About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. I just started journaling a couple weeks ago as I started participating in the Hello Mornings challenge. It is for the exact reasons that Roseann mentioned. I often find myself unable to remember thoughts/prayers etc. With three children, it is easy to do. I am hoping that by journaling I will be able to remember.

    • I journal almost everyday in my planner. But then I have those other journals that to me are earth shattering when I know that I know he spoke directly to me to enlarge my vision. I have one that says, “Never Never throw this away.” Though to be honest I seldom go back to read the journals so maybe that is for my later years. But sometimes it is the easiest way for me to bear my soul to God.

    • LeAnn,

      Tell me about the three children and losing your mind thing :). I blog so I can remember…but CONSISTENT journaling has always been a challenge. RoseAnne might’ve just inspired me to COMMIT to it; not out of duty/obligation, but because it will be future delight :).

    • Ahhh… journaling… This is one thing I do consistently and many times I don’t seem to have much to say! I’m pretty sure God would disagree with that assessment 😉 . One of things I’ve found myself doing in the last year or so is going back a year or two to a journal around the same time, for example, during Advent and Christmas this past year, I reviewed the journal I kept during the previous Advent and Christmas. The anticipation of the birth, the preparations, even the family stresses come through! And there seems to be wisdom in looking at where I was “a year ago”… I am so grateful for this grace that God has led me to…

      • I love to write. As RoseAnne said, there is something about the drag of pen on paper. When I look back over the years, I can visually see Jeremiah 29:11. When things seemed to be falling apart, God was pulling them together. On page 22, Foster says, “Through our barrenness of soul God is producing detachment, humility, patience, perseverance.” *ouch* Some of these lessons come with a certain sting. Looking back through my journals, I can see how hard-headed I was to overcome some character flaws. Of course, like all humans, I am a work in progress. God did set me on the right path, but to do so, it was uncomfortable and lonely at times. I lamented and cried out; I wanted answers. In the stillness, I have always been reminded that my worth comes from God alone. It is not based on social status, others expectations, or my own expectations. In the dark times, I look through my journal, and always come to the same place: I need to be reminded that I am a child of God, I need to rest in that Grace, and be still to feel His mercy.

        • Loved your comment “When things seemed to be falling apart, God was pulling them together.”

        • Kimberly,
          The times when I’ve dared to go back to look over detailed journaling and I’ve seen the palpable hand of God have been amazing. I’ve also gone back and have seen so much pain and confusion that it’s all I need in order to resist attacks from the enemy that would try to draw me to a similar place. I think “wow Father, thank you for bringing me through that, help me to never be in that same particular place again.”

          • Amen Paula! I love going back and reading where I was and what was concerning me and how the Lord took care of it.

      • Becky,

        I bet it IS neat to go back and compare years; I gave my daughter a One Line a Day/Five Year Journal two years ago and she has told me REPEATEDLY it will be her all-time favorite gift ever. Its format is to keep entries short but to juxtapose them against each year. VERY cool concept. (Here’s my Amazon affiliate link to it; I keep it saved b/c so many people ask me about this: http://amzn.to/X50O4H)

  2. “And so there is a painful “inward burning” but we know that it is a purifying fire and can welcome its cleansing.” Page 30 ” Under God’s searchlight we can expect only good always- even though there is pain.”

    We cannot see ourselves for who we are. So frustrating to me but thank goodness God does and he picks no bones about showing us through his Holy Spirit what we need to change. One evening in a dream, over and over and over, I heard his voice speak, “Change the way you think, tear down every stronghold.” As I awakened in the morning, my response, “What is wrong with the way I think?” Well he started the process of showing me and continues to this day. Self deception verses God’s truth. Amazing.

    • Marlyn,

      “Self-deception vs. God’s truth.” Yikes. Ouch.

      I’m gooood at self deceit; I’m so thankful God knows me better than I know myself and understands how to get to the heart of me. The mysteries of God might well be one of my favorite things about Him; I just can’t understand His ways, but I’m able to trust His sovereignty.

      • If we had to raise our hands if we ever practiced self deceit, it wouldn’t surprise me if every hand went up. It’s such an easy and comfortable trap to fall into. The painful “inner burning” is a blessing, because God’s truth will always be filled with agape love. He is our creator, anything we can imagine is diminutive compared to that all encompassing pureness of heart that God delivers. What a wonderful way of thinking Marilyn.

        • I think this was one of the coolest things in Chapter 3. What Foster called the scrutiny of love, but knowing that this examine is not up to me alone but to God also. God knows what we can and cannot handle, and at what point it’s time for more. I kept thinking about that balance that He keeps and how He doesn’t give me more than I can bear (in all things). I would praise or condemn myself from the get go, but God speaks and draws truth out of my life. This is both convicting and encouraging for me.

  3. “The examen of consciousness is the means God uses to make us more aware of our surroundings.” (p. 28)

    God has taught me to stop, reflect, & honestly look into my own heart…it is only by doing this that I can begin to hear Him. If I keep going, going, going how can I redirect myself to remain in His light? I can’t do it alone, I need Him & the only way to begin is to stop & reflect; only then will God show me the condition of my heart.

    What a timely subject this is as it is the first day of Lent.

    • Patricia,

      🙂 Timing…so perfect. I’m smiling that you brought it up. Once we become more aware, THEN we’re tendered toward change. At least I am :).

    • Patricia,
      That quote was one of my favorite too! I often remind myself and tell my son also to be present! I don’t think there is anything that blesses me more than when I am with someone and they are present. You know they are aware and they are engaged. They’re more likely to remember and you really enjoy moments instead of just spending time. What a great way to go through life!

  4. I don’t keep a journal in the traditional way. After reading Ann Voskamp’s “1,000 Gifts” I now use her monthly sheets to count 3 gifts a day. I LOVE this!! It is teaching me to remain in the present moment & sets the stage for my day. Starting the day with gratitude helps me keep a positive attitude.

    I am now toying with keeping an art journal…I’ve been feeling that tug for awhile now since I am much better at expressing myself visually than with words. We’ll see… 🙂

        • I loved 1,000 gifts! It was such a great book! I keep a journal I have entitled, “Grace in Small Things.” I love seeing beauty in the smallest of ways! Your art journal sounds amazing!

          • Kimberly, I think Ann’s challenge has prompted a LOT of people to see beauty in the small. Some people are simply inclined to it but for others, it was revolutionary :).

          • Loved 1000 gifts…journaling at least 3 / day. Such a blessing to actively express gratitude in this manner. I’ve never made a habit of journaling though I do make very picturesque notes while I’m reading….does this count?? I’m very visual and it helps me remember things and find them easier later on.

      • Patricia: I’m also on the 1000 Gifts journey. Up to #430. Using her tool also. I love her, she is mentoring me through her website and books. Yes, she causes you to think outside the box with her tool of 3 things a day. I love the idea of teaching your children to do this journaling. just think how each year their journal content will change. Thanks for your comments.

        • Marilyn,
          You’ve encouraged me to return to something I’d been doing with my son for a while last year. By the way, I read this idea in a blog, but can’t remember where at the moment. I bought a journal and I began by writing a sort of letter to my son asking him about his days and telling him anything I wanted to say to him that day. In the afternoon he would read it and before going to bed he would write something (I told my son he could write even the shortest of notes) answering my questions, asking his own, or telling me about his day. The following day I’d do the same and back and forth. We kept this up for a few months and sad to say life got busy and it hasn’t been done in a few months. I want to start this back up and maybe it will serve as groundwork for his own journaling ventures when he is older and perhaps understands a little more the value of it.

  5. I benefit from journaling my prayers. When I hit a “Sahara Desert” streak, I choose a piece of Scripture that is meaningful or the Prayer of Confession from the church bulletin, write or paste it into my journal, and use them as a basis for journaling my prayer. Usually, prayer will come easily and quickly once I become quiet and start.

    • Interesting, Mary Cathryn,

      What a great example you set: to acknowledge you’re in a desert season and NOT to be complacent! The very act of writing/pasting meaningful content into your journal primes you to pray. You don’t just sit idly by…you do something mechanically and then your heart moves. Lovely.

      • I love what you wrote Mary Cathryn. I know my experience has been that when I move through the shifting seasons of life, my walk with the Lord becomes more intimate and deep. The journaling of prayer is a way to see the real growth in your relationship with Christ. It brings the relationship alive in a very tangible way. I love that!

      • Robin,
        Thank you for writing, specifically, “you do something mechanically.” I’ve often had to do this, if I’m being honest, and there’s a voice that says “this isn’t from the heart, God’ll know the difference.” Then… Hebrews 12:11 ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ I’m reminded that God wants my obedience, when I feel like it and especially when I don’t. If I always felt ready to pray and dive into the Word and meet with other believers, then it wouldn’t be much sacrificing, stretching, and trusting.

        • Paula,

          I’m glad you (others?) noticed that word :). I used it intentionally because of a season in my life when I learned JUST DOING IT out of obedience is still obedience. I wanted to want to, and sometimes that has to be enough. I’m glad we can be HONEST in our motives; to lie is only to lie to ourselves…. 🙂

  6. Firmly and deliberately you say, “I do not understand what God is doing or even where God is, but I know that he is out to do me good.” This is trust. This is how to wait. (p. 32)

    I felt this was really a key point in Chapter 2. Even if we’re feeling abandoned, or have those moments where we doubt God is listening, we should try to focus on trusting Him and believing He truly is working things together for good! Much easier said than done, I know. This is an area where I’ve struggled at times over the past few years, yet looking back, I’ve never been disappointed.

    As for Chapter 3, I love the reminder to look for the ways God has been present throughout our day. How important it is to remain aware of our many blessings, maybe even more so on those difficult, frustrating days. As a stay-at-home mom to two little ones, this speaks to me. I often feel overwhelmed by all of the “to-dos”, but my focus should be more tuned in to God’s presence and His beautiful blessings as I go through the daily grind.

    • Christina,

      Thanks for sharing thoughts on both chapters; it’s hard to extract one or two things and yet you’ve done a great job of that.

      You remind me of something I learned back in college: Faith is not a FEELING. Which is important to believe because our feelings are so daggum LOUD at times!

      And re: your thoughts on chapter 3; yes…yes…when we SEEK we FIND–ain’t that amazing?? 🙂 I remember those days with toddlers and it’s so helpful for this to be true. If we aren’t lookin’ we’ll miss important things, but it’s OH so easy not to look b/c of life’s busyness. Praying FINDING over your home and heart right now! 🙂

  7. My favorite quote from Chapter 2 is on page 24: “Trust is confidence in the character of God. Firmly and deliberately you say, “I do not understand what God is doing or even where God is, but I know that he is out to do me good.” This is trust. This is how to wait.”

    When I went into pre-term labor at 24 weeks and my son passed away at 33 days old in 2009, forsaken is exactly how I felt. I didn’t understand why God would allow such a horrible thing. Even though to this day I still don’t understand why, I have chosen to trust God’s plan for me and my family over my own plans. My faith is stronger today, and I know that is a direct result of God’s healing through my brokenness. He never left my side during those dark days and has since blessed my husband and me with a beautiful daughter who brings so much joy into our lives. God is faithful and will create beauty from ashes if we let Him.

    • Beautifully said, Lynsie. Your favorite quote was also my favorite. I think so much is revealed in just those few sentences.

    • Lynsie,

      {{hugs}}

      So interesting that you and Christina chose the same quote. And what a hard, hard life experience; how beautiful to see your son’s life redeemed in God’s grace to you. I’m so sorry for this painful loss and yet encouraged by your sweet testimony. Thank you for sharing something so personal. xo

      • Lynsie, I cannot fathom losing a child. Your testimony truly touched my heart. Blessings to you!

    • Lynsie,
      Again, thank you for sharing. I love that you say you’ve chosen to trust God’s plan for your family over your own. This isn’t always easy to do, and many of us fail at it. What a beautiful example of the blessing that comes from doing what you’ve chosen to do. Thanks for your openness.

      • Thank you ladies for your encouraging comments and thanks to this online study for giving me a platform to share my story. It’s not easy talking about my son in the day-to-day activities of life. Let’s be honest, who wants to hear about babies dying? So when I’m asked “How many kids do you have?”, sadly, I usually answer “Just one.” I don’t like that answer at all because it’s not true but at the same time, I don’t want to unload my loss on others. It just makes the rest of the conversation uncomfortable. However, I am noticing that God is giving me more opportunities to share my story so maybe that’s what I need to do.

        • Lynsie,

          There’s a certain wisdom in your last sentence; the kind of thing that comes with time, maturity, growth. I’ll pray that over you–that you’d sense God’s leading in sharing your story where it’s needed to be heard. And I pray for YOU that healing comes as your ministry goes outward.

  8. What stuck out to me from Chapter 2 was on page 21 where he called God’s silence “a purifying silence” — This is part of how God refines my faith.

    For chapter 3, I love how he called keeping a journal a personal “Ebenezer.” I do journal, and “remembering” in this way has encouraged my faith on many a dark day. Revisiting even what I wrote last week sometimes “wakes me up” to God’s goodness on a tough day. I see His footprints in my life in those pages.

    I wrote a blog post about this spiritual discipline a while back: http://3dlessons4life.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/taking-note/

    • Wonderful blog post! I love the way you compare looking at an old journal to ‘visiting with a stranger.’ So much truth to that! And I completely agree that revisiting them provides a way to see grace.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective, Lyli. Isn’t it neat that something you had already been contemplating and writing about is pertinent to those taking part in this study? A God thang, if you ask me :). Sometimes when I revisit my old posts, I can’t believe it was “me” who wrote them; it IS like visiting a stranger.

    • Lyli,
      Thank you for sharing your blog post. I loved it. How exactly did you get those teenagers to listen? 🙂
      What you said and what RoseAnne said is true. There is no way we can remember everything unless there is a record and not just for ourselves but for our kids and their kids. I treasure the stories I know of how God moved and provided for and delivered and healed my parents while they were missionaries and pastors. I LOVE hearing those stories. I am encouraged and strengthened by them. In the same way I want my son to remember those things God has done in our lives so that he can draw from that when he gets older.

  9. A favorite quote for me today is: “Liturgical practices, sacramental symbols, aids to prayer, books on personal fulfillment, private devotional exercises—all of these become as mere ashes in our hands.” Very fitting today, on Ash Wednesday. But also, I feel like this speaks of the truth of how it feels when we are in a spiritual desert. Nothing seems to “mean” anything, not even the many outward signs of faith.

    This chapter was, strangely, very comforting to me. I’m not sure why. As I was reading I actually had an awareness of my wonder; in other words, I was asking myself, ‘Why is this comforting?’ Perhaps its because I’ve been in a spiritual desert for at least a year now, and in some way, this chapter gives me confidence that this purification is for good.

    • I like how you phrased this. It made me contemplate your question, “Why is this comforting?” Hmmm…. I too have been in a season of darkness. I concur with you that the purification is for the good. My thought is if I am stripped of worldly things, that in the past have defined me, I become nothing more than a child of God. Everything can be taken away, and yet God is in love with us. He may seem distant, but sometimes maybe it should just be me and Him. Sometimes in this dark season, we can draw upon past intimacy with God, and therefore rely on faith that our God is all we need.

    • S i g h…spiritual deserts are never fun; they aren’t something in which we take delight. But they CAN be good for us and it’s wonderful to see evidence of that. Eventually. It’s encouraging to me, Becky, to see how the wisdom of this chapter means something significant to you. 🙂

    • Becky,
      You’re not alone. I felt comforted too! So, in the time of that dry land I wait on God. I went back to my notes as I was reading and what I gleaned is that this is a quieting of the soul, a change of focus, and like Foster said a purifying of the faith.

  10. Something that really stood out to me in Chapter Two, was when Foster says, “Our personal motivations become suspect. We worry whether this act or that thought is inspired by fear, vanity, and arrogance rather than from faith, hope, and love.”

    I have to be completely honest here: this is something I really need to think through more often. As a matter of fact, that one sentence could be a litmus test of my true desires. Like many people, when thinking about big decisions, I make a pros and cons list. Can you imagine if I approached that list by first asking myself if a thought or act is inspired by fear, vanity, and arrogance rather than faith, hope, and love.

    On the same page Foster talks about “The final stripping down of dependence upon exterior results comes as we become less in control of our destiny and more at the mercy of others.” For me, this spoke to my heart about the importance of community. There are always seasons in life where we for some reason have to depend on others. In the same way, in our darkest times, we must depend on Christ, even if we don’t feel him right there with us. This encourages me to embrace others, to look forward to (in)courage in real life meet ups. This sense of having a community of brothers and sisters in Christ gives way to hope that they can be the hands and feet of Christ during a crisis. Yes, God will always be with us, but we need relation in Christ with other humans too.

    • Kimberly,

      Such good thoughts, friend. We crave those exterior results but it was mind blowing to me to realize that “addiction”.

      On another note, I’ve lived in community and I’ve lived without it; the latter is painful. But even in that kind of desert, I believe God is using the circumstance to effect change in my life…. Hard to understand, but encouraging to know there’s purpose in it.

    • Kimberly,
      You mentioned something that gave me pause for a moment when reading the book. When I read “at the mercy of others,” I was like hmmmm. If this dry time is helping in stripping down my dependence on exterior praise and impressiveness and religious acts, isn’t the point depending ON God and not on anything exterior? Community is exterior. It’s good but exterior. But I think what Foster meant here and what you mentioned is that sometimes we need community to carry us. When we relinquish (or rather realize we never had) control over our lives, it makes us fully turn to God, and it causes us to finally accept that we are in fact created as a body.

  11. This may be a bit off topic, but reading through these chapters, I cannot help but remember one of my all time favorite quotes. It is by Elie Wiesel, who survived the holocaust. He said: “I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to Him for that reason.”

    This quote touches my heart for numerous reasons. However, there is a certain comfort in the ability to know that it is okay to feel anger. And for Mr. Wiesel to point out the intimacy that can come from these moments reminds me that God does not condemn us from His love, even when we have times of anger and despair.

    • Kimberly,

      I like a good bunny trail and Elie Wiesel’s Night is a FABULOUS read! It’s been years since I read it, but it was affecting. Goodness. I don’t remember that quote but it’s beautiful. Hope-filled.

      Go “off topic” all you want if you’re sharing this kind of wonder!! 🙂

  12. I personally have not felt “abandoned”. I just felt like the Sahara a lot, and by my own fruition, mind you. I am the one who pulls away, who creates my one desert.

    I enjoyed the “Tailor-Made Journey” section. Like I can have my one personal experience, not tailored to any one particular person, agenda, plan or expectation. I really liked that because I am really desiring and looking for that.

    In “A Living Relationship”, the idea of a “mutual freedom” was revelatory for me. It’s as if God offers me to free myself by letting Him be free to be who he is, ” . . constantly smashing our false images of who he is and what he is like.” Genius!!

    I have sensed the “feelings have gone into hibernation” -(Anotomy Of An Absence) when in my ugly inforgiving attitude towards my sister, I would make known to just about anyone that I didn’t care I wasn’t being forgiving, that I was infurtiated at what she had done. I was angry and I wasn’t ashamed to show it. My words were draining the life out of me, as I “.. slipped .. to the icy cold of .. nothing.”

    Honestlly, I loved “The Prayer of Complaint” because its ok to lament and bring anguish and frustration, and inner conflicts into that personal time of communication with God. It cant get more personal than to have inner contradictions and anger sitting at the feet of the Lord, knowing he will not turn you away.

    “Short Darts of Love” was really enjoyable for me. I found it to be encouraging, uplifting, light-at-the-end-of-the-long-tunnel hope.

    “Trust Proceeds Faith” is where I want to be ..

    In “The Remembrance of Love” (ch3), I find it hard to be “more aware of my surroundings”. I dont want to be so self-doluted, safe behind the walls in my home, un-aware of “how God has been at work” and begin to “rehearse the mighty deeds of God.”

    “The Scrutiny of Love” is scary and painful for me. Plain and simple, but none the less I know God helps me to be humble to accept it, prepping for change.

    I wholly enjoyed “The Priceless Grace” concept. For in the “priceless grace of self-knowledge”, “We give God therefore not just our strengths but also our weaknesses, not just our giftedness but also our brokenness….”

    ***
    I never used to journal before being married. I never liked it. Neither does my mother. My husband was always telling me I need to journal. At first it was annoying because I wondered what good could come from writing! Lol. My resistance melted one day and I wrote, much to my shagrine.

    TIP: the most helpful tip I had ever recieved when it came to journaling, was when my husband told me “Just write. Dont think. Let your hand just go ahead of your thoughts. You will soon see what God is telling you.”

    Well, I did “just write”, and it turns out that as I wrote there was a person that I needed to forgive. I hadnt even thought about this person in months prior. I obeyed and did what God was showing me I needed to do. Ultimately, I enjoy putting my thoughts to prayer, just not the actually act of it. So time consuming! lol.

    I encourage it, but I’m not an advocate for it. I want to be because of my own experience but “journaling is valuable for certain people, and not valuale for others.” So, I will not presume to “dictate the means of God’s grace.”

    ***

    Favorite quote: “Through faith, self-knowledge leads us to a self-acceptance and a self-love that draw their life from God’s acceptance and love.”

    This spoke volumns because after years of doubt I finally realized that God really did love me. How profund! From then on, that revelatory word from God spoken to my heart began to build as my foundation of all that followed after.

    That foundation of God’s love and acceptance of me became the plumline with which to test all others against.

    • Wow, Deb…it’s clear you are sifting the words of this book, and how God might change you through their wisdom and insight. It’s lovely to see how, through the discipline of journaling, important things were revealed to you, things you hadn’t yet noticed. And wonderful that you acted on what you learned.

      I tell ya, between the videos, posts and comments, incourage readers would benefit even if they don’t have access to Foster’s book! Y’all are good!

    • Deb,
      The chapter on the prayer of the forsaken held a lot of information to process and I want to chew on it some more, especially since I’ve got more questions coming. Your first paragraph really hit home because I tend to exacerbate my Sahara’s by withdrawing into myself and further pulling away, like you mentioned. I feel like I’ve caused them. I don’t know if you’ve heard the saying “if you feel far from God, guess who moved.” I’ve been taught this since I can remember, and this usually means I pulled away, I have unconfessed sin, and so on. Now Foster presents the idea that God deliberately pulls away in how much I can sense him – He’s not really gone! I know that either of these things could be cause for the quiet, the dry time, but Foster gives some very real benefits to this time – some tools while it’s through. I really identified with the phrase, “it feels like we are beating on Heaven’s door with bruised knuckles in the dark.” It explains so well how these times feel. There’s no up, down, left or right about it. However, I’m reminded now there is comfort and hope in the work God is doing in me.

      • Hi Paula! Thank you for sharing in “fellowship” with me. I enjoyed reading your response. You make some interesting observations that encourage me to go over the last chapter again. I have heard that phrase before, and yes, it is usually me. So happy to hear God is working in you!! God is working lovingly in all of us 🙂

  13. I was still toying with this idea of keeping a prayer journal while browsing Barnes and Noble last night. I left with books for the kids, no journal. I wasn’t sure I wanted one more thing “to do”. Then, it hit me this morning while reading a devotional that echoed some of the thoughts I’ve been having lately and I thought “I need to write this down!” Needless to say, I’m investing in a journal. I may not be as consistent with journaling as some, but it will be nice to have a place to turn to when I come across meaningful quotes, scripture, etc. that i want to remember. I don’t think I’ll regret giving it a shot!

  14. “have you ever been there> Perhaps for you it was the tragic death of a child..”
    wow! yes! I remembered telling people in the immediate aftermath of my child’s death, ” I feel God through His people, but I don’t feel Him.”

    All along he’d been taking care of us, maybe I was just to stubborn or mad at Him to see it!

    “For me the greatest value in my lack of control was the intimate and ultimate awareness that I could not manage God. God refused to jump when I said, “Jump!”

    After our daughter died (it was a rather sudden death), I really strugged with the idea that I was not in control and to me, that was so scary! I could not control whether my child lived or died, even when all seemed as if she was perfectly healthy! It will be 4 years in July since her death. I am so grateful to know that I am not the only one who has ever felt frustrated for not being able to control God.

  15. I fell behind, we had an emergency with my daughter. I also wanted to know do we need to respond everyday? Can we connect through Facebook?

    • Hi Steffanie,

      Hon, keep up at your own pace (how is your daughter??). You don’t have to respond unless you want to, and you can do so here in comments (like the one you left above) or on the FB page. I think most readers will see here, though. The link to the Bloom FB page is at the end of the post above.

  16. Examen is hard for me to think of in a positive light. As silly as it sounds, my first instinct is to hide my sins from God. I know that hiding from Him is not possible of course! I wonder if it’s just human nature to want to hide our sin from God.

    • Teish, it is indeed. Isn’t that exactly what Adam and Eve did….they hid from His presence. They had disobeyed God and they knew it. It was the tree of knowledge after all. 🙂 And since God cannot dwell with evil, sin must hide. But look! I stand (or rather am laid low) in wonder when God showed me a few years ago the gospel right there in Genesis 3. God comes after them! He seeks them out! He draws them near and and asks them to acknowledge their sin and then provides the covering for it!! And in His mercy he keeps us from that which would keep us forever separated from Him. As Foster said, God is with us through this time of self-examen (as He ALWAYS is). It is the knowing of our self, our wretchedness, our forsaking Him that in fact keeps us clinging to Him. As you said, He does know and THAT IS WHY He is holding out His hand and says Come to Me!

    • Teish and Carrie,
      I kept thinking the same thing through this reading. Do I do this? How often and with how much sincerity? One of the first lines in this chapter was so interesting because it said that we live in an age of obsessive introspection, and this is so true, but it’s the wrong kind of examine. A lot of it really is useless knowledge. I love how Foster puts it “this is not a journey into ourselves but through ourselves.” Wow! I loved the explanation of God’s “magnetic qualities” pulling us toward the center which is inevitably Him. It’s a scary thought and but like you said, Teish, hiding our sin from Him is impossible, futile.

    • All good thoughts; and I’m grateful for your candor, Teish. We WANT to be good enough to earn God’s favor, so maybe that’s our motive? A desire to be holy? Thankfully we have the means…and it’s not in ourselves, of course, but in Christ alone…but it’s almost amusing phrased the way you have. Carrie and Paula are spot on, though…our instinct to hide is as old as the garden….

  17. I love the idea of journaling. I love the times in my life when I have done powerful journaling (but I cringe at the thought of going back and re-reading my writings in weakness and trivialities). I’m so grateful for the reminder in the video to keep a record of God’s interactions in my life, because that’s what matters most. And I know God forgives the 5-month gaps between my sitting down and writing times. He always forgives.

    • I so identify with “I cringe at the thought…..”. That is me too! I tried several times to journal and would not get very far….and then would rip them out a few months later for their “weakness and trivialities”. I even bought a book once and journaled on the inside cover why I had bought the book. A few months later I couldn’t stand it any more and since I couldn’t rip the cover off I superglued scrapbook paper over it. When she talked in the video about her friend throwing away the ones that were too personal my thought is always…but what if I die suddenly and don’t get the chance! Its just not worth the risk. LOL. I have been learning the difference between journaling and the diary thing though. If I write anything it is what God is doing and His word. I stay away from my own thoughts and perceptions.

      • FANTASTIC distinction, Carrie–the difference between journaling and diarying (I just verbed that!!). Revolutionary thought, that if more of us considered it, I think more of us would journal! A record of God’s faithfulness is treasure; there is no shame or shroud of secrecy where we chronicle His works in our lives. Wowza.

  18. Hi ladies. This is a little late, but better than never! In regards to journaling I go through my times when I do and when I don’t. I had always seen journaling as a release, of emotions, prayers, thoughts, concerns, fears, etc. I love that Foster presents journaling as a way of knowing myself (me). It sounds simple but so true. What he says about “this offering (our bodies as living sacrifice) cannot be made in some abstract way with pious words or religious acts. No, it must be rooted in the acceptance of the concrete details of who we are and the way we live.” Wow, what am I really offering? It’s the good and the bad, right?

    Favorite Quote:
    “When you are not able to put your spiritual life into drive, don’t put it in reverse, put it in neutral” -SO GOOD – “While the wilderness is necessary, it’s never meant to be permanent.”

    • Paula,

      I almost used your last line as one of the quotes; so good. So encouraging.

      Thank you for sharing in; there’s no such thing as “too late” for the purposes of our study, mmmmkay? 🙂

      • Robin
        I loved the quote. I immediately shared it with others I had recently been having this ‘dry place’ conversation with. I really, really hope I remember it in the future!

  19. Kimberly,
    The times when I’ve dared to go back to look over detailed journaling and I’ve seen the palpable hand of God have been amazing. I’ve also gone back and have seen so much pain and confusion that it’s all I need in order to resist attacks from the enemy that would try to draw me to a similar place. I think “wow Father, thank you for bringing me throught that, help me to never be in that same particular place again.”

    • Woah, this posted strangely. For what it’s worth, it’s to Kimberly’s post near the beginning.

  20. Wanted to stop by and say how much I’m appreciating this particular study. God totally moved his Spirit in me to read it and watch the videos. Anxious to see how He changes and refines my heart. Thank you!

    • Ahhh, Amy, thank you. Pipe in anytime as you see evidene of those changes…there is nothing more beautiful in the Body than to see God at work in and through us :).

    • Amy, God kind of cornered me into doing this study and I have been so blessed so far and really look forward to the coming chapters!

  21. The section on the scrutiny of love, in chapter 3 really resonated with me. When we open our hearts to be searched by God “He will show us what we need to see when we need to see it”(pg 29). I experienced this last year when I was in a situation that could have turned out vey badly, could have been disastrous for me and my family, but God showed me where my choices could lead and lovingly corrected me. He protected me from future sin and comforted me as He revealed my blind spot. I am endlessly thankful for “the priceless grace of self-knowledge”(pg 30). The result has been an awareness and repentance of my self-righteousness and my utter sinfulness which has led to a deeper knowledge of my desperate and unending need for God. “Even the truth about our shadow side sets us free”(pg 31). It is freeing because I realized that Jesus knew all about all of my sin when He died for me, so I know that He doesn’t love me any less and is not disappointed because He is not surprised. He has always known about everything I have done or ever will do and yet loves me anyway with unfathomable love.

    • Karen,
      You mentioned so many good points I liked from ch.3 also. What you said about the blind side was so encouraging to me. I think we are usually aware of a lot of the sin we have going on in our life but man, there are some things out there that we don’t even know we need to fight against/repent from. It’s only when we ask God to examine us that he sheds light on those dangerous areas. Seeing this blessing in this kind of prayer is good for me because, I’ll be honest, it’s not the easiest practice for me to jump into. This is one that will demand action when God answers…

  22. Loving this book. Chapter 2, page 24 states” Trust is confidence in the character of God. Firmly and deliberately you say, “I do not understand what God is doing or even where God is, but I know that He is out to do me good.”
    This is so true and yet hard to remember this through the desert times. God ,Abba father, has got my back. As a divorced momma of four, grandma of one, the feeling of being alone can become so overwhelming! Then God places an (in)courage ing group and book Prayer, in my path, just when I needed it.
    “His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me…” God is so amazing. Thank you ladies for listening to His voice and in turn (in)couraging me and all those who need this study and community of women. Hugs and Blessings, Jade

  23. I began keeping a journal after being diagnosed with panic disorder in 2002. This was to document the panic attacks. In 2004, after the Lord led me out of a season of deep depression, I began a spiritual journal and have kept one ever since. After doing Beth Moore’s Believing God and Breaking Free Bible studies, I began praying Scripture dealing with overcoming fear and anxiety and began experiencing peace like I had never known. My faith grew as I learned to lean and rely on God and the truth of His Word every day. I am so glad I kept a record of all God did for me during that season when I first began to really be convinced that God had not forsaken me and was not angry with me. I go back through my journals periodically to remember again all that God has done for me. I don’t ever want to forget. Since last year I’ve learned at the end of every year to go back and review the months and write down how God has been faithful. It really is encouraging and uplifting to review the year like that.

    • Wanting so badly to be healed of Post Traumatic fear of doctors and their tests, God said to me, “You are not afraid of doctors, you are afraid of me.”
      Well I could deal with that.
      He is a merciful Father. He loves me. I only have a healthy fear of Him. So my focus since then has only been on him when I start to panic about an doctor visit or test. I just start talking to Him, because He is not only with me now, He is already in my future. He knows, so I just talk to him. Trust and peace start pouring over me and I am fine.

  24. Journaling. I have great expectations and poor follow-through! I’m actually currently in the process of starting to journal specifically for prayers because I need to occupy both sides of my brain so I don’t get sidetracked. :-S

    “Trust is how you put your spiritual life in neutral. Trust is confidence in the character of God.” – love this because Foster is reminding us that just because we don’t feel God at a given point in time doesn’t mean we “backslide”, it means we keep going where we are (in neutral) until we are able to get past it. We know God won’t leave us, that’s part of who He is, and if we trust that He’s working in us we can keep going. It’s like actively waiting because when you’re in neutral you can still move but it’s more of a glide than an acceleration.

  25. I have always loved to journal, began when I first learned to write. But in the past couple of years, having two kids has dramatically slowed me down. I see my journal laying there and I am aching to catch up, but often let busyness and tiredness choke it out. It’s a very effective practice for me. And at the end/beginning of every year I look over the past year of journaling and record what God did in the course of that year and what I anticipate Him doing in the year to come.. it has helped me trace His steps and Presence in my life and to celebrate His accomplished work year after year. So.. I MISS IT! I have begun a prayer journal of sorts this year as He has put it on my heart that one of the themes for this year will be prayer (hence, my participation in this study!). I am hoping and expecting big things!

    As far as a fav quote.. since control/fear is such an issue for me this section stuck out to me in the cpt on the prayer of the forsaken: “For me the greatest value in my lack of control was the intimate and ultimate awareness that I could not manage God. God refused to jump when I said, ‘Jump!’ Neither by theological acumen nor by religious technique could I conquer God. God was, in fact, to conquer me.” (p.22)

  26. I first read Prayer by Foster about 10 years ago and I believe it was the catalyst for me to REALLY pray,not read or talk about prayer.So it is such a blessing to go back to it with you beautiful and valiant women of GOD! here at in courage! Journaling at the start and end of the day has brought meaning and purpose in my otherwise mundane daily journey.Day after day I see God’s faithfulness and steadfast love.After reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts,and recording daily blessings/gifts,reminded me of the”Ebenezer” that Foster is talking about in Prayer, a priceless proof that GOD is speaking through his messengers/writers in a unified Voice.

  27. After reading Ann Voscamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”, I now keep all the revelations God gives me in my little notebook, highlighted, and I include them with all my daily thanksgivings that I write to Him.
    It has become my “Joy Book” and “Memory Book” and “Things I Have Learned From God Book”.
    When I go back and just read the highlighted parts, I remember those valuable lessons He taught me. (I don’t want to have to learn them again…. 🙂