I have so many questions. They keep returning, again and again. Things like…
What does God want me to do?
What should I pray about?
How should I pray?
Is there a proper way to pray?
Is just talking to God okay?
Is it okay to just tell him what is on my mind?
Why am I so afraid of what He might want me to do?
Am I doing the things He really wants me to do?
How will I be able to tell what it is He wants me to do?
Most days I work on my computer. Who am I kidding? Every day I work on my computer. I write in my journal. I create graphics or I alter graphics for my own personal use in my journal. I scroll through Facebook looking at images and sometimes reading posts, rarely replying to any comments unless something strikes a chord with me. And once in a while, I write in this blog.
One day, recently, I was working on some graphics in Affinity Designer. I tried to open one of the graphics but Affinity Designer responded with an error message stating the filename I was trying to access didn’t exist and yet I could see it right there in the OPEN FILE dialogue window.
I spent hours trying to rectify this situation.
At first, I thought it was associated with Adobe Bridge which I had installed a couple days previously to help with finding files faster on my system. I had started tagging some files and the one Affinity Designer had issues with was one of the files I had recently tagged, or added keywords for in Adobe Bridge. I use the keywords to help me find the files easier by creating a smart collection. What was odd was Affinity Designer could open other files I had been working with in Adobe Bridge, so I decided to uninstall Affinity Designer and install it again to see if that would fix the issue.
Things went from not so good to another step further into bad. Affinity Designer wouldn’t load after it was re-installed. Every time I tried to load Affinity Designer, it responded with a blue screen stating there was an issue with the cldflt.sys file and would cause my computer to restart.
My computer is really slow on restarting.
I spent several hours researching this new situation. I am sure that several of the “fix it” scenarios assumed the problem interfered with booting my computer but my computer booted just fine. I knew this because every time I got the blue screen when I tried to load Affinity Designer, it forced my computer to restart.
I finally found a location where I could get a clean copy of the cldflt.sys file and instructions on how to replace it. The author of the instructions warned that only the highly experienced should attempt to do this. I took the risk which wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed, and replaced the file, restarted my computer. This time, Affinity Designer loaded successfully.
However, Affinity Designer STILL had the original issue of not being able to open the file I wanted. Although, the file would open if I located the file in the folder outside of Affinity Designer, right clicked the file and told it to open in Affinity Designer but I didn’t want to have to do that. I wanted to understand why Affinity Designer would NOT open the file when I tried to do so from WITHIN Affinity Designer.
I finally renamed the file and gave it a rather short name that was maybe 8 characters long. Low and behold Affinity Designer opened the file without any problems. So… my original issue was with a filename that was too long for Affinity Designer to handle.
I have run across problems with filenames being too long before but in that case the file just didn’t show up in the software. This can be rather frustrating because more and more people in the business of creating graphics are using rather long filenames and they are either not aware that some programs have limitations or don’t care.
I will admit when I was stuck on the cldflt.sys issue and Affinity Designer wouldn’t load, I started to believe my system might have been invaded with a virus. I had been through enough system problems in my life of working with computers for over 30 years to know viruses can manifest in very odd ways.
In the midst of my struggles and considering the possible infection from a virus, I sat silent before God, with only one question on my mind.
“What do I need to do?”
“Get back into the Word of God.”
rang loudly in the midst of my silence and chaotic mind.
For the past couple of months, or rather since I had completed reading the bible from cover to cover, I had become inconsistent in my reading of His Word. My goal of reading the bible from cover to cover had sustained me and kept me hungry for His Word, but as soon as I had accomplished my goal, suddenly, I was at a loss as to maintaining that focus or how to get it back.
I felt bad. I knew I should be in His Word every day but I couldn’t seem to maintain it.
Then this happened. And BAM! when I heeded his message, I hadn’t been in His Word for more than five minutes when the answers to “fixing” my issues started presenting themselves. I was taken to the location for the clean file to replace my corrupted file. I was able to replace it and Affinity Designer started working again. By the time I had read two or three chapters in the bible, I had also discovered the reason why Affinity Designer wouldn’t open the file, by renaming the file. I was back to working in Affinity Designer but not until I had finished my daily reading.
I had more questions, like…
What bible study method should I use for studying the bible?
Should I follow the bible study courses I have added to my arsenal as they are, or should I find my own way?
What works best for me?
One of the things which had distracted me from my daily reading was my struggles with setting up a prayer/war journal. I tried about three different ways of setting one up but couldn’t quite make it work for me. It wasn’t something I would turn to every day and when I did, I always felt like it didn’t feel right. I even tried sticking prayer lists on my wall and sitting down to prayer but that wasn’t working either. Eventually, I sat down and prayed, that eventually, I would come across something that would work for me. I sort of felt like I was giving up.
I knew God was working on things. I am continually amazed when out of the blue one of my questions will be answered. The answers never come to me in any way I expect. Some of them come within minutes or hours of me forming the question in my mind. Other times they may come days or weeks later or even months later. Sometimes they come when I didn’t even realize I was asking the question. But in every situation there is no doubt that the answers come from God.
As I continued to try to find something that would work for me, I signed up for a free Bible Journaling Conference. I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it but I hoped I would get something. In fact, after viewing the videos, I was rather disappointed in it. I didn’t think I had gotten anything out of it at all.
Then, one of the videos I had watched kept popping up in my thoughts. I couldn’t understand why it was so insistent on popping into my mind at what appeared to be random moments. When I watched the video, I wondered how the person went about doing what they were showing and describing. The video had appeared to me as a show and tell of what she did with and contained very little instruction on HOW she did it. She, apparently, was doing this with a group of people and they all found it helpful but I didn’t feel like she gave enough detail as to how it was done.
After viewing the video again, and going on a search online to try and find more information, I didn’t find much that helped. Mostly what I found was just tidbits of what she had shown in the video. I started just looking at whatever images I could find and trying to deconstruct them until they made sense to me. I eventually gave up on getting any more information. The thing that intrigued me in her video was the making of a prayer page and a gift page. All I could get out of the video were two things:
- the gift page was about selecting something from our day that we thought was a gift or a sort of gratitude and writing it down.
- the prayer page was about writing down one thing to pray about that day and doing some doodling and/or coloring.
Both pages were worked on for the whole month and then you start new pages for the next month. It wasn’t the actual making of the journal or pages that had me stumped. What stumped me was the same thing I had been facing since I started this journey over a year ago:
What is the thought process and how does that translate into prayer?
When I first watched the video, I had questions:
How do you choose what to pray for that day?
Don’t get me wrong, I pray every day. I pray abundantly every day. In fact, I feel like I overdo prayer. Why do I feel that way? Because, I don’t feel like I am very focused on prayer and my prayers feel very selfish and reactive. I don’t want to be that way but that is how it feels to me. I wanted to find a more focused prayer life and one that has purpose and power behind it. One that God would be appreciative of because it wasn’t always “me” focused or complaining in nature. This is why I set out to try and create a war/prayer journal. It bothered me that it didn’t seem to be working out for me.
However, I am learning.
The other things I eventually weaned out of the video and my research, is this:
- prayer page
- divided into sections (can be random or any design you want) or just build it as you go
- color while praying, helps to maintain focus as you pray (this is a huge issue for me, I loose focus and my thoughts go all over the place, sometimes I don’t even realize I have left my prayer completely for the random thoughts that pop into my head)
- a scripture is selected for each month and used in the daily prayer
- select one thing to pray about each day, write it somewhere on the page, then doodle and/or color while praying
- creates a historical prayer journal
- gift page
- format is a numbered list for each day of the month
- select one thing from your day that is considered a gift or something to be grateful for
- write it down on the number for that day
- consider decorating the page as you go through the month
- creates a historical record
In regards to the gift page. I heard the word gratitude more than once, and the word gift used not so much or I wasn’t listening very well. I have, in the past, several times in fact, tried writing out a gratitude daily but it wasn’t something that stuck and eventually they started feeling repetitive and to be quite honest, not sincere. Therefore, when I heard the word gratitude in relationship to the gift page, I became stuck. I felt a block go up and resistance entered my heart. BUT, a question kept haunting me:
Why do they call it a GIFT page?
It didn’t take long after formulating this question in my mind for an answer to come to me.
Think of it not as a gratitude page, but ask myself,
“what GIFT can you find in your day which you feel God gave to you?”
I knew when I heard that message, I was going to have to give this a go. I wanted to see if it was something that would stick.
Would it be my thing?
Would it work for me?
The decision to give these two pages a try occurred a few days before the end of October. I couldn’t wait to start. I wanted to start that very day. In fact, I did write down something I thought was a gift from God that day and did a bit of a doodle which felt good. The next few days was in setting up my pages for November.
I chose a journal that was partially used. This journal had a blank page facing a lined page so the blank page would be perfect for the prayer page and the lined page would be perfect for the gift page.
How am I doing?
Well, I’m still adding to my pages every day. I haven’t been coloring yet on my prayer page but I am writing out something to pray about each day and sometimes I add a doodle to the page. When I take the time to doodle, I feel myself focusing on prayer.
Sometimes, I find it difficult to come up with something I think is a gift from God for my gift page but eventually I come up with something that isn’t repeated. I know there may end up being times when I repeat something, like the warmth of the sun, because I do love the feeling of the sun’s warmth, so I have no doubt God would love gifting me with that feeling quite often.
So far, I am keeping up with it and it feels right, though I still have a bit more to learn about the process for making it more powerful. And I feel like I have a lot of work to accomplish regards to my process for praying.
However, I am learning.
I just had a thought. Maybe I need to create a Question page, and maybe an Answer page. Wouldn’t that be something?
I mentioned my bible studies earlier, so….
what about my bible studies?
Oh, I’m learning there too. At least for now, about what works for me. I’m combining some methods I have come across to devise my own way of study. I’m using a class from Robin Sampson called, “12 Bible Eras”. I’m doing the first lesson “Creation Era”. Robin’s lessons usually involve Bible journaling, which can mean anything from using the images she provides for the lesson or finding free/purchased images or even creating your own, mostly digital or physically in a traveler’s notebook (TN). She does support you in doing your own thing or your own art but doesn’t teach it. Sometimes there is writing but it doesn’t seem to be a large portion of her classes.
I have another of Robin’s classes, called “Proverbs 31 and Bible Women” and I thought I could do what I had been doing in that class, where I take the PDF document she created and add it into my digital journal where I can add my own notes. I am doing this so I can search for information later on if I want to go back and study something or need to find something. But she didn’t make the PDF for the Creation Era course the same way she did in the Proverbs class. This caused me some frustration. Who am I kidding? It caused me a lot of frustration. I spent a LOT of time trying to get the information from her PDF files which were setup like slides but they wouldn’t format correctly and I couldn’t get it so the text would be searchable.
Once I figured out the process for the PDFs from the introduction, I discovered that process wouldn’t work for the next lesson. The next lesson had 4 slides per page. Printing them didn’t work because they were too small to read. I had to do a lot more work to separate them so they would be larger and readable but once again would not be searchable in my digital journal. Merging PDFs was an option but again the slides were too small.
Then I discovered the next set of PDFs were done even more differently, and even smaller, so I gave up on trying to use the process I had used in the Proverbs class. Or even including her PDFs in anything I was doing.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to find a process that works for me and stick with it. I don’t like having to come up with a new process each time I want to do something. It is very time consuming when all I want to do is just jump right in and learn.
Learning is my passion.
I used to wonder what my passion was. I think I finally know. Learning.
And if I learn something well enough, then I love showing others or helping others learn what I have learned.
I didn’t give up on Robin’s class. I’m taking her class, just adding my own twist to it. From another bible study group, they encourage writing out scripture that is being studied, so I decided to add this to the lesson. I listen to Robin’s videos, which are really just her talking through the slides/PDFs she provides. And I listen to other videos she has linked in her lessons. These videos are available online and don’t require Robin’s lesson to access them. Then, I choose an image I like that represents what I’m learning. I add it to my page and I hand write the scripture.
As I was writing out the scripture for chapter 1 of Genesis, a question kept coming up, over and over again:
What is the original Hebrew word that was used, and what does that word mean?
So… I started looking up Hebrew text on blueletterbible.org. This site is extremely helpful for bible study. There is much more there than what I’m about to tell you. I lookup the scripture I’m studying and in the tools I can find references to the original language, and read the definition or possible interpretations. This gives me more insight into what the scripture means. I am adding this information to my journal because sometimes what I have heard others say about the scriptures isn’t really in context or within the meaning of the original language used and how it was interpreted. Yes, preachers, ministers, clergymen put their own spin on the meaning of scripture. I love that we now have access to the original scriptures in the language it was written in.
I don’t always realize how inquisitive my mind is. In fact, I didn’t think I was very inquisitive at all until I started writing this post. If I want to know something, I just start researching it. Sometimes, I don’t consciously realize that is what I am doing. I just do it.
What is next?
Where do I go from here?
I’m not sure. I do feel I am finally finding things that work for me. I have no doubt these will evolve over time. For now, I am glad God is teaching me what I need to know and answering my questions. Sometimes, he even answers questions that pop into my head even though I haven’t taken that question directly to Him. This is something that was mind blowing for me. To know he actually pays attention to my random thoughts and takes the time to respond to them without me going to him in prayer. It is like my thoughts are prayers even when I am not consciously attempting to pray to Him, if that makes any sense.
Don’t get me wrong, I have heard preachers say that God knows our every thought. I believed it but in the way a child believes what someone says is true, not in the way where I believe it because I’ve seen it in action or experienced it. Seeing it in action, is just mind blowing for me, because I never thought I would experience that aspect of Him knowing my every thought and Him thinking it is important enough to take the time to respond.
Below are images from my journal for the Creation Era class. I have used some images that Robin supplied but I also used other images I got from other places. I made the journal by printing a pattern on both sides of just regular printer paper, then folded them in half, stacking 4 or 5 papers together and sewing them into signatures. This booklet has 3 signatures sewn into it. The cover is watercolor paper I painted and then coated with matte medium. I haven’t put a title on it yet. I may not do so until I complete the journal so I know how much is included in it.
The writing is scripture handwritten on a piece of paper before I glue it into my journal. The paper was created by me in MS Word where I can add images, background color and lines, before printing it. The I write out scripture before gluing it into my journal.
Before writing out the scripture, I read through it and decide how I will organize it. I don’t mean I change the order of it. What I look for is how to group it. I look for things, like subject or topic, search for images I want to use, then where there is a change within scripture and what image to use with it. In that way, I split scripture into manageable sections. The images help me when I look at the section to remember what it is about.
I discovered something interesting when using images someone else selected for a particular passage of scripture. I don’t connect with it like I do when I find the images that resonate with me. For instance, I used the images for the 6 days of creation supplied by Robin. When I flip through my journal, those images don’t immediately make sense to me. She had no image for Day 7 so I selected an image online and as soon as I see that image I know it is for the day God rested without reading the words. The same goes for the other images I selected in Chapter 2. Now I know, don’t use an image just because someone else used that image, choose one that resonates with me, so that is what I’m doing as I go forward.
I chose to create this journal differently than I did the journal I use for the Proverbs 31 class. I learned the hard way in the Proverbs lesson on issues that can be caused by gluing backgrounds onto a page and how it can warp the binding of my journal, so I’m trying it differently in this journal by printing the background on the paper and then making the signatures. This seems to be working very well.
Plus, my journal isn’t getting distorted due to the thickness of the layers. If I want to go back to this lesson and dig deeper, I will be able to add more notes by creating tip-ins. I could add in a tip-in that has information such as WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW as a deeper study and even later I could add another tip-in that contains relevant references to other passages in the bible.
I expect, I will be creating many, many, many more journals like this as I work my way through the bible. Only time will tell if the prayer and gift pages continue to work for me or if they morph into something completely unexpected.
I am grateful to God for every moment I have in His Word and for the answers he gifts to me every day.