Journal the Journey


photo journal

photo jacob journal

My boys,

View your life as one great read.  One juicy story full of drama, sweetness, sorrow, celebrations, samplings of heaven, and tests of the faithful.  A page-turner for sure, full of twists and turns and a constant wondering of what may be revealed with each turning of the page.

Though we don’t know all the details that fill the pages of this story, there is one thing we are certain of.  When we reach “The End”, we have only begun.  What awaits after this story concludes is a hope and a future far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend.

While we are here, creating this story, never lose sight of the hope beyond The End.  And make the most of every single page of your story.  With every stroke of the pen, let Christ’s light shine on every single word.  And let Him guide and direct the drafting.

We just closed the chapter on 1st and 3rd grades as well as 3-year-old preschool.  And what a year we had.  So many experiences that have greatly impacted our hearts and grown us in ways we never imagined.

You have served as great examples to me and dad as well as anyone else who has the honor of knowing and loving you.  

My dear Jacob.  Your quiet leadership and strength of conviction astound me.  You inspire me to stand firm for justice and righteousness.  Your teacher chose a verse for you that brought instant tears to my eyes as I knew the Lord had laid it on her heart.  2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  

My precious Zachary.  Your tender heart and your giving spirit are a beauty to witness.  I aspire to be as selfless as you.  You have such a servant heart.  The way you speak words of encouragement and life into all who know you is a true joy to experience.  When your teacher awarded you for working well with others in all situations I couldn’t agree more.  Jesus is so evident in your life.  

My sweet Drew.  Your strong will is a privilege to parent.  I thank God you are as strong as you are because I know He has great plans for that spirit.  I can see God molding you into one fiery warrior for Him.  God uses you in my life every single day to sanctify me.  Thank you for being used by God so readily.  I pray the fire in your heart grows stronger with time and you will use your gifts to serve God’s kingdom in a mighty way.  

So, my 3 precious boys, I am giving you this journal.  Fill the pages of this journal with your stories.  May this summer be one in which your faith grows stronger.  Fill the pages of this journal with all the Lord lays on your heart.  Share your heart with Him here.  Write out your memories and your experiences the Lord brings your way.  Let your imaginations run wild.  I pray this summer brings you much joy as you ponder and explore what God shows you and you journal away these long, lazy summer days.

With all my heart,


School Years Memory Book Tutorial

The lives of our littles are filled with memories, accomplishments, achievements, growth, and drastic change during their grade school years.  I’m realizing that as my children age, I can easily forget some of the little things of who they were before.  The process of maturing and aging brings about constant change.

I desperately want to remember it all.  I want to remember how tall he was at 7 years old.  I want to remember the funny one-liners that seemed to roll off his tongue.  I want to remember that his favorite movie was How to Train Your Dragon and he could watch it over and over and over again as if it were his first time seeing it.  I want to remember what his drawings looked like at 6 years old.  I want to remember it all.

As much as I desire to hold onto the memories, I recognize that everything that comes home during the school year cannot be kept and preserved.  I also recognize I have limited time and need a system of preserving their school years that would be both efficient and meaningful.  And I wanted a way to preserve these years that would allow us to reflect on them together.  One day I want to pass these memories to them so they can share them with their children.

I created  a binder that I use to preserve the important stuff from the grade school years.  And today I’m going to share with you how you can make your own.  In addition, you can download the free School Days Printables for each year that will allow you to record information through the years.

There are several ways you can create a School Years Book for your children.  If you are the crafty type, you will love the tutorial I’m sharing today.  If you are not the crafty type, you may prefer to pop into Target and pick up one of their super cute binders for $10 and save yourself the time of making the actual binder yourself.

I made a school years binder for each child.  Inside the binder is a divider for Pre-K through 6th Grade.  I would suggest you do a separate binder for the Preschool years.  Within each section is a fill in the blank series of questions that are the same each year.  Questions such as favorite color, favorite movie, friends, family vacation, etc.  There are places for your child to draw a picture each year (I love to see how their drawing changes through the years).  There are places to record the funny things they said through the year, memorable experiences, you get the picture.  I also include within each section several different sized page protectors.  I use the large full sheet protectors to house items that cannot be hole punched and you don’t want lost in the shuffle.  I use the 4×6 and 5×7 page protectors to insert school and sports pictures from each year.  (I do not use this binder as a photo album.  I use it for school pictures and sports pictures so you can note the changes from year to year).  The rest I leave available for all the items that will come home that you never want to forget.

When report cards or progress reports come home, they get hole-punched and put into the binder.  When awards or certificates are earned, they are punched and put into the binder (or you can put them in a page protector).  Basically any item from the school year that you want to hold onto and display in a manner that allows you to easily reflect on, goes into the binder.

Now, if you decide to make one of these and you want to do it the quick and easy route, all you need to do is purchase a large 3 ring binder (at least a 2 inch in size), a pack of index dividers to label for each grade, and a few different sized sheet protectors.  Next, download my free School Days Printables.  Assemble your binder and you are ready to go.  This will take no time at all!

If you would like to make one yourself, read on for the full tutorial!

This will be the final product

Supplies Needed:

  • 2 Inch Chipboard 3 Ring Binder (I like the ones with the black spine.  If you get a plain chipboard binder, you can paint the spine whatever color you want.  Just an extra step I like to avoid) (The cheapest place I’ve found to purchase these binders is Bulk Office Supply)
  • 2 sheets of 12×12 heavy decorative cardstock for cover, back, and spine of binder
  • 9 sheets 8 1/2 x 11 heavy cardstock for dividers (if making Pre-K thru 6th grade)
  • 1 inch circle punch
  • 2 inch circle punch
  • corner rounder
  • tape measure
  • paper-cutter
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush


  • Using your tape measure, measure the dimensions of the front cover of your binder.  (I’ve learned the hard way that each binder measures differently.  If you are making multiple binders, you need to measure each binder rather than trying to measure one binder to make 3.)
  • Using your paper-cutter, cut your cardstock to the measurements.  Lay it on the cover of your binder to make sure it is as close to exact as possible.  You don’t want it to hang over the binder much if any at all.
  • Take your corner rounder, and round the 2 corners of your cardstock that will be the front edge of your binder.  Like this…

then it should look like this, just like the front of your binder.

  • Do the same step for the back cover of the binder with your 2nd piece of cardstock
  • From the scraps that you cut off your front and back cover pieces, you will have what you need for the spine.  Take one of the scrap pieces and cut it to the length of the spine.  The width should be perfect.
  • Now you should have your front, back and spine cover pieces cut and shaped to adhere to the binder.
  • You will glue your cardstock to the binder with Mod Podge.  I have found it MUCH easier to make the cover look just about perfect if I have the binder level before gluing the cardstock down.  As you can see in the picture below, I use a couple of books propped inside my binder to make my binder as level as possible.  Next I lay my front cover piece down and position it prior to gluing so that it looks exactly how I want it to look.

  • This is the slightly tricky part.  So just move slowly here.  I have found that I can make the cover look smooth and beautiful if I glue it down section by section rather than coating the entire cover with Mod Podge and laying the cardstock on top.  It takes a couple of extra minutes.  But the finish will be fantastic!  If you apply Mod Podge to the entire cover then try to lay the cardstock down, you could end up with bubbles that are a real pain to deal with.  Once I have my paper positioned just right, I lay my left arm firmly on the paper and binder close to the bottom of the binder to keep it in place.  Then I use my left hand (still with my left arm holding the paper down) to lift up just the bottom of the paper.  Using my right hand, I will apply Mod Podge to the bottom 2 inches or so of the binder then firmly press down your cardstock.  (This sounds more complicated than it is.  It’s not.  The point is to get the bottom of it glued down so your paper won’t reposition on you).

  • Once you have the bottom glued down, work your way up the entire cover.  Apply Mod Podge to the next 2 inches up, going all the way across, and firmly press down.  Each time taking care to push out any bubbles or excess glue.  It usually takes about 5 sections to make it to the top.  The total time will only be about 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this exact process for the back cover.
  • The spine is easier.  Coat the spine with Mod Podge and lay your cut spine cardstock firmly into place.
  • At this stage you will have the front, back, and spine covered with the cardstock.   You are 1/3 of the way done!

  • Using your computer, type up what you want the front and spine to be labeled.  I label my front with my son’s name then the spine to say “Andrew’s School Days”.  Print on cardstock.  Mod Podge on printer paper doesn’t do as well as it does on cardstock.
  • Mod Podge your labels and any other embellishments onto your cover and spine.

  • The final step for the outside of the binder is to seal it with Mod Podge.  I recommend 2 coats.  Using a foam brush, brush on the Mod Podge to cover the entire binder.  I prefer to lay the binder opened up so I can do the entire binder in 1 step.  Using a foam brush, apply the Mod Podge taking care to brush in the same direction.  Wait about 20 minutes between coats.
  • While waiting for your Mod Podge to dry, you can begin to construct the inside of the binder.  At this point, you can either buy index dividers or you can make your own.  I usually make my own so I can use the colors I want and completely customize them.
  •  Using your 2 inch circle punch, punch 7 circles from one of your 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of cardstock.  These will be used for your divider tabs.
  • On your computer, type up the labels for your dividers.  Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, Etc.

  • Using your 1 inch circle punch, punch out each of the labels you just printed out.
  • Glue the 1 inch label punches to the 2 inch cardstock punches.  Now you have your divider tabs.

  • Glue each divider tab to one of your 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of cardstock to create your index dividers.
  • Hole punch your index dividers.

  • Place index dividers into your binder and assemble the rest by filling with printable pages and page protectors.

Your children will love this binder as much as you do.  They will see how much you treasure their hard work, and you will love having one place to store it all, to protect and preserve it.  I’ve discovered my little guys on numerous occasions flipping through their books admiring their work, creations, and awards.

Linked to

Love, Affirm, Pray

The more we show our children how valued and loved they are, the greater our opportunities for creating rich experiences with them will be.  When they know they are loved unconditionally, they will trust us.  When they trust us, they will allow us into their lives.

Our children are bombarded by the world daily.  They hear false messages, they are made to think their value is based on what they do or don’t do, their self-image is often created from fashion magazines and pop culture.  To be a kid or a teenager today is so hard.

When our children are with us, they should feel loved and accepted simply for being themselves, based on nothing they do or don’t do, how they look or don’t look.  They need our love.  The world will not love them like we do.  We can grow strong, confident children by pouring our love into them.   Pouring our hearts into their hearts.

We can tell them repeatedly, “I love you no matter what.  No matter what you do, my love for you doesn’t change.”  We can model to them the love Christ has for us.  Unconditional love.  Start a tradition of letting the last words from your mouth every night be, “I love you no matter what.”

When our kids have the opportunity to hear someone other than their parents speaking their praises, it can make a big impact.  How many of you had an influential teacher in your life?  Teachers spend more hours of the day with our children than we do oftentimes.  When a teacher is able to point out a strength in a child, it has the ability to encourage that child to try much harder in that area.

Our school year wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.  Awards Day left my husband and I in tears as we listened to the teachers speak about each of the children they were able to influence.  Our older two boys were completing kindergarten and second grade.  As we listened to the awards each of them received, and the words spoken about them, we were unable to hold back our tears.  They said things about our boys that we thought only we had seen in them.  Of course, we recorded each of them receiving their awards, and I have replayed them at least 10 times.  Each time wondering if it penetrated the hearts of my boys like it did mine.  Did they hear what others noticed about them?  Did they understand that the good was noticed and it did matter.  Did they hear?

The words spoken about them were so special I wanted them to be remembered forever.  I wanted the boys to have access to those words anytime they needed a little bit of encouragement.  So I spent one evening playing back the awards over and over in order to write down the speeches exactly as they were delivered.  I printed them onto cardstock and gave them to the boys.  I have a special binder for each child to hold special letters and cards they have received.

Have you captured a memory or a moment in time that you want to write down as a reminder?  Maybe it wasn’t an award, but another parent commenting on a character trait they observed.  What if we wrote down these compliments and stored them in a journal for our kids?  They could flip through them whenever they needed to be encouraged.  We can take these special moments and preserve them for our children.

We all need to be affirmed.  Though we want our children to be humble, we also want to provide encouraging reminders of the good they hold inside them.  We can love them, we can affirm them, we can preserve other’s affirmations for them, and we can pray, pray, pray.

We can pray that the positive traits that are being recognized will continue to develop and mature.  Then we can watch God’s workmanship as He molds and shapes our children.