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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection Devotional Dialogue

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals           

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrew 4:12 NAS


Have you ever wanted to sit down and have a one-to-one dialogue with God? You aren’t alone. Why? Where are you? What comes next? These cries continue throughout the centuries.

Yet sometimes life and circumstances become so complicated and muddled that we’re not exactly sure what our questions are. It helps to lay out all our questions and confusions in a letter, one by one. But as we write them, leave wide empty spaces between each. For His answers.

Prepare for a dialogue.

The Book of Psalms is a powerful example of dialogue with God. In his book, Answering God, Eugene H. Peterson states that: “The Psalms are acts of obedience, answering the God who has addressed us. God’s word precedes these words: these prayers don’t seek God, they respond to the God who seeks us.”

Many of the Psalms begin with angry questions and fears. Yet is not only cathartic venting. Peterson points out that the Psalmists decide to listen, and they answer with both questions and prayers. The Psalms themselves help to “train us in the conversation.”

Like the Psalmists entering into a dialogue, we can approach our confusion with expectation. These are conversations that actually begin with God as He sees and identifies where our hearts need mending, our minds need perception, and our souls need light to persevere.

Write your letters.

Action Steps:

Sample Prompt. One place where many of us have multiple questions is with creation. The outline below is from Ethel Herr as a framework to view the Genesis story. On first read write down your notes in the various sections. Then choose one or two to expand as if you are writing a Psalm. Pour out your feelings and questions and surprises as a dialogue.  

Read Genesis Chapters 1-4. Record.

1.     Questions
2.     New Discoveries
3.     Ideas about God
4.     Ideas about man
5.     Commands to obey
6.     Promises to claim
7.     Examples to follow or avoid
8.     Anything else that seems important to you.”

Share: Did you find the dialogue awkward or comfortable? Why?

                                                          Read deep, marcy

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection Devotional Inspiration

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Without the radiant beam of light shining into the darkness there is little to be seen.  ……   But everything changes with the light.”
Henri Nouwen The Genesee Diary

Devotional Life

Whatever we read has the potential to touch our minds, our hearts, and our souls. But sometimes we desire to go deeper. We specifically look for understanding in a more thorough study, whether it is how to build a boat or how to nurture our soul.

Some seasons offer the opportunity to examine our heart beliefs or desires, and reset or strengthen spiritual congruence. For Christians the season of Lent began yesterday, and many choose this time to pursue a focused study through devotions, or Bible study, or spiritual classics.
Author Ethel Herr said that when we meditate on Scripture from a devotional perspective, the study, or readings, inspire us to worship God, give us something practical to live by, and speak personally and intimately to our hearts.

Connecting with other experiences across historical time can give us a clearer perspective to evaluate the way we process both the light and the dark seasons we face personally.

Each study can begin with four basic questions (see below) and be expanded as deep as desired depending on what kind of study or depth we would like to pursue. For example, in addition to the basics, we can paraphrase Scripture, reflect devotionally, study stories, parables, biographies, and problems.

Action Steps:

Choose a passage of scripture, or other inspirational writing, and apply these four basic questions as suggested by Ethel Herr.

When you are done, choose one promise or thought and use it as a prayer guide through the week ahead.

1. What does it say?

2. What does it mean?

3. What does it mean to me?

4. “How must I live” or “How will my life be different because I have studied this?”

Share: What shift from dark to light and insight or hope did you discover?

                                                                Read deep, marcy

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection Read

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless.”
Henri Nouwen The Genesee Diary

Whether we read or listen to books, blogs, podcasts, or videos we are purposefully engaging in a new perspective or experience. Even if it is assigned reading. Yet we can only really participate emotionally if we come with the intent to learn. Even if we are looking to be entertained. If you have a particular subject or author or research you want to pursue for a season, then consider keeping a reading journal. Whatever you are reading, look for your own personal connection to the content and explore away.

Here are a few examples that may not be considered typical reflection reading.

Poetry speaks through figurative language and metaphors. You don’t need to be a poet or have any intention of becoming one, but reading poetry captures images and language in a succinct style that enables any reader (and writer) to explore sensory perception with sharp precision.

Paintings or photographs can be read for theme, story, and image. When we "see" the effect of micro-scenes, we can then apply the insights to ourselves, and writers can adapt the techniques to fictional scenes, therefore deepening their effect. When we read non-fiction, we can re-experience their personal presence for ourselves.

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

Briefly journal these questions as an initial response.

A. Have you ever had to defer a dream? (define)
B. What did it feel like? What images stay with you?
C. How did you respond more to the explicit or implicit images?
D. Two prominent images are the broken-winged bird and the barren field. What are some feelings you associate with these images?

Action Steps:

1.     Read Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey” from her collection Dream Work.
(One link can be found at

2.     Go back through it and write down all the words that you identify with your own feelings.

3.     Take each word or phrase you choose and write the words in a scattered pattern in different colors on a sheet of paper.

4.     What thought jumps out for you?

5.     In what ways does her poem or thoughts connect with Langston Hughes’s poem?

Share: What emotional resonance do you most identify with in this poem? Why?

                                                            Read deep, marcy

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection Congruence

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“It’s about being who we are that will determine what we do.” Jay Kesler

Congruence (c)

Jay Kesler suggests a three-part list exercise to examine our congruence as a way to scrutinize if our life in action matches up with what we say we believe.

We often instinctively go into survivor mode when unexpected events spring into our lives. Both positive and negative situations can create an external and internal emotional shift in our life patterns that is unsettling.

We usually bounce back quickly from a major inconvenience, like a flat tire en route to an important meeting, and we often can cope effectively in short and long term worries, such as in health warnings or fall out from weather disasters. Yet when life returns to what we presume to be our "normal," we may not realize that we have inserted some false or unrealistic coping techniques that are not good for us in the long run.

Taking some time out for a congruence thermometer can give us a measuring rod to help us navigate our ever-changing responsibilities and relationships before we risk disconnecting with ourselves and others close to us.

I recommend using different color pens or paper for this idea process.

1.    List yourself in relation to people, responsibilities, ministries, et cetera. What is your public persona?

2.    List your feelings in relation to these roles and activities.

3.    List the passions, desires, wishes, and dreams on your heart. Is there a particular place of service or activity that you hunger to be involved in? If not, why not?

4.    Look over your three lists. Are they congruent with one another?

Did you discover any lack of congruence?

Action Steps:

1.     Go back over your notes and circle all the places that are in sync. Underline all the places that aren’t and highlight words that don’t seem to match anywhere.

2.     Divide your surprises into positive and negative. Make a note next to each as to why you feel that way.

3.     Choose one positive to strengthen even more and one negative to begin to change over the next week.

4.     Consider both short-term and long-term plans to bridge any lack of congruence you discovered within your relationship with yourself or others.

Share: Were you surprised by any of your answers?

                                                            Read deep, marcy

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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