Commonplace Notebook vs. Facebook


I’ve posted before about my love for reading and slowing down our summer months after a busy school year. You can find that post here.

In the same vein I wanted to post another way to slow down our lives and enjoy the small moments that are far too easy to forget.

What I always appreciate about my Amish family is when you sit and visit with them, they aren’t playing on some mobile device. They might be working on some handicraft, but it always comes across in an effort to remain industrious rather than distracted away from conversation. It’s really a breath of fresh air. What becomes important to my Amish grandma is what she’s able to leave behind to her family . . . memories of her life through her journals, keepsakes that are attached to a story, and sharing decades old recipes that invoke so many visions of our family’s past together.

On the day I wrote this, it was my “Mammie’s” (grandma) 88th birthday and it’s clear that at age 88 the last thing she’s worried about is how many “likes” she might get on Facebook or how many people pin her picture on Pinterest.

You may be thinking that since she doesn’t have a Facebook or Pinterest account . . . or a computer for that matter . . . that this comparison doesn’t count. That her life doesn’t compare to ours. Maybe . . . but there’s still an example in her life that I love . . .

Our lives move so fast. My oldest daughter is 7 (and-a-half) and she was just born yesterday! My youngest is 4 and I am certain that even though she’s not reading yet, I’m going to blink and tomorrow she’ll be 17 and we’ll be discussing the beauty of Little Women.

Between my 88 year old grandma and my single-digit aged children I’m learning to slow down.

I’m realizing that my Facebook status updates won’t be what my daughters remember about their childhood—no matter how witty my recollection of something funny they said. Facebook is passing and a blurb that lasts only a short moment in time and constantly competing for attention…and while there’s a sense of enjoyment to “socialize” this way, I don’t want it to be the way I record the beauty around me.



For hundreds of years people have kept commonplace notebooks. This isn’t a journal where you keep your thoughts, feelings, and happenings of your day. It is simply a place to put down those things that make you pause, ponder, and reflect upon.

After reading The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater I started my own Commonplace Notebook.

When we hear or read something that inspires us from a book, blog, message, or maybe even TV or a movie, instead of typing it out in a flurry, imagine writing it down in a a special book. It takes more reflection and intentionality. I think that many of us desire to have the habit of doing this because we love to remember what makes us smile and we love to reminisce . . . and we want to share it!

Here are a few of my entries:

Are you slowing down enough to see the beauty in the mundane?

LookCarefullyI found so much truth in this quote when I read it. Yes, our electronic lives are needed for so many practical chores and duties . . . but I just don’t want it to be my whole life. I want to share with my daughters phrases and thoughts that touched me and the benefits of moving more slowly through life. I won’t remember every Facebook update but I’ve often turned back the pages of my Commonplace Notebook reminding myself of the things I’ve been reading and what beauty that lay between the covers.

This is the simple life . . . or at least one aspect of it. This is something that everyone can do and feel a connection to those ancestors who went before us who didn’t have a computer. Chances are . . . they may have had a commonplace notebook also—and you could read into their lives and learn what they found inspiring…

Do you keep a Commonplace Notebook? Can you think of something that you heard or read this autumn that you would write in a Commonplace Notebook?


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Elizabeth Byler Younts (29 Posts)

Elizabeth Byler Younts used to be Amish, and even after her family converted, she still grew up among her Amish family. She is still very close with them and still speaks Pennsylvania Dutch regularly. She is the author of an Amish memoir titled Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. Seasons is the story of her grandmother Lydia Lee Coblentz who grew up in an impoverished Amish family through the Great Depression. Seasons was released in August 2010 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in three categories. Elizabeth is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is an Air Force Officer’s wife with two young daughters and makes her home wherever her family is stationed.


  1. I started a commonplace book that I titled Cold Water for Rachel, after the death of my oldest child in a car wreck in 1993. (The title was taken from Matt. 2:18 and Prov. 25:25.) It contains Bible verses, quotes, bits of letters, and paragraphs from various books, all speaking to the pain that I felt in the aftermath. I wrote in it for many years, and it is still one of my most treasured items. My 89 yr old dad died in June, and I ended up with all of his, too, which I am slowly going through. Commonplace books are a special heirloom.

  2. canadiandoomer says:

    A friend of mine just got me started on one. 🙂 She didn’t call it a commonplace book, but I like the name. Is that a picture of your Grandmother? She’s beautiful. There’s an incredible beauty to many of the old Plain ladies.

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