Category Archives: Journaling Our Journey

Words & Lists, Lists & Words

Are you a lover of words?  Do you make lists lists lists?  I think you will enjoy this podcast featuring Marilyn McEntyre on Anita Lustrea’s podcast Faith Conversations (Episode 118).  Ms. McEntyre is a skilled user of words, and I enjoyed listening to what she had to say as well as how she said it.  Her voice of has a reflective, gentling effect.  She is the author of “Word by Word” and “Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.”  I can’t wait to read them both!

I really liked the idea of praying with specific lists, and turning lists into prayers.  For myself, I know I was a list-maker since very young.  I think the reason why I do it is for several reasons.  1) It helps to get the chaos of my mind categorized on paper; 2) it helps me deal with sadness; 3) it helps me feel like I’m taking action toward my goals and problem-solving.

Why do you make lists or not?

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Posted by on July 3, 2018 in Journaling Our Journey


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Journaling Our Journey: Doing the Dishes

Sometimes, journaling can be like doing the dishes. You know it needs done.  You know you’ll regret it and get overwhelmed if you don’t, but… you just don’t wanna.  So you put it off.  And before you know it a few months have gone by, but it’s not like anything really super exciting happened, so you’re getting away with it, right?  You’ll wait until some big moment in life arrives and then you’ll journal, you promise yourself.  Except that when that time happens, you’re so swamped with the details of life that it’s nearly impossible to chronicle your internal state of affairs.  Eventually, you give up.  And your life is passing without your inner thoughts, feelings, observations, hopes, dreams, decisions, the life-changing events, and the little moments that really make up the reality of life being set down to last.

The Bible tells us:


It’s a sobering thought, but true nonetheless. We don’t really know what tomorrow will bring.  It seems to be that most of life is lived in the ordinary, slow, waiting mode, and then BOOM! the dramatic, life-changing events happen all of a sudden.  Not just the scary, traumatizing stuff of life, but also the good, happy things full of love and joy.

Who will capture our lives to set down to be remembered if we don’t? Most of us don’t have biographers or will write a published autobiography.  It’s up to us to record things so they didn’t happen in vain.  Why does this matter so much?  It matters for those coming after us (relatives or even non-relatives who maybe never knew us) because they can learn or identify from our lives.  It’s like a snapshot of what people in our day and generation thought about the world going on around us.  It also matters to us because someday we will hopefully be able to look back and see how far we’ve grown and matured.  Or for us to remember things better.  It gives a sense that our lives do matter.

Remembering the importance of journaling can help motivate us to ‘do those journaling dishes’ even when we don’t feel like it. I get in this slump lots of times.  In fact, right now I’m going through a phase where I find it hard to do anything I should do and easy to do everything I shouldn’t!  But I find it helpful to keep journaling by setting aside one day a week and making it a priority.  First, I write about landmark events.  Who had a baby?  Who’s running for president?  Then, I write about what stood out to me during the course of the last week.  Maybe an argument I had with someone, or an achievement I earned.  If nothing comes to my mind for either of these prompts, I come up with some sort of opinion or thought I’ve been holding in my mind lately.  What are my favorite colors currently and why?  What annoys me about certain people?  I don’t just write about the flowery things of life.  I try to be real.

Here’s a tip: It’s much, much easier to journal when you don’t have a boatload of important things to write about. Slowly processing through the last seven days can become more of a contemplative activity than a chore.  And if something big happens (like someone ending up in the hospital), seven days are hard enough to document without having to play catch-up first.

What are some ways that you overcome procrastination in journaling?

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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Journaling Our Journey


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Journaling Our Journey: For Posterity

fa07f2be9bbac8a0ee80e97a31f6217bIf you journal, do you ever envision someone reading what your write someday? It’s sort of a humbling thought. It can make one more conscious of the fact that what we choose to do today could influence another tomorrow.

Let’s take the published diaries of famous people that we may enjoy reading about. The Diary of Anne Frank; The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery; Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh(Sorry to list only female writers here: I try to write what I know.) What is it about reading someone else’s diary that interests us so much? I think in large part it is because we feel a connection to someone else. They may have lived in a different place at a totally different time, but we still can identify with universal human emotions. In Ecclesiastes we read, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Somehow, we don’t feel quite as alone when we connect with someone who has felt similarly at one time or another. We are drawn out of our isolation, out of our selves, and are exposed to new ideas and ways of looking at things.

I’m currently watching the riveting docudrama The Great War Diary,– reenactments based on real life diaries and letters of people who lived through the first modern war in history. A diary can be a snapshot in time. We get to see what a person thought or felt during a specific event. Some diaries may mention world news, others may not. Regardless, reading about how others managed through the times in which they lived can help us find strength and inspiration for our lives today. People can learn from others from both the good and the bad.

There is something quite different about reading someone’s journal as opposed to fiction. It’s not a contrived plot. The person writing a particular entry had no idea what would occur the next day. Maybe we know the ending, as unfortunately most do when reading about Anne Frank. But they didn’t, and had a choice to do the best they could with what they had at a given time. Not all things are wrapped up with a bow at the end of the story. Sometimes we see realistic periods of time where seemingly nothing happens, or maybe the entries are blank. The feelings described were real and were felt by real people, like us. In that way, we can identify and maybe be comforted by the fact that we’re not the only ones.

51a75f513e7f44619f904cf4c0c7a745So, what responsibility have we when we set to journal our journeys through life? I think being honest is the most important things we can be when pouring out ourselves, even to the pages of a book. Nobody’s perfect and in our journals– whatever else our lives may pressure us to be—we can be safe to reveal that and hopefully process through it. In so doing, we pave a way for readers who may come after us.  What else are we here for than to be a light to others?

Keeping a journal of our thoughts and feelings is also a way to not let it all be in vain. When I feel sad or happy, I don’t want those emotions to be for nothing. So I will sometimes sit down and write it all out. Then it is recorded—not lost, and I feel as though it has not been wasted.

Perhaps all this may sound scary to some. Those who felt inhibited about being vulnerable before now may feel doubly so. “That’s what I was afraid of! I’m terrified someone may read my journals one day!” I know a couple of family members who pitched their older diaries because they were embarrassed. If this is the only way one can feel better about keeping a diary, then I suppose this could be an option as opposed to living in so much dread someone may find it that it keeps you from writing at all. But I urge careful consideration before destroying all your precious thoughts. They really can be an invaluable aid for future generations, whether you think so or not.

In a digital age where text, email, posts, and twitter are thoughtlessly punched out and type quickly vanishes, a journal can be an even more precious gift for ourselves and those who come after. A journal’s voice keeps on speaking long after the writer is gone.

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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Journaling Our Journey


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Journaling Our Journey: 3-D Perspective

606fdc98f2b0dd83db452d8251e1a02dConfess: Have you ever read someone else’s diary?  Maybe it was completely fiction, like the popular Dear America books or the Royal Diaries Series I read in fourth grade.  Or maybe it was a published genuine diary of someone famous, like The Diary of Anne Frank, or Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Perhaps you are fortunate to own the diary of one of your ancestors who moved out west on the Oregon Trail, or lived through WWII.  In any event, we are able to see these peoples’ lives (whether real or fictional) with a bird’s eye view.  We know that the hardships they’re going through won’t last forever; we may know who their descendants are and even more importantly, what happened because of these people’s choices in life.

Sometimes our lives can get pretty discouraging because we don’t know how our story will turn out.  We can’t see in the present moment of our lives what will be the result of our actions today.  What’s more, we’re usually not aware of the consequences our decisions might have on others coming after us.  That’s probably a good thing sometimes, since I’m sure we would become so anxiety-stricken that we would never make a decision to save our lives!  I’m thankful we can choose God to be our Author who sees the end from the beginning, and who can work all things together for our good, even when we make mistakes.

When I get a new blank journal, I wonder what sort of events I will record on the white pages.  Sometimes I even write a little note to myself on a random page somewhere in it where I say something like, “I wonder what will happen on this page?”  When I eventually make my way to that spot, sometimes I’m surprised that whatever it is I’m writing has happened to me and I never would have guessed at the beginning of the journal that I’d be writing about that!  Blank pages can give us hope beyond tomorrow.  Life is not static.  Even when we’re caught in a rut, eventually life has a way of churning something up that will cause us to respond in some way, and then we’re faced with a choice.

923c0b445a13359bf4990aeca6f10561A diary can help us view our lives with a little more 3-D perspective.  Sometimes I look at troubled teens in the world and wonder how much good the habit of journal writing might do them.  I know keeping a diary won’t solve the world’s problems.  But I think this discipline (which is usually best instilled at a young age) causes one to ponder the results of their actions a bit more.  Especially if we’ve read others’ personal stories, we start to take into consideration how the people coming after us will view our lives, instead of just living to please ourselves.  Ideally, I think we would like to lives we would like to write down in a book.  No one’s perfect, and a good dose of honesty keeps a personal story human and identifiable.  But in general, I think recording our lives will help us keep in mind to make choices that will leave the world a better place.    Of course, a lot of all this is determined by your worldview, values, and beliefs.  But I don’t know anyone who wants to live their life as a waste.

We don’t intentionally do so, and yet sometimes we go through seasons where we feel just plain stuck for one reason or another.  Keeping a journal can help motivate us to do something worthwhile with the time we’ve been given.  I’ve never tried this, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting to write my journal in third person.  What a perspective that would give one!

How has journaling helped give you a motivating way to view your life?  Feel free to leave comments below!

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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Journaling Our Journey


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Journaling Our Journey: When Life Gets Hectic

In hac spe vivoIf you’re like me, getting behind in your journaling routine is so easy to do when life gets hectic—especially around holidays!  It’s also easy to do when there’s a family crises, or illness in the family, etc.  I’ve often thought it a shame that when life is “boring” I’ve got all the time in the world to write about “not much going on.”  Then when life gets interesting, there’s no time to document the feelings, details as they happen!  Somehow, something is lost when I write about events several weeks after they happen, even though I have a pretty good memory.

But there is a plus side to this as well.  When life is full of drama, we’re so caught up in the moment and a personality type such as me tends to treat everything as being THE END OF THE WORLD, of UTMOST IMPORTANCE, and molehills are MOUNTAINS.  I think EVERYTHING needs to be recorded for posterity!  After several weeks go by, things subside a little and I am able to focus and sort out what really needs to be written about in my journal.  Something that didn’t seem such a big deal at the time (maybe something somebody said, a stranger you met, etc.) might end up being a crucial part of your real-life story.  Several weeks later, you may know better to include it in your recount of the event.  Or, maybe something you thought would be a huge occurrence (a hospital test, blind date, etc.) turns out not to be so terrible or particularly special after all, and so you’d prefer not to take up room in your journal writing about it.

Over the years, I’ve learned to make it a disciplined priority to get to my journaling as soon as I can because the more I put it off, the more things “pile up”.  The more the pile grows, the more I dread tackling the writing pile, and the more I procrastinate.  I have to admit that I have been guilty of letting my journal entries pile up for 2 years before I finally got caught up!  This is not recommended!!  If you’re wondering how I accomplished this catch-up, I had to pick and choose just the main events of the year and write about them in a general description.  The sad thing was that so many of my thoughts and feelings were glossed over, since they had lost their intenseness.  It became more like reporting the news.  This is why it is so important to record your story as quickly as you can as life happens.

Family at Christmas dinner tableHolidays are such an easy time to fall into the trap of journal-procrastination.  It’s such an interesting time, what with parties, engagements, outings with friends, family get-togethers with relations you haven’t seen in years, family dramas—there’s a wealth of journal stories to be recorded!  Thankfully, New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner … a time to start over and start fresh!

Here are some tips to help us write about life when it gets hectic:

-choose a day or time that works best for you. Mark it on your calendar!

-go easy on yourself and don’t be unrealistic.  Writing daily may not be something that can be accomplished at this time.  I find writing once a week a little more manageable.

-make it a priority on your to-do list (if you keep one).

-if you have a major catch-up operation to get to, set yourself a goal or limit, for ex., a certain amount of pages to accomplish or an hour of writing.  Then, set it aside for the next time you write.

-Sometimes when I think of how to word or describe an aspect of the event, but it’s not a good time for me to be writing a full journal entry, so I’ll jot down a sentence or two on a sticky note.  Sometimes I’ll have a collection of sticky notes that I can put together to make an entry out of, and it makes my life that much easier.

-Don’t be detail-crazy.  Decide what is necessary to write about and weed out the rest.  It might be a good idea to ask yourself, “What will I really care about a year from now?”

-Instead of writing about every detail about Christmas, how about the one or two memories that made the season memorable?

PS- A journal makes a great gift! (hint hint)




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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Journaling Our Journey