Mind Dump

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For most of my life, I have been an easy-going person; unflappable. I prefer my days to unfold and find schedules to be anxiety-producing. Some would break out in a cold sweat thinking about an unscheduled or unstructured day. Some find solace in routine. I find it in flexibility.

However, after my children were born, I found myself living in a structured, scheduled daily routine. Babies like to eat at regular intervals and prefer sleeping routines that follow suit. And my life changed.

I discovered my mind would race throughout the day overwhelmed by the things I was trying to remember. My to-do list was growing longer and the anxiety was building.

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At night, when I lay my head on the pillow, all I wanted was for my mind to stop…thinking. It felt as if my mind would explode trying to remember it all.

I was already using a calendar and I had a couple of systems in place. But my mind didn’t want me to forget. So it kept reminding me.

It was around this time that a friend introduced me to the book, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Allen’s system is a great step to productivity. But the concept of “Mind Dump” is the biggest takeaway that most people neglect.

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Allen contends that the reason most of us experience insomnia is the inability to turn off our brains. And our brains don’t want to shut down because there is nowhere to put the information it is trying to remember. If we give our brains a safe place to store the information, then it can trust itself to rest.

The first step in doing this is called a Mind Dump.

Step One: get yourself a blank notebook or journal

Step Two: write everything that comes to your mind

  • ideas you want to explore
  • projects that need to get done
  • appointments you need to keep or schedule
  • errands you need to run
  • people you want to talk to about something specific
  • places you want to go or visit
  • things you want to accomplish
  • stuff you hate about your job, family, life, house, etc.
  • keep writing until you run out of stuff to write
  • put the notebook somewhere you will see it in the morning
  • schedule a time/date on your calendar/phone to review it
  • go to sleep

Step Three: you will need to keep that appointment (of reviewing the list) or your mind will return to reminding you of all the stuff

Step Four: at the appointment, begin to categorize the items on the list.

Step Five: create a “next step” for each category. If your mind knows there is a list you will review and the next step to follow, then it will allow you to rest. Follow through is the key to getting your mind to stop and rest though.

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Since I have implemented the mind dump, I rarely have trouble falling asleep (unless caffeine is involved). On those nights, or even during the day, when I’m feeling anxious, I use the mind dump to clear my anxious thoughts. It’s one of the greatest gifts I have been given! Give it a try and you just might get some rest.

 

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Scripture Writing Plan for the New Year

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Scripture writing plans are a new concept for me. It’s helpful to write our scripture at the end of a prayer journal entry. In the past, I have embraced writing scripture on note cards and taping them to cupboard doors. Each time I went for a cup or bowl, I was reminded to meditate on the Word of God.

Recently I was introduced to the idea of writing out scripture in a daily journal. It seems silly when we have the written (printed) word right in front of us. And then I considered the scribes of old, even the saints of the New Testament. They copied scripture daily because there were limited scrolls to go around. There were no printing presses to mass produce the Gospel of John. So they would copy the scriptures for personal use and to share.

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Today, we have plenty of ways to mass produce the Bible. We can have it in physical Bibles and e-versions. We can read it from our app or listen online. But there is power in writing out scripture by hand. Scientific studies show that students who take notes long hand vs. electronically remember more of the materials…even before studying for the test.

In my personal experience, I find the act of writing out the scripture captures my heart and mind more intentionally. Certain words, phrases, and passages begin to stand out even after I have finished the journal entry for the day.

I hope for the new year you will consider trying your hand at a scripture writing plan. I have included one for January at the bottom of the blog. Whatever you decide, make scripture part of your 2017 plan!

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5 Tips for Keeping a Bible Study Journal

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As a new Christian, I knew nothing about the Bible. I had not been raised in the Church and my knowledge was limited to knowing there were four Gospels written about Jesus. That was it. However, God blessed me in the early days with an insatiable appetite for His Word and I read several chapters each day.

My approach to studying God’s Word has changed over the years. I now read each day for encouragement and inspiration. But I also take time throughout the week for deeper study. You do not need to be a pastor or have a Bible degree to study God’s Word. A personal study will help you in your daily walk. And it will help you break some of the strongholds in your life.

Here are some tips for your personal growth and spiritual development.

 

Choose a Book or Topic

Choose a book of the Bible or a topic that you would like to know more about for yourself. It could be something you are struggling with or simply something of interest. One year I spent several months reading nothing but Christ’s words in red. It was challenging to focus solely on His words. Other times I have challenged myself with the prophets, kings, and New Testament letters.

If you choose a topic, a concordance will help you to find passages that focus on a specific word. For example, if you would like to know more about prayer, a concordance will give you a reference for each time the word “prayer” is used in scripture. You can also reference some great online websites like Study Light or Bible Gateway. These websites offer study helps such as concordances, commentaries, and topical Bibles.

Supplies

I have a journal dedicated to my study notes. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A journal, notebook, or composition book will do. Some of us prefer fancy and others prefer practical. I also keep several highlighters and pens so I can mark words and phrases that seem to speak to me as I read.

Time and Space

My personal study is more structured than my personal prayer and reading time. I regulate my time and space for this activity. I prefer a quiet area where I can spread out my materials. I also prefer to study in the afternoon or evening since I am not really a morning person.

You choose the time and place that best suits you. If you have young children, then you may have to work around their schedules. But God will help you find a time and place that works for you.

Who, What, Where

So what do I write in my study journal? I prefer taking it verse by verse, chapter by chapter. I read the passage and mark the words or phrases that seem to speak to my heart. I may not understand why they are prominent, but I write them in my journal. After a few readings, I begin to ask myself questions about these words and phrases.

How do they fit into the larger scope of the passage? Who is speaking to whom and why? What are they trying to say here? How is this relevant to my life right now? What feelings are evoked in my spirit when I read this passage? What do I believe God is trying to say to me through this Word? Is there something I need to do in response?

As I begin to answer some of these questions, it naturally flows into a time of prayer.

Your Turn

Bible study journaling is a powerful way to deepen your walk with Christ. Today is a good day to step out on faith and dig a little deeper. Take the challenge and commit to 30 days of study. Then see what God will do in your heart and life.

I hope you will try it and let me know what He does in you!

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