Good morning, Ladies!!
I am so excited to share today’s post with you! I found Mary and her work through Instagram and watched as she launched her beautiful journal a few short months ago. Since then, I have admired it and purchased my own copy. When she agreed to answer some interview questions, I couldn’t have been more happy!
I have been using her journal for only a few weeks, but it had already been transformative in my life. It is such a beautiful way to round out your day each night.
Make sure you check out Mary’s website, www.creatingtolove.com , and instagram @creatingtolove, and give her some love!! You can order her journal on Amazon here.
Also, stay tuned for an Examen Journal giveaway on my Instagram this Tuesday.
Now, on to the questions!! Enjoy!
For those who might not know of you or your project, introduce yourself.
My name is Mary Williams and I’m a wife and mama to my two beautiful children. I currently live in Southern California. I am a painter and writer who seeks to serve others through art and spirituality. Before becoming a mom, I worked in Catholic college and high school campus ministry. You can follow me at www.creatingtolove.com. I love Instagram and you can follow me there @creatingtolove.
Can you explain exactly what the examen is?
The Examen is a daily prayer introduced by St. Ignatius of Loyola that essentially asks us to ponder the past 24 hours as a means of discovering where we did and didn’t experience God in our lives. We come to God in gratitude; we ask forgiveness for our transgressions; and we pray for the goodness of tomorrow! In examining the highs and lows of our daily lives, we form a habit of prayer, a deeper relationship with God, and the ability to begin to see patterns of how own behaviors affect our well-being and closeness with God.
How did you come up with/develop this beautiful prayer into a journal?
In the early spring of 2017, I felt like my spiritual life was flat-lining. I was having trouble finding God’s presence in the diaper changes and sleepless nights of my life as a stay-at-home mom so I decided to return to the Examen as a method of daily prayer. I had loved praying the Examen during graduate school but had fallen away from the practice over time as I had found other ways to pray. After searching unsuccessfully for a daily journal based on the Examen that would fit my needs, I decided to make one for myself. When my husband told me he thought others would enjoy using the journal, I prayed about it and felt God encouraging me to make it available to others.
What inspired you to “take the plunge” with this project?
The Examen Journal is truly my “yes” to God. If you had told me a year ago about The Examen Journal or Creating To Love, I would have giggled. It was truly in my surrendering to the desire to know God more deeply that this project came to be. I definitely felt clueless and vulnerable during the majority of the process of creating the journal, so to see how so many are using the journal to deepen their own spirituality has been so very life-giving for me!
I love how you have beautifully incorporated your love of painting into this journal. How did you find your love for painting and put it to use in this book?
In April of 2017, I committed to doing The 100 Day Project (https://the100dayproject.org/). I love all things creative and wanted to form a new habit of making art. I painted something every day for 100 days and it transformed me. I discovered that I pray when I paint. I found joy and confidence in my creativity. I realized I have a deep desire to serve others through the act of creating.
The journal cover is a simple watercolor painting I made especially for the book. The painting wraps around the book, front and back, in the same way that God wraps His love around our lives. God is there at the beginning of your day and at the end of your day. I wanted the painting to feel gentle, warm, and ethereal…all qualities that are how I imagine God’s loving hand at work in my life.
What is your hope through sharing this journal? Your mission?
My hope is that others will feel inspired to deepen their daily prayer life in a simple and accessible way. You don’t need a background in theology; you don’t need a detailed plan of action; you don’t need tons of time. To use The Examen Journal you need only an honest heart and a few minutes each day. Prayer is simply coming to God in conversation each day. The Examen Journal is exactly that…a diary of your daily conversations with God. It is my prayer that we all, as St. Ignatius said, “find God in all things.”
How can one use this journal to grow in their faith?
This journal is for the person who is wanting to start a habit of daily prayer. It’s for the soul that knows God like an old friend. It’s for the individual who is seeking goodness in life and who maybe does not yet have a relationship with God. We are all on different and beautiful walks with God. Just being with God for a few minutes each day is good for anyone!
How has praying with the Examen strengthened your faith and relationship with God?
In the months that I have been using my journal, I have found that I can more easily name where I feel God’s loving presence in my daily life. I see God in the faces of so many people and experiences that I think I would have otherwise brushed aside and forgotten. When I reflect on the bigger picture of my daily conversations with God, I feel so very loved. It’s absolutely beautiful!
What would you say to someone who struggles to pray regularly with Christ, on this deeper level?
I would say that sometimes the desire to know Christ and to be with Christ, even if you have no idea how to pray, is the greatest prayer of all. Just be yourself with God and sit quietly with an open heart. He will take care of the rest.