A story of how yesterday I was surprised to realize that I’d written over 500 daily Bible reading notes. How did this happen?
Many of you know how losing my lovely Great Big Commissioning (Acquisitions) Editorial Job in 2005 gave me the impetus to start writing, and thus to pursue a deeply buried dream from childhood. I started tentatively, writing a review of so-called Christian fiction for the Church of England Newspaper that I read now and shake my head (for it was filled only with quotations by authors). In 2006 I got the amazing opportunity to start the Woman Alive book club, and I also scored a monthly column with the Christian retailing trade magazine, which was then called Christian Marketplace. Slowly, slowly, I learned to lay down words on a page and to meet deadlines as I searched for my voice.
After a couple of years, in 2008, I had a most exciting invitation from a fellow editor. While also commissioning books for BRF, she oversaw the editorial work for one of their daily Bible reading notes, New Daylight. Would I be interested in contributing a set of notes?
I burst out of my study and ran down to tell Nicholas. “Can you believe that Naomi has asked me to write for New Daylight?” I was thrilled down to my toes, for I sensed – as someone who loves the Bible and prayer – that this was something that I’d love to do.
My first set of notes needed a lot of editing as I learned the style and approach, and I had spent weeks researching and then writing the text. Over time I gained confidence, which would then be dented when I’d open a letter from a reader who disagreed with me over a theological point or interpretation. I had to gird my loins, so to speak, and learn from the letters and then keep on keeping on.
That year I got to write for Day by Day with God, BRF’s publication for women, and eventually for CWR’s Inspiring Women Every Day and NCT’s Living Light. Each commission humbled me, for I’d sit at my desk, poring over the biblical text, thinking, “This is how I get to spend my time! How cool is that!”
A couple of summers ago I had an unexpected invitation from Our Daily Bread (ODB), asking if I’d like to submit some articles to them.
I burst with excitement to my family while we were on holiday in Northumberland. I had harbored the unvoiced dream of writing for them for years, for my next-door neighbors growing up always read ODB, and I knew how widely it was loved in the States and around the world. I drafted three articles, observing their particulars for word count and style, and held my breath. We had a lot of discussion back and forth, but eventually they asked me to join their writing team. Wow!
Bible reading notes (or devotionals, as they are known Stateside), are usually written a year ahead of time. My first article for ODB came out in February 2016, and for the first time in my years of writing devotionals my parents were deluged with phone calls. My mom’s uncle and aunt out in California called to say they recognized the writer that day, and of course our lovely neighbors were thrilled too (in fact, Mrs. Wolleat gets a copy of ODB each time from her church for my parents and puts a sticky note on the day when my articles appear!). It’s been special to be a part of this community, especially when they had their first writers’ conference in October, where I met the team and fellow writers.
Nor do I forget my first publishers, BRF, for they’ve even published my second book, The Living Cross, which extends the daily Bible reading notes format for Lent, on the theme of forgiveness. I continue to write for New Daylight and Day by Day with God, and enjoy the speaking opportunities that come from the BRF/Woman Alive women’s days. And yes, I write still for the others!
A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing… -Hudson Taylor
I share this as an encouragement to you to take that first small step in something you’d like to pursue but perhaps you’re hesitating to do so. Or maybe you’ll receive an invitation, like I did, and you wonder if you should say yes or not. Now I can’t imagine not being able to write daily devotionals; it’s one of the things I love doing most. Even today I need to get back to drafting two weeks on Zechariah for Day by Day with God – goodness, I’m glad to be past the apocalyptic visions!
For if you take the first steps in pursuing your dream, you may find years later (eight years for me), that you reach a milestone such as over 500 devotionals written for traditionally published periodicals. How could the world be different if you went for it?
Over to you – do you have a buried dream you want to pursue? What is keeping you from going for it?
Want to read some of my devotionals? Here’s how.
- Each month I have two or three articles that appear in Our Daily Bread. You can have a print copy sent to you by requesting one here. Published around the world!
My next set of UK-published Bible notes will appear:
- May 2017 in New Daylight, where I look at Revelation 5 to the end for a fortnight (appearing in May).
- May 2017 issue of Day by Day with God, where I spend two weeks with Romans (appearing in July).
- Jul/Aug 2017 in Inspiring Women Every Day, where we look at Colossians for the month of July.
Want some advice on how to write a devotional? I share some tips here.