Joyce Beckner–Guest Writer
Joyce and her husband, Larry, have been in full time ministry for most of their 35+ years of marriage. They have raised 3 wonderful kids and she knows, by experience, the pressures that are placed on families in ministry. In 1993, they joined Freedom in Christ Ministries, after having been personally impacted by the message and ministry of Dr. Neil T Anderson. In the past 16 years, Joyce has sat with countless women all over the United States and Asia, hearing their stories, and helping them to understand how to experience their personal freedom in Christ. Joyce has been in Thailand since 2005, with a desire to come alongside fellow Christian workers and to provide support and encouragement.
Joyce is currently serving as a counselor at The Well , a Christian member-care center which promotes the well-being and effectiveness of Christian workers and organizations serving in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Asia by caring for people’s spiritual, emotional and relational needs.
Joyce is also a long time friend and colleague, having traveled twice with me to China back in 2007 and ’08. Once when I was preparing a seminar on How To Begin a Spiritual Journal, I asked Joyce to write an article for me on the ‘benefits and blessings’ keeping a spiritual journal has had in her life. It was so good I’ve used it a number of times in my seminars. This is the first time it has been posted on a blog.Here’s what Joyce says about her experience of keeping a journal. I hope you like it!
How Journaling Has Blessed My Life
by Joyce Beckner (© 2008 )
I began to journal in a consistent way, only three years ago [at the time of this writing in 2008] . It was a time of change in my life when I was feeling shaken and removed from all things familiar. My husband and I had just moved to a foreign country to live, knowing we were following the Lord’s call in our lives to serve Him full-time. The emotions that arose during that time caused me to want to deepen my prayer life. I began writing in a journal, keeping track of my struggles with new and unfamiliar things and the pain of the separation from my children and grandchildren.
I began to write out my thoughts and emotions, my fears, and the inconsistencies I was seeing in my life. At first, I didn’t always have much to write about. A few days would pass between my journal entries. I did not want to become religious about journaling, but instead, I began to cry out to God to teach me, to show me the way through some of the complex emotions I was feeling. I would write out my prayers to God. I began to see God answer my requests—sometimes immediately! His answers came in many ways: through His Word or in a sermon I heard; sometimes in the words of a friend as we talked or in a book I was reading; even through some insight I received from a movie I watched.
I would get excited about writing these things down so that I would never forget the ways the Lord answered me.
Sometimes a thought would just enter my mind and I would know that this was the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to my need. I would get excited about writing these things down so that I would never forget the ways the Lord answered me. Often, as I began to write a thought down on the paper, the Lord would expand it and develop it into a clearer picture of what He was telling me. I would pour out my heart in praise to my Heavenly Father, sometimes writing out scriptures of praise from my Bible, or re-wording them to personalize them back to God in prayer.
My journals have become to me a record of the faithfulness of God to me.
God often meets me in these times of praise and speaks life-giving words to me. Now because of my journals, I have a written record of these encounters with Him–so I will never forget it! My journals have become to me a record of the faithfulness of God to me. I see him as my Wonderful Counselor, my Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, who is closer than a brother to me!
As I re-read them, from time to time, I am reminded of His words of instruction to me, and am able to check to see if I’m following through in the things I have learned. Also I am able to see the themes the Lord is weaving into my life. For example, in the first few pages of my journal there were verses I had written out regarding the topic of joy. The Lord was just beginning to impress this theme on my heart, even then. Over the last three years it has truly become a major theme in my life—even until this very week! The Lord is still ministering His truths of joy into my heart of hearts.
There is also a theme of “healing” for my damaged emotions, which have resulted in faulty thinking on my part, which in turn have resulted in faulty behavior and responses to others in my life. There is also a theme of “fixing my eyes on Jesus” (Heb.12:1-2).
I might possibly never have recognized these important themes in my life journey, had I not written them down.
I wonder how much I’ve missed through the years because I did not know the value of writing my thoughts and meditations in a journal. As I look back through my journal pages, I see the bones of a sermon in there, and maybe even two!
Just this morning I awakened with a scripture on my mind and a thought regarding it. As is now my habit, I rushed to record it in my journal. Later today, as I sat and read through past writings, I saw that very same scripture entered on a page dating over a year ago. That causes me to stop and take note, and ask, “Lord what else do you want me to learn about this scripture verse? Please teach me to apply this to my life! Make this principle a part of me!”
My journal is also an encouragement to me.
Many times I have prayed, “Lord, change me.” Reading back over my pages, I can see that He has! I can track how many times I fell back into old lies or habit patterns of behavior that have been harmful, and I can now see that those times have become fewer and fewer. Change has taken place, quietly but consistently.
What do I write?
If I feel it, I’m not afraid to write about it!—though I am very careful not to defame another with my written words. In the event of my death, I want my journals to be edifying and encouraging to my children and grandchildren—a legacy of God’s working in my life. As I write, I remember that they need not know the details of the “whys” or the “who’s” of some of my emotional or spiritual pain; only that I faced it and dealt with it in a biblical way.
Why do I write?
Writing thoughts down gives the visual person (which I am) something to look at. It gives the verbal processor, (which I also am) a place to verbalize.
I have discovered that I often do not have the skill to verbalize my thoughts out loud clearly to enough to God to reach any kind of solution. Putting my thoughts into words on paper sometimes helps me come to a solution quicker and then, I turn my praise and thanks back to God, who I believe, guided me through this process in the first place. I remember that God already knows my problem and yet He does not mind hearing my moaning and crying.
King David in the Bible certainly poured out his heart before the Lord in the form of written petitions and prayers, (many of the Psalms were written by King David) and he seemed to find great relief from it. Often we see that David was able to regain a right perspective and see God for who He really is. That has been my experience too!