant growth in my Christian life.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this.

First, I remember being very careful about what I wrote in my journals.  I was scared that something would happen to me and that other people, or worse–my children, would read what I had written.  Before I understood grace, I thought I had to keep up a facade of perfection, that if people knew about my doubts and my struggles, they would be harmed.  I worried that if my children knew I doubted, they would doubt.  I now realize that the complete opposite is true.  Children who know that their parents struggle will not be surprised when struggles come to them.  Children who see their parents sin and repent are more likely to repent themselves.  But I was blinded by pride and a misunderstanding of grace.

Secondly, I had no accountability in my journaling or quiet time.  No one except God knew if I missed a day, or a week, or month after month.  I didn’t understand what I was missing.  I was able to get along on my own…or so I thought.

After cancer, and some of the other trials of life we have been through in the last five years, my journaling got more real.  I was coming to understand grace.  I had learned that God is good all the time.  I began to believe for the first time in my life that God really truly loves me.  Still, my journaling and my quiet time were both sporadic.  Life is busy.

I started blogging in January of 2010.  I wrote about all kinds of things.  I found that it was a wonderful outlet for my pent-up thoughts and emotions.  Occasionally I wrote about the things God was teaching me.  Finally, in January of 2012, I came to a place where I really desired to go deeper.  I began a blog called No More Detours in order to explore what it seemed God had for me.  I wrote almost every day from late January until late August.  I wrote mostly in the evenings, looking back over the day and sharing from scripture and devotionals I read, what God was teaching me.  This was transformational.  It kept me accountable because I knew people were reading.  I was excited beyond measure to find God working in every corner of my life.  It was wonderful.

Then came August 27, 2012.  I still can’t write about the trial of the two weeks following that date.  I doubt seriously that I ever will.  In previous trials we saw evidence of the fall.  This one was pure evil dressing up in righteousness.  It was awful.  I was terrified that part of the reason the evil was able to reach us was my blogging so I stopped writing for a while.  The strength gained from the previous months of blogging, however, was instrumental in getting through the valley.  There were moments when I found myself on the floor, a sobbing heap of humanity, but through it all I knew Jesus was right there at my side.  He was sorrowing with me.

Once on the other side of the valley, I found I could not stop writing.  I was also struggling with my past because I connected what we had gone through with the specter of my background, so I began a memoir blog called The Quickest Way On.  This blog was not devotional, but it helped me tremendously and I plan to go back and finish the project this summer. I feel like there might be a book in there somewhere and I want to find it.  Writing my memoirs helped me to find my way to recovery.

In January of this year I began a project I have been wanting to work on for some time.  I am reading through The Book of Common Prayer and writing daily on The Cranmer Project.  I write this one in the morning.  I write in reaction to what I read, looking for a lesson to take with me through the day.  I don’t have a large following, but even knowing that one person is going to read it makes me “do the work” on the days when I wake up and just don’t feel like it.  It has been a tremendous blessing.

All along there has been Everything Else Thrown In.  I want to thank those of you who have faithfully followed from blog to blog and been patient with my shifts.  I also wanted to share what a blessing this has been and to encourage others to blog devotionally.  It’s funny that I, who am so afraid of and inept concerning, technology, have found in it a means of spiritual growth.  Who knew.  Oh, yeah…God did!

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