I kind of love devotionals. They’re little pockets of inspiration and scripture to open up every morning. Some of them even come with prayers and suggestions for journaling or reflections. So, when I had the opportunity to review the new seasonal devotional, Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season, I was delighted to take a look and to begin adding it to my current devotional routine.
In Dwelling Places, author Lucinda Secrest McDowell has written 130 daily devotionals divided into different seasons, and each season has a theme. These include Fall (Dwell), Advent (Shine), Lent (Renew), and Summer (Grow). All seasons (with the exception of Lent’s 40 days) include 30 days of devotions to read and reflect upon. For the purposes of this review, I worked through the Summer season of the devotional.
Each devotional in this book is split into several sections. First, we are given a word, such as “thirsts” or “unplowed,” that becomes the theme for daily reading. A verse to focus on is given. In most cases, the author chooses a version of the first that includes the word theme of the day. Then, there is 1 1/2 to 2 pages of reflections on the verse and theme of the day. Finally, there is a short paragraph written as if from the perspective of God.
I found most of these devotionals to be particularly applicable, such as on day 22, when I thought about the word “prunes” and pondered why God has had me in a time of pruning over the past year. The fact that he has given me many “no”s and has slowed me down over the past year has bothered me, and yet I’ve seen the greatest amount of growth of my faith that I’ve had in several years over this time. I hadn’t really reflected on how needful this time is in my life right now until I was reading about pruning in the devotional.
Speaking of “growth,” I knew that I was going to love this devotional from the very first devotional I read. In it, the author ponders growth and how it takes time and patience. We (or maybe just I) want to force that growth to happen, only to find myself frustrated when it doesn’t happen on my schedule. It was the perfect stroke with which to begin this section on growth.
I also loved that McDowell liberally used quotes and built on the ideas of others. I find it to be exciting and engaging when an author interacts with the other other works which he or she has read. It also gives me a great starting place for finding books that might interest me in the future. 🙂
The only thing I found less appealing about this devotional was the bottom section where it is written as if God is speaking to you. I find this trend in Christian writing to be alarmingly new ageish and off-putting. I mostly skipped this section because reading it could put me off of the whole devotional. I would have much rather had questions for reflection or suggestions for prayer. I’ll let God speak to me through my Bible reading and reflections instead.
Over all, however, I found this devotional to be beautifully written and enjoyable. I would certainly recommend it to others, and as soon as I finished the summer section that I worked through, I immediately flipped to the Fall section and began working through more daily reflections. This book has inspired several pages in my journaling Bible as well as some written notes in my journal as I I found myself engaging with the author’s text and allowed God to speak to me through the daily verses.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.