Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in Devotions

Here's a visual summary of the themes in my personal devotions over the last 12 months:

If you prune that down to the top 20 words, it looks like this:

And if you go all the way down to the top 5 words, you see this:

Not that you really need to know that much about what's been on my heart for the last twelve months as I read and reflect on Scripture of course, but I wanted to share with you the tools I've found that have made this little look-back reflection possible.

First, I've been using a simple journaling format that I learned from Wayne Cordeiro at New Hope in Hawaii.  It uses a SOAP acronym to provide structure (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) and help keep things simple.  I've written more about that before.  What I may not have mentioned is that the journal invites you to create a Table of Contents as you go, and for each entry to record a title and some keywords that identify the themes in what you've written.  Here's what mine looks like:

I've been using this journaling tool for several years now and have begun using the keywords as a window into the past.  (The Table of Contents is also a HUGE asset when you need to find a verse on a topic for yourself or someone else.)

With that list of words as raw material, you can visualize it as above using the website Wordle. Paste your text into the box and BOOM!  A word cloud where the words that appear most frequently are shown in larger font.  Wordle gives you a lot of flexibility on how the visual is created... fonts, colors and alignment etc.  But you can also limit the number of words that will be shown from your content, which is how I made the three versions above.  (You can also make a Wordle from a document, or even from a website.  Try pasting in a whole book of the Bible sometime to see some interesting things about the topics that book is engaging.)

If you're not doing daily devos, I encourage you to start and I recommend the Life Journal as a great tool.  It's been a huge blessing to me!

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