Why I Use 4 Journals Instead of 1

My spiritual life grew richer and deeper thanks to the practice of spiritual journaling. When I first started, I used to put everything in one journal- some reflections on a scripture next to memories from a trip next to notes from a lecture next to a prayer next to a brain dump for an upcoming project. It was a mess and I had trouble finding the treasures when I needed them again.

This year, I made a change- dividing my writing needs into four journals. It’s been a huge improvement. Maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

For most of my journaling, I use inexpensive, college-ruled composition books. I need a place to write and they serve that purpose. Three of my four journals are composition books. I leave a page or two at the beginning of each for a table of contents.

  1. A journal for general note taking, project planning, and brainstorming
  2. A journal for morning devotions, prayers, and evening reflection
  3. A journal to record memories from my travels

My fourth journal is a Clever Fox Planner. I wanted to try bullet journaling for scheduling appointments, to do lists, resource lists, etc. The Clever Fox Planner is a hybrid with predesigned spreads at the front (such as goal setting, monthly calendars, and weekly scheduling) and standard bullet journal pages at the back. I like the quality of this planner, especially the thick pages and that it lays flat when open. It’s working well for me in conjunction with my digital Google calendar. (not an affiliate link, not a sponsored review)

I’d love to hear from you!

  • What journals do you keep?
  • What topics do you writing about?
  • Do you have a favorite planner or journal? What do you like about it?

May the Lord bless you and reveal many things to you through your journaling.
– Lisa <><

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Why I Use 4 Journals Instead of 1 © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Ending Your Day with Reflection Questions

I read an article recently about the benefits of ending your day with several reflection questions. I’ve found the practice helpful and thought you would as well.

Reflection is an ancient practice, with references in the Bible (Lamentations 3:40-41; Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Ignatius of Loyola encouraged the practice with the early Jesuits, as did John Wesley with the early Methodists.

Here’s what I noticed
As you walk through the questions, you decompress and let go, you also rest in knowing where you’re headed the next day, both of which foster better sleep.

More importantly, questions like these keep us self-aware and awake to the Holy Spirit. As we answer the questions we hear from God and move forward in the journey of faith. Never forget faith is a movement. We are followers of Christ, moving forward with intentionality, constant discovery, and growth. Our growing bears fruit in our words, actions, and service to others.

I also noticed the longer I keep to the practice, the richer it becomes. It started off simple, even superficial. But as the days passed, I began to be more honest with myself. I also began to trust I could be more and more honest with God.

write journalHere are the questions I’m using. They came from several different sources. I answer them by writing in a journal.

1. What happened today?
Make a quick bullet list or write a narrative

2. Glory Sighting: Where did you see God at work in others? In and through you?
Each day can bring a new testimony to God’s grace, provision, and power.

3. What did you read/hear/learn?
Christians are lifelong learners

4. What are you thankful for?
“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

5. How are you feeling emotionally?
Be honest and seek Christ’s perspective

6. How did you fall short of loving God, others, and yourself?
Ask for and receive Christ’s forgiveness and freedom

7. What are you asking the Holy Spirit to do in you and through you?
This could be about a relationship, your work, a situation, your ministry, etc.

8. What will you do tomorrow to move forward with Christ?
Answer this in relation to question 7

What questions would you add to this list? I look forward to hearing about your time with God and to seeing the great and good changes this practice will bring in your life.
– Lisa <><

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NRSV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

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Ending Your Day With Reflection Questions © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: You Carry Me, based on Isaiah 46.3-4

shepherd carry sheepGrowing in Resilience
Day 7, Read Isaiah 46
Reflection: You Carry Me, based on Isaiah 46:3-4

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb, even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Faithful One
You carry me before my first cry
You cradle me in my mother’s womb
You make me me and bless me with life

Faithful One
You carry me into my becoming
You bear me into a wider world
You inspire me and bless me with purpose

Faithful One
You carry me into maturity
You hold me as my flesh falters
and fails
You assure me and help me pass on your blessing

Faithful One
You carry me into forever
You draw me to your breast
You save me and bless me with the fullness of you

I am born
I am borne
I am born again
You carry me through

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

You Carry Me © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Reign and Rain Down, based on Isaiah 45.8

Rain-Room-REUTERS-Lucy-Nicholson-courtesy-of-n1-865x577Growing in Resilience
Day 6, Read Isaiah 45
Reflection: Reign and Rain Down, based on Isaiah 45:8

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the LORD have created it.

Reign and Rain down, Glorious One
You alone are God
There is no other

Reign and Rain down, Glorious One
Let all the earth open to your gifts
New life and right relationship springing up
Budding and blooming in our wasteland

Life comes to our mortality
to our frail clay
to our dust
You hold us and wash us and form us
You flood us and fill us
That we may carry this great grace as it carries us

O, the glory of your grace
Grace extending more and more
More and more to us and more and more through us to others
Redeeming and Reconciling
Salvation and Solidarity
The fullness of your unfailing love

Reign and Rain down, Glorious One
Creating power flows from you
Save us
For you alone are God
There is no other

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Reign and Rain Down © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Unbroken Spirit, based on Isaiah 44.3-5

praise-and-worship-worship-danceGrowing in Resilience
Day 5, Read Isaiah 44
Reflection: Unbroken Spirit, based on Isaiah 44:3b-5

I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring. They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like willows by flowing streams. This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,” another will be called by the name of Jacob, yet another will write on the hand, “The Lord’s,” and adopt the name of Israel.

We claim your promise
You pour out your unbroken spirit
You shower down unending blessing

Your family is fruitful and multiplying
Like the stars in the sky
Like the sand on the shore

Your promise is real
It is true
Even when nothing seems to be working
Even when our hearts are too heavy to perceive it

You pour out your unbroken spirit
Calling to the east and west
New siblings shout, “I am the Lord’s!”
From the north and the south
New kin claim your unfailing name

Your people will never perish
From generation to generation
Your grace endures

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Unbroken Spirit © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayers for the Start of the School Year

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Would you join me in praying for educators and students as they start a new school year? Below you’ll find a few prayers for your quiet time. Pick a few to pray each day between now and the end of the month. The prayers are inpired by a resource called Keys to the Kingdom by Prayer Point Press. May you and your community be blessed and growing in the wonder of God’s good earth and the hope of Rabbi Jesus. Lisa <><

Covering our Community in Prayer
August Emphasis: Education

Comforting One, bring peace to all those who are feeling anxious about the first days of school. Fill them with confidence and encouragement. Amen.

Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Open the windows of heaven on each school in our community. Supply what they need. Help students, teachers, and administrators to use your gifts to bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, reveal your wisdom in every teaching moment. Draw students to you as they study the wonders of your world. May your truth be evident and rise above false voices. Amen.

Gracious God, thank you for those who serve as administrative assistants, food preparers, and maintenance workers. Their example inspires us to serve others with love and humility just as Jesus did. Show us how to do all things, big or small, as unto you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Companion and Counselor, reveal yourself to school social workers and guidance counselors, especially when they are working with students. Give them supernatural wisdom and insight. Use them to enlighten, encourage, and confirm your purpose in young lives. Amen.

Jesus our Savior, raise up Godly role models in our schools. Give them courage to live both humbly and boldly for you. Empower them to be wholesome examples in speech, life, faith, and purity. Let their light shine for you. Amen.

Creative One, thank you for those who sacrifice their time to help with extracurricular activities. Bless them with joy and enthusiasm. Help them see good and lasting fruit from their labor. Amen.

Loving God, your joy is our strength. Fill classrooms and administrative offices with delight and hope. Help educators, students and parents to see you at work and to give you glory. Replace fatigue, frustration, and fear with joy. Amen.

Welcoming One, help every student to feel that they belong- that they are precious and important to others and to you. Protect them from teasing, isolation, bullying, discrimination, and despair. Fill them with truth and hope. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guardian, thank you for bus drivers, crossing guards, and police officers who work so hard to keep students safe. Protect students as they travel to and from school, field trips, and other events. Place an extra hand of protection on student drivers. Amen.

Prince of Peace, cover every school campus with your shalom. Make them safe sanctuaries of learning and growth. Guard hearts, minds, and bodies against every type of evil. Bring an end to bullying, abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and violence. Build bridges across dividing lines. Amen.

Heavenly Father, give young people a healthy attitude toward competition and achievement. Keep them from unhealthy pride, perfectionism, and from making success an idol. Amen.

Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Show students the way out when they are tempted. Keep them far from pressures which tempt them to cheat in order to get ahead. Keep them far from compromising integrity or purity in order to fit in. Give them a strong No! to sin and a resounding Yes! to wholeness and holiness. Amen.

God of the nations, thank you for the great gift of education. Thank you for making us a thinking people and for the blessings of curiosity and discovery. Bless and help developing nations to provide education for their people. Help us never to take education for granted. Amen.

Loving God, bless every home in our community.
Bring peace where there is anxiety.
Provision where there is need
Wisdom where there is confusion
Understanding where there is anger
Freedom where there is addiction
Recovery where there is illness
Reconciliation where there is division
Shalom where there is brutality
Unity where there is prejudice
Hope where there is despair
Faith where there is none

Thank you for your help and healing power
Thank you for your presence and salvation
We need you Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Amen.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Shoot from Jesse’s Stump (Isaiah 11, Matthew 3, John 15)

Jesus, The Coming MessiahJesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 13: The Messiah as Sprout from Jesse’s Stump
Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:13-17; John 15:1-7

Isaiah 11:1-2, The Voice
But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising, will sprout from Jesse’s stump; A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit. And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.

Matthew 3:15, The Voice
John agreed, and he ritually cleansed Jesus, dousing Him in the waters of the Jordan. Jesus emerged from His baptism; and at that moment heaven was opened, and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him, alighting on His very body.

John 15:5, The Voice
Jesus said, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing.”

God’s family tree, once beautiful and thriving, is cut off by foolishness, pride, sin and circumstance. The promised homeland is destroyed by invaders. The best and brightest are taken to foreign lands to serve their captors. Generations pass. Some finally come home to ruins.

Our life can follow that same path. Something happens to our healthy, vibrant family tree. It comes like lightning in a storm, shattering us with a deafening clap. Or it come more subtly, as disease and decaying choices rot us from the inside slowly. There’s no more shade. No more fruit. All that is left is a stump- cut off from once was.

Yet, in those ruins, in that cut off stump is God’s grace – an old, determined root. From it springs something green, tender, and vulnerable. Something new. This new life starts small – like a babe in a manger – but it can grow. – Lisa Degrenia <><

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
The promised shoot from Jesse’s stump
Bringing a new and tender grace

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Good Gardner’s Vine
Graft us into your everlasting life

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Christ, the Anointed One
May the Holy Spirit rest on us as it did you

Rest on us Spirit of Wisdom and Counsel
Rest on us Spirit of Favor and Might
Rest on us Spirit of Reverence and Awe

Rest on us and resurrect us
to righteousness, faithfulness, and your promised peace

Click here for another reflection by Lisa entitled Jesus the Vine

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Shoot from Jesse’s Stump © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.