Journal Entry: September 17, 2012 – Journaling Again?

by Cliff Ravenscraft on September 17, 2012

in Blog

Please Note: The following are free flowing thoughts from my personal journal. There are going to be gramatical errors, typos, etc in this post. The only way I will be able to continue to share this type of content is if I feel that I can continue to post it without the constant need to proofread and fix errors.

September 17, 2012 10:28 AM

Today, I have made the decision to get back into journal writing. I’ve attempted this a number of times in the past. I’m thinking that this new software may have been just what I have been looking for to keeping it all organized.

The software that I am referring to is called Scrivener. I’ve heard a great deal about this software from several friends that I know and respect. The software was designed for those who write books. This, of course, is what originally captured my attention. I do have a desire to write a book. In fact, I have a desire to write a number of books. I’m just not sure which type of book I want to write first.

I figured the best thing would be for me to simply get back into the habit of writing a journal on a regular basis. This would allow for me to get back into the practice of writing. I’ve kept many journals in the past. Most of them written. I had stopped keeping a hand written journal when about 18 months of my life were lost in the rest room of the Cheesecake Factory Restaurant.

Each year, Stephanie and I would go out for our anniversary and I would take my written journal along with us. We made it a habit of coming up with crazy dreams and goals for the next year of our life together. Writing down those dreams and goals in my journal allowed us to also review and evaluate how things had gone after the next year had passed.

It was several years ago when I had set down my journal in the men’s restroom without realizing it until nearly an hour later, after we had finished our dinner. When it came time to go over our goals, I went to pull my journal out of my coat pocket only to find that it was not there. It immediately occurred to me that I had set it down in the restroom. I know exactly where I sat it. I can still see it, in my mind’s eye, sitting on that ledge. When I rushed to the restroom to retrieve it, it was gone.

Yes, I had asked the management if anyone had found it and turned it in. However, that was not the case. This wasn’t just a “journal.” No, this was, in fact, my “prayer journal.” The deepest and darkest parts of 18 months of my life were poured out in hand-written prayers within the pages of the journal that I lost that evening.

In the front cover of that journal were very clear indications of who the journal belonged to and there were multiple means of contacting me for anyone who might have come across this journal. To this date, nobody has contacted me to say that they found this lost journal.

Yes, that was what caused me to get out of the habit of regularly keeping a journal. Though, I do have several other hand written journals that are filled, from the front cover to the back cover, with many experiences that I have had over the years.

There were times that I had made the decision to go from hand written journals to using a computer to type my journal entries. I saw many benefits to using software to write my entries. However, I’ll share the top three here. It would be easier to have backups of anything that I wrote, I can type a great deal faster than I can write with my hand, and it is a great deal easier to share what I had just written in a blog post if I could just copy an paste.

However, for some reason, I seemed to always break my habit of opening up whatever text editor I was using at the time to write down my thoughts. So why today? Why have I chosen Monday, September 17, 2012 to purchase this Scrivener software and to start recording my thoughts in a written journal once again?

One thought that immediately comes to mind is the auto-biography of George Muller. This book had a radical impact on my life and my trust in God’s provision for my life. This book was nothing more than a bunch of excerpts from George Muller’s journals. I found myself very drawn into reading about the amazing journey of his life, not as a packaged story told in retrospect, but reading his thoughts about the the present, without knowing what the future would hold.

Here’s the description of that book from Amazon. It says, “What can be accomplished in an ordinary man who trusts in an extraordinary God? George Muller discovered the endless possibilities! These excerpts from his diary allow Muller to tell his own story. Join him on his journey from a life of sin and rebellion to his glorious conversion. Share his struggles and triumphs as he establishes orphan homes to care for thousands of English children, depending on God's response to his prayer of faith to supply all things. Muller's unwavering, childlike dependence upon his heavenly Father will inspire you to confidently trust the God of the impossible in every area of your life.”

Okay, so there is another reason why I like the typed journal. I was able to simply paste the above into this document. Anyway, George Muller kept a journal knowing that he would one day publish it as a book. He was so certain that God would provide in ways that one might have a hard time believing. So he chose to record his thoughts, day by day, simply writing down what he was currently experiencing.

Another inspiration for this jump back into my own journaling is due to the fact that I started to read a book that was one of several books given to me as a gift from a dear friend that passed away earlier this year. That friend is David H. Foster. When we first met, he had already had his “A Renegade’s Guide To God” book published, but it was not available for the Kindle. He knew enough about me to know that there would be little chance that I would ever read his book in physical form so he would, instead, send me inspiring books to read, from time to time, through the Kindle Book gifting system.

I’ll never forget the day that I got the email from Amazon that said that David had just sent me a Kindle book as a gift and to see that it was his “Renegade’s Guide To God” book. He had convinced his publisher of the need to get the book published in the Kindle format. I was still in the middle of the last book he had sent me, “Ruthless Trust” by Brennan Manning when this book came to me.

David passed from this life onto the next on April 1st 2012. I encourage anyone to listen to episode 130 of my Encouraging Others Through Christ podcast to hear just how much of an impact this man had on my life in the past 18 months. You can find it at

So yesterday, I started to read A Renegade's Guide to God: Finding Life Outside Conventional Christianity, by my dear friend, David H Foster. As I was reading, it was as though I could hear his voice. I could feel his passion. And I was able to continue to learn from what he had to share. The best part is that there are things that I understand today that I would have not have as fully understood had I read it a year ago.

I’m only on Chapter 2 of this book and I’m feeling even more of a burning passion to move forward with some big things that I feel called to. However, once again, I’m at a major cross roads in my life.

I feel torn between two possible futures.

One path before me seems to be a major focus on business and greater efficiency and profitability in an effort to pursue more financial freedom and to afford to do so many things that I would love to accomplish in this life.

Another path has a focus on the ministry side of things and making sure that I maintain a much higher level of margin in my life so that I can maintain a much healthier focus on my physical, spiritual, and mental health.

There is a part of me that believes that these are not two separate paths at all, but all a part of the one journey that God has prepared for me. No matter what, I am certain that some big changes are about to happen. I want to make sure to record my thoughts and feelings as I take each of these steps into the unknown.

This entry is to start that next stage of my written record. I’m no stranger to journaling the details of my life. As I write this, I have 521 episodes of my Pursuing A Balanced Life podcast that is very much an audio journal that dates back to March 16th, 2006. I continue to record new episodes of this show on a regular basis.

There are a total of 166 recorded episodes of the Almost Daily Devotional that dates all the way back to March 3rd, 2008. This show is no longer being produced and any new content of this matter is now produced in the show known as Encouraging Others Through Christ. This show currently has 131 episodes and dates back to April 23rd, 2006. This show will continue to be produced to specifically record, in audio form, the focus of the faith based elements of my journey.

There are actually more than a total of 3,000 audio episodes that chronicle a majority of the things that have happened in my life since December 2005.

In the past, most of my journal entries had been written as prayers to God. As I move forward, I have decided that most of my future journal entries will be written like this. As if being written to a reader. Each entry could potentially be put out as a blog post, like this one certainly will. However, it could be assumed that an entry may never be read by anyone other than myself or potentially by someone after I, myself, have passed from this life into the next.

One thing is for sure. If I keep up my habit of writing, I’ll almost certainly be using many of the entries to help me build a foundation for some of the books that I will eventually write.

I’m going to end on a rather geeky note. In the past, I wanted to make sure that if I were typing my journal entries into software, I wanted to make sure that whatever software that I used would make it so that the words that I would type would be easily accessible at any point in the future. By this, I mean that I didn’t want to rely on any document format that might not be compatible for written text in the future. Basically, I wanted something either in Plain .txt format or in .rtf (Rich Text Format).

Previously, I had created a single .txt file called Journal.txt. I would simply add any new entries to the top of that .txt file and that would push down any previous entries further down into the document. This would allow me to open the document and easily search for anything I wanted later. However, having a single document did seem to have it’s limitations.

I had heard about this software called Day One. I considered getting it, but didn’t really give it a fair chance. I had already been thinking about getting Scrivener for the purpose of putting future books and ebooks together. So rather than looking to see if Day One allowed me to easily access archived .txt or .rtf documents in the event that the software itself ever became outdated, I decided to go ahead an purchase Scrivener.

I had watched a few tutorials this morning and I learned that all my projects are individually saved in a .scriv document. I’m able to put these .scriv documents inside of DropBox and because I purchased Scrivener from the Mac App store, I was able to also open it on my Macbook Air. I’m currently typing on my 27” iMac.

I can open this Journal.scriv document on either of these computers and as soon as I close Scrivener, it saves all changes to the Journal.scriv file and stays nice and synced up in my DropBox account. This was important to me, that I am able to add to my Journal from the road.

Worse case scenario is that I can write an entry in any type of text document and email it to myself as an attachment. I can then simply drop it into scrivener and it will add it as an entry when I am back at my own computer.

Scrivener also automatically backs up each of your projects that you have edited. So there is always an archive of previous versions of your document. I was able to change the backup folder for Scrivener to DropbBox as well.

If that were not enough, I’m able to also set each project (“book” “journal,” etc) to “Sync With External Folder” which actually can be set to export, in sequential order, all the individual entires in either .txt or .rtf format.

If the scrivener software ever becomes obsolete, the .scrive file can actually be opened, on my Mac, to “display package contents.” When I dod this, it’s easy to go in and find all those individual entries as .rtf docs. This Scrivener software is a dream come true.

So there you go. This is my first journal entry using this new format. It will forever be available in my Journal project. I may, just “maybe,” go an import my older attempts at keeping .txt based journal writings into this Journal.scriv project. Something that Scrivener makes quite easy.

Who knows, maybe one day I will go and re-type my hand written journals that I still have. And if I get really crazy, I suppose that I could go and have all those previous podcast episodes transcribed. But I’m not going to jump ahead of myself. For now, I’m going to simply stop writing and find out what I need to work on next for today.

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