On the first afternoon of a weekend retreat I attended in September, surrounded by mountains and the golden aspens of early fall in Colorado, one of the leaders prayed that "something essential" would happen to each of us over the weekend.

As a collector of perfect words, I was struck by the word essential and wrote it down on a notecard and started using it as my bookmark. When I looked up it's meaning, my favorite definition was "absolutely necessary" and my favorite synonym was "vital."

This has been a year filled with distractions and sorrow and I have spent far too much time in a pit of despair, focused on what I don't have or what isn't going right. In an attempt to refocus on the good stuff, I grabbed my pretty journal and sat down to write about what is essential, absolutely necessary and vital to me.

GUESS WHAT MY JOURNAL IS CALLED? Essential Journal! I have been using this journal all year and never noticed that word on the cover.

In my Essential Journal, I made this list:

  • Faith

  • Family

  • Hope

  • Purpose

  • Moments of solitude

  • Books

I may not be able to stop the relentless storms of life right now, but I can control my access to the essentials. I can nurture my faith and draw closer to my family. I can seek hope and purpose and focus less and less on what frightens me. And I will always, always find time to get quiet for awhile with a good book.

What is essential to you? Focus on more of that, friends.