Embark on a Story Sharing Journey

Keeping a Spiritual Journal: Embarking on a Story Sharing Journey

Learn how to begin your spiritual autobiography, or spiritual memoir, by keeping a spiritual journal.

Spiritual Peace Regardless

Make your spiritual journal the place where you can keep track of your own spiritual journey. Over time, your spiritual memoir will take form and you will find a voice for your story.

People think that they have to do something, or experience something, remarkable to have a reason to share their story. They have a way of believing that their "ordinary" lives are powerless. The value in reaching out is missed in their poor estimation of what they have to offer. They wait for something "big" to happen to them before they recognize the importance of their journey. They don’t acknowledge the special gift they have to share. It’s the gift of their ordinary lives shared with others: the gift of their very own spiritual journey. Regardless of who you are, where you have been or what has happened in your life, you can find a voice for your story.

If you choose to tell the story of your life, you too will tell it in your own, unique way. Everyone brings their special touch to the expression of their journey, making the experience of telling and receiving stories a flavorful and powerful experience. Parts of my journey happen to have been captured on a canvas. It’s just one of the many expressions of a journey. I will share my journey my way. If you share yours you will do the same. I encourage you to embrace these expressions rather than be discouraged by them. It’s your story. Tell it your way. Let others do the same. Enjoy the ways God has made us all unique.

Read a Spiritual Autobiography: Dancing in the Doghouse

Sharing My Journey: Sharing What Matters to Me

I remember that I was very sheltered as a child. My childhood home was an old farmhouse surrounded by two acres of remarkable beauty. Our yard was filled with green grass, gigantic pine trees, tons of wildlife and lots of fruit to pick and eat. Our home was centered within ten acres of forest that separated us from the outside world. It was our own little paradise.

I recall saying prayers before dinner. That was the only time my family made any reference to God. Recognizing and enjoying beauty was my family’s religion. My dad was a scientist, so it was natural for him to investigate things. It was also natural for him to share his discoveries with us. He was often the first to notice the crocuses budding in the spring. He’d snip a few and bring them inside. He’d place them in a little glass cup with water and show them off in the middle of the kitchen table. This was just one way he drew our attention to the beauty around us. We were surrounded by incredible beauty, so Dad didn’t need to look far to find something wondrous to share. What he shared with me became a part of my palette.

Birthplace Painting
Age 25


Sharing Your Journey: Prepare to Share What Matters to You

Consider the variety of journals that you can choose from. Maybe a sketchbook would suit your personality? Perhaps you'd like to choose a 3 ring binder that you can fill with lined paper, pockets, and blank paper. Check out the journal options in the scrapbooking aisle, the local bookstore, and on the shelves at some of the places you regularly shop. Load up on some good office supplies and simple art supplies. Some highlighters, colored pencils, red marking pens, erasable pens, and markers can help you along as you journal. Make some selections that get you really excited about the spiritual journey you are about to embark on. Your journey is worth the investment!

Read about starting a spiritual journal:

Dancing in the Doghouse: Sharing God's Presence in Everyday Places

Spiritual Autobiography: You Can Start Sharing, Too

The first step of spiritual journaling is figuring out what matters in your spiritual life and writing it down. The process of writing your spiritual memoir will help you focus on what matters in your life. People who want to write down their stories want their life to matter. They want it to make a difference.

I chose to start sharing with my earliest memories and carefully decided on which memories to include and leave out. I prayed about my choices. I let God help me make decisions about how to best share what He had done in my life. He helped me decide where to begin and He helped me continue to the place where I find myself sharing today. Throughout it all, it has been my desire that my story will matter. If my journey helps someone then it has mattered. 

Angel Dancing Art

Let It Matter

My ordinary life-
Let it not be a meaningless journey-
Where only bad is found where there is also much good-
In which happiness has been lost and forgotten-
Memories are only of pain, sadness and loss-

Let what is good shine in the dark places-
What was right silence what is best forgotten-
May truth call into the light what heals, gives joy and brings life-
Redeem my journey, Lord.
Let it matter.

Sharing My JourneyMy Personal Story Begins

In my house there are a lot of big rugs with fancy designs on them. The rugs are worn, and they’re prickly when you sit on them. The house is cold, so I’m sitting on a pretty, prickly rug instead of on the floor. All around me are designs: designs on the rugs, designs on the bedspreads, and designs on the wallpaper. My mom loves designs, patterns and colors. Some of the walls in our house don’t have designs, but they’re painted funny colors. My dining room has pink walls and a big fancy carpet that's really big. My mom likes to decorate and she likes to have parties. When people come to visit they talk about my fancy house. They like the big dining room with the pink walls and they like my mom.

I want to make a picture. I draw a vase. I put flowers on the vase. I draw a gray flower, a green flower, a blue flower and an orange flower. The flowers make a nice design on the vase like the designs I see around me. I color the walls behind the vase a funny color. I choose orange. Orange goes good with the fancy vase with the flower designs. I like it. I think my mom will like it too.

Flowers for Mom Drawing
Flowers for My Mom
Age 7


Sharing Your Journey: Your Sharing Begins

Where does one begin their spiritual autobiography? I began by sifting through old photographs, old memories, and old art work. I sifted through my childhood. As I sifted, I looked for threads, or commonalities, that weaved their way through my life. I discovered that much of what I believed about God took root when I was just a small child. I wrote down what I discovered in my journal. I picked the most vivid memories and I put them to words. I didn't worry about how each memory had a part in my story. I just wrote and let the "parts" reveal themselves.

Looking back on my journal entries, I am satisfied with the sifting process that I used. It suited me and it helped me make sense of my past. Consider what process for "remembering" will suit you. Maybe you want to list memories in your journal? Then you will have a place to go back to, so you can decide which memories you'd like to further explore. Perhaps, you want to start with your favorite early memories? Maybe you'd like to create some sketches that connect you with your early years?  What images would you include in such a sketch? Give yourself time to sift through your early years. Give yourself time to decide what has always mattered most to you.

Trust that God will be with you as you share and that He will help you tell your own story in your own way. Use your journal for the sifting process so you can reflect, organize, and connect your past experiences with your present spirituality. Let your journal become a place to explore and document your past, so that you can find the pieces that matter. Let your journal become a place to make sense out of who you have become and the ways your past is a part of who you are today. Regardless of your approach, or beliefs, your journal can be the place for you to begin to find a voice for your spiritual autobiography.

Finding Hope through Spiritual Journaling

Angel of Hope

Hope matters to me. When I wrote my spiritual autobiography I tried to choose memories that resonated with hope. This didn't mean that I always chose happy memories. It did mean that I cared, and still do care, about finding the light in the darkness: finding that light brings me hope. I pray it will bring others hope, too. 

Hope is my inspiration. Simply sharing your personal testimony with a good friend over a cup of coffee has power. A vignette from your life can become proof, for someone else, that God has a place in their story. Blog postings, Facebook pages and posts to Twitter can make a difference. Joining a support group can become support for you and someone else. Don’t limit the opportunities you have to share! Before you know it, your spiritual autobiography, or spiritual memoir, will emerge!

Sharing My Journey
Finding Hope From My Beginning

I'm at my kitchen table in my family room. I'm making a picture. It's a picture of a red and blue boat on the water. My mom is lying on the couch in the room with me. She doesn't feel well and I know it. It makes me sad. I want her attention. I know how to get it. I pick up my drawing and I bring it over to her. "Mommy," I say. "Look what I made." She looks at my picture and smiles. She tells me that she likes what I made. Her words make me feel special. I believe I'm an artist because my mom says that I am one.

Sailboat Picture
Setting Sail
Age 6


Sharing Your Journey: Finding Hope From Your Beginning

What are your earliest memories? Briefly list and describe three early memories. Select one memory from the list and write down whatever it brings to mind. Include sensations, time frame, images, smells, emotions, and details associated with this memory. Trust that God will bring to mind what is needed to explore this memory. Know that He will guide you.

Consider the ways your early memories have shaped you. In what ways have your good childhood memories made you stronger spiritually, physically, and emotionally? How have childhood memories interfered with your desire to live a life of peace and integrity? Use your early memories to make connections between your past and your present experience. Write down what you uncover. Share your discoveries with a trusted counselor or friend. Don’t be surprised if sharing shows you that someone has been where you are. Expect to encourage and be encouraged. Enjoy the benefits of beginning to share your story.

Spiritual Autobiography and MemoriesWhat Memories Will Emerge?

My spiritual autobiography, or spiritual memoir, includes my childhood memories. I can't separate the stories of my past from my story today. I have found that stories have roots in the past that you just can't circumnavigate.

Flowers in Garden

My story includes certain people and memories from my childhood. I remember how, in junior high school, I made a new friend named Maureen. Maureen’s parents liked me. Maureen's mom took me under her wing. She became my spiritual ma ma. My parents didn't mind if I went to church, but they didn't want to go themselves. My new friend’s mom and dad picked me up at my house on their way to St. Boniface some Sunday mornings. I liked to go to church with them. It’s was a treat because I got to decide if I wanted to go. No one made me go to mass. I went because I was curious.

Maureen's mom talked to me about God when we sat around her kitchen table. She read her Bible all the time and told me that Jesus was her friend. I didn't know how she got to know Jesus like that, but I hoped Mrs. Clark could help me know Him like that too. Going to church with Maureen's family seemed like a good place to try and find Him, so I was glad they all let me tag along.

Tagging along with Maureen's family changed my spiritual life. It wasn't just the action of going to church that changed my spiritual life. Hanging out with Mrs. Clark had a huge impact on me. Being with a family that was concerned with spiritual things had a huge impact on me. It was the relationships, not the act of church going, that really made the difference. Maureen's house was full of people who showed me how to find God.

My good childhood memories, and not so good memories, are mostly connected to relationships. When writing my spiritual memoir, I had to consider how childhood memories and childhood relationships impacted my story. As you reflect on your journey consider the people who impacted you, changed you, or first revealed God's presence to you. How did they change the direction of your journey or help you emerge as the person you are today? Do these individuals have a place in your spiritual autobiography?

Sharing My Journey: Writing About My Childhood Memories

Returning home from my date felt odd. It was very late. I quietly slinked in the back door. I thought my dad might tell what had transpired by the look on my face and the hour of my return. I was a little embarrassed and hoped to dodge him. Dad was waiting, though. He was patiently waiting my return. I found him nodding off slightly in his rocking chair in the T.V. room. He smiled and greeted me. Then he went off to bed. I noted the generosity in his readiness to let me grow up. I noted his willingness to let me face the perils and perks of becoming a woman. “He knows,” I thought. “He knows that I’ve been kissed.”

I went to bed excited and relieved. When I woke up I actually woke up refreshed. I noted that I actually slept through the night. I recalled that it had been two weeks, maybe more, since I had slept through the night. I stretched, yawned and crawled out of bed to face a new and more hopeful day. 

I paused, on my way to the bathroom, to look out the window. I noted that the view was cause for pause. It was beautiful. I saw the 6 big apple trees in my backyard. They were full of green leaves and apples. I saw big open spaces full of sunshine, green grass and bright yellow dandelions. There were apples falling to the ground everywhere. A deer and some rabbits had come to eat them. What I saw reminded me that there was a God because what I saw was so fantastic. I knew it had to have been made by an awesome God. “I like my home,” I thought. “There’s no place else like it.” I knew that one day I’d have to live someplace else. I saw that I couldn’t live like a child, in my parent’s home, forever. “I’m growing up,” I said to myself. “I wish I could grow up but still live in this beautiful place.”

I try to make a picture that captures the beauty of what I see from my bedroom window. The beauty is starker than usual. It’s starker against the backdrop of the wonder and hope sparked by my first kiss and the possibility of being loved. I notice that, in little bits and pieces, I’m outgrowing this place called my childhood home. I know that I want to remember this day, and this beautiful view, when the day comes that I have to leave. I feel both sad and exhilarated as I paint. I want to keep what I see. Yet, today, I’m a little more ready to let it go.

View from Window
No Place Like It
Age 12


Sharing Your Journey: Writing About Your Childhood Memories

Who influenced (positively or negatively) your early years? List the names of these people in your journal. Choose one person from your list and write about them. Consider how this relationship influenced your teenage years and young adult years. Explore how this individual has impacted your spiritual journey. Pray and ask God to reveal the ways this person has become part of your story. Write down what you discover.

Remember that all early memories are not happy memories. As you consider sharing these ideas, don’t be discouraged by what you discover. Instead, explore what you find in your journal with a friend, loved one, capable counselor, pastor, mentor or support group. You don’t have to walk alone! Reach out for help. Don’t be surprised if asking for help with your journey helps someone else. Don't be surprised if what you discover ignites your spiritual memoir!

Art Journaling and Your StoryDiscovering Through Art

Keeping a journal helps you keep track of your spiritual autobiography or spiritual memoir. This journal can include sketches, drawings, paintings, and other forms of creative expression. You can experience freedom through art journaling.

Angel with Feathers

For me, art journaling to tell my spiritual story began in college. College was a place where new and strange influences came at me from every direction. At art school new ideas flooded my mind and new images constantly flashed before my eyes. What was once taboo had become commonplace. Every idea I had was stretched and challenged. Possibilities exploded at museums, at art openings, at lectures and from the countless influences from my diverse classmates. My teachers blew my little world open with their breadth of experience and their strange and curious ideas. The way I looked at the world changed at a rapid pace. I looked at the art I was making and wondered whether someone else had crawled inside my brain. It was one wild time.

College didn't just change my ideas about art and life. It changed my ideas about God. No longer was I surrounded by the Catholic influences of my elementary and high school years. At Pratt people believed all kinds of things about God. Some people didn't even believe there was a God. Pratt became a place where I could decide what I believed for myself. For the first time I felt like I really had the freedom to redefine myself and decide what I really believed.

When I entered art college I began using art more deliberately to tell my story. Art gave me freedom to express emotions, memories, spirituality and beliefs in a whole new way. Now when I made a painting it was much more about my internal world and much less about making “good art.” I had a new way to explore what I believed, and what I would become, and it changed me. Moving beyond adolescence and into my adult life came with new found freedom that redefined me in new and wonderful ways.

When did you first have real freedom to decide what you would believe and who you would become? How did this freedom change you? How did you express this new found freedom? Consider using art as a form of expression without worrying about making “good art.” Focus on what is happening in your internal world and actually “draw it out” in your journal. Try letting a picture help tell your story.

Sharing My Journey: 
Letting a Picture Help Tell My Story

Just because I want something doesn’t mean I’m going to get it. I’m 21 years old and I’ve scarcely dated. I want to have a family of my own, but I’m beginning to wonder if that will ever happen. I pray and ask God to help me find the right person. I won’t settle for someone He doesn’t want me to be with. I won’t give myself away to someone I don’t love or to someone who doesn’t love me. 

I still wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Insecurity still creeps in. “Maybe I’m not pretty enough?” I think. I get out some paints and a large canvas. I paint myself as I believe I look. I think I look pretty in the picture. I think, “It looks like me.” I still wonder what it is I’m doing wrong. I question why it is that I am always alone.

Sometimes, my self-confidence hits rock bottom. This is when I really ask the question, “Am I pretty?” The question has to be asked because nice boys seem to find me invisible and hurtful ones seek me out. I think that I might not be pretty enough for the kind of man that I desire. My dad says I’m pretty. Sometimes I meet someone and I’ll be hopeful. I’ll think, “Maybe he’s the one?” But then, he’s mean or he treats me like a fool. My dad never treated my mom or me that way. Why is it so hard to find someone who is nice and will treat me with respect? Something isn’t right. What’s wrong with me?

 Woman with Flowers
Am I Pretty?
Age 21


Sharing Your Journey: Letting a Picture Help Tell Your Story

Recall memories from your early adulthood. Make a time line of events from this period. Consider things that changed how you perceive yourself. Circle the event that has had the greatest influence on your perceptions. Use your journal as a place to write about these changes.

Now, take your journaling one step further and create a sketch about this event. Use color, shape, shadow, and line to express your feelings about this event. Your “final product” does not need to “look real.” Rather, let it be expressive of feelings, beliefs, and thoughts. Let creativity be a form of self-expression without concern for the quality, skill, or outcome. Use what you have written, and created, to learn about how your past influences your present. Finally, ask God to reveal how this event has shaped you, and ask Him to help you find its place in your spiritual autobiography.

Journey Art!

Part of His Universe, 2019

Journey on Canvas Blog Explores "Part of His Universe, 2019"

Read a Spiritual Memoir

Transforming Work!

Oriental Vase,
Age 47

My mom could always make the craziest colors and patterns work. She had a unique eye. It was lost on many around her, but it was not lost on me. She made a point of passing it on to me and I am grateful. My mom was a fascinating and talented woman with passion. Now, that's me.

Visionary Work!

Jesus with Me

Jesus and Me
Jesus and Me,
Age 40

Inside my journal I can share my thoughts freely because I decide who can see inside it. I talk to God in my journal and He talks back to me. He gives me pictures, too. They're visions that help me see my relationship with Him in a new way. I made a painting from my latest vision. I see myself with Jesus right behind me. His hands gently squeeze my shoulders and he speaks encouraging words to me. I paint myself and Jesus and I record the words He speaks to me on my canvas. I also record God's words of encouragement inside my journal. He speaks and says, "Joy, Alisa, joy! I've got your back. I've got you covered!" God's words bring me peace, his visions bring me peace and the paintings I make out of it all secure my joy. I let people see inside it all with the hopes that they'll share in my joy.

Click on these Spiritual Autobiography Links:

Spiritual Autobiography Blog 

Spiritual Autobiography Articles

"My Business" Work!

Big Belly Vase,
Age 47

It isn't really blue, but I paint it blue anyway. The wall wasn't orange either, but I can. Big Belly Vase is my business, not yours. Close your eyes if you don't like what you see.

Not So Perfect Work!

Spiritual Warfare Art

Spiritual Warfare Picture
I Am God's Child,
Age 40

I want to be perfect and I try to be perfect all by myself. I know my efforts won't work but I keep trying anyway. God is after me, though. I know he doesn't want me to keep on living this way. He hates the way my perfectionism wears me down leaving me open to the attacks and scrutiny of this crazy world. He wants me to rest secure in His love for me without worrying about today's latest accomplishment and failures. I want to rest secure, too. I know I need Him and I know that my perfectionism needs to go. I talk to God about where I'm at with it all inside my journal. I ask Him if I'm a good enough mother, I ask Him if I'm a good enough person and I just plain ask Him if I'm good enough. As always, He has something encouraging to say and I write it down. God says, "Alisa, I want you to trust me when I say that you're my child and I love you. I want you to trust me when I say that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I want you to trust me when I say that I have made you for an important purpose. I want you to trust me with all of you: the fixed and broken parts. Do you trust me?" His words point me to the place I need to go: the trusting place. It's the place where I don't need to be perfect and my efforts are needless. It's the place where I can rest secure. It's a perfect place and it's also the place where I don't ever need to be perfect. 

Click on these Spiritual Autobiography Links:

Thick Skin Work!

Orange Vase,
Age 47

I know I don't draw really well. I know there are many artists who blow my work out of the water. Should that stop me? I've had many teachers tell me I have a knack with color. Isn't that what painting is about anyway? And seriously, even if I am a "Half Talent" at best (but painting brings me peace and joy) shouldn't I create and share. Maybe other people, regardless of their "talent" will create, share, find peace and joy along with me! What more could be the point of it all? We make it all about talent. Creating is only for the "artists" is the message even inside elementary art classrooms. How sad is that. You might say my Orange Vase is ugly. Well, I had a fabulous time making it and someone else is going to make art today because I shared. Neither if it's beautiful or ugly is the point.

"Half is talent. Half is thick skin."
Author Unknown

"Something New" Work!

God's Armor
Inside God's Armor,
Age 40

I want to believe something new. Inside my head is all this old stuff that has nothing to do with God's truth about me or anyone else. It's funk that needs to go. I need a place where I can start to believe the new truth about myself and everyone else. I read chapter 6 in the book of Ephesians. It's all about the Armor of God. I imagine myself inside that armor and I imagine that I've found a safe place to start believing something new. Inside it I'm protected from all the agitation, all the bad feelings and the sense that the old funk can't be made new. Inside God's Armor I have my Belt of Truth, my Breastplate of Righteousness, my shoes fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace and my faith shielding me. With it all, I can extinguish all the flaming arrows that come my way. Inside the armor I am safe, peaceful, calm and protected. Inside it I have what I need to believe something new.

Spark Works!

Peacock Collage,
Age 46

I remember the peacock feathers. As a child, they were a source of total fascination for me. I loved to touch them and play with them. I am now drawn to them when I see them. A simple peacock feather can spark memories that bring me all the way to being a toddler. It is amazing that something so basic can take me places I haven't been for 45 years.

Miracle Work!

Angel with Trumpet

Angel and Children
Musical Miracle,
Age 40

When the day to pick an instrument for the school band came my daughter was excited about choosing the flute. To my surprise she came home with a trumpet. When Craig came home from work that day, he was as shocked as I was. "Why the trumpet?" we asked. "The music man tested me and he said I'd make a great trumpet player." she replied. Then Emily opened up her trumpet case and assembled her instrument. Craig descended to the basement and surfaced with a banged up, tarnished gold, twenty year old trumpet. My two trumpeteers sat side by side, moistened their lips and began to blow. Emily's inexperience with her trumpet was obvious next to Craig's six years of trumpet playing as a junior high and high school band member. Still, the combination of sounds was, and still is, so beautiful to me. It's the sound of father and daughter connecting. It's the sound of a musical miracle. In my home a flute would have been nice but trumpets are so much more wonderful. 

Magical Work!

Sunflowers With No Pot,
Age 47

Van Gogh painted sunflowers. I'm no Van Gogh but I'm inspired by sunflowers too. You can paint them in a million different ways: interpret them however you'd like. They give you permission to do something brand new. 

My painting lets sunflowers grow in the middle of a bedroom. There is no pot to hold them. They magically grow out from the floor. I am more interested in how I feel about this space than I am interested in describing it accurately. This was a time when I was down, and I felt safety and comfort in my surroundings. Today, I try to use that space to pass that feeling on.

Escaping Work!

A Bed to Sleep In,
Age 24

It should be no surprise that I hate beds. Even before I lie down, dread creeps in. Nothing brings me comfort. My childhood bed was made for a princess. It had soft cotton sheets, a beautiful antique wooden frame, and a warm floral comforter. I hated it. Constantly exhausted, my beautiful bed was a place of torment. I'd fall asleep to wake up 5 minutes later. Sleep never lasted. My beautiful bed was hell. Finding God in the dark, emptiness of the night was my only hope of escape.

Real Work!

Transition Collage
Age 45

I am trying to overcome my frustration with realism. I hate the fact that people don't like my art because it doesn't look real. I've actually deconstructed a bunch of my old paintings: cut them apart and reassembled them. It's called my 323 Buena Vista Road Collage Series. I'm trying to capture the beauty of my childhood home thru collage, pattern and abstraction. I use the bits and pieces of old paintings and collages that have dissatisfied me to make the series. I hacked at my art with a razor blade: sliced it into chunks and used the parts to make something new. I wasn't pleased with the results back then when I was 45, but something exciting happened when I was 47. My 323 Buena Vista Road Mixed Media Series pulls it all together. My ability to use some realism, in combination with collage and abstraction, is artistic maturity. I realize that other people may not get it that this is artistic maturity, but I know it is. I have taken my past work and integrated it with my present. I know what I am making is good. Who cares if you think it's no good because it doesn't look "real." My Transition Collage is the spark that ignites this new direction for me. I am pleased.