Whose planner is it anyway? (BuJo Series Intro)

BuJo Setup Series Intro

The Bullet Journal (affectionately nicknamed BuJo) is a powerful tool, and you’ve probably either tried it or have heard enough about it that you’re curious to find out what it is.

There’s no shortage of Pins or posts on the topic to help you on your way. This post will probably rank 200,000 on a Google search.

That’s okay.

This isn’t a “How To,” or a “List of Supplies.” I won’t be telling you how to design your spreads. (Although those posts are coming for those who are interested.)

Before I begin this BuJo Setup Mini Series, I want to put a question out to you – Whose journal is it anyway?

I’m creating the perfect setup for me. This is the 4th journal I’ve started using the main BuJo ideas. I’ve changed each journal with use. I like following some of the “rules” and not others. (I don’t think I ever want to migrate a list again.)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that this is my journal. I’ve made the adjustments I’m going to detail in this series because they better served me. But I’m not saying that this series will be pointless to the greater world.

What I want you to remember from now through the end of the series is that your BuJo will only serve you if you take the time to process what tips and tools will help you make it yours.

Sounds silly to take the time to write this out, but I’m writing from personal failure. I have put my BuJo on a shelf for weeks because I thought I wasn’t using it “correctly” only to realize that I was trying to use someone else’s journal (of course, I do not mean literally).

And can I just pick on the idea of “failure” for a second?

Good. Thanks.

Who says it’s a failure if I try to use washi tape and it looks silly? What if I use a different pen and my handwriting looks wobbly? Or if I title a spread and see that it’s off center?

These and so many other mishaps happen to me. I’m not a natural born scrapbook visionary. I don’t see blank journal space as an opportunity to showcase my vision for a beautiful layout of colors, stickers, etc.

But I do like to look at beautiful things! I try little ways to make my journal more visually pleasing.

So, from the beginning of my journal creation, I set my standard at “plain with purpose” and I own the fact that I’m not going to secretly wish for a vivid, colorful, impressive display of book art. This journal is going to serve me by being my brain on paper, and if I can keep my standard in the right place then I will be so much more likely to just grab it and write as often as I need to. This, to me, is BuJo success.

Are you ready to dig in?

My goal is to inspire you to think, not copy. I want you to design a BuJo that will call to you. One that will be so easy to write in that you wonder how you ever lived without your brain on paper. It may be decked out in all the Hobby Lobby glam, or it might be a college ruled spiral notebook and pencil. Whatever it is, I want it to be yours. The more you write in it, the more valuable it will be to you.

Let’s get started!

Watch my videos on YouTube for more thoughts and tips!

Read all my previous posts on the Bullet Journal:

Coming down from my (blogging) high horse.

I started this blog in 2015 with the intention of making it a professional bloga space for intentional encouragement and help for anyone wanting to learn on their own. The target audience being homeschool families like mine.

In addition to providing professional content, I wanted to build a business that would provide my family with additional income by tapping into the online wealth of affiliate sales, pay-per-click ads, sponsorship, etc. All of this can be done without compromising content, and I saw it as a win-win. (This is not a slam on professional bloggers who do earn their income from their blogs.)

Somewhere between starting the blog, researching brand-building and income sources, and writing inspired content I created a standard for this blog that is higher than I can realistically reach. After spending hours studying what it takes to build a professional blog, I became unsatisfied with just sharing what I had to say.

I rose the bar. I required pictures with text, back links to every possible post I’ve ever written, and a closure complete with disclosures, subscription invitation, and general marketing ads.

For a while, this wasn’t difficult. I had the passion, the time, and the ideas to fuel this standard. I established a routine that worked well for me, my family, and the blog to coexist in harmony.

And then I had a baby.

You’re smiling. Babies always make people smile either because they are just adorable or because you know what I’m about to say. Babies are known for requiring more time than any one person can give.

I was prepared for this, and I didn’t want having a baby to define me. I love all my children enormously AND (not but) I need to maintain my own identity as woman, wife, writer, teacher, creative being, etc.

So, as I was coming to a new normal after Naomi was born, I started writing again. I started an accountability program with those who chose that option in their subscription to this blog (I still know you’re out there and patiently waiting!).

And one Saturday I spent every single spare moment writing one blog post. It took me the whole day. My husband entertained all the kids while I worked. At the end of the day, I was finished but not satisfied.

I was failing the standard that I created. So, I did what every person does who fears failure: I hid.

I didn’t want to quit what I started, but I knew I couldn’t perform at the level that I wanted. So, I avoided everything related to my blog. For over a month, I didn’t even visit the blog myself!

After a while, I had to really confront myself with the decision of what to do next. Do I let it go? Do I pull myself back up, press on, and pretend nothing happened? Or do I lay all my cards on the table and start over?

Well, maybe not start over, but undergo a make-under.

So, I’m going to keep writing. I’ll get back to my roots of sharing what I’m learning, how I’m changing, and why that matters to me. I hope to always spread encouragement and to research and analyze things to make your life easier. I will continue to suggest resources that are relevant and timely, but I’m not going to try to earn an income with every single post. (Can I get an amen?)

I still respect professional bloggers; I think you’re amazing! But I can’t continue to pretend that I’m up there on a high horse too. (No offense, I don’t think other bloggers are arrogant – just above my realistic reach.)

So, high fives all around. This blog is undergoing a make-under. I hope you’ll stick with me.

Here are a few ideas I have brewing for new posts:

  • Organization is like dirty laundry.
  • I’m breaking up with balance.
  • Am I okay with my child’s goals in life? (Why do I feel like she has to do more, be more?)
  • Let’s revisit the beauty of kitchen timers.

Here are a few changes I want to make:

  • Less pictures in each post to relieve the pressure on my writing so that I can actually write more!
  • More pictures on Instagram where the moments really make a difference anyway. Check out my Instagram profile here.
  • No sales. I don’t want to ask you to buy anything or hide a product within a post. 
  • Actual reviews of products when appropriate. I’m keeping the freedom to use affiliate links but removing the pitch that this is for you. If I write about a product, then it will be to detail how it has worked/not worked for me. 

Sound good? Ah. Being down to earth feels much better. 

Keep on learning, growing, changing, and being true to your stage of life!

Spring is coming.

I was having coffee with a dear friend who is currently in college. We were meeting for our usual “catch up” and sharing with no agenda. We have been doing this for almost 5 years now! And I can’t tell you how much I love it.

So as we were talking, I had a timeline moment :: when you’re thinking back on a stage in your own life where you can relate to someone else’s experience and then you fast forward to the present and realize how much grace God has truly given and how much closer you are to realizing God’s purpose for your life? Just like that. This is that timeline.

God’s calling to write for Him was a seed that he planted when I was much younger. The desire rose within me soon after coming to true repentant faith around the age of 15.  I remember writing poems and songs, and the value of words began to gain more weight in my soul. My senior year of high school I was dual enrolled at Hope College in order to take writing classes – best gift my parents could give me: encouraging and enabling me to become a better writer. I look back and know with confidence that my English 111 class “The Defining Gesture” had an eternal purpose for me. The professor taught me how to self-edit. How to write it all out, and then rip it all apart. How to find the hidden gems within the rough draft, and then carefully reconstruct a piece.

God call

And yet it took many more years for the soil of my heart to be healthy enough to write anything that would be a ministry to others. I tried many times to write for myself, and it always felt empty. I knew there was a seed within me, the desire and drive to write – but when would it ever grow? Growing restless, I would give up on writing during dry seasons in my 20’s, yet God was faithfully working on the soil of my heart. The deeper layers of who I am in Christ. My heart soil had to be dug up and turned up. To be weeded and de-thorned. So, I waited. And watered. And struggled and wrestled. And languished in the dry sun waiting. Through season after season of not enough fruit to make my life feel like it was good enough, I didn’t realize that roots were growing down deep, roots in Christ. All I had eyes for was above the ground. I wanted instant fruit from one time soil tending efforts. But oh, how this process, 15 years and still going strong, has been useful in my life.


All the years that I mourned for the death of one seed, thinking that if it had not grown yet then I must have done something that caused me to lose God’s favor. I studied the one spot in the soil where I knew that seed was planted. I didn’t realize that the Spirit was at the same time working throughout my whole heart. Planting more and more seeds than just the one I liked the most. God lead me through many seasons of life. Summer, learning to rest in His warmth. Fall, learning to let things, people, and hopes pass. Winter, learning to live by faith when everything around me seems dead. Spring, learning that new life always comes after the cold. Dark. Night of life.

Now, in this season {heart season : spring} I stand back and see the first new shoots of life bursting forth from that soil that I thought was never going to produce. I’m surprised by joy as I turn and see a whole garden He is cultivating in my heart. Not just one plant, but many. I just stand in awe. The Gardener knows better than I, and He has fruit planned that is far better than I could ever imagine. And I’m humbled because I don’t know or understand the plans He has for me, but I trust that they are plans for hope and a future.


So my seed, my calling, came with a vision. A hope, that when I misunderstood it and set my sights on the instant gratification of being all God wanted me to be, was dashed. But a hope that is now restored because even though it wasn’t easily seen or discerned at the time, He was building {and continues to build} my hope in Him. Showing me that I should never put my trust in a seed, but always in the Gardener.

And my dear friend? Well, she may be living in a season of waiting for fruit. I know the feeling well. And even though I can’t bring her through all of life’s seasons and fast forward her soil to show her future fruit, I can teach her to do the humble and faithful work that got me to this place of rest and trust. Of always looking for new growth. Spring is coming.

Why you should follow me

I don’t believe that I have anything special that you don’t have. I know I’m not a famous writer or thinker. And I’m not looking to gain fan club or form a debate team. But I do know that God has given me a desire – a deep in the gut desire, to share the things He lays on my heart. If you’ve known me for a while then you know that I’ve always wanted to write. I enjoy words. And I’m sure some of you have even watched me go in and out of seasons of writing. Some good, others not so good. I would base my words on the current wind in my sails. Inevitably, I’d get distracted from the Source of the wind, and veer off course, ending up somewhere in the middle of open water with no shore in sight. I’d lost sight of the goal, long and short term. So I’d bail.

I say all this because setting up 2014 with goals and projects to write is scary. I know how poorly I navigate, and how quickly I bail. So with that being said, this isn’t a post that is a new and improved promise to follow through on all the abandoned things of the past. It isn’t a “I’m turning over a new leaf” type of post. I haven’t made it, I’ve only changed microscopically since last year at this time.

SO. What am I saying?

There is a message in my soul that I need to share. I finally believe what I’ve rehearsed all my life: “I’m created in the image of God.” And His image in me is creative. He loves Words. And I believe that He still uses Words to change people. Why I think you should follow what I have to share is because I now have the faith to believe that He can use these words to encourage, inspire, and convict you. I believe that the words He inspires me to write can reach down deep inside of you and strike a soul-cord that only you and He knows. He can bring it all together in your life just by using a few feeble words from my Spirit-controlled heart. It’s happened for me, and I believe it can happen for you.

Why do I now have this stronger faith in why I should use God’s gifts to reach out? Because I’ve recognized that there are a few women whom God has used to reach me in the past year – and they are just like me. Real flesh wearing, child rearing, Kingdom seeking, Jesus loving, people serving, saint/sinners like me. And I haven’t grown by following their pattern, as if they were a godly woman cookie cutter. I’ve simply been inspired by their experiences and then acted on that inspiration. They created something from what God gave them, and I realize that He didn’t give them a special brand of humanity or gift that is only for the people who have a platform. He has given us all the same kindness and grace. The same gift of life and a drive to do something with it.

So here’s why I think you should not read what I have to say: if you want me to define a standard or outline my process of decision making or goal setting then you’re going to be disappointed. I don’t want you to follow me in hopes to become like me. Heavens no. I won’t attempt to spell out application for your life like a mathematical equation, but I do hope that by reading what I have to say you will be moved to greater change and growth.  I don’t want to see comparisons, guilt, and judgment. Of me or yourself.

But there’s a catch: I need you to let me know you’re there. I’m writing to you.

I want to pray for you by name as I press publish. I want to know your story and be motivated to share more deeply from my heart because I know the pain is bringing God more glory by inspiring you to grow through pain too. I don’t want to just be another link you may or may not click into from facebook. I want to have community with you. I want to be a part of redeeming a little space on this world wide web. I don’t want to be afraid of risk anymore. I don’t want fear to hold me back from holding on to my faith even in the face of rejection. I want to be courageous and live out loud in words. And I want you to read them, and write your own words to me. I want to have the opportunity to introduce you to writers who influence me like this woman and this one too, and I want you to introduce me to your gems too! {Did you click those links? They are not affiliates. I hope their smiles made you smile. I’ve never met them in person, but I’ve talked to them. And they are wonderful. Making me smile regularly.}

This is why I think you should follow me. What do you think? Who is for more content and conversation?