healing through journaling


Prison van Tonight’s lesson is on how things we read, hear, watch, etc. can be a jump start for our journaling. This happens lots when I read my Bible. In the journaling class at the prison, the ladies love quotes. Every week I pass out quotes and these quotes serve as our ice breaker and the ladies tell how much they love getting them and how they help get them started on something to write about.

The purpose of the journal entry I’m sharing tonight is to illustrate the principle that anything can be the impetus to get you writing; anything you read or hear or see can be a prompt in your journaling. Every thought can be a place to dive in and start thinking in writing. Watching a movie, a line may resonate and lead to a journal entry, a line from a song, a book - anything can be used as a precursor for journaling. In journaling, anything goes.

From my journal, February 23, 1998.

Psalm 13 from Psalms Now

How great and glorious is our God!

From hour to hour, from day to day, our lives ought to overflow with praise and gratitude.

It’s amazing, even fantastic, how our God permeates every facet of our lives and can work out His purposes through them despite our human faults and failures.

He creates beauty out of the dust and our fallen natures.

Out of the ashes of our failure He brings forth meaning and purpose.

He exalts the humble and enriches the poor.

He transforms our weaknesses into channels of strength.

Our emptiness becomes a vessel of His fullness, our spiritual poverty the basis of His eternal grace.

Our errors and mistakes are stepping stones to success.

Our defeats are but incidents on the road to victory.

But this is God’s doing, not ours.

How great and glorious is our God!


1998 prayer journal entry:

“Our errors and mistakes are stepping stones to success.” I pray that this will be true of my life because I’ve made so many errors and mistakes. “Errors and mistakes” sounds tame, so unlike the mistakes I’ve made. I think especially of my dear Stephanie and Christopher. Could you – of course you can – but would you, please bring something that resembles success out of these miserable failures? Is it possible that my defeats are merely incidents on the road to victory? On my own, I’m a helpless blob of errors, mistakes, and failures. Please turn these things into blessings, successes and victories. I wait in expectation. What will you do with my messed-up life?

poor booper

As I've mentioned, I'm leading a "Healing Through Journaling" course at the prison. Tonight's lesson is intended to reveal how we gain insight as we write, as we journal. I end each class with a piece from my own journals. This one illustrates quite well, I think, how I gained new insight and understanding as I wrote it. Not the cheeriest piece, consider yourself warned. I've been crying for hours now having reread it for the first time since 2006. I wrote this in February 2006. The event itself happened in April 1993, thirteen years prior to me writing this.

Yes indeed, I gain insight from journaling.



We got Booper on October 31, 1992. Oh how cute she was – a full-blood Boxer, but without the papers. It was Halloween night and we had a party at church. Stephanie was Pharoah’s daughter all dolled up in costume jewelry and make-up carrying Baby Moses in a willow basket. Christopher was David, complete with a sling-shot. Funny, but I don’t remember if we got Booper before the party of after.

Right after the litter of puppies arrived I chose Booper. She had a smushed nose. Of course all her sibs did, but her snout was black setting her apart from her brothers and sisters. I loved her black face, – a feature I later learned eliminated her from being a show-dog. Not that Booper was ever headed to a show ring, but interesting how the feature that first attracted me to her was also the feature that proved she wasn’t perfect.

A rich couple (or maybe they were just generous) from Austin, I can’t even remember their names knew I wanted a Boxer and bought her for us. All I had to do was go and pick her out. Christopher and Stephanie wanted a dog and we haphazardly prayed for one when we remembered. Once I learned we were indeed getting a puppy, I kept it a secret from the kids, but encouraged them to really pick up the praying for a dog. I was trying to rig a situation where they knew God answered their prayer. I thought it was my duty as a mom to teach them that God answers prayer. Now I realize God can teach my children those lessons without my manipulating things to “help Him out”.

We brought her home that special Halloween evening and began to smother her with our love and affection. I had no sense regarding training a dog to be a good house dog. I loved her so much, but looking back, I realize she had a crappy life. Just this very moment I realized that. Boxers have lots of energy. I didn’t give her opportunity to work off that abundant energy. I loved her, I held her, patted her, talked to her, let her sleep with me, but I can’t remember every walking her. I hope I did, but I can’t remember it.

I traveled some during those days. I guess it was Mama that went and fed her on those days. Oh, I wish I weren’t realizing how lonely poor Booper felt. I’m learning it right now. I worked, I traveled, oh my goodness. Why has this not haunted me before? I loved her, honestly I did. What a fool I was! How could I be so stupid and never realize her needs? Poor Booper. Poor, poor Booper. I thought her hardship began in April, but right now I’m seeing it began the day I got her. Oh God, how has this realization escaped me all these years?

In April as things were seriously heating up in our custody battle, my nerves were shot and getting more shot by the day. I was a class-act basket-case. The day I left CMA for good, on poor terms, it was a terrible terrible day. My kids, the Roses, K & J, Gordon and Becky, everyone it seemed, was against me. My world was crumbling all around me.

On a misty night I was overwhelmed with life. I didn’t think I could handle one more stress. Booper had a dog house outside. She had never used it, she’d always slept with me. My yard wasn’t fenced so she had to be on a chain. I had never put her out for the night, but I was crumbling and was in “no space” for her.

As I lay in bed, she whined and barked and begged and pleaded to come inside. I laid there thinking, “It’s time you learn to use your dog house, Booper.”

After breakfast the next morning, Stephanie went to feed Booper. Booper didn’t move when Stephanie called. Steph in a near-panic told me Booper wasn’t moving. I went to see. She was dead. She strangled in her chain. It was all my fault! I left her outside and I left her on a chain. The blanket I had put in her doghouse got twisted in the chain and eventually strangled her. This would have been when she was begging, pleading, whining, and barking for me.

I collapsed into a crazy crying breakdown. I scared Stephanie and Christopher worse than Booper’s death did. It all hurt so much. It was all my fault. My selfishness, not wanting to deal with her that night, killed her.

God, I’m so sorry. Booper, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Please know I wouldn’t do it again.

I would walk you. I wouldn’t leave you in the rain. I wouldn’t make you stay outside that night. You died young Booper, but today for the first time, I realize that I gave you a poor life. I’m so sorry. Maybe dying young saved you a long, poor-quality life. I loved you Booper. I was too stupid to know how to love.

God, are there areas in my today that I’m so very stupid in and don’t even know? God help me.