Are you lost?

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

In my late 40s, I began to keep a prayer journal because I was lost. I began to ask myself, “Who am I?”  My nest was empty. I no longer felt needed by my sons, one of whom had married. The other had just started college. I also went through a divorce after my 28-year marriage ended. I no longer could identify myself as a wife or a mother. Through journaling, I rediscovered the most important part of myself. I was a daughter of the most High God—a God who cares about me, a God who hears my prayers and a God who wants a relationship with me.

Since that time, more than 10 years ago, my life’s journey has become intentional. Instead of allowing my peers and the whims of passing fancies to lead me, my goal has been a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father, who longs to meet each of us at the heart of who we are and all that we hope to become.

I had no idea the trials I would face after rededicating my life to Him in the fall of 2001. My journal has become a place to record my cries for help as well as the outcome of many of those times of despair. The pages of my journal have helped me to find the beauty of God’s activity in my life and the lives of those I love. When my ink pen flows across the page with words inspired by the Holy Spirit, I find clarity in my life.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is peace I find after spending time with my Heavenly Father each morning, pouring out my heart to Him in praise and supplication on the written page.

If I could choose the most important differences in my life since I began keeping a journal each morning, it would be the following:

  • A peace like no other. When my world and the world around me is in turmoil, I know where my peace comes from.
  • The knowledge of who I am and whose I am. I spent most of my life living up to other people’s expectations. Now, I live for Him.
  • Contentment with who I am and what I have. Many of us live our lives in discontent and seek things outside of God to satisfy that longing that can only be filled in a relationship with Him. Material possessions will never satisfy.

James 4:8 reads, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Do you want to draw closer to God? By expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your insights in a journal, you will be surprised when you discover God in the process. In turn, He will use your journal as an instrument to transform you. Your journal will also become a way of holding yourself accountable to spiritual maturity.

 

 

 

 

Why Journaling is More than Writing

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Luke 12:34).

Faced with a blank notebook page, many of us cringe, recalling our school years when we were required to write essays on subjects that held no relevance for our lives. When those essays were returned, some of us were even more disheartened when we saw the bloody marks of the teacher’s red pen. While writing is a pleasure for me, others would rather take a beating than be forced to ink their thoughts on paper again. Being required to fill a page with words can be frightening. However, it can also be enlightening when it is a choice.     Why write?

 

 

  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal helps us to capture memories. Even the best photographs can’t tell the whole story. Journals become keepers of our memories, not just the facts with descriptions of events, but the emotions related to that particular time in life.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can help us achieve goals. Writing can help us to define and plan the steps we must take to accomplish our dreams. It can also help us to discover our passion or even a new direction in life.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can harness our creativity. Even if you’re not a writer, being able to come up with creative ideas can help in other areas of life. For example, being creative applies to cooking a meal from scratch, making a discovery in science or medicine, finding a way to cut costs or developing a solution to a business problem.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can help bring clarity by identifying where you’ve been, where you’re at and where you want to be in life. This is more than just setting goals. It is reflecting on the past ~ not dwelling on it ~ but examining your past for clarity. Reviewing past journal entries can help you to identify patterns in your behavior, life choices and attitudes. Once identified, you can consciously decide to make the necessary changes.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can help us to make sense of life. Have you ever been in the middle of a painful experience or watched as a loved one went through a particularly tough time? If we can capture our emotions at the time, it helps us to write through the pain and uncover the lesson.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal is good for your mental health. Are you angry with someone? Instead of getting in an altercation or letting the anger fester in your soul, use your journal to write a letter to the other person. Pour out your anger on the lined pages of your journal but don’t mail it. Instead, go back, reflect on your entry later, and reassess your emotions about the other person and the incident that led up to that point. Chances are your feelings have changed. If not, keep writing.

How Can You Connect with Non-Christians?

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – James 4:8 (NKJV).

 In today’s technologically-connected society, networking has never been easier. I would hazard a guess that it began with the computer and then the Internet. However, we could probably trace it back to several earlier inventions like the telegraph and telephone. It really doesn’t matter. However, the proliferation of communication devices now available to us can be overwhelming.

In fact, some of these new means of connecting can actually cause disconnect. Take, for example, email. According to the website, pingdom.com, there were 3.146 billion email accounts worldwide in 2011. Email is great for all kinds of reasons because it creates instant communication anywhere in the world as opposed to snail mail. However, for establishing personal relationships, it leaves much to be desired and miscommunication is always a problem when you can’t see someone’s expression and, once you hit the “send” button, you can’t retrieve it.

Text messaging is another example. It’s a great tool for instant communication. However, miscommunication arises when you send short, snappy answers. Without seeing the other person’s body language, you can misinterpret the meaning.

What gives life meaning? A personal relationship with our Abba Father is the beginning of a meaningful, joy-filled life. He desires an intimate, authentic relationship with each of us. Sitting on a church pew, praying, singing and listening to a sermon every Sunday morning does not automatically translate into a deeper relationship with the One who desires a heart connection with us. While those things are part of our spiritual growth, spending quality time with Him each morning before our day gets hectic is the key to becoming a mature Christian.

Setting aside the first fruits of your day in Bible and devotional reading and journaling your prayers and thoughts to God is one of the best ways I know to grow in your faith. I began prayer journaling over 10 years ago, pouring out my heart to Him on the written page and it has led to a closer walk with Him. Why is it important to have a more intimate relationship with God? In John 15:4, Jesus tells us, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Therefore, if we want to bear fruit and lead others to understand the wonderful grace of God, we must abide in Him. Through an authentic relationship with God, we can have a deeper connection, which will translate into a more caring, natural communication with others.  While non-believers are often alienated by “Christianese,” most can relate to the trials we all face in life. Sharing your personal journey borne through a healing relationship with Christ leads to real connections. However, we must first build a personal relationship with our Abba Father by spending quality time with Him in Bible study and prayer journaling. When you draw close to Him, He will draw closer to you.

(For more information, how-to’s and inspiration about prayer journaling, go to www.journalingwithjesus.com)