By PASTOR LESLEY RADIUS

Trinity Lutheran Church

When my friends talked about their prayer journals, I would tune out the conversation.

I am a verbal communicator by preference. I have learned to communicate in written form only out of necessity. So the idea of writing my thoughts, prayers or even ideas down, rather than just blurting them to the world, seemed at least foreign to me, if not wrong.

Then I met Suzie in a Bible study. It was the first Bible study of a new year. We were talking about resolutions; hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. Suzie insisted on talking about last year. I was trying really hard not to tune her out, because she was not on topic. After all, we were talking about a new year, not the old year.

Soon, however, I was far from tuned out, I was engaged. She was talking about what she did every New Year's Day. She said she originally took out her journal from the past year looking for clues for the upcoming year, clues that would help her form resolutions and hopes for a new year. What she found instead was signs of God in her life throughout the past year, signs she had missed while she was living the year.

Suzie told story after story of how she realized God really was listening as she looked at each thought of the last year. While she was writing her thoughts each day, she felt God really wasn't listening and she was just repeating the same stuff each and every day. Much to her amazement and delight, when she did her yearly review, she found God really was listening and revealing himself in her life.

Suzie's statement about God revealing himself caught my attention. Many times throughout my life, even with an active prayer life, I have wondered where God was in the midst of the chaos of life. The spiritual practice of journaling has helped me slow down long enough to be able to see God.

It also has helped me to have a record of where God has been in my life. I have found that especially helpful during the "dry times" of life. I know if I hit a time when I can't see God, I can go to my past journals and see obvious reminders God is always there. God is never absent. Sometimes my ability to see God is lessened. A past reminder of God's steadfastness helps my eyes to be opened again to the wonder of God.

I invite you to explore the spiritual practice of journaling for your life. Below are some websites that will provide more information:

* www.journeycenter.org/encJournaling.php. This website has journaling ideas such as journaling with Scripture, journaling connected to our thankfulness and other great ideas to get you started on the spiritual practice of journaling.

* mayallbehappy.org/meditation-article/journaling-as-a-spiritual-practice. This website author has four steps for journaling:

1. Choose a topic.

2. Write it all down. Just let your thoughts flow. Don't edit yourself.

3. Be creative. Journaling can be however you choose to communicate. It can be drawings. It can be words.

4. Leave space for future insights. Chances are when you go back to read your journal, you will have a different perspective than you did the day you entered your thought.

God bless you in your journey.

Statements of Faith is a series sharing lessons from local church leaders and members. To submit a column for publication, contact the Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.