Weekend Rerun: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

In just over a week, all three of my kids will be heading back to school.  Yes, all three!  My baby girl is starting preschool this year. 

So, in the days ahead, I’ll be sharing some new thoughts and re-running some of my past posts about school and life and all the lessons therein.  I hope you enjoy!

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

Originally posted on September 1, 2011

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

I’m a mom who likes to think she knows best for her kids.  So, with all my “Mom-Knows-Best” skills, I signed up my middle girl for our church’s private kindergarten the week that registration opened.

For months I prayed the kindergarten class would reach the necessary enrollment.  I stressed and worried and spilled over all my freaked out mother concern to anyone with a listening ear about how my daughter’s life would be destroyed at five years old if they cancelled the class.

Slowly, I transformed my prayers.  I whispered what started as an uncertain and half-hearted, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Over time, I began to actually mean what I prayed.  It was a radical shift for me and not a holy place I often reach in this always-in-control life of mine.

Then I picked up the ringing phone and heard the official news. No kindergarten due to low enrollment.

Off I sped to the local public school and registered my little girl in a building and system that seemed too big and unknown.

And I prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Then began the stress over her teacher.

I prayed for that one special teacher who would connect with my daughter and make her first year of elementary school as exciting and engaging as possible and who would expertly work with her strengths and weaknesses.

We walked into the classroom on open house.  I wasn’t sure what to think and my child did what I had feared all along—she fell back into herself and shut down in an instant.  (Followup note: We ended up loving this teacher.  God answered my every prayer for Lauren).

In that moment, I was ready to do anything—unregister her, ask for a move to a different class.  Right away, I prepared to step in and assume control from a God who seemed to be messing this all up.

Then I asked myself–-Had I not prayed all along for the best possible teacher and environment for my daughter?  Could I trust my God to know what is best for my precious girl? Could I place her in His hands?

I whispered in my daughter’s ear as we sat in that kindergarten classroom, “Lauren, I have prayed for you every day that God would give you the right school and the right teacher.  He has brought you here so we will trust it’s going to be perfect and wonderful.”

And I silently prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

We so often model our prayers on The Lord’s Prayer, the “our Father who art in heaven” that Jesus taught to the disciples.  And so we should.

That prayer with its “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” echoes Jesus’ own words.  We can thus imitate the very prayer of our Savior Himself as He bowed low in Gethsemane, submitting His own desires to the perfect plan of the Father.  “Not my will, but yours be done,” He prayed that night.

It’s unlikely that you are struggling with the same issue as me.  Maybe your kids are grown and married.  Maybe you’re single.  Maybe you’re still rocking an infant at night.

Even so, perhaps you and I are in the same place.  We, with all our knowledge and expertise, think we have formed a perfect plan and then God intervenes.  He declines to give us what we want.

He tells us “no.”

Maybe you, like me, are less likely to react with the submission of Jesus and instead throw temper tantrums like Jonah.

The prophet Jonah had a plan, too.  He had a successful prophetic ministry to the Hebrew people.  Yes, Jonah had a good thing going and his plans for his life probably included retiring after a fulfilling career as the voice of good news to his own nation.

Then God commissioned him to be an evangelist to a pagan nation that had long been the brutal enemy of the Hebrews.

You likely know the story.  He ran away from God, spent three days in a fish’s belly, and then after being vomited up on shore, finally obeyed God.

To a pagan nation, he preached coming judgment and they repented.  Even the king donned sackcloth and ashes.  It was one of the largest revivals in history—a whole nation turning to God in the course of one day.

Did Jonah rejoice?  Did he give praise?

Jonah 4:1 says, “but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.”

We could get angry, you and I, when things don’t go our way.  We could stomp away from God’s plan and cross our arms in defiance.  We could run, fast and hard, jumping onto the first ship out of this place.  We could obey, but with an attitude.

Or we could pray, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and trust that our Heavenly Father knows best.  We could remember His promise to work “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).


Live in my area and want to pray for your kids’ school year?  Everyone is invited to are invited to Newington Baptist Church on Tuesday, September 4th at 10:30 a.m. for First Pray–a time of encouragement and prayer for our kids, their teachers, principals, and school staff.  Won’t you join us? 

For working moms, you can email me your child’s name, grade, school and homeroom teacher and we’ll pray for them, as well: heatherking@cox.net

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Back to School Lessons, Part Three: Silly Mom, School Buses are for Kids

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall”
(Psalm 18:29).

We went out early on the first day of school, so full of excitement about the big day that we couldn’t stand in the house a moment longer.  My girls had been wearing their backpacks for a full five minutes before I finally opened the door and we stepped outside.

And there we stood, dad, mom, and three girls waiting, waiting, and waiting for the big yellow bus.

Then it came, and the older girls climbed up the steps, the doors shut, and the bus pulled away.  And I wasn’t on it with them.

Because school buses aren’t for moms.

At the end of the day, my baby and I walked down to the end of our driveway and watched for the bus to return.  After it was five minutes late, I gripped my cell phone tightly in case the school called with horrible news.

After ten minutes of being late, I just knew that my daughters had gotten lost and placed on the wrong bus.  Surely they had been shipped to some other route across the county all because I hadn’t been there to guide them.

After fifteen minutes of being late, I thought they must have gotten lost in the school hallways and they would be so terrified they wouldn’t be able to tell their name much less their teacher’s name or room number or my name or their address or phone number.  No one would ever find them.  My girls would simply be missing in the halls of the school forever  . . . all because I wasn’t there to speak for them!

But eighteen minutes after the bus was supposed to arrive, it finally stopped in front of our home.  And guess what?

The girls were on it.  They were safe and cheerful.  They hadn’t gotten lost for a moment

What’s more . . . they knew their room numbers and their teacher’s names and yes, even how to use the school bathroom.

I guess they survived without my hovering presence today.

Maybe there will be times when they struggle and feel a little lost and I will need to navigate the difficult waters of “Mom-dom,” deciding when to step in and rescue them and when to trust that we’ve trained them well enough to manage on their own.

Even God, the Perfect Father, navigates this fine parental balance between deliverance and training.

In Psalm 18, the writer declares that God:

“reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

(Psalm 18:16-17).

God yanked the Psalmist out of the drowning waves and rescued him from overwhelming foes.

Not only that, the poet tells God, “You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way” (Psalm 18:36).

Sometimes God knows we can’t handle this foe and we need rescue.  On other days, He gives us easy circumstances, a broad path, a relaxing walk, rather than a treacherous mountain climb up a narrow rock-filled pathway because He knows our feet are tender and uncertain.

But life isn’t always easy and our journey isn’t always a Sunday stroll on a bright and cheerful day.  God doesn’t always carry us out of tough times; sometimes He asks us to rely on all the training He has poured into our hearts and minds so that we will overcome.

Thus, in that same Psalm, we see: “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29).

And why can we perform these feats of wonder with God’s help?  Because He has trained us in times of peace so that we can battle through times of war.

The Psalmist says:

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze (Psalm 18:32-34).

God has exercised our limbs of faith and traveled with us in paths both broad and narrow.  Our feet have grown accustomed to the journey, becoming sure-footed like a deer’s and able to scale great mountainous heights.

And while God is always with us, never abandoning us for a moment, sometimes He chooses to walk alongside us through difficult circumstances rather than lifting us up and carrying us through them.

My baby likes to be carried and sometimes she stands at me feet, waving her arms at me and jumping up and down so I’ll lift her up onto my hip and hold her close.  Sometimes I scoop her up.  Other times I reach my hand for hers and tell her, “You can walk.”

Maybe God is saying that to you today. Perhaps you’ve tapped your feet impatiently at God, waiting for Him to place you on His shoulders and make all of these hard times just disappear.

Maybe you feel like it’s all just too much for you and you can’t travel a step further, not even one more moment down this path.

But instead of offering you an escape route, maybe your Father God, knowing full well what is best for you, is asking you to walk through the difficult road, at least a little farther.  He will provide all that you need, the training, the strength, the energy, the patience and perseverance.  And when He sees that your “foot is slipping,” like the Psalmist, you can say, “your unfailing love, Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Back to School Lessons, Part Two: Love is in the Lunch Box

Sandwich, fruit, snack, drink, napkin.

Check, check, check, check and check,

Two Hershey kisses and a note saying, “Kisses from me to you.  Love, Mom.”


It really doesn’t matter whether we packed the lunch bag or sent the money in for the lunch line, whether we wrote a note or didn’t, if we enclosed a fancy napkin or sent in a folded paper towel, still we moms likely thought of lunch.  We made a plan to provide for our child’s nourishment.

Not all kids have a mom or dad who lives out love every day through simple acts of kindness and provision.  That makes it easy to forget that a sandwich for lunch and clean clothes for school are an expression of love.

The people in your life, whether they are your children, or your grandchildren, or your aging parents, or a sick friend, could say you love them because of your words.  When I grab my girls in a surprise hug and whisper, “I love you,” my girls always sigh loudly and say in exasperation, “We know, Mom.  You tell us all the time!”

Maybe you tell your loved ones that you care all the time, too.

But there are depths of love that remain inexpressible in words and are only made clear in our actions.  No one may even recognize the love while it’s ongoing, but they would miss it in a heartbeat if you weren’t there.

It’s the fact that we’ve provided for their lunch.  It’s being there to meet the bus at the end of the day.  It’s sitting at the table and patiently working through math problems.

And so much more.

It’s smoothing back hair and bringing juice to a sick child.
It’s reading a book by a nursing home bed.
It’s holding a hand in a hospital room
It’s toting a meal to a recovering neighbor.
It’s washing bed linens soiled by sickness.
It’s writing a note to a friend.

In our everyday lives, our love doesn’t matter much if it’s expressed in words, but never in deed.

God’s love would be a bunch of meaningless words on a page, too, if He didn’t lavish us with grace every day.

There in His Word, He tells us that He loves us.  We most likely read it or say it or hear it everyday and twice on Sundays.

As adults, though, it’s so easy to become blase and apathetic about God’s love for us.  It’s a children’s concept.  The Sunday School theme.  We define God’s love by nursery songs like “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

And so over time, it seems we picture God as loving us, but not passionately loving us.  It’s more of an unemotional general concern for our well-being and maybe more for the condition of the planet rather than for us personally.

We’ve even confined one of the most powerful Scriptures in the Bible to a kid’s memory verse and little more:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish and have eternal life” (John 3:16).

But did you see that in this verse His love has legs?  He didn’t just say, “Those people I made, they sure are great!  I like them a whole lot and care about them a bunch.”

Oh no.

He put His great love into action.

He loved the world, not just the human population, but you and me and each child on a school bus and each person on your street, individually, uniquely and passionately enough to sacrifice His own Son for our eternal destination.

He wants to spend eternity with you.  Now that’s over-the-top passion.

Why do we sometimes picture God as sitting relaxed on His throne, watching impassively as life bombards us with strife?  Why do we acknowledge that He sacrificed His Son for us and then treat that as “no big deal?”  Or perhaps we fail to recognize the millions of ways He sends gifts of love and grace to us every single day.

In Psalm 136, the worship leader engaged his congregation in responsive praise.  He sang out what God has done for them and the people answer in return, “His love endures forever.”

Twenty-three times they sing back the refrain, declaring that God loves them and always will.

Why?  Just because He said the words, “I love you”?

No, because He “made the heavens” and “set the earth upon the waters.”  He brought Israel out from slavery in Egypt and “divided the Red Sea asunder and brought Israel through the midst of it, but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea.”  He struck down enemy kings and gave the Hebrew nation the Promised Land.

It’s a litany of God’s love.  “His love endures forever” and we know it because of all He has done for us.

There at the bottom of the long list of reasons to give thanks: “He gives food to every creature” (Psalm 136:25).

Oh, yes, He packs our lunch.

How has God shown you His love today?  How can you give Him thanks?

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Back to School Lessons, Part One: How to Use the Bathroom

On the first day of preschool for my oldest daughter three years ago, I drove up to the doorway.  The teacher leaned in to open the car door and greeted my beaming girl, who had her hair done up sweetly and her clothes picked out special.

Other children had been lifted out of the car by the expert educator, as they screamed for mom and hung their heads low in sorrow at the separation.

Not my daughter.  She bounced out the door and practically sprinted down the hallway to the classroom.  So much for separation anxiety.

I, on the other hand, wiped away tears.  For two hours, I would not know what she was doing or whether she needed me.

At the end of the day, I wanted a full report on all her activities.  Instead, the teacher helped her back into the car and said, “She had a good day!”

A whole two hours of her life spent without me there even to watch.

Truly, it’s the difficult goal of parenthood—to train our children so they function independently.  Teach them what they need to know now so that they succeed tomorrow.

While God never trains us for independence, He is forever building into our lives, hearts and minds today what we will need the next day and the day after that. 

And sometimes we miss it.

So often recently, I have heard people denounce the study of God’s Word in favor of what is “practical” and “relevant,” what’s meaningful to them right now rather than digging in deep to the Scripture.  We want to learn “how to” rather than learn who God is.  We shrug off discipleship in favor of temporary spiritual programs built around a single verse or two.

Now, personal application matters.  The holy words on these pages aren’t there for amusement, or intellectual stimulation, or comfort alone.  If we read without change, we are missing it.  We are missing all that Scripture was intended to be for us.

But, how are we to know now what will matter in our lives tomorrow?  If we seek only that which has immediate application to our lives today, here, now, in this situation, the Bible becomes nothing more than a Band-Aid for life’s boo-boos or a pocket map for our life’s journey.

To celebrate the last day of summer vacation, I sat down with my girls today and had a heart-to-heart about the beginning of school.  (I know some of you have already started the school year, but for us it begins tomorrow).

I looked them in the eyes in all their bright-eyed excitement about school and making new friends and opening new crayons and learning new ideas . . . and I gave them the most important instructions I could think of for the year:

  1. Do not wait to go to the bathroom until it’s an emergency.
  2. Go to the bathroom before you go to the playground for recess and before you get on the bus at the end of the day.
  3. Raise your hand and ask your teacher permission to go to the restroom.
  4. Close the door behind you.
  5. Flush when you are done.
  6. Wash your hands.

To me, these seemed like essential words of wisdom.  To them, they seemed banal and unimaginative.

Just wait until they have to go to the bathroom tomorrow . . .

God so often is giving us the training we need for the future, and we in similar fashion, roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders, and avert our gaze at anything so boring, so unnecessary, so impractical.

How could David know that days spent in the fields watching boring, stinky sheep would train him to be a warrior king?

How could Moses know that a childhood in an Egyptian palace and 40 years in the wilderness moving sheep around would prepare him to be the deliverer of the Hebrew nation from 400 years of slavery and then the leader of that nomadic people for another 40 years?

How could Joseph know how years spent managing Potiphar’s house as a slave and another season managing his fellow convicts while wrongfully imprisoned would prepare him to save the entire Egyptian nation and the surrounding countries from a 7-year famine?

How could they know?  How do you know as you sit with your Bible before you what verse you will need to whisper in the night a year from now or the passage you’ll need to cling to even a decade later?

We don’t know.  But God does.

So, we open up His Word and we dig deep.  We search passionately—not just for the solution to our current problem or the manual for our present situation—but we search for Him, God Himself, and who He is.  We sit attentive in His classroom and become the student of God’s character through the study of His Word.

The Psalmist wrote:

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:10-16).

The Psalmist was a dedicated student of Scripture and he tells us how to be the same in this passage.  He tells us:

  • Seek God—not what He can do for you, but God Himself, with all your heart.
  • Memorize Scripture and call it to mind during moments of temptation.
  • Give God praise.
  • Ask Him to teach you.
  • Talk to others about what you’re learning from time spent in His Word.
  • Treat God’s Word like it’s a treasure chest filled to the brim with the most magnificent jewels imaginable.
  • Spend time meditating, contemplating, and praying through the Bible and what it reveals about Him.

And more than anything else, do not neglect His word.  You’re guaranteed to need it, if not today then tomorrow.

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.