How to Keep a Love Journal (And why!)

how to keep a love journal
How to Keep a Love Journal (The Why)

Keeping a journal is a simple way to track the inner workings of your soul. I first read about this in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She calls it Morning Pages, but I call it love journaling because as I kept up with this writing practice,  it helped me  invite more love into my life. Not just love towards others, but love towards God and love towards my self.

Whenever your pen touches paper and your mind connects to your thoughts, something special occurs. All the stuff fizzing around in your brain, the good, the bad and the ugly, rises to the surface and you are forced to deal with it. If you press through the not-so-pretty parts of love journaling, you’ll discover how to invite more goodness into your life.

Yeah, that sounds very heady and philosophical, but it’s pretty simple. Love journaling is all about paying attention to your inner self, the secret place that houses your fears and worries and insecurities. Whenever you love journal, gone are the days of stuffing your feelings in a bucket and pretending they don’t exist.

We have a bazillion thoughts running through our minds every day: insecure thoughts, fearful thoughts, selfish thoughts, kind thoughts, noble thoughts, but we may never give them proper attention. Left ignored, those thoughts fester and blister and boil and pop up in our lives in not-so-pretty ways. They often take the form of bad habits, wrong thinking and destructive relationships. In other words: drama. I, for one, don’t need drama. Keeping up with a 4 year old and a 2 year old provides me with ample drama already :-)

How to Keep a Love Journal (The How)

Here are three simple ways you can keep a love journal and start the love process in your own life:

Step One: Get a notebook.

Any notebook will do. Right now I have a blank, one subject spiral notebook. When I finish with it, I plan to continue journaling in these lovely black soft bound medium journals from Barnes and Noble. (Hint: If you want to buy me something for Christmas, this is it.) I haven’t used them yet, but all the reviews say lovely things and since I’m part of American consumer culture, I’ll buy them. I even make sporadic trips to Office Max and Staples and oogle over their pens and notebooks and post it notes. Sad but true.

Step Two: Get a pen.

Yeah, you need a pen to write. You cannot journal on a computer. Using your own hand to write your own thoughts is key. It builds a physical connection which makes all the thoughts which arise during a journaling session more immediate and real. I’ve tried many different pens. Right now I’m using Bic pens because I like to see the ink level decrease as I write, makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something worthwhile. (I’m weird like that.)

Step three: Write 1-3 pages of your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning.

Do this before the day catches up with you. This enables you to clearly monitor your thoughts. When I started to love journal, my first thoughts were basically all about the to-do list I kept in my head. You know what I’m talking about:

I have to buy milk before we run out.

Oh, I need to mail off that telephone bill before the 8th.

Man, look at that mountain of laundry in the corner of my bedroom, will I ever get to it?

I hope the kids don’t wake up early today, I need some quiet time to myself.

Blah, blah blah.

After that stuff rose to the surface, all the self-conscious, human thoughts made their Grand Entrance.

Why did she say that to me? Does she like me? 

I really need to get a handle on my carbohydrate intake. Today is the day for a new beginning…again.

Gosh, this story I’m writing isn’t coming together. What IS the story I’m writing?

I hope I didn’t offend such and such when I did that.

Blah, blah, blah.

Then, some kind and gentle thoughts nudged me. I knew this was the voice of the Holy Spirit. He said two things:

1) I needed to be more kind and loving to my self.

2) I needed to be more self-protective of my heart.

I didn’t know what that meant when I first wrote it out, but whenever situations popped up, I would be reminded of those two directives. If I listened to them, things turned out well. If I ignored them, I got (you guessed it) DRAMA!

After love journaling, I read a portion of the Bible. That’s when I receive God’s thoughts. They always cemented those Holy Spirit nudges and corrected my faulty thinking patterns. It’s like early morning corrective surgery…every single day!

Keeping a love journal is a lifelong process, and I’m committed to doing it for the long haul.

How about you? Do you keep a journal? How has journaling helped your life?

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5 Small Habits For Big Strides In Your Marriage

5 small habits for making big strides in your marriage

Let’s get one thing straight before I dive into this post:

I am not a Stepford wife.

I am more like a “catch me when you can, honey because I have a long to-do list, two small children, and 10 hours of daylight” kind of wife.

There, I said it. And that’s why I need to these 5 small habits for big strides in my marriage. I tend to forget about the person I sleep next to in bed every night. After another long day, we just kind of teeter out until another day begins. But for married people, our relationship to our spouse is our most important human relationship. So here they go:

5 Small Habits For Big Strides In Your Marriage

Habit #1 Set aside 10-15 minutes of couch time every evening. Spending 10-15 minutes to talk about your day helps you reconnect. Make sure this time is CHILD FREE. If you have children around, give them something to occupy their time during this period. Doing this will show them that the basis of the family is the marriage, not the children.

Habit #2 Ask your spouse if they need help with something. As busy moms, we often hit the ground running each day. It’s easy to forget that marriage is a partnership, and partners need to look out for one another.

Habit #3 Say “Thank you.” Our spouses may do a lot of things for us and the family, but because we’re used to it, we take it for granted. For example, my husband gets the kids ready in the morning before he leaves for work so I can have some uninterrupted writing time. (Yeah, I’m lucky. I know it.)  What has your spouse done lately that you haven’t thanked them for?

Habit #4 Schedule in Date Nights. Whether it’s once a week or once a month. Time spent together as a couple (Outside of the house and away from the children) is so important. Months have passed before my husband and I went out on a date, and it took a toll on our marriage. We were just getting through our days and pushing through the dailies of life. Once we scheduled date nights, things changed for the better.

Habit #5 Pay regular compliments. Last week, I got a new pair of high heeled shoes. I rarely wear high heels, but I wanted something different. I chose Aerosoles because they were a combo of cute and comfort. When I wore them for the first time, my husband said:

Husband: “You have a new pair of shoes.”

Me: “Yes. You noticed.”

Husband: “I notice everything about you.”

(Let’s just say I had a strong visceral reaction to his comment.)

Compliments work, people. So start complimenting your spouse.

There you have it.  The five habits. Have you tried any of these lately?

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5 Reasons Not To Read Fifty Shades of Grey

fifty shades of grey

Whenever I tell people I write Christian romance, they inevitably ask:

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?

I laugh and say “nope.” A lot of women I know, women who are regular churchgoers and those who are not, have read the book, but I won’t. Here’s why:

Reason #1: Reader reviews. People told me Fifty Shades of Grey is sexually graphic, and I’m not one to wander in the erotica aisles of Barnes and Noble. I write romance to my level of comfort, and by the same token, I read romance at my level of comfort. I like love stories that emphasize the emotional relationship between a hero and heroine. Knowing about body parts, body positions and their accompanying tools and accessories isn’t my thing.

Reason #2: To Keep a Covenant with My Eyes. Job talked about this: “I have kept a covenant with my eyes. Why should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1) Words relay images and those images stick. Here’s a basic biblical principle: If I meditate on an image long enough, it will eventually be acted out in real life. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Why put myself in a position to meditate on perverse sexual activity when I wouldn’t want to act out in real life?

Reason #3: Porn is gross. ‘Nuff said. Well, not really, I have more to say on that. When I was a freshman in college, I went to a party thrown by a bunch of senior guys. After everyone got settled and started mingling, one of the guys played a porn video on the big screen TV. I never saw pornography in my life. (I was a sheltered, parochial school girl.) Shocked, embarrassed (and quite scared for my physical safety), I ran out of there! If those few seconds of images were enough to make me wanna barf, why subject myself to hundreds of pages of it in Fifty Shades of Grey?

Reason #4: Some things are best kept private. I don’t wanna know. I don’t wanna know. I don’t wanna know. (I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and making loud noises…Have I made my point clear?)

Reason #5:   It’s an erotic time suck. Sorry, but I’m a busy mama who home schools, writes and tries to keep up with her laundry. I cannot justify spending hours reading about weird sexual acts. There are better uses of my time…like checking Facebook or pushing back my cuticles (but only after I home school and write and put away the laundry, of course).

How about you? Have you read or do you plan to read Fifty Shades of Grey? (I won’t judge you if you read it, promise.) Tell me your reasons why you have or haven’t read it.

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A Cold Winter Night by novelist Ada Brownell

A guest post by Ada Brownell

The frosty ice on the canal crunched as my skates rhythmically slid in rhythm in the darkness.

The rest of my Sunday school class still wobbled on their blades on the frozen irrigation water near the bonfire, trying to get a feel for the sport.  I flew around one canal curve, then another, enjoying the cold breeze I created.

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Moonlight glistened off the ice, lighting my way. I twirled, whirled and skated backward before turning ahead to go around another curve.

I grew up in a small Colorado town that made an ice rink for the kids, flooded it every day when temperatures neared zero, and kept a warm fire burning in a barrel. Then irrigation canals striped and criss-crossed our valley, and they were a great place to skate, too

Old Man Winter prepared a glassy smooth surface on the canal for this night.

Practice, not lessons, shot me out ahead of my friends who struggled behind me. Well, I admit a brother helped me figure out how to manage curves and backward skating. But my dad started my adventure on ice. He bought a box of junk at the  auction, and my skates were tucked in there.

Suddenly I heard heavy rhythmic movement.

“Hi.”

L.C. Brownell, one of four brothers named to be called by their initials, zipped beside me.  The moon revealed twinkles in his eyes and a smile on his handsome face.

“Hi,” I answered, wondering at the friendliness of a youth about five years older than I.

Up and down the canal we went together.  He’d taken lessons in Minneapolis while he was in telegraph school. We skated and talked. Everyone else stayed close to the fire.

When chili-eating time came, he asked, “Could I take you home?”

I agreed, and that started a relationship that caught me by surprise. I was barely age 15. Already 20 and working for the railroad, a whole tribe of  young women tried to catch his attention.

On our first date when he stopped his car in my parents’ driveway, he pointed at my window and scooted my way. “Look!  A falling star.”

I didn’t look.  I held up my hands to bar him from coming closer, quickly opened the door and went inside.

The second date I sat closer and he gently kissed me—once.

I fell in love at that moment, but I didn’t want to love him.  I had things to do; places to go; goals to achieve. When he declared his love for me, I didn’t take it seriously. He talked of marriage and I thought he couldn’t be serious. Erma, my vivacious older sister, had been engaged five times.

L.C., however, needed a cook, a housekeeper, a devoted wife, and for some reason he chose this kid—me.  Furthermore, he thought he could tell me what to do. That didn’t go far with this freckled-faced redhead. Friction often caused sparks between us instead of love. He’d chosen the wrong “woman-to-be” to boss around.

He slipped a diamond on my finger after he discovered my parents weren’t running him off.  One week we were engaged; the next, not even speaking. The whole year we dated our relationship soared, crashed, then went back to the heights and hit bottom again.

Finally, I broke up with him, refused to date him, and told him to go after other girls who adored him. I knew I loved him. I just thought I’d get over it.

Well, I didn’t. After months of hoping for a miraculous recovery from my encounter with Cupid, I gave up. Three months later, I wore one of the most beautiful white satin wedding gowns I’ve seen, even until this day.  My sister-in-law, Mildred, a wonderful seamstress, made it.

I’d be lying if I told you everything went as smooth as the ice on which we skated on our first flirt with romance. I’m still a spit fire and he still likes to tell me what to do.

Yet, the fires of love burn after 61 years in a relationship that began on a cold winter night. I finished high school, graduated from college, have a wonderful career and outstanding children and grandchildren.

Despite stressful times and sorrow, the journey has been an exciting adventure beyond my wildest dreams–even more special because Jesus and L.C. walk beside me.

Ada Brownell

 About Ada

Ada Brownell is the author of five books, about 300 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. She and her husband L.C., have five children, one of them in heaven, eight wonderful grandchildren.and two great-grandchildren.

Among her books: The Lady Fugitive, an historical romance released July 18, 2014, Imagine the Future You, a youth Bible study (November 2013). Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, (Jan. 15, 2013); Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, (Dec. 6, 2011); and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; All the books are available in paper or for Kindle. Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at www.Audible.com  Free book with new Audible membership.

Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/AdaBrownellWritingMinistries

Twitter: @AdaBrownell

Blog: http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

About The Lady Fugitive

Ada Brownell

How does a respected elocutionist become a face on a wanted poster?

Jenny Louise Parks escapes from the coal bin, and her abusive uncle offers a handsome reward for her return. Because he is a judge, he will find her or he won’t inherit her parents’ ranch.

Determination to remain free grips Jenny, especially after she meets William and there’s a hint of romance. But while peddling household goods and showing a Passion of the Christ moving picture, he discovers his father’s brutal murder.

Will Jenny avoid the bounty hunters? Can she forgive the person who turns her in? Will she find peace, joy and love?

 

The Husband List

 

Husband List

You need a husband list.

Why? Because life will hand you anything if you let it. This is especially true for marriage. So you need a list.

Here’s my husband list, qualities which are important to me in a mate. Thankfully, my man meets all the criteria ;-)

He shares the same religious faith. I have friends in interfaith marriages and married friends who are don’t ascribe to any religious beliefs, but for me, having the same faith with my spouse is important. I need to talk freely with my spouse on faith issues, and so I don’t want to feel as if I am at odds with my spouse in this respect. Faith is a major part of who I am, and I want to be on a level playing field with my man.

He sees me. A husband shouldn’t hold limiting stereotypes about me. This can only limit and stifle. For example, I wouldn’t want to be married to someone who thinks that, because I am a woman, I should focus solely on raising children while completely disregarding my other interests. I believe in the importance of motherhood, but I am not “just a housewife” (as people have said to me). I have other interests that matter to me.

He’s responsible. Carrying a man can be burdensome. Period. Healthy boundaries in a marriage are so important to me. Yes, we are to help our husbands, but not to our personal damage/detriment. I’ve seen marriages with poor boundaries, and it hasn’t been pretty. A good husband will respect you as an individual not drain your spirit.

He provides good intellectual conversation. I enjoy debating with my husband on a lot on different issues in the world. He provides me with a different perspective which I may not have considered and vice versa. He offers me reasoned arguments on different issues, and I appreciate that.

He’s wise. Man, this one is SO important. There have been many instances when I could have made some really foolish choices at crucial points in my life. I feel blessed that the Lord has given me a spouse who has uncanny insight into my situations.

He’s trustworthy. I don’t want to second guess my spouse and wonder whether his word is true or not. I want the security in knowing that if my man said he’d deliver on his promise, that he’ll make it happen. He’s a man of his word.

He’s good looking. Yes, this is important to me, but personality plays a large role in attractiveness. If someone looked like Bruno Mars, but he was a jerk well…I’d pass.

That’s my list. What about you? What qualities do you find attractive in a/your husband?