My Story: Journaling My Journey

Today, we’re excited to hear from Rebecca Skinner. She’s an  MK and TCK from Central and South America. Fun fact: Rebecca and her husband were one of the first couples to met on eharmony.com and get married! This September, they’ll celebrate 16 years of marriage alongside their twin boys.

The Perspectives on the World Christian Movement has turned Rebecca’s world on its head! She desires to see local churches strategically collaborate to take the good news of Jesus to every people, tribe, and tongue. 

My first job out of college. A move into the unknown, blindly following God’s lead. The fear of putting myself out there in a relationship. The heart break of miscarriage. The joy of discovering how the way I was made could be amplified and put to task for God’s mission. Every speedbump or pothole or smooth stretch of land or triumphant finish line: Journaling has critically influenced it all for me.

As I flip through scrawled pages from seventeen years ago now, the moments gush back to my brain. I remember the amplitude of my emotion, the way my soul felt like a scribbled dot–and perhaps even more so now, how constant and pervasive God’s presence was in these days.

June 5, 2001

Good morning Lord! Oh, I don’t know how much longer my body can handle this “love sickness” stuff. It seems that from the time I get up in the morning until I fall asleep my stomach is churning.

June 11, 2001

Lord, I don’t want to close up emotionally or back off. Please push me forward gently and give me the strength and will to be vulnerable and really give this relationship a go.

July 4, 2001

It was here that Thom declared his love for me, and I left him in agony for 20 long minutes before I shared my love for him. So, It was under the arch on July 4th that we exchanged our first “I love you’s”.

Revelation mentions that God collects the prayers of the saints as incense, burning them near his throne (5:8). I cherish this picture of how precious and seriously God takes not only my requests, but the heart I keep pouring out to him. I think that’s what I like about journaling. It’s a written record of the prayers of my heart; the confusion and trust and passion and anger and desire.

What works for me

Spiral journals reign supreme.

Donate all the bound ones you received as graduation gifts and only wrote a page or two in. Pick up a half size notebook or spiral journal instead.

Throw all your journaling rules out the window.

It doesn’t matter how frequently you journal. Free yourself from the expectations and guilt and just write when you feel the need or want to. Sometimes I’ll fill a journal in a year and at other seasons in life it might take 2-3 years to fill one.

Don’t limit your journaling to a specific method or form of writing.

My journals include sermon notes, prayers, rambling thoughts, lists, favorite verses, dreams and an occasional drawing. Your journal is yours, keep it simple and make it work for you.

Only use one journal at a time and keep it with your Bible.

Your Bible and journal should be side by side. You read God’s Word and process God’s Word in thought and writing. I often write down a key verse that jumped out to me in my Bible reading. The action of writing a verse word for word and seeing it, provides the time and method to ponder it and absorb it on a deeper level. I like having my journal handy to jot down thoughts God gives me, including action steps in response to his Word.

Record your thought process on big decisions, as well as all the things that contribute towards your final decision.

This has been huge in my life. Not only has journaling helped me unravel my tangled thoughts and feelings but it has brought clarity and direction to decisions along the way. The best part about this is that when things get difficult and doubt or fears start to creep in about a decision I have made, I have something concrete to go back and look at to be reminded of the way that God confirmed the decision that lead to the situation I am in. In many ways journaling has anchored the path of my life.

The Whys

When you can’t sleep because your mind is processing things or creating ideas, get out of bed and write them down.

Writing it down gives me the peace of mind that my good ideas and thoughts won’t be lost and that I can be reminded of them or refer to them the next day. Writing my thoughts down means I can actually turn my brain off and get the sleep my body needs.

Writing your thoughts down helps to process even when there is no one else to talk to.

Wrestle through challenges, get to the heart of issues, uncover motives, identify needs, and strategize solutions all in a hand written, thoughtful conversation between you and God.

When you document the pieces that lead to those big decisions in life you have something to look back on.

What you’ve written reminds and affirms that you made the right decision even when the going gets tough. Reality is that the right decisions are not always choices that lead to an easy path in life. God is more concerned with our obedience than our happiness. Sometimes you will need to be reminded of the interactions and circumstances that lead you to say, “yes”.

Journaling is faith training.

Being able to look back on specific answers to prayer, clear direction, and confirmation from the Lord is a necessary part of strengthening your faith. It also builds trust in our good God who sees the big picture of our lives and holds the details in his hands.

Wherever God has you in your life journey I’ll encourage you: Record it. You’ll be glad you have it to look back on–no matter which direction your path veers.

6 thoughts on “My Story: Journaling My Journey

  1. dani says:

    I too have been a journaler since my college days. This practice has given me a reminder of God’s provision, intervention, and grace in my life. It has helped me grow in my faith and trust in amazing ways both during struggles and joys. It’s not for everyone, but for those it works for it helps you see the big picture.
    Thanks for being so candid in this article Rebecca.

  2. Janel says:

    I totally agree, Dani. I was realizing this morning how much I love the “photo album” of my internal life that journaling creates for me! Love that you posted this, Rebecca.

  3. Kelsey Jackson says:

    I love this! As a Bible journaler I have been able to go back and see the ways God was working in me through my struggle with infertility, self doubt, and in my journey to see what He was working to accomplish in me. I am not by any means a writer but illustrations, colors, creativity, and key words, speak to me and help me process what the Lord is trying to tell me, even if I can’t see it right in that moment. Journaling in all its forms (prayer, illustration in your Bible, bullet, writing etc.) can be such a gift to yourself. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca!

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