I have been journaling for over 30 years. I have plastic tubs filled with my journals in our storage area in the basement. I actually have it on my bucket list to take a year to read through every journal, looking for the themes that God was highlighting through the periods of time from each journal and to see how much I have grown up in Jesus! . I want to encourage you to start this habit of a thankful journal, if you are not already doing it! And if you have started and stopped, just get started again! When we begin a new habit, it can take some time before we settle into a new routine.
Here are a few questions I have heard throughout the years about journaling:
Journaling is a way to keep your heart connected in thankfulness to God for who He is and what He has done. It is a way to record and remember your history with God. Journaling, especially in your own handwriting can be an insight into your emotions & age. My journals from my teen years look much different than my journals from my 40's. :)
When to journal?
Consistency is a key to develop new habits, so I would say journal every day! It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Carve out a few minutes before bed or when you wake up in the morning. Find a place & time where you can have quiet to record your thoughts. You may use a notebook or purchase a fancy journal or maybe you are more comfortable using a tablet or laptop.
How to journal?
I keep my journal simple.
1) On the top of the page, I write the date (month/date/year) and I also record the weather (temperature, sunny/windy/rainy/etc).
2) I write 5 things (sometimes more) that I am thankful for that day. I am a thankful person and I believe it is because I have cultivated that discipline in my heart over the years. Even on days when everything seems to be going wrong, I still find 5 things in my day to be thankful for. I write: Father, I am thankful today for.......
*I challenge myself to think about God's character/Nature/Ways that I can see or something that I am growing in spiritually that I can thank Him for.
* With kids, I keep it concrete, so they can participate in journaling. Kids can draw pictures of what they are thankful for (friends, bedroom, mommy, daddy, etc.). It is important to help kids cultivate a thankful heart and to recognize who God is and what He has done in their lives.
3) I read 2 chapters a day from God's Word. So I write what I read that day and an insight or a question I have from each chapter. If I don't have anything specific, I don't write anything. :)
4) I have a time of listening in my journal also. I ask God the question, "What do you want to say to me today?" Sometimes I don't have to write out that question, because He has been so active in my life/heart/mind/family, that I can respond in thanksgiving for His activity!
*A listening exercise is good for kids too. It tunes their ears to hear what God is saying. We want them to know that He is always talking & He is excited that they will listen. He loves them and He longs for them to hear His voice!
That's it! You could start journaling today! 15 minutes is all it takes to begin a habit that will reap great benefits in your life!