Saturday, April 5, 2014

April A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 4...Today's Blog Brought to You by the Letter "D"

The topic du jour is DEVOTIONALS, a sub-category of my writing.  A devotional is a short essay-type article that usually relates truth about God and His Word.  It can be delivered via an email subscription or contained within a collection of devotionals in a book.

I have started to write devotionals regularly on a friend's blog for her "Thoughtful Thursdays" as well as some archived posts on her other blog.  I have been writing devotions off and on since college.  I attended Bible College and majored in Bible with a concentration in Women's Ministries.  I didn't finish my degree, but I learned a lot from my Women's Ministries professor, including how to give and write devotions.  My English professor really wanted me to be a writer or a teacher, so I hope he would be proud that I am now writing, even though I politely declined when he suggested it.  In a funny twist, I met the friend that I write devotions for in an online devotional forum that I was leading and then she ended up transferring to my college.

My current project is writing a devotional book for moms and daughters.  I have two girls, ages eleven and thirteen.  They are so bombarded with junk these days, I had to address some very mature and very serious issues with them at early ages.  I wanted to find a devotional that helped deal with some of these topics.  There are devotionals out there, but some are outdated and some cover the basics of Christian life without delving into the tough situations.  So, I decided to write one myself.  I am hopelessly behind, as I have come up with more than one hundred topics that I would like to cover.  I just hope I can complete it before my girls graduate!  Once each devotional topic is complete, I am going to go over it with my girls and teach them and also get their opinions to see if there are any questions or tweaks to be made.  Then I hope to add sections for each of them to add their "take" on the topic, relating a story that applies or offering their point of view, so it's not just a mom talking at teen girls.  The devotions are meant to open up communication between moms and their daughters.

Below is a rough draft of one of my devotional topics, as a sneak peak.  Whether you are a mom, a teen, or just a former teen girl, what topics do you think would be good for a devotional?  What do you wish someone had told you when you were a teenager?  What lesson are you glad you learned?


Living the Simple Life
Matthew 19:16-22

Imagine for a moment that you didn't have a cell phone or a computer, a tablet, iPod, Xbox, or Kindle.  What if you had no cable, perhaps no TV at all?  If you couldn't text or post or tweet or download or upload or chat or IM or email or poke or blog or pin or DVR something, would it be the end of the world?  Let's pretend for a moment that all the power went out, like in the TV show Revolution, for just a week.  Or a month.  Or a year.  What would you do?  Probably for the first few days, you would mope, suffering from withdrawal and complain you were bored.  You'd probably reach for your phone, forgetting it didn't work.  You'd think of something funny you wanted to share with all your BFFs and realize that you couldn't.  You'd come home from school, do your homework and chores, and then what?  After the shock wore off, you'd adapt.  You'd get out some books you'd been meaning to read.  You'd take walks and admire God's creation.  You'd write letters to your grandma.  You'd study God's Word without distractions and have plenty of time for praying and listening for God without the noise of ringing phones or pings of messages.  You'd take up a hobby that you might find interesting: sewing, drawing, crocheting, painting, baking, woodworking, gardening, learning to play an instrument and actually practicing.  You might suddenly find the time to do all those things you'd been begging off doing because you were too busy, such as visiting your great-aunt in the nursing home, volunteering at a shelter, tutoring the neighbor girl, going outside to play with your younger siblings, sitting and talking to your family.  You'd actually have to study and read books since you couldn't Google everything or spell-check anything or use the calculator app on your phone or type up your papers.

Can you imagine anything so horrific???  You'd have time to do things.  You would be peaceful because there wasn't something constantly demanding your attention.  Life would slow down and you could quite literally stop and smell the roses.  You would have so much time for reading and study that your vocabulary would expand exponentially and you'd be well-prepared for college.  Your hobbies would not only bring you a sense of accomplishment, but teach you valuable skills and make you well-rounded.  Your relationship with your family would improve as you looked them in the eye at dinner instead of checking for texts and your grandmother and great-aunt would feel loved and respected.  You would be a terrific role model for your younger siblings and the neighbor kids.  You would do much good in community service and bless many people.  You would grow in your relationship with God.  Yep, that all sounds horrible.

Sometimes I envy the Amish, the Mennonites, and the characters in Jane Austen novels.  Life seems so much simpler for them.  Yes, I have a smartphone and computers and a laptop and cable TV and a blog and a Pinterest account and Instagram and plenty of other modern traps of my time.  And some days, I look at them and consider dropping them all in the trash can or canceling the service on them.  How many more excellent things would I have time for, if not for the pull of all the modern "conveniences"?

I'm not saying you should retreat into a cave and shun all modern electronic devices.  Moderation, that's what I'm saying.  Don't let them rule your life.  If your parents don't recognize your face because they only see the top of your head as you are bent over your cell phone all the time, your priorities may be out of whack.  Weigh your priorities.  Is it more important to peruse Pinterest or to read your Bible?  Is that text worth losing out on a closeness you could be building with your family?  Is playing that video game more important than playing with your little brother?  Would anything be better than making your grandma feel loved or your great-aunt not so lonely or that homeless person feel like someone cared enough to put food in their belly?  Should anything come before your relationship with God.

Sometimes I think we are so stressed out because we make ourselves stressed out.  When I look at simpler times and simpler people, I don't see stress, I see contentment.  How many times do you get mad when you read something stupid on Facebook or get a text from your BFF about something someone else said?  Is it worth the cost?  If reading a book or painting a sunset or taking a walk would help slow you down and reset your priorities, then turn off your phone, walk away from the computer, and get busy.  Don't wait until tomorrow or you'll never do it.  Ask God to help you figure out what's important.

Moms, this is something we have to do as well.  I am talking to myself here too.  I spend way too much time on the computer myself.  I use the excuse that since I am a writer, an Etsy shop owner, and a photographer, technology is my business.  However, I feel horribly guilty when I hear one of my children say that I am "always on that computer" or when I find myself toting my laptop to the park while they play.  I didn't think I was that bad with the cell phone because I don't like to talk on the phone much, but my husband perceives my texting as excessive, though it doesn't seem that way to me.  I don't want my legacy to my family to be that mom was too busy on the computer or the phone.  I want the memories to outweigh my work.

I Corinthians 10:31; Romans 12; Matthew 22: 36-40; Matthew 6:19-21; I John 2:15-17

To Do:  Have an electronics "fast" this week.  Go big and turn them all off, or start small and go a week without texting or Facebook.  Use that time for prayer and Bible study and finding something important or relaxing to do.

~ Robin ~

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