Journaled Journeys

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson

Dear Diary,

I remember my first diary. My godparents gave it to me as a gift when I was ten. It was pink and white with paisley covered from front to back. The lock and key gave me the confidence to know that it was secure. I shared countless things with my sisters and brother, but this was all mine. I had a treasure.  It was just for me.

I started off writing in it daily. My first entry was about how I wanted to be a track star. My family and I had recently watched a documentary about Flo-Jo and I was convinced that sprinting would be my path. It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and for me to forget all about my diary.

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson

Several years later in college, I remember walking into the chapel service and seeing hundreds of students carrying their Bibles and diaries. I was wondering why they brought something so personal to a worship service. I later found out that they were journals. After service, I rushed to the bookstore to buy my own. It didn’t have a lock. It didn’t have a key, but it had plenty of pages.

I started writing. I wrote poems and songs. I wrote dreams and ideas. I captured the thoughts of my 18-year-old self. I continued to write until it became a lifestyle.

There’s something so deeply sentimental about writing down my thoughts on paper. Transferring what’s on my mind to a page just makes it all really connect for me. It makes it real. When I go back and read entries from years ago, I’m able to find myself reliving and experiencing those moments. As I turn the page, I’m able to taste life twice. I think it tastes even sweeter the second time around.

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson

These days, I find myself hauling at least five of my journals with me as I move to new countries. Before I left for my job in China two years ago, I was blessed with a journal. It’s filled with notes from my friends and family who were present at my farewell party. I cherish the notes from my loved ones—wishing me well and encouraging me to be bold, daring, and brave. I take that piece of home with me wherever I go. It reminds me of the growth that has taken place over the years and the things that are still to come. As I begin to settle in a new country, I place that journal in a visible place as a reminder of the support and love that I have back home.

My other journals are for dreams and goals, adventures and trips, relationships and experiences, and prayers. The pages are full of life, color, textures, and drama! I love capturing the beauty of the moment in the moment, like when I wrote in my journal in front of the Roman Colosseum. I couldn’t believe that I was sitting there—breathing in the air, having Bible study on the steps, and watching the passers go by. What a rich experience!

Journaling on the steps of the Roman Colosseum

Journaled Journeys

Now, I do have a ton of undocumented moments and memories. Those memories remain in my internal diary. Every experience doesn’t need to be captured by a pen. Some experiences are so sacred that they can only be captured by the heart.

It’s funny how my first entry was about becoming a track star. I didn’t end up going down that path, but I believe that the path that I’ve taken has somehow been right on track.

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson

With Love,

Karissa from La Vista

Karissa Johnson is a licensed evangelist, certified educator, and a daring explorer. In the last three years she taught English at two universities in Saudi Arabia and at one English language school in China. When she’s home in Nebraska, this military brat and preacher’s kid loves singing with her three sisters, mentoring youth, and prison ministry. Karissa is a graduate of Oral Roberts University where she received her BA in International Community Development. This stroke survivor started traveling abroad in 2011 and has since traveled to over 20 countries on all seven continents. She accomplished her goal of seeing all seven continents by 30. Karissa is currently writing a book about her adventures around the globe. Visit sevenby30.com to connect with Karissa through social media.

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