A pen, paper and a resoluteness to find my thankful. This is the most simple way I have found to boost my mood.
I know, I know. You have heard it before, it is nothing new — make a list of things you are thankful for and it could change you. It has even been studied. It may seem simple. but sometimes the most simple solution can be the most profound.
Even in my hardest days of cancer and chemo, even in my darkest days of anxiety, choosing to find something to be thankful for and deliberately writing my finds in list form changed me and helped get me through.
As a 2-time cancer survivor, I’ve learned (most days) to look at life with the tangible knowledge that it could end at any given moment. None of us know how long we have here on this earth.
This legacy series is written for my 3 girls, my Lovelies, as my way of attempting to leave a legacy for them. To speak of the important things, the things I most want them to know.
A Legacy For My 3 Lovelies
I called them my Lovelies much more often when they were young. Now that they are teens, I do not say it often, as it gets weird looks and an occasional eye roll. Ha! But never-the-less, they are SO lovely in my eyes, even when their eyes roll at me!
having a beautythatappeals to theheart or mind as well as to theeye;gracefullybeautiful.
Teagan, Colsie & Avery, this is how I see you. I’m overwhelmed by your beauty inside and out. I know the One who created you will continue to do a work of beauty in you. I’m so proud of the 3 of you, and I’m so honored to be your Mom.
An Excerpt From My Journal
Inspired by Psalm 91
To My 3 Lovelies,
Sit in his presence.
Do you feel it, tucked in His shadow? Fully Know. Fully loved.
Make this your go-to place, trust the safety of His complete love for you.
He will show you where to go, what to do.
He will rescue you and shield you from enemy plans of harm.
Look up. Do you see it?
His great outstretched arms protecting you.
You are enveloped.
Do you feel Him?
Even when numb, He holds you.
Do not fear, you are always held.
Not when life is dark and loud thoughts come.
Remember where you are…completely covered in His safe shadow.
Underneath His mighty arms, in His gentle hands.
All is fought for you.
Nothing will faze or graze you.
You will be removed from the path of harm, protected
You will experience hardship in this world, but stay tucked
Watch from a distance, a margin brought on by trust.
He is your safety net
A hammock for your heart.
Your very own personalized perfect home, there in His arms.
Yes, you are safe in His arms!
Evil can’t touch you.
Surrounded, sealed tight
Warrior angels watch over you.
Guarded, you are.
If you trip up they will help you step up.
It is their job to keep your head up.
You will tread through hardship–even the scariest
Hold fast. Sit tight.
When hardship comes, reach out for His hand, hold tight.
Grip & grit.
Stay with Him.
He sees you and will get you out of trouble.
You will receive His best care.
a restful knowing
a leaning in
a pursuit of the One who holds you.
Get to know Him!
The more you know Him,
the more you will choose Him,
the more you will trust Him.
Are you troubled?
Are you in trouble?
Say His name.
Call it out or maybe just whisper it?
He will always hear.
He will answer and be at your side
A neverending presence.
You are in the best of care!
I am a Mom, heart gripped with love for you
Even then, I know I can relax and release you.
You are His and I know that He:
Dances over you!
He will give you eternal life.
Just think, a neverending Presence!
Nest in, sweet Lovelies.
Settle down and settle in.
Grip firm with grit
Stay tucked and enveloped.
Yes! Experience His neverending, overwhelming love.
I’m not sure where I found the idea of Morning Pages, I believe it was on Instagram somewhere, and I was instantly drawn to such a simple idea:
Write 3 pages, in the morning, about anything you want.
I’ve been doing this for about a month and have enjoyed putting pen to paper and the freedom it gives to just breathe out my unedited thoughts. I have found it very freeing.
Some days it is list form and feels productive and a way to clear my head. Somedays I vent and it feels relieving and therapeutic. Sometimes it turns into words of thankfulness for this life I get to live–that is what happened today and I will share what I wrote below.
This early morning routine has become a favorite part of my day, and I will write in full detail about it soon–it involves prayer, a couple of my favorite apps, meditation, music, essential oils, coffee, writing & yoga. Ahh…I’m eager for tomorrow morning just writing about it!
But first, today. Today is my birthday. I turned 42.
As a cancer survivor, I find myself quite surprised to be this old. Because my cancer was a later stage, I have a high chance of recurrence, but thankfully that statistic comes down with each year.
I am 7 years out, and I feel my heart could burst when I think about what a gift it is to have yet another birthday.
When I am 10 years out, my chance for recurrence will plummet. I am careful about expectations, and that is ok because it helps me stay thankful for each and every day!
Morning Pages Journal Entry:
November 27, 2017
Lord, you are good.
You’ve given me life…42 years.
Today is my birthday.
The blessing of years…of time with my loved ones and this good (sometimes hard) but mostly good life.
You are a gift giver.
You wake me today with a list of gratitude on my mind first thing, you help me to see all the gifts.
And then, a feast for my eyes…the most glorious of sunrise, pinks and bright shades of oranges! You even sign your name on this gift, an electric wire pole in the shape of a cross, positioned right next to the glorious rising sun, a reminder of your Son. I go to daughters window for a better view!
I sit back down in my cozy nest chair, sounds of calm music coming from speakers and morning voices of my 3 Lovelies drifting up through the vent.
I open your Word and you give yet another gift. Familiar words spoken so loud to me over the years, your voice reminding me to delight in you. Psalm 37:4
How could I not?
I read further and tears come, even a gentle reprimand from your word is so loving and personal.
It shows you know my thoughts, such intimacy.
I am fully known and fully loved.
“Find your delight in the Lord. Then he will give you everything your heart really wants. Commit your life to the Lord. Here is what he will do if you trust in him. He will make your godly ways shine like the dawn. He will make your honest life shine like the sun at noon. Be still. Be patient. Wait for the Lord to act. Don’t be upset when other people succeed.
But those who are free of pride will be given the land. They will enjoy great peace.
Those who do what is right will be given the land. They will live in it forever. The mouths of those who do what is right speak words of wisdom. They say what is honest. God’s law is in their hearts. Their feet do not slip.
The Lord saves those who do what is right. He is their place of safety when trouble comes.”
Psalm37:4-7, 11, 29-31, 39NIRV
You allow my birthday to land on a Monday, you know it is my most favorite of days.
A day to recover from a holiday weekend and get back to routine. You know I thrive on routine especially the one you have shown me:
The routine of dawn.
The sun rises and with it my most precious moments with you.
These favorite morning meditative moments of breathing you in and filling my mind what matters most.
Thank you for another year of life.
May I have another and yet another after that?
I ask and you remind —
“better is one day in Your house than thousands elsewhere.” Psalm 84:10
And so I remember, no matter the day, whether here or in eternity, you are and will always be with me.
Personalizing, paraphrasing & journaling Scripture is changing my quiet times & making my prayer life full and meaningful. I feel it changing me as I pray from His Word. I have loved looking at passage or chapter of Scripture in the Bible, reading it in a version that most appeals to me, paraphrasing it, and making it personal by choosing words to journal. I write the words in my journal, then pray the words back to God. It ends up being a beautiful way to pray scripture, and I find so often it is exactly the encouragement my heart needs.
Praying Scripture Exposes What We Need
I have been asking God to help me in my prayer life & this is one way He has shown me that has enriched it and has given me words to pray. What better words to pray than ones that are given to us in His Word? Scripture is so full of rich & powerful words, and they expose just what God wants us to see and think, and also exposes that which needs to be challenged and changed in us.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12
Praying Scripture Helps Us Apply What We Read, To Ourselves & To Others
Too often in my life, Scripture is read, but then forgotten and not applied. Journaling and praying Scripture is a way to use its power not just for my life, but also in the lives of those I love. I will often substitute their names in place of mine. I have especially found it a great way to pray for my kids.
How I Personalize, Paraphrase & Journal Scripture
The easiest way I have found to personalize, paraphrase and journal Scripture is to use the YouVersion Bible app, choose a version of Scripture that appeals to me (usually the New Living translation or The Message translation) journal it, read it, and then pray it.
I have my YouVersion Bible app set up to a plan that sends me one Psalm and one Proverb each day. I have LOVED doing this process with the Psalms especially, as they so often express what my heart desires to express, but often can’t.
I usually do this process in the quiet morning with a cup of coffee and a breakfast of oatmeal & toast. I bring the app up on my phone, scroll down as I journal, choosing words that most jump out at me and paraphrase & personalize them.
Below is an example of a prayer response journal that I did recently on Psalm 18, using The Message version of Scripture:
Psalm 18–Paraphrased, Personalized & Journaled:
I love you God, you make me strong.
I live in your castle and you are my rescuing knight. I run for dear life to you, I hide in you. I am safe in your hideout. I sing to you and find myself safe & saved.
I cry to God to help me, he hears my call. My cry brings me right into His presence, a private audience of just me and God!
You catch me, reaching all the way from sky to sea, pulling me out of enemy chaos where I was drowning, the enemy who hit me when I was down…but YOU God, stuck by me.
You take me to wide open spaces, I stand safe & saved, surprised to be so loved.
God completes my life when I place all my life pieces before Him.
I bring my act to Him and He gives me a fresh start.
Keep me alert to your ways & help me not to take you for granted.
Keep me in You everyday reviewing your ways & watching my step.
Piece by piece you put me back together. I open my heart to you and You see me.
I taste your goodness, I am good.
I taste your health, I am whole
I taste your truth, I am true.
When I am down and out you are on my side. Take me down a notch when I am stuck up or stuck on myself.
Floodlight my life, in the light room you reveal & show me your glory–You are blazing with glory!
Your road stretches straight and smooth. I run in God direction, a road tested, and I make it as you promised.
You prepare me & pointed me in the right direction.
You show me how to fight.
You protect me and hold me with a firm hand.
You caress me with your gentle ways and clear the ruble so I will not stumble.
You have surrounded me well.
Rescue me from squabbling people, Oh Lord, rescue us. Be with our family, Lord, bring your revival.
I thank you God.
I praise your name with songs.
You rule and win over all and you chose me as your beloved–always.
Isn’t that beautiful? His words and my words entwined. His words written down in my journal, an act that makes me submit with each stroke of the pen, for it changes me. My thoughts exchanged for higher thoughts, my faith restored as I pray them aloud.
How about you? Do you journal? Do you struggle with remembering Scripture or allowing it to seep into your heart and soul? What are ways you enrich your prayer life? Does this way make sense and would you ever try it?
If so, get the Bible app, pick a passage, get your journal, write it out then pray it for yourself, your friends, your spouse or your kids.