Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spiritual Growth

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
Philippians 1:6
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun 
a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

This is a picture of how this blog has grown over the past year. We have grown from a few daily readers to about 30 daily readers for each post.
We've grown from around 200 monthly page view to about 800. This graph shows the monthly page views. Still small potatoes but we are growing.

This is a first day of a new year of blogging so I thought it would be good to look back for a moment. When I first decided to post daily - I was not sure how I would manage it over a long span of time. I'm pretty scattered and moved by inspiration. I knew for me to pull this off I would have to really trust and rely on God to help me. He has, I can look back over many days when I felt discouraged and felt I had nothing relevant to say that the Lord helped me to be open and to share the struggles I was facing and how I managed to depend on him, and look to him in those difficult thing of life. I began to hear feed back from some of the people who were reading telling me that those posts really helped them. I started to realize there were people who were looking forward to what I was writing each day. Even with all my hot off the press typos and at times poorly constructed sentences people have made a point to tell me that they are reading and that they really like it.  I say all that to say - thank you for reading and if you are new here welcome I hope you find encouragement for your own daily journey.

At first it was hard to write everyday - now it is hard not to write.

I'm working on the lay out and editing of our first e-book. I am using the A - Z posts from April. Its turned out to be a bigger job than I thought it would be. I have managed to get about half way through the alphabet at this point. I thought I would be able to just go through and clean up typos and fix some wording issues. I'm finding that to make it pop on the page there needs to be little boxes with quotes and frames on the photos and 2 or 3 columns a bit of color. It all takes time, I could use your prayers as I work on completing this book. I am looking into affordable ways to make it available in printed form for those who might like to have it on their coffee table or to be able to give it as a gift to a friend.

My original goal was to write a year long daily devotional book. I have at this point blog published 287 posts and have another 58 in various draft stages. In editing this first e-book I am realizing that I will likely work on the layout and editing for some smaller topical books to begin with.
There are things that I like about blogging that you can't really do with a written book. You can't include videos, and its hard to include links and if you do its not just a quick click to see what is referenced. Maybe that year long devotional will become the "best of" after many years of posting. Who knows - for now I will just keep writing and hope you will keep reading and tell your friends.

I know that I need to continue to grow and develop as a writer and have been talking with some wise writing mentors. I'd like to see about going to some writers work shops and perhaps get some additional training in areas of writing that I am not as familiar with. I like writing essays but I have not tried my hand at fiction or more creative story telling. I've done song writing but not much with poetry. I'm not sure where the next year will take us but I realize it is not so much that I have some big goal of being a frequently published writer or speaker or a household name. Its more of a journey, kind of like the explorers Lewis and Clark who set off to discover what was in the western part of America. They kept journals with maps and drawings of the plants, animals and Indians. They did not know what they would find. I don't know what I will find or discover or even become in the process but I think that people need to see the dailyness of a life lived before the Lord.

A rose in bloom at Manito Park
I think sharing that dailyness with its ups and downs has value. In some ways it is very ordinary but I think we need to know that we are not alone in the ordinary or our struggles. We need to discover how to find God in the average, mundane, on going day to day life. He wants our whole life - so that's not just the days that we feel astoundingly spiritual after some mountain top experience. It is in all the dark valleys and the long dusty plains, and the dry and barren deserts too. People like to skip over those parts but they are part of the real story, the whole story and should not be forgotten. Its often in those times that we feel most alone because people don't often talk about their trials and failures and it can feel like we are the only one who struggles. We can think there must be something terribly wrong with me because everyone else seems to have it all figured out and life is smooth sailing for them. Its not true, everyone has trials, and things that they are struggling to deal with and to overcome. Some are just really good at hiding everything but the good stuff.

 "Adversity is not simply a tool. It is God's most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, adversity becomes easier to bear. ~ Charles Stanley

It is easy to feel isolated and alone even the great prophet Elijah had times when he felt alone. Check out the story in 1 Kings 19 "Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left,  and now they are trying to kill me too.”  He finds out a few verses later that he is not alone. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
  
So I don't know where we will find ourselves a year from now. I do know that I want to keep writing, growing, exploring and sharing openly and honestly the journey as I see it unfold. I'd love it if you would post comments. I sometimes feel like I'm talking to myself and would love a conversation or a question or to hear how something I wrote impacted you in some way. I realize that most of you are readers and lurkers and don't feel like you can write. I do appreciate the comments that I get in person and on face book and I know that is an easy forum for most folks to interact. So I may set up a facebook page for A Devotional Mosaic and see if we can't get some discussion's happening.
 
I will leave you today with some quotes I found about growth. 

There is no growth without change, no change without fear or loss and no loss without pain.
   ~ Rick Warren
 
No one enjoys being cross-examined, or accused of having something wrong in their lives. But as we grow as Christians we come to the painful recognition that we have an almost unlimited capacity for self-deception. We slowly learn that we need to be stopped in our tracks by God. He uses Scripture to do this... We cannot reach our destination if we are travelling in the wrong direction.   ~ Sinclair B. Ferguson

If I invited you to take a walk, you'd think I was crazy if I became angry after the first few steps because we hadn't yet arrived at our destination. We can understand ordinary things like this, yet we have a difficult time understanding that God expects it to take some time for us to grow spiritually.
  ~ Joyce Meyer

If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he acquires no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no vigour of moral fibre, nor beauty of Spiritual growth.  ~ Henry Drummond

Prayer: 
Lord help us to realize that growth requires change, it requires leaving some things behind to be able to go forward. Not all of those things are bad or sinful, they have simply fulfilled their purpose. Help us to have the courage to trust you in the unknowns of change and growth and to realize that you know the end from the beginning. Lord help us to make knowing you our goal and to leave where that takes us in your capable hands.

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