Journaling 101: Therapy for the heart, mind and soul.

cropped-heartnotesoflife_logo1.jpgI luv to write. But most of you who are following this blog know that already. (BTW, I spell it “luv” because I believe that we use the term “love” way too freely and for things that we wouldn’t necessarily die for. But that’s for another blog.)

I’m not really sure how many segments will be in this Journaling 101 series, but I assure you, there will be enough content for you accomplish three things:

  1. Understand why you should journal.
  2. Get a grasp of how to journal.
  3. Open your mind to what to journal.

I guess I have always kept a journal in one way or another. When I was 10 years old I used to sit and write country songs that told my feelings at the time. I know you’re probably asking, what kind of feelings does a 10 year old have, right? Well, you would be surprised. I took the circumstances of my life, the disruption of my home life and turned it into a grown up version of betrayal and confusion. I even found an ad in one of my Mom’s “True Story” magazines asking for songwriter’s and I sent it in. Well, I got a refusal letter in the mail about a month later. Then I heard my song on the radio about six months later so that was the last time I went that route with my writing.

I would write poems and stories and hide them under my mattress, because the feelings in them were personal and I did not want to share them with anyone. As I grew up, I used writing as a way of managing the rejection that I felt most of my life. It wasn’t until I was divorced and raising a child on my own that I actually started organizing my thoughts into a sort of notebook. Don’t get me wrong, my writing wasn’t always the negative in my life; I wrote about my son’s first steps, first words, and first day of school. I also wrote about the day I met my husband of nearly 40 years and our first date. Writing in a journal is therapy for the heart, mind, and soul.

It’s not hard to get started writing, but it does take conscious effort. And there are many ways to journal. I have a friend who has been dealing with anger for quite some time and I suggested that he write down what he wanted to say to the person he was angry with, then tear the paper up, and throw it away. Just rip it up until there were just tiny, tiny, pieces of paper that look as if they have been shredded. The act of writing it down, for your eyes only, not only releases your anger into something tangible, but it also gets it out into the open where you can heal. I once read that unresolved anger is much like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It only hurts you.

Keeping a journal can be a way of offering praise for the blessings God has given to you. Just writing down five things a day that you are thankful for can help you keep your focus on the good in your life and enable you to live through the bad. Praising God is one of my favorite things to journal. As I do my devotions each morning, I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me and as I write, He does just that. Sometimes I will start out praising God and then I find that my writing has changed to prayer for a particular person or situation.

Don’t force yourself to write one way or another. One thing I used to teach my high school English students, when they had a tough writing assignment, was to just start writing; the thoughts would follow.  You can do the same with writing in a journal. There is so much to write about, for your eyes only. You are the person you are writing for; no one else needs to read it. And the beautiful part is, you can go back and read through what was written in the past. I had five miscarriages before I finally carried our daughter. I wrote of the pain of loss and the joy of birth. And I can see, now, how God had His arms around me all the way.

I call keeping a Journal my “Write to Life.” Happy, sad, needy, fulfilled, rejoicing with God, or angry with God. Writing is therapy for the heart, mind, and soul. Stay with me as we explore Journaling 101 over the next couple of weeks. And, if you have any specific questions about how to Journal, please contact me and we’ll write it through!

Be blessed,

Sheila

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Thirty Days of Prayer for My Husband – Day 16:Leadership in His Life

praying men“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”                          Proverbs 18:24

Father God, I lift all of the men in my husband’s life up to you as they are either leading him to You or away from You. These men have a great influence on him and I ask You, Lord, to let the Holy Spirit be the guide in each of their lives.

Our pastor is one of the most godly men we have ever met and a true Christian leader to my husband. He brings the Holy Spirit anointing to our congregation each Sunday and Wednesday. My husband listens intently as Bro. Randy speaks and applies every word to his own life. This leader has the weight of the world on his shoulders and a huge obligation to listen to You, Lord. Protect him, Father God, protect his family and our church against the wiles of Satan. Give him a discernment to lead our church to the next level of love for You.

A dear friend from our church is my husband’s mentor and I know that his first love is You, Lord. Satan has tried to destroy his family, but God, You have prevailed and always will in this praying husband and father. He has been an example to Jim in how to pray for our own children and I thank You for that friendship.

I pray, Father God, for all of those that You put in my husband’s life to lead him closer to You. Arm them with your Spirit and your Word that together, they might all bind together in one accord to lead their families to Christ.

Amen

Proverbs 12:26

What does it mean to carry my cross?

 

 

 

 

His Thorns for My Eternal Crown8x10“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?     Mark 8:34-37

 

Whenever I have read this verse in the past, I had the vision of following Jesus with a huge cross strapped to my back. I took it as taking the burdens that He carried and keeping my focus on those in order to think like Jesus. And, yes, I do pray that God gives me a heart to love those who Jesus loved and to break my heart for what breaks His. But today, God gave me a whole new revelation of carrying my cross.

I have been reading “Dangerous Surrender” by Kay Warren and in this book she writes, “Surrender always leads to peace.” That phrase stuck with me and I started thinking about what surrender means to me. You see, Jesus carried his cross to death. Anyone who carried their cross in those days, was carrying it to their death. And for me to carry a cross tells me that I must carry it to my death. Not my physical death, but death to self.

I am a physical, mental and spiritual being all joined into one body called “Me”. And there are parts of “Me” that always want what is supposedly best for “Me”. Like when Jim and I are riding in the truck and he has the heater on defrost and the hot air is hitting me in the face. Instead of adjusting how I sit so that I am more comfortable I usually say something like, “Do we have to have that heat always turned up full blast?” Or when I am asked to go somewhere on the weekend when I had planned to stay home and _____ (you fill in the blank, write, clean, read). I put on my martyr, self-righteous face and say, “OK, let’s go.” Big sigh.

There’s a lot of “Me” in my life. And I am realizing that because I protect the “Me” so much, I am not allowing God to use me to the fullest. And I want that. I want it with all my being, but I have to die to self first. I will be the first to admit, I don’t know how to do that.

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” I love that old hymn, and I believe it! I know that God has something so much better than this life waiting for me. I have his Son, Jesus Christ in my heart and his Holy Spirit guiding me. Then why do I continue to hold on to “Me”? You’re going to think I have lost my mind, but I am a huge Frank Sinatra fan and while I am writing this, the words to one of his songs comes to my mind.

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to lose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

I am singing this as a prayer to God. “Take all of me, Lord; I am no good without You. Take my lips and speak through them, I want to lose the words I want to say and only say the words You give me. Take my arms, Father God, and show me how to hold them out to those that You love. Take me, Lord Jesus, I am nothing without You.”

Today I vow to carry my cross to the death of “Me”.

Throwback Thursday

Did you ever want something so bad that your insides hurt? Have you ever yearned for something for so long that you couldn’t think a thought without that one desire entering your mind? I have.

I ache. I hurt. I long. To have my daughter back. I miss her real smile, not the one I get now that says nothing. I miss her telling me that she will always be there for her Dad and me when we get old. Well, we’re old. And she’s not here. Oh, physically she is here, but heroin, alcohol and drugs have robbed us of the tender teacher that was our daughter. Please, God, restore my daughter to the person inside. Make her aware of every lie she tells and every time she thinks she is putting one over on us. And, Lord, empty her of the evil that has taken up residence and replace the gap with Your Holy Spirit.

Many of you out there are hurting just like me. Our prodigals are unaware of the pain that we have and the reality that there is very little that they do that we are not aware of. We may not say anything, because, well, what good would it do.

If you have loved ones who are in the grips of Satan through drugs, alcohol, addiction of any type, pray this prayer from Sylvia Gunter’s Prayer Portions with me and replace the name underlined with your prodigal loved one.

“Father, we come boldly to Your throne of grace, and find mercy and grace to help in time of need. Grant our child release from bondage to strongholds of the enemy. We plead the blood of Jesus to cancel all commands of the powers of darkness in our loved ones life. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. His blood defeated the god of this age. In Jesus’ name, take back all ground that our child gave the enemy. Draw her out of bondage and deception.

We have the heavenly intercession of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. Father, focus the intercession of the Spirit on our daughter . Answer these prayers according to Your perfect will. Lord Jesus, our Intercessor, apply all Your mighty work against the enemy. Bring all the power of the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension against the assignments seeking to destroy our loved one. Most High God, contend with those who contend with our child. Rebuke the enemy in all his operations. Dispatch mighty warrior angels to do battle on her behalf.

Send Your light and Your truth and lead her. Remove all spiritual blindness, deafness, and hardness of heart. Grant her eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that seeks You. I plead Your mercy and grace over all her personal sin, failure, and family iniquities. Break through and heal our child‘s wounded spirit. Bind a hedge of thorns around her that will repel all the works of darkness in her life.

This battle is not against flesh and blood, and we have spiritual weapons that set captives free. By Your Holy Spirit, break every yoke of bondage in her life. Grant our child conviction of sin with godly sorrow to repentance and deliverance from captivity. Set her completely free. It is written, you shall know the truth and the Truth shall set you free. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Thank You for Your mighty work by the blood of Christ Jesus. Thank You for granting me the grace, power, persistence, and love in intercession with faith for our child until You are glorified in her life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Oh, and why did I name this Throwback Thursday? Because it is time to “throw back” our loved one to the Feet of Jesus.

The Brevity of this Life

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!”                                                                                                                          Psalm 90:12 -17

The brevity of life. The shortness of time. The brief span of our lives in relation to eternity. If we could only realize this then maybe we would grow in wisdom. Maybe our prayers would change from “God I need…” to “God, save our nation!” “God, change our world for you!” “God! Defeat Satan and the strongholds he has on our families!”

We would cry, “Come back to us, Lord. Restore our world, our country, our neighborhood, and our family.” And we would have the wisdom to know that God is not a religion running a campaign to be the biggest and best, but that God is God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God. And He wants us to reach out to Him with open hearts to His Word written thousands of years ago as the only instruction that we need in this brief life. How awesome is His preparation for a people that would turn away from Him?

O, God! We cry out to You to give us one more chance before your Son’s return. Heal our hearts, Lord. Replace the evil years of serving other gods with the peace of serving You. The blood of Jesus Christ is our bond; the way that we serve that bond should not be a weapon that we use against each other. Let us see You work, Lord. Bind us together in love, the only commandment in the new covenant. Forgive us, Lord, as a nation that has become so selfish that we have turned your Word around to fulfill our own worldly desires. Let us see You work again, Lord! Let us see the glory of your salvation in our world, our country, our state, and our family.

“And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!”

From Self-esteem to God-esteem

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A Thorough Cleansing

“Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. And the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.l” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.”

Jeshua was a priest who had returned from Captivity. He was unclean and unfit to help build the Lord’s temple. He was covered with sin and filth of the world and no one wanted to be around him, or so Satan wanted him to feel. But God stepped forward and rebuked Satan. God knew Satan’s ploy was to try to discourage Jeshua and thereby delaying the building of the temple.

God described Jeshua as “a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” My husband loves to build fires in the fire-pit on our deck, and we love to hold sticks crammed full of marshmallows over the hot coals. As you turn the coals the outside gets all brown and crusty while the inside gets warm and gooey. Sometimes, if you don’t have the marshmallow all the way to the end of the stick, the end will get charred and a cinder will build up making it hard to get the marshmallow off without including some of the nasty tasting, burned stick along with the gooey goodness of the marshmallow. But if you take a minute and scrape that char away, you will find that there is a clean part of the stick that is not burned and the tasty morsel will just slide off into your mouth. Just like that burned stick, God knew there was good underneath the dirty, nasty filth on the outside and the angel started peeling away the layers to make Jeshua ready to serve God.

Our prodigals are also like that burned stick. Even after they become clean, they still look dirty to the world and Satan is ready and waiting to point this out to them. The devil will do anything to keep our loved ones from serving God, and a recovering addict is an easy target for his accusations. Our loved ones have literally been to Hell and back by the time they are through detox. Through rehab they have suffered, fallen back, been covered with hatred for themselves and vomited until there was nothing left inside. If our loved ones can go through this and make a commitment to stay sober, then we need to take the role of the angel and help them to start removing the dirt of the world. Speak the Word of God to them so that they don’t start believing the lies of Satan. It will be a slow process until our prodigal child will see that God loves them and is preparing them to serve Him. But with the help of those who have been there, and the support of us, the families, those layers of dirt will fall to the ground. Do you know that one testimony of a recovering addict to someone who has only just started can be just the encouragement that is needed for that day’s struggle?

It is hard for families to trust once trust is broken, but with God all things that make us stronger are possible. Every Prayers for Prodigals meeting that I attend has at least one family member asking how they can start to trust again. All I can say is that as long as our prodigal is living, there is hope. Along with that hope must come our strong faith in the God who sees beyond the dirt. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us in helping our loved ones to stay clean. For God’s sake and theirs.