Saturday, August 22, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
A JOURNALING THOUGHT
Are you Christian?
Whether you live in the United States or not, let's be real and acknowledge that the United States is in a battle for its life. Literally.
Needless to say, prayer is essential for the nation.
If you are Christian and live in the US, then let's be even more real. It is a biblical mandate for us to pray for our nation. And that's on a good day. On a normal day.
Now, think about how there's abortion... How prayer, the Ten Commandments, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance are mostly kicked out of our schools. How the media is no longer telling both sides of the story, is no longer unbiased, and is telling lies. Then, think about all the other hot-button issues and division in our nation before 2020.
America needed our prayers prior to 2020.
Since we are in an election season, prayer is even more important. Then, add how it's the year 2020 and everything that's happened between COVID and racial division, lawlessness, and so forth... prayer is even more critical in our nation. Can we agree on this?
It's critical we see the need to pray. So then, we will be moved to actually do it on a daily basis at the very least.
GOD-FOCUSED PRAYER AND NOT SELF-DIRECTED PRAYER IS THE KEY (NOT OUR WILL, BUT HIS BE DONE)
Prayer is needed in the United States now and more than ever.
However, we need to be very careful about what we pray (and those and what we vote for).
The worst thing we can do is pray (or vote) for whatever we want and for whatever feels right or good. We are finite people, with narrow and fallible minds, and we have biases. Hence, when we pray, we need to pray what the Bible says. Not what we want or say. We need to pray for HIS will, not ours be done. We need to make sure that we line up our every thought, opinion, belief, and stance on what the Bible says and on our values.
We need to pray for what the Bible tells us, not what we want the Bible to say. We need to pray what the Bible tells and not for our personal preference.
His will, NOT OURS be done.
HOW DO WE PRAY FOR HIS WILL, NOT OURS, BE DONE?
We pray verses directly out of the Bible.
And when we pick verses from the Bible, even if we have them memorized, it's absolutely imperative we read and re-read the context and at the very least ten verses before and after (even if we have to go to a different chapter or Book of the Bible) so we do not proof-text what the Bible says and take verses our of context.
So before we pray a verse, let's make sure we really understand what happened well before and well after that verse and read ideally a chapter before, of the verse, and after the verse.
Now, how can we pray what the Bible says? Read the Bible and pray the verses found there, knowing the full context of each verse we pray.
It's best if we do not just pray without the guidance of the Bible or we can very easily slip into praying for our biases and personal preferences.
JOURNALING PROMPTS OR QUESTIONS
Answer these questions, and do these prompts, in your personal journal:
Have you been praying without ceasing? About everything?
Have you been giving thanks and in all circumstances?
Have you been meditating on the Word day and night (because you've been in the Bible each day?
When people look at you, can they tell there is something different about you?
Do your words and actions line-up so you reflect your faith, Jesus Christ, and the Word of God in all you do?
Are you living the purpose God has given you?
Note: Those questions were geared to make sure you're smack-dab in the middle of God's will and are doing what He has asked in the Bible. Now, once we get ourselves right, then, we can pray for our nation because we will pray for His will, not ours to be done.
Have you prayed for the United States recently? If so, what have you prayed? If not, why not?
Do you see the necessity of prayer right now?
Can you commit at least half an hour a day (preferably two to three times a day, thirty minutes each time) of praying for the United States for the next year? We are in a desperate situation and need to pray more than ever.
Pray now for the United States in your journal.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
If you're going to start praying for the USA, will you let me know through adding a comment at the end of any blog post, or adding a private comment on the right-hand side and bottom of this blog? I would love to talk about this and pray together.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
If you ever feel like you need to get away for a bit...
If you feel like you need a break...
If you feel like you need a vacation...
If you need a retreat...
Go to your journal and escape there for a while.
Your journal is a retreat and refuge that costs little in money, but does take time. Nonetheless, it is worth the investment.
If you were to ask me, I would say that for every minute I spend in my journal, I would pay a million (if I had it). It's worthwhile.
A journal is a sacred space.
Get away for a bit. Journal.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Step One: List ten memories as fast as you can.
It does not matter how insignificant or silly the memory might be. Just get it on the page.
Make sure to include the good, the bad, and the ugly memories.
Step Two: Look at the list when you are finished.
Step Three A: Do you want to journal about anything of those right now? If so, go ahead and do so. Do a SOC if you want, or just journal. (I call this expanding a memory.)
Step Three B: If not, start again and make a new list. If you repeat memories, that's okay. The repetition actually might help you remember something else.
Step Four: Do this until you want to stop. Spend all day making as many lists as you can from time to time.
Step Five: Re-read these lists often and journal about the memories.
Step Six: Keep a file of all the memories you've listed and of all the memories you expanded. Re-read these often and see what new journaling comes from that.
One of the best tools we have in our toolbox, and one of the most useful journaling techniques we can use is what I call a SOC. This stands for a Stream of Consciousness.
What is a SOC?:
It's literally writing anything that comes to mind, regardless of how silly, inconsequential, nonsensical, weird, emotional, or unedited it might seem. It's writing whatever pops into your mind. It's throwing up on paper. It's a very rough draft.
While doing a SOC might seem awkward, and you might think everything you write is trash, it really isn't.
The SOC actually brings some gems out and you capture them on the page because you write fast and don't use your censure. You do not worry about editing. You don't worry if it makes sense or if you used the best word. You just write.
The gems SOC journaling are precious and are what you will use to journal more about later.
This is the most effective and useful tool in the tool we've got for journaling. Only you might not know it until later. Let me explain.
The Process of a SOC:
Set a timer for ten minutes.
Make sure you won't be interrupted or distracted. I cannot recommend enough doing this on paper. It helps trick one's mind to find the deep and meaningful stuff swirling around in our minds. (But, make sure you have enough paper and writing utensils so that you do not run out of these in the middle of doing a SOC.
You can do this with no journaling prompt and just write whatever comes to mind.
Or, you can start with a journaling prompt or question and write whatever comes to mind.
Then, write whatever comes to mind for ten minutes.
Keep writing. Do not stop until that times goes off and makes you flinch because you didn't expect it.
If you do not know what to write, try to write one of these questions as a way to get your mind going: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? What if? Why not?
There are times when I do a SOC, it's tough. I write several times, "I do not know what to write." Or, "This does not make sense." Or, "This is lame." But, I keep writing. I do not stop. I write for the amount of time I've decided to write.
Write as much as you can, as fast as you can, and do not stop.
NEVER, Ever, Ever, Ever Throw Away or Get Rid of Any of Your Journaling
First of all, NEVER throw ANY journaling away. Never, ever, ever. Never.
Let me repeat that: Never throw any journaling away. Hide it on yourself. Put it in the back of a cabinet somewhere. Put it in the bottom of a box in the attic.
Put all the journaling you want to throw away in a folder on your computer with the label of "Other Journaling" which is stuff to go through periodically.
Why do I say this?
I cannot tell you how many times the stuff I thought was trash has been the most useful and important journaling prompts for me later. No joke. The things I thought were trash have ended up being special gems and have blessed my socks off.
The journaling I have thought was trash, has been useful to me a day, month, year, and even decades (no joke) later.
Yes. The journaling I thought was terrible and trash ended up being very special to me.
Why has my "initial trash" journaling been useful to me later? It's because journaling is like the best things in life. It's because our minds need time to process. We need to live other experiences, learn more/other lessons, gain new perspective, and then the journaling we thought was so-so in the past ends up being a special mine to dig through, pick with an ax, dust off, get wet, and then we find and see the gems.
Sometimes our brains need time to sort through the material in our minds and file away, and then reorganize the files, before our brains can process the information in front of us. Sometimes things need to marinate, so to speak.
What Do You Do with a SOC When Finished?
When you write your SOC, you might know immediately if you have some gems you want to journal more about and explore. If this is the case, do so. In fact, I recommend taking those gems and doing a separate SOC for each where you write the gem at the top of the page and then journal anything that comes to mind about that. The gem becomes a journaling prompt then and use the SOC to uncover more gems from the original gem. Set the timer for five to twelve minutes and see what more you glean.
Keep a list of things to journal more about later if something jumps out at you, but you just aren't feeling it yet to pursue. I file these in a "Journal Later" file.
Re-read your SOCs every day for a couple of days. If something else jumps out at you, or if something jumps out at you again, do a SOC on that for five to ten minutes.
Then, skim them for a week. Then, skim them once a month. Then skim them once a quarter, once a year, once every five years, once every ten years, and once every twenty-five years. Again, if something else jumps out at you, or if something jumps out at you again, do a SOC on that for five to ten minutes.
How Often Should You Do a SOC?
At least once a day. Preferably two to five times a day. Or even more.
A SOC is a mine to dig through and find the gems.
This is the most useful tool in the toolbox and way to journal.
How Does a SOC Become a Gem?
A SOC reveals things you would not have been able to uncover any other way.
This year has been insane in so many ways. The suffering people are going through seems to get worse by the day. We have been forced to carry on with life as normal when it is anything but.
My life has been impacted personally and professionally on so many levels in 2020 and the same can be said of those close to me. I don't know about you, but even though I've been staying home more, this does not mean I've been doing any less. I am still quite busy and am trying to keep up with it all. And then when I stop and think of, and pray for, those who are suffering and those supporting those who are suffering, this really bothers me.
Never mind how much it disturbs me at how few people seem to be able to properly cope with the challenges of life. It's like everyone's been living the easy-button life and has a hard time facing the storms every day brings. This disturbs me to the core. It seems that as a society, we would rather be miserable and actively seek to do everything we can to stay miserable and do what we can to make everyone else miserable in the process.
I wish I could say that this was just a soap box and tangent. But, it isn't. I keep asking everyone I can if they've seen the same thing and the answer has been, yes. They agree with my assessment.
If I am perfectly honest, I have learned some very hard lessons of what not to do in the year 2020. I have not handled things as well as I could or should have.
So, it hit me that with all of those who are truly suffering (and/or supporting those who are), and all those who are choosing to be miserable, we need to try another way. For all those suffering, how can we deal with the tough stuff of life in a better way?
I stopped and asked myself that with all of the challenges my friends and family have gone through, who are the ones that seem to be handling it the best? What's setting them apart? And how am I handling all these huge obstacles, storms, and challenges as well as I have been? (I've made my share of mistakes, but I seem to be handling things pretty well overall. That's not to say I still don't need more growth, let me add. But, how is it I am holding up as well as I am in spite of everything? In spite of all those close to me who are suffering? In spite of all the challenges I've gone through?
Seriously. This really made me stop and scratch my head. I am tired: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, economically, and spiritually. But, I am am still standing strong overall. I might need to hold onto something solid to hold myself upright, but I am still standing and haven't fallen over yet. So, how am I holding up so well? This has really perplexed me. After all, I am the one who for the first three decades of my life had a PhD in worrying and being emotional (and driving others nuts because of this at the time). Therefore, what has changed for me and how can I share this tip, this way of life, with others?
The answer is two-fold. It's the answer to many questions in my life. How am I getting through the year 2020, and all of its challenges, as well as I am? It's because of my faith and because of my journaling. That's the bottom-line. That's the tip and hint. That's the secret.
I have faith. Faith in someone and something outside myself. I have faith in the Lord and in the Word. If I had to depend on myself or others, I would not be holding up as well as I have been or am. (Especially right now because I am going through the biggest challenge I have faced in years and is a continual challenge and shows no sign of giving any mercy.) Hence, having faith outside of me and my situation sure helps.
Journaling is a way of life for me and it helps me keep proper perspective. It helps me work through emotion. After all, I journal so I can drive my journal crazy and not someone else as I work through the emotion so I can think more clearly. Then, once I purge the emotion in my journal, I clear my mind of the emotion so I can think things through. When I think things through, I also do that in my journal. When I think things through, I learn a better perspective and way of thinking. Then, the better perspective and way of thinking leads me to a more appropriate response and action.
My journaling has been the best way to handle the year 2020 and all of the challenges of this year, in my life, and in supporting those around me.
I've decided to journal a great deal more and share it online because I think I have something to offer that could help literally everyone, if they would give it a chance. (Particularly in 2020.)
Journaling clears away all the hindrances to living the best way possible and deeply appreciating life. Journaling brings life meaning and purpose. Journaling helps grow our faith and keeps us centered.
Journaling is a better way.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Have the Challenges of Life Made You Stronger or Have They Revealed Your Weaknesses? (Journaling Through the Challenges of Life)
Every challenge we face in our lives reveal who we really are, what we really believe, who we choose to be, and what we really think.
Challenges reveal our true character.
Journal your thoughts to what you just read (including the title of this blog post).
Now, journal your thoughts and answer the following questions:
Do we say we think one way and act another?
When the tough stuff of life hits us, do we stand strong or do we blow over and wilt?
Challenges reveal who we are.
Life's storms reveal whether we live life with thought or emotion. When we live with thought, we think our way through a challenge and overcome it and not allow it to overcome us. When we live life with and through emotion, every challenge overcomes us and we fail to meet it in the best way we can. Thoughts can see our way through. Emotions see the storm and the dark. Thoughts propel us to wise action. Emotions propel us to reacting like fools.
How have you said you would handle a challenge? Did you do what you said you would do when faced with a challenge? Or did you act in a different manner?
Do we greet challenges with steadfastness and determination (which reveal thinking things through) or do we greet challenge with being upset, stressed, anxious, or frustrated (which reveal emotion and not thinking things through)?
Do we become better people through the challenges we face?
A Journaling Thought by Journal Keeper SD
The biggest blessings in my life have been ALL of the challenges I have gone through, the big and the small and everything in-between.
I am grateful for every challenge I have ever faced.
Anyone can get through the happy times in life; the easy times.
It takes a person of real character to count a challenge as a blessing.
Every challenge I have faced have taught me lessons I could not have learned any other way. They have shaped me into the person I am today.
This is why I do not run from a challenge. Instead, I grit my teeth and dive right into that pool. I face it head-on and see what I can do to grow through the challenge and see where the journey takes me.
Life is challenging enough without me making it any harder by failing to turn every challenge into an opportunity to live a better life, to learn many lessons, and count as many blessings as possible through the storm.
And do you know how I can say all of this? Do you know what has helped me live this way? The answer is two-fold: through my faith and through my journaling. The truth is, I have no idea how I would have gotten to where I am today if not for both.
Journal your thoughts on what you just read.
How can you turn a challenge into a time of growth and lessons learned?
How can you turn a challenge into a time of blessing?
How can you become a better person through every challenge you face?
Journal anything else that comes to mind.
While I journal through the Bible...
And while I journal through Ephesians, I am also going to do a blog series, a journaling series, about:
"Journaling Through the Challenges of Life"
Please stay tuned.
Wow, 2020 has been an interesting year. (That's a grave understatement.)
There has been so much loss. Between COVID, retirement investments doing a yo-yo, famous people dying, and my family having several bouts of loss between jobs and people dying. Businesses have closed, riots, etc. Every political and social hot-button has been pushed.
Let's just get it out there. This year, 2020, is a hard year.
Journal your thoughts.
A Note: Every Question Asked
I want to pause for a moment and make a note.
Every question I ask on this blog, not just in this blog post, is purposeful. There is intent. I have a reason.
Therefore, answer each question in your journal. \
Each question asked on this blog is meant to be a Journal Prompt and is meant to get us to think.
How Do You Handle Challenges? With Wisdom or Foolishness?
Be extremely honest. How have you handled this year and all of its challenges?
How have you handled the challenges in the best and positive way?
How have you handles the challenges of this year in a less than desirable manner?
How can you handle challenges better?
Have you handles the challenges from 2020 with wisdom or with foolishness?
Proverbs 1-3 and Handling the Challenges of Life
So what do the wise do when life gets hard and challenging, and what do the fools do?
(I bet that question captured your attention.)
Read Proverbs Chapters One to Three and see how you can handle the challenges of 2020, and of life, in the future. Write in your journal the characteristics of living a wise, faithful, and biblical life.
Let this be your inspiration as to how to live a better life in general and a better 2020.
Take a look at Ephesians 1:1 in your favorite version of your Bible. (You might even want to look in a few versions or translations and get the most out of this verse.)
This verse talks about how the Church of Ephesus is faithful.
Faith-FULL. Full of faith.
This made me pause and think about me and my life over the past week.
Questions to Journal
Have I lived a life full of faith this week?
Has my life shown this week that I am faithful?
Have my thoughts shown I am faithful?
Have my emotions?
Have my reactions and behaviors?
How did I show my faithFULness this week?
How did I not show my faithfulness this week?
How can I show faithFULness over the next seven days?
What does being faithful look like? I read John 8:31-32; John 15:7; John 8:12; Proverbs 2, etc. to see how to live a life of faithfulness.
Read Ephesians 1:1: What does this verse say? What does this verse mean? How can you apply this verse to your life this week? Write a prayer about this verse.
So, it's your turn. Journal your answers to those questions.
I just wanted to stop and share how I will not be quoting verses on this blog.
There is a reason for it.
Each of us have our own favorite version (or multiple translations for that matter), and I do not want to share a version you do not care for and have that be distracting. Rather, I will leave you room to look up the verse for yourself so you can get as much out of it as possible. Moreover, you can look them up in your personal Bible. Each of which will help you get more out of what I share here.
Thank you for understanding.
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