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Monday, July 15, 2013

Tip Tuesday--Journaling

Today I welcome guest blogger the sweet J.  She wanted to share this with you all, so please take it away J....

I’m going to share something that most women would be very scared to do.  In fact, it’s something that you’re usually told not to share at all.  A page from my diary.

Today is my birthday party! I got a last of suffy!  Will by, Oh! My neam is Janet Brinkmann
Ok, it’s the first entry from the diary I received at my 8th birthday party.  Not exactly the scandalous entry you may have been thinking it would be.
But writing in a diary – or “journaling” as you call it once you can spell correctly and have a driver’s license – is something I’ve done for a long time.  As I flipped through this first diary in the basement this morning, I saw entries about spelling bees in elementary school, going to camp during the summers, who liked who in our Sunday school youth group, etc.  The last entry in this particular book was from 1998 – a full 9 years from that first innocent entry.
I took a break from journaling during high school; no particular reason I just think I didn’t see a value in it.  I picked it back up again in college.  I remember sitting in my dorm room that first night with all these thoughts and emotions and picked up a journal I had received as a graduation gift.

There’s a journal for each of my four years at Texas A&M.  I attempted to write every day and came pretty close to that goal.  They’re filled with the thoughts of someone struggling with organic chemistry, getting their first apartment, wondering who will be her date to the next football game, and yes, the accounts of a first love and heartache. 
It’s a neat little time capsule to have now, to see how something so tragic to my 19 year-old self is now so silly.  Years definitely bring perspective.  And reading entries again can bring me back so clearly to the time when I wrote them; how I was feeling and dealing with whatever was going on at the time – good or bad.
I took another little journaling break and picked it back up when my now loving husband (well, he’s always been loving, he just wasn’t my husband at that time) gave me a beautiful leather bound journal for a Valentine’s Day gift.
I wrote in it for a while, then tapered off.  Perhaps I didn’t feel there was anything truly note worthy going on in the life of a recent college graduate.  Then we got engaged. J  I started writing again on the 26th of each month from engagement to wedding (our wedding was the 26th of May).  Writing monthly allowed me to give myself grace if I was busy or didn’t think there was anything to share.  It also gave me a goal to think of something at least once a month to write about.  I wrote for a few months after we were married in 2007, but nothing very consistent.
Looking through that journal, there’s a shift in time from a very recent newlywed in Texas to a woman on a job-search in Missouri.  Part of me wishes that were more entries during that time, as I know there was a lot going on, but alas.  There are a smattering of entries about finally finding a job (in an area new to me at the time but one I can to enjoy and thrive in), running my first marathon, and enjoying life as a homeowner in Missouri.  Then I got pregnant.
Again, I wanted something consistent to document and remember my thoughts and feelings during that time as we prayed for and grew excited for the baby that would be joining our family.  I wrote pretty frequently and included an entry after each doctor’s appointment. 
Once Caleb came on July 6th – he’ll be TWO this year – I was sitting at home holding him in my arms thinking about the day he came.  I didn’t want to forget a thing about his first few days, so I picked up another journal I received as a shower gift and started writing an entry for each of his days of life thus far – I think he was 5 or 6 days old at the time.  The cover of that journal has a bible verse on it: This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice & be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).  What a perfect verse for a new mom; not every day is good, not every day makes you want to rejoice, but the Lord has gifted that day to us regardless.

There is a journal entry for each day of Caleb’s first year.  It spans two books – a two volume set – since I ran out of room in the first.  Some of written by me, some by dad.  Some include stats from doctor’s appointments, others are a cartoon depiction of the day (usually drawn by daddy).
When I was expecting Emily, I again picked up my journal and wrote after each doctor’s appointment.  I started rereading entries from my first pregnancy which helped me remember what was coming next, or what I was feeling at the stage of pregnancy the first time around.
Emily now has a daily journal that I started for her.  I bought a three pack of journals, knowing that I would likely fill more than one, and one is now being used as a coloring book for big brother. J  She will have an entry for each day of her first year as well.  And, Clayton wants to keep the book that Caleb is scribbling and drawing in once it is filled, so I suppose that will be his first journal.

So… why all this writing about journaling?  Well, I think it’s a great thing to do and wanted to share my thoughts with you all.  It’s cathartic.  It allows you to put to paper your thoughts, fears, prayers, etc.  Some people have a prayer journal.  Something that keeps them accountable to the prayers they’re lifting up for others and themselves.  I’ve been in Bible studies that when it comes time to share prayer requests, ladies pull out their tattered journals to write down the prayers of their sisters.
Some people write daily, monthly, or just whenever they feel the need/desire too.  As you can see, I’ve done a little bit of all of that.
Journaling has helped give me so much perspective.  With a second child now, I can go back to Caleb’s journal and his entries help normalize whatever is going on with her at this age.  “Oh yeah, he wasn’t sleeping through the night yet”… or, “when did he start sleeping in the crib?”… or, “what was his first food again?”  All those things I might not otherwise remember, and thanks to my journal, I don’t have too.
It also allows me to remember that verse from Psalms about rejoicing in the day.  There have been many times I sit in bed in the evening and have to stop and think about my day and try to find something to write about.  Maybe there was something big that’s easy to identify; the first time my baby smiled, or rolled over, or peed on daddy’s foot (it happened recently pre-bath).  But maybe there wasn’t something big.  I think I appreciate those days more; I have to sit and reflect and usually come up with something that, while not “big,” is just as wonderful and joyous as another.
I will leave with this.  I allow myself grace.  Yes, I want to write a journal entry for each day of Emily’s first year.  And I will.  Did I wake up this morning while everyone else slept and catch up on three days worth of entries?  Yes.  Grace.  If I miss a day, or two, or several, that’s okay.  I just pick it up the next time I have a moment.
So… consider giving journaling a try.  You might like it.
And I’ll really leave you with this; a picture of my little loves.  Because I’m their mom and can do that. J

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