The Unbound Journal 3: More Than Words

We are at the halfway point for this series on finding the full potential of your journal. After this week, the series will take a break for a while (I will be posting other things during this time) and then the final two posts will be published to wrap it up. I hope that you are enjoying these tips on journaling so far. These types of post aren’t my normal, but I think it has been fun for different. Alright, with logistics out of the way, on to the post!

Your journal doesn’t have to consist of just your words, or the words of others. In fact, you should think of it more like a scrap book to some degree. Additions beyond just writing can really make your journal come to life, capture special moments, and allow you to hold on to cool keep-sakes. One of my favorite features of my last two journals has been that they have a pouch like a folder in the back. My journal is mostly used as a prayer journal and so during my times of travel I have been trying to keep little things like pamphlets, or service cards from churches that I’ve visited around the world so that I can add them to my journal. What you keep in there is up to you. I also have kept movie tickets, bus stubs, odds and ends, drawings from friends, pictures of family and friends, and notes. Now, if you don’t have a pouch in your journal don’t worry! There are tons of other ways to add physical things to your journal. One time I didn’t have my journal and I wrote something on a piece of paper. I forgot about it and kept writing in my journal only to stumble upon it later. I really wanted to add it in so I stapled it into where I would have been chronologically. The point is, you can staple things, tape things, or glue things as there are a bunch of ways to get keep-sakes on the page. This is a tip that I have found fun to do and really takes your journal to another level. As always, much love!

Different Perspectives on Consuming London

1

When in London, I can’t help but overindulge, especially in Covent Garden. Before my eyes is a feast of colors, culture, and people. Yes, the people! I love the them the most. I’m fully entranced by the street performers putting on magic shows, executing magnificent acrobatic feats, or making music. I am absorbed by the swelling crowds of tourists who swarm around these performers with their camera phones pointed at the action. An ocean of swirling dialects and diverse colors crash around me like waves. Swimming through them, I am eventually channeled out into open space spotted with the more local folks who are on a mission in the city. They walk with purpose, with determination, with confidence. Lining benches and any free steps are groups of visitors from where I can only imagine to be every corner and crevice of the world. Some groups are shaking in the brisk air, unprepared for the chilly weather, while others gather at coffee shops for some liquid gold to warm them. The people provide the tone and their culture, the flavor, against the grey backdrop of London architecture. Brick roads meet stone buildings and blend effortlessly into a matching sky. There is the occasional splotch of color on a building, usually clay reds but sometimes vibrant blues or pinks. Crisp corners and defined outlines shape the structures, breaking form only by the supporting round pillars that reach up into arches. Flowers in crates like garnishes dot the paths and nature can be seen on doors framed with foliage. But another treasure lies in the heart of the square. It is in the apple market where past and present combine. The market seems to beat with intensity and throb with opportunity. The old style of the outdoor market has found its way inside in a space that produces a feeling of openness as well as crowdedness. It is here where all the smells and sounds seem to gather and present themselves like a main course to me. It is here that I smell fresh cookies mixed with Chanel perfumes and the odor of sleep deprived travelers. It is here where the calls of children and hollers of street performers blend over the low rumble of conversation. Every sound takes on vibrant colors that swirl around me, and every sight I can feel move through me. Each sense tingles inside, overwhelmed after being starved for so long. It is here, among these senses and the people that I feel at the heart of London and finally satisfy my cravings.

2

He often wonders, if it’s obvious that he is not from here. His look, his walk, what will give it away today? Hopefully, he believes, that one day the only foreign sign will be the reflected wonder that flickers in his eyes as he looks in awe at the city of London, trying to comprehend its novelty. The same glinted gaze that only he knows about when reading a book on a park bench in Brenton Cross. When quiet hangs in the open like fog, trapped between emerald green grass and the smoggy ash sky. Or the same senses that tingle through him when he finds himself just enjoying his walk down Oxford street. With no destination, no concerns, absorbing every detail, and feasting on everything the city has to offer. Walking through puffs of cigarette smoke, past pubs bursting with the clamor of conversation and clanks of business, and by the brightly lit signs of theaters, he begins to fade into the people. He acknowledges the beauty and bliss in all these moments. As time goes on the mundane actions of his old life like transportation, shopping, studying, working, all become lively and exciting adventures in his new environment. He begins to wander less. He starts to know his way and walk with a more determined step and confident gait past confused tourists and stride for stride with the locals. Finding his way to his usual coffee shop for a steaming cup of tea or his favorite pub for a cold beer and chips becomes routine. He keeps beat with the city. However, it is not above him to occasionally ride the tube to an uncharted destination and get off. Here, he explores with a naïve composition. He gets lost, resorting back to unsure movements, but along the way passes the fresh smells of restaurants undiscovered by him, extraordinary and breath-taking architecture, and he begins to become over-taken by the feeling, the spark and tingling of his senses, as if he is uncovering the city for the first time.

Faith Moving in London

Finding a church community abroad was something that I thought would be very difficult to do. However, I really wanted to experience how churches in a different country operated, how they were the same, and how they were unique. So I made it a personal goal of mine to seek out churches in London. I wanted to see the impact culture had on how things ran. As of writing this I have come across two churches, one recommended by a mentor and the other by chance, and  experienced Jesus in two drastically different ways.

The first was at a start up church called Trinity Central London formerly known as the London Underground Church. Started around 5 years ago, Trinity Central is a very small church with an average of around 20-30 members. It is planted in the heart of the city centered between three main tube stations on the outskirts of Trafalgar Square. Honestly, I loved it. There is an intimacy that can be hard to find in mega churches, but with a church this size you get to know everyone very well and very quickly. They embraced me and got to know me, and that’s something I really appreciated. Opening up with them was easy because the environment was so inviting, and they were very kind in letting me in on all the activities they had planned. I even got to play the lead worshipper’s guitar after the service which I had been craving since I left mine back home in the states. Something the head pastor asked me at the end of the service that really stuck with me was How can we serve you? What can we do to help you and make your time in London the best it can be? Loving to serve others is one of the most impactful things I have learned in following Jesus. It is so filling and makes massive impacts in peoples lives. To find a church that fully embraced that and lived it out was extremely heartwarming. One thing that was evident while being at a church of that size is the urgent need for Jesus in London. So many people still need to hear about the life God has in store for them if they want it.

My other experience was completely opposite from the one I had at Trinity Central, and how I found it was extremely random and lucky. It was a Sunday and I wanted to explore London a little more, mostly go shopping and find a new coffee shop. My plan was to check out the area around Trinity Central, but I got very mixed up on the tubes and ended up pretty lost. On my way out of the station I passed a huge sign that said Hillsong London Church. Now I have heard of Hillsong Churches but never been into one. As I passed by, I saw that a service was just about to start. A few greeters at the front were quick to welcome me in and point me towards where the main service was taking place. Like I said, I had heard of Hillsong Churches but never experienced them. I knew they were a big church with massive services and awesome worship. Immediately when I walked in, I felt the base from music and heard the faint sounds of worship already starting. As I was walked down the hall there were more greeters and people who looked like security guards smiling and guiding me. My excitement started to sky rocket as the music grew louder and I heard more and more voices singing. The hallway came to an end at two huge double doors and a young woman standing in front of them said Hello, and welcome to church and she pushed the double doors open and I was flooded with singing and music. I stepped in to overlook a sea of hands raised in worship all leading up to a huge stage with brilliant lights and a worship team giving a concert-like performance. Waves of joy and excitement washed over me. My arms filled with goosebumps rippled with tingly elation. I was paralyzed with awe and wonder at how many people there were and the energy in the room. I stood there for a moment trying to process everything I was seeing before me. Eventually the same woman that let me in came up to me and said Let me help you find a seat. She brought me up to the front and from there I could see that not only was this huge theater filled with people, but there were two balconies with people as well. I was just so amazed by the whole experience, and so astonished that so many people had come together to worship Jesus in London. It wasn’t as intimate as Trinity Central, but it was powerful. Afterwards, I talked with the woman who let me in and found out that they weren’t even supposed to be at that location. There normal building had to go through some renovations on short notice and so they ended up finding that theater for the day. It blows my mind how things like that happen— That I would get lost and that their church would be relocated right on the path that I stumbled upon.

What I learned from both churches is that yes, there is a massive need for Jesus here still, but at the same time God is moving London. He is working in big ways and subtle ways but his love for us is active. I also learned that no matter the culture, the environment, or the community if people truly are followers of Christ there won’t be to much difference between them. I felt welcomed, accepted and loved in both churches. I saw communities ready to share His story and I experienced his love in new ways, and that makes me incredibly happy.