Journaling

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


When I was 18 years old I spent a month in Europe. Every night before bed I journaled all about the details of that day. Things I knew I never wanted to forget and never will because of that journal. It's this amazing keepsake for me and allows me to share my memories clearly for years to come. Even when I may forget the details of that adventurous journey of mine I can soon have the details resharpened when I return to the scrapbooks filled with pictures and writings. And for a moment I am re-experiencing a piece of it again.

But journaling has filled my life in other ways than just to remember the good times. It's also been an avenue in which I process my life - even in and especially during the difficult parts.

I have journaled ever since I was a little girl. I have kept logs of my life, thoughts, and inspirations. I still have my very first entries. Man are they a trip to read! The funny things that are so important to a person at the big age of seven are quite amusing.

None of my journals are anything truly profound or really special. Writing is not something that comes naturally for me, believe it or not. But I work hard at it because I feel my life is richer because of it.

There have been times when I needed it to act as a counselor for me. To hold my thoughts still so they could be changed or sometimes simply articulated. Finding the perfect words that bridge my inner thoughts with my outer experiences is not something that I feel I am very gifted at, but I value the self-discovery and growth it gives me and that part comes from the Lord. I know that well because anything that is beautifully written is not of my ability but truly His.

The thoughts and feelings that can go through me in just a single second is mighty but then I will search for hours trying to find the right words to express them. I guess the mind does not think and feel in words. But if those thoughts can ever be purged through words it is at those times I experience an awe-lifting freedom that delivers me to a brighter side of understanding and healing.

Not always does the experience of healing come instantly though. After all, some things in life are a process. And perhaps that process can be made smoother through the beauty of writing. Journaled words can hold the power to disentangle pent-up thoughts and emotions.

When I was pregnant with Cayman I did not journal much. Seems kind of odd especially since the news of her diagnosis left me with much to purge and process. But it's hard to make sense of life when in the middle of the storm. And not knowing what would happen next, surrounded by all the unknowns, I was not even sure what to process. I experienced so many emotions that felt larger than what any words could ever touch.

The pages of my pregnancy journal remained blank.

Occasionally I composed a letter to Cayman covering that sweet babe in love. How proud of her we have always been right from the start. Even in the moments when I felt we might lose her my heart continued to hold her close. She would always be my baby girl whether she remained with us or not.

But little did I write about my grief or what I was feeling. Words were not close to me.

Then Cayman was born. The pregnancy that felt as though it had dragged on enduringly was finally over. But there was a new set of battles - the NICU, surgeries, and the finding of more diagnoses. We were learning to settle in to the very unexpected life of caring for and raising a daughter with special needs.

More emotions were felt that were just too large for words to express.

When we finally made it home after 3 weeks in the NICU the storm felt like it continued. We had a stack of medical care instructions for our little girl. I felt ushered into a small medical degree by all the terminology and equipment. And we were on our own. No nursing care around the clock anymore.

So many emotions.

We were living with my in-laws. Most of our stuff still in boxes and all I had for my sweet little baby was one dresser and a borrowed bassinet. It was a worthy sacrifice we made so we could be living near our families again. But not having a true home of our own as we started our family was unsettling.

I felt many emotions.

Then Cayman's shunt continuously failed for many months in a row. She had something like 5 shunt surgeries within 4 months. We were on constant alert for the signs.

More emotions.

Life was busy. Stressful.

Mike was adjusting to a new job.

We were selling a house in a market that had crashed and the only way to be rid of the mortgage was to take a several thousand dollar loss on the sale price. To add to the financial stress, we owed more in medical bills than what our monthly income could accommodate. We watched our hard earned savings deplete to just a few dollars.

A lot of emotions.

By the time I sat down with my journal and pen in hand I did not even know where to begin. And I suppose much of it became held within.

Being pregnant again has me remembering a lot of those emotions that I had forgotten. They're still inside of me. And I began to wonder, as I felt a nudging on my heart to journal them as they popped up, that perhaps God has plans to bring me to a place where I know His grace even deeper.

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

{song "Unredeemed" by Selah}

I have been taking all those pent up thoughts and shattered emotions and laying them before the Lord. I have watched with eyes wide open full of wonder as He has replaced the pain I have felt from that time in our lives with an enhanced joy. I am more tender because of it. I am more aware of God because of it. I am happy. And that is an amazing feeling!

5 Showin' Comment Love:

Joyce said...

Beautiful Kristen. I am so thankful that you decided to share your blogging journal with us. You are so continually an inspiration.

The Soldatke family said...

I feel so much like you did journal during those times, but it was on your blog. Maybe those times weren't as "deep", but that was the time period I got to know you so well. I'm so glad for your writing; I LOVE reading it!

Lisa said...

What a gift it will be for your children to read your journals one day. A gift and a treasure.

Tiffany said...

I often wished I had journaled more often through the years so i could remember exactly what I did/felt/experienced...but I too wonder what my journal/blog would have said right after Olivia was born/diagnosed and if I would even want to read it. I think I would to see how far I've come. Beautiful, heartfelt post!!

Tyler said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your sweet Cayman with us. You are such an inspiration to me and I love reading your story. I am so glad I found your blog and actually got to meet you and your family.

Diane