RJD: The Quotables Journal

Do you read with a highlighter and pencil in your hand?

I do.

Most of us lovers of God’s Word do our Bible reading that way–marking well loved passages with notes as we take in the depths of His heart to our understanding in deep places.

But, I’m talking about regular, everyday books.

Non-fiction types? Sure–all the time. I have my Lewis and Chesterton all marked up. Same for Voskamp and Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization. Countless others too, of course, including the plethora of reading material I work through for skill building as a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and artist.

But–do you mark up your novels?

[Tweet “A good story is written in layers. I am constantly reading on two levels:”]

1. The entertainment level of story.

2. The hidden treasure take-away life-lessons of story.

I look for biblical principles played out in a metaphorical manner. God’s Word “looks like this” in the context of a story line acted out on the printed page.

By far, it is my classic literary books that are often most marked. However, I am a book snob–and I tend to want to keep my books looking store bought new. This means fastidious attention to NOT breaking the spine with a crease and extra trouble taken to avoid dog-eared pages and roughed up covers.

In such a case, I will make copious use of sticky notes, flagging pages of interest and writing quick reference tags so I can review pages with worthy quotes or passages on them like index dividers.


But, there are times when I come across such fattening words that they require a little more in way of rumination and marking of the moment. This is where my Quotes Journal comes in. I am very picky as to what I tuck in there. Not just any quote will make it onto these illustrious pages. We’re talking creme of the crop here.

I’ll mark the date of the reading, and write it out in exact words and punctuation. The name of the book, author’s name, chapter and page will be recorded–and in some cases, the edition should I have more than one. It is this journal that becomes the seedbed for much of my writing. Sometimes, what I write doesn’t come to bloom until long after I’ve planted a seed of reading and recording in this journal. Such is the case with the selection I share with you today. It is the fruit of a devotional moment in January of 2007.

journal, Frances deSales

Reading it.

Reflecting upon it.

Relating it to my life and living in general.

Recording it for further rumination.

This is the foundation of Principle Approach Education–my training as a teacher and my study habit in life. Learn more about the power of the Principle Approach in the forming of one’s mind to a biblical worldview through critical thinking, teaching, and learning.

Here is the passage mentioned above, collected in this cherished volume some year ago–coming soon to bear fruit farther reaching:

January, 2007

“Look at the bees amid the banks of thyme. They find there a very bitter juice, but when they suck it out, they change it into honey because they have the ability to do so.”

Frances DeSales 1567-1622

Introduction to the Devout Life; A Letter to Philothea

Every Vocation Dipped in Honey:

Devotion must be exercised in different ways by the gentleman, the worker, the servant, the prince, the widow, the young girl, and the married woman. Not only is this true, but the practice of devotion must also be adapted to the strength, activities, and duties of each particular person.

Philothea, true devotion does us no harm whatesoever, but instead perfects all things. When it goes contrary to one’s lawful vocation, it is undoubtedly false. “The bee”, Aristotle says, “extracts honey out of flowers without  hurting them,” and leaves them as whole and fresh as it finds them. True devotion does better still. It not only does no injury to one’s vocation or occupation, but on the contrary adorns and beautifies it. All kinds of precious stones take on greater luster when dipped into honey, each according to its color. So also every vocation becomes more agreeable when united with devotion. Care of one’s family is rendered more peaceable, love of husband and wife more sincere, service of one’s prince more faithful, and every type of employment more pleasant and agreeable

Yes, you need all your gray cells functioning to take in the meat and potatoes of classical writers. This passage stayed with me for some time as I considered my response in my daily life of devotion–walking out God’s Word in my life.

One thing I realized is that devotion in daily life requires patience in the bitter moments and seasons. The end product therein is contentment.

Herein is the conflict for my story. What might this look like metaphorically? DeSales gives us a scant picture of “bees amid the banks of thyme.”

I’m taking DeSales’ imagery and buzzing away with it as the foundation for my latest Fable Springs Parables picture book, Bugaboo Bee’s Bop: Patience for the Prize. Presently, I’m in production on it with my brilliant illustrator, Noah Berge, and audio book musician Haley Richardson.

Here’s a sneak peek of a rough pencil sketch (the final will be watercolor) for the opening where my rhyming text restates DeSales’ premise to set the stage of the story:

Page 1 sample text vib

Soon to follow is the tale of a “newbee” who is not content in the vocational season she finds herself–longing instead for Forager Bee status. But, that’s a place yet to be earned with much growth and maturity. Will young Bugaboo-Bee learn patience for the prize–with sweetness and contentment?

And, my follow-up challenge in the picture book discussion guide and six part study guides to follow asks us the same question.

Journal prompts all around.


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Sharing RJD: The Quotables Journal this week with:

Enthusiastically Dawn’s Random Journal Day (RJD)

Spiritual Sundays

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About Miss Kathy

"I teach families how to restore their God-given authority as the primary educator in their child’s life through the experience of reading together as a family. Learn how to use literature to create teachable moments, build strong minds, and bind loving hearts."

Kathryn Ross, writer, speaker, and dramatist, ignites a love of literature and learning to equip young and old towards developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle—reading together, learning together, loving together. Her works challenge families to deepen their literacy skills and grow into the greater things God has purposed for them. She’s taught in Christian and homeschool circles, trained in the Principle Approach® through the Foundation for American Christian Education. Miss Kathy owns Pageant Wagon Publishing, producing homeschool enrichment materials, devotional works, study guides, and theatrical dramas for church, school, and community production. She podcasts at TheWritersReverie.com and blogs at PageantWagonPublishing.com.


  1. Cool post, Kathyrn. I’ll highlight it on the Christian Poets & Writers blog http://www.christianpoetsandwriters.com as other members of our Facebook group will surely identify with this too.

    Interacting with books, especially the Bible, helps me to remember and/ or to focus on some aspect of what I’ve read. For instance, I respond to lines I like in books of poems and often say what appealed to me. I never dog-ear pages! And I’ve stopped using colored highlighters after reading my Good News Bible so many times I can barely see the font. 🙂 So I now underline with pencil and make erasable notes to myself in the margins. Some of those notes are dated and fun to revisit years later.

    Thanks and blessings – Mary

    • Thank you for highlighting my post, Mary! I appreciate it and am honored!

      I get the part about responding to the lines in the book–I sometimes do it like a conversation. I have an interesting one on a page in Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” that I did not agree with his stance–though I do love that book. It was like I was debating him. Oh! This little wordy world we writers and readers live in!

  2. “True devotion does better still. It not only does no injury to one’s vocation or occupation, but on the contrary adorns and beautifies it.” I love this thought.

  3. I LOVE this…Bugaboo Bee’s Bop!!! And the illustration is beautiful!!! I have several notebooks that I jot quotes into; and one (maybe two or so? if I’m working on more than one “book”…I use these to record the quotes from novels or other books); and I do my daily devotion with a notebook too so I can record the verse and some of the devotion “text” or what I have to add about the verse(s).

    I have so many journals for this and that…I need a journal to keep up with my journals!

    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks, Barb! At one point I used an index card system to keep track of quotes in novels. That became cumbersome. Love my sticky notes–and all in one filing on my bookshelves. Most of my notes are digital these days–easier to transfer into posts and other written materials. But, those tactile journals are a love.

  4. Hi Kathryn. A lovely quote to ruminate on. It makes me think, it’s not what we have but what we do with it. Best of luck with your new fable. Congratulations on making your dreams come true.

    • Thanks, Susan! We all find ourselves in less than perfect circumstances and seasons. God wants us to make those times perfect by placing Him at the center which requires a complete change of focus. Striving ceases and patience with contentment takes its place. A tough calling, to be sure.

  5. GAH! Indeed, I adore your writing, your ruminating…I just adore you! WHY oh why do not my favorite journaling folks live closer? I actually bought Romola based on your suggestion to read Eliot – but the edition I bought is just painful beyond words…lol. ANyway…Maybe I will try Middlemarch…but will see.

    Either way, I so appreciate you, the thoughts you share and your creative gifts! Thanks, Miss Kathy.

    • LOL Dawn–yes, we should plan some sort of conference so we had a journal retreat. Workshops, art journal crafting, plenty of pondering and writing time–then come together to share. And, make some quality gab time, too. I didn’t say George Eliot was an easy read–no 19th century writer is. Perhaps that’s why I love to read them–they don’t dumb stuff down. They expect their readers to be familiar with history and language and the classics. Most readers were also well trained in their Bible lessons–though that didn’t always translate into transformed lives. However, the reading audience had the education and leisure to consume wordy prose laced in allusions. I did love Romola–but it was a tough read. Middlemarch is yummy, too–and full. At least three converging storylines–like Dickens would write. BBC has a fab 6 hour adaptation of Middlemarch you can get on DVD. Might be on Netflix, too. I don’t remember. Watch the movie–then the book might move better. Keep me informed on your progress!

  6. My hubby has a journal for quotes, and I have included some of my favorites in a page on my blog. Words have such power and meaning, don’t they?! I love your idea for the new Fable Springs story. I think I could learn a thing or two (or more!) from Mistress Mary. All too often I am terrorized by the buzzing bees in life, and forget all about the honey to be found!


  7. Rosemarie says:

    This was a very interesting blog.


  8. Rosemarie says:

    loved the blog


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