Creative Note Taking!



If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know I love to art journal!  Even though I just started doing this four years ago, it’s become a huge part of my life.  It’s how I process the hard in this broken world, as well as a tool helping me listen, learn, remember and disciple.

At the beginning of this summer the Lord laid it on my heart to create a new online art journal course to accompany Dr. Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame.  Now I wasn’t primarily creating something for other people, though others were using it.  Rather it served as a forum for me to share my journey as I’ve been working my way through this (and provided accountability to keep me journeying as I am a highly distractible individual!  :0).

When I began I had no idea what the Lord would have in store… I just knew it would be good!  And it has been life changing!!!  I can’t recommend art journaling your way through Dr. Curt Thompson’s book highly enough!!!

In addition to learning a ton about shame – and how not to be emotionally hijacked by it (something I desperately need to learn) – I also started learning how to use art journaling for note taking – and I’ve been blown away at how much more I’m learning and retaining as a result.

Since I’m currently surrounded by friends getting ready to dive back into school, I thought I’d share some ideas for using art journaling to take notes in a way that enhances your learning… and remembering!

When I first read through the second chapter in Dr. Curt Thompson’s book, where he explains the 9 domains of the mind as well as gives an overview of the anatomy of the brain, I read through the text underlining what stood out to me.  Soon the pages looked like I’d bled profusely (got to love red highlighters!) and I found I wasn’t retaining much.

Now in my art room I have a basket filled with different sizes of paper cut into squares and rectangles that are leftover from projects.  I started writing down on these slips of paper key things that stood out to me.  When I finished the chapter, I took time to arrange the slips of paper in my art journal – talk about a great way to interact with and review the material!  I was amazed at how much I remembered and how I was able to identify key thoughts from the chapter.


But there was a lot in that chapter and I soon found pulling out slips of paper was a bit cumbersome, so next I grabbed a tin of gel pens and starting taking notes in color!  Was this ever a blast!  But I also found was learning a bunch doing this!


Then, whenever possible, I started taking time to sketch a quick picture summarizing key ideas.  It’s amazing how pictures stick!


I especially found it helpful to story board key thoughts from the chapter to capture of the flow of what was being communicated.

But things really went into warp speed when I began asking myself questions from the material I was reading – personalizing what I was learning.  This took it into the realm of “So what difference can knowing this make in my life?”


Imagine my surprise when I was watching a YouTube  video on note taking to discover they highly recommend using color and asking questions!!!  Sure wish I’d known this 34 years ago! :0)

But here’s the neatest thing – this isn’t just something that can help when you’re in school.  I learned this while processing through a book I was reading.  It can also help you retain and remember even more from sermons on Sunday or even when you’re at NavNites or conferences!

Multi colored gel pens are now a staple in my purse!  God truly is the greatest teacher ever! And I’m finding, with Him, class is always in session!




Considering Identity: After it’s lost…


Take out a sheet of paper.  At the top of it write, “Who I am in Christ” then start recording the truth you already know. Most believers can fill this space in an impressive way. Especially if someone has been a Christian for a while, they usually have a good idea of things they can write here.

Then look at your list and consider,  “Where do you struggle to truly embrace these truths at the heart level?”  Like…

I am the daughter of an all-powerful almighty King who can do anything and who cares deeply for me and already knows the future… so why am I struggling with anxiety?

Or I’m forgiven, holy, blameless in Christ who’s promised all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes… so why do I beat myself up so badly when I blow it?

I’ve been chosen to be a part of the family of God and adopted into it forever… so why can I feel like I don’t belong?

It’s one thing to know these facts in your head.  How are they being lived out in your life?

Three years ago I put together an online art journal course  based on Jerry Bridges’ book Who Am I?   Art journaling through that book was life changing, truly helping me embrace on a deeper level truths I’d known for years to be true but struggled to live out.  it really did make a difference in my life!

But taking time to process through this exercise I realized, while I had grown tremendously in this arena of trusting God with who He says I am, I still have quite a ways to go to fully rest in these truths.

I cried out to the Lord, “Please take me deeper!  Would you uncover what’s hindering me?  What’s holding me back from truly resting in these truths in a life impacting way?”

The Lord loves to answer such prayers! ;0)

Enter shame.  I never dreamed how pervasive it was in my life until I started to read Dr. Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame.  And I was thrilled to discover how learning to recognize shame was helping me not be emotionally hijacked!

But I didn’t make the shame-identity connection until a few months ago when I was hosting a group of women from my church for a movie night.  We were watching The Princess Diaries together to discuss the challenges we face embracing our identity as daughters of the King.  I’ve hosted movie discussion nights like this for years. But this time…  I suddenly realized every struggle we were observing and discussing had its roots in shame!


As I shared in the last post, we were created to have our identity based in God.  He is the one who created us!  His works are wonderful!  And that includes us!  His wisdom and power and love are evidenced in all He creates. All He creates is good!


In his book, Dr. Curt Thompson reveals shame isn’t just the consequence of sin, but a key factor that led to sin occurring in the first place.  Eve and Adam were in a garden filled with trees featuring fruit good for food and pleasing to their eyes.  Why would they ever want to eat from this forbidden tree?

The enemy, like many marketers today, had to create a need, a desire and he did that through shame’s message, “I am not enough.”  Not only did the enemy contradict God “You will not die!” but he made Eve think she needed something else in addition to what God had given her – his subtle questions and statements convinced her the way God made her wasn’t enough, but this fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom…” so she could “be like God.”  (yep, trade her identity for another one!  “It’s not enough to be you, you need to be like…!”)

When they reached out for that fruit, they weren’t just hungry, but seeking to be something other than what God created them to be.  And it totally destroyed the way they saw themselves and each other!

That “wisdom” Eve and Adam gained, resulted in them losing their original identities and in the process losing their true selves.

This is why our new identity starts with being in Christ. We have opportunity to step back into what our original parents stepped out of… an identity founded wholly in God and this is all because of Jesus!  He paid dearly to make this possible!  But unlike Adam and Eve, we have to learn to embrace what’s true after years of basing our identity on other, worthless things.  Hence the struggle.  It is not easy to truly embrace your identity in Christ!

You can’t just memorize a verse or even a bunch of verses and get it. You don’t replace years of thinking and living one way with some quick cerebral action.  And of course the battle still rages and the same deceiver is at work trying to keep us from entering the rest Jesus already paid so dearly to make available to us.

Walking by faith isn’t a cake walk, but a struggle every. single. day. But there is so much hope for growth in this!!!  And what’s really incredible is we actually end up getting it even better than Adam and Eve – as Jesus said, “whoever is forgiven little loves little!”  (Luke 7:47)  Do you realize the more you struggle to embrace your true identity in Christ in the midst of the battle while you’re still blowing it, you are going to appreciate and love Jesus even more for the amazing, wonderful, off the charts painful and costly things he endured and did to make your true identity possible!

Dr. Curt Thompson explains about shame a thousand times better than I ever could. I highly recommend art journaling your way through his book!!!  If you’d like to see how I’ve been doing this check out

I like to end my time with people when we’re considering this, having them imagine what it would look like, the beauty and the benefit, if they truly embraced in the depths of their heart who they are in Christ.  How would their lives look and be different?

Can considering this ever spur you on to dive into the battle, to struggle to keep growing in embracing this.  It will be one of the hardest battles you’ll ever fight.  But as a fellow struggler, in the thick of it right now, I am finding it is so worth it!