June 26, 2017

A New Road - Marnie Pohlmann

I walk down this road of life.
I trip and fall into a dark hole.
I get up and continue walking.

Again, I trip and fall into a dark hole.
I climb out and continue walking.

Once again, I trip and fall into another dark hole.
Deeper this time, it is difficult to climb out.
But I pull myself up and walk on.

And again, I fall into a deep hole.
But I decide to stay awhile.
Eventually, I climb up the wall and back onto the path.

I fall into a hole.
I realize how dark, dreary, and lonely it is.
I decide to decorate, to make it cozier.
I hang a picture of me as a child, and I write in my journal.
I scream pain onto the page in silent words.
No one hears, so I stay in the hole.
Time goes by.

Though I believe I am secure and comfortable in my hole,
I begin to notice light up above.
I continue to write in my journal.

Then I hear a voice, calling to me.
He says he will help me get out of my hole,
He says, if I choose, he will walk with me on my path.

I think about it, but am frightened.
I know my hole.
I don't know outside, or down the road.
I am not sure I can trust the voice.
Yet he continues to call.
His words appear in my journal.
Finally, I agree to meet him.

He reaches down and helps me out of my hole.
I bring my journals.
He walks with me.

Just when I am about to trip into a deep hole,
He catches me.

We continue walking.
I sometimes almost fall into other dark holes,
But as I trip, he holds me.
I still skin my knees sometimes and he lets me cry,
but he comforts me.

We walk on.
And now He guides me down a different road.

I based this story on a poem I read many years ago. That poem did not have the journals or God calling to me, but it did end with learning to walk a new road. I have not been able to find the original author's name or even the original words. Over the years I have seen this idea of repeatedly falling into the hole, decorating the hole, and eventually choosing a new road, become a picture of my life.

I have a love-hate relationship with the journals I have kept on my journey. On one hand, they contain pain, struggles, and rebellion; times I do not wish to relive. On the other hand, they contain answers from God to my pleas, and they show how He has been at work in my life all these years.

My goal a while ago was to read through those journals to see what I could use in my writing. I was nervous about this project so decided this would be an exercise in research, not a reliving of the past. An emotional detachment was the key, or so I thought. I knew God was with me, holding my hand and ready to point out the gems of what He wanted me to share through writing.

And then I found myself again in a dark hole. Not because of my journals, but because of life circumstances which I found overwhelming. I returned to childhood coping methods I know do not work and once again believed the old messages of shame and worthlessness. Then I began to decorate my hole with pictures of everything wrong with me and my present life. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder once again settled into the corners of the darkness, bringing alive all the negative emotions of childhood, the work I do, and cancer.

I was depressed, yes, but I was not afraid - I am not afraid. In the dark times, God is present. When I am struggling, God is at work. He will not ever leave me, Scripture says, and He never has, so I know He won't this time. He calls to me and reaches down to help me out of the hole again.

Emotion is part of the past as much as it is part of today. If I am to read and write from my life journals, I must do it acknowledging and including all the feelings and emotions, not as a dry research paper. Memories in my journals may be dark, but I believe I will also see where the Sonshine drew me out of the holes. Rather than being nervous about this project, I am now excited to discover and re-discover God's presence in my life and how He so gently leads me to walk with Him on a new road.

I have been sporadic in my journaling lately. Writing ideas are strewn about in various pretty journals, church bulletins, Bible Study notebooks, and even in my phone. Personal woes and joys are dated with months between the entries. I have found I miss having (making) the time to journal.

This month's posts have been inspirational, showing me how journals are a gift. I now realize that organizing the thoughts, lessons, and ideas in those journals is also a gift. 

I think I'll start (another) new journal.

Photos courtesy of CCO License: hole - pexels.com;  girl, journal - pixabay.com

Marnie struggles and journals in northern BC. Visit her blog, Phosphorescent, to read her adventures in absorbing and reflecting God's light in dark times.

June 25, 2017

It's not only about the rant By Vickie Stam

A self guided tour. An exploration of my heart. A much needed respite. A time out. A place with no restraints. In it, there's just one voice and no visitors. I'm free to be me! Ah.....the journal.

The pages safeguard a world that no one else sees. They provide a place to relinquish my pain, face my fears and find purpose among the good and the bad. Yes, in my journal I can write about anything and everything. 

Still, a journal is not for everyone. I learned this while I was enrolled in one of my writing classes. 
   "Journals are just a place where people can rant!" A fellow classmate spouted during a fifteen minute coffee break. A dribble of spit landed on her chin. On her own rant, she never realized it was there.

She refused to offer up one positive thing. In fact, she waved her hand in the air so as to stifle our conversation; put an end to the misery she seemed to feel at the mention of journal writing. Startled by her sudden outburst, everyone went silent.     

Her negative tone certainly caught me by surprise. I couldn't help wondering what was so wrong with ranting in a journal. No one else knows you're ranting and besides that, doesn't everyone need to sound off at some point in their life?    

I remember a time when my two sister's, my mother and my niece would meet me for a day of shopping and lunch. This had become a regular habit of ours, one that we all looked forward to. Filled with excitement, I would make the 45 minute drive to Hamilton to pick everyone up. There was nothing better than, "a girl's day out!"

"So where are we going today?" I would ask when they all piled into the car. Everyone seemed to chime in at once. A burst of laughter always followed. Life was good. 
But amidst all of this fun, my sister Karen decided to move to Prince Edward Island, a place she had come to love while vacationing there a few summers in a row. Angela moved to Bala, enticed by a new job position. Bala is only a 4 hour drive from Hamilton, except that she doesn't drive. And then, my mother passed away after a brief bout with cancer. Inside of a few short weeks, that ripple affect brought our 'girl's day out' to an abrupt halt.    

Eight years ago my life changed once again. I suddenly found myself feeling more alone than ever. Thankfully I had my journal. Tears became my constant companion. My prayers - not so pretty. 

I really hoped that my sister, Karen would change her mind about moving to Prince Edward Island. I knew it was wrong, selfish really. But, I could hardly imagine my life with her being so far away.  

I needed to a place that would not only provide solace, I also needed a place to - you know - RANT. 

My journal hasn't judged me. I've been free to put away my fake smile, let the tears flow and despise the things that have caused me pain. Go ahead and have a pity party. I've never heard the pages telling me, "not to party too long." 

Journaling reminds me that everything will be okay. They provide an inexpensive therapy in the emotional seasons of my life.  

I remember watching an episode of Downton Abbey. One the main character's, Anna said it best when she said, "All God's creatures have their troubles." I'm afraid she's right. God never said that my life would be without trials.  
2 Corinthians 4:8 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair"

Unfortunately, there have been times when I have felt, 'hard pressed on every side.' In those moments of despair, I want that place where I feel safe to complain. Question God. "Why didn't you (God) tell me - whisper in my ear - give me some sort of a warning......"  You knew this was going to happen long before I did!"

Even so, it isn't all about the rant. Included among my tales of woe are the triumphs. My visits to Prince Edward Island. No - she hasn't changed her mind about living there.    

My journal is truly my safety-deposit book! I can make as many deposits as I want. And when I want to. It's a place that provides protection for every account of my life - rant or other.    

June 22, 2017

Dear Journal, Thank You For Listening! Alan Anderson

I’m not going to pretend to give the impression I journal daily. I do, however, see tremendous value in writing in a journal. I don’t habitually share my journaling with anyone else. Oops, that sounds a bit selfish! (insert smile here)

Through journaling I prepare myself for life or reflect on my life thus far. It offers me an opportunity to ask myself how I am doing in life. Allow me to give you a peek into my life through journaling. Please be patient with me as I bear my soul a bit to you.

My journal is a safe place for me. It is where I tell myself how at times I want to scream at the craziness of the world. I feel like this when I read newspaper headlines of the most recent terrorist attack somewhere in the world. I scream out of fear, frustration and the folly of people.

My heart cries when I hear of children who have been murdered. Even now tears come to my eyes as I reflect on a recent interchange of a grieving grandfather who chatted with me. There are other grandparents who have confided in me with similar stories. I keep all such stories in my head or in my journal. How my heart aches for these dear people. How my heart aches for these beautiful children.

My journal is a “friend,” so to speak. I have a loving wife and family but I must say I don’t have many close friends. I talk to my journal the way I hope I could talk to a close friend, someone more ready to listen than judge. It would be nice to have a friend or friends I could call or meet anytime.  We would be content in knowing we can share our thoughts with each other.

My journal is a “counselor” who I know listens to me. It is here I can pour out my thoughts and emotions. I have listened to a lot of sad stories of experiences people have suffered in their lives. Some things so horrible I haven’t even told my wife. I have also heard of how people have endured in spite of their suffering. Through journaling I process what I have listened to.

 My journal is a cheerleader, who gives me cause to smile and say, life can be sweet! I love life! In spite of my screams and few times of rage at the world, I love life. For the most part, I love people. I love too that God has blessed me in my life and continues to do so. I don’t say this just to put a positive spin on things. I say this because it is true.

I need a cheerleader now and then. How about you? I also like to cheer for other people. As I say to those who are hurting because of a sad experience in life, we are in this together!

My dear writer family, we are in this life together. How can we show our love one for the other? We can cheer each other on in our journeys through life. We may even be close enough geographically that we can be there to listen.

Father in heaven, you have called us to be writers. Help us to see the beauty of each other’s words. Help us to be real with ourselves as we journal. Help us to cheer each other on and to realize we are in this together! Amen!

Blog: ScarredJoy@wordpress.com

June 21, 2017

My Love Affair With Notebooks ... by Jocelyn Faire

I don't know when it began, or what to do with all of them. The notebooks, the journals of all sizes and shapes—many of them still empty, waiting for the right poem or the new theme, or my most brilliant thoughts. Some of the more unusual journals bought on travels are still waiting. Often I try to have a theme for a journal, so I begin more than one of them, while having an ongoing chronological journal. Meanwhile I use notebooks for a collection of ideas, thoughts and quotes.
Why do I encourage so many people to journal? Is there any benefit in writing down what we go through? A resounding Yes is my answer! I began journalling decades ago, when I was going through what I call the usual ups and downs of life; and even there I always felt the benefit of the process. Writing down thoughts brings clarity to whatever the situation may be. During my grief years, my journals became my lifeline, my prayer line, my place to recharge, my place to question any and everything. Those were the times it was necessary to write in order to make sense of what had gone so terribly wrong (write to right). As I reread my journals I see a woman expressing her longings, her laments while choosing to be grateful for the beauty of life. The historical value of journals is to look back and witness in your own handwriting the evidence of God's hand in it all. Most recently this has been vividly evident as I looked back at my 2016 journal while searching for ideas for this blog. A frequently used verse was from Isaiah 49 in The Message: The walls you're rebuilding are never out of my sight.
On January 1, 2016, my notes say:
A blank page
a new journal opens up before me ... what will be written on these pages?
It's a page turner to be sure
Life is an adventure—a sad one at times, disappointment at end of year brings a weariness to the new year.
I went on to express disappointment that I was not in a better place. A main discouragement was that I had been praying for several years for the possibility of a man in my life. And I was beginning to think that God had answered No, and that I would need to come to terms with it. On the blank page opposite my January first entry, I had later added that my daughter had prayed for me that perhaps this was the year. In June of 2016 I told two very dear friends that I thought I would remain alone for the rest of my life, and that I was actually okay with it. And then on June 10, I wrote “God, I think you're up to something.”
June 19, 2016 there was a profound upbeat tone as I wrote about having lunch with Harold, someone I had known for over 30 years ... someone I had worked with, someone who had also gone through some serious grief. That day I wrote in my journal: Is the something you are up to HB?
I chuckle at times when I see my gift of misinterpretation of scriptures. After this wonderful man and I had been communicating for a while, I had some doubts that were answered in a resounding way. In my journal I quoted Isaiah 43 The Message: Forget about what's happened, don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present, I'm abut to do something brand new. It's bursting out!! Don't you see it? No, I don't often see it, but I love it when verses jump out with what seems a personal message for me.
The gift of the journals is the documented evidence in my own handwriting of how God is working out the bigger plan in my life. And on a separate lovely note, on December 17, 2016 at my wedding to Harold, we used Isaiah's verses about rebuilding walls from chapter 49. The love affair continues :)
Photo by Joel Krahn

June 20, 2017

Journaling Rambles by Joylene M. Bailey

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Wow, the 20th of the month is here again! How did that happen?  Again, I’m stumped for what to write for InScribe Writers Online. Why do I always feel like I have nothing to contribute?

This month's topic is journaling and writer's notebooks. Oh boy. I wish I were a more consistent journaler. I might actually have something to share then. But I’m more of a spurtster, like Glynis.

Hmmm, it looks like a lot of the writers this month have several journals for different things. Me too! Only, so many of my journals had great beginnings and then petered out.  I have a whole drawerful of enticing journals, just waiting to be filled.

I love journals - give me a journal and you’re my friend for life. And I love the idea of journaling everyday, sitting in a fragrant and shady corner of my yard on a sun-dappled day putting down words of beauty, encouragement, wisdom and wit. In reality that’s not what happens at all.

Oh man, do I have anything at all to share on this topic? Let’s see, what do I seem to be writing down these days?

Oh! I have that quote notebook I have been keeping for years. I wonder if that counts. I also started that JOY journal – in fact I think I started two … No, those aren’t even worth mentioning.

I guess I do have my prayer/devotional journal that includes sermon and teaching notes. But then when Sweetie called in the middle of the night to say the twins were born, that was the nearest paper to hand, and I opened to the back page to write down the little boys’ names, weights, times of birth, what the names meant, and even how long she pushed for each one! Then I took that journal to Manitoba when I went to help with the twins, and continued from the back to the front, writing little rhyming verses and songs for 3-year-old Little Man. Now I even have jot notes for blog posts in there and a whole list of Edmonton Sites to See This Summer. Again, back to front. What kind of journal is that?

There must be another legitimate journal that’s worth sharing about …
I have that junk-drawer-journal. Everything but the kitchen sink in that one. Anybody else reading it would be so confused. Email addresses, books I want to read, somebody’s very detailed dream, accounting figures, lists, quotes, passwords, definitions, schedules, flight times … You name it, it’s in there. Nah, this journal would never count.

I did start “Morning Pages”, as suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. I appreciated that exercise, I think I’d like to get back to that. I also love the sound of an Artist’s Daybook that Sandi Somers mentioned in her post. It has a nice ring to it. Yes, “Morning Pages” and my Artist’s Daybook, those will be goals for my summer writing.

But to get back to my journal post … The only valid journal I might be able to share about is my In the Coffee Shop, In the Library one I started in September as an exercise to get me out of the house when I was on doctor’s orders to rest. It was fun to just sit and write down observations in coffee shops and libraries, and a good exercise in coming up with the right words on the spot. But then came surgery, 6 weeks of recovery, and then right away off to look after grandchildren, including the newborns. I haven’t written in that thing for at least 3 months.

It seems I’m not currently journaling at all.

So, it’s finally happened … I have absolutely nothing to contribute this month. Zilch. Zero.
I might as well go find the topic for next month and get a head start on that.


Joylene journals about not journaling from her home in Edmonton where she is resting up after 6 weeks of looking after grandchildren. 
Find more of her writing at Scraps of Joy.