The Art of Journaling

Psalm 19:6

For years I’ve tried to keep up with a habit of writing in a journal. I’ve been successful with a journal in a hit-or-miss sort of way. I have a few journals stacked neatly on my desk and I have yet to finish one. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as each journal has a specific purpose. But possibly that is the problem. I have too many journals.

For example, one journal is to write thoughts from the day, or comment about a Bible passage, and sometimes I write prayers such as, “A prayer for more grace,” which I posted on this blog.  There is also the creative journal for the times when I am inspired to create … to sketch and paint. I jot a few notes about the sketch or watercolor painting just to keep the memory fresh. I want to remember what inspired me to draw or paint at that moment.  I also use Evernote to save a collection of quotes from authors and favorite bloggers.

In January of this year, I began a quest to read a Psalm or a portion of Psalm every day. To keep me on track and consistent with this daily reading plan, I turned to The Songs of Jesus ~ A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Tim and Kathy Keller.

Reading through the Psalms for 26 days has informed consistency of keeping a journal.  Actually, reading the Psalms has transformed the way I journal. The Psalms are not just a matchless primer of teaching but a medicine chest for the heart. [1] Psalms is a prayerbook that has every emotion known to man and gives us the freedom to pray those same words, with those same emotions, back to God.

Reading Psalms is teaching me how to pray. What is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God. [2] This is pure grace, that God tells us how we can speak to him and have fellowship with him. [3]

The Psalms fire our imaginations into new realms yet guide them to the God who actually exists. The Psalms have encouraged and inspired the way I make art. There is a reason and purpose to make something beautiful.

I may have discovered the art of journaling by reading through the Psalms. This journal is beginning to resemble a story … my story. I see my story, my life, woven into the words of the Psalmist. I find that amazing and truthfully, frightening. It is a journal of joy, sorrow, worship, repentance, hope, frustration … peace and assurance that God will keep me as the apple of [his] eye and hide me in the shadow of [his] wings. (Psalm 17:8)

What about you? Have you read through the Psalms or do you enjoy keeping a journal?

sunflower

[1] The Songs of Jesus by Tim and Kathy Keller; Introduction, {viii} | [2] | Ibid. page {ix} | [3]  Psalms:The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I Dabbled in Paint and Found Rest

Blue Bird Rest copy

 I Dabbled in Paint and Found Rest | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 33

Today’s Reading:  Titus and Philemon and Hebrews 1 – 7

The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. Hebrews 4:9-10 

Our life is a day by day, hour by hour trusting in the promises of God to help guide us and rescue us and bring us to a place of rest. There is a gift held for us today. God is still holding out an offer of salvation rest.

I think it takes work to settle into God’s rest. I’ve asked myself what manic or compulsive hours will I give up in trade for the equivalent time to be still. Sometimes, you don’t get to decide what to give up in order to slow down, to discover rest. Sometimes life happens and you are forced to stop and search for rest.

I used to paint quite often, until it became too painful to hold a brush and to bend over a canvas. The pain was so great that it was hard for me to experience God’s rest. I struggled to count it all joy, and I fought against unbelief.

I’ve come to believe that God’s promise of rest happens everyday, hour by hour no matter how difficult or how gloriously happy life happens to be. It is true that God cannot lie and he will not break his promise and so I made the choice to take him at his word…to believe.  And there was rest through the pain.

And now with days and hours between then and now, I realize that rest may look differently to me from day-to-day, but that doesn’t nullify the fact that God’s rest never changes. That concept of God’s rest being constant, regardless of how I feel or how the day is going totally awakened and rejuvenated my thinking. I can enter into God’s rest everyday. He extends it to me and I need to receive it.

I experienced rest through pain and I experience it now as I begin to paint again. To relax and settle into a conversation with God, with brush strokes of praise, thanking him for the promise of rest this day and at this hour and forever more.

Be Still Rest

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

I Miss The Dog

Isla and Doc relaxing Best Friend, Indeed

Sometimes, you will always remember and you never stop missing. Like opening the back door to the kitchen, expecting to hear a loud bark and the sound of paws searching for traction on hard wood floors while toe nails, that are long over due for clipping, make another etch into the finished wood. “Welcome Home! It’s so good to see you!” is what those big brown eyes and wagging tail communicated every time I walked into the house

I miss that.

How quick to forget, however, the many evenings of nearly tripping over the dog while trying to cook dinner or sweeping up “tumble-weed” hair balls that collected in the corners of rooms or trying to avoid the dog from brushing up against me whenever I wore something black.

I miss that, too.

There was the yard to scoop clean from poo, the inspection of the soles of kid shoes for any signs of dog poo before walking through the house, and on those rainy days, cleaning four muddy paws before leaving the mudroom. (A mudroom is very nice when there are muddy paws or shoes with poo on the soles.)

I don’t miss that quite as much but I miss the sound of kids playing outside with the dog.

I remember those long walks and jogging through the neighborhood with the dog, holding the leash relaxed by my side…finding my stride and comfortable pace when suddenly I’m halted with a sudden jerk and arm whiplash because the dog had to stop and smell the roses. I always carried a bottle of water on those long walks. Not so much for me, but for the dog to have a drink.

I miss that.

The dog had no manners, though. He would pant his hot smelly breath on everyone he met or let loose a “silent but violent” odor in a room full of house guests. I think sometimes, one of my kids ripped their own and blamed it on…”the dog did it!”

I miss the dog and all of that smelly stuff.

There is no longer a need to fill a water bowl or hunt for an old tennis ball to play catch. There dangling from a hook in the garage is that old black leash that kept the dog close to our side, but was that leash really needed?

Perhaps the dog trained us to stay by his side and taught us how to be patient dealing with each others mess and to never take for granted when a family member comes home.

Good ole’ Doc! I miss that dog!

Doc

“Doc” The Dog

To Find Comfort in the Creative

Watercolor by Donna

Watercolor by Donna

I am a Creative. I find comfort in the creative. I enjoy a variety of things, but primarily I like to write and paint. If I’m in a good mood, being creative brings on the joy even more so. If I have the blues, being creative brings lightness which lifts the heaviness I am feeling. Like Julie Cameron author of “The Artists Way” says, “It is difficult to be depressed and in action at the same time.”

However, I don’t always find comfort in the creative. First, I struggle to write an article or a blog post. Just writing the first paragraph takes a lot of effort and because I’m a perfectionist, I’m usually never satisfied with the end result. Secondly, to pick up a pencil to sketch a design or a paint brush to splash on color can be an effort as well because it will require that this ADD temperament of mine to focus on finishing the project.  And then it’s the mess of the paint supplies, or the pile of books (research material) taking over the dinning room table. My husband has grown to appreciate my messiness and gives me encouragement and comfort to explore being creative.

I have a friend that happens to be a watercolor artist. She inspired me to unleash the “wanna-be-artist” hiding inside. She encouraged me to relax and to find comfort in the creative. She is the most gracious friend that sees beauty in everything that I attempt to paint. She encourages me not to hide my work, but to keep it in view and then paint another one. Always paint one more. Always write one more article.

I’ve asked myself what manic or compulsive hours will I give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or paint? Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for. (Ann Lamott said that. She is the author of “Bird by Bird” as well as many other books.) As a gift to myself, I am saying,”no” to some things so that I may say,”yes” for time to find comfort in the creative.

I once wrote a short post about the photo of my granddaughter sniffing a tulip. She loves to discover all that is creative. Her comfort with exploring a beautiful piece of creation made me wonder what a tulip smells like. It made me notice the tulips.

Finding comfort in the creative is noticing those small details–to be in the world–present and in awe. To thank God, the author of creativity, the designer of all creation for splashing beautiful colors on a blank canvas, called my soul. For writing His words of truth and hope to guide this perfectionist to realize that real comfort in the creative can only be found by knowing the Creator.

Linking up with everyone for Five Minute Friday, where a remarkably encouraging community gathers to write for five minutes. This week’s prompt is: COMFORT
 
There is an Amazon link on this page. If you purchase the book using that link, I will receive a small stipend. 

A Doodle Kind of Day

A Doodle Kind of Day

A Doodle Kind of Day

Ah! Spring Break is here! There is time to relax and doodle away the hours. So I doodled (for the first time) a small watercolor painting on a note card to send to a sweet and very dear friend who is recuperating from major surgery. I hope the card will brighten a moment in her day and just knowing that I doodled a card for her may bring a smile to her face.

Watercolor painting has become a favorite hobby whenever time allows. I’m just a happy amateur having fun painting cards to give away. Here is a photo of a card painting I did last year for a friend. Or is it a doodle?  I should add the following caption on at least one day of every month:

“A Doodle Kind of Day!”

Original Watercolor by Donna Harris

Original Watercolor by Donna Harris