Years ago, I had started a homeschool journal in which I kept notes on where God worked to help guide us into homeschooling and lead us with our homeschooling. I also kept quotes and Bible texts in there to encourage me. My journal allowed me to return, revisit a situation and share the details more accurately.
While my homeschool journal was nice and it encouraged me immensely, it was specific for homeschooling. I was able to share with other homeschool parents and it encouraged them, but when I shared it with other church members or family members, they often did not receive the testimonies willingly, because the homeschooling was something they did not do and often could not relate to. For some it simply made them mad to think that God worked through our lives in our homeschooling. I realized that for some, I need to share my testimony of blessings and works in our lives that were not related to homeschooling. I realized that since my journal was “topical”, I did not always recall instances of blessings when God worked miracles with our van, with our grocery money, etc. I realized that by not writing down or not sharing, I had forgotten those blessings and I could not share the testimony with others.
I realized that the Bible affords us an account of our past. It is the Word of God to encourage us that God is with us and has been with us. Sometimes in the rushed life we live, we forget our own personal blessings and how God is with us… with “me”. If I can forget, I am sure my kids will forget as well.
We live in times that are fast paced. Our children move from one thing to the next in record time. Sometimes the moments are lost as soon as they change directions to another activity. I wanted a way that my children could learn to reflect on the works of God in their life and to be able to review it at later times to encourage them or enable them to share their testimonies.
Because I love journals, I naturally thought of creating a Faith Journal. This was a way they could improve at their writing skills, all the while documenting the blessings and the works God has done in their lives. I love it when we can add something to our studies that is practical for life, and not just an assignment. They are learning essential writing skills, while they are documenting something that is very important for their faith in God to grow, keeping their faith strong, and helping them to organize their thoughts so that they might share their testimonies more readily.
Here is what I am doing and how I am implementing it with my younger set of children.
I am purchasing a special journal book. I have one daughter that prefers a leather cover. I personally like the wire bound journals with hard front and back covers. My young ones sometimes prefer just a simple composition book. But I make the point to make it look special, because this journal in particular will have something very precious, a record of their trials, their growing faith, and a remembrance of God working in their life. What is more special than that? My journal has a picture of a butterfly, which reminds me that as I grow in faith, God is changing me. My 9 year old is not thinking that deeply, yet, so I will guide her to pick out a nice journal, knowing that the accounts will be special to her someday.
In the beginning of the journal, we will do some copy work. I chose to record the verses that were shared in Ministry of Healing, pages 100-102. These are all verses that share the vision of the meaning of the journal.
With my nine year old, her reflections will most likely at first be joint reflections, family observations, as she learns to develop that awareness of God working in her life through the family. A thankfulness journal that I mentioned yesterday can help in awakening the little things in life and even some of the bigger events and how God is working through us and others. This journal however is different in that we are writing down a testimony of how God is working in our own personal lives. It is a deeper reflection of events that we pass through. We will choose to see God and reflect on it and record the details as much as we can remember, so that we can recall it at later dates. In my own personal experience, some reflections will come at a much later date, as we see how a situation in our past was working to bring a blessing down the road. Or maybe a hurt in our past is healed by a current outcome in our lives. Or maybe in our studies, we understand truth just a bit more that we can see how God was working in our lives all along. My nine year old will struggle to think very deeply at first, but through guidance and examples, she will learn how to record things that happened in her life. I may need to write it for her as she dictates an event to me, but as she gets older and understands the purpose of the journal, she can take over and do the writing herself. I need to be careful not to make the event my event and take away my child’s own impressions. It is okay to share a personal observation from your point of view, but if your child has a definite thought on how God worked in their life, then we should allow them to record that thought, as long as it is not an incorrect thought theologically.
Also, in the midst of the journal, there will be times that a verse or a poem will have a direct impact on their thoughts or feelings of a situation. Similar to a nature journal, we will include in our journals those things that increase our faith, not only the specific situations, but a verse that was personally touching and maybe why it was so touching. I will also allow them time to doodle in their journals. Doodling can be reflective of a time that they were reflecting on God’s goodness.
Our journals will not be used every day. They will be used to record specific instances in our lives that boosted our faith. An example would be of my third daughter, who diligently prayed for her grandfather every day in her prayer journals that God would help Grandpa be able to see. He was told by doctors his condition was such that he would likely lose his sight within a year. Over 5 years later, my daughter was still praying and at a doctor’s visit the doctor was saying how he didn’t understand how her grandfather could still see. The complications were such that he shouldn’t see, but he was. Her grandfather told the doctor, it is only by the prayers of my granddaughter. Her faith is working through me. He gave a personal testimony of his eye troubles and the doctor’s comments through the years and shared it with our church one Sabbath. It was very touching. My daughter’s personal faith in the power of prayer was greatly strengthened. This would be a time that we would sit down and record the details and put it into the journal. While the testimony was of God working in her grandfather’s life, it was her own prayers that were pursued on a daily basis for her grandfather, that she could reflect on the goodness of God listening to her prayers, as her grandfather had stated he had given up hope long ago; he was not praying for healing, but his granddaughter was.
Keep the journal handy; put it into a worship basket for your child, or a special drawer or shelf where they keep their worship materials so they know where to look for it when they have an opportunity to add to their own personal testimonies of God working in their lives. Encourage your child to add to it when an occasion arises, perhaps substituting a writing assignment in lieu of documenting in their Faith Journal. Let them know that it is a priority to reflect on how God is moving in their life and treat it as such. Remember this journal isn’t just an assignment or something to fill out and accomplish. It is our life work to reflect on how God has worked in our lives and share that testimony with others. The journal simply helps a child (and an adult) to gather their thoughts, to record their thoughts, to remember the situations so that they may actively share their testimonies of Jesus in their lives with others.