Getting Out of a Rut

Whenever we start something new, there are bound to be set backs.  Maybe you were so excited to get a journaling Bible for Christmas and then did a few entries, but stopped?  Or you got in a good routine and journaled daily, but then lost momentum?  Or maybe you got the Bible and a few supplies, but never started?  Or perhaps a few pages didn’t turn out like you expected, and it just bugs you?  How do you pick up again?

Here’s a few thoughts…

You may be in a season of life where your priorities have shifted.  That’s ok.  That happens.  Your Bible will wait for you!  It’s there when you are ready.  Sometimes you just have to wait on the Holy Spirit to lead you forward.

If you had a daily rhythm going, think about what worked for you.  I was in a really good routine in November and December and here’s some things that helped:

  • Having a daily devotion to work through.
  • Reading the Scripture before bed and putting out some Bible Journaling supplies to wake up to.
  • Having a simple color scheme for the season—picking a few colors that work well together and using them over and over. This makes Bible journaling simpler for me.

You don’t necessarily have to wake up early to Bible journal or set aside a specific time each day.  Bible journaling is something that’s easy to weave into your day.  Read a scripture some time in the morning.  It just takes 5 or so minutes.  Think about it throughout the day.  Even if you just imagine a creative response to a Bible passage, you are still getting deeper into the Word.  I’ve done so many pages in my head that I never had time do in my Bible.  If you do have a few extra minutes, you can journal the page.  I find journaling in my Bible to be relatively easy to do with my kids around (if I am willing to share my art supplies).  It’s not something that requires as much quiet and concentration as prayer.

Remember why you wanted to start in the first place.  My why has changed after Bible journaling for a few years.  Now I can look back at my Bible and remember countless small moments where God met me in the margins of my Bible, giving me a little bit of wisdom through the right verse at the right moment.  Sometimes the way a page comes together just speaks to me right where I am with a voice I couldn’t have otherwise heard.  It may seem funny to say this, but I’ve often experienced it:  The answer to my prayers and questions often surfaces as I play with the stickers and paper pieces. Maybe playing creatively in the Word just lets my mind relax, but the whole experience often feels like a hug from God. And all I have to do is show up!

Face your perfectionism:  Maybe you just can’t face your Bible after a few pages just didn’t turn out the way you expected.  You have two options:  1) You can decide that it’s about the process and not worry about past mistakes.  2) You can decide that you aren’t quite ready to conquer your perfectionism.  It’s ok to start fresh with a new Bible.  I’ve done that myself.  The one Bible that I totally messed up I use for testing supplies or trying something new for a first time.  I heard a pastor once say:  Nothing is wasted in God’s economy!

Consider looking for a Bible journaling class or event locally.  Meeting up with others can provide some inspiration.

If you are at a loss where to start, ask for help in a Facebook Bible journaling group like Illustrated Faith’s Bible Journaling Community.  Someone posted a note recently about being in a rut.  At the time, I didn’t have any suggestions because I was in a rut, too.   I said so, and a Bible Journaling friend quickly posted an idea for me that I’m really going to do!

Another great tip is to pick a date and get started.  I love the liturgical calendar because it provides lots of seasons to start fresh.  This year, Lent officially begins on Valentine’s Day, February 14.  Pick a Bible, pick a devotion, and gather some supplies to fit the season.  My friend Melinda Ransdell suggested to me that I do Ann Voskamp’s Free 40 Day Lent Devotional Journey, and that’s my plan!  (If you want to join me, scroll to the bottom of the blog post and enter your e-mail to download the PDF.)

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I’ll share the rut I’ve been in…

I went on a trip to Disney World with my family.  Six months before the trip, I made a reservation for dinner inside Cinderella’s castle.  It was my mom’s idea at first, but as I thought about it, I was drawn into the idea of a night where I could feel like Cinderella in the castle (I’m sure every woman knows the story of feeling like the Cinderella who can’t do anything right!–just for one night, it might feel good do feel free).  Everything was beyond perfect about our dinner, but I noticed something distressing:  I spent the evening unhappy and worried about something that was totally beyond my control.  We had wonderful food including a beautiful chocolate mousse for dessert, the best table in the restaurant with a window seat overlooking the carousel, our waiter was delightful, when the fireworks went off we were right in their midst.  And I love carousels, castles, fireworks, and chocolate!

Still, I was sitting in my chair while the fireworks went off with tears pouring down my eyes, mixed emotion tears.  And when I came home from the trip, I cried for a couple days.  Part of it was just post-trip let down; I was looking forward to the trip for months.  But something else was going on, too.  There were tears of real repentance.

Since the trip, I’ve been doing some self-reflection.  Part of what has surfaced is a common enough problem:  I’m missing and failing to be grateful for too many amazing gifts that God gives me because my mind is busy trying to understand something or solving the next problem or just judging myself harshly.  Why do I feel so bad about myself when I can’t make others happy?  Why do I beat myself up for forgetting small things?

I stayed up one night making a list of things that make me happy.  I shared it with my husband, who has since been calling me when he sees a beautiful sunset and makes sure I’m looking out the window.  This was before I even picked up One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a book which really speaks directly to the problem I noticed.  So this Lent, I’m committing to spend some time with Ann Voskamp.  Her books arrived today:  One Thousand Gifts and also The Broken Way. I printed out her Lenten resource:  A Lent to Repent and Refresh.  As I skim over the prayers on each days devotion, I can tell they speak to where my heart is now.

I am never sure where this will lead, whether I’ll post daily or weekly or when Easter comes, but I’m looking forward to the journey!

While I was dining at the castle, the princess Sleeping Beauty came to our table.  She stopped to say Happy Birthday to my daughter.  I said to Sleeping Beauty: “Oh your sixteenth birthday, that was a rough day!”  That’s the day she was pricked on the finger by a spinning wheel and was cursed by Maleficence to fall into a deep sleep.  The spinning wheel could easily represent our work, our worries, our endless to do lists, and our spinning mind.  These things do put us into a slumber of sorts.  True love wakes us up!  The Sleeping Beauty, who was with us in the castle, said, “It was a hard day, but it was also the day that I discovered I was a princess.”  She bent down and said to my daughter “You are only six, but you already know you are a princess.”  Every time I think about her saying that, I start to cry.  I hope one day, that I look back on that night and remember it as the night I woke up from my slumber and began truly appreciating all the gifts God gives.  In Christ, each of us is a daughter of the King!  Now to live into that truth!