Proper Documentation (Or why I choose to scrapbook my faith…)
By Courtney Walsh
Not all that long ago, my family moved from Illinois to Colorado. It was a crazy thing for us to do given that Illinois was the only place we’d ever lived, but for many reasons, we knew it was time for a change.
During that time—the days of not knowing, the months of trying to figure everything out—I wrote down every single verse, prayer and revelation I had. Sitting there, pen in hand, I was able to sort through what I thought God was telling me. Along the way, there were a few substantial disappointments, but rather than run me off, they drew me closer to Him.
Moving was intense for our whole family. In nearly every way, we were stepping out in faith, and let me tell you, there were many days when my faith faltered. Days I knew we wouldn’t have enough money. Days when I wondered why we made this HUGE change. WHAT were we thinking moving so far away from our family and friends?
Surely we’d lost our collective mind.
I was focusing on the uphill battle we were in the middle of…it was all I could see.
And it was in the dark stillness of one Colorado night that I took out that journal and began to read. I grabbed a highlighter and started to color over every single prayer that God had answered over the past year and a half. There were so many…and here was visual evidence that I wasn’t alone.
It dawned on me as I flipped back through that journal that I’d been focusing on the wrong thing. I was so intent on what was going wrong, I was forgetting everything that had worked out.
God wasn’t going to bring me here just to let me falter. From the beginning, he had me in the palm of his hand.
This is why I take my journaling just a step farther. This is why I scrapbook my faith.
In my life, there have been many miraculous, life-changing revelations. God has come through for me again and again and again, and yet, when I find myself facing yet another huge challenge, it’s like my stubborn head has completely forgotten everything he’s done up until this point.
Once these things are recorded, though, I can’t simply turn a blind eye. I can’t pretend they don’t exist. And I can promise you, on more than one occasion my prayer journals and faith books have lifted me up when I needed it most.
Sometimes just going back to that spot and remembering how I felt when God worked everything out gives me the hope and the faith that he’ll do that again.
I don’t believe scrapbooking your faith necessarily has to be about how artistic and creative you are, though I do love the creative outlet it affords me… I simply believe that recording your revelations, your answered prayers, your doubts, your struggles…it’s all so freeing. And not just for you…but for future generations.
The thing is, I don’t want my kids to think I’ve always got everything figured out. I want them to know there are times when I’m trusting in God’s provision, times I have faith (maybe only as big as a mustard seed, but faith nonetheless…) and I’m working out my salvation with fear and trembling. Working it out. Not “figured it out”.
If I take a few minutes to scrapbook these lessons, these prayers…my kids (and their kids) will know, when they start to wonder or struggle or doubt, that they aren’t alone. They may even glean a bit of wisdom from my journey.
But where do I start?
In my book, Scrapbooking Your Faith, I tried to break down the chapters by sections you might see in a faith-based album.
- I Believe
- Prayers and Meditations
- People Who Inspire
- Traditions and Symbols
- Lessons of Faith
Using those topics as a jumping off point, you can brainstorm tons of ideas worth journaling, creating and dreaming about…You can make your books as simple or as complex as your time and artistic ability allow. The best thing is there are no rules. There’s no “wrong way” to do it.
An album dedicated to your faith is a natural fit for a writer…it gives you another outlet to use your gifts and talents, which, when coupled with a few photos, make a lovely keepsake for anyone you want to share it with.
Scrapbooking doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money or taking a ton of time. You can simply get a notebook, journal a prayer and tie in an inspiring photo…anything that stirs your soul.
And once you’ve got a collection of lessons you’ve learned, prayers God’s answered, things you believe at your core…you’ve got a great representation of who you are…and, if you’re like me, the creating of the book is a lot like therapy—a chance to work out what God’s saying in a beautiful, expressive way.
Take a bit of time to document the most important parts of your life. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooking designer, theatre director and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was released in February, 2012 by Guideposts, followed by two additional novels in the series. She has also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney loves movies, coffee and Robert Downey, Jr. She blogs daily at www.courtneywalsh.typepad.com.