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One Thousand Gifts and Other Devotional Picks

Check out our favorite devotionals.



“Repent!” 21-month-old Dorothy squeals in delight. Chubby arms extended, she flings herself into my embrace.

Not two seconds later, her giggles still surfacing, she locks eyes with me. “Again?” she asks with anticipation.

“Again,” I affirm.

Her toddling legs carry her away from me. Back turned.

“I love you, Dorothy! Repent.”

And she literally does. She repents — or, as the word means, she turns around. Once again, she flies into my open arms.

To my four daughters, “Repent” is a fun game my husband Ted taught them; an activity he borrowed from singer and songwriter Andrew Peterson. Each girl takes her turn walking away from her papa (or sometimes mama), ears alert for his call. At the sound of his “I love you! Repent!” she turns around and runs into his waiting arms. Happy laughter echoes through the hallways of our home.

It’s a simple means of conveying to kids our Heavenly Father’s heart; a heart that beckons, “You can always come home to me. My grace never runs out.” And it’s a game I couldn’t help but think of as I read Ann Voskamp’s new devotional, One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces.

In this companion work to her best-selling book, One Thousand Days: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Voskamp writes, “There is always only more grace.” She goes on to explore 60 different aspects of grace in the daily readings with topics ranging from “Ugly Grace” to “One-Hundred-Times-A-Day Grace.”

While many of the pieces are based on content from her 2010 book — even to the point of being word-for-word — the work does contain new readings as well. And, although I’ve never been one to like compilation CDs or books, I do love this blend of old-meets-new devotional. For me, it takes the heart of Voskamp’s original writings and breaks it down into concise, daily readings that offer me just enough to chew on slowly.

Of all the devotionals I’ve read, this is my favorite. Like Voskamp, I need to be reminded daily to appreciate and count God’s graces in my life. For me, One Thousand Gifts Devotional is a helpful tool to, as she writes, “move thanksgiving away from a holiday to a lifestyle — that all the days might be holy and set apart for real joy.”

Each of Voskamp’s reminders of grace calls to me, “Repent!” of ingratitude and discontent. And, like 21-month-old Dorothy, I find freedom as I thankfully fling myself into my Heavenly Father’s waiting embrace.

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Other Devotional Picks

Solo by Eugene Peterson

In 2013, I’ll read Eugene Peterson’s devotional, Solo, for my daily Bible study. Using The Message version of scripture, Solo follows a “lectio divina” — divine reading — approach to God’s Word, with Scripture, reflection, and prayer. Six days a week, Solo provides four sections: read, think, pray, and live (lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio). Every seventh day is for reflection, to remember the passages studied earlier in the week, and let them “soak in.”

I first read Solo a few years ago, and really enjoyed it. Since I’m not very familiar with The Message, I gain a lot from hearing familiar passages told in fresh words. I also love the way that Solo’s simple format still leads to deep reflection and transformation. Where many devotionals challenge me with the author’s own insight — and there is definitely a place for that! — Solo is an introspective, interactive reading of the text, where God Himself prompts the insight from His word.

“If you have taken God’s Word to heart,” says the introduction of Solo, “and truly made it part of you, it will by its very nature change you. And when it does, you will find yourself called to act.” That’s the goal of daily Bible study: not to “log pages” as dutiful Christians, doing our obligatory homework for God. But to encounter the God who loves us, come to know Him better in His Word, and become more like Him.

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Personally, the devotional books that move my heart and soul the most are classics like Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and a collection of Puritan prayers called Valley of Vision, compiled by Arthur Bennett.

A perk about Morning and Evening is that Bible Gateway offers a free service in which you can sign up to get the daily devotion entries sent to your e-mail inbox every morning. I can’t tell you how many times the verse and commentary of the day has been exactly what I needed at that very moment.

I marvel at the way that Spurgeon is able to take a single verse of Scripture and draw out such deep and rich treasures. His insights have cut straight to the heart on numerous occasions. His writing challenges, encourages, and — most importantly — elevates Christ to His rightful place, as Supreme over all — even, and especially, our hearts.

I keep a copy of Valley of Vision close at hand, and although I don’t read it everyday, it is a gem of a resource when I am struggling with a particular issue. There is a contents section at the front, and the prayers span topics from “The Awakened Sinner” to “Voyage,” from “Backsliding” to “Year’s End.” Without fail, every time I open its pages, I am humbled to the core by the mindset and worldview of the Puritan writers. It is a book filled with beautifully written, doctrinally sound, and thought-provoking prayers that I can highly recommend to anyone.

The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie

The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie is my favorite devotional. Guthrie writes with the tenderness of someone who understands pain — having heart-wrenchingly experienced the loss of two children — yet still holds tenaciously to biblical hope.

This is a year-long study that has a different theme for 52 weeks, yet does not have dates so that if you miss a day there is no false sense of guilt or needing to catch up. Each day has a verse and devotional thought if you’re short on time, but if you have more time, there are extended passages and questions to read and contemplate. I loved that it offered longer passages of Scripture to study, which helped me not just take Guthrie at her word, but instead to take God at His Word.

Old Story New by Marty Machowski

As a homeschool mom, I’m regularly on the lookout for Bible curriculum I can use with my four kids. In 2013, I plan to incorporate Marty Machowski’s Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God into our daily lessons.

This family devotional continues where Long Story Short left off. Aimed at parents with preschoolers and elementary-aged children, this 78-week devotional walks families through the New Testament.

Each week contains five 10-minute devotions centered around a particular New Testament story or concept such as “The Wise and Foolish Builders” and “A New Creation.” Day 1 includes a story that encourages children to “Picture It,” while Day 3 teaches kids how the passage connects to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As a parent who sometimes doubts my effectiveness in explaining the gospel to my kids, I love that Old Story New offers me a teaching tool that’s clear, concise, and all in one. I’m excited to see how our family’s faith grows as we read it together.

Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Welcome to Ungrind!

Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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One Thousand Gifts and Other Devotional Picks

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 5 min