A few years ago while I was reporting for the Dothan Eagle, I met Christy Keyton at a scrap booking party. As we chatted, she told me about how she journaled about her faith. Her book was beautiful with photographs, stickers, and embellishments. She was also a Creative Memories consultant, so that may give you an idea of how pretty her book was. Recently, I thought about doing my own book. I found a plain papered journal at a discount book store. Once I got home with it, I tied ribbons to the spiral part, attached a bookmark cross and glued pretty paper to the front.
Here is the original story from the paper:
Two days after Christy Keyton found out that she was pregnant with her eighth child, Hannah, she wrote in her journal that she knew this baby was going to be special. She also wrote that God was going to show his glory through her baby. As she wrote, she was drawn to a scripture that says, “the Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want,” and felt that God was reminding her that no matter what was going to happen in the future, the family would be okay.
“Not even in a fearful way, I didn’t think something was going to be wrong. But I wrote it down in joy,” she said.
Hannah was born with Downs Syndrome and had a heart problem. Keyton was assured that God had surrounded her with the people that her family need needed as they faced the uncertain future. She made friends with people who also had children with Down Syndrome. She also met a nurse who became great friends of the family. That nurse was the one who Keyton had to hand Hannah over to when she was to have open heart surgery.
“I had prayed about that specific moment,” Keyton said. “That was going to be the hardest moment when I had to give her up. And I prayed that God would help me in that moment. And it was Charlotte that I had to hand her to. It was an obvious answer to prayer.”
For the Keyton’s family, it was a special time of their family history, so she documented it with a hard covered and bound faith book. Copies of the book were given to family members and also to UAB Hospital where Hannah had her surgery.
For Keyton, faith journaling is not a hobby or a craft, but a way to grow in her faith.
“Every time I read it, I’m assured that God is working in my life,” she said. “And that’s what builds your faith, you see God working.”
She noted that it’s easy for people to forget the great things in our lives. Writing journals and placing pictures in a book and remembering her blessings has been a way for Keyton to look back and recall. She teaches others how to faith journal as well.
“The first thing I tell them is to not worry about going in chronological order. And don’t worry about getting pictures that go with everything,” she said.
She says that some people can just start by writing about the close people in their lives like their children, spouses or best friend. Another way to start is to pick up a hymnal and write the words of favorite songs.
“Even that is a testimony to the Lord that you can pass down to your children,” Keyton said.
One of her friends has an entire page devoted to her favorite scriptures. She has seen faith books with quotes from famous Christians such as Martin Luther and Charles Wesley, but she says it’s people’s own lives that are most important.
“When you write what God has done for you, that will mean more to you,” Keyton said.
Keyton opened a large Creative Memories scrapbook that is her faith book. Inside the front cover she wrote a quote that meant a lot to her and she used it as a way to get started. Another page features a picture of a little girl and the notes beside it tell of her childhood and being raised in a Christian home. She recalls times when her mother sang “Happiness is the Lord” while washing dishes. And her mother doing interpretive dance at the Methodist church. A story that stands out on her journal page describes a time in 1972, when she attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Birmingham and how she turned her life over to God.
Her journal doesn’t stay within time boundaries. She says she started thinking of the God moments of her life. Soon she started writing down about the day her son, Pearson, was born though an emergency delivery.
Then there is the page devoted to her best friend, Dawn Oldham. She wrote about how they met, how great a friend she has been and included photos of them through the years.
“She’s my closest friend. When I started to think of God’s blessings in my life, she came to mind,” Keyton said.
Faith journals can be elaborate and sophisticated like Keyton’s, but they can also be simple and easy. Keyton has seen faith books with lists of blessings. And other books have had beautiful doodles and pictures.
“It’s just a journal of your heart to God. It’s a testament of faith. And you don’t need to worry about how it looks,” she said.
For more information, there are several sites about Faith Journals on the Internet that can help. Keyton also had a few books that have guided her as well: The God moment principle by Alan D. Wright, To be told by Dan B. Allender, PhD and Beth Moore’s Feather’s from my nest. Keyton