This year, my accountability partner and I embarked on a journey to read through the entire Bible chronologically. And I’ve been taking copious notes. Though I’ve read the Bible before, I’ve never done it chronologically. And what I’ve learned since starting, is that there are actually two different variations of reading it chronologically. Why can’t we make it simple, y’all?
In the first month and a half of 2018, I’ve managed to fill up an entire journal with notes from books and sermons and prayer requests and of course my notes as I read through my Bible. Filling up a journal that quickly isn’t really that new for me. I usually fill up anywhere from 4-6 journals a year. I like to write. Which is also why I blog too.
A Journey Through the Past
But in December, I went through about 3 years worth of journals (about 24 of them!) to take some notes and pull out the big takeaways and the things that stood out to me. I’m working on a book project, and I needed help from my journals to be able to do so. I don’t have a photographic memory, but I can typically tell you the big life events that happen during each journal. But looking back page by page? That’s not something I’d really done before.
It was enlightening to see the threads that were being pulled through those pages.
And lessons learned.
My journals are my old friends. I keep them all. Tucked away and in order.
What I realized a few weeks ago is that most don’t journal like me. We were having a conversation with one of our freshman students in our small group about applying the things that we are learning to our lives. The overarching topic of wisdom had us thinking about how we were living our lives. One of her suggestions was to review the things she’d learned at church and apply them to life. But it was a struggle for her to realize how she could do that.
Sitting in front of me during the conversation was, of course, my journal. I shared with her my practice of writing all things down. Thoughts, quotes, sermon notes, song lyrics, verses. Thoughts on my Bible reading. Even now, I’m learning to do some illustrations in my Bible. (They’re not pretty, but I’m finding freedom in the practice!)
The Journaling Process
I’ve talked about journaling before. And I’m thinking soon – when it stops raining and I can take some pictures – I’ll take some photos and share with you a view through my journals.
I’m not partial to the book that I use – although I do want it to be exciting to me. I look for journals that catch my eye. The colors and pictures change. The width of the lines changes (although my journals are always lined!). But I always choose carefully. And my newest journal has some fun features I haven’t had before.
My New Journal: The Spurgeon Journal
I recently got a copy of the new Spurgeon Journal. The Spurgeon Journal is small (140 page) journal – but when I’m feeling bogged down with not getting through journals fast enough, this is the perfect size. I like the simplistic design and the feel of the leather. But it’s the inside features that are definitely the best. Each page is numbered, and I was surprised to see a table of contents at the beginning of the journal! This is new for me, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite features! Every few pages contain a quote from Spurgeon (hence the name) and provide the sermon the quote came from. I’m only about 15 pages into this journal, but I’m loving it!
I think future journals may contain a table of contents, but I’m still thinking that one through. Journals are a huge part of my life. They really tell a story of my life that I sometimes fail to see when I’m living through the story in the moment.
Journals tell the journey of my faith. Which is perhaps why my favorite thing Sarabeth has ever done is ask me if I was “writing in your journey?” My sweet little 3-year-old may not have her words quite right – she insists it’s a journey and not a journal. But sometimes I think she may be the accurate one. We are on a journey. And when we open a blank lined page with pen in hand, we’re documenting that journey and perhaps inviting future generations to see that journey too.