Each Wednesday (except this week, when I missed my deadline) I’m recording a Curiosity Journal, a recap of the past week. Tag words are: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing.
Some of you have mentioned that you’re keeping a Curiosity Journal, as well. Leave your link in the comments so that we can visit and enjoy your weekly review.
The July 28 entry in My Utmost for His Highest:
What we call the process, God calls the end…His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process–that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea…God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious. (Chambers 152-153)
This has helped me gain perspective in the midst of a massive traffic jam, patiently await the conclusion of a complicated business issue that has stretched out unresolved all summer, and accept various symptoms and flare-ups of a prolonged respiratory ailment. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, with absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the chaos of my life just now, that is the end of the purpose of God. When I realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.I’ve also been reading Breath for the Bones (not “Bones for the Breath,” which I learned from an Amazon search equates to doggie dental treats). As I look ahead to the chapter “Beginning with Journal Writing,” I see how critical it is as a writer—as a human being in this moment, in this place, in this world at this time—to capture sounds, colors, images, conversations, and follow them where they may lead. This is how I can go back and recreate a scene or interaction to tell the story rich with detail. This is how I can preserve and process life.Luci Shaw quoted Henri Nouwen as saying, “Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals what is alive…The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know” (Shaw 95).I must start writing and see where it leads, asking for the Holy Spirit to direct my steps and then pay attention, following His lead.Luci also quoted William Saroyan, “The task of the writer is to create a rich, immediate, usable past” (Shaw 96). Where and who I’ve been can be right here with me, in my journal, in my blog posts, in any personal narrative writing project.Luci describes a consistent, personal journal as a form of prayer, as the words poured out on the blank white pages “can free us, nudging us into the kind of confidence in the process that eases our way into writing as a way of discovering and articulating who we are before God” (Shaw 96). I have experienced this. Many of my journal entries slip from straight narrative or questions into prayer. This is why I am shy for people to peek, for how personal it can be.But it’s also a lively spot where the creative process unfolds; where I explore early project ideas. As Luci points out, in a journal we see how where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown.I’m glad to have bought the blank book with white pages, no lines. Just space. I can position the book vertically or horizontally, I can write diagonally or in swirls. I can doodle. I can make lists. I can jot phone numbers in a little unused corner of the page with sermon notes. It can be messy or organized; creative or ordinary. I can be any of those things at any given moment—why not have my journal serve as a true reflection of my curious, creative, messy, multifaceted self?
Haven’t played Bananagrams since we returned from vacation, but my family and I sure have enjoyed playing with photography. Will you humor me with a little slide show of sorts, a photo album, of our week of family camp? Despite all my talk of detailed journal-keeping and how that leads to powerful storytelling, I’ll spare you narrative and let the photos tell the story.
At family camp, I sat on one of the Adirondack chairs to talk photography with my friend, award-winning photographer Bill Vriesema, someone who knows the craft well. I learn so much from him, not only during these impromptu discussions, but also by enjoying and studying his images and reading how he approaches his work.
My health status makes for riveting entries under “reacting.” Seems my respiratory system is always reacting for better or worse to something: allergies, exercise, medication, infection. For example, the doctor thinks that the sinus infection reacted well to the antibiotics but aggravated asthma. The result? Coughing spasms that sounded like a crackling bonfire was aflame in my lungs. Doctor has me taking more stuff. So far, so good. Coughing is calmed. For now.
Writing in my journal, per Luci’s inspiration.And here.Works Cited:
- Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Westwood, NJ: Barbour and Company, Inc., 1963. Print.
- Shaw, Luci. Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007. Print.
- Question mark image: “Question Proposed” photo by Ethan Lofton. Used under a Creative Commons license via Flickr.com.
- Butterfly and sparkling water w/rock photos by N. Kroeker, used with permission. Cove, lamp and Ann-leaning-on-post photos by P. Kroeker, used with permission. All other photos by Ann Kroeker. All copyright 2011.
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Megan Willome says
I love that Oswald Chambers reference. A good reminder for me.
And I am completely unable to journal. I’ve been trying this summer, but it always devolves into despair.
Oh, my. That sounds intense and not very helpful. But it does sound like you are letting it be a place to pour out your heart. Laments are modeled for us in Scripture, but when they spiral into despair, that can’t be good. Maybe your journal pages could purposely be writing exercises rather than outpouring of the heart, like description of place or one brief memory from childhood or scratching out a conversation you’re overhearing or generating a list of metaphors. Something like that, maybe? Or lists?
Bill Vriesema says
Your photos of Cedar are awesome!!! Thanks for sharing them. And thanks for letting me yammer on about photography while at Cedar. 🙂 You are so kind!
I always enjoy talking with you guys! You have such a neat family. It was fun to watch them interact with the other Cedar peoples.
I hope that nasty sinus thing goes away soon!
Oh, Bill, you are a great teacher, patiently explaining and re-explaining the things that I didn’t “get” the first time. Since we don’t live close enough to chat in person, keep yammering in your blog so that I can keep learning!
I agree about the families interacting–so fun to see them grow and mature, year after year. Yours, so ready for LIFE. Wow.
And thanks for your concern about my health.
Charity Singleton says
Love the roots winding down and the nose noises! These Curiosity Journals always make me smile.
Aren’t those roots amazing? The trees grow on these gigantic rocks with so little to nourish, roots wrapping around and reaching down to the soil.
And nose noises. That was a fun campfire!
Linda Thomas says
Hi, Ann, what beautiful scenery and people in your photos! Congratulations.
I’m sorry you’ve been sick for so long. May God bring you back to good health soon.
I’m not sure if you saw my reply to your comment left on my blog, but here it is:
Hi, Ann, and thanks for stopping by. I agree: it’s harder seeing/analyzing our own work than someone else’s. I appreciate my critique partners and editors so much!
You’re talking about “scaffolding” — writing for a while just to get into a piece, realizing later that it can be cut. I suspect that most of us do it often. In the right column, you’ll see a link to a recent blog post about scaffolding. Hope you find it helpful.
I so enjoy your blog, Ann!
Thank you, Linda, for sharing that comment and pointing me to “scaffolding.” I’ll slip over and look at that down. I enjoy seeing you here every time you visit!
I loved that Nouwen quote. And your photos are so sweet (especially the one with the three little boys…now that tells a story! LOL!)I loved seeing your smiling face. Thanks for linking up today, Ann.
Debra Sheffield says
I love your blog – the photography is wonderful…and you sharing your heart, life, family, and the encouragement.
Thanks Ann, SO much.