How I Tried Not To Look Like a Tourist (and probably failed)

psalm-119-66

My husband told me, “try not to look like a tourist.”

That was the advice I tucked away for my recent trip to New York City.

I feel pretty comfortable in Washington, DC, but I know nothing about the Big Apple.

So I bought a laminated map the week before my trip and then I spent an afternoon on my comfy blue sofa with a cup of tea, my map, my itinerary, and my good friend:  Google.

Then I wrote it all down, every bit of it.  What subway stations to use.  How many stops there were between places.  How much tickets would cost.

This is  my modus operandi: intense preparation before any action.

Eventually, though, you just have to do it.  You have to step off the tour bus into the city and make your way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with nothing but a map, your notes, scattered street signs, and some friends.  Plus you need to do it without looking like a tourist, which probably means not pulling out the map and pointing at landmarks in the middle of Central Park (I failed).

Somehow my friends and I found our way, partly because of my advanced preparations, partly because we  got lost and learned from our mistakes, and mostly because we asked questions.

“If I’m on seventh avenue, which way do I need to go to 8th avenue?”

“Am I headed in the right direction for the art museum?”

“Are the subways on this level going  the direction we want to go?”

I asked the lady pushing her stroller through Central Park, the security guard walking down 42nd street, and the guy adding money to his frequent user subway card. I asked questions all over New York City.

As long as someone looked like they were friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable, they were fair game for one of my questions.

I’m a question-asking girl.  I even wrote a whole book about asking questions (Ask Me Anything, Lord), so this is who I am and how I navigate the big, wide world.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

In life, we can try our best to seek our own answers or wrestle with guidebooks and Google-searches in hope of making good choices.

Or we can make mistakes and then learn from them.

But it’s often much easier and far less painful just to ask.

Ask a friend for help.  Ask someone we respect for advice.  Ask a mentor for prayer.  Ask an expert for some input.

Being willing to seek advice with a humble heart opens us up to wisdom.

Proverbs tells us:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice (Proverbs 12:15 ESV).

We don’t just ask any random person, of course.

We ask those we respect, those who have already “been there,” those who are prayerful and those who live with godliness.

More than all of that, though, we can bring our question-filled hearts to God Himself.

Jesus told us to ask (Matthew 7:7).  He gave us permission to come to Him with questions and requests, and He even praised those who sought His help when they needed it.

Of course, it’s deeply humbling to confess the truth: “I don’t know all the answers.”

But this is what we need, to recognize what we don’t know…to trample over our own pride and admit our deficiency.  This is what allows God to teach us and to guide us.

Moses stood barefoot in front of the burning bush and dared to ask the big question:

 “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13 ESV). 

He said to God, “Who are you?!”

No pretending like he had it all together or knew everything or was so capable all on his own.

He asked.

And God answered:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). 

Moses’s question led to revelation, God telling His very holy name: I AM.

One of the deepest moments of divine revelation in the entirety of Scripture came because Moses dared to ask a question.

It takes  time to ask and listen for the answer.

It takes humility to lay aside our own opinion and agenda and seek God’s thoughts and plans.

It takes a teachable heart to seek advice from a respected friend.

But we’ll learn more, make fewer mistakes, and get a little less lost in this life if we embrace humility and learn the art of asking questions.

Dancing in Worn-Out Shoes

psalm 30She tells me they fit.  “Ballet shoes need to be that tight,” she says.

I’m looking at the worn-out gray of the leather where she’s danced and danced on that shoe, and I’m thinking it’s been two years probably since I bought them for her.

Maybe she’s the dance expert, but this momma knows too small when I see it.20140404-130817.jpg

When you have to crinkle your whole foot up to cram it into the shoe and then whisk your finger back before it gets trapped behind your heel, that means it’s time to let those beloved dance shoes go, baby girl.

So, she plops down onto the bench at the studio reluctantly and I tell her to show the teacher and let the expert decide.

About two minutes later, we’re surrounded by boxes and shoes as we skip size after size to find one that finally fits correctly.

It hits my heart as I watch my girl cling to the old and the worn:

Am I cramming myself right down all squashed and painful into life that doesn’t fit anymore?

Am I stubbornly holding onto what isn’t working just because it’s here, because it’s known, because the ill-fitting discomfort of this seems better than the unknown with all its newness and risk and…dare I say it….change?

Am I saying I want to know more of God, but then clinging tight-fisted to the same-old, same-old patterns of faith and even sin?

Jesus saw this man, crippled for 38 years, lying out by the pools of Bethesda, the miracle waters they said, the place where the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed congregated in hopes of a healing.

The man didn’t cry out to Jesus to “have mercy.”  He didn’t have friends carry him on a stretcher and lower him down through a roof to get to Jesus’ feet.  He didn’t ask for healing at all, not like others in the Gospels who were desperate to get to Jesus.

He laid by the pool of Bethesda, just laid there because he’d lain there so long.

It was Jesus who initiated the miracle, and He began with a question, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV).

Did he want to get well?  Wasn’t he there at the pool of Bethesda and hadn’t he been there so long?  Wasn’t this what you did when you needed a miracle? 

Of course, he wanted to get well!

Yet, we can say all the right things, make all the right promises, repeat all the good-Christian phrases and still miss the honest truth:

That maybe we don’t want to get well.

Not really.

Maybe we don’t want to know Him more,  don’t want to be healed, to be transformed from the inside out, to obey Him, to follow Him wherever He leads.

If we did, wouldn’t we be desperate to be at His feet?  Wouldn’t we be screaming loud enough to be heard over the crowd, “Have mercy, Son of David!!!?”  Wouldn’t we be begging friends to bring us to Christ and crawling on our hands and knees through a crowd of people just so we could brush the corner of His robe?

Instead, too often we lie there and wait for God to come to us.

And when Jesus does come and offers us more, we can make excuses like that man waiting by miracle water.

The man said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7 NIV).

Maybe this was genuine hopelessness.

Or maybe it was justification, excuse-making, avoiding what radical obedience might cost him.

Either way, Grace invited him in.  Grace held that hand right out.

Do you want to get well?

And isn’t that Grace?  Never belligerent.  Never forcing, demanding.  Always inviting. 

He offers us more.

Will we, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk?’  Or will we choose to stay right there, pinned to a mat surrounded by the lame, clinging to the past?

Today, let’s put aside the ill-fitting, worn out shoes we’ve been cramming ourselves into.  Let’s stop doing what we’ve always done.  Let’s stop justifying the inactivity.

And let’s run hard after Jesus.  Let’s learn how to dance in new shoes.

Do you want to get well?

 Want to read more about the questions God asks?  

Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!ask-me-anything-lord_kd

Originally published April 4, 2014

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.

25 Ways to Create Rest

Thanks to all who entered the Big Giveaway!  It was so fun hearing all about what you wanted to be when you grew up.  Some of you were far more creative than I ever was!  And what a testimony of how God redirected some of us, transformed some of us, and used our desires and giftings for His glory.

I am so thankful for all of your support and encouragement in this first year since my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord was published.  ask-me-anything-lord_kd

Here are the winners!

One first-prize winner of the $25 Amazon gift card is:  Kimberly!!!

Three runner-up prizes of an autographed copy of Ask Me Anything, Lord go to:

  • Betsy Marmon
  • Genia Allen
  • CoreynEva

If you didn’t win, I have to at least give a quick, shameless plug: You can still buy a copy of Ask Me Anything, Lord here.  Don’t forget: Christmas is coming! I’m knee-deep into my own Christmas shopping list, so if you’re looking for a gift you can always buy a copy of the book for you and another to give to a friend!

You bless me so, dear friends and followers!

~heather~

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 25 Ways to Create Rest

My husband teases me about never watching TV or movies.  “You don’t watch; you just listen,” he says.

rest

Photo courtesy of Viktor Janacek, picjumbo

It’s true.  I like to listen to the dialogue while doing chores and working on projects.

I feel restless just sitting still without something for my hands to do.

I read the verses, how Scripture tells me to rest, and all this time I thought I just failed at this.

Could this be sin?  Am I a hopeless case of incessant busyness?  A certifiable Martha who can’t possibly be Mary at the feet of Jesus?

And, after all, I’m a mom with four young kids. Doing nothing sounds unreasonable and downright impossible.

So, when I think about Sabbath and rest, I feel guilty.

But I’m finding freedom here as I spend this month Sabbath-keeping:

In Priscilla Shirer’s book: Breathe: Making Room for Sabbath, I read this quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel, a rabbi and author:

“The words: ‘On the seventh day God finished His work’ (Genesis 2:2) seem to be a puzzle…We would surely expect the Bible to tell us that on the sixth day God finished His work.  Obviously, the ancient rabbis concluded, there was an act of creation on the seventh day.  Just as heaven and earth were created in six days, menulza (rest) was created on the Sabbath…..they believed that it took a special act of creation to bring it into being, that the universe would be incomplete without it.  ‘What was created on the seventh day?  Tranquility, serenity, peace and repose.

God didn’t do nothing on the seventh day.  He created Rest, and the universe wasn’t complete until He did.

So, Sabbath isn’t about sitting still or napping or doing nothing.

It’s about creating peace and repose.  It’s about creating rest for your soul, whatever that looks like.

In her book Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, Margaret Feinberg writes:

“rest isn’t a purely passive activity.  Rest invites us to participate in restorative activities….Sometimes what’s most restful and restorative to you might involve activity…Sometimes what feels like rest to you may feel like work to someone else (and vice versa)…

Some people experience rest and rejuvenation through physical exercise, others prefer a creative outlet like painting, sculpting or finding a project on Pinterest.  Still others experience rest through spending time at the rifle range, reading an entertaining book, working on a car, enjoying a comedy, or cooking a new recipe”  (p. 72).

So, the question I’ve been asking myself is: What kind of Sabbath am I creating?

Here are 25 practical ways to choose rest for your soul:

  1. Put off the big chores like laundry, vacuuming and mopping until another day.
  2. Spend time as a family playing board games or have a movie night with popcorn and hot chocolate.
  3. Go for a picnic in the park with your kids.
  4. Lie on the couch and read a book.
  5. Take a nap.
  6. Create something beautiful–knit, sew, paint.  Make sure it’s something you enjoy but never seem to have time for and not just another project you need to get done on the to-do list (like hem pants or something).
  7. Bake something delicious.  Maybe use a favorite recipe or be daring and give a new recipe a try!
  8. Light a candle or plug in your warmer and make sure your house smells amazing.
  9. Play music to soothe the soul.  Maybe some worship music.  Maybe something classical so you don’t even have to think about the lyrics, just enjoy the beauty.
  10. Dig deep in the dirt and enjoy your garden.
  11. Sit on the porch with a glass of lemonade or iced tea or maybe a hot cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the breeze while the kids play outside.
  12. Light a fire in the fireplace.
  13. Use paper plates just for today so you don’t have to do a million dishes.
  14. Keep dinner simple.  Order pizza, eat leftovers or maybe go for a Crock-Pot meal or breakfast for dinner (is that officially called ‘Brinner?”.
  15. Or—-if you love to cook, make a big family dinner and enjoy the time together in the kitchen and around the table.
  16. Spend extra time in God’s Word today.
  17. Take a day off from social media and email, or perhaps at least stay offline from sun-up to sun-down.
  18. Don’t answer the phone unless you have to/want to.
  19. Take a walk.
  20. Do a puzzle as a family.
  21. Prepare for your day off in advance:  Make sure the laundry is done, the kids’ homework is done and their agendas for school are signed, so you aren’t tempted to dig deep into a project or chore.
  22. Meet a friend for lunch.
  23. Write a letter.  Like, an actual letter.  With pen and paper, not typed out via e-mail.
  24. Journal.
  25. Treat yourself.  If you exercise all week, keep away from caffeine, soda, sweets, and chocolate….or however you discipline yourself…enjoy a little treat today.  A cinnamon roll for breakfast perhaps?  Your favorite chocolate after lunch?

What kind of Sabbath are you creating?

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Practice Sabbath-Keeping’?

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 © 2014 Heather King

 

A birthday giveaway: $25 Amazon gift card

It’s the one-year birthday of my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, and I’m throwing a party of sorts!  To say many thanks for your part in this journey, I’m hosting a giveaway!!

The prizes:

  • One first prize of a $25 gift card to Amazon.com
  • Three prizes for ‘runners up:’ one autographed copy each of Ask Me Anything, Lord to keep for yourself or to give away to a friend.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

How to enter:

  • Subscribe to get my devotionals sent to your email by following this blog.  If you already subscribe, that counts, too!  Then post a comment on this page saying, “I follow the blog” in order for it to count as an entry.
  • Like my Facebook Author page: http://www.facebook.com/roomtobreathe3  If you already follow me on Facebook, then that counts.  Be sure to post a comment here on this blog page saying, “I’m a Facebook fan” so that you get entered in the giveaway.
  • Comment on this post with the answer to the question: “When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

Please make sure you comment here on this page—not just on Facebook.  It only counts as an entry if it shows up here!

I’ll close the contest on Sunday, November 16th at 11:59 p.m. and announce the winner Monday, November 17th.

Many thanks to you my friends for your support of Ask Me Anything, Lord this past year!

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He had a scraggly brownish gray beard and glasses and wore a faded t-shirt with worn-out jeans.

I was about 17 at the time, and I had stopped into the tiny used book shop not far from my home.  It was a regular haunt of mine because I could pick up classic treasures for a dollar or so.

It’s been so long ago now.  I can’t remember how the conversation started or even why.  Knowing me, I certainly wasn’t the one to initiate a chat with a stranger, especially as a teenage girl with a unknown guy in a store.

But I do remember that he asked me what I wanted to do.

And I said, “I want to write,” in a whispered confession kind of way, the kind of admission you make in embarrassment because you know what you just said was crazy, impractical and surely impossible.

After all, I’m a practical person.  I may have majored in English in college, but I wasn’t silly enough to think that meant writing.  I told people maybe I could edit, or work in publishing, or go to law school, or teach…..all more logical options than dreaming the impossible dream.

But for some reason, I said, “I want to write,” and I didn’t know how to take it back.018

He didn’t even blink.  He just said, “Well, what you have to do is read the best and just write and write and keep on writing.”  Then he handed me a book called Seize the Day, which I still have on my bookshelf now, and walked away.

I get emails now a few times a month from ladies asking me how to get published and could they do what I do, and I give them all the practical information I possibly can.  Unfortunately I can’t give them “Ten Steps to Publishing Success” or “The Five Things You Need to Know About Christian Publishing” and I wish I could—really and truly.

After all, I’m just a humble girl still plugging away at writing myself.

All I can say is just obey and trust God and start small.  Don’t dream about bestsellers or fame or personal glory or royalty checks.

Ten years after a chance meeting in a book shop, I was a mom with two kids and a job working from home, a job at the church, and ministry responsibilities, and I felt like God was telling me I needed to be writing….in my “free time.”

I started as that tired out mama typing away devotionals and articles in a word processor after my kids went to bed at night.  I didn’t think anyone in the world would ever read them.  Maybe one day I could print them off my own printer and slip them into a three-ring binder for my daughters to enjoy.

Then someone asked me to edit for an online Christian women’s magazine.  And then she allowed me to start writing articles.  Then I felt like God wanted me to write devotionals and publish them online, so there was this blog….and then a book idea that took discipline to write in the middle of crazy busy days….

Then there the day last year when I cradled my newborn son in one arm and held the author’s copy of Ask Me Anything, Lord in my other hand.

And I cried.  Of course.

I didn’t think this was ever possible and it certainly wasn’t on my own.

But God.

Maybe we all have “but God…” moments.  They so rarely start with a grand vision of success in any worldly way.  They start with the smallest steps of obedience, humbly just doing the quiet things and being faithful in the here and now, and then one day we look up and wonder how in the world all this happened—-and know it can’t be anything but Him.

That’s the beauty of the “….but God” testimony; He gets the glory.

Like Asaph tells us in the Psalm:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever (Psalm 73:26 HCSB)

And it’s the testimony of David, who “stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul searched for him every day, but God did not hand David over to him” (1 Samuel 23:14 HCSB).

It’s impossible.  We don’t deserve it.  It’s hard and we’re weary. Maybe there are enemies; surely there are obstacles.

But God….He is our Strength, our Hope, our Deliverer.

 

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 © 2014 Heather King

How Can I Dance in Worn-Out Shoes?

 

She tells me they fit.  “Ballet shoes need to be that tight,” she says.

I’m looking at the worn-out gray of the leather where she’s danced and danced on that shoe, and I’m thinking it’s been two years probably since I bought them for her.

Maybe she’s the dance expert, but this momma knows too small when I see it.20140404-130817.jpg

When you have to crinkle your whole foot up to cram it into the shoe and then whisk your finger back before it gets trapped behind your heel, that means it’s time to let those beloved dance shoes go, baby girl.

So, she plops down onto the bench at the studio reluctantly and I tell her to show the teacher and let the expert decide.

About two minutes later, we start pulling out new shoes to try on and we have to skip size after size to find one that finally fits correctly.

I wonder this: Am I cramming myself right down all squashed and painful into life that doesn’t fit anymore?  Habits I’ve outgrown?  Ministries I need to let go?  Behaviors I need to put behind me?

Am I stubbornly holding onto what isn’t working just because it’s here, because it’s known, because the ill-fitting discomfort of this seems better than the unknown with all its newness and risk and…dare I say it….change?

Am I saying I want to know Christ more, be more like Him, follow Him more closely, but then stubbornly clinging to the same-old, same-old patterns of faith and even sin?

Jesus saw this man, crippled for 38 years, lying out by the pools of Bethesda, the miracle waters they said, the place where the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed congregated in hopes of a healing.

The man didn’t cry out to Jesus to “have mercy.”  He didn’t have friends carry him on a stretcher and lower him down through a roof to get to Jesus’ feet.  He didn’t ask for healing at all, not like others in the Gospels who were desperate to get to Jesus.

This man laid by the pool of Bethesda, just laid there because he’d lain there so long.Photo by Ruud Morijn;

It was Jesus who initiated the miracle, and He began with a question, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV).

Did he want to get well?  Wasn’t he there at the pool of Bethesda and hadn’t he been there so long?  Wasn’t this what you did when you needed a miracle? 

Of course, he wanted to get well!

Yet, we can say all the right things, make all the right promises, repeat all the good-Christian phrases and still miss the honest truth:

That maybe we don’t want to get well.

Not really.

Maybe we don’t want to know Him more,  don’t want to be healed, to be transformed from the inside out, to obey Him, to follow Him wherever He leads.

If we did, wouldn’t we be desperate to be at His feet?  Wouldn’t we be screaming loud enough to be heard over the crowd, “Have mercy, Son of David!!!?”  Wouldn’t we be begging friends to bring us to Christ and crawling on our hands and knees through a crowd of people just so we could brush the corner of His robe?

Instead, too often we lie there and wait for God to come to us.

And when Jesus does come and He asks, “Do you want faith?  Do you want healing?  Do you want to know me more?  Do you want to follow me?”

We can act all offended.  Pretend like the answer is obvious. We can make excuses.

The man said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7 NIV).

Maybe this was genuine, hopelessness, lack of help.

Or maybe it was justification, excuse-making, avoiding what radical obedience might cost him.

Either way, Grace invited him in.  Grace held that hand right out.

Do you want to get well?

And isn’t that Grace?  Never belligerent.  Never forcing, demanding.  Always inviting. 

Then, when we accept, Jesus gives us the next step.  “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” He said.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

The man obeyed.  He stopped waiting, stopped making excuses, and he grabbed that mat up and walked right out of there. 

Today, let’s put aside the ill-fitting, worn out shoes we’ve been cramming ourselves into.  Let’s stop doing what we’ve always done.  Let’s stop justifying the inactivity.

And let’s run hard after Jesus.

Let’s be unashamed and relentless in our pursuit of Jesus and the healing work He wants to do in our life, our hearts, our minds, so that He can look right at us and all that we’re doing to get to Him and know the answer without even asking.

Do you want to get well?

Yes, Lord, and Amen.

 Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

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 © 2014 Heather King

 

Ask Me More: Why are you afraid?

I wake up from the nightmare.

It’s about 4 a.m. maybe.  I can’t see the clock without my glasses, so I guess at the time.Female with head bowed in front of sunset sky

Dreams always remain hazy for me, but I remember what finally startled me awake: my daughter in the dream crying out, desperately broken, desperately sad.

It’s the second time I’ve dreamed about this one baby girl of mine being hurt, and I can’t shake the terror in the night or my helplessness.  It’s just a dream and yet it seemed so real.

I could do everything right as a mom and still get it wrong.  I could do everything right and still I can’t protect them all the time.

So, it’s 4 a.m. and I’m lying there still in the darkness just praying:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus….. Have mercy….”

O Lord, I remember Your name in the night (Psalm 119:55a)

I pray it over each of my children by name.  Pray until my heart calmly slips back into its normal rhythm.

And I sleep.

The next day, my family drives to church and unloads from the minivan in a stead stream of King family members.

But my other daughter lingers, hiding her face, and I see how she’s turned her back to the door.  She’s been crying.

I lead her out by the hand, whisk her off to a quiet place and when I wipe those tears off her cheek, I ask her, “Why are you crying?”

She sobs it out and I try to interpret the shoulder heaves and breathy story.

We’d been listening to the song Blessings by Laura Story in the minivan.  What if your blessings come through rain drops, what if your healing comes through tears?

And she watched her baby brother’s smiles and the way he cooed at her all the way to church and she thought, “What if something happens to him?”

She was afraid.

We tried all morning to help her overcome the anxiety of what-if’s and hypotheticals and the wondering, “how could I ever survive?”

Until finally, I whisper into her ear as she bows her head low….Look, I get this.  Your mom has been a fearful person.  I know what it’s like to be afraid.  But you don’t know that anything bad will ever happen.  You can’t miss out on enjoying the present for fear of an unknown future.  The only thing you do know is that God loves you, God loves us, God will be with us. 

I give her these two choices, cut through all of the possibilities and the confusion, the philosophy, the emotions.

Here it is.

Just this: Fear or faith?

And I think how I need this myself, as a woman, as a mom.

I can live in fear or I can live in faith.

I can parent in fear or I can parent in faith.

The disciples rocked violently in the wind of a Galilean storm on a boat they knew how to handle expertly.  They were fishermen, well-versed in weather and weathering the storms on that sea.

But they were scared that night.  Terrified even.  This storm exceeded their ability and expertise.  They could not survive alone.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

And where was Jesus?  Sleeping while they struggled?  Ignorant of their need?

They woke him and poured out frustration and fear in a torrent of accusation, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

So, Jesus spoke to the waves and wind and they obeyed Him and settled into a calmed hush of stillness.

Then he turned to those still-shaking disciples, dripping wet and exhausted from their battle with the storm.  He didn’t lecture them or give a sermon on His power or His mission.

He didn’t command that they also hush and be still.

Instead, He asked them a question:

Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NASB)

Fear or faith.

Those are the only options.  That’s what His questions mean.

The disciples felt justified in their fear, perhaps.  Surely they should be afraid when an overpowering storm threatens to capsize their boat and drown them all.

But Jesus pushed beyond their excuses and reasoning to reach the real issue: We can’t be afraid and full of faith at the same time.  It’s an either/or state of being.

Ray Stedman reminds me that even when damage seems permanent and disaster imminent:

One, the boat will not sink; it cannot sink when the Master of ocean and earth and sky is in it. Two, the storm will not last forever.

And that’s faith; it’s returning to what I know instead of worrying over the unknown.  

So, I choose faith over fear this time.  But it’s a journey.  I must choose faith and choose faith and choose faith, not just once, but every time I’m tempted to question God’s presence, His love, or His power.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

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 © 2014 Heather King

Ask Me More: I Don’t Really Need to Hear Who Had the Lego First

Most days my kids get along like peanut butter and jelly.  But some days it’s more like peanut butter and mayonnaise.

She thinks I really need to know that her sister called her a bad name and took the Lego that she needed for her Lego house.

Her sister thinks I really need to know that she had the Lego first and, by the way, she only called her a name because she called her a name first.

Pretty soon, everyone’s crying and shouting and interrupting each other with “nah-ah” and “ah-hah” and “I didn’t” and “She did.”

They’re waving their arms frantically at me as if that helps me understand the complicated chain of events that led to this sibling explosion.

Maybe a better mom than me could sort through all the noise to discover the instigator, the true culprit here, and the ultimate source of injustice.

Me?  I’m not that better mom.  All I know is they needed to stop fighting in my face, like, 5 minutes ago because it’s totally trampling all over my peace and happy, holy, Jesus-girl joy.

And what about minivan fights?  I can’t even send them to separate corners because seatbelts have certain restrictions and even though these children are driving me crazy at the moment, I do actually love them and want them to be safe.  So I can’t tie one to the roof or anything.

Pretty soon, I’m the crazy mom behind the wheel whispering the name of “Jesus” over and over again because there’s nothing I need more at that moment than some saving grace.

When we fought as kids, my own mom used to make us quote Ephesians 4:29.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)

She’d interrupt the tattling and squabbling with, “What’s the Bible say?”  And then, BAM, we’d have to quote Ephesians 4:29 at her.  It’s pretty hard to keep on fighting while actively quoting the word of God.

It’s genius.

So, I’m thinking of making up some of my own verse cards. Maybe a little Ephesians.

Maybe this:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)

And this one, too:

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

As it is, I’m giving the Mom-speech.john13

Show kindness.  Give grace.  Be gentle, slow-to-anger.

And, I’m thinking as I whisper Bible-truth to my daughters that maybe this isn’t just a lesson for my kids.

It’s a lesson for the church.

We have our own way of erupting into sibling squabbles and could there be any uglier noise to God’s ears than His own children battling it out?

My daughters seem to think that I really want to hear about their sisters’ offenses.

And maybe sometimes in the church we think God really wants to hear what’s wrong with those around us.  We think we’re somehow doing God a favor, rooting out unrighteousness or hypocrisy, failure or imperfection.

Saul (who became Paul) did.  He plowed through the New Testament church like a raging bull in a china shop, smashing to pieces any believers he encountered.

He was a murderer, a church-persecutor, thinking he was doing God’s will the whole time.

But when Jesus showed up as a blinding light in the middle of a highway to Damascus, Saul crashed to the ground and heard this:

“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3).

It’s a stunning question, because Saul didn’t even know who this was.  This was the resurrected Jesus he didn’t even believe in.

So, when Saul asked his own question, “Who are you?” Jesus gave the shocking reply:

“I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! (Acts 9:5).

Persecuting Jesus?  Nah.  Saul was persecuting wayward Jews who were tainting the law.  That’s what he thought.

But Jesus takes it personally when we hurt His people.

And sadly, so much of the time it’s His own people hurting one another with our legalism, judgment and in-house fighting, all in the name of zealous righteousness.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

Instead of taking it to prayer, instead of confessing our own sins or showing grace, instead of overlooking faults or even speaking the truth but doing it in love, we’re making a horrible racket of hurting our brothers and sisters in Christ.

No, we’re not killing one another or sending each other off to prison like Saul did.  But too much of the time, we’re acting out of self-righteous rage, not love.

And that’s just noise to Him.

So maybe God can ask us that same question when we’re all enthusiastic about condemning another believer.

Why are you persecuting ME?

Oh Lord, forgive us.  We didn’t know that was You we were hurting all along.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

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 © 2013 Heather King

Ask Me More: When Anger is Justified But Not ‘Right’

One of the hardest parts of writing a book isn’t always choosing what to put in; it’s choosing what to leave out.

So, when I wrote Ask Me Anything, Lord, I had to choose which questions God asked in Scripture that I would include in the book and which ones I couldn’t.

That was tough.  In the end, I trusted God to lead me and even had to cut out some of my very favorite questions in favor of others I felt He wanted me to cover.

But now, I’d like to share some of the other questions with you in a series on the blog: Ask Me More.

And, if these questions intrigue you, please check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Lives to God’s Questions for a deeper study on how we can let God search our hearts with the very questions He asked others in the Bible.

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She’s angry, that’s obvious.

Anger transforms my blond beauty into a furious mess.  Her face burns red hot and tears sting her eyes and cheeks.  Her long hair escapes hair clips and ponytail holders and frizzes out all wild and untamed.  She stomps around as if her feet alone weigh 50 pounds each and her whole body closes in—her fists clenched, her arms crossed, her chin buried into her chest.

It’s her sense of justice that typically sends her into a fit.

This is right.

That’s wrong.

And I’m going to fight to prove it.

She gets that from her dad.  It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him.

And, normally it’s the beauty in her, too: this absolute willingness to defend justice and truth no matter what it takes or costs.  One day maybe she’ll advocate for orphans and for the oppressed and she’ll be a mighty force on their behalf.

But sometimes, she doesn’t see the whole picture.  She is, after all, only eight years old, and when you’re eight, you don’t know as much as you think you know.

That’s why she assumes a fighting stance when her four-year-old sister munches on an ice cream sandwich.  How come she gets a treat?  That’s not fair!  I talk my crusader down off the ledge and remind her that she hadn’t even asked.  Why get angry when my answer would be yes?

And why rage over whether or not I punish her younger sister often enough?  It must be that she doesn’t trust me as a mom to discipline well, to show grace when needed, and to teach my children what is right.

I understand.  Don’t I sometimes rage myself over my own causes?

Don’t you?

Lord, why are you blessing them and I’m struggling?  I’m the one trying to be obedient and live the righteous life and they aren’t following you at all.  That’s just not fair!

Lord, did you see what they did to me?  Did you see how cruel and unfair, how they slandered and lied and spread the muck to others? Can’t you strike them with lightning or something?

Anger isn’t wrong in itself. We can fight with that same righteous indignation of Jesus cleansing the temple grounds of con men and scam artists.

But sometimes what we claim is righteous indignation really is not trusting God to see truth, to defend us, to care for us, to show mercy when mercy is needed and justice in its time.

That was the prophet Jonah, sitting on the outskirts of Nineveh in a foul mood all because God showed mercy to an entire nation when they repented following Jonah’s hellfire and brimstone proclamation.

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen’ (Jonah 4:1-3).

He raged about God’s character, spitting out the words that should be worship as angry accusations instead:  I knew it.  You’re merciful, compassionate, slowly angered, abounding in love.

God could have defended Himself.  He could have given Jonah his wish and killed the frustrated prophet on the spot.jonah4

Instead, he used a question to dig out the mess of unforgiveness in Jonah’s heart and reveal God’s own character of compassion for the lost.

God asked:

 “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”  Jonah 4:4

It did seem right and just.  Nineveh was the enemy of God’s people!  They had destroyed Jonah’s friends and family! Surely they deserved revenge, not grace!

But God didn’t let the prophet linger there in hatred.  He caused a plant to grow overnight to shade Jonah’s hot head (in more ways than one!).  Then, when Jonah rejoiced over that plant, feeling somehow that he deserved God’s favor and blessing, God sent a worm to chomp that plant right down to nothing.

Jonah raged again.

And again God asked the question:

“Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”  (Jonah 4:9)

God pressed in, challenging how Jonah cared more for a plant than for a nation of 120,000 lost people.  He shifted Jonah’s perspective and He urged Jonah to trust Him.

That’s what’s at stake for us, as well.

When we’re angry, can we still trust?

When anger seems justified, can we still lay our right to rage down at God’s feet and leave it all in His hands?

And as we do, we worship: You are merciful, compassionate, slow-to-anger, full of unfailing love.

Yes, Amen, Lord.  Your will be done even in this.

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 now available!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Ask Me Anything: No More Hiding in Shame

Welcome to the first “Ask Me Anything Friday!”

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting short excepts from my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Lives to God’s Questions, as we prepare for the book release in November.

For more information about the book release, you can click here.

I hope you enjoy these glimpses into the study on the questions God asked in Scripture and what happens when we allow God to search our own hearts and draw us closer to Him.

~heather~

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God asked them a question.

Adam and Eve sinned that first sin in the Garden of Eden and they impulsively hid.

That’s when they heard God’s steps as He searched for them and they heard Him ask that one simple question:

“Where are you?”

“At least some part of them probably wanted to remain silent and continue cowering among the leaves as long as possible. They had wandered away from God’s side, choosing sin over ask-me-anything-lord_kdinnocence, and then when their eyes were opened, they were so filled with shame that they hid from God.

It’s no different than my daughter when she is in trouble. When Momma discovers her disobedience, she’s sad.  She cries a bit at punishment and feels remorseful.

The ultimate pain for her, though, is if Momma tells Daddy what she did. It’s not because Daddy is going to punish her again. She’s already received discipline from me. She just so desperately wants to hide away her sin from him because she’s ashamed of it and knows he will be disappointed.

Shame is so destructive. It builds up walls in our relationships, preventing us from experiencing the freedom of vulnerability and intimacy. Adam and Eve were burdened by shame and they couldn’t even stand face to face with God, even the God who created them and loved them.

Yet, it is grace that counteracts shame in our lives…

This is a grace that Adam and Eve had not yet experienced as they stood among the foliage in the garden, hiding their faces in shame. There had been no sin in that paradise and therefore no need for grace. They didn’t know that while there are consequences for sin, there is also forgiveness available.

It’s a grace I struggle at times to comprehend and feel even though I’ve seen and experienced a life overflowing with God’s grace. I fall easily into works-based living, expecting perfection and achieving failure. I see the stains of sin on my heart and even when they are washed away, I still feel dirty, unusable and bound for the trashcan sometimes.

I struggle with a prison of self-condemnation. Long after I’ve repented and sought forgiveness, I feel the heaviness of guilt—no, shame really. It’s a prison of thoughts—“You’re unworthy.  God can’t use you. You fail, all the time you fail, same sins all the time.”

Shame imprisons us and hides us away from God. We feel unworthy of His attention and beyond salvation. That’s why Adam and Eve covered themselves in palm leaves and stood still with hushed breaths as God came walking in the garden. They were paralyzed by the shame of what they had done. It probably seemed as if there was no hope of restoration.

That is what we feel sometimes, too, but this is what we can know:

  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).
  • ” Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7, NIV).
  • “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12, NKJV)
  • “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, NKJV).

Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, God purposed to send His Son, Jesus, to die for all our sins so that we could be cleansed, thoroughly washed clean, all sin stains removed. 

Why?

So that our relationship with Him—the relationship broken by that initial sin in the Garden of Eden and then re-broken over and over again in our disobedient lives—-could be restored.

He “reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18, NKJV).

That was a plan enacted by God in immediate response to Adam and Eve’s sin. They and all their descendants were not beyond His reach, even with sin so ugly and shame so heavy that it interrupted their relationship with Him.

God’s grace produces reconciliation. 

Satan’s accusations—even long after we’ve repented—bow us low to the ground with shame. We become burdened with sins already forgiven and are unable to look up into God’s face any longer. We can’t walk in relationship with our Savior when we are too ashamed to match His gaze.

So, like Adam and Eve, sometimes we hide from God rather than respond to His call.

Yet, God whispers the searching question to our shame-filled hearts, “Where are you?”

He wants us to return to His side and resume our intimate walks with Him through life, to converse, to share, to listen and respond, but first He must meet us where we are and then heal the heart paralyzed by shame.

Taken from Ask Me Anything, Lord,© 2013 by Heather King. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 49501. All rights reserved. www.dhp.org.

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.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

What’ll You Call Her?

Just about the time that your pregnant belly pops out and people realize you’re going to have a baby, they start asking the big question: “What’ll you name her?”

I’ve had several friends keep their chosen baby names top secret until the birth, not wanting to tell the big news until it’s on the birth certificate.

And I’ve had a few friends who hadn’t actually decided on their baby’s name, even after a day or two of cuddling in the hospital.

We, however, have been a sucker for the name question for years, never keeping our daughters’ names secret once we made the decision.

But when you announce the baby’s name to people, it’s hard to really, fully explain all of the prayer and thought and love that went into that decision.  They just hear a name (that they may or may not like) and not the meaning and story and prayerful thought behind your choice.

And we did all those things.  We prayed over each of the names.  We considered what the names meant and thought about the sound of it and what it stood for or who they would be named after and what their name would say about them as future women of God.  We imagined what awful and ridiculous nicknames kids would use to tease them and whether their initials would spell something horrid or embarrassing.

And my daughters never cease to ask, time after time, even though they could tell the stories themselves, what their names mean and why we chose that special name just for them.

Well, picking the title of a book isn’t all that different.  I sure have prayed over this and I sought your opinions and suggestions.

Thank you so much for all of the voting and comments and private emails you sent me with thoughts about a book title!  I appreciated all of your great input.

I sent along the suggestions to the publisher and even included some of your commentary.  Then the email came in on Monday afternoon with the official name of my upcoming book:

Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Lives to God’s Questions

I’m in love!

The book is about letting God search our hearts and draw us closer to Him using the questions He asks in Scripture. 

Other titles might have been more aggressively eye-catching, but the publishing team felt this one was the most accessible and descriptive—fitting both the theme and style of the book.

My favorite part is the subtitle.  Is that the same as liking your child’s middle name more than her first name? There’s just an openness and clarity about it that’s just right.

Next up is cover design.  I can’t wait to see what the artists envision for the book cover!

Please keep this book in your prayers and pray for the teams that are working on each part of this process!  Thank you for those very prayers, for your thoughtful encouragement and for your insight all along this exciting journey.

I’ve been reminded once again this week of the promise in Ephesians:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

God can’t do great things because of our strength or ability or power.  It’s never really about what we can do at all.  It’s always because of “His power that is at work within us” and that is why He receives all the glory when He goes above and beyond.

I love the Message paraphrase of verse 21:

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Hopefully, this will all be an encouragement and reminder to you to yield wholeheartedly to God’s work in your life. Listen intently for the Spirit’s gentle voice and step out in wild obedience when He calls you to move.  Watch in anticipation to see what God will do.

You can read more about the amazing story of my book here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King