Tag: journaling

Words Matter

I sit at a table with my mocha looking out on an icy blue sky and pristine fresh snow on Lake Calhoun. It’s a perfect in-between day with nothing scheduled except prayer, reflection, and creation. Those of you with littles around don’t hate me. Your day will come.

As many people like to remind us, WORDS MATTER. Aspirational words, quotes, affirmation, words of self-awareness…They have power to form, inspire, discourage, challenge…

In our family we write a lot of words, read a lot of words, and speak a lot of words. And this can be dangerous if left unexamined!

At the end of each year, my husband John and I have the tradition of taking time to read back over our journals (our words) from the year, noting what lessons God has been trying to teach us. We highlight quotes and key learnings.

This year, additionally, I asked our family what One Word they think characterized or summed up something important for them in 2017. 

“Perspective and priorities” from our son-in-law, and “modis vivendi” (literally “an arrangement or agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully” – a way through) from our D.C. daughter were among those shared.

It’s hard for me to accept and celebrate “wins”, so it was reluctantly that I admitted I think “Brave” would be my word for 2017. As I look back I took some steps that felt scary to me. I created more. I put myself out there more. I stood firm more. I’m trying to celebrate that.

I also usually choose One Word for the coming year, but I’m doing things a little differently. I chose One Word for each of my family members that I’m committing to pray for them. 

Then, I asked each of them if they would share a word they think I should embrace this coming year. It might be a quality they think I need to grow in, or a stretch area or goal focus…It’s been good to hear their perceptions of what I need!

Lastly, I was inspired by Emily Quinton and want to write a letter to myself to be opened next New Year’s Eve about what I’m hoping to do and where I’m hoping to grow in this coming year. Words matter. And so I pray that I will speak and write and think words that are more like Jesus.

That’s what I’m up to this New Year’s Eve Eve day! What about you?

One Tool For Growth in 2015

I know, I know…it’s almost New Year’s Eve so it must be time for another one of my “journaling is so valuable” posts.  Some of you will delete as soon as you see the word “journal”, just like me when I read “gluten-free” or “ab crunches”.  Just not gonna go there.

But wait! Hold on just a minute (or 5 as the case may be).  There’s a new resource I want to tell you about that is NOT these: Continue reading

What to do With Stress

I love being busy.  I thrive on more, but these days we’re a little over the top.

We leave today for a board meeting in London for 9 days (two weeks before our daughter gets married).  Yesterday, in addition to 731 wedding issues, most of which ended in disaster, there were 492 emails,

and we got updates on about 17 friends with hard health issues,

and then there were church staffing changes, upcoming moves, and housing issues for our kids,

and news that felt like betrayal and a punch in the gut for one of us,

Oh, and I shattered a pyrex bowl while trying to bake ahead for out of town wedding guests.

Yeah, sometimes it’s the little things that get you.


I can hear you yelling at the computer about now. “Stress??!!!  That’s nothing!  You should see my life!”

The past few nights I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. for good and have sent emails with the subject line “things I woke up worrying about…” John’s favorite was:

What if our house is in the flight pattern the morning we’re outside doing the bridal brunch and prayer time and no one can hear anything over the roar of the planes?

The other night when I was awake the verse came to mind, “Don’t worry about anything.  Instead pray about everything.  Tell God all your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers.”  But when I started talking to Him about what was worrying me it sounded pretty ridiculous.

What do you do with stress?  Here are a few things I’ve been learning:

  1. Write about it.   I was reading yesterday about Adoniram and Ann Judson who were missionaries to Burma in the early 1800’s.  Talk about stress!  Ann had two children die, went five years without seeing any fruit in their ministry and went 6 months with her husband gone, not knowing if he was dead or alive.  She used the spiritual practice of journaling to pour her heart out and try to keep things in perspective.  But the key was that she didn’t just write about her circumstances, but also what she believed about the character of God. 

So I tried this and it was a helpful reminder.  After writing whining to God about my stuff, I wrote:  I believe in all things You work for good to those who love you.(Romans 8:28).  I believe you will never leave or forsake me.(Hebrews 13:5). I believe many are the plans of the human heart, but it is your purpose that prevails (Proverbs19:21).

  • Exercise.  One of the great things about starting to train for the half-marathon is that every day although I’m sure I’m going to die, I don’t.  And when I finish I feel great.  It’s a terrific (though a tad sadistic) stress-reducer!
  • Say the hard words: “Could you please help?” and “No, I can’t do that.”  Some of our stress is self-imposed because we don’t have adequate boundaries, and some is because we are too proud to ask for help.  I am so grateful for the many gracious people in my community who have said “Sure I can do that!” or just provided a listening ear.
  • Just.  Keep. Breathing.  I wrote about this here.

What’s keeping you up at night?  What helps you when you’re stressed?

What Do You Do New Year’s Eve Morning?

New Year’s Eve morning is a quiet one at Starbucks.  We’re reading backwards.


Every year, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s day, my husband John and I make a practice of reading back over our journals from the past year.  As we do we try to pay attention to themes that God might be impressing on us.  We look for holy moments of His faithfulness to be thankful for, and answered prayer.  We try to read between the lines for blind spots we may be missing.

This is kind of like doing a yearly Examen.  Looking for the activity of God.  I’ve shared before that I’m spiritually ADD.  If I don’t make a discipline of paying attention, I’m like the spacey traveler who perpetually makes a wrong turn and all of a sudden looks around wondering how they got where they are.

Continue reading

One thing Jesus never did?

Last year we had a fantastic guest speaker at our church.
According to an informal survey he took, most people don’t like journaling.  And they are relieved when they are assured that Jesus never journalled.

We want to be like Jesus, and Jesus didn’t journal so that’s one less thing we need to feel guilty about.

But as someone who likes to journal, I want to say “Hey!  Wait a minute!  How do we KNOW He didn’t journal?  After all, the Bible never says “Jesus sang.”  Or danced.  But maybe He did!

Maybe He was a CLOSET JOURNALLER !!  Maybe He LOVED journaling!

Honestly, does it really matter if He did or He didn’t?                                                               I think what matters is the value beneath it.

Journaling is just a tool like other things that help us lead an examined life…help us pay attention the work of God in our lives…Help us ask “Lord what do you want to show me about Yourself and myself?”

Journaling may not be necessary for an examined life, but what is?                              Space?  Attention?

Maybe Jesus never journalled, but I look at the time He had walking or boating with the disciples from one town to another…

the time for reflection,



the time carved out to be alone and pray…

That makes me think that even IF He didn’t journal, making time to process life with His Father and others was still a priority.

Maybe some days I need to put away my journal in order to be less self- absorbed, and maybe some days I need to force myself to pick up a pen and examine some of the not-so-lovely truths God wants me to see.

Do you like to journal or hate it?  Or are there other practices you use to pay attention to the work of God in your life?

Psalm 26:2,3.  Test me Lord and try me, examine my heart and my mind.  For I have been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

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