To Not Write is To Not Offer Myself

When did sitting down to write become so laborious and difficult? When did the words cease to flow?

To Not Write is To Not Offer Myself

When I began trying too hard.

While I believe excellent writing takes practice, lots of consistent practice, laboring through it just seems all wrong. It negates the reason I write.  Cleaning takes work. Discipline takes work. Even relationships take work. But writing? Writing helps me breathe better; deeper; more fully.

Writing is not work in the sense that its’ repetition is dull and mundane. The work is hardly noticeable, although it is there. It is subtle, but without its effort, I would cease to exist as I am. Writing is woven throughout the woman God created me to be. It's an expression of Him--an extension of His likeness, coupled with my identity in Him.

Writing helps me slow down and take in life. It forces me to pause and scribble down the moments before they flee. With millions and millions of moments passing by year after year, how will I remember? This life is but a moment compared to the eternal, but God is still here. How can I heed seeing Him when I am going through a storm if I have not left a trace? If I have not left words, like breadcrumbs, to lead me back to where I have been and where God has been faithful?

When I revisit times of uncertainty and see that God's prints lead me through the fog, I have yet another reason to rejoice; another reason to proclaim His glory.

To not write is to forget.

To not write is to not breathe in life.

To not write is to not offer myself.

To not write is to not reveal my testimony; my story.

To not write would be to reject His gift.

I can't not write.

I write to honor Him with what He has given me. I cannot hide it. I cannot hoard it. It builds up, bringing forth a burst, an explosion of kept memoirs that were never meant to be hidden or buried. It releases a flame of hope; of encouragement. It is designed to help untangle a messy life and try to understand it's contents. It's one way God uses to communicate with me. As I write, He speaks. He helps me figure things out. The puzzle pieces begin to fit together as each piece is laid out and identified.  Writing helps me figure things out, but also lays things down.

Ann Voskamp writes to the glory of God, and look how it has glorified Him:

:: Post originally published in 2011::
—God used my own words to speak to me today

The Power of Doing Daily Devotions with Your Children

Children need some formal instruction and devoted time to be in the Word and learning about what it means. ~Christin Slade

What is a devotional? We view this as a book that takes us through a daily reading and teaching about God's word. While this is true, real devotion is much more than sitting down to read a daily passage and a few notes to go with it. The very word devotion means profound dedication. To break this down further, profound dedication means the deep penetration of one's thoughts and actions to be wholly committed to something.

Your devotion isn't found in doing a devotion. It's found in your dedication to the Lord. The devotional is simply a tool to help you understand how to live out God's Word.

So what does this mean for your children? Where do devotions fit in here?

First, let's look at what it means to live a life of devotion.

Your children need to see you living a devoted life for Christ. They will see your example and mimic it--whether you're living for Christ or not.

However, children also need some formal instruction and devoted time to be in the Word and learning about what it means. Just as we need to be in the Word and learn what it means, so do our children.

Something I have learned about doing devotions with my children is that when they learn about something, they are more apt to apply it.

For example, when we talk about obedience, my children are more likely to obey and remember to obey, when we have talked about it, therefore, it is in the forefront of their mind. When we talk about why it's important to obey and who their authorities are, they begin to see reason for living out this attribute. They begin to understand the role God has given them.

I want to share 5 elements of a devotional life with you. I have found them to be necessary aspects to living out a life of devotion to God and they will help you as you teach your children the same. They are not exhaustive.

5 Elements of a Devotional Life

  1. Perspective - when it comes to devotion we need a perspective shift. Devotion is not something we merely try to squeeze into our lives and hope there will be room. When we live a devoted life, what we are devoted to will get the most attention. Our words are not enough of us to be considered devoted.  We can say we're devoted, but if our lives don't mirror that, our words render useless. God wants us: heart, soul, and mind.  
     
  2. Prayer - there are so many things that seek to derail us, this is a crucial part of a devoted life.  Satan seeks to debunk that in any way he can. He uses distractions, life circumstances, fatigue, excuse after excuse. Anything can stand in the way of simply sitting down to train our children. We must pray for a clear path and to resist temptation.
     
  3. Patience - As our children learn and grow, they will make mistakes. They will give in to temptation and "forget" what we have taught them. Training children requires heaps of patience. Anger and frustrations will not help us here. If anything, they hurt what we are trying to accomplish.  This is a good time for us to remember that a gentle answer is more productive than a harsh word.
     
  4. Persistence - There will be times we will want to give up because it gets hard. It is so easy to find excuses on why we didn't get around to it today.  Our excuses run endless. But isn't this also training our children? It teaches them we are inconsistent. Do not give up making this time to train in devotion. Be persistent. Do not give up when it gets hard. Push through.
     
  5. Practice - We need to practice what we are teaching and remind our children to do the same. When moments arise that allow for training, most often, it will be something you have taught them about. Now is the time to help them put what they learned into action. Practice living a devoted life. Good behavior and good character are not the only ways to practice devoted living. Sing praises! Pray together. Serve one another and others outside your family. Practice love.

It is not merely the acts that make us devoted. It's a heart of devotion to Christ that makes us devoted. When our hearts are turned toward Him, we will want to devote our time and efforts to Him. But, even those wants can be stifled by excuses and hardships. Don't allow yourself to become complacent. Be active and intentional about living for Christ and training your children in the same.

Some devotionals I recommend:

Our 24 Family Ways (Ages 7+)

Big Thoughts for Little People (Ages 2-5)

Growing Together in Gratitude - and others in this series (Ages 8+)

 

For His Glory,

Christin Slade

Visual Prayer

Today's guest post is by a beautiful gal named Michelle. I invited her to share her creativity and how she uses it as a spiritual discipline. And yes, all those beautiful pictures are ones she painted. She's a-mazing. ...

The Spiritual discipline of prayer has always been difficult for me. Instead of having effective quiet time, my mind would be racing, making lists, having conversations with people, going grocery shopping, planning homeschool lessons, and who can pray and listen to God while they mind is totally checked out?

It wasn't for lack of trying that I wasn't achieving intimacy with God during our *ahem* "quiet time." I tried prayer journaling, kneeling, sitting up, standing up, (never lying down though, I'd be asleep in nano-second.) I tried everything. It wasn't until I discovered what I call Visual Prayer that I truly understood the worship that happens when intimacy happens.

Visual Prayer-Wait for the Promises of the Father

Visual Prayer is on the unconventional side of the pendulum swing. It starts with images, Bible verses, paper, color, paint, glue and whatever is handy. In the process of cutting, gluing, putting brush to canvas, my mind stops its incessant chatter. Complete silence. I'd never known silence until this.

In this new found quiet, God showed up. Oh I'm sure He was there at other times, however, I'm certain I couldn't hear Him. Proof of the Spirit whispering and guiding comes in emails, Facebook messages, and face to face story. It keeps happening and I keep writing the stories down. These stories of the Spirit working through my art, my quiet time, my communion with the Father, continue to pour in as I pour out my heart and learn to become in tune with the heart of Jesus. This happens in the real quiet time, the "for real" solitude now happening.

Visual Prayer-Wait for the Promises of the Father

When I "selfishly" started praying this way, I had no clue it would set me down a path of leading workshops, guest blogging, writing books about it. I call it selfish because it was self-serving, or at least I thought it was. So many times I'd heard messages, sermons, read books and blogs about prayer. According to most, I was doing what I *should* be doing, but I never felt quite right about it.

By doing visual art as prayer, I sort of felt like I was being unbiblical. But God is a creative God and I was seeking Him diligently. I wanted to please him. I knew in my heart that before Visual Prayer, I was not praying in a way that brought me to Him. Some might call Visual Prayer an accident or a coincidence, but I think God answered the prayer of my heart by giving me a way to please Him.

If you feel your spiritual disciplines are lacking, please know that in seeking to draw near to God, He will make your heart desire what's in His heart for you.

Don't give up. Please don't give up.

Visual Prayer--wait for the promise of the Father

With grace falling heavy from His hands, He has given me the opportunity to be near Him, to bless others, and most importantly to bless and please Him. We're all unique. He knows this--it was His genius idea to create us that way. He knows what you need and He'll meet your needs. Your only requirement is to diligently seek Him with all your might.

You may find Visual Prayer helps you with that. It might be music. Or writing. I don't know what your thing is. But I do know it's there.

Wait on the promise of the Father.

mich av

Michelle Pendergrass is a writer, editor, foodie, homeschooler, and most recently a mixed media artist at Visual Prayer. She met her husband in a traffic jam nearly a decade ago and they're still newlyweds. She's a denominational mutt saved by grace and blessed beyond measure.

You can find her at Michelle Pendergrass  and Visual Prayer.