A Time for Everything

I’ve been blogging for almost seven years and writing for even longer. It doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve written more than 500 posts and when I click ‘Publish’ it will be 525. Over that time, I’ve written mostly for me and I have developed a small modest following. I am grateful to the friendships and e-relationships I’ve developed. My mom reads and occasionally comments when we talk, but doesn’t leave public comments. But, the original focus was to develop as a writer and maybe, just maybe, write for a broader audience.

the first crocus of 2017

In early January, I noticed an advert in our church bulletin looking for writers for the Lenten Devotional. The advert in the bulletin asked for a scripture reference and I tore off the slip and dropped it in the office message box. A week or so later, I got an e-mail and it read:

Hi Clay,

Thank you for registering to contribute to the Lenten E-devotional. I have you on the list for this scripture passages: Ecclesiastes 3.  Please submit your devotional to this email address by February 10. I look forward to reading it.

Blessings,

So, I sat down and wrote a draft and came back to it a few days later. When I was finished, I called a work colleague asked for editing advice and she told me I had nailed it and offered only a couple of revision and stylistic edits and I submitted the piece.

Yesterday morning, my FIRST piece of public writing landed in my e-mail box, promptly at 5AM. I had no hint of when my devotional would be selected, but it was first. I beamed. I forwarded the e-mail to my mom, my brothers, and my colleague. It felt good. Then, I went about my day.

Before I left the house for school, I received an e-mail from a friend with the message – ‘Enjoyed your devotion. Great Job!’

Below is the Lenten Devotional I wrote.

A Time for Everything

Seasons. That is what I love most about living in the Midwest. I grew up in Southeastern Texas along the Gulf Coast. Most of my family still lives there and my mom still lives in the house where I grew up. Southeastern Texas has two season – HOT and mild, with an occasional dip into cold.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 1:1

Here in the Midwest we have four distinct seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter. There is at least one thing I enjoy about each of the seasons. However, it is spring which I look forward to most. When the days become longer and brighter and the sun’s rays begin to warm Earth after her long winter slumber, I venture out into the backyard in search of the first reminders of spring’s arrival – green and purple shoots breaking through the topsoil with a promise of color. The crocus is the first to appear – my wife planted yellow and purple varieties along the stone path leading from the front yard to the backyard and I eagerly await their emergence. When those first dabs of color emerge, I know spring is soon to be here.

I know spring will arrive without those reminders because it happens every year. The Bible reminds us that there is a time for everything.

“A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;” Ecclesiastes 1:2

As a young man, I eagerly anticipated the Christmas season every year, but I knew Easter would follow. I enjoyed my Easter basket and the chocolate bunny, but the importance of Easter was lost. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to look forward to Easter, more than Christmas, because it means that I am given the promise of re-birth. When Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, my sins were forgiven. I have been given the promise of everlasting life because God sacrificed his son – FOR ME – and like the crocus shoots which come back each year, I have the promise of forgiveness.

Thank you, God, for sacrificing your son to forgive me for my sins, thank you for the promise of new seasons and rebirth. Thank you for the reminder of the crocus and help me to be mindful of my own renewal. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

So, there it is, my first piece of published writing beyond Making the Days Count dot org. The editors formatted the message and added:

Action:  During these weeks of Lent, as you see the signs of spring, let them be a reminder to you of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross the promise of rebirth.

Last night after the Ash Wednesday service, my wife and I were walking out and several men mentioned they had enjoyed my devotional piece and my wife was surprised – I hadn’t told her about it. Even the pastor commented that enjoyed it. I had casually asked my wife if she had read the Lenten Devotional before we left the house and she had replied she hadn’t been on e-mail all day. I have days like that as well, in fact my ‘sacrifice’ for Lent is caffeine and Facebook.

Tuesday night my son saw my Facebook post noting that I would be absent and joked, ‘Why don’t you give up the blog….?’ I ignored him.

She read the devotional on the way home and replied, nice piece.

This morning, I went searching for the crocus blooms. It’s been unseasonably warm here in northern Illinois the past few weeks. We had strong storms blow through Tuesday night and yesterday the temperatures dropped to freezing and it lightly snowed overnight. I found the crocus bloom where I always find the first bloom every year, in the sun on the south side of the house along the path. I was reminded.

I read the second Lenten devotional earlier this morning and the message was to follow the rules and do good; the scripture reference was:

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

I already do and I’ll continue to do right and seek justice – it’s what Making the Days Count is all about. I know today is gonna be a great day. The sun is shining, the birds are signing, and the crocuses are blooming. Spring is on the way and signs of renewal are everywhere. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one sign of spring at a time.

What gives you promise of renewal?

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9 thoughts on “A Time for Everything

  1. I am not at all surprised to read that your Lenten devotional was well enjoyed. I have enjoyed the soothing tone of your blog posts for a few years now. Your writer’s voice is well suited for devotionals, I think. Congratulations.

    On another topic, since you have give up Facebook for Lent, I wanted to give you a link to a science blog I think you will enjoy. A friend of mine is writing it. She’s in the Antarctic right now with a team of scientists collecting diatoms from the seawater there. It’s fascinating on many levels. She has posted information, photos and videos. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at myownwerk at yahoo dot com, and I’ll send you the link. The site is set up to be middle-grade friendly.

    At any rate, I hope you won’t give up your blog! I would miss the sound of your voice.

    Have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you Mary. I appreciate your readership and I always look forward to your posts. Believe it or not, I hardly miss Facebook, I actually deleted the app from my phone so I wasn’t tempted by the red dot with the number of notifications I was missing. In sciecne, we are studying how water shapes our world now and I am looking forward to checking out your friend’s site – it sounds very interesting. I am not about to give up the blog – my son was giving me a jab, he likes to do that now and then. Spring is almost here! Have a wonderful week.

  2. Like you, I’ve come to appreciate the changing seasons more and more as I get older. And like you, I like these words in Ecclesiastes. I’m interested too in the process of your writing for a different audience. I imagine you were given a word-count to adhere to? If so, how did you find that? For me, it’s made your writing here tighter and more focussed – in a good way. Great stuff, and congratulations on 525 posts . It’s a good community, this blogging world, isn’t it? Very supportive. And you’re one of the most supportive!

    1. Thank you Margaret. The process was different because often when I sit down to write a post I have a kernel of an idea that I’ve been thinking about and I sit down and write, edit, and publish – usually within the space of a a couple of hours – about a pot of coffee. It’s rare for me to go back to a draft as I did in this case. I received only one requirement that it be about 4-5 paragraphs. I modelled my writing after a devotional I have been reading for years, Our Daily Bread. It’s short enough for a quick read and reflection. The person I sought for editing advice is my teaching partner who knows her writing and I trust her implicitly. I imposed a word count limit to 500 words and ended up with just over 400. It was rewarding to write and even more rewarding to get the feedback. I’m off to the men’s group this morning. It’s going to eb a great day – enjoy yours. Peace.

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?