I threw my journal away last Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an avid journaler. I’ve filled six volumes of various sizes (not counting the one I threw away) in the six years since my accident. And then there’s the blog…

Point being, I like to write, and I write a lot. Sometimes I tell a story, other times I work out a problem or process emotions. Still other times I meditate or pray.

The possibilities are endless, once you think about it.

So why was the moment on Friday so notable – and what makes my particular “college composition notebook” different from its millions of siblings circulating the planet?

First off, I didn’t buy that journal. It was given to me by a kind nurse during one of my mental hospital stays. Patients aren’t allowed to have many belongings, whether it’s a hairbrush or a hardcover book. But after learning I was a writer, this particular nurse found a softcover notebook and slipped it into my room. She also left a purple Crayola marker: Patients were not allowed pens or pencils.

That gift was a Godsend and an act of trust on her part. At that point in my illness, doctors had certified me a suicide/homicide threat. A guard was stationed at my door every night as I slept.

But in spite of those labels, that nurse saw the real me – the girl with the Spirit of God still inside her. She treated me and even my writing as valuable.

I knew exactly what to do with my new journal. I’d already memorized part of Psalm 139 before that particular hospitalization and I began to scrawl the verses in bright purple marker every time evil voices entered my head.

At first, the notebook pages filled by the hour, but my hand grew steadier and the entries less and less frequent – until I was well enough to be discharged.

By this time I was too attached to Psalm 139 and the notebook to end what God had begun at such a dark point in my life. I committed to memorizing the entire Psalm by the end of 2022, using my navy blue notebook as my trusty companion. I’m set to finish memorizing in September so my well-worn friend didn’t quite make it to the finish line. I suspect that’s because I scribbled so many pages with a giant Crayola marker.

8 thoughts on “This Journal Fought Beside Me

  1. I can’t see to type for the tears!! What a precious gift that notebook was, and what a vital, life-giving action you took with it. God is so good, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your faithful declaration of His goodness.


  2. Oh my goodness, what you went through is so traumatic. Two of my children have spent times in mental facilities. My oldest talks about the one person there that helped him. So grateful you had your person. Hearing you speak about it from your vantage point is hard but good. May God continue to heal and work in life. Definitely see a book that would help a lot of people if I you are ever up for it. God bless you and your family.


  3. A bittersweet memory but such a sweet reminder of God’s presence in the darkest times and how meaningful a small act of kindness can be. Thanks for sharing your life and God’s provision with us. Psalm 139 is so wonderful!


  4. Writing is such an impactful gift and one we often take for granted. It’s quite something to see how God has used it to bring both you and Ivan battle through each trial, while at the same time edifying and challenging all of us as readers.


  5. I loved reading this. When I was in college, I had had several stays in mental health facilities/hospitals. I, too, was on suicide watch a few times. And writing got me through as well. I was an atheist at the time, but I came to Christ several years ago. And I am currently memorizing Psalm 139 as well! It so comforting … well, at least the parts that don’t talk about hating enemies. Haha. All the best as you work to memorize the whole thing. Blessings to you.


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