Before I became a mother, I will confess giving more than one eye roll to pretty much any devotional marketed to “busy people.” Any study promising to “only” take five or ten or at the absolute most fifteen minutes appeared—to my pre-motherhood mind—a way of catering to our I-want-it-NOW-and-I-don’t-want-to-be-inconvenienced culture.
And then: twin boys came.
Two delightful, precious, extremely-active, extremely-into-everything-in-every-waking-moment twin boys.
Since then, devotionals like Jennifer Grant’s latest Wholehearted Living: Five-Minute Reflections for Modern Moms are not only a welcome addition to my daily life. They are essential. While spiritual practices like prayer at meals and bedtime and church attendance fit naturally into the life of a family, I am certain that many mothers crave and miss the days when they could sit with a cup of coffee and pore over their Bibles, perhaps highlighting or journaling or calling girlfriends to share new revelations. Soon enough we will have such leisure time back (and then, I’m told, we will miss these busy busy days!), but until then, Grant does a wonderful job of helping us make daily personal spiritual growth and reflection a priority when time is in short supply.
Beginning on January 1st, one of the strengths of this devotional is how Grant has divided the year-long series of readings into categories corresponding to our changing needs throughout the year: first Reflection, as we begin a New Year and are considering who and where we are in our spiritual lives and in our relationship with Christ; then Risk, as we get into the groove of the middle of the year and are ready for challenges and growth; and finally Rest, for when we are entering the holidays and need to prepare our hearts for enjoyment and peace and not stress. Each day’s devotion begins with a thought-provoking quote, then includes a short reading, followed by an even shorter one-sentence summary of the day’s lesson. For those readers especially short on time, even just reading the daily quote or summary would be enough to help refocus one’s mind and approach the day from a more biblically-grounded and calm place. I appreciated the diversity of sources from which Grant draws her quotations (from Richard Rohr to Percy Bysshe Shelley to Marcus Aurelius and, of course, Scripture) and how she miraculously manages to provide 365 very distinct thoughts/lessons for her readers as well.
As a final note, I should say that this devotional need not be just for mothers short on time. One of the book’s most winning features is that the readings could be the source of long contemplation for that peaceful time of coffee drinking and journaling and highlighting and friendly conversation for those who are in that season of life, or it could be the seed planted in the busy mom’s mind that she carries with her throughout the day, no matter how hectic things gets. There is much here to be learned, portioned out perfectly for wherever you are and whatever your need.
Amber M. Stamper holds a Ph.D. in English (Rhetoric and Composition) and is an Assistant Professor of Language, Literature, and Communication at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. Her research and publications center on religious rhetoric and communication, especially issues of Christian evangelism and the digital church.