Thursday, October 26, 2006

Majestic Beauty

A favorite autumn pastime of mine is the gathering and pressing of fall leaves. This is one that I discovered last year. Red leaves are my preference, and they are rarer than the more common yellow – or brown. I hope to be taking many pictures this season!

This is Study.Quiet’s 100th post!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Journaling (Part Seven)

  • Blogging vs. Journaling

“There are more than 55 million of them [blogs] around the world, according to Technorati, and the total is growing by thousands every week.”
~New York Times

The blogosphere is growing by leaps and bounds. They cover everything from cooking to cars, space travel to sandwiches. It is the new media, and any average writer can have his/her own soapbox to preach, criticize or shoot the breeze with anyone who cares to listen.

For the most part, weblogs have become online journals. They do the same thing that diaries and journals have done for hundreds of years… or so we think. Are they really the same? Is journaling and blogging synonymous? Is one as good as the other?

Let's begin with a few brief definitions.

Journal: 1 a : a record of current transactions; especially : a book of original entry in double-entry bookkeeping b : an account of day-to-day events c : a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use
~Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (some emphasis added)

Web log or Weblog: online journal where an individual, group, or corporation presents a record of activities, thoughts, or beliefs. Some blogs operate mainly as news filters, collecting various online sources and adding short comments and Internet links. Other blogs concentrate on presenting original material. In addition, many blogs provide a forum to allow visitors to leave comments and interact with the publisher. “To blog” is the act of composing material for a blog. Materials are largely written, but pictures, audio, and videos are important elements of many blogs. The “blogosphere” is the online universe of blogs.
~Encyclopædia Britannica (some emphasis added)

In short, journals and diaries are private while blogs are – for the most part – public.

It is my position that blogs do not serve the same purpose as journals. Don’t get mad at me. I don’t wish to step on any toes here. Consider as I give my reasons for thinking this way.

Prudence
My journals are private, and I can write about things that would be unwise to share with my friends and the World Wide Web. For example, my family might be going through a transition. A change is being made. It would be imprudent to share on the web what we wouldn’t even be talking to our friends about right now. It is a family matter. On the other hand, my personal handwritten journal is a tool as I go through a challenging time. How many times has this happened? More than I can count. Discretion must be used on the web.

Prayers must also be dealt with correctly. A well meaning prayer for a friend or family member is appropriate and helpful in the closed pages of a journal. The same prayer would be considered gossip on your blog. Prudence is of the utmost importance.

People Pleasers
Humans tend to be people pleasers. We want to be admired, commended, and approved. Will you use your space on the web to reflect on the real you? Can you deal with temptation, personal problems, and spiritual maturity accurately and helpfully on your blog? If so, you are probably revealing too much. Most of us, however, realize that there is a time and place for complete openness, and the blog just isn’t it.

Safety
The blogosphere can be a dangerous place if used incorrectly. There are predators out there, and they do use the internet. I won’t share all the horror stories, but you have probably heard some of them. Do you want dangerous men and women knowing where you will be at what time? Take for example this fictional blog post.

“Jamie and I had a great time at Jack’s Shack today! They have the best ice-cream! We go there every Wednesday right after school, and I like to try a new flavor each time. Today was Strawberry Swirl. Look at this cool picture of me and Jamie! ~Annie~”

In five sentences you have just alerted Mr. Dangerous of who you are, what you look like, and where you will be at what time. He also knows that you love ice-cream!

You could be just fine, and Jack’s Shack may be a safe place on Wednesday. You could live your entire life in peace and safety. The fact is, you might have just endangered Jamie and yourself in one short post, and you will never know for sure until it is too late!

A Waste of Time
Different blogs have different purposes, so please don’t think I am being legalistic on this next point. Blogs can instruct, evangelize, share literary analysis, recipes, devotions, and anything else. There are serious blogs, comical blogs, instructional blogs, and useless blogs. What is your genre? What is your blog’s purpose? Fun blogs have their place, but does a steady stream of diary-like entries benefit your audience? Does your blog waste people’s time?

Think about it.

Is there a difference between blogs and journals? I think so. They each have a unique place in your growth and devolopment as a Christian. Remember to give glory to God in everything you do. Happy Journaling!

Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Philippians Study

I wrote a guest post for Ednella's Think Upon These Things while she is out of town. Not Her Time was written as part of Nella's study of Philippians and includes a story about my great-grandmother. Go check it out and read the other posts in the series including Introduction to Philippians, Paul's Prayers, and To Be The Best.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Journaling (Part Six)

  • What should I write? Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of “What should I write?” we covered Events of the Day, Family Happenings, and Local and World Events. In this post we will look at several other important topics for journaling.

Written Prayers
My written prayers are usually found before an important event or on New Years Day with my annual resolutions. They are wonderful for looking back at how the Lord has provided in the past, and it encourages us in our faith. God is good!

Prayer Requests
There are many ways to remember prayer requests, and I have found that writing them in my journal works the best for me. In my current journal there are several pages in the back with my prayer lists. I have a page each for family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and siblings), friends (past, present, and pen-pals), bloggers, leaders (everyone from the president and the supreme court to my music teachers), and other requests. In the past my prayers have included everyone from my best friend to the neighborhood bullies. As Christians we are called to prayer, and your journal can act as an important tool as a reminder and record.

Opinions and Musings
Where else can you safely voice your opinions and thoughts without fear of argument or laughter? We are all opinionated people, and a journal can be a fun place to communicate some of your musings. For example, I have used mine to write about how glad I am that I was born in America. I feel blessed that our president can have no more than eight years, while some countries have to endure the occasional embarrassing royal for decades.

Memories
Memories are extremely important, as they are made up of events that were important, dear, or frightening enough to be thought of again and again. Just as repetition helps us remember Bible verses, repeatedly thinking about an event will establish it in our minds.

The further away from an event you get, however, the harder it will be to remember accurately. Writing your memories down in your journal will help keep them fresh in your mind and provide enjoyment for you later as you reread your journals.

As an example, I reminisced one time about the night spent at my grandparents many years ago. I became afraid of the dark when my doll became lost. I remember with fondness how my grandpa came up and comforted me.

I like to write down little (and big) things that happened before I began journaling. It is also nice to go back and summarize series of events that are seen more clearly after some time has passed.

Journaling Tidbit
Victory! My mother started a journal this past week! She has been journaling in her photo albums for many years, but she has never kept a journal of current events until now.

Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lepidoptera

I acquired a new pet yesterday. It is the larva of a Lepidoptera (also called a caterpillar). It was given to me by an elderly man in our neighborhood when he discovered it eating the leaves on his prized rose bushes. He presented it to me in a small sandwich bag, and it was my duty to carry it home on my bike and find a new habitat for this unusual caterpillar.

This insect loves roses, and he was created to blend in perfectly with his natural surroundings. I have "lost" him several times on the rose cutting that makes his new home. My caterpillar looks exactly like the withered end of the leaf he munches continually on, and his brown and green coloring camouflages him from the casual observer. A thorn-like bump on his back completes the illusion. God gave him precisely what he needs to survive.

I can hardly wait to see what his cocoon will look like.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Journaling (Part Five)

  • What should I write? Part 1 of 2

Every journal has a different flavor – a style all its own. The personality of the writer is stamped on every page. No two journals are alike, because no two people are alike! You can’t cover everything, so what do you write about?

Events of the Day
Most of my entries consist solely of answering the question, “What did I do today?” I write about the day’s activities. My entries are sometimes chronological, and at other times I may mention the most fascinating event of the day first and move on to other subjects as they come to my mind. There is always something to write, and days that you consider uneventful now will one day be fascinating to read about.

Here are a few of the questions I answer.

  • Did I go anywhere?
  • What did I read?
  • Who did I see, and what did we talk about?
  • What was the weather like, and how did it affect me?
  • What am I reading in the Bible?
  • Did I receive any letters or important e-mails?
  • What did I post on Study.Quiet?
  • Did we eat anything out of the ordinary for dinner?
  • Did anything surprise me?
  • etc.

Family Happenings
My parents and siblings are not only very important to me, they are fascinating! I try to write about my sister and brother’s activities and note when my father has a great day at work. My mother loves God’s Word above all else, and I try to share about what a blessing she is. She has a servant’s heart and is constantly giving of her time and resources. It is family news that will captivate me in my later years and be a treasure to my descendants.

Local and World Events
World and local events can serve an important role in your journal. They act as reference points to the more personal events in your family history. As you cannot possibly write about everything, what you do or do not write will communicate a lot about you. Which news items affected you enough to cause you to mention it in your journal? Do you mention politics, elections, and economic theories, or do you just talk about the here and the now of your personal activities? Different people will cover the news to differing extents.

As a historical document my journal doesn’t always serve as well as I would like, but my journal is not supposed to have the same function as a newspaper. It only needs to contain the topics that I care about.

Part 2 of What Should I Write? will be coming soon. What do you write about?

Journaling Tidbit
Some people like to name their journals. The first three of my diaries each had a name. My sister Susanna, however, never changed her diary’s name. I don’t name my journals anymore; my sister still affectionately writes to “Eliza Jane Morris.”

Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven.