How Journaling Helped Me Grow Closer To God

Guest Post by Detola Amure

As a teenager growing up, I kept a diary (a form of journal) in which I would regularly capture the events of my day and the feelings that accompanied them. My journal was partially focused on me and partially focused on God (truth be told, it was more focused on me than God). It was a journal of my thoughts, my feelings, my crushes, what someone said that upset me, etc.

Then, for a number of years, I stopped keeping a diary all together. However, a few years later I picked up journaling occasionally when I needed an outlet to pour out what was on my mind. By 2014, keeping a journal had become an important part of my life as I enjoyed tremendous benefits from writing out my thoughts. My journal had also become more focused on what God was saying to me, my prayer requests, answered prayers, my confessions/declarations, intention for the day and what God was doing in my life.

When I see God’s hands in my life and in the lives of family members during easy times and turbulent times, I write it all down. I write the lessons; I write about the experience, I write about how God came through.

Indeed, I often find myself living amazed by what God does on a daily basis. I have come to know that HE cares for even the tiniest detail of my life and is an ever present help in times of trouble.

Journaling about life experiences reminds me to never take God for granted or forget who He is and what He has done for me. Journaling has improved my sense of gratitude, something God commands us to embrace.

I have grown in my faith emotionally and mentally, because I journal on a daily basis. In fact, I can say that journaling has deepened my relationship with the Father. I journal what God is telling me when I study the Bible. I journal what He is teaching me about love, money, marriage, faith, parenting, etc. My journal is like a beautiful romantic novel between the Lord and I.

My enduring commitment to journaling and the impact it has on my life led me to write an ebook for busy mothers called “Journaling for Personal Growth.”

 

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In addition to sharing the benefits of journaling, I also feature nine Christian women, including our lovely blog host Kathy Bornarth, who discuss their journaling experiences and the benefits they have received.

 

 

The ebook is free for a limited time, so I encourage you to download your copy here http://www.superworkingmum.com/journalbook.html on my website. Reading this ebook will give you a new perspective on journaling and motivation to start/continue this life changing habit.

 

http://www.superworkingmum.com/

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Detola Amure (also known as Aloted) is married with two children. She is the founder of Super Working Mum, an organization dedicated to helping Christian Mums maximize their time, so they can manifest their God given dreams. She is the creator of the Living Amazed Journal and has written a book called Super Working Mum, which is an Amazon Best seller. You can connect with her on Facebook.

 

Self-Reflection: It’s good for your soul

Guest Post by my good friend and fellow journal keeper, Deborah Haddix

Search meJanuary – the new year – brings much talk of resolutions, goal setting, fresh starts, and new beginnings.  Personally, while all of these are great, I think January is a wonderful time for self-reflection.

Self-Reflection (also often referred to as personal reflection or soul searching) is the spiritual practice of PAYING ATTENTION in order that we might grow in our love for God and others.  Soul searching is very important to the health of our soul.  This practice helps to reveal those things that draw us away from God.

Searching the soul is not an easy task.  It is, in fact, a very difficult and humbling experience.  One that causes us to realize that we are not as wonderful as we think we are and that life is simply not all about us.  Soul searching can even at times be an extremely painful experience.

Engaging in periods of personal self-reflection helps us to learn more about ourselves than we ever knew before; hard things – things we wish we did not know, things we do not want to admit to ourselves and especially not to others, things that need to be acknowledged and dealt with.

The spiritual practice of soul searching IS hard, but the benefits of the discomfort and, yes, even the pain are so worth it.  It is through the recognizing, acknowledging, and releasing to God of these very hard personal things that we are drawn closer to Him.  It is here where we discover that God has given us a greater purpose; a purpose for His glorification and kingdom advancement, not a purpose that revolves around us.  It is here where we learn to live our lives by God’s design.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and
know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24)!

Below are just a few thoughtful questions that you might choose to work through as an exercise in self-reflection.  As you read through the questions, commit to answering them honestly even if the truth is hard.  Take some time.  Do not hurry through this task.  You might even make the choice to record your answers in a self-reflection journal.  This added element will provide you with information for future soul searching and become a written record of your spiritual journey.

  1. Has there ever been a time in my life that I was more in love with Jesus than I am right now?
  2. In which spiritual discipline do I most want to make progress this year, and what will I do about it?
  3. How well am I obeying His Word?
  4. Am I worshipping Him for who He is, not for what He does for me?
  5. Am I grumbling and complaining? Do I try to have an “Attitude of Gratitude?”
  6. Am I modeling His nature and character in my choices and taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ?
  7. What am I currently doing that I need to say “no” to?
  8. What is the single biggest time-waster in my life, and what will I do about it this year?
  9. What is one thing I can do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy I will leave to my children and grandchildren?
  10. Have I grown in the last five years? In the last year?
  11. What is one habit I would most like to establish this year?
  12. Am I investing my life into the lives of others?

Other introspective questions can be found in my book, Soul Nourishment: Satisfying Our Deep Longing for God if you found this exercise to be beneficial.  Soul Nourishment can be found at www.amazon.com or www.createspace.com.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the spiritual practice of self-reflection (soul searching) or have you share any questions your find personally challenging as you engage in self-reflection.

Visit Deborah at www.deborahhaddix.com

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Some questions in the list taken from:
Consider Your Ways by Donald Whitney, http://www.lifeway.com/Article/church-leader-pastor-Consider-your-ways-in-the-New-Year.
5 Key Self-Reflections for Leadership Growth by Jim Wideman, http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162310-5-key-self-reflections-for-leadership-growth.html.

364 Days of Thanksgiving – Giveaway

365 Thanksgiving364 Days of Thanksgiving was written to encourage you to keep a journal – to write down every day one blessing God has given you. There is only one catch. You can never repeat. It has to be a different blessing every day.

Sign up to win a free copy of 364 Days of Thanksgiving by author Pastor Andrew Schroer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just two simple steps:

  1. Join The National Association of Christian Journal Writers at nacjw.com.
  2. LIKE https://www.facebook.com/364daysofthanksgiving/.

 

Drawing will be held on Friday, February 26, 2016.

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Win a Copy of the Jot Bible Life Notes Book

It’s time for another raffle sponsored by Journaling4Faith, the National Association of Christian Journal Writers and Jot Bible Life Notes. journal_bible_350x233

Instead of scattering your handwritten notes across multiple journals, or squeezing them along the margins of your Bible, the Jot Bible Life-Notes journal makes it possible to keep all of your notes together in one well-organized volume.

Follow the directions below to win a copy of the Jot Bible Life Notes book!  (Value: $115.00)

Directions:

1. Sign up for a Free Membership on NACJW
http://www.nacjw.com

2. Visit Jot Bible Life Notes webpage at:
http://jotbiblelifenotes.com/

We will choose a winner on Friday, January 22, 2016.

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S.O.A.P. Notes for Journaling

If you are a counselor, social worker, or health care provider, you may recognize S.O.A.P. notes as the technique used for recording your sessions with clients. But how about S.O.A.P. notes for journaling scripture studies?

This new and creative way to delve more deeply into your Bible reading allows you to record your thoughts, emotions, and how God speaks to you when studying scripture.

Let’s look at how you can create S.O.A.P. notes for your journaling and bible study time:

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Scripture: Choose a Scripture to study or one that has special meaning to you. Write it out in your journal.

Observations: Record observations about what stood out to you as your read the Scripture. Did something have special meaning?

Application: How can you apply this Scripture to your life? Is there something you can do right now?

Prayer: End your bible journaling time with a prayer. Ask God to give you direction and peace about your next steps.

If you would like to learn more about how you can use S.O.A.P. in your daily life and how to record your studies online, follow this link: http://soapstudy.com.

 

Kathy

www.nacjw.com

www.journaling4faith.com

Enter to Win Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God by Carol Beck Round

Want to learn more about how journaling can enhance your relationship with God?  Author Carol Round is offering the opportunity to get her book and companion workbook for free!   Enter our raffle for your chance to win!  We will choose the winner on Friday, July 24.

Read more about Carol’s book:

Carol RoundJournaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God

“Journaling with Jesus” is a creative call to an authentic, intimate relationship with Christ through the art of prayer-journaling. Author Carol Round openly shares her own intimate journaling journey, initially borne of pain, and now bathed in promise—the hope of healing in Jesus. The book will take you deep into the heart of God, by showing you practically and inspirationally how to bare the depths of your own heart on the blank page. As you fill your journal with words of honesty, God will fill your heart with the wonder of His love.

The 40-Day Challenge: A companion workbook to Journaling with Jesus

In her book Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God, author Carol Round challenges the reader to try prayer journaling for 40 days. To help those who need prompts and ideas to get started, she created a companion workbook.  For those who have wanted to journal consistently but often find themselves getting distracted and giving up, this workbook will help you stay focused on this discipline to help you grow spiritually.

What you need to do to enter the raffle:

  1. Visit the National Association of Christian Journal Writers and sign up for your free 5 Day Gratitude Journaling Challenge: www.nacjw.com
  2. LIKE our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/nacjw?ref=hl
  3. LIKE Carol Round’s Journaling with Jesus Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/JournalingwithJesus

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What Makes “Christian” Journaling Unique?

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I bet if you’re reading this you either journal now or you did at one time in your life. Most of us who started on a journaling journey in our youth remember spending time recording all those heart wrenching events that had nowhere to go, but in our diary. There were days when that diary or journal became our best friend.

For Christians, your journal can still be that best friend. Certainly, many non-Christians see their journals as a confidant, but what can make Christian journaling unique is that we have a spiritual focus others do not.

Let’s look at what makes the Christian Journal distinct.

 

You are never alone: You might be writing by yourself, but God is always with you during whatever journey you’re recording and reflecting upon.

 

God’s Word: The Bible can provide you with the guidance you are seeking as you pour your heart out on the pages.

 

Record of Prayers: Journals are great tools to record our prayers and celebrate their progress. Many Christians are now journaling their prayers, and capturing the answers God is showing them.

 

Strengthens Your Relationship with God: Used wisely, your journal writing time can lead to significant growth in your relationship with God. Spending time writing out your prayers, feelings, gratitudes, or simply asking God for help keeps your mind focused on Him.

 

Strengthens Your Relationship with Others: With God as your guide, you can find answers about significant relationships in your life. Writing about important people in your life and sharing your feelings will help you reflect on how God wants you to handle those relationships.

 

Reflection on Scripture: If you are “wired” similar to me, writing out Scripture helps us study, remember, and reflect upon God’s Word much more completely than just by reading. Once you write out a Scripture you are examining on top of the journal page, the rest of the page (or, pages) can be used to explore your thoughts and dig into how God would want you to use His guidance in your life.

 

Please know that journaling is one way to grow spiritually, but certainly not the only way. However, a journal is a valued and useful adjunct to bible study and healthy Christian living.

 

Writing Together!

 

Kathy Bornarth, MA, LPC

President of NACJW at www.nacjw.com and Journaling4Faith at www.journaling4faith.com.

Feel free to reprint this post. Please include our website links!

Also, if you are dealing with some difficult times in your life and would like to learn more about journaling for spiritual or personal growth, please contact me for information on personal journaling therapy.

 

Your Joy Journal

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It’s amazing to me that when I focus on those small things in life that bring me joy, I feel so much better throughout the day. My attitude and mood are better, I’m nicer to others, and I’m definitely more grateful.

Yes, it sounds so simple when we think about finding joy in our lives, but we often don’t focus on living each day from that perspective. Instead, we go about our daily routines, often rushing and scurrying around like mice trying to get all the cheese before someone else does. We don’t take the time to really notice the beauty we encounter or appreciate the gifts and talents we’ve been given.

What would it be like if you spent five minutes recording the simple joys in life?

Could you take the time in your busy, hectic life to write down a few brief lines of joy in a notebook or notepad?

I challenge you to give it a try and see what happens. I promise it won’t take much effort on your part, and you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a simple process for getting started:

  • Find a small notebook or mini moleskin and keep it in your purse, in your car, by your bedside, in the bathroom, or on your desk.
  • Take five minutes to jot down three to five joyful moments you experienced throughout the day. They could be as simple as a smile from a friend or as grand as climbing a mountain.
  • Do this each day for at least one week.
  • At the end of the week, answer these questions in your notebook:
  1. What was my mood like this week?
  2. Did I feel more joyful this week?
  3. What did I learn from this exercise?
  4. What did others notice about me this week?
  5. How did I feel physically this week?

There you go! A simple exercise in cultivating more joy in your life. Oh, and for added fun, have your friends and family do this with you. You could even make the exercise an experiment with those around you to see who embraced the most joyful moments.

God has given us so much to be thankful for. Let Him know how much you appreciate everything by NOTICING His gifts to you and writing them down.

 

Much Joy,

Kathy

www.nacjw.com

www.journaling4faith.com

Please feel free to reprint this blog post. Just remember to include our websites!

 

 

Christmas Past Journal

 

On Christmas Eve my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, in-laws, and friends join together to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. With the exception of a few years spent overseas during my husband’s Navy career, I’ve attended every Christmas Eve celebration since childhood.

This year our party will be at my parent’s home. It’s lovely, comfortable, and very inviting. We’ll eat all the yummy family favorites, pass out gifts to one another, and when we’re ready to sit a spell, I’ll break out the “Christmas Past Journal” and read the entries from last year and some from the year before.

A few years ago I decided to purchase a journal specifically for compiling memories of past Christmas celebrations. I wanted to preserve the memories so my children and grandchildren could read about our family Christmas history, our celebrations, our traditions, and even how those traditions have changed over the years. I too love reading the entries from my relatives. We each have special memories of our own, the ones that brought us joy and excitement, and some that were filled with sorrow over the loss of a loved one.Christmas

 

Try a Christmas Past Journal of your own this year. Here’s what you need/do:

 

  • Purchase a special journal that will hold up over time. I found a wonderful red leather journal with a tie closing.

 

  • On Christmas day or Christmas Eve (or whenever you get together), have each family member record one Christmas memory from past years. The entry can be as short or as long as it takes. Or, you may want to come up with your own family ground rules regarding the length and content. If your family and friends don’t get together as a group for the holiday, one alternative would be for you to keep the journal in your home and when family visits or you visit others you can ask them to contribute.

 

  • Make sure you have the journal available every year and you continue to add entries from all family members. Yes, even the kids!

 

  • During your celebration you could either read some entries aloud or keep the journal in a place where everyone who wants to can read the entries, smile, and enjoy the trip down memory lane.

 

  • Over time, at some point you may want to transfer responsibility for the journal keeping to another family member. You could also take turns, whatever works best for you.

 

  • You can make this journal as simple or as complicated as you want. You might decide to add pictures, other graphics, or drawings. Be creative!

 

Enjoy!

I’d love to hear how you take this idea and make it your own.

Merry Christmas!

 

Kathy Bornarth, MA, NCC, LPC

Feel free to share this idea with your Facebook friends. If you do please include the web address below. If you’d like more information on journaling visit www.journaling4faith.com and www.nacjw.com.

 

JOURNALING YOUR WAY TO STRONGER LIFE TRANSITIONS

 

cup of coffee and penWhen our youngest child prepared to leave for college four years ago, the “Empty Nest Syndrome” was far from my mind. I knew other parents who had difficulty accepting their new lifestyle, but I eagerly looked forward to more time with my husband, the freedom to travel, and a release from school activities and obligations. What I didn’t expect was the feeling of loss that would accompany my new life.

As a Christian counselor with 15 years of experience, I knew that my feelings were normal. Life changes and their accompanying transitions can be exciting … and overwhelming. I trusted that God had new plans for me. Yet even with this head knowledge, my heart was confused and unsure of what to do next. I knew my job was to let go and move on, but the circumstances were new to me. I was in the middle of the transition.

It was at that point my “counseling self” encouraged my “parenting self” to start a special journal about my new transition.

I have always been a journal keeper. Journaling gives me clarity and direction during times of transition, loss, and achievements. Once recorded in my journal, life experiences come into focus.

If you are experiencing a life transition – a child leaving home, a job change, losing a loved one, dealing with a medical condition – you will undergo several stages of change, much like the stages of grief. Use this process to help you start navigating the change.

Clarify the Change

“God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Write this verse in your journal. As you move from a familiar place to a new place during the transition, you can cling to the knowledge that God has you in His arms. Your circumstances are changing; His love and provision for you are not. It is okay to close the door on the past and open yourself to the next step of your journey.

Use your journal to clarify the change:

What are you leaving behind?

What benefits will you gain by letting go?

How can you close this chapter of your life?

 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:   a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4

Although letting go may seem difficult, trust that God has new plans for this season of your life!

 

Kathy Bornarth, principal at Hope Counseling Center in Chantilly, VA, has journaled for more than 25 years. She is a certified Journal to the Self® Instructor, teaches journaling workshops, and equips others to journal online at www.journaling4faith.com and www.nacjw.com.

Excerpted from Journal Your Way to a Stronger Life by Kathy Bornarth: Just Between Us Magazine, Fall 2014