This post is by Kem Roper.
I breathe deeply as the back door snaps shut behind me and my heart swells with anticipation as I settle into the cushions of my favorite patio chair and take in the scene: my white coffee mug looks brilliant against the green and blue backdrop—grass, trees, water. A breeze lifts the corner of a page in my notebook as I fiddle with my pen, thinking. I lift the cup to my lips and whisper a prayer of thanks for this moment:
“Each morning let me learn more about your love because I trust you. I come to you in prayer, asking for your guidance.” Ps 143:8
I wish I could tell you that I experience such serene moments daily, but more often than not I awake too late. As I hoist my work bag on my shoulder and grab my paper coffee cup, the front door snaps shut behind me and my heart swells with longing, not anticipation.
Can you relate? We know we need quiet time with God, but knowing and doing are two different things. However, what if God time didn’t have to be a long time! What if we committed to ten minutes a day? It’s a start, right?
Not only can we make time for God, but we can also make God time more meaningful. If your devotions swing between two extremes---brief readings, then an occasional deep dive study—yet you’re still feeling depleted, why not try making writing part of your daily devotional practice? Think of writing as pouring out your heart to God, but also by placing our thoughts on the page, we give ourselves permission to reflect on them and this act of thoughtful reflection has the potential to open new neural pathways that improve our cognitive ability, not to mention spiritual growth. Journaling doesn’t have to be complicated and daily writing does not require special skill.
Social media has convinced us that every moment must be picture perfect, but you don’t need an idyllic scene as backdrop for your quiet time. Even if the prettiest place is a white wall in your closet, the point is simply to find a space where you can shut out the noise.
When you choose your notebook, determine how much the design or color will draw you to it. Can you invest in a few stickers and some washi tape? Could you recycle some greeting cards or cut out pictures from a magazine? A picture can, indeed, be worth a thousand words. These simple items can dress up a plain notebook and create a visual story on each page. Collect your ephemera in a small box with a pair of scissors and a glue stick. Then decide how often you will use them to decorate your journal. On the days when time is short, skip the frills. But keep them on hand for the weekends when you have time—or the desire—to do more.
Writing is merely a tool that excavates buried thoughts or sorts through swirling ones. You need not be a wordsmith. Stream-of-conscience writing can be cathartic and if the words aren’t flowing, make lists instead!
Do you need a prompt? Choose a verse (check YouVersion Bible app or Bible Gateway which generates verses daily.) Write the verse in your journal, then respond to it:
The power of writing is often underestimated, but I challenge you to make it a part of your daily practice. You will find that your quiet time is more meaningful and memorable even without a picture-perfect setting!
Dr. Kem Roper is a college professor and Writing Center Director at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a freelance writer and blogger, and is currently at work on her first book, tentatively entitled Trust the Process which challenges readers to use writing as a tool for self-discovery. Kem is host of a weekly Facebook live “conversation with girlfriends” called “HeyGirl!” which airs Saturdays at 5pm and is a happy wife to Everett and mom to Eryn and Edyn (pronounced “Eden”).
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