I briefly posted about this Calendar Journaling concept once on a Five Things Friday post. I didn’t go in depth, but now that I completed a whole year and bragged on the results, it seems like an appropriate time to talk a little more about it! On January 1st, I posted this picture with the following caption on Instagram and Facebook.
“A year ago today I started a calendar journal in an attempt to really pursue Jesus and feel connected to Him. I was committing to the smaller commitment of a tiny box vs daunting pages and pages of a journal. Today I finished it. Every box filled, all 365 of them. As a result of starting this practice, I also filled 1 and 1/2 regular sized journals with prayers. I’m hooked! Because of the calendar journal I’ve been able to discover so much about my patterns, sin and emotional. Knowing your patterns leads to planning for times you know will be harder. Which results in a more consistent walk with Jesus, less self condemnation, being motivated to seek purity and holiness by Jesus’ love for me and not being “motivated” by shame and “trying” not to sin because the Bible says not to. When we’re motivated by Jesus’ love, we want to sin less and less. Not just because we’re not supposed to sin, but because we don’t want to because of love! All that to say… If you want to feel closer to Jesus this year and wish you’d be more consistent, give this a try! Go buy a calendar right now.”
Last January, in a final cry out to cope with the grief of losing my dad right before the holidays and going through the holidays without him, I told Jesus I’d spend time with Him every day for two weeks, but that I didn’t believe that even He could make this better. Boy was I wrong. I am a OCD list-y type of person. I’m also an all or nothing type of person. I’ve attempted to journal many times before in my life, and always failed. Never consistent, no follow through. The daunting pages and pages of an empty journal both inspired and discouraged me. If I’d miss a day or a week, I’d want to go back and write for each one of those days, but know I couldn’t, so I just didn’t write at all. But, I also knew journaling had value. I knew especially now, if I was going to really give Jesus a chance, I needed to be able to write things down to see if He actually was changing things. I ran across a calendar journal idea on Pinterest. It was more complicated and beautiful than this, but I didn’t have time for crafty things, it was a new year and I wanted to start asap because I knew myself well enough to know if I didn’t start right then, I wouldn’t.
So basically, just go buy a journal! My first year I opted for a simple one. Notebook size for bigger squares, but no weekly schedule or days, each month took up two full size pages. This year I upgraded and am doing a monthly/weekly one. I’ll hit one word highlights in the month squares, and then write a little more on big squares. This isn’t your planner, it’s just a journal! Sure, you can use it as a planner too, it’s all up to you! It’s about you and what helps and works for you. Many things added up together helped transform my time with Jesus and my way more consistent relationship with him, but this by far was the biggest.
I’ll share what I do, but you can totally make it you and yours in any and every way possible! I like colors, so I write in a different color every day. I also get excited about a new month because I do a little monthly doodle at the top of each page that corresponds with the month’s theme. I write the significant things of the day. Example: “Starbucks Jesus time. Good work day. DNA group. Good convo with Britt.” Example: “Overslept. No Jesus time. Blah work. Sin struggles. Grief moment.” Example: “Arise. Love my church. Nap. Worked out.” See, basic? I mean I fill up those squares, but it’s not a huge recap of each day. It’s hitting points and patterns I want to track and things I want to remember. I do miss days sometimes, at least one or two a week, but because of the format, it’s easy to remember the highlights of those days. This has helped me understand so much about my patterns! I know I struggle more with grief and sin on the weekends when I’m not around as many people. I know I have a horrible attitude about things when I miss spending time with Jesus in the mornings. I know that on Wednesdays when I have free afternoons and don’t make a plan for how I’ll use that free afternoon that I struggle with sin. I also was able to figure out some significant patterns to talk to my girl doctor about and realized I should be on medicine.
And guess what else? The sense of consistency and accomplishment calendaring journaling gave me, lead me to start writing prayers down in a real journal too. Never in my 30 years of life have a I finished a journal. Last year I finished a calendar journal, all 365 squares, and filled 1 and 1/2 regular journals with prayers. My Jesus time pattern is as follows: find a place (usually a table at Starbucks, but sometimes home), acquire coffee, pull out journals, Bible, pens, and/or book(s) and organize them, put in ear phones and play worship playlist on shuffle, fill out calendar journal for day before (and any missed days), start new day, pray by writing in prayer journal prayers of forgiveness and focus, read God’s word (usually along with She Reads Truth), pray for other things the Holy Spirit prompts.
So there you go, simple, nothing special, but life changing for me. If you are disappointed in your consistency and wish you spent more time with Jesus, give this a try.