How Rock Bottom Created A Journal

LLB Journal

Last March I had no idea where Life Lived Beautifully was going. To be honest, I was at my wits end with trying to make a small business work. I was trying and trying and trying and getting no where. My heart was so weary and my spirit was defeated. I was on the brink of giving up and throwing in the towel. At the time, I had been making necklaces, stationery, and art prints. Though I loved creating these things, they weren't bringing my heart life and I knew there was something more. I longed to share Jesus and His truth, but I didn't know how I was to do it! I read through the journal I was using in this season and found these honest words of desperation:

“Today I felt forgotten and alone. I strive and work hard to make Life Lived Beautifully happen, but at the end of the day see no progress. It feels like a striving after the wind. It takes my breath away and sometimes it kicks dust into my eyes and hurts. Sometimes it’s so calm and refreshes my soul. It is always unexpected what will happen each day! This wind is the world and you are the solid ground. When I focus on the wind, I get knocked down. But when I focus on the ground beneath my feet, I remember my foundation is in Christ and I can keep going…Every day we open Instagram or Facebook and allow Satan to steal our joy from us by telling us lies - “you are not enough” and our our eyes get hit. “God doesn’t have a plan” and our hands get crushed.” “You don’t matter” and our spirit is wounded.” We allow Satan to wound us deeply where we should be guarding our hearts with the Word. No wonder we walk with a limp? Yet you are so gracious and are always holding out Your hand for us to cling to. I’m tired of limping, Lord…I don’t want to be a follower to to be followed. I want to live the Bible. I want freedom and purpose in Christ. Oh God I want to know you and the mysteries of Your Word. If that means giving up, so be it. If that means pressing on, so be it. I can’t do it alone. I’m waving my white flag of surrender. Help, Jesus.” 

These raw words were written to the Lord on March 7th, 2014. That day I was at rock bottom and couldn’t see where God was leading. That was just ten months ago. Ten! Only ten months later I am reading those words praising God for the incredible God-sized work He has done. Rock bottom isn’t the end. It is often the beginning. I think of Joseph when he was in the pit. His brothers had maliciously thrown him into the cistern hoping he would die. They even put fake blood on his coat of many colors to prove his “death” to his father. (Genesis 37) Can you imagine how Jacob felt sitting in the pit? Rock bottom. I think of Jonah when we he disobeyed God and wouldn’t go to Ninevah to prophesy. You might know the story, but he ends up in the belly of a whale. (Jonah 1) Rock bottom I would say. What about Moses? He led the people in the wilderness for 40 years to get to the promised land and ended up not being able to enter this land because he didn’t follow God’s direction. (Numbers 20) Rock bottom. And don't forget Peter! Jesus told Peter that he would be the rock the church was built upon. (Matthew 16:18) But later Jesus also told him that he would deny Him three times. (Luke 22:34) When Jesus was betrayed and on His way to the cross, Peter denied Him three times. Rock bottom. 

And yet we know the rest of these stories. Joseph eventually became second in command to Pharaoh and was over the land of Egypt. He extended grace to his brothers who had tried to kill him and also helped save peoples lives during the famine! (Genesis 41) Jonah eventually obeyed the Lord and went to Ninevah and encountered the mercy of God. And then Moses. God was so gracious and loving to Moses that He still showed him ALL of the promised land he wouldn’t step foot in. My heart believes that was enough for Moses. (Deuteronomy 34) Lastly, Peter still did become a leader in the church. After Jesus died and rose from the grave, He appeared to Peter and told him what kind of death he would die. Though Peter had hit rock bottom, God's grace extended love to him and still used him for the Kingdom.

Rock bottom is often the best place for us to see God. Why? Because we have no where to go but the foot of the throne of God begging for help. And God, He is a gracious God. He hears us. David cried out to God over and over again and God faithfully responded in love and faithfulness. Why? Because that is who God is. He isn’t just faithful. He literally is faithful. This is the God we run to when we are at rock bottom. I ran to Him on March 7th and He met me there. Though I didn’t suddenly feel different, I can look back and see how at each step He was guiding without me even knowing. The very next day I have a page where I began to sketch out ideas. The name of the page was “Big Dreams.” I remember writing this thinking - there is no way these will happen. The first dream was to create a journal. I have been an avid journaler since the 7th grade and had bought every single Barnes and Nobles and Anthropologie journal had! I wanted a journal that directed me to Scripture. I hadn’t seen one like the vision I had in my head, and the Lord planted a seed in my heart to create it.

Let me get this straight - I had NO idea how to create a journal! I majored in Fashion Merchandising in college, not Graphic Design or Journalism. If you looked at my resume, I was the least qualified to create a quiet time journal. But those are often the people God likes to use the most to do something, the unqualified, incapable, and unprepared. Not only does He get great glory from it, but He changes us in the process.

The process of dreaming up this journal took a few weeks. My first thoughts changed as I prayed and studied what our time with the Lord should look like. I wrote down ideas, asked friends for wisdom, and started using the breakdown in my own quiet times. The brainstorming was raw and took a lot of my heart. I didn’t hold back - after all, the dream was supposed to be big! I loved this season of dreaming. It was so sweet to begin to step out of the boat and walk toward my Savior!

Once I had an idea of what the insides would look like, I had no idea what to do. Really. I didn’t have a design program on my computer and didn’t have the knowledge on how to create something like this! The next week in my college girls small group we were going around the group introducing ourselves and one girl who was visiting for the first time shared that she was a Graphic Design major. After our meeting, I asked Rebecca if she would mind getting together and teaching me some of her design knowledge. The Lord miraculously provided Rebecca. She taught me the ins and outs of InDesign and helped me set up my first journal.

I share this because I want to give the Lord the glory again for making this journal possible. I do not claim the credit in creating this on my own. He provided the people I needed to learn and make it happen! The next step I took was finding a printer. I contacted printers in the area and got price quotes on what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted it to have gold ring binding and a certain kind of paper but I couldn’t say it correctly. The printer helped me know exactly what I wanted (always trust the experts!) and I went forward with the printing.

Each cover that has been on the journals has been hand-painted by me. The first one was a watercolor  (a dream I had of making it look like a sunset) and the ones following have been painted using acrylics (with brighter and fuller colors!). I love getting to include my artwork into the design of the journals! I now use a local printer who is a believer and runs the print company with his wife. (A little tip for those of you looking into printing journals - go with local. You support another small business and avoid extremely high shipping costs.) Marc and Lisa have been a huge blessing and love being a part of this ministry!

I have now created four Give Me Jesus Journals. Over 1,000 of them have been sold to women all over the world and God’s Word is being shared all over social media. I can honestly say I am thankful for rock bottom. Had I not hit it, I wonder where I would be? Rock bottom made me dream again. It made me realize that striving wasn’t abundant living. And it opened my eyes again to the incredible work God had in store.

I don't know where you are right now. You may be at rock bottom and are searching for help. You may be in the process of pursuing a dream. You may be in a season of waiting. But, always remember that rock bottom has a God-centered purpose. Each season you are in is meant to draw you closer to the heart of Jesus. Don't waste this season. God has something unique in store. Use your rock bottom moments to praise Him. I can say from my own testimony, He is faithful. And that is enough.

your sister,

Gretchen