Seeds of Devotion
By Julia Attaway

When Your Teen Turns Mean

The wisdom of waiting when you want your teenager to listen

One of my children texted me an angry message the other day, and it took a bite out of my heart. It’s the kind of thing that happens occasionally when you have teenagers.

Because I was hurt, my instinct was to text my feelings back. But I’m learning: I carefully put my phone away in a zipped pocket of my purse. Though my child was in the wrong, I would still be right if I waited an hour. I could do my correcting then, after my emotions (and my teen’s) had quieted down.

A Christian List

4 things every Christian should know.

I ran into a neighbor yesterday as I walked out the door to my apartment building, and we ended up riding together on the subway for 20 minutes. 

We chatted about this and that, and at one point I commented, “The way I look at it, by the time you get to middle age you need to know four things: how to shrug your shoulders, how to laugh at yourself, how to shift from Plan A to Plan B without missing a beat, and how to rebound.”

Dealing with Anger

So mad you're about to become a fire breather? Here's some cooling advice.

I’ve been stressed lately by many things, and it leaves me open to snappishness. Then last week on Elizabeth Duffy’s blog I read this:

When we feel angry, and want to breathe fire, we should take a drink of water and hold it in our mouths. Boil the water with our tongues. Go somewhere to be alone, holding the water in our mouth until it cools. Sit down in the bathroom if necessary. Maybe no one will bother us there. And soon the Spirit will descend on us. 

The Two-Mile Mark

We each have an inner odometer that measures the distance we must travel from inner discomfort to peace.

Last Sunday morning I had to grapple with a deep disappointment, the kind I knew could easily morph into anger. I needed to be alone, so I sent the family on to church and stayed home.

The Reason for Abundance

Peppers, onions, cucumbers, squash–and a kindness meant to be passed along.

I headed up to the park last Tuesday to pick up my weekly delivery of farm produce from the Community Supported Agriculture group I’ve been part of for years. Actually, I was picking up a double share: our upstairs neighbors were on vacation and had given us their week’s worth of veggies. Thinking of all that green goodness awaiting me put abundance on my mind.

Unfinished Tasks

How to handle a problem so that it doesn't hang around and morph into something else!

There’s a pile of books next to my front door. It’s been there for three weeks, maybe four. My husband put the books there temporarily, awaiting their relocation to… somewhere. I notice them and grit my teeth at their presence every time I enter or leave the apartment. Andrew no longer sees them at all.

This is the stuff marriages are made of: how one handles issues like the fact that Person A notices (and stumbles over) a pile of books and Person B is oblivious.

Acts of Kindness

There’s something about remembering the good someone else has done you that changes your heart for the better.

My daughter Maggie just finished a five-week drama intensive. Sixteen kids ages 13-17, six days a week, for six to ten hours a day. By week four the participants were utterly exhausted. And then, because they were teens (or perhaps because they are human beings), someone did something hurtful to others.

Fortunately a parent was paying attention, and in addition to reporting the problem to the director of the program, suggested a solution.

Stuck in a Prayer? On Your Feet!

I was astonished at how physically "going to Jesus" made a difference in my prayer. Literally going out of my way to seek him made a difference.

I’ve been weighed down by a problem lately, a complex and serious one. I’ve tried thinking my way through it, seeking advice, offering it up in confused prayer. It sticks to my heart tenaciously, where I’m aware of it all day long.

Responding to Anger in a Christian Manner

If you get a nasty email, how do you respond in faith instead of reacting from emotion? It's all God asks.

I received an email this week from an acquaintance who was angry at me. His missive contained a lot of snark; if the writer meant to hurt, he did. It didn’t help that his nastiness was fueled by a number of false assumptions, since my heart immediately latched on to the need to set him straight.

Lord, Could I Catch a Break?!

Whenever I want to give up, it’s never the Spirit whispering, “This is way too hard! Better stop.”


I was up early this morning, thinking about everything that needs to be fixed before we can sell our apartment. As I was pouring my second cup of coffee, I was hit with an “I don’t wanna!” moan of weariness. Sometimes I get plain tired of plugging ahead.

Lord, I sighed, Can’t I have a break here?

It occurred to me that I’d just had a break.

I’m so tired of this! Really, it shouldn’t have to be this hard.

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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