Monday, May 23, 2016

A To-Do List for the Time Management-Challenged



God's Words:

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace...  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.  ~1 Corinthians 14:33a & 40

Commit to the Lord whatever you doand your plans will succeed...  In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.  ~Proverbs 16:3 & 9

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.  ~Proverbs 19:21

Back in January I was getting really sick and tired of being overwhelmed with everything I had to do each week and struggling to manage my time well most days because it just seemed like there was always way too much to do and I wouldn't know where to start.  So I figured it would help my self-diagnosed Adult ADHD/Seriously Ridiculous Case of Mom Brain to keep a to-do list going from day to day and week to week.  But I wanted to find a free printable list template that would motivate me to actually use it, so I scoured Pinterest and the internet at large.  Guess what I found?!?


Nothing that suited my needs and what I was looking for in a printable to-do list.  Sure, there were lots of cute list templates.  And many were free.  But nothing that would work for me without having to tweak it quite a bit.

So of course I had to create my own template, and over the past 5 months of trying it out every week and working out the kinks, I find I absolutely LOVE using it and it has made my weekly schedule (and my family's life as a result) so much more organized and peaceful.

And now I am ready to share this unique, one-of-a-kind To-Do List template with the world. 

So, are you ready for your life to be more organized in an amazingly simple way that is extremely easy to keep up with?  Well then, turn your printer on, grab a pencil, your calendar, and get ready to finally get your life in order!

The photo at the top of this post shows what a completed week's To-Do List looks like, but don't let it overwhelm you.  I will walk you through the steps I invented and it will all make sense soon, I promise.

1.  First of all, you'll start with a printed out copy of the To-Do List template.  I designed 7 cute color combinations that you can choose from.  I have uploaded them as public documents on my Google Drive and they are free to use, download, print, and share!

If you want the most basic style that won't use up all your printer's color ink, then go with the To-Do List in Grayscale:

There are also 6 color combination template options, if you'd prefer your list in cute colors.

You can use the To-Do List in Nautical Blues, which looks like this:

Or here is the To-Do List in Coral:

We also have the To-Do List in Purple & Green:

Or you could choose the To-Do List in Summery Colors:

Or you may like the To-Do List in Red, Blue & Yellow:

And this last option is the To-Do List in Pretty Pink:

So there are your 7 color options.  Go ahead and print off the one you like, then come on back for the next step.

2.  Ok, now grab a pencil and your calendar.  And a cup of joe, if the mere thought of organizing makes you tired and you need a caffeine jolt like I always do.

Before we proceed, I'd better explain why I have designed the To-Do List to start with Monday as the first day instead of Sunday.  Well, I personally view Sunday as part of the weekend and my typical day of R & R, so I like to have my list start on the first day of the work week.

If you'd prefer to have your To-Do List start on a different day of the week, simply download the template to your computer, save as a Word document, and then you'll be able to edit the days of the week at the top.

And speaking of starting on Monday, that's the day I usually write out the new week's To-Do List.  It's part of my Monday morning ritual.  Fun, fun.  No really, I enjoy writing up my new list for the week.  The cute colors and boxes help make it more fun and I'm not kidding.  I told you I needed my list to be cute. 

3.  Ok, back to what we were doing.  As you'll see, there are 7 boxes for each day.  Why only 7?  No real reason other than the fact that I couldn't fit more boxes on the page.  And having 7 particularly important things to do each day seems like plenty, wouldn't you agree?

But before you write anything down, first prioritize in your mind the things you absolutely have to do each day and then write them down with the most important being #1, the second most important as #2, etc.  You don't have to fill in all the boxes.  I usually have only the first five or so boxes filled in.

Now, what exactly are we supposed to be writing in the boxes?  Not the little things you do every day, such as shower and brush your teeth.  Those are a given and obviously we don't need a reminder to do every single little thing we have to do every day.  But rather, the boxes are for writing down the particular or special activities or jobs you have to do at some point that day or week, such as make the bank deposit, meal planning, grocery shopping, exercise, pick up the dry cleaning, etc.  And the boxes are also for writing down the activities that absolutely need to take place on a specific day, such as taking your son to his martial arts class on Monday and Thursday, or making a dish for the potluck on Saturday.  You get the point.

So, again, whatever has to be done first - more than everything else - that goes in the #1 box for each day.

Then the things that you'd like to get done, but aren't a top priority, can get listed in the lower boxes.  And this is where my To-Do List gets really cool and why it's so unique!  But I will have to save that explanation for the next step and then you'll see why this list is so awesome.

For now, let's focus on filling out the To-Do List for the week.  So you'll want to start out by writing in the top boxes for each day the things that need to be done for each specific day. So, for example, if meal planning has to take place on Monday and you also need to do a workout that day, then those two activities should get written down in the top Monday boxes, in order of priority.  Then, if you have to grocery shop on Tuesday, then that goes in one of the top boxes for Tuesday.  And so on and so forth.

4.  After you are finished writing down the specific-to-the-day activities, then you can move on to writing down the things you'd like to get done that week, but don't absolutely have to get done on a specific day of the week.  Like picking up the dry cleaning at some point, and making the bank deposit, etc.

5.  So at this point, most of the boxes for each day are filled in with activities.  Some days are going to be very light, such as Sunday, if you don't have a lot of things to get done that day.  Or if you purposely want to keep a specific day more open with less on your plate.  I actually write "Rest" in a box for Sunday, because I like to remind myself of the importance of resting and making sure to get rejuvenated for the upcoming busy week.  It's fun to cross off that box!

6.  Now look down at the bottom of the To-Do List.  There you will see some cute boxes that are for listing the things you think of that will need to get done sooner or later, but do not need to get done that week.  They can be transferred to a numbered box on a future week's To-Do List.  Or sometimes you will find some extra time to get one of them done and then you should feel even more proud of yourself.  Bonus points!  But either way, you can jot them down here so you won't forget they still need to get done eventually!  I told you this list is awesome.

7.  Alright, now that your To-Do List is as complete as you can think of right now, it's time to place it somewhere in your house that you will see throughout the day.  Like on the fridge or on a bulletin board if you have one in your office or kitchen.  I like to pin mine up on the little bulletin board in my office, where I will see it first thing in the morning while I start my day with coffee and Bible study.

Sorry that the pic is blurry.  My iPhone camera does not take the best photos for some annoying reason.  But anyway, that's my cute little office bulletin board.  The shockingly handsome man in that photograph is my husband.  That's one of my favorite pictures of us from 13 years ago.  I love his blue eyes.  I could drown in them.

Didn't I mention my ADHD?

Ok, so what were we talking about?  Oh yeah, putting your list somewhere you will be able to see and access it often throughout the day.

8.  As you go through each day and complete another task, cross off each task's box with one diagonal line through the box.  You can look at the completed To-Do List sample photo at the top of this post to see what I mean.

9.  Whenever you weren't able to get a task done on a certain day and it's not something that can get added to another day's list, then cross of that task's box with 2 diagonal lines, like an "X".  That means that you didn't get to that task that day and you lost your chance to get it done at all, ever.  I do this with workouts and devotional times I didn't get done. Sure, I feel guilty while making that ugly "X" mark over my workout or devotional quiet time.  But you know what?  I'm not going to be legalistic about my quiet time.  If a day ends up being so busy that I didn't make time to read my Bible and pray, it's not the end of the world.  I can still spend meaningful time worshiping the Lord in other ways that day. Like listening to a Christian radio station when I'm out chauffeuring my kids around, or meditating on a verse I've memorized, or even praying while I cook dinner.  But usually, I do like to set aside specific time each morning to spend some time in the Word and in prayer.  Therefore, I like to have it written as my #1 top activity to get done each day because it's that important and I would ideally like to start out with this every single day. But then life happens.  No big deal.  Same thing with exercising.  I might start out the week aiming to do 5 workouts, but only end up doing 3.  Once again, not the end of the world.  Yet I still like to write it down on my weekly To-Do List to keep in mind to get done if I can.

Just like our second and third key verses for this post say, sometimes we plan out our day, but God has a different agenda for us in mind.  We have to be willing to submit to His sovereign will for us, even in the little details of our day.  Sure, I might not end up exercising on Wednesday because my best friend calls me spontaneously, asking if I can watch her kids for her while she goes to a last-minute doctor's appointment.  Something that is much more important might come up that then takes my time away from getting my workout done.  Oh, darn.

So the point is, we have to be flexible and willing to move things around a bit on our weekly To-Do Lists when life happens.  As it always does.

By the way, in case you were looking at my sample list and were wondering what "Devos" means, that is short for devotional time.  And "hs" stands for homeschooling.  And "W/O" stands for my workout time.  Now you know.

10.  Now for the part you've eagerly been waiting for.  If you look at my sample To-Do List at the beginning of this post, you'll see several arrows coming from traced-over boxes pointing to other places on the To-Do List.  I thought of using arrows for transferring a task from one day (when it couldn't or didn't get done, but still needs to get done at some point) to another day that might work out better for it to get completed.  For example, if I wasn't able to rehearse my church praise team music on Tuesday, I can trace over the dotted outline for that task's box and draw an arrow from that box to another day's empty box (which means I would try get that task done on that specific day instead).  Or, if I know I won't be able to get that task done this week, I can draw the arrow through the rest of the list all the way over to the right side of the page.  This tells me that I have to write this task down somewhere on the following week's To-Do List that I will fill out that Monday morning.

One of the best aspects of this To-Do List is that with just a quick glance, you can easily spot what needs to be done next for the day.  And as each day and week goes by, you will feel so accomplished and much more organized, which will add so much peace to your life. Your family will thank you, too.  When the wife and mother is calm and organized and at peace as she carries out all her many duties, the family will naturally be more calm and at peace as well.  You will be living out an excellent example of a peaceful and organized lifestyle for your children to follow.  And you will find that your spirit is more calm and you will be able to manage last-minute tasks that arise without added stress, knowing that you can easily put off a task you were planning to get done that day for a later date.

After all, what is most beautiful about a woman in the eyes of the Lord?

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
~ 1 Peter 3: 3-4

When we possess a gentle and quiet spirit, we are more beautiful in the sight of God. That's pretty huge, because He already loves us unconditionally as it is.  I don't know about you, but I love making God happy and pleasing Him.  This is one very specific way we can please Him.  When we do what it takes to attain and maintain a calm and peaceful spirit and attitude in our lives.

This To-Do List has helped me grow more peaceful and has made my family's life much more calm in such a tremendous way over the past several months.  And I have discovered that making sure to keep my schedule organized and manageable has made me better able to sustain a more gentle and calm attitude, which was always a daily struggle for me before.

So I hope that using this To-Do List will bring about much more peace in your life too and help you better manage all the many different tasks you have on your plate.  Please feel free to share with me how you like using this To-Do List and how it has improved your life! I would love to hear how it's benefiting other families besides my own! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Independent Homeschool Student Weekly Planner

God's Words:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
~Proverbs 16:3

Just as a head's up, this post pertains to homeschooling.  So if you don't homeschool, I suppose this post won't interest you much...  Sorry! But stay tuned for future posts that might actually apply to your life.

Two school years ago, after much frustration with my hopeless search of finding a homeschool planner that works for my family, I finally gave up and created my own.  And since it is the new year and I assume we all are in need of a fresh start at organization, I thought I would share my planner on my blog, in case you might be able to benefit from using it for your homeschool.

The planner I created is specifically designed to be used by independent homeschool students.  However, if your child(ren) aren't independent learners yet, I suppose the planner could be adapted to be used as the teacher's weekly planner.  That would just take a little tweaking.  See instructions for this below. Either way, I hope you can make it work for you and your student(s).

What is this independent learning, you say?  Would that mean less school time involvement required of mom (and dad)?  Well, yes, yes it does.  Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Imagine getting more housework done during the day, instead of it piling up all week long because you're already too busy personally teaching all the school lessons.

Getting my children to eventually be independent learners in their schoolwork has always been one of my goals of homeschooling.  They will definitely need to be able to study and work on their own once they're in high school and college, so why not get an early start in training them to do so?

Once my eldest child started 6th grade, I felt it was time to get him used to completing most of his individual assignments independently.  And my then 6th grader is now an 8th grader, with his 7th and 5th grade sisters not far behind him, who are both also doing mostly independent work.  We do a few subjects with all my children together, such as Bible, history, health, and geography. But I wanted my middle-schoolers to have an organized, easy-to-use student planner that would help them be more independent with all their individual studies.  And free up my time to actually get most of my housework done each day.  Whoo-hoo!  Never thought I'd be so happy about that...

Here is what the independent student weekly planner page looks like:

There are check mark boxes, which the student checks off himself when finished with each assignment, so that Mom can easily see what has already been done (or not done) and also so that the student can quickly see which assignments need to be done next.

The first table, "My Daily Assignments", includes the assignments that must get done each day, such as Bible memory work, reading, and music practice.

What I love most about this student planner is the second table, "My Weekly Assignments", which lists all the subjects that the student can work on whenever he chooses, as long as he gets all assignments done by a certain time at the end of each week.  Our family rule is that you must get all independent work done by 3:00PM each Friday or you will lose all "screen time" for the entire weekend. I don't even have to tell you that we've never had anyone break that rule.

So for example, one week he might want to do all his math lessons in 2 days, with none to do for the remainder of the week.  Or all his grammar assignments in one day.  You see, it's up to the student, which will prepare him for the independent study necessary in college.  Mom's not helping out with college work.  Sorry, kiddos.  You're on your own by then.

The third table, "My Weekly Chores", lists that child's chores, when they need to be done, and check mark boxes for each day of the week.

The last table, "My Weekly Planned Activities", is like a calendar showing the child what day their special activities are on.  It's especially helpful at the beginning of each semester or season whenever a new sport or class starts, so they won't have to keep asking mom, "What day is football practice again?"

Now remember, we teachers might meticulously write out our plans for each day, each week.  But one of the most important lessons I've learned as a homeschool mom is to be flexible.  Because life happens.  God just may well have a different plan in mind for your family that day or week.  As it says in Scripture:

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
~Proverbs 19:21

You or a child might come down with an illness.  Dad might decide to work from home for the day (no school work's getting done when fun Daddy's home!).  An impromptu field trip, visit with friends, or a last-minute getaway vacation might present itself.  And there goes that week's schedule!

That's when the pencil and eraser come in handy.  Use it.  Embrace it. Flexibility is one of the best benefits of homeschooling.  So don't fill out the planner like you're chiseling in stone.  I advise only filling out 2 weeks or so at a time.  That way you won't have to erase a whole lot, because what homeschool family is going to choose a day's worth of schoolwork over a spontaneous visit to a friend's house if the opportunity arises?  Not this homeschool family!

There are 2 possible ways you can use this planner:

  1. Click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive where this document is absolutely free for the public to use.  At the top of the web page there are several different options.  If you click on the "printer icon" you'll be able to print the document and fill in the blanks using pencil or pen (pencil is always, always, always preferred because you'll often need to erase and change assignments).  This is the more time-consuming method of using my planner pages because you will have to fill in all the necessary blanks each and every week.

  1. The more efficient and personalized method:  First, you will need to have Microsoft Word (or another word processor software).  Next, click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive.  Then click on the "download icon" at the top of the web page, which lets you save the document to your computer.  Once you open the document on your word processor, make sure to "Enable Editing", which will allow you to type in information and revise the template however you want to suit your child's needs.  You can add the student's name and grade to the top, which will save you lots of penciling in each week.  Also, you can type in all of your child's independent subjects and daily assignments into the table.  Then each week when writing down your child's assigned schoolwork, you will only have to fill in the assignments for that week, saving yourself lots of time.

If you don't have word processor software on your computer, no worries!  You can simply click on the "down arrow" at the top of the web page, which will give you several more ways to use the document with "Connected Apps". So, for example, if you already have a Google Docs account, then you can open the document with Google Docs, which is basically a free online word processor.  It may not have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Word, but it works great and it's free.  Gotta love free!

Using the Planner as a Teacher's Weekly Planning Page:

To use this planning page as a Teacher's Weekly Planner, you could follow Step #2 above for downloading the template to a word processor and then revise it as needed.  A little tweaking of the tables and you have your own personal teacher's planner.  You could have a separate assignment table for each student's individual schoolwork, plus a table for all the combined subjects you do together.

I also designed a two-to-a-page independent homeschool student weekly planner to use when it's not necessary to have the child's weekly chores and extracurricular activities listed down each week.  This planning page saves ink and paper and can be simply cut in half to make two separate planner pages.

Once again, you can click on the link below to access this free template on Google Drive and follow the same steps listed above in order to use it.

Please let me know in the Comments section below if you find my planner pages helpful in your homeschool or if you have trouble downloading or using them with your word processor.  And I'll see what I can do to make any necessary adjustments.  Thank you!

May God richly bless the remainder of your school year with peaceful, happy learning and growing healthy, loving relationships!

In Christ,


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bible Study and Prayer Journal: Part 3

God's Words:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
~James 5:16b

It's time for the last part in the 3-part series of how to make and maintain a Bible Study & Prayer Journal.  Today I will guide you through the unique process I created of how to keep a Prayer Journal section.  If you missed the first two posts about assembling your very own Bible Study & Prayer Journal binder and the Bible Study section of the Journal, you can find the binder set-up instructions here and the Bible Study section steps here.

Prayer Journal Section

If you followed the directions in the first post, which showed you how to put together the Journal binder, then you should already have half a package of 3-ringed notebook filler paper in your binder behind the Prayer Journal divider, like this:

Now, go find a pen or pencil.  Either will work fine.

Alrighty, here's what you have to do first:

You have to think.

I know, I know.  How could I ask such a thing of you when you just want to get this journal started already?  After all, you've waited 2 long weeks for the final part of this series!

Well, so sorry, but you will first need to get your prayer needs and requests in order in your mind before you write them down on paper.  Believe me, you will save yourself from lots of erasing (or throwing away sheets of some poor dead tree if you used a pen).  So save your eraser (or a tree) by first thinking through what you would like to regularly pray about.  Then, after you get your prayer thoughts in order, you can start writing them down on your Prayer Journal pages in a neat and organized way.

You can start by thinking about who or what you pray for the most.  Maybe it's your family, your personal walk with the Lord, or an issue or problem you are struggling with.  These most-important-to-you prayer needs can be written down on your first Prayer Journal page.  You may choose to have the first several or more pages filled with your high-priority requests.

Then the following pages can be filled with other prayer requests that you want to remember to pray for, but that don't always come immediately to mind when you're praying.  And for those that you don't pray for every single day, but want to keep in mind to pray for from time to time. This is just one way of organizing your Prayer Journal.

The whole point of having a prayer journal is so that all your long- and short-term prayer requests are kept in an organized fashion so that they are easier to find, pray about, and keep updated as time goes by.  So you may organize your Prayer Journal however you think works best for you.  And you can always change it as needed.  That's the beauty of the filler pages.  Nothing is permanent.  I bought a prayer journal once that was bound like a book, so I would have to actually rip out any pages that I had to change or didn't need anymore.  It didn't look very pretty.  And that bothered me.  Because I like things to look pretty.  So I like my method much better, thank you very much.

If you're not sure how or where to begin, allow me to use my own Prayer Journal as an example. For instance, my first page is designated for my immediate family. My husband is at the very top of the page since he is my #1 priority in this life - after God, of course. Under his name are listed specific long-term things I have committed to praying for him, such as his spiritual health and growth, his physical health, safety, his role as father to our children, his job and career, his ministries, etc. These lifelong requests are followed by short-term or temporary requests, such as a need having to do with his current job situation or an illness.

Directly under my husband's prayer list is a request list for our marriage.  It also starts out with long-term, lifelong requests for the well-being of our sacred relationship, followed by short-term problems or needs we might be facing, such as financial hardship or in-law issues which are affecting our marriage.

At the bottom of that first page I have a long-term prayer list for my children. The requests I have written down here are ones that I am committed to praying for all of them as they are growing up in our home. Someday this list will look much different when they have moved out, but for now I am asking the Lord to bless and protect all aspects of their health, friendships, purity and education, and for them to grow and develop their talents and skills for God's glory and to serve Him.

This list for my children includes praying for their future as well.  Sometimes we moms get bogged down in the here and now of our children's lives.  But our prayers for their future are just as important as our prayers for their present needs.  For instance, I pray for each of my children to find godly, Christ-serving spouses someday, if it's God's will that they get married (and if not, that they will be content with that).  I also pray that they will always be brightly shining lights leading people to Christ in a dark, lost world.

Now on to my second page!  Here I have listed each of my children separately, with different prayer requests for each of their specific needs at this current time.  This list changes a lot, based on the individual struggles, challenges and phases that each of them is going through.  So I update this page regularly, as needed.

My third page is all me.  Yep.  It takes a whole sheet of paper to cover all my issues.  On this jam-packed page I have listed not only my own personal needs, such as my health and wellness in all areas of my life, but also the requests I have that concern my current roles and responsibilities.  I pray for myself as my children's teacher and mother (both equally daunting tasks that require much supernatural help), the manager of our home and family schedule, a helper and supporter to my husband, as well as for the different ministries I am involved in. This blog is one of those ministries!

Not only all that, but I also pray about my hopes, dreams and goals.  I just have to remember that, as I give these desires to God, they might not be His will for my life and that He has something different (and always for my best) in mind for me.  Which reminds me of a post I wrote last year about when God doesn't seem to answer your prayers the way you think He should.

Yes, my "Me" page is very private as you can probably imagine.  As well as all the needs listed above, I also have written down the personal struggles and weaknesses I need God's strength and grace to deal with.  Of which there are many.  I have also included the different fruit of the Spirit that I need His help with.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  ~ Galatians 5:22-23a

Ok, all of them.

I need help with all of them.

And now you know why my "Me" prayer requests take up an entire page.  You may not have wanted to know, but now you do.  Let's hope your list is shorter, girl.

Now my fourth and fifth pages are filled with the prayer needs of my extended family and for God's blessing and protection in their lives.  Since quite a number of my relatives don't yet seem to have a right relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord, I feel an intense responsibility to pray specifically for them to grow closer to Christ, or have their eyes opened to their need for salvation if they aren't already saved.  For those relatives that already are believers, I pray that they will grow in their faith and be faithful followers and effective witnesses for Christ.

My  sixth page is for our church and church family.  Here I am reminded to pray for the pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, leaders, missionaries, youth groups, classes, Bible studies, and the congregation as a whole.  On this same page I also have listed the different ministries at our church that my family and I are involved in and the prayer needs that go along with each.

Then comes my seventh page on which I have listed the names of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. whom I regularly pray for.  This list is for their long-term needs, such as their need for salvation, healing/relief from a chronic illness, or for our relationship to grow in love and kindness for one another. 

While writing this out, it dawned on me that I don't have a prayer page for our world, country, government leaders, etc. If anything needs more prayer desperately, it's definitely this list!  I will add this page to my journal tomorrow! And I will probably have it be my 8th page, since it's more of a long-term list.

My last several pages are filled with mostly temporary requests I have committed to pray for. These pages are for short-term prayer needs of friends, relatives, my small group at church, etc. These pages are frequently updated and changed out, since they are usually temporary in nature. And this, my friend, is why I stressed in the first post about why it's so important that your binder dividers have pockets!  I'll explain why below.

NOTE:  If a short-term request ends up turning into a long-term prayer need, such as a friend's medical problem becoming chronic, then I will add this long-term need to my former page where that person's name is listed.

Ok, about the necessity of the Journal's divider pockets.  They are for the purpose of temporarily storing all the prayer requests you pick up throughout the week so that you don't lose them before you have the extra time to write them down in their appropriate spot of your Prayer Journal.

Because if you're like me, you usually forget most of the prayer requests people tell you if don't actually write them down somewhere for you to look at later. Out of sight, out of this lady's mind, people.  I have a condition known as "Mom Brain" and there are only certain things that remain in my memory or they're lost forever.  It helps me to write things down. But then I have to keep the notes organized or just forget it - literally!

So what I do is keep a small notepad in all the places I typically get prayer requests:  in my purse, by the computer, by the home phone, in my night stand, etc.  This way I'm always ready for when I come across a prayer need, whether it be in person when I'm out and about, over the phone, or through emails and social network sites.

Then, every time I have a new written request, I stick it in my Journal's divider pocket to add in later when I have the time.  I will usually go through my purse's notepad once a week or so and take out the requests I've accumulated in conversations with people at church, get-togethers with family and friends, etc.

The Prayer Journal divider pockets can also be a handy place to store church bulletins and prayer request lists, as well as newsletters from the missionaries and ministries that you support.  You can either store these papers in the pockets if they include too many requests to write down in your Journal, or save them there for later when you have the extra time to write down any specific requests from them in your Journal.

By the way, I totally forgot to explain in Part 2 why the pockets are useful in the Bible Study Section divider!  Whoops!  Let me do that right now:

Bible Study Journal Divider Pockets

Those divider pockets are the perfect place to store sermon and group Bible study notes for later use.  Have you ever sat through a sermon or group Bible study and felt the desire to do a personal study about something mentioned? Well then, write it down in your sermon notes or in your purse's notepad and remember to add it to your Bible Study Journal divider pocket for future study.

Another great use of the Bible Study divider pockets is to store notes of any favorite or special verses you want to memorize or meditate on in the future. For example, sometimes while I'm studying a certain passage of Scripture in my daily devotional time, I come across a verse(s) that I really want to memorize. I write down the reference to make a note card later for my Scripture Card File, if I don't have time to do it right then.  FYI:  I keep my Scripture Card File in my Bible Basket, so that I have everything I need within reach for times just like this.  But some days I have limited time for my devotions, so I have to write a quick note to remind myself to add the verse(s) to my File later and I stick these notes in my pocket for another day when I have more time.

Sorry about that.

Back to the Prayer Journal:

Now that we have gone through how to organize your prayer requests, we can get down to the fun part - actually writing out the pages!

When I first started my Prayer Journal, I realized I wanted a better way to make note of how prayers were answered.  So I devised this handy (and I'll admit, pretty darn cute) method of differentiating between prayer requests and their answers.

If you click on the link below it will take you to a sample Prayer Journal Page I made up that will show you what it looks like using the technique I created (please note that I have not included any real life names or personal information of anyone I know; it's all made up!  So this page is to be used as an example only):

SAMPLE ONLY Prayer Journal Page

So basically, as you can see from this sample page, any prayer request main topic is listed with a "heart" in front of it.  And any additional prayer needs associated with that main topic are written below with "squiggly lines", technically known as the "tilde" symbol.  Why did I not just use dashes or bullet points?  It's simple, really. They're just not as pretty.  And like I mentioned before, I like things to be pretty.  You can go ahead and use any symbol you want, but I like the squigglies.

What are the cross symbols used for then?  If you didn't already figure it out, they are to notate how prayers are answered.  Whenever we pray, we pray in Jesus' name and for His sake, so the cross symbol seemed to be the perfect symbol to use for answered prayer.  Plus, it's easy to draw.  So are hearts and squiggly lines.

Are you ready to start writing your very own Prayer Journal?

I'm so excited for you to start being more organized and purposeful in your prayer life!  I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome it feels to draw those crosses as I see God working in my life and the lives of those I care about.  That is the best part of prayer journaling. It's why we pray in the first place, isn't it?  To have our hearts and lives changed and renewed by the gracious and mighty hand of God.  To give Him the praise and thanksgiving He is worthy of and for His loving care of us.  And to increase our trust and faith in Him and His good purposes for our lives.

Looking back in your Prayer Journal and seeing all the crosses you have added under all the hearts is an effective faith-builder.  Keeping a record of God's faithfulness and loving work in your life is a great way to grow in your faith walk and trust in Him, especially during those difficult times of life when it seems He's not listening to or answering our prayers.  Or answering as quickly as we think He should.

I hope and pray you will enjoy keeping your own Prayer Journal and that it will draw you closer to your Lord, and also to the many people you will commit to pray for!  God bless you, my friend, as you spend more time communicating with our great and mighty Lord who hears and answers prayer!

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;

~Psalm 17:6a

They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle.  He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.
~1 Chronicles 5:20

In Christ,


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bible Study and Prayer Journal: Part 2

God's Words:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
~2 Timothy 3:16-17

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law...Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path...Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
~Psalm 119:18, 105, 133

Welcome back for Part 2 of how to put together and maintain your very own Bible Study & Prayer Journal!  I am very excited to share these next steps with you.

In Part 1 we left off at assembling the Bible Study Section of your Journal binder.  So go grab the binder you started and let's get back to work!

Bible Study Section

After doing a little research on the best questions to ask oneself when studying the Bible, I put together this list of 4 questions and an ending application prayer.  Each of these 4 Bible Study questions alone will help you delve deeper into the meaning of the passage of Scripture you are reading. But when used altogether, the questions will give you a much broader, deeper, and more lasting view of what you are studying.

For example, have you ever rushed through your Bible reading time just to get it "checked-off" your to-do list, only to end up forgetting what you read later that same day? That's no good, is it?  Whenever I do that, I feel like I might as well not have even read the Word that day if I'm not going to take the extra time and effort to specifically apply it to myself and my life.  At times like this I feel just like the vain, albeit remarkably amnesic dude that James writes about:

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."  ~James 1:22-24

Nope.  That's no good at all.

Instead I want to be more like the blessed dude:

"But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does."  ~ James 1:25

Just as the two key Bible passages of this post describe, I truly do desire to have God's Word sink deeply into my heart and mind so that I can be blessed by it, meditate on, and allow it to light my life's path and guide me in God's way.  And I want to know my Lord and Savior better and find new reasons to fall more deeply in love with Him!

How about you?

Well, these 4 Bible Study questions and application prayer will help you do just exactly that!  I have been amazed at how the simple but profound questions have caused me to find new things in Bible passages that I've already read countless times before.

You see, they will help you look at Scripture in a whole new way.  And you will discover new hidden treasures in each Bible passage you read that you never even knew were there!

I just love how God uses His Word to touch me each new time I read a verse or passage; sometimes in a very different way than the previous time I read the same exact passage! Isn't God so amazing that way?

These study questions will also help you make a very personal application to your own life.  You will find that you'll actually remember what you learned in your reading so that you can continue to apply it in your daily walk.

And always make sure you end your Bible study time with an application prayer. That's when you ask the Lord to give you the grace and strength you need to remember and obey all that He has shown you in His Word that day.

Please keep in mind that actually writing down your prayer is optional, of course.  Some people find this step very meaningful and enjoy looking back at prayers they wrote to God.

Now If I wrote down every word of my Bible study application prayers to God, I would need more than 5 lines.  Just sayin'.  I'm wordy.  God knows this and still loves me.  But my writing hand is cramping up right now at just the thought of penning all my prayers.  Once in a great while I do, but only if I feel like it.

Therefore, you don't have to feel like you must write down your application prayer if you don't want to either.  I just included that in the Bible Study Journal Page as a reminder to definitely pray after your Bible study time because this is a very important part of the power of taking in God's Word.

I will admit that more often than not, my application prayer includes a confession of sinful choices I have made that He shows me through His Word that He wants me to stop - and stop it now.

This is the really hard part of Bible study...  It can be a rather painful business to read words of God that totally convict you.  Then there is just no longer any way you can continue to deny or ignore what God desires and commands for your life as His child.



But it's a good pain.  God wants you to get that sin out of your life, for your own good.  And also for the sake of your witness for Christ. Just as it says in Hebrews 12:10b-11:

"But God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Whew.  That was deep!  Now back to your binder!

Please feel free to use the Bible Study Journal Page document I have already put together, which includes the 4 questions and application prayer.  Here are directions of how to access this document found at the link below:
  1. Click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive where this document is absolutely free for the public to use.  At the top of the web page there are several different options.  If you click on the "printer icon" you'll be able to print the document as I designed it.
  2. Or you may also use the document as a template to create your own personalized Bible Study Journal Page.  First, you will need to have Microsoft Word (or another similar word processor software).  Next, click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive.  Then click on the "download icon" at the top of the web page, which will allow you to save the document to your computer.  Once you open the document on your word processor, make sure to "Enable Editing", which will allow you to revise the template however you want to suit your personal style.  If you don't have word processor software on your computer, no worries!  You can simply click on the "down arrow" at the top of the web page, which will give you several more ways to use the document with "Connected Apps". So, for example, if you already have a Google Docs account, then you can open the document with Google Docs, which is basically a free online word processor.  It may not have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Word, but it works great and it's free.  Gotta love free!
Bible Study Journal Page

There are actually 2 main ways you can use this Bible Study Journal Page:

1. You can print as many copies as you want and use them as your Bible study journal pages on which you will directly write your answers. There is writing space provided after each question and space at the bottom for a written prayer (always optional). The pages will just need to be 3-hole punched so that you can put them in your Journal binder.  This method is a much more costly way to keep your Bible Study Journal, since you will be using up lots of printer paper and ink. The cheaper method detailed below is what I prefer to use.  Now don't forget, I married a Dutch man.  That statement alone should be enough.  However, if you weren't already aware, Dutch people (and their married counterparts) just love to scrimp, save, pinch, and anything else we can do to our pennies to keep as many of them as possible to ourselves.

2. The Dutch Method:  Print just one copy of the Bible Study Journal Page (once again, card stock paper works best because it's sturdier) and insert it backwards into a 3-ring top-loading clear poly page protector, as shown below:

Whoa.  Wait.  What?!  Why on earth do you insert it backwards, you ask?

Good question!

For this method, the Bible Study Journal Page in the page protector will be your daily guide as you write your answers to the questions on the filler paper. It's simple really (although it didn't occur to me for at least a month of using this method that it made way more sense to put it in the binder this way).

As seen in the photo above, the Bible Study Journal Page should be inserted into the page protector backwards so that you can see the questions on the left side of your binder as you write on the filler paper, which is always on the right side of the binder. Make sense?  If not, I completely understand.  You'll get it sooner or later.  I did.  So there's hope for anyone.

Okay, now that we have all that figured out (or not), let's move on.

So each new day when you begin your Bible study time, you will flip in your Journal binder to where the page protector currently is.  It should be on the left side of your last Bible study Journal entry.

Take the page protector out of its current spot...

Move it past your last Journal entry and insert it to the left of a fresh new page of the filler paper as shown here:

Now begin by writing the day's date and the Bible verse or passage you will be reading that day at the top of the next blank page of filler paper.  Then go through all the questions as you read the verse(s), writing down your answers and application prayer (remember - optional!).

Well, that's it for the Bible Study Journal section!  I hope and pray that you find your Journal to be a huge blessing in your life, as I've experienced with mine.

Keep a look-out for the third and final part of this series where I will share the steps I've created to make your very own Prayer Journal section of your binder. I hope to have it completed by later this week or early next week!

Until then, enjoy digging deeper into the Word of God!  I am praying for you to grow much closer to the Lord each new day through your new Bible Study Journal.  And that He will open your eyes to see the wonderful things in His Word that He wants you to know. Wonderful life-changing truths about Him, about His promises, about who you are in Christ, and about His will for your life.  Truths that will train you in righteousness so that you will be "thoroughly equipped for every good work".  Amen.  God bless you, sister!

UPDATE:  I totally forgot to explain in this Part of the series why the pockets are useful in the Bible Study Section divider!  Whoops!  Find those instructions in Part 3.  Just scroll about two-thirds of the way down the page until you get to the bold, underlined heading titled "Bible Study Journal Divider Pockets"

In Christ,