Monday, July 22, 2013

The Unsung Blessings of a Journal

One typical day in the warm summer after my 8th birthday I picked up a little diary I had receive as a gift. It was a small book with a little lock and a tiny key. I scribbled on the front cover, with my less-than-perfect handwriting, The Diary of Kathryn Mary Brown. 

I began a habit that I would keep. I began to journal my thoughts. That first little book was scribbles of silly conversations and petty escapades. It didn't take long for that diary to fill up and then daddy bought me a red diary which I appropriately named, The Red Journal. I was 10 and 11 the years I wrote in it. I wrote about arguments, fears, snowy days and school. Then there was the blue journal and the pink journal. I read The Diary of Anne Frank at some point in those years and so like Anne had written to an imaginary friend named Kitty, I wrote to Grace. I told Grace everything about adopting Clara and Dad leaving his job and becoming a preacher.

I grew up a little and by the time I was 14 years old I lost the extreme colors of my journals and wrote in a brown one that filled up quickly. I wrote about adopting Andrew and my first trip the Ethiopia. I wrote religiously. Not because I had to but... well, in a way I did have to. I felt that if I didn't write that I was cheating myself out of something.

By the time I was 16 my journal was not "to Grace" anymore. It became a record of sorts. I wrote of tragedies and victories and told myself that one day these pages would matter.

I have a drawer in my home of all of my journals. Even now I still write in a journal. I used to tell my friends and family that it was simply a hobby. I just enjoyed it. But now I see that it means much more now than I ever realized. From those journals have come my story... has come my book. From those journals I see miracles and God's hand orchestrating every breath of my life. Some pages are tear stained and others are covered in smiley faces, yet, when I read them now I can see that God was teaching me. I remember things and dates and stories that my family has forgotten long ago, simply because a few times a week, every week, I would add more to the story, or rather, tell God's deeds in my life.

Those raggedy diaries and journals were just the raw feelings of a young girl's heart, but they brought me to a place where I can intertwine them together and tell the story all together. I can thank God for His mercies and beg for His forgiveness and glorify His name as I read the pages of days gone by.

So I encourage you to write. You may gasp and say, "Me? Write? I am not a good writer!" My answer is that you don't have to be a good writer to record your story, or God's story of your life. Just share your heart because one day you may do as I have done too many times to count and flip back to those pages and cry as you read your own hand writing. Because looking back we see the big picture, while in the moment we see only a faint shadow of all that is true. When you write, you make things last. You make thoughts go on for longer than they were thought. You make truth known and you make hope take flight. Tell your story, because one day the pages will be opened and you or someone in the future may lift their faces to God and bring Him glory because of the word that you took time to write. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Family

I have had the word "family" on my mind lately. Family. It is one of those words that you hear a lot.

"How is your family?" "Is your family with you?" "Sorry about your family." "What a great family!"

One year ago today, I committed to join another family. I promised myself to make another family. In other words, I accepted a marriage proposal! And so one year later, I am well settled in as a wife in my new family.

Yet, for 18 years I was a child in another family. I was a happy and blessed child in the Brown household. I learned how to be an adult, a wife, a caregiver, money manager, forgiver, friend and most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ.


What have I learned being on both sides of the fence? I have learned that family is a precious thing. It is more precious than I ever realized. Each moment with every person you love is a gift. Each moment is one that you will never again receive. Your family is the only people who love you no matter what. They are the only ones who will be by your side, come what may.

Family is designed by God to be a structure in which a group of related people operate to serve Him. No family is perfect. Everyone has their annoying quirks. But sometimes I see a tendency among Christian families. Members of the families seem to be waiting until everyone is nearly perfect before they give their unbound love to them. Don't wait until your little brother is less annoying to hold him in your arms and tell him that you love him. Don't wait until your sister is married to tell her that she means the world to you. Don't wait to honor your parents until there are consequences. Don't wait until your spouse is in desperate need of love before you tell them that they are your forever love. Don't wait until your grandparents are in the nursing home before you visit them. Don't put them in the nursing home at all. Don't assume babies are going to ruin your life. Have babies. Adopt babies. Be fruitful and multiply in God's timing and don't hold Him back. Let Him build your home and don't force Him away.

And if you don't have a family, let your church be your family. That is another point, be a member of your church family that your church can be proud of.

Now is the time to make the most of the time with your family. They will not always be here. In pursuit of "me time" and selfish individual getaways, you may find that those piles of dirty clothes, sinks full of dishes and hand-me-down clothes weren't so bad after all. Maybe, in fact, it means that you have or have had a home full of blessings.

Your family is your blessings. Train them. Call them. Challenge them. Encourage them. Hug them. Support them. Forgive them. Love them. And lead them to the ultimate family... the Family of God.