The Art of Journaling

Psalm 19:6

For years I’ve tried to keep up with a habit of writing in a journal. I’ve been successful with a journal in a hit-or-miss sort of way. I have a few journals stacked neatly on my desk and I have yet to finish one. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as each journal has a specific purpose. But possibly that is the problem. I have too many journals.

For example, one journal is to write thoughts from the day, or comment about a Bible passage, and sometimes I write prayers such as, “A prayer for more grace,” which I posted on this blog.  There is also the creative journal for the times when I am inspired to create … to sketch and paint. I jot a few notes about the sketch or watercolor painting just to keep the memory fresh. I want to remember what inspired me to draw or paint at that moment.  I also use Evernote to save a collection of quotes from authors and favorite bloggers.

In January of this year, I began a quest to read a Psalm or a portion of Psalm every day. To keep me on track and consistent with this daily reading plan, I turned to The Songs of Jesus ~ A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Tim and Kathy Keller.

Reading through the Psalms for 26 days has informed consistency of keeping a journal.  Actually, reading the Psalms has transformed the way I journal. The Psalms are not just a matchless primer of teaching but a medicine chest for the heart. [1] Psalms is a prayerbook that has every emotion known to man and gives us the freedom to pray those same words, with those same emotions, back to God.

Reading Psalms is teaching me how to pray. What is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God. [2] This is pure grace, that God tells us how we can speak to him and have fellowship with him. [3]

The Psalms fire our imaginations into new realms yet guide them to the God who actually exists. The Psalms have encouraged and inspired the way I make art. There is a reason and purpose to make something beautiful.

I may have discovered the art of journaling by reading through the Psalms. This journal is beginning to resemble a story … my story. I see my story, my life, woven into the words of the Psalmist. I find that amazing and truthfully, frightening. It is a journal of joy, sorrow, worship, repentance, hope, frustration … peace and assurance that God will keep me as the apple of [his] eye and hide me in the shadow of [his] wings. (Psalm 17:8)

What about you? Have you read through the Psalms or do you enjoy keeping a journal?

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[1] The Songs of Jesus by Tim and Kathy Keller; Introduction, {viii} | [2] | Ibid. page {ix} | [3]  Psalms:The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Snippets of Posts and Quotes | Take 4

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The Hardest Peace | Mundane Faithfulness

I often fail, I’m often found in weakness and brokenness, but through it all I am met- always met in love. This is not simply my story and journey with cancer. It is a book written to appeal to us all as we meet the bitter edges of life on this side of eternity. In the brokenness of our unmet expectations of life, will we look for Jesus and His abundant love? Or will we tumble into bitterness and anger that leave us utterly self focused and disappointed by the hard in our story each of us are asked to receive. —Kara Tippetts  http://www.mundanefaithfulness.com

On being healed of being a big deal | Deeper Story

I’m learning to take those moments, called “small humiliations”, as gifts.  http://deeperstory.com/on-being-healed-of-being-a-big-deal/  —

Don’t ever hide your joy | The Beautiful Due

There’ll be days when you’re on high beam joy. Shine on, unapologetically. But if you’re flesh and blood, there’ll be days when you dim your lights a little because you’re having a crappy day or you know someone else is having a crappy day. You can still shine on those days, its just a little dimmer and that’s perfectly alright, sometimes even quite inviting. —John Blase http://thebeautifuldue.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/lucky-2/

Study: Working moms’ stress levels linked to ‘mental labor’ | Fox News

“A reminder of the incredible stresses working moms try to manage. A reminder for grace.” http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/08/13/study-working-moms-stress-levels-linked-to-mental-labor/ —Fox News

 The Path Through Pain | Recovery Room

“Pause and consider: in a truthful moment, do you have areas of your life plague with unnerving, breath-quickening, near-crippling anxiety?”   http://deeperstory.com/recovery-room-the-path-through-pain/  —Seth Haines

For anyone who has ever felt alone | Journey Box Media

“With You (I Feel Again)” reflects on how easy it is to be lonely in a crowd. Set to the platinum hit single, “Feel Again” by OneRepublic. Best Video: http://journeyboxmedia.com/with-you  —journeyboxmedia.com

Poetic black and white watercolors | Bored Panda

Linger here. http://www.boredpanda.com/animals-children-black-and-white-watercolor-art-elicia-edijanto/

10 self-defeating thoughts that can wreck your workout | Today

Think of yourself as an inspiration story just waiting to happen. http://www.today.com/health/10-self-defeating-thoughts-can-wreck-your-workout-1D80342643  —today.com/health

Foggy and Fine Days | Barnstorming

The weather and my mood have little connection.I have my foggy and my fine days within me; my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter. (Blaise Pascal) Being lost in the fog is never forever. The sun is always up there somewhere and all will be fine. —Emily Polis Gibson  https://briarcroft.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/foggy-and-fine-days/

Snippets of Posts and Quotes: Take 3

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LOVE  IN  ACTION :

“The church needs to be the safest place on earth for children from hard places and for the families called to love and care for them.” —Michael Monroe

COMPASSION:

“We have a large and growing team of compassionate, respectful, Christ-following volunteers who love to see God work in the lives of those who learn differently.”  —Irving Bible Church special needs ministry

TRUE  MISSION:

“You cannot have true mission while ignoring the disabled! They too, are marred by sin, they too need to be told of the beauty of salvation, they too need to be our mission, they too are the church.” —Tim Challies   (http://www.challies.com/articles/the-disabilities-dilemma)

SUFFERING:

“I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Thou divine love, whose human path has been perfected through sufferings, teach me the glory of my cross and the value of my thorn.”  George Matheson

GRACE:

“The early church didn’t say, “Look what the world is coming to!” They said, “Look what has come into the world!”  —Carl F. Henry

CHARACTER:

“All of us have wondered at times why God doesn’t do more to fix our problems. But our human eyes often fail to see that God isn’t rushing to change our circumstances because he is concerned with a much more serious problem—our character. While you struggle with the woes of this world, God’s main occupation is preparing you for the world to come. The focus of what God is doing in your life takes place in you, not around you” — Andy Stanley

 IMMEASURABLE  VALUE:

“One of the topics we discussed frequently, as we journeyed from city to city, was the value of every human being. Not because of who we are, or what we do. But because of Whose we are, and what He has done for us. By endowing us with His image, God has imparted to us immeasurable value. As Professor Jerram Barrs from Covenant Seminary says, we should learn to look at every human being and say, “You are glorious!” We ought to see the goodness, truth and beauty of God in every person we meet. One way I like to think of the image of God is that it is like a mirror. We image God in the ways that we reflect the essence of His character through our God-given capacities. But the problem is this: because we live in a fallen/broken world, the mirror is cracked. We have cracked bodies, cracked spirits, cracked emotions, cracked minds, and cracked relationships. So here is the challenge: What will you and I focus on? Will we focus on the cracks? The brokenness? The marred aspects of the image? Or will we focus on the reflection—distorted as it may be?” — Stephanie O. Hubach  (http://specialneedsparenting.net/open-eyes/)

CHILDREN’S  MINISTRY:

“What the future of children’s ministry needs most for success is a return to an emphasis on the study of and teaching of the word of God, and less on making ministry easy for volunteers, attractive to families and processing large groups of children through fun environments. That hasn’t produced disciples who will walk  with Jesus for life. The future doesn’t need more technology – it needs deeper and better relationships. If technology can foster more connectivity or methods of relating, fantastic! But to often we look to the future as though it has some new things we need for success, when the truth is we already have everything we need.” — Karl Bastian

Snippets of Posts and Quotes: Take 2

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GOSPEL-HUMILITY:

“If we were to meet a truly humble person, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” — Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness

GRACE:

“Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unloveable. Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver. It is one-way love.” — Tullian TchividjianOne Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World

UNCOMFORTABLE  GRACE:

“God will take you where you haven’t intended to go in order to produce in you what you couldn’t achieve on your own.”         — Paul Tripp

FAITH:

Bono: Who is Jesus? A rockstar talks about Jesus, faith and prayer.

PRAYER:

“A praying life is interconnected with every part of our lives. Learning to pray is almost identical to maturing over a lifetime. When life makes sense, it becomes a journey, a spiritual adventure. Writing down the adventure as it happens gives us a feel for our place in the story God is weaving in our lives. When we keep a prayer journal, we can reflect on what God is doing, on the patterns of our Father’s care instead of reacting to life. If we see our lives as a pilgrimage, then it becomes an integrated whole. It makes sense. When we understand the story, it quiets our souls. It’s okay to have a busy life. It’s crazy to have busy soul.”

KNOWLEDGE:

“…There are some who long to know, simply for the sake of knowing, and that is shameful curiosity. Others long to know to show off before others, and that is shameful vanity. There are others who long for knowledge to make a fat profit from it, or to make honors from it; and this is shameful profiteering. But there are those who long to know in order to be of service to others; and this is charity…” — Bernard of Clairvaux

GOODNESS:

‘His sovereignty is exercised in a way of grace. All shall work together for good; everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds.”  — John Newton, Puritan Sermons

FAITHFUL:

“The word faithful can be illustrated by the image of the strong arms of a father that uphold and protect his helpless child. When the word faithful is used with regard to God, it means that He is worthy of absolute trust, and that we can depend upon Him without doubt or reservation. It is important to understand that God is faithful, not because He does everything we want, but because He does everything that He has promised.” — Paul Washer, The One True God

LEADERSHIP:

“Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations.” — Peter Drucker 

CHILDREN’S  MINISTRY:

“Everybody needs someone who knows their name, and what’s happening in their life.”  — Lead Small

CONVERSATION:

“I believe that folks who are de-churched or seemingly apathetic toward Christianity are sending the church a clear message. They want us to demonstrate how a book written several thousand years ago could possibly have something to say to them in this day and age. I think we owe them that much, don’t you? …I think that real people talking about real faith in a relevant way is what makes sense in the real world.” — Doug Pollock, God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally

A Benediction Full of Promise

 

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A Benediction Full of Promise | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 31

Today’s Reading:  1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you [and] may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.  1 Thessalonians 5:28 and 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I woke up this morning repeating a benediction full of promise. I Thessalonians 5:28 and 2 Thessalonians 3:16 are the last words of each letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. The last words are a benediction to remind them of what they have in Christ.

Sometimes when reading a novel, my impatience to know the ending gets the best of me, so I read the ending first to know where the story will take me. Upon reading the end of these two letters first, I discovered a benediction full of promise. Knowing the ending, made we want to discover the beginning and all of the other details written between.

I have to admit that I’ve taken this benediction for granted the first thing in the morning. Every morning it’s the same routine. I shuffle down the hall towards the kitchen for a cup of eye-opening brew and then maybe I’ll be deliberate to recall that I have a brand new day of experiencing God’s grace and peace. Unlike discovering the end of a story first, I seldom consider the end of a day first. I think more about the beginning of the day and all of the details in the middle without much thought of the way it should end.

The beginning, as well as the end of this day is to know that the grace of the Lord will be with me and His peace that I long for will fill and satisfy in every way.  May I become wiser to plan ahead for the end of my day, remembering it is a benediction full of promise.

Benediction

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Given Freely to be Deeply Owned

Deeply Owned

Given Freely to be Deeply Owned | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 28

Today’s Reading:  Galatians 1 – end

May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes! Galatians 6:18 (The Message)

I am discouraged today. I feel empty.

And so I run away. Purposefully running to the gospel of grace, owning its truth. I’m talking to myself. I’m telling myself that what Jesus Christ has given freely is reaching deep and deeper still in my soul. His gift of joy overwhelms discouragement.

Why are people usually unhappy? David Martyn Lloyd-Jones said it’s because people are listening to themselves instead of talking to themselves. I can choose to listen to whatever my thoughts are telling me–I can listen to the negative banter and feel horrible.

Or I can talk back. I can remind myself of what is true, and who I am, and who God is and what he has done.

This gift is unwrapped, there is amazing joy and is deeply owned.

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I read a sweet devotional book today: Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Ask the Big Question

Ask the Big Question 1

Ask the Big Question

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 22
Reflections on Acts 24 – end

Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?” I said, “Who are you, Master?” The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you”  Acts 26: 12 – 16 The Message

I think the biggest question I’ve ever asked God to answer is, “Who are you?” I often think I know who he is, but truthfully, I don’t know what I don’t know.

I forget to ask God, “Who are you?” when life is moving steadily by at a happy rhythm with no interruptions. It’s those “life interruptions”…those “stepping off a cliff interruptions” that shake up my thinking to ask God the big question, “Who are you?” I would like to say that I’m a brave person, able to face any challenge, but I’m actually afraid to face the unknown. The interruptions in life bring me to my knees. [1] I read once that you’ll never treat the darkness as something strange until your eyes are opened to the light. I’m asking to see more of his light. I’m asking God for his help to stop fighting against his will.

I am asking God to answer the big question…I’m asking for a life-change of deeper faith, a faith that is not just something I do with my brain (head knowledge) but the way that I live my life. Throughout life, our faith must grow. We start with a small faith, but as we live the Christian life our faith becomes stronger, enabling us to trust God more and more. [1]

Ask the big question of God and he will reveal who he is through his son, Jesus…and then you will get up and go and press on through his strength and grace.

In Christ there is grace to sustain for every need, grace to empower every deed. There is the grace to forgive all of our sins and the grace to impute to us his perfect righteousness. There is the grace to absorb the wrath of God we were due and the grace to conquer the sin and death we could not escape. There is grace to live and grace to die. There is grace to crawl and grace to fly. There is grace below and grace up high.

In Christ, there is grace to get through the stinkin’ day. And whether we do so by the skin of our teeth or bounding and leaping with joy upon joy, our souls are united to him day by day and age to age. Because his fullness does not afford a meager grace, a probationary grace, a tentative grace. For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. [2]

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[1] To Count it All Joy is a Real Life-Change, Donna Harris, More Grace  | [2] All of Christ for All of Life, Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel Coalition Blog

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday