Tag Archives: journal

Hello, Brave New Season

This week, I filled the final page of a journal I started in January 2014. As I cracked open the crisp white front page of a new journal, my heart beckoned me to begin again. An unwritten journal is like a fresh start. A new season full of blank-page potential. I shiver with anticipation thinking, “how will God move in my life to fill these pages?”

My last journal documented my pregnancy, my fears and prayers regarding motherhood, and cries for help during the twin’s birth and first few months. Song lyrics, Bible verses and amateur doodles reflect each moment of that special season of change.

Before I put my pen to the fresh page, I asked God about the kind of season God has planned for me this time. The word INTENTIONALITY, was unmistakably the label He gave for this season.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about being brave (thanks to Hello Darling Magazine). I am challenged by the concept, and I hope I am living each day with more bravery to be who God created me to be.

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As I prayed, I realized that courage is 2 parts faith and 1 part intentionality. I must have faith that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in me, to keep refining the woman of His design. However, I also must have intentionality; to pursue the hard things, scary things, and things that require extra energy. With faith and intentional-living, I will become more like the “me” I am destined to be. And in doing so, I will look less like “me” and more like Christ. All the selfish, prideful, lazy, and boring parts that frustrate me about myself will fade as God keeps transforming me to be holy, as He is holy.

So here’s to a brave new season!

It’s a season of intentionality…

  • to welcome the Holy Spirit into each day with praise
  • to eat fresh foods
  • to do less Facebook and more phone calls
  • to make eye contact
  • to invite order into my home, schedule, and budget
  • to try difficult things like tandem nursing the twins
  • to greet each morning with joy instead of dread
  • to be teachable
  • to cherish the oft overlooked, like reading the book of Leviticus, brushing my hair, or making time to snuggle my golden-doodle.
  • to brave the cold weather and seek out community
  • to hold my tongue
  • to say “no” with confidence and keep my calendar open for rest
  • to pursue more publishing options for my book (oh, so much courage needed here.)
  • to preserve family memories through monthly picture-sorting/book making
  • to pray with purpose and for things that matter, like Salvation for the lost, adoption, relational redemption, freedom from slavery to sin and slavery of mankind, and for holiness to saturate my own life and the church body
  • to live confidently in the body I have, enjoy it, and challenge it

Ink bleeds onto blank page, and so the season begins.

Dear friend, how does intentionality weave it’s way through your life? I’d love to sit down over a cup of actual coffee and hear about it. Since that might not be an option, feel free to share with me by commenting below.

And so, through pixellated words and the ambiance of screen light, would you make a toast with me? Raise your cup of coffee (or tea, or Jamba juice smoothie, or post-workout water bottle), and with a sign of anticipation, proclaim:

Here’s to a Brave New Season.

 

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Remembering God’s Goodness

Photo by Kristen Shipps/ used with permission.
Photo by Kristen Shipps/ used with permission.

Hebrews 3:6 says this:
“Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”

Later in the chapter, the author describes a group of people who did not hold fast to their relationship with God, who “always go astray in their hearts.”

As I read Hebrews 3 today, I recall how necessary it is to remember God’s goodness. The Israelites forgot, time and time again, how God saved them, fed them, led them. I don’t believe we “lose our salvation” each time we despair, question, or ignore God’s work in our lives. But I do accept the reminder: there will be “rest” for the believers who hold fast to their identity in Christ.

It makes sense really. Like Peter, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and onto the storms in this life, we start to sink into the waves.

May we not forget our great God. Rather, let us remember our identity as children of God in Christ. Like Hebrews 3 says, we should be constantly bringing up the hope we have.

Like a kid who wont stop asking why….

Like a teenager who can’t stop checking Instagram for a “like.”

Like a grandpa who shares the same awkward story at every family get together.

In other words, we have full permission to be restless in reminding our souls, our family, our world, that we, INDEED, have hope!

I find there are 2 effective ways to do this: by remember the journey and just keep walking faithfully.

I spent some considerable time flipping through old journal pages. It is so good to remember where I was, and how God made such amazing things happen in those times.

Jesus has taught me so much.
He has answered so many prayers.
In His grace, I have become a beautiful woman, confident in Christ.

By reading of His faithfulness personally in my own life, I am filled with confidence and gratefulness. It is going to be easy for me to “boast in my hope” today.

In addition to remembering God faithfulness in the past, I believe we are called to walk obediently into our future. Obedience to God is the greatest display of our hope to the world. Do not harden your heart, but listen, follow, and obey…. always remembering His goodness.

How are you remembering His goodness today?

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Morning Habit #2: Keep a Journal

JournalAnchored.

The anchor frame I used on this picture is significant. I believe that journaling keeps me grounded and “anchored”, if you will, through each season of life.

Through journaling, I connect intimately with God. Journaling helps me process the confusing stuff in my heart. Also, it is an avenue of prayer, for myself and others.

Most importantly, my journals are a record of God’s continual work in my life.

Recently, I was blessed with a few quiet hours to glance through a few of my old journals.

I sipped an ammaretto americano and read page after page of God’s goodness in my life. So many notes, doodles, questions, prayers, and musings filled those pages. I am so glad I have maintained a habit of journaling these past few years. Reading them again gives me so much perspective. What was, what I hoped for, what I was anxious about.

And how God walked me through it all.

The hectic changes of the last few months made me forget journaling. With that, I lost perspective. The absence of yesterdays notes is the absence of a road sign or a mile marker. I have no clue where I am.

“Here I raise mine ebenezer”

The Bible refers several times to Ebenezers (1 Samuel 7). You probably know the name from A Christmas Carol, or from my favorite hymn, “Come Thou Fount.”

But most people don’t know what an ebenezer is. In Hebrew, it is “Stone of Help.” (reference)

We refer to it in “Come Thou Fount” as a monument or road sign. Like many prominent characters in the Old Testament, we sing “here I raise mine ebenezer,” to say, “I am putting a marker here in this moment to honor God, and to remind me in later years of the significance of this relationship.”

My journal acts as an ebenezer.

What’s Inside:

Each journal entry is varied from the last. But I try to include a few specific things to help me remember the journey.

  • Date: What day is it? Anything special, like a Birthday, holiday, day off, etc.?
  • Song of the Day: I usually wake up with a song in my head. So I write it down. It is interesting to see how the songs change. I think it helps to define what kind of season I am in.
  • Describe what is going on: Is it a cloudy day? Am I sitting at church, preparing to hear a sermon? What event is approaching, or just happened. These notes help to get my emotions and thoughts in gear to start processing life on paper.
  • Processing through: This is crucial for me. I am an extrovert in that I have to process the stuff in my brain outside of myself. Most extroverts do this by talking to someone. I find that writing it down is a helpful alternative (but not a complete substitute to a good friend.)
  • Verse/Psalm of the day: Journaling can be an intense “me-centered” activity. I know that my heart needs to process things, but my words and emotions can run wild, creating havoc. I write down a verse, often from Psalms, to keep me grounded in truth.
  • Doodle: Sometimes words don’t cut it. Recently, God told me “wait” on a specific dream I was praying about. I had a mental image of God letting the air out of my hot-air balloon until I was ready to fly. So I’ve been doodling hot-air balloons. It’s a simple way of acknowledging God’s kindness and my willingness to be patient (even when it is difficult).
  • Prayer: I always felt like I should have this grand prayer time with the Lord at the end of the day. Well, that never happens. Our nights are typically very busy. We do most of our socializing in the evening (that’s college ministry for you).

I realized I need to seek God while I am most available, mentally and physically, to give complete attention to Him. The morning is often my best shot.

You do not need a journal to pray, but it is helpful for me. It keeps me focused.

I am able to recognize my sin, write it down, and repent of it. I can cross it out, or draw a big “X” over it, symbolizing that God has forgiven me and is cleansing me of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

I can worship God, noting His awesome characteristics:

You are Holy,

Jesus, thank you for your kindness to me,

Your love never gives up,

Oh, Lord, you are so GOOD!

Open the eyes of my Heart:

This system is an excellent way for me to prepare to receive His Word. I try to journal with my Bible in my lap, referencing a verse here and there. But I don’t view this as studying the Bible. Merely preparing my heart to receive truth. Actual reading of the Bible comes later, sometimes with my journal alongside.

I think the difference between the two is this:

  • Journaling is about my heart.
  • Bible study is about God’s heart.

But we will look at Bible study later in 10 Habits for a Purely Fantastic Morning Routine.

Thanks for joining me!

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