The ark wasn’t built in a day so don’t give up

This morning, I think: “The ark wasn’t built in a day either.”

I think it as my baby girl (too big to be called “baby,” she tells me) bursts into my room far too early to announce, “Mom, it’s morning time!” And I’m tired.

The ark, remember the ark.

I’m pouring cereal and reviewing ancient China with a girl who is taking her big test today.

I pulled my other girl’s hair back into a ponytail, but it was the wrong kind.  She wanted it differently.  Using her hands, she tries to explain it to me and I’m slow, so I lean down trying to understand and experiment with the brush until I get it just right.

That ark takes time to build.

They’ve dressed and stepped into shoes.  I’ve reminded and reminded them, brush your teeth, grab your back pack, zip your coat.  Hurry!  It’s time!

We huddle at the bus stop with our backs to the February wind and I snuggle close to block them from the strength of the blasts.

Then I whisper a prayer for their day, for their tests and their friends and their obedience and their learning and how proud I am of all their hard work.

Just building an ark here.  Just taking the time.

Because sometimes you wake up tired.  Sometimes you’d rather pull those covers right on up to block out the sun and the cold and sleep away some of the day and lounge away the other half in pajamas and slippers.

Sometimes you just need the reminder that what you are doing has significance and value.

Sometimes you need to know….This Matters.

Even if today isn’t the day you pound the final peg into the ark and the animals step on two-by-two and the rain falls…

Even if you don’t see the final results or immediate success, know that every peg you place and every board you lay has purpose.

It takes about nine months for God to intricately fashion a human life in a womb.
It takes 365 days for the earth to circle that sun, spinning around in its orbit.
It even takes 8 minutes from the sun to stretch its light down to our planet.
And it took decades for Noah to build that ark.

Progress happens over time, seconds and minutes and day after another day of perseverance, dedication and refusing to give up.

How often Noah must have woken up to a new morning and wanted to stop.

Surely there were days it felt impossible to construct a massive floating vessel without power tools and contractors.

Surely the ridicule from the masses and those he considered his closest friends—yes even from his family—must have wearied his soul.

Surely there were moments he just needed God to reassure him that he wasn’t crazy, that he heard correctly, that what he was doing was necessary.

Some days it must have seemed so hard.  Some days maybe he wanted to give up.

Yet, had he given up one decade….one year…one month…one week….one day too soon, had he abandoned the project and left the ark unfinished, it wouldn’t have saved anyone.  God couldn’t use an unfinished ship to rescue, save, and redeem.

God saved him…and us…because “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Genesis 5:22).

Just one simple verse; it makes it sound so easy.

But I know the truth.  I know every time I sit down and open the Scriptures up on my kitchen table on days when I’m tired and the interruptions just keep coming, that I can’t give this up.  Even if the inspiration doesn’t come, even if God seems silent or my soul unstirred, still I build this ark.

When the chores seem endless…
when you’re deep-soul tired…
when you can’t seem to find your joy and don’t know where you lost it…
when no one says, “thank you” or appears to notice you serving them…
when others ridicule your efforts and tell you it doesn’t matter…
when you’re teaching but they don’t seem to understand….
when you’re pouring everything you have into this but you don’t see results….
when you give with passion and what you receive back is criticism….

You get up in the morning and you lay one more peg and one more board into the ark that God told you to build.

You do everything just as God commanded you, not because it’s easy or fun or seems so rewarding in the moment.

We do it because we’re building into eternity:

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
(2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

Originally published 2/1/2013

7 Prayers for Your Home and Family (plus a free printable!)

prayers for home and family

It’s usually when I watch my children sleep.

Or when my tired infant son finally relaxes his on-the-go muscles and snuggles into me as I sway next to his crib.

That’s when I pray it.  Like a whispered prayer, one you can’t find all the words for, not when your heart is so full (or you are so sleep-deprived).  But it’s passionate and desperate:

Help me do this, Lord!  Help me be the wife and mom You want me to be and that they need me to be.

I need some ways to cover our home and family in prayer so that I can commit this all to Him and seek His help every day.

So, here they are:  Seven Prayers for Your Home and Family.  These are the verses I pray and the requests I make.  What about you?  Please comment with your own verses and prayers.

  • Salvation

    • Prayer:

      God, help us to keep this as our focus and never lose sight of the most important gift and responsibility you have given us—the salvation of our family.  It’s easy to get caught up in worldly standards of success and measures of our worth, especially as parents.  But honor rolls, scholarships, awards, and accolades don’t mean anything compared to salvation in Jesus Christ.  Our greatest joy would be to see our children ‘walking in the truth.’ We pray that every member of our family will choose a personal, real, abiding, and powerful relationship with our Savior and that we will ask Him to reign over our lives both as a family and as individuals.

    • Scripture verses:

 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)

  • Peace

    • Prayer:

      Lord, may our homes be havens of peace. The world around us can be stressful and high-pressured.  We may be surrounded by conflict, battles, and oppression outside this home, but we pray that inside these walls, You will bring peace.  Help us to rest in You.  Help us communicate with grace, offer love and support, and speak in love.  Even in the stressful rush of the mornings as we head out the door to school, work, church and other activities, may we breathe deeply and choose peace, gentleness, and kindness with one another.

    • Scripture Verses:

      Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV).

       “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

  • A Godly Legacy

    • Prayer:

      No matter what our faith background up to this point, we pray for a heritage of faith, godliness, righteousness, salvation, and a passion for Your Word and for the Gospel.  Help us to take the time to teach our children truth.  We don’t want to ever be so busy that we neglect to teach our children about You.  Give us the right words to say and guide our discussions with our children.  May our children choose to marry strong Christians and raise their own children in Your Word.  Where we have gone astray, we pray for grace and new opportunities.  For our adult children and our grandchildren, we ask that You will turn their hearts and minds to You even now.

    • Scripture Verses:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

  • Unity and Love

    • Prayer:

      Father, help us to remember that we are not just individuals out to achieve our own agendas.  You have joined us together as a family; unite our hearts in love.  Remind us that we are stronger together.  Show us how to love each other sacrificially, graciously, and generously every day.  May we serve each other, performing even the smallest acts of kindness for one another without complaint or score-keeping.  We ask that our love for one another reflect Christ’s sacrificial and unconditional love so that others will look at our home and our family, and see You.  Let our love for one another draw others to know your love for them.

    • Scripture Verses

      Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7 ESV). By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35 ESV).

      Two are better than one,
          because they have a good return for their labor:
      10 If either of them falls down,
          one can help the other up.
      But pity anyone who falls
          and has no one to help them up.
      11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
          But how can one keep warm alone?
      12 Though one may be overpowered,
          two can defend themselves.
      A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV).

  • Stewardship

    • Prayer:

      Father, You know our needs.  We lay them at Your feet and ask for Your provision.  We trust in You as our Provider.  Lord, we ask for blessing, not so that we can stash it away, or indulge our own material desires.  We don’t need the biggest house or the flashiest car or the most expensive clothes.  We ask for blessing so that we may bless others.  May we be good stewards of what You have given so that we can give it away to support missions and to care for others in need.  Please open our eyes to the needs of others around us and help us to give quickly and give generously.

    • Scripture Verses:

      And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

      The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor (Proverbs 22:9 NIV).

  • Purity

    • Prayer:

      God, it is so easy to fall into the pitfalls and traps of sin and temptation.  We are surrounded by what is wrong.  Help us choose what is right.  Give us strength to be vigilant about protecting the influences inside of our home, and when possible, outside of it, as well.  Holy Spirit, prompt our hearts when we need to walk away, when we need to stop listening, stop reading, stop watching…..and help us fill our minds and hearts only with what is good, true, righteous, and pure.  May we be set apart for You, living in this world, but not of it.

    • Scripture Verses:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-6 ESV).

  • Laughter and Joy

    • Prayer:

      Lord, we know that there will be hard times, but we pray that You will continually stir our hearts to joy.  Let our home be a place of laughter.  Open our eyes to see reasons to rejoice, stories to share, jokes to tell, and smiles to give one another.  Make our home a place of rejoicing.

    • Scripture Verses:


      A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

      Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 125:2 ESV).

      Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 ESV)

      If you would like a printout of these prayers to place in Your Bible or journal or maybe on your fridge or bathroom mirror, you can click here for the free printable!

      You can also check out 12 Verses to Pray for Your Husband and 14 Days of Prayer for Your Marriage With 1 Corinthians 13 for other ways to be in prayer for your family.

The Parenting Magazine Crisis

1 chronicles

New Mom + Parenting Magazine Subscription = Monthly Mom Crisis.

When I was that fresh, idealistic young mom with that first chubby cheeked babe, I had big, big plans to get it all right.

Every month that magazine arrived.  I scanned it for creative ideas, ripped out yummy recipes, and dog-eared pages with fun activities.

Then I grumped around the house for a day or two.

I cried occasionally.

Because, according to the magazine, good moms don’t ever serve their kids macaroni and cheese.  If said mac and cheese happens to be from a box, good gracious, you are one of “THOSE” moms.  You know—-the Bad Moms.

Also, Good Moms have Good Kids who always choose the steamed vegetables and rice pilaf when dining out.  These perfect children never order the pizza and chicken fingers on the menu.

Limit screen time.  Join play groups.  Teach kids to share.  Teach them to care.

Involve them in service projects and ideally live abroad so you can expand their vision of the world.

Teach them sign language and then a foreign language.

Make all your dinners a month in advance and freeze them.

Kids must have an allowance and a weekly chore chart or they will end up lazy, unemployed and bankrupt.

Discipline this way.  Play with them that way.

Work outside the home.

Don’t work outside the home.

And never, ever, ever expect your kids to play on their own or entertain themselves with siblings or friends without your intense and continual involvement.  You must play cars, dolls, and blocks with them for hours.  Good moms never get bored building towers and are never too busy to color.

I finally asserted myself and cancelled the subscription.  Who needs to pay for a monthly self-esteem destroyer?

The truth is, I do some of those Good Mom things, but no one can do all of them.

When we try to do everything, we won’t do anything well.

We end up weighed down by overwhelming expectations and impossible demands.

How much better to celebrate victories, to keep a balanced perspective, and to choose what’s most important right here and right now?

How much better to lean in close to God day after daily day and ask Him, “What do you have for me, Lord?  Right here.  Right now.  Show me what’s next.”

The world is full of opinions about who we need to be and what we need to be doing.  It’s a noisy place and everyone has something to say.

And we need to know what is right and true and what is guilt-loading nonsense.

It means saying no to being like everyone else, to trying to be perfect, to trying to do everything, to keeping up with every great idea on Pinterest, Facebook, and mommy blogs.

It means no longer being paralyzed by everything, so I can do the right things well.

King David placed a weighty task on the shoulders of his son, Solomon.  He handed over the plans for the temple with instructions on dividing the labor among the Levites, how much gold to use for the lampstands and the cherubim, and the available supplies.

This was the right thing, the God-thing, that God had designed, purposed and planned for Solomon to do.

And it still could have felt like too much.  How could Solomon even begin?

David told his son:

Be strong and do the work (1 Chronicles 28:10 NIV)

and again:

Then David continued, Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT)

Be strong.

Don’t be afraid.

God is with you.

So, do the work.

Pick up right where you are and begin.  One step at one time.

You don’t need to do everything.

You just need to begin with this one thing.

And God is with you.  He will not fail or forsake you.

When we lean our weary and overwhelmed souls onto Him, He shoulders the load.  He makes sure the work is done well.

Maybe that’s the lesson Solomon needed so that when God told him, “Ask me for anything….” Solomon knew what to say:

Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10 NLT).

Help me do the work.  That’s what Solomon said.  Show me how to fulfill this calling.

And isn’t this my heart, too?

Lord, show me how to do this well.

Let that be our prayer, our constant heart’s desire.

Originally posted August 15, 2014

Lessons Learned from Heather the Sheep

Isaiah 40

She stared at me and I stared back at her.

One woman named Heather…..one sheep named Heather….looking across a farmyard of other creatures and people at one another.

She was probably thinking about lunch, about the quality of the grass, or the warmth of the day.

You know, sheep things.

I was thinking how appropriate it was to find this woolen sheep named “Heather” at the pumpkin patch.

I needed the reminder, with worries and unknowns, impossibilities, needs, and concerns.  I needed the message that I’m simply a sheep and I need a shepherd.

No, I have a Shepherd, a Good One, One who promises to care for me, to lead me, to bring me to rest, to provide for me, to protect me and even defend me from the attacks of the enemy and my own foolishness.

So, I can be still.  I can stop fretting over what to do and how to do it and just enjoy the grass, the day, the weather, choosing instead to rest and relax and follow along after Jesus.

Seeing our Savior this way, as our Shepherd, promises us so much….

Provision….Rest….Salvation….Deliverance…..Protection…..Love…..Belonging…..Guidance…..015

I consider, though, the responsibility.  I’m not only His sheep…I’m a Mama Sheep.  I’ve been entrusted with the care of His lambs, three daughters, one son, all looking to this Mama Sheep as she tags along after the Shepherd.

Just like Peter, sitting across a crackling fire on the beach talking with Jesus, I receive this charge:“Feed my lambs”  (John 21:15).

Not just ship them off to church once a week, maybe even twice a week, and hope someone else teaches them the basics about faith, God, and the Bible.  No, that’s my job, and the church is there to partner with me and help me, but never to absolve me of this joy and this responsibility to build into my children’s faith.

In his classic book, Spiritual Parenting, C.H. Spurgeon, teaches me:

First before teaching, you must be fed yourself: The Lord gave him [Peter] a breakfast before giving him a commission. You cannot feed lambs, or sheep either, unless you are fed yourself.

So I start with my own walk, my own growing in the Word, my own prayers, my own time with the Shepherd.

Spurgeon challenges me again:

1. It is careful work. Lambs cannot be fed on anything you please, especially Christ’s lambs. You can soon almost poison your believers with bad teaching. Christ’s lambs are all too apt to eat herbs that are poisonous….Care must be taken in the work of feeding each lamb separately, and the teaching of each child individually the truth that he is able to receive.

2. It is laborious work. With all who teach: they cannot do good without spending themselves… There must be labor if the food is to be wisely placed before the lambs so that they can receive it

3. It is continuous work. Feed my lambs is not for a season, but for all times. Lambs could not live if they were fed once a week. I reckon they will die between Sunday and Sunday. The shepherding of the lambs is daily, hourly work. When is a shepherd’s work over? How many hours a day does he labor? He will tell you that in lambing time, he is never done. He sleeps between times when he can, taking much less than forty winks, then rousing himself for action. It is so with those who feed Christ’s lambs.

It begins to feel so heavy, so overwhelming.

What if I mess up?  Say the wrong thing?  Miss an opportunity?  Sin?  Set a bad example?  Fail to address a character issue?  Fail to point my children to Christ?

Yet, just as my Good Shepherd promises me love, protection, guidance, and care for my needs, He also promises me this:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11)

This unties that one last heavy burden of anxiety and worry off my fluffy sheep shoulders.

God doesn’t just care for me; He helps me care for my family also.

God leads me, and He does it gently, as I tend to my lambs, the tiny ones He’s entrusted to my care.  Not just that, He scoops up my precious children and holds them close to His very own heart….closer than they can even be to my own beating life-muscle.

They can listen into the heart of the Shepherd, snuggled into His chest, kept safe, carried, beloved.

And I can rest knowing that He’ll help me, He’ll teach me, and He’ll show me how to feed these lambs…

Originally posted 9/25/2013

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

I Get It! You’re Not a Baby Anymore!

Jeremiah 9

My sweet Andrew,

People like to tell me all the time how big you are.

They stop me in the hallways at church.

They shake their head in wonder when we pick your sisters up from school.

They post comments when I share your picture on Facebook.

Random strangers even chime in with a chorus of “what a big, handsome boy” when I’m waiting in the checkout line at Wal-Mart.

You are not a baby anymore, not by any means.

And, this probably makes you so proud and so ready to take on the world.

The other morning, in all of my sleepiness, I made the mistake of lifting you into your booster seat so you could eat your breakfast cereal.  You screamed at me for 5 minutes.andrew

You had to climb up in that booster seat yourself, grunting and working those muscles all the way.  And didn’t you flash me a look of “see, I told you I could do this all on my own” when you finally made it?

 

I get it.  Two years old is about finding a voice, learning what’s ‘mine,’ bumping against the rules so you know where they are, and striking out into the big wide world of “I can do it myself.”

 

Just know how much we love you, how we’re standing strong on the rules at times because we love you so, and how I’m praying for you as you grow.

Your sense of humor and joy are a strength and a treasure.  Never lose that. 

You have this deep, deep belly laugh that shows up in your eye
s, and the tiniest things will send you into fits of giggles.  You explore every possibility and love to play, initiating light saber duels, tickling sessions, peekaboo, and dance-a-thons with us.

This big world sure is a wonder.  Always look wide-eyed.  Don’t miss out on the joy.  And laugh: Laugh often and laugh hard.

It’s okay to know what you want, but make sure you want the right things. 

I’ve had go-with-the-flow babies and I’ve had know-their-own-mind babies.  You are the latter.  It’s a strength that I love about you.

Stand up for the right things even if no one else does.  Be honest.  Fight for justice.

But if you’re going to pursue what you really want in life, make sure what you want is good and true. 

Be passionate about God’s Word, about truth, about the Gospel, about compassion.

And know that the best things in this life aren’t just worth waiting for; they are worth working hard for.

Leadership begins with serving others.

Our family attracts comments everywhere we go—-how you’ll be so spoiled by three older sisters.  How you “don’t stand a chance.”  How you’ll be “mothered to death.”

My son, you are the baby in this family with three big sisters to dote on you and treat you like the center of the universe.

Know how much you are loved, but don’t be fooled into thinking this world should serve you.  Instead, serve others.

Be humble.  Put other people first.

Christ didn’t lead by demanding attention or through selfishness and abuse.  He led with humble self-sacrifice and compassion.  “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 ESV).

Know beauty when you see it. 

I’ve spent years teaching three daughters that “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” (Proverbs 31:30).  I tell them that true beauty is Jesus in you; it’s strength, gentleness, wisdom, discipline, honesty, kindness, and Christ-like love.

They need to know how to be truly beautiful.

You need to know how to see true beauty.

By the time you start building up real memories of me, I’ll be about 40 years old and have birthed four children.  But, dear son, may you still see beauty in me: the real kind, the kind that grows with time instead of fading.  The kind that sacrifices self to pour out for others.  The kind of beauty that isn’t defined by a number on a scale or the color or style of my hair, but that comes from wisdom and grace.

You’ll find tons of girls who know how to do their hair, put on their makeup and choose the perfect outfit.  Don’t be deceived.

Don’t look for someone whose beauty peaks at 22 years old, before kids, and depends on products, expensive clothes, and hours in front of the mirror.

Look for someone who will be beautiful at 40…at 60….at 80.

True beauty isn’t how you look at any given moment; it’s always about who you are becoming.

And know this….

I am so deeply thankful that God chose me to be your mama.  What an honor and a joy to have you as my son.

Love,

~Mom~

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

 

Why I Want to Really Know My Kids

psalm 119

I was about 22 years old, married without kids, teaching other people’s children in the classroom when I started praying this prayer:

Lord, when I have children, please help me know them, not just the great things about them, but their sin and weaknesses, too.  I want to know what’s wrong so I can wade waist-deep into the mess of sin if needed to help them choose repentance and find grace.

As a teacher, you come face to face all of the time with the parenting phenomenon My-Child-Is-Perfectitis.

It’s thinking that your child could never do anything wrong, and evil influences from other less-perfect children or teacher error is to blame for any supposed wrongdoing.

Then I brought my own first tiny bundle of perfect babyhood home from the hospital when I was 24.

Even her doctor declared she was the “most perfect little baby” when I brought her in for the first appointment.

I beamed.

But I knew the truth: She was beautiful and a treasure and a gift, but she wasn’t perfect.

Maybe it’d be easier as a mom to shield my eyes from any of my kids’ mess-ups or mistakes.

It’d feel so much more comfortable focusing on what my kids do right and overlooking anything they do wrong.

(Okay, I’ll admit it, sometimes I just want to pretend I don’t see my kid take the extra cookie so I don’t have to actually roll my sleeves up and deal with it.)

But easy isn’t really what I’m looking for as a mom. I don’t want to do what’s comfortable; I want to do what’s best for my kids with the eternal in mind.

I’m thinking about this today in light of new scandals and news bulletins about prominent Christians who have fallen, sometimes repeatedly, into sexual sin.

I’m not one to engage in debates or public bashing here on the blog, but I’m processing Ashley Madison and the Duggars and other Christian leaders stepping down or being ousted from ministry because of adultery, pornography and the like.

What’s a mom to do in a world like this?

I know what’s true:

Even the best Christian parents have adult children who reject the faith and make bad decisions.

Of course, that doesn’t mean tossing my hands up in futility and just letting my kids do whatever they want.  I’m willing to pour myself out in this parenting effort.

But it does mean letting go of the pressure of perfection and realizing that far more depends on prayer than depends on my performance.

And there’s nothing I can pray more powerfully than for God’s mercy. God, in all my imperfections and in all the ways I fail, please draw me children to You anyway.  Mercy, Lord, I need so much mercy.

There’s something else that catches my attention as a mom, though.

Sin isn’t always “out there.”

I read an article on Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s response to the newest reports about their son and it breaks my heart:

‘This wasn’t something they ever imagined was possible,’ the source told People. ‘They so strictly limit their exposure to these sorts of outside influences – from websites to even the sort of television they watch, if they turn on the TV at all – that they were absolutely baffled by how this could have been possible.’

They thought that by keeping the world out, they could keep their kids pure, but their best efforts at that weren’t enough.

I’m a pretty protective mom about what we watch, listen to and read as a family, and that’s right and good.

Yet, if I teach my kids that holiness is the same as avoiding the world, we’re in trouble.

The far harder work is teaching our kids how to overcome temptation from within and temptation from without and choose to obey God no matter what.

Jessie Clemence wrote about this on her blog this week also:

I want this to go farther than just behavior management. I know we could cancel the internet service, destroy the technology, and isolate ourselves in our home. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I want to raise kids who seek God with every aspect of their lives. I want to raise kids who understand that porn and bullying and affairs break God’s heart and fall far short of the love of Jesus.

You cannot protect your kids from sin.

You cannot.

Because sin is in them.

It’s not the world that is sinful.

It’s humanity.

And that means us.

I’d rather make the effort now to know the true state of my kids’ hearts—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and battle right there with the truths about repentance, and holiness, and grace.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10 ESV).

 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

 

That Time I Did Spontaneous

mark 14I did spontaneous.

This miracle happened right here two weeks ago. Yes, this Planning-Mom-Extraordinaire did spontaneous.

My son woke up from his afternoon nap and I loaded my kids into the minivan for a trip to the beach.  The library’s summer reading program is hosting a ‘drum circle’ every Wednesday evening along the beachfront.

So, we went.

They had drums of every size and variety, egg shakers and rain sticks, tambourines, maracas and more.  My son claimed the upside down 5-gallon bucket that he could beat on with a drum stick.

We played music.  My kids climbed on the playground.  We explored the library truck and found the exact book we’d been looking for since summer began.

Spontaneous trip success.

Then we headed on to our evening activities at church, driving through the KFC to grab a quick dinner first.

Now, I have yet to master the drive-thru ordering at KFC.  The options seem endless and I’m an overwhelmed soul feeling rushed by the mystery voice on the other side of the order screen.  “Hi!  May I take your order?'”

“Ummm…..”

I squint my eyes because they have all these meals with chicken and biscuits and sides and half gallons of lemonade and who knows what else and I can’t see the tiny little print underneath all of that.  I want chicken. I just want a bunch of pieces of chicken to feed all the people in my family.

Try ordering that through the little noise box, though.

Finally, I collect myself enough to order food, but I realize as they hand it out the window that I forgot to order a large lemonade for my kids to share.

Still, I had taken them to the beach.

I had let them play on the playground.

I had ordered them food from a drive-thru.

Surely, I still had some claim to supermom status.  I had Caprisuns and cold water.  Would that do?

No.  Not hardly.

A child (who shall remain nameless) could not get over the fact that I hadn’t ordered a drink.

Could. Not.

She glared.  She huffed.  She whined and complained and confronted me with my oversight.

Nothing makes you feel like a Mom-failure so much as an ungrateful child.

Really, it’s a struggle for me anyway.  Maybe it’s that way for all moms.  No matter how much we are doing, it just never feels like it’s enough.

It seems like others are doing better.  Other moms are more….more fun, more wise, more crafty, more creative, more gentle.

I’ve been working really hard this summer to improve my spontaneity, flexibility, and effort at playdates.

But every single time I do something spontaneous, flexible, fun and playdate-ish, they want to know when they can do it again. What about tomorrow?  What about a sleepover?

However much I’ve done, it’s just not enough.

Today, as I read Hope for the Weary Mom, I suck in my breath because she’s describing me:

“Communication is her best asset, but she often feels like she’s not good enough at having fun or coming up with creative ways to laugh and be spontaneous with her children”  (Brooke McGlothin).

And, she tells me the best way to combat that weariness and insecurity is to stop focusing on my weakness and start recognizing my strength.  She says, “Live freely in who God made you to be.”

I’m still thinking about this as I read the Scripture. Right there in the middle of 2 Chronicles of all places, I find it:

Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong (2 Chronicles 22:3 NLT).

I’m not the perfect mom. None of us are.

But we also don’t have to be perfect.  God doesn’t expect that of us or require it.

I read about Ahaziah’s mom, how she actually encouraged him to do wrong, and I breathe deeply of grace.  Because if there’s one thing I do, it’s love Jesus and His Word.  Spontaneous might not be my thing, but encouraging my kids to do what is right—yeah, I’m totally into that.

So, I’m working on teaching my kids gratitude and appreciating what they have instead of greedily demanding more, more, and more….

But I’m also teaching myself that I don’t have to be the mom their friends have or the mom on Pinterest or Facebook.  I have to be the mom God has called me to be.

When the woman broke that alabaster jar and poured the perfume down over Jesus’ head, those at the table criticized her offering.  It wasn’t perfect, right, acceptable.

But Jesus said this, “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8 NLT).

Dear Mom, God isn’t expecting you to be perfect; He finds your heartfelt, all-in offering beautiful.  He knows when you’ve done what you could and that is indeed enough.

Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Band-Aids Fix Everything

john13-34

I fought the good fight.

I lost.

It must be some guaranteed stage of child development:  The Band-Aid stage.

It’s that season when kids believe in the magic of the Band-Aid to insta-heal all bumps, bruises, minor aches, pains, and scratches.

I have endured tantrums.

I have given speeches: You don’t need a Band-Aid for any casualty that doesn’t involve an open wound and significant blood loss. 

But really.  Truly.  As a mom, it’s easier just to pop that glorified sticker over the bruise and be done with it rather than arguing unsuccessfully with a two-year-old about proper Band-Aid usage.

Maybe it wasn’t even the Band-Aid my kids needed; I know this.  Perhaps it was the acknowledgement: I see you hurting.  I’m tending to this need.  I’m not going to leave you here aching alone, wounds sore, pain throbbing. 

This is, after all, why Mom-kisses on the tiniest of boo-boos are where the miracle cures begin.  Because the love and attention and the simply doing something–anything– says, “I love you,” louder than any actual words.

This is the Mom-life and the life of nurses, care providers, teachers,  grandmas, and true friends.

It’s saying, “I care about you,” and meaning it at night when it costs you sleep and during the day when it costs you patience.

It means never pouring a cup of tea or a soda and drinking it all down yourself.  It means spending all day putting other people first and scheduling every moment of your life around the schedules of other people.

“Motherhood is the big-leagues of self-sacrifice.” That’s what Rachel Jankovic wrote.

And this is the sacrifice, she tells me, that God finds such a sweet-smelling aroma.

We worship Him as we lay ourselves down, offering our lives to others, burning up our selfishness on the altar.

And, after all, as a mom shouldn’t I be thankful that for now a Band-Aid is all it takes to soothe the pain?

Sadly, that won’t last.

This world pesters and pounds, and wounds aren’t always so superficial and easy-to-heal.  Sometimes they dig deep.  Sometimes they fester and infect; they spread and ache long after we’ve bandaged over them.

So our calling becomes this: loving others enough to care about the depth of the pain rather than just covering over it with an ineffective Band-Aid.

Sure, we could snatch that trusty box down from the cabinet shelf and toss a sticky bandage over a hurt.  All better.  Stop your crying.  No need to fuss.  Don’t you see the Band-Aid I’ve slapped on your skin?

This is what Queen Esther did, unknowingly, of course.  She heard of her cousin Mordecai’s distress.  How he had torn apart his clothes and now sat at the city gate, covered over with burlap and ashes, wailing with loud bitterness.

She responded with concern, but without listening and understanding.  Yes, she essentially snatched down the box of Band-Aids and sent one his way:

“She sent clothes for Mordecai to wear so he could take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept them” (Esther 4:4 HCSB).

That’s what she thought would help, just superficial care.  Change your clothes.  Stop that mourning, Mordecai, and everything will be well.

But he needed so much more.

He needed her to put her life on the line for her entire people by interceding with the king.  Mordecai needed self-sacrifice, unselfishness, and humility.  A change of clothes simply wasn’t enough.

When we love, we also need to take the time, to make the time, to thrust our hands into a hemorrhaging wound, if necessary, and become a right bloody mess in order to stop the bleeding out.

Jesus did this

He didn’t leave us desperately sick and dying.  If he had only healed some physical hurts, if he had simply taught some important truths, if he had solely righted a few social injustices, he would have given Band-Aid care for a terminal disease.

Yet, Jesus did more, sacrificing His life for ours, because he knew we needed radical intervention to save our dying selves.

And then He asks us to live this life of love:  

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).

Loving with Band-Aids some days.  Loving with time and attention on others.  Loving with messy healing and laying ourselves down at times.

But loving like Jesus always.

Happy Mother’s Day, National Nurses Week, and Teacher Appreciation Week to all of you!!!
Thank you for all your care and sacrifice for others.

Originally published May 10, 2013

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

 

If I do one thing as a mom, let it be this

lamentations2-19

I prayed for this.

This girl of mine brought home stories from kindergarten about this friend and that friend and her BFFFL (Best Friend Forever For Life) and what top-secret info they had shared with her on the playground.

She learned cuss words.  She learned attitudes.  She learned meanness.  She learned insults.   She learned that when you spell S-E-X you should whisper.  She learned far more than a five-year-old needed to know.

I visited her classroom and passed out snacks for a class party, listening into the conversation at her little table….

The kids interrogated me about why I wouldn’t let my daughter watch certain shows on TV.  I felt like I was in a courtroom and this group of kindergarteners were trying to break me down under cross-examination.

By her second grade year, I finally spilled it out as a prayer request in my small group.  My girl was fiercely loyal to friends who were tripping up her heart, and she just followed along after them like a blind sheep following another blind sheep off a cliff.

Dear Jesus, please help my girl choose good friends who are kind and who will spur her on to excellence, who will help her make good choices and encourage her to be her best, and who won’t lead her away from You.

I watched her playing with her friends this weekend, a full two-years after I started committing her friendships to prayer.

And, oh, I about cried at her birthday party.  Not because my baby is nine-years-old (although that might be another breakdown in the making)…..

Because God so graciously answered my prayers for my daughter.  She had gathered around her the nicest group of quirky, funny, playful, kind, encouraging, creative, sweet, and thoughtful girls, and each one of them is a reminder that God hears our prayers for our children.

He had built that shelter around her heart when she most needed it.

And I am thankful.

Sometimes it’s wearying, to keep praying when we don’t see the answer and to persevere on our knees when we don’t see results.  Praying isn’t an insta-fix or a quick solution.

And some days I’m overwhelmed with my failings and failures as a mom.

I get caught up in what I didn’t do.  I beat myself up over what I forgot.  I stress over what fell by the wayside.  I feel like it’s never enough and I should have done more.  I said the wrong thing.  I stepped in when I should have let my child handle it….or I didn’t step in when they needed me to handle it.  I regret a decision and I wish I could take back what I said.

But what I need to know—-what moms need to know—-is this:

What matters most as a mom is time on our knees for our children.

We don’t have to get wrapped up in programs, extras, Pinterest-activities, decorations, household management strategies, and developmental milestones.  We don’t have to compare ourselves to any other mom or our kids to any other kids.

We care for their needs.  We love them.  We encourage their hearts, and sometimes we also stress and fret ourselves into a blubbering mess over our kids.

Yet, we can trust God to care for our children. He knows them and He loves them even more than we do.

So, the best we can do for them is give them to Him.

I read the Psalms of David often, and pray through them, but I notice this one emptiness in his prayer life…..I don’t see him pray for his kids.

Mary prayed for Jesus.

Zechariah prayed for John the Baptist.

Abraham blessed Isaac.

Jacob prayed over his sons and his grandsons.

But David?

In Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado writes:

Aside from the prayer he offered for Bathsheba’s baby, Scripture gives no indication that he ever prayed for his family. He prayed about the Philistines, interceded for his warriors.  He offered prayers for Jonathan, his friend, and for Saul, his archrival.  But as far as his family was concerned, it’s as if they never existed.”

David gave his kids a kingdom.  He gave them power and financial success.

Maybe he should have given them the gift of a praying parent.

This is the gift I hope to give my children:

Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner (Lamentations 2:19 NIV)

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

 

Dear Daughter, When You’re Nine, Make It Count

philippians4

Dear Lauren,

There’s something about nine.

Eighth birthdays seem like a passageway to life as a ‘big kid.’ Welcome to third grade and the upper end of your elementary school years.

And then there’s ten, this monumental moment where you hit double digits and head into life as a ‘tween.’

But nine.

It’s a little bit of growing up and a little bit of holding on.  Prepping for the big time. Enjoying life as a little for just a bit longer.

And that’s good.  There’s no need to cling stubbornly to childishness and there’s no need to rush heedlessly into growing up.

So, happy ninth birthday! Enjoy it.  Celebrate this year.  Make it count, make it fun, and make it beautiful.

You are one loved girl.  Sure, you shield your face with your hand in order to ward off our attempts to kiss you.  You sidestep us as we try to give you a hug.  I say, “I love you,” and you blink big blue eyes at me and purposely refuse to say the magic words back, “I love you, too.”

I tell you how beautiful you are and you ‘harumph at me’ in annoyance.

“No mushy stuff,” you say.

Affection has to happen on your terms and I get that.  You cuddled up next to me on the sofa the other night and snuggled into my side and I just silently savored the moment.  If I made a big deal about it, you’d probably re-establish distance, but I just slipped my arm around you and let you sit there with me.

Because I love you.  That’s the truth.lauren

We love your cackle, the way you throw your whole body and voice into laughing over a silly joke, a groan-worthy pun, pranks and knock-knock routines.

I love that independent soul of yours, even if it does mean we stand toe-to-toe and battle out anything from meal-times, to piano practice, to math assignments.

I love how fiercely loyal you are to those you care about.

Enjoy who you are.  You like to call yourself a tomboy and you wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress unless it’s Easter Sunday or picture day at school (and even then you set pretty rigid parameters on acceptable clothing.)  That’s fine.  Girls don’t have to be prissy, frilly, pink and fancy.

Just remember that being a woman doesn’t mean being weak or being stepped on.  It’s no punishment to be a girl.  It’s an honor and privilege.

You’ve planned your whole life–no marriage, no kids, just two dogs that you’ll adopt from the pet shelter.  If that’s what God wants for you, great.  Just don’t think that somehow marriage is a burden or kids aren’t worth the pain of childbirth.

If you see anything when you look at your dad and me, I want you to see the way marriage is a blessing and a gift and how beautiful life is when lived with someone you adore who is your teammate and best friend.

Raw talent doesn’t determine success.  You’re astounding.  It was true when you were a toddler.  It’s true now.  You are a whirlwind of intelligence, memory, and creativity without being showy or in the spotlight most of the time.

Know this, though:  Hanging on tight and not giving up is far more important than being smart.

So it takes you more than two seconds to figure out a math problem. Don’t put your pencil down, tear up, shrug your shoulders and walk away.   Tackle it.  Battle it out.  Work on it this way and when that fails, work on it another way until you finally write that answer down.

So you have to actually study for 2 minutes.  So you can’t play a song on the piano perfectly the first time you look at it.

The only failure is giving up.  Wrong answers…Wrong notes…. All of that is okay as long as you are giving everything you have to give, persevering, overcoming fear, and learning from your mistakes.

We do excellence in this family, but we also do grace.  We love each other through mistakes because we know mistakes are the price to pay for growth and learning.

So, don’t avoid trying something because it takes effort or because you might fail.

Try.

If you fall, get back up, but DO try again.  DO push yourself for your best effort and never settle for what you can do with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back.  That’s just what’s easy.  Don’t settle for easy.  Live for the  challenge.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23 ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 ESV)

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.