The Benefits of Keeping A Journal

The Benefits of Keeping A Journal

Have you ever had a journal with lovely smooth paper, a favorite writing pen, and a quiet spot to write to your hearts content? There’s nothing like the feeling of words flowing out of you and onto paper.

Add a cup of tea and maybe some scrumptious chocolate and you have a moment of pure bliss.

The Benefits of keeping A Journal

There is something therapeutic and cleansing about the act of journaling. What a relief of getting all the jumbled thoughts and ideas out of your head, saved and preserved, not forgotten or lost in the back of your mind somewhere.

I’ve often called my journaling “my personal therapist”. As I write, I have aha moments and can get to the root of something I have been struggling with personally.

But why should you journal? LOTS of reason, here are just a few…

Journaling for Stress Management

One way I can tell that my stress levels have started to skyrocket is the increased desire to sit and write my heart out. The higher the stress the more intense the desire.

There is a calming effect that happens when you take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

The physical act of writing out what is going on at that moment, what you are feeling, how you reacted to a situation or simply writing down all the swirling thoughts in your head, can slow you down and help you think before you act.

It can also help you release pent up emotions that you might not be ready to share verbally and the slow release as you write will make a big difference in how you feel.

In your journaling you will probably start to notice patterns in behavior and get to know yourself even better. You will start figuring out why you react certain ways and explore new habits and new ways to react.

This type of journaling gives you a private place to dump it all out. It is NOT a time worry about editing, grammar, spelling or even readability. This is a time to let the pen flow.

Journaling to Remember

There are days when I am in complete overwhelm. So much is going on that I can’t even think straight or know what needs to be done next. With so much going on you can get to a point where it hurts to try and cram one more thing or remember one more detail.

This is where a brain dump comes into play. Time to dump it all out onto paper so you don’t have to try to remember.

A brain dump is basically a huge long list of stuff. Not in any order or sequence, just a list of anything that comes to mind. As your list grows you will remember even more things, new ideas, additional steps to a project that you hand’t thought of before.

After the fact you’re brain will most likely thank you and you will probably lean back in your chair with a huge sigh of relief. This type of journaling is also a way to reduce stress – no more stressing out trying to remember every detail.

With this list you can go back and organize what you wrote, create priorities and see what can be saved until later.

The Gratitude Journal

Journaling can be as simple as a daily routine of writing out 3-5 things you are grateful for. In the midst of chaos, depression, and high stress situations a gratitude list may be one of the easiest and most important things you can do that day.

This list is a reminder that there are things to appreciate and that there are blessings around us that we often take for granted. This simple act can often turn a bad day into a good one by changing your focus and mindset.

The Prayer Journal

Confession time. When I close my eyes to pray in the morning, sometimes I start to fall asleep! So I turned my journaling time into a prayer time. Writing keeps me engaged and awake, I look forward to this time of quiet reflection before I start my day.

Other Benefits of Journaling

  • Help track your progress in going after goals
  • Increase your creativity
  • Get clarity on an important decision
  • Explore emotions that are confusing you
  • Track emotional and physical responses to food in a food journal

What to Use As Your Journal

You don’t need much, a pen and some paper, that is all that is needed. To make it a special daily ritual I do recommend using a favorite pen and some nice paper, it makes it all the more enjoyable.

For me since I am on the computer all day long, I prefer pen and paper most of the time. But, there are many who prefer typing on a keyboard. It could be a simple text doc on your laptop, an app on your tablet or something online like 750Words.com.

Sometimes typing is a faster better way to keep up with the speed of thought, go for it! Whatever works best for you.

Journaling has been one of my favorite tools for years. A tool for self-discovery, capturing thoughts, brilliant (or not) ideas, brainstorms, outlining a project, or writing a narrative of my goals and where I am headed in my business. I’m not as consistent as I should be, but when I am what a difference it makes in my life both personally and professionally.

Earlier this year I participated in Jeff Goins’ 500 Word Challenge and I almost made it! Missed only a couple of days. It was a great experience and put me on a good path as I needed to get back into a regular blogging and journaling routine.

Are you ready to start a daily journaling habit?

Gratitude in Action: Celebrating Freedom

#FREEDOMROCKS from The Exodus Road on Vimeo.

I had a conversation with a friend recently about celebration. She used to live in Mexico and, well, I’m a 1/2 Mexican who’s been to Mexico, and we commented on the lack of celebration we see around us here in the states.

Sure we celebrate birthdays and holidays here, but not with the gusto and abandon that I’ve seen members of that culture celebrate with.

Maybe we need to celebrate more. Not just the big events, but the daily joys. We need to celebrate the good in our lives.

I attended a Bible study series recently that spoke about the importance of gratitude. Giving thanks on a regular basis works wonders for any negative attititude because it makes you take your eyes off the immediate circumstances and take a look at the bigger picture.

As moms, that’s not always easy to do, especially when someone accidentally spills a gallon of milk or poops their pants for the third time in one day.

But it’s essential. We need to regularly celebrate the good in our lives, because there is just so much of it. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, blessings abound all around us.

There are so many things in my life that I need to celebrate:

  • A loving marriage that’s been restored
  • Beautiful kids who are curious about life
  • Creativity
  • A new adventure
  • A supportive community
  • Living a life of purpose
  • Freedom

The Exodus Road believes that rescue is a community effort. We also believe that freedom is worth celebrating.

In light of this, we are beginning a monthly celebration which we are calling #FreedomRocks in which we pause the work to celebrate the victories and lives changed.

These rescues are a result of the collaborative work of those in our coalition– including the local police, the NGOs involved in intervention as well as our donors, advocates, and volunteers.

These 24 rocks from the past 7 months represent freedom for 24 boys and girls, all under the age of 18, who have been rescued from sexual slavery supported in some active capacity by The Exodus Road.

Celebrate the freedom that these kids can enjoy because others put their freedom into action.

What can you celebrate today?

Changing the World Starts at Home

Changing the World Starts at Home

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

A few days ago, two of my friends returned from a trip to SE Asia. They were gone for several days, sight-seeing and eating delicious food. And visiting brothels at night while they’re wives waited at home – knowing that that’s what they were doing.

Wait, what?

Let me explain. John and Justin are fellow bloggers for The Exodus Road. After nearly a month of fundraising, the top fundraisers were chosen to go on a trip to SE Asia to see undercover investigators in action as they visited brothels and spoke with young girls about their situation. They were able to see for themselves what sex trafficking really looks like and make an impact in the lives of enslaved girls.

They Took Action

Earlier this week, I talked about why having a why is so important. Wellness is great, but there must be a greater mission motivating you to stay healthy. Otherwise, it’s easy to give up and say, “maybe next year I’ll get healthy.” Probably not.

Once you define your why, though, you have a difficult decision to make: do you take action or continue as you were?

If your why is to help orphans, do you do something about it, like my friend Teri? Or do you push it to the back of your mind and think, “Someday I can do something, maybe when the kids are grown up, but not now.”

I did that when I figured out my why. It’s easy. But you know what? It helps nobody.

In fact, it wears on your heart because you know that a part of you has been awakened that’s desperate to live up to its potential, but instead it’s forced down and buried under the motony of daily chores and first world problems.

Stop Burying Your Passion

You can act. You can make a difference. You can do something that gets you closer to that why.

And if debt and stuff and cleaning and activities get in the way, maybe it’s time to reassess your priorities so that you can start living out your values.

Because if you believe one thing, like in modeling love and service to your kids, but do another, like spend most of your day on the computer, you are living in delusion. (Yes, I’m talking to myself here).

So what can you do? What’s possible for, say, a mom of four little kids? A lot, actually.

Do What You Can Where You Are

If your why is to equip pregnant teens to be loving moms, you can volunteer as a counselor at a pregnancy resource center or include your kids in making gift bags that will help serve them.

If your why is to show the world that motherhood is a beautiful thing, you can live like you believe it and share with other moms when they ask how you enjoy mothering so much. (Because you know they’re gonna ask.)

If your why is to end slavery, you can help by becoming a blogger for The Exodus road or Be a Church Ambassador to raise awareness and money to fund more brothel raids.

Whatever you do, it’s time to stop making your kids your excuse. They are your reason. It is possible to fulfill your purpose while still being a great mother.

Show them that they can help orphans know unconditional love or put an end to child slavery. Show them what it’s like to live fully alive. Show them how to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Because if you don’t show them, who will?

Take action toward your why. It doesn’t have to be a giant leap – start with small steps. Make changes in your home and see how far-reaching the effects can be. Those actions will gain momentum and spread to others.

How are you taking steps toward your why?

How You Can Help Change the World

How You Can Help Change the World

In my last post on simple Christmas gifts, I mentioned giving the gift of freedom by donating to The Exodus Road. Because I’m not fond of suggesting people spend money on something they know nothing about, I wanted to tell you more about this wonderful project.

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to The Exodus Road:

The Exodus Road: Fighting to End Child Slavery from Justin Lukasavige on Vimeo.

When I learned about The Exodus Road, my initial thought was, “What if these were my daughters? What if there was nobody to help them? What if I could do something about it, but chose to do nothing?”

I had to help. Which is why I joined the team of bloggers at The Exodus Road.

I am a firm believer that moms can change the world – in a big way – by using their unique talents. I love writing, so I’m putting this talent to use to do whatever I can to put an end to child slavery.

Some of you will watch that video and think, “That’s awful, I hope someone does something about this.” But some of you will have a heart reaction. An, “I have to do something to help,” reaction that you won’t be able to ignore.

If that’s you, please help us.

How you can help

Fund a Raid

This month, we’re raising money to fund brothel raids. Each raid costs $1400. We just started and we already have one raid funded! If you feel led to give, please visit my fundraising page, then please help spread the word.

Be an Ambassador

There a number of ways to be a church ambassador. You can plan a redemption night, host a speaking even or be a sponsorship advocate.

Blog

If you have a blog, please consider blogging for The Exodus Road. You can learn more about the blogging program here.

Spread the word

If you can’t do any of the above (or if you can), please just help us spread the word. Below this post are share buttons for popular social networks. If you would, please share this post so we can get the word out to as many people as possible.

Thanks for helping us change the world.

Fear of Committment

photo by kc7fys

For several years, ok, since I was six, I’ve wanted to help laboring women as they give birth to their babies. First, I wanted to be a delivery nurse, then an obstetrician, then a nurse midwife.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I discovered home birth midwifery and, after a particularly negative experience with my OB, switched to a midwife for the remainder of my pregnancy.

I researched home birth thoroughly and found my passion for birth reignited and decided that I wanted to be a homebirth midwife.

Suffice it to say, I’m still not one.

I’ve studied on my own and sampled different programs. I’ve even done a little apprenticing. But I never truly committed, and over the past four years, not much has changed in that regard.

Even after sitting in church, watching a presentation about Africa and hearing the words “Malawi midwife” whispered in my heart as clear as day. I still come up with excuses for why I can’t do it:

  • I have too many kids
  • I can’t afford the training
  • I’m not smart enough
  • Someone could die
  • It’s too hard

And really, what’s stopping me most is that four-letter f-word: FEAR.

Isn’t that usually the culprit? Behind all of the other excuses, our inability to commit, the real reason fueling the inaction is fear. There are so many things we don’t do because we’re afraid, especially as parents (I know I’m not the only mom who can dream up horrific what-if scenarios involving my kiddos).

Yesterday, my husband posted this quotation:

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

Fear is the root of regret.

Moms, we can do this! We can view our kids as our reasons, not our excuses. We can show them that facing fear puts it in it’s place. We can show them what it’s like to commit to a life of purpose instead of teaching them how to accumulate stuff and do whatever possible to stay comfortable.

Because life is about more than being comfortable. And deep down inside, we know that, we just don’t know how to get past the fear and self-imposed limitations to commit to the life we truly want to live.

As I write this, Ian and I are searching for a bus. To live in. With our whole fam damily. Why?

Freedom.

We want to travel. And build more relationships. And deepen existing ones. And so I can fully commit to the one thing I’ve dreamed about doing my whole life but have always had an excuse not to pursue.

It won’t be the most comfortable living situation we’ve ever had, but I don’t care. A spacious house is no longer my priority. Neither is the comfort of knowing that on the outside, I still look like everyone else.

We’ve shifted our priorities. It’s crazy, scary and all of the details aren’t planned out. But we’re committed.

Because once you commit, everything else just falls into place. Once fear is faced head-on, it loses its power. Once you see that self-imposed limitations are just that, you can simplify your life and focus on what really matters.

You just have to commit.

Has fear kept you from committing?

Can Ordinary Moms Change the World?

Can Ordinary Moms Change the World?

I’ve been feeling … discontent lately. Aching to do something in a big way to make my mark in this world. Feeling like I’m not doing anything at all to pursue my calling. And frankly, getting really pissed off about it.

I guess I could blame it on movies and the media, but I just want to do something extraordinary. I get wrapped up in the idea that doing good in this world means doing it in a huge, awesome way.

I want to go to Africa and deliver babies. I want to create a business of some kind that helps orphans and widows, like Suzette at Love41, but in my own unique way.

I want to travel and experience other cultures with my husband and kids. I want to help other unconventional moms break free of conformity and live life more intentionally.

And yet, I get so discouraged after I clean up a muddy toddler for the third time in an hour. It makes me feel like if I were only better, if I only worked harder, then my dream would be realized.

Thus begins the spiral into the deep loneliness. And I stay there, until a small nudging reminds me that I haven’t said “thank you” in days.

So I begin to give thanks, frantically at first – thank you for air, food, shelter – until I feel the lightening in my soul and deep gratitude comes flooding back in.

That one simple act, gratitude, opens my eyes to what I really have, to who I really am: an ordinary radical who’s changing the world. One snuggle, one blog post, one prenatal appointment at a time.

Accepting where I am right now and enjoying the moment doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on a dream. Those desires just get stronger, desires that I believe God himself has placed there. But forcing them won’t work.

Trust me, I try and I try and I try. But using force to bring a dream to life is like trying to push your baby out before you’re fully dilated – it’s painful, exhausting and will only set you back.

But, like with labor, when you relax, breathe and stay in the moment, that’s when you find yourself in transition, about to accomplish a huge feat that you’ve been waiting forever for.

You must accept where you are before you can move forward.