Friday, January 17, 2020

Using A Mind Map With My Word


Using a Mind Map With My Word

The challenge with using a word to guide you through the year is how to keep that word present throughout the whole year. We all start strong in January when everyone's focus is on fresh starts and setting goals, but the energy and motivation can often start to fizzle a early as February. This is where our Living Your Word of the Year group comes in. We share ways to engage with and practice your word of the year all year long.

So far I have looked at how I chose my word for the year and about my journal here. Last week I shared a video and a worksheet on how to do a word study in the Bible for your word, as did Valerie Sjodin. Bernice Hopper shared last week about how her word of the year changed to a new word. Information about joining our group can be found at the bottom of this post. 

This week we are focusing on using a Mind Map with your word. A Mind Map is a way of visually brainstorming. I am a visual person so it often helps me to use a Mind Map when I am trying to get clarity or to organize my thoughts. At litemind.com they describe a Mind Map like this:
"A Mind Map is a visual tool that helps structure information. A graphical way to represent ideas and concepts."
I used a Mind Map to organize and visualize how I want to live out my word this year. My word is fruit and I've decided to use an agricultural metaphor with my word this year, much like Scripture does. So I researched some verbs that are agricultural and have set up my intentions based on these words. By the way, I will be talking about the difference between goals and intentions in the next few weeks.


Another way I'll use a Mind Map is to try to sort through and organize things I am studying. Here is one I did for Galatians 5:22-23, where my word for the year, fruit, is found. I found some great articles and grammatical information and I was trying to sort it all out in my head. Mapping it out really helped as it gave me a visual.






I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way to do Mind Maps, but I do think they are a great tool!

Living Your Word 2020 Opportunity!
My friends Bernice Hopper, and Valerie Sjodin, and I share insights through blog posts for creatively living a word of the year. In our Facebook group, we encourage one another by posting questions and prompts to inspire living out a word focus, keeping a journal etc. It is a safe place to ask for prayer and support. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word, you can ask to join our Living Your Word of the Year 2020 by clicking on the link below.

Hashtag for Instagram:  #livingyourword2020

Check out their blogs:

Friday, January 10, 2020

Using A Word Study To Connect With Your Word


This month in our Living Your Word group we are exploring some of the ways we can get to know more about the word we have selected for the year. One of the first things I do once I know what my word will be is to do a word study to see the extent of how my word is used in the Bible. 

I enjoy doing Bible word studies and have included them in my Bible Study Tools classes over the years. When connected with my word of the year, a word study can often help me further set my intentions for my word.  When I spend time studying the verses and passages that I find through the word study, and combine that with prayer, I often gain direction from God for how He wants this word to be lived out in my life.

So, let's get into how I do a word study. I have two tools to help. First is a worksheet that will give you all my steps to dig deeper into the understanding of your word using online Bible study tools. You can download the worksheet here.

When I teach how to do a word study in a class or Bible study group, the most asked questions have  to do with how to use the actual websites. So I made a brief video walking through the main websites I use.





After I have completed my initial word study, I will then spend time throughout the year studying the verses in greater context. Expanding my studies to dig into the passages and books that contain the verses helps me dig deeper into a fuller meaning of the Biblical use of my word. It also helps me dig deeper into God's use of that word in my own life.

I hope you will grow to love word studies as much as I do! Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below, in our Living Your Word Facebook group (link below), or feel free to email me marybrack@gmail.com. 

You can also check out Valerie Sjodin's blog post today which will feature tips on how she does a word study. The link to Valerie's website is below.

If you are using a word of the year and would like to have a place where you can get ideas, have conversations, and share your journal, join us in the Living Your Word of the Year Facebook group. We post tips, tutorials, or reflection questions each week.

Living Your Word 2020 Opportunity!

My friends Bernice Hopper, and Valerie Sjodin, and I share insights through blog posts for creatively living a word of the year. In our Facebook group, we encourage one another by posting questions and prompts to inspire living out a word focus, keeping a journal etc. It is a safe place to ask for prayer and support. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word, you can ask to join our Living Your Word of the Year 2020 by clicking on the link below.

Hashtag for Instagram:  #livingyourword2020
Check out their blogs:

Monday, January 6, 2020

Choosing My Word for 2020

Choosing My Word for 2020


I love the two week period of Christmas and New Year's day. After being so busy rushing up to Christmas, it's such a nice time of slowing down. Our family tends to celebrate with the extended family the weekend before Christmas, so that means my husband and I have a slower pace during the actual holiday.

I like to spend this time looking back and looking forward. Author Shelly Miller calls it the "sacred margin" the time between what was and what is to come. The anticipation of turning the calendar from the past year to a new year seems to generate an energy of its own - and this year we turn from one decade to another!

I have had a sense of what my word for 2020 would be for the past few months. Looking back through my written journals for the past year has helped me solidify that word decision. The word "fruit" has appeared quite often in my journals. It has been a thread I have noticed, weaving through my thoughts and prayers.


The thread actually began over two years ago when our church was going through the book of Galatians in our Sunday morning services. I serve on a team that helps our pastor and others who speak study for and plan our Sunday series. When we studied Galatians chapter five a few things stood out that I had not noticed before.

First, the word fruit in Galatians 5:22 is singular, not plural. Why is this significant? Well, when we look at the list of fruit as fruits - different kinds - we tend to think we are meant to strive after acquiring these characteristics in our lives. But Paul is clear in the surrounding passage that our job is to "walk" (live) and to be "led" by the Holy Spirit, and the result will be fruit - plural. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is a by-product of living a Spirit-led life. It is a by-product of God's grace poured out into the lives of His followers.

I struggle with loving people unconditionally, and for years have tried to work on changing that. It has been a difficult battle. But going slowly through Galatians 5 helped me to see that in order to grow in love, what I really need to grow in is my connection to the Spirit and living dependently on Him. It's like this:
"With a literal plant, you don’t grow fruit by focusing on the fruits. Fruit happens naturally when the roots are deep and healthy. The same is true in our spiritual lives. .. You won’t grow spiritually by trying to add love, joy, peace, and everything else to your life. You can only do it by driving your roots deep into Christ. The more you embrace his love and promise in the gospel, the more spiritual fruits will appear naturally in your life... The more we soak ourselves in the love of Jesus, the more the fruit of the Spirit will naturally appear." ~J. D. Greear (jdgreear.com)

Dallas Willard says, 
"If we tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself." 
He calls tending the tree soul care. That's my focus this year - tending the tree.

While there is new energy at the beginning of a new year and it feels like we get a fresh start, it really is just a new leg on the same journey. I realized while reading back through my journals that my focus isn't on something new, but rather digging deeper into what God has been revealing and calling me to in my continuing transformation as a Christ follower.

Last week my friend, Valerie Sjodin, wrote a post about choosing a journal. I decided that I wanted to take a bullet journal/art journal/commonplace book approach to my creative journaling this year and after reading her post I decided to try a Leuchtturm journal this year. You can read Valerie's post here





Do you select a word of the year? I am a part of a group where we share ideas and resources for living out your word of the year.

Living Your Word 2020 Opportunity!
My friends Bernice Hopper, and Valerie Sjodin, and I share insights through blog posts for creatively living a word of the year. In our Facebook group, we encourage one another by posting questions and prompts to inspire living out a word focus, keeping a journal etc. It is a safe place to ask for prayer and support. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word, you can ask to join our Living Your Word of the Year 2020 by clicking on the link below.

Hashtag for Instagram:  #livingyourword2020
Check out their blogs:


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Advent Day 24: Revelation


Advent Day 24: Revelation

"No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known." John 1:18


Today we reach the end of John's prologue and with it great news. Jesus came to earth and lived among us to show us God; to fully make known - reveal - who God is.

Jesus is the very image of God:
"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:15-17
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Hebrews 1:1-3
Jesus himself said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:9.

John says, "Jesus has made him known". The Greek word used here is exegeomai which means to declare by making plain; to tell the meaning of something, especially to make it known fully. From this word comes the English word exegesis, meaning interpretation or explanation. It holds the meaning of interpreting a text based solely on what it says. This is exactly what Jesus does. He exegetes God for us - He makes Him fully known. He is Divine revelation. Jesus is "the full and complete revelation of the invisible God. To know Jesus is to know God." Bob Utley

Thou art the everlasting Word,

  The Father’s only Son,

God manifestly seen and heard,
  And heav’n’s beloved One:
Divine, O Son of God, art Thou,
In Thee God’s fulness find we now.
Thou Art the Everlasting Word, Hymn by Josiah Condor, 1789-1855


Thank you for following along with Advent Words. My prayer and hope is that slowing down for the past 24 days of Advent and slowly going through John's prologue has been a time of refreshing. That it has served to help us all focus on the true meaning of Christmas. 
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Advent Day 23: Son


Advent Words Day 23: Son

"No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known." John 1:18

The One and Only, the Son, the Word, Jesus Christ. He is the center of John's prologue and John's gospel. He is the Good News!

Isaiah prophesied the arrival of a great Son:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."Isaiah 9:6-7
The Angel Gabriel proclaimed to Mary she would give birth to the Son of God:
"You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:31-35
The disciples testified to the Son of God, the Messiah:
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." Matthew 16:13-17
Paul declared Him Son of Man and Son of God:
"The gospel of God the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 1:1-4
God declared the Son his plan for salvation:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." John 3:16-17
The Son expresses God's love:
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God." 1 John 4:9-15

The Son is life:
"We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."  1 John 5:9-13
"So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God"
Jesus is the Son of God ~ 
The miracle of Christmas. 





Join me in responding creatively to the Advent Words in John's prologue. You can share your creative response on Instagram using #adventwords2019 or join the Words Challenge Facebook Group and share your creative response there.