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Posted 9/17/14
Laura Malone

Journaling: The Power of Personal Stories

By Laura Malone

Imagine holding in your hands writings from your grandmother’s journal that
chronicle the mountain tops and valleys of her life and how God orchestrated His will
through it all. Or imagine reading stories of your mom as a child or tips on how your
great-grandmother kept the house tidy when all her children were under the age of
5. Wouldn’t that be a delight? Have you ever thought of the possibility of
journaling—not only to develop clarity in your spiritual walk but also as a tool in the
molding and training up of your children and even future generations? As a legacyminded
mom you can set realistic goals for when and how you will journal, and your
written treasures will be cherished for many years to come.
Several years ago, just the thought of journaling brought on anxiety and frustration
for me, because it was always something I wanted to do but felt defeated by. Then
one day, while reading the Bible, I began to see the power of personal stories and
beautiful examples of people passing them down to future generations, and I
realized I could be doing this too. For instance, in Joshua 4:1–9, an account of the
time when the whole nation of Israel had finished crossing the Jordan River, the Lord
told Joshua to have men collect twelve stones from the river bed where the priests
were standing and then place them at their campsite. The stones would serve as a
sign for future generations, and when the children asked what the purpose of the
stones was, they would be told how the Lord had helped their parents cross the
Jordan and enter the Promised Land.
I also began to understand that the concept of journaling was not a modern idea but
one that comes from our Creator. One of the most precious gifts our God has given
us is a perfect collection of personal stories that paints pictures of God’s hand
working through individuals’ lives. We know this God-inspired collection as the Bible.
It has effectively taught and encouraged many generations of Christians, as well as
strengthened our faith and given us hope when we have felt alone.
From this perspective, journaling became a natural priority for what I wanted to do
in each of my children’s lives, and I decided I would make this work for me—
somehow. As the years go by, I’ve become more creative with my journaling ideas
and no longer journal solely about my spiritual walk but also include other things I
believe will benefit future generations, even things to make them laugh.
Misconceptions about journaling can cripple your motivation and productivity, so I
want to share with you the style of journaling that has worked with my busy
schedule. First, I create a file for each journal and save it to my desktop, where it’s
easily accessible. I keep my laptop on the counter in the kitchen, where I spend
most of my time. When we’re in transition mode from breakfast to morning chores or
right after I’ve put the baby down for a nap and before I move on to the next
activity, I type up a quick paragraph, save it, and move on with my day.
If you prefer to use a paper journal, keep a pen clipped to it and place it in a location
where you’re more likely to have your hands free (okay, one hand free), like near
the kitchen table so you can write while you eat breakfast or lunch. Or consider
leaving it on a TV tray next to the rocking chair so that you can jot something down
while you nurse your little one.
Also, I decided that journaling could not be a daily or even a weekly, time-consuming
activity and that I would write only when something particularly stood out in my
mind. I put no expectations on myself other than to jot down a few sentences. This
helps get me to the computer without procrastinating, and once I get started I
typically write more than I thought I had time for.
I also keep a notepad beside the bed for the middle-of-the-night whispers from God
and then type those notes into my journal the next day. And finally, I make it fun so
that I’m more likely to do it. Occasionally, I’ll reward myself with my favorite cup of
tea or a Snickers bar while I write. But I can sincerely say the best rewards are the
teaching moments and the laughter that ensues as we read from these journals
To get you started, here are a few journaling ideas I’ve begun for my family:
• Spiritual Heritage Journal
This is a compilation of personal stories from family members such as your children’s
grandparents, aunts and uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles, and even second
cousins that documents ways that God has personally worked in their lives. Reading
these stories as a teenager or young adult could strengthen your child’s courage and
faith and equip him to face the spiritual battles to come. The finished product would
make a forever-cherished graduation or wedding gift.
• Teaching Journal
I use this journal for the “Aha!” moments with God during my quiet times. These are
special times when God clearly whispers into my heart about something I need to
change or something new He has taught me through His Word, through other
people, and sometimes through music or poetry. This journal could also be beneficial
for your children to read and discuss during their high school years as they’re
maturing in their faith and searching for tangible examples of God’s love.
• Parenting/Homemaking Tips Journal
Let’s face it, not all of us are naturally inclined to having good homemaking skills or
confidence in the decisions we sometimes make as parents. I’ve often dreamed of
having notes from my mom or one of my grandmothers on how to do things
efficiently and properly around the house or how to respond to a particular behavior
problem with my children. After being a mom for seven years, I finally feel like I’m
figuring some of this out.
So, to help guide my children a little, I decided to start jotting down parenting and
homemaking tips that have worked for me. I have categories such as Health, School,
Cooking, Kitchen, and Gardening and simply list bullet points under each.
• Growing Up Journal
This is probably my favorite journal. After my oldest was born I decided I would
periodically chronicle what was going on in her life. These include journal entries
about things she likes, what’s important to her at that time, and funny things she
says and does. I’ve since continued to do this for all my children.
Sometimes at bedtime, instead of reading a storybook, I’ll grab a child’s journal and
we’ll giggle at the stories until our tummies hurt. I’ve learned that sharing these
stories helps them understand themselves a little better, teaches them to laugh at
themselves, and shows them how special they are to God and to me.
Journaling, just like stones, can serve as a reminder of the goodness of God in our
lives. Let’s challenge ourselves to leave these priceless treasures for our families in
hopes of encouraging and inspiring them for the glory of God.
Laura Malone is married to Rusty, a high school football coach, and mom to three
beautiful blessings: Grace (7), Mary Ella (5) and Elijah (1), with her fourth child due
in September. She loves homeschooling, gardening, sipping jasmine tea, and
watching for early-morning cardinals in her backyard. Laura is from Rowlett, Texas,
where she also enjoys reading, sewing, and trying new things like writing articles!
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally
appeared in the July 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family
education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on
the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on
your mobile devices.