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Seeds of Devotion
By Julia Attaway

Thinking About the Sprats

A strategy for avoiding sins of both kinds–commission and omission

I was thinking about Jack Sprat and his wife this morning during my quiet time.

You know them: he could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean, and so between the two of them they licked the platter clean. I was thinking their sin patterns differed.

One–maybe it was Jack–was probably a ‘sins of commission’ type, who lost his temper and lied and talked unkindly about others. Maybe he even lusted after other women or coveted his neighbor’s ox. He was a commandment breaker, the kind of sinner you could spot at a distance.

Love Your Enemies

When angry, the fastest way to peace is to pray for the good of the one who upset you.

An angry person came into my life this week and turned it upside down. It was horrible. The person was unjust, unkind and unyielding to reason. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it, either. My kids were distraught and I was upset, both for their sake and my own.  

I was so stunned and flustered and furious at this person that it took a full four hours for me to calm down enough to remember Jesus’ instructions: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Sleep-Deprived Prayer

How exhaustion can lead to having an ongoing conversation with God.

At church on Sunday I sat behind a young couple and their newborn. Not surprisingly, the mom and dad didn’t get a whole lot of worshipping done. I smiled, for watching them brought to mind my own sleep-deprived days of new motherhood.

One of my big challenges back then was finding ways to stay close to the Lord when life was dominated by a fussy baby. Long “quiet times” were out of the question.

The Lord's Servant

Faith cannot be dependent on circumstances, for God’s love never is.

For a while last year, my family was preparing to move. Then a crisis came up, and the move got put on hold. After that a bigger crisis emerged, and the concept of relocating went into cold storage.

But this year as I read the story of Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem I was keenly aware of the stress Mary must have faced when relocating–even temporarily–while nine months pregnant.  

If You See Something, Pray Something

If something–or someone–is worth commenting on, isn't it worthy of prayer?


I’ve spent the past several Sundays in a church in another part of the country.

The first Sunday I noticed there were several families with developmentally disabled children, and it made me smile. I have to tell my sister Beth about this, I thought.

My niece Hannah has Down Syndrome, and I am always happy when I see people with disabilities of any sort included in society. But in the flurry of that week, I forgot to say anything.

Red Sea-Size Problems

How to re-frame big, scary situations–one small step at a time.

A while back my friend Liz and I were talking about the crossing of the Red Sea.

She commented, “We tend to think, ‘Oh wow! That must have been amazing!’ when probably the only thing most people saw as they hurried through the waters was the back of the head of the guy in front of them.”

I strongly suspect this is true. I know that when I have a Red Sea-size problem I tend to get overwhelmed. I make the mistake of thinking I need a Red Sea-size solution, when really all I have to do is keep moving.

How a Crisis Can Make You Wise

Experience with a son's difficulties fills a mother with gratitude, not fear.

For many years I thought the one great good that came out of my decade of struggling with my older son’s anxiety and mood issues was that I could help others through similar problems. A couple of weeks ago I discovered another silver lining.

One of my other children was recently diagnosed with a serious health issue. As I sat in a support group for parents whose children share this diagnosis, I recognized the barely-holding-it-together look of moms and dads desperately hoping their children will make it.

Advent Thoughts

In the darkest season, notice the bits of light that Christ has put in your path

One of my favorite Bible passages pops up at the beginning of every Advent: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5) 

I like this verse because it reminds me of several things:

Respond, Don't React

To love others as Christ loved me, I need to respond instead of react to their behavior. 

My 18-year-old–who has never been an easy child–was exceptionally irrational and argumentative the other day. After a bit of back-and-forth, it was clear that my powers of persuasion were no match for his ability to aggravate.

On the brink of saying something I knew I’d regret I took a deep breath, mentally stepped back, and said my go-to prayer in these situations: Holy Spirit, guide my words.

5 Tips to Make Advent More Meaningful Through Devotion

Contrary to what you hear and see, it’s a season of devotion, not decoration.

’Tis the season: Advent. Contrary to what you hear and see, it’s a season of devotion, not decoration. Herewith, my personal five-point guide on how to use this month to prepare for a frenzy-free Christmas.

1. Make Your List
Brainstorm gift ideas for Jesus, considering what he wants most. Best bet: the time-tested trio of golden forgiveness, sweet-smelling humility and the balm of a contrite heart.

Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.

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