One of my bubbling dreams for this blog has become to highlight, promote and celebrate talented individuals that I've had the pleasure to meet and introduce you to their talents, wisdom and craft. This deep desire inside of me stirs my heart with such enthusiasm that it feels like a flame, which keeps getting bigger and brighter! I'm praying for this area to flourish here because one of my life goals is to be an active cheerleader of and helper to my fellow humans.
Photo by Becca Tapert - @beccatapert
I first met my friend Emily Irene a few years ago at a book club, which our mutual friend Christina hosts in the city we live in. Her friendly, attentive and quiet demeanor intrigued me. She brings great depth and perspective to our discussions at book club. But, if I'm quite honest I would say that I have started to get to know her better this past year. Back at the beginning of fall, Emily and I met up for breakfast at Wimpy's Diner where our conversation ranged from the pandemic, to politics, to our creative endeavours. I had launched this blog in the summer and she had created a prayer journal and had recently put it on Amazon. What I loved about that meet up and anytime we talk about these ventures is the mutual happiness and support we have towards one another. I knew I wanted to interview her for my blog. I asked her seven questions to provide you with insight as to what led her to create a prayer journal. I pray that by the end you will feel blessed and inspired like I did.
Please welcome my friend Emily Irene.
Emily, what inspired or motivated you to create a prayer journal?
I've had a huge fetish for journals for a long time. In 2019, I started noticing more Christian journals out there that were geared towards women and had specific themes. (journals for goals, your dating life, habits, prayer journals, and spiritual journals). Eventually I had about 5 different journals on the go at one time. The problem was these journals were a little pricey and after shipping (and exchange since I ordered all of them from the US) I was spending a lot on each journal. I was also craving a specific kind of journal which I couldn't find. In the beginning of 2020 (before the pandemic), I was using a Spiritual Journal which was the simplest in it's design, but it happened to be my favourite one out of them all. I loved how the spaces were smaller and how the questions were direct and simple (which motivated me to write in it more consistently because I didn't feel like I had to write for a long time). I noticed my outlook was more positive and I felt more connected to God on the days when I would use it. When Covid hit in March 2020, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands and this journal idea just wouldn't go away. I wanted to create this journal because I needed it, but also because I believed it could help others engage in prayer / journaling in a way that would strengthen their walk with God. So, in the end I think it was a combination of seeing the value of journaling, a desire to see more "Christian" journals on the market (and for a cheaper price), and the increase in the amount of spare time I had that nudged me to start this project. I love the name you chose for it. What made you decide to call it Kept? I started 2020 with the word "Heart" as my word for the year; so I was meditating on what it means to "keep" or "guard" your heart (journaling/prayer was one way I was exploring this idea). When we went into lockdown in March 2020, I remember realizing that even with our best attempts to "keep" ourselves faithful, it is ultimately God who keeps us in the end. I always found the thought of being "kept" by God a comforting one. Covid was certainly not the only time I've experienced or been grateful for God's keeping, but the beginning of the pandemic was definitely a time when I felt it more acutely. I had originally thought of calling it “A Kept Heart”, but “Kept” stuck in the end. :) Why do you think journaling is important? There is so much research on the benefits of keeping a journal. Some of my favourite anecdotes more specific to a prayer or spiritual journal are:
“The act of putting pen to paper activates areas of the brain that helps increase comprehension, memory and retention.” (oxfordlearning.com) If you want God’s word to have more influence on your life, writing out verses as you read the Bible, journaling your observations, and how to apply it is a great way to cultivate this.
It helps relieve stress by providing a space where you can “brain-dump” and process your anxieties, frustrations etc
It’s a great way to communicate with God!
Photo by Peter Jones - @dailykairos
How has journaling your prayers changed your life? I've always found it difficult to pray 'from the heart' out loud. I’ve also always struggled to focus when trying to pray out loud or in my head. So, for me, writing my prayers felt like the way I connected with God best and it kept me focused while I prayed. As well, I find it valuable to keep journals as a testimony of God’s faithfulness. I don't write ALL of my prayers or even write them everyday but when I look back on my journals, I'm always grateful for the times I did. It strengthens my faith to see how God answered prayers or how He was working in my life in the past through reading old journal entries. Was this prayer journal difficult to create? If so, what were the challenges? I had worked with and taken courses on design and publishing software in the past. But I found even with this (very) basic knowledge it was a steep learning curve to design, create and print it. There was a lot I didn’t know. I found I would start one aspect of the project and then realize there were a ton of other things that I needed to learn. What was the most fun part of this project for you? I loved all of it, but if I had to pick one thing I would say designing the cover. I am NOT a graphic designer, but I loved working with the software. I found I could play with different cover ideas for hours on end. What would you say to someone who has a desire or dream to create something but is scared or doesn’t know where to begin? Just start! But I would also say write your idea down somewhere or get your idea out somehow. I remember on a whim one Saturday morning I had written out all the prompts I wanted to use on my phone notepad and drafted a handwritten template for the interior pages on a piece of paper. As well, give yourself permission to make that "first draft" imperfect and messy.
Photo by Hello Revival - @hellorevival
I cannot recommend Emily's prayer journals enough! She has four beautiful covers. They are wonderfully priced for all the goodies they offer. You will find inspirational quotes, reflection questions, space to write out prayers, Scripture verses and pretty designs in between the pages. If you love prayer journals or have always wanted to try one out now is the time! I bought myself one for the new year. They also make great gifts! Trust me, I've already purchased several for family and friends and each person has been so excited to receive their copy!
Kept: A Devotional Prayer Journal by Emily Irene is available on Amazon. Click here if you live in Canada and here if you live in the U.S., to get yourself (or a friend) a copy (or copies) today! Happy Journaling! :)