Saturday, May 22, 2021

Writing Apples of Gold Devotions

Edie here. Today I'm honored to introduce you to an author I greatly admire. She has a new book coming out and I persuaded her to join us and share some of her insights into writing devotions. Please give her a warm TWC welcome!

Writing Apples of Gold Devotions
by Tracy Crump @TracyCrumpWrite

Early in our marriage, my husband surprised me with a unique Christmas gift. He bought a signed and numbered print by wildlife artist I. H. Farnsworth. Then he chose just the right wood border along with complementary matting and had it custom framed. We proudly hung it in our new home and later bought two more Farnsworths, framing them to match colors and textures in the prints.

A beautiful frame enhances a painting, but the focus is always on the artwork itself. The frame is secondary. So it is with devotions. The vast majority include personal experience stories, but a good devotion focuses on Scripture, the masterpiece of an ultimate designer. God’s Word “is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 ESV).

But of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, how do we find which apple to frame? 

From the Holy Spirit
For my first few devotions, I started with a story and found appropriate Scripture to substantiate the point. I’ve come to believe this technique is backward. The purpose of devotions is to pierce the reader’s heart with God’s Word, so wouldn’t Scripture be the best place to start? Many times, I’ve been reading my Bible when a verse speaks to my soul. It reminds me of something from my own experience that could relate to others, and a devotion is born. I take each of those sparks of inspiration as a gift from the Holy Spirit.

From the publisher
After I had a few published devotions in my portfolio, I decided to brave it and ask for an assignment from a respected devotional magazine. My samples apparently hit home because the editor sent me seven passages. He said to choose a verse from each and shape my devotions around them. I established a routine then that I’ve followed every time I receive an assignment. First, I read through the passages. Then . . . I panic! I can’t think of a single story to tie in with these verses. I’m going to have to call the editor and tell him to give the assignment to someone else. I can’t do this! Before bed, I prayerfully read through them again and go to sleep. By the next morning, I have stories for all the passages. Every one of them. This has happened too many times to dismiss it as a fluke. John Steinbeck said, “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” I prefer to call it “the committee of the Trinity.”

From life
What about when you’re assigned to write about a specific subject—such as ten devotions on animals? And you have a deadline. It’s a bit hard to find a verse on marsupials for that cute kangaroo story. I usually start writing my story with a takeaway in mind, and the biblical connection becomes clear. Ironically, most of the verses I choose don’t involve animals (or whatever the subject is). Instead, godly principles pop to the surface, drawing Scripture with them. I may even find different lessons I can develop from just one story. Again, the story is not the focus. Scripture is. 

From the Bible
Well, yes, all the verses we include in our devotions come from the Bible, but what about when we want to dive deeper into a particular topic? The Bible doesn’t tell us all we need to know about, say, raising godly children in just one chapter or book. God’s wisdom on the topic spans His Word. In my devotional book about finding hope in the midst of illness, I wanted to write Scripture-rich pieces with a specific theme for each story. I let my experiences guide my research and examined the Bible for that particular subject. Many times, a story brought to mind passages that applied to the theme, a boon from hiding God’s Word in my heart. A good study Bible and concordance, such as Nave’s Compact Topical Bible(Zondervan, 1972), also helped me find applicable verses on the topic.

Framing God’s Word
Our experiences draw readers in and frame the discussion of God’s great love for us. When we focus on the truth of Scripture and let it guide our writing, we create a work of art. And what more beautiful thing can we craft than “apples of gold in a setting of silver” when those apples are God’s Word?

How about you? Have you written devotions? How do you decide which Scriptures to use? Join the conversation.


by Tracy Crump

Where do you turn for help when illness or injury strikes? No matter how bleak the prognosis, you can find hope and healing in Jesus.

The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2 NLT)

Through her work as an intensive care nurse, Tracy Crump witnessed lifesaving miracles when everyone involved had given up--everyone except God. She cared for patients, family, and friends experiencing major health crises and offered encouragement no matter the situation, knowing we don't always experience healing in this life.

Crafted with unique examples of God's miraculous power and saving grace, Health, Healing, and Wholeness blends Scripture-rich meditations with biblical principles that highlight God's mercy in times of medical need. Moving stories of a mother's sacrifice, children overcoming catastrophic accidents, the beauty of a life well lived, and joy despite traumatic brain injury instill hope.

Whether you are experiencing a medical crisis, walking alongside someone who is, or caring for a loved one, these thirty devotions will bring comfort and peace.

Prepare to embark on a journey to wholeness.

Former ICU nurse Tracy Crump dispenses hope in her new book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness (CrossLink Publishing), which releases June 1, 2021. Her writing has appeared in diverse publications, including Woman’s World, Focus on the Family, Upper Room, and Guideposts books. Best known for publishing 22 stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her course on writing for the series is one of Serious Writer’s best sellers, and her popular newsletter, The Write Life, includes story callouts. Tracy co-directs Write Life Workshops, proofreads for Farmers’ Almanac, and edits for private clients. But her most important job is grandma to four completely unspoiled grandchildren. Connect with Tracy through


  1. I'm honored to be part of your launch team Tracy. I enjoy writing devotions and many have been published. I am thankful God provides writing and speaking opportunities where I can share His love.

    1. You're a priceless part of my launch team, Melissa! And thank you for being here!

  2. Welcome to The Write Conversation, Tracy. I look forward to reading your blogs Edie posts. Thank you for writing this one today.... very helpful to me.

    1. Thank you for the welcome, Diane! Edie is such a wealth of knowledge and such a help to the writing community.

  3. Thank you for having me, Edie! Your blog is a beacon for writers who want to write God's way.

  4. I appreciate these words of wisdom, Tracy. In writing eVotions for the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination, we are assigned scripture choices, and the Word has always given me inspiration.

  5. Oh I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I’m thrilled to have met you Tracy and to be a part of your launch team. I cannot wait for your book to come out. I know it’s going to be amazing

  6. Thank you, Shannan! You've been such a blessing to me!

  7. Thank you for such in-depth insight on writing devotions, Tracy!

  8. Tracy, Thank you for this lovely post on reflecting on scripture, and congratulations on your new book of devotions! Although I haven't written devotions for publication, I do include scriptures in my mystery novels.

    1. Thank you, Kay! Scripture is powerful and never returns void, no matter where we share it!