Recycling Crayons for Operation Christmas Child (and a lesson in restoration)

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”
(Psalm 80:3, ESV).

Broken crayons drive me crazy.

So do crayons with the paper torn off.

And, while we’re on the subject, Play-Doh with all the colors mixed together.

Every year my daughter and I choose a project to make for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  We like to work all year long on crafting something with our own hands and praying over the kids from all over the world who will receive our little gifts.  Then, we use our items as part of our church-wide packing party to fill as many shoeboxes as possible!

This year instead of making bracelets or knitting, we decided to use a resource we have in abundance.

Broken crayons!

And, oh, it makes this momma’s heart so happy to recycle all those crayon nubs and paperless crayons into something colorful and beautiful and whole!

Here’s what we’re up to this year:

We collected the Crayola remnants and peeled off any remaining wrappers.


crayons1

We filled silicone baking trays shaped in hearts and stars with the jumble of brokenness and melted the crayons in a 275° oven.

 

After the wax cooled completely, we popped out beautiful new rainbow crayons.

crayons2crayons3
We made something fun, colorful, and unique out of the old, broken, and worn out and, as we did, I rejoiced in the way God restores us and transforms us, melts down brokenness, and makes us whole in Him.

God’s plan for restoring us in life is so often like melting down broken wax and transforming it into a uniquely colorful treasure with a beauty all its own.

We pray for restoration, hope for it, long for it with desperate hearts.  We need the fixing, mending, healing power of God in our relationships, in our worship, in our churches, in our sick and hurting bodies, in our grief, in our finances, and more.

Like David, we long for God to “restore my soul” (Psalm 23:3) and “restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12).

But so often we think that means full-circle restoration.  We want what we once had, what Satan took from us, or what we’ve lost along our journey.

That’s what Israel prayed for when they were beseiged, starved, and taken captive:

“Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21 ESV).

Give us back the good old days!

And it seemed like that’s exactly what God did.  When Nehemiah returned to rebuild the ruins of the Jerusalem walls, he began at the Valley Gate (Nehemiah 2:13).  Then, 52 days later, they celebrated with a march through those rebuilt gates, starting once again with what many scholars believe was the Valley Gate.

In Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break, Kelly Minter writes:

“If God began Nehemiah’s journey at the broken Valley Gate and completed it at a restored one, we have reason to hope He will work with the same restorative power in our lives” (p. 151).

They had, after all, come full circle.

And yet, this wasn’t exactly the same as what they had lost; these were rebuilt walls, walls with a testimony.  They showed God’s faithfulness to His people, bringing them back from captivity and helping them rebuild their land.

The rebuilt walls in our lives are also a testimony of God’s faithful loving-kindness and mercy.

We want the same as the good old days.  Many times, however, He gives us more than we had before or even something better.

As Peter tells us:

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV).

He doesn’t just give us back the pieced-together remnants of our past; He restores us in a way that makes us stronger, and He does it Himself, crafting us into wholeness with His own patient hand.

For any local friends, we’ll be working on our crayon project all the way through the summer.  If you have your own broken, dull, paperless crayons that you don’t want to use any more, we’d love to have them!  No need to peel the paper off or anything; we’ll take care of all of that.  Thanks so much for helping us with our project!

 

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

 

Book Review: Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood

Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood
by Melissa Kruger

If anything reveals the deepest roots of selfishness or impatience in us, it’s being a mom.  And yet, it’s so often during this season of mothering that we grab time with Jesus whenever we can.  We’re rushed.  Our schedule is not our own.   We need to be in His Word and we need it to connect with our lives, but we’re often tired and overwhelmed.  In her new Bible study, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, Melissa Kruger writes about how God has used motherhood to do a deep spiritual work in her life.  She says, “Before having children, I considered myself to be fairly patient, self-controlled, and kind.  I thought motherhood would only amplify these virtues as I poured out love on my children.  In reality, motherhood has exposed just how much I need Jesus.”    Melissa Kruger’s book gives moms a Bible study that is applicable and practical in their lives.walkingwithGod

There are plenty of parenting books out there that focus on the how-to’s and why’s and should’s and must’s of  parenting itself.  There are plenty of Bible studies out there.  This book is a way of combining the two, providing a study on the way God refines us through motherhood.  Over eleven weeks, Melissa Kruger takes moms through understanding our purpose, ordering our home, entrusting our child to the Lord, while focusing on virtues such as wisdom, peace, joy, patience, kindness, self-control, etc.   She keeps the lessons accessible.  There are five days of lessons each week with the Scriptures written out right there in the workbook.  The lessons are more encouraging than they are intense or deep Bible study and the fifth day is actually a devotional thought to wrap up the lessons of the week.

In the back, she includes a few helpful resources for moms and moms-groups.  For those studying together, there are group discussion questions.  She also offers Mom’s Verses to Memorize (one for each month) and character traits and verses you could learn together with your kids.  Although it’s probably most powerful for women with young kids at home, it’s not just a study for Mothers of Preschoolers.  Melissa tries to extend the lessons out for moms at a variety of stages.

One of the benefits of the book is the way it causes you to see the beauty in the season.  When you’re knee-deep in laundry, haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a few years, live in your minivan and clean up bodily fluids all day long, it can be so hard to open your eyes to the glory of God at work around you.  But God doesn’t meet with us before motherhood and then again when our kids are grown.  He’s right there with us, using our kids and our homes to draw us close to Him and make us more like Jesus.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Dear Daughter, Remember That Nightmare About Divorce?

Dear daughter,

Remember that morning when I found you slipping quietly out of the bathroom into a corner of the house all alone?

I stopped that mad rush of cereal pouring, hair brushing, and shoe finding to smooth down your wild morning hair and ask if you were okay.marriage

Those tears, the loud kind that burst uncontrollably out of your soul, they shook your whole body and I couldn’t understand what you were saying because those words stuck right in your throat.

A nightmare.

I rocked you just as if you were still my baby girl (even if your head touches my shoulders now).

What was it about? 

I expect monsters, fire, death or even a bad grade on a test.

But you tell me one….slow….word….at a time: I dreamed you…..and……dad……got……divorced.

You stun me.  We hadn’t fought.  There was no tension in the home.  No need to fear.

Hadn’t you watched us hug and kiss goodbye every morning?  Hadn’t you seen me stop cooking that dinner and setting that table every evening to hug your dad and welcome him home for the night?

Why are you afraid?

But it wasn’t really about us at all.  It’s about a scary world where marriages don’t often last and your friends split their time between dad’s house and mom’s house.  It’s about a friend telling you, “My dad doesn’t love my mom anymore.  He doesn’t love any of us.”

Even the safe place seems like shaky ground.

I tell you the truth.

How we are happily married and being together even now is joy.romans 5

I tell you how seriously we take that vow we made when we said, “I will love you forever” and slipped those rings onto our fingers.

Sure, we meant romance love and feeling love, but we also meant committed love, covenant love, I-will-make-our-marriage-a-priority love.

Divorce smashes the lives of good people, Christian people, godly women and honorable men.  It’s real and ugly and I don’t want to sugarcoat the danger.

Sometimes even the best wife who has done everything right walks that hard road of aloneness and betrayal.

But I want you to know this, too.  There were decisions I made as a teenage girl, as a single young woman, that made this marriage I have beautiful–not perfect perhaps, but lovely—from the start.

I want you to hear this wisdom: sometimes a good marriage starts when you’re 13 and that first boy asks you to the school dance.   Remember this:

1. Do what God has called you to do—Don’t worry about boys, love, dating, or marriage.  Focus on Jesus.  Grow beautiful and strong in Him.  Go to the college that’s right for you, not the one a boyfriend attends.  Fulfill your calling and your potential.  Don’t look for love; let God bring it to you.

2. Wait for God’s best—That first boy who asks you out isn’t necessarily “the one.”  You are beautiful, smart, funny, strong, kind….Boys might swarm around you; don’t be swayed.  I saved myself body, soul, and mind for the one man who was God’s best for me and your dad is totally worth it.

3. Make sure He’s in love with Jesus—Attending church twice a year, saying you love God but couldn’t be bothered with discipleship or Bible-reading or Christian service?  That’s not loving Jesus.  That’s calling yourself a Christian without the fruit.  If you want to respect your husband as a spiritual leader, he needs to show that leadership before the wedding day.

4. Fall in love with your eyes wide open—You won’t find a perfect man.  No person is perfect and no marriage is perfect either.  Know what his flaws are in advance and be committed with a plan to love him, not change him.

5. Ask hard questions–Some couples marry without talking about kids, career plans, church, or money. Ask the hard questions before marriage.  Don’t just shrug your shoulders and figure love will carry all.  Love dies on battlefields like those all the time.romans 12

6. Give and Receive Respect–If he annoys you with stupid jokes, doesn’t understand or care about what you have to say, can’t hold a job, loses his temper easily, or embarrasses you in public now, he sure will later.  Marry someone it’s easy to respect and be proud of.  And, make sure he treats you as the precious gift from God that you are, valuing your opinion, not dominating you or devaluing you.  Paul wrote to “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10 ESV).  Make that your goal because kindness always matters. It matters when you’re dating, when you’re first married, and when you’ve been married 20 years.  Give respect and kindness; expect respect and kindness

7.  Build the friendship–That friendship you develop before marriage is what you should cultivate every year after “I do.”  So when the kids are grown and gone, the freshness of young love fades, and your body ages and changes, you’ll still be best friends.

Marriage can be beautiful and holy, a sacred place where God transforms us to be more like Christ, where joy grows, selfless and sacrificial love blooms, and you help each other produce fruit as individuals and as one together.

This was my prayer for my own marriage on my wedding day.  This is what I pray for you even now:

 For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be (Romans 5:2 The Living Bible).

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 © 2014 Heather King

When I Fell in Love

I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with this man.

He was on stage the first time I saw him, portraying Mr. Elton in a production of Jane Austen’s Emma(my favorite), and I was an audience member.   I laughed loud and long when he delivered the first line of the play while pretending to read from a book:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

I heard my laugh hit the silence of the auditorium.  Apparently, I was the only one who got the joke (as a character from Emma read the first line from Pride and Prejudice).  And so I slumped into my chair wishing someone—anyone—shared my sense of humor.

I actually met him a week later after a college worship service.  Someone in the crowd pointed to the guy up front strumming the guitar.  “See that guy,” he said, “You just saw him on stage last week.”

Unbeknownst to me, this young guy who led worship and the drama ministry and acted in productions based on my favorite literature had just prayed a daring prayer two weeks before.

He told God he wasn’t looking for a relationship any more.  He was content to be single until God hit him over the head with a 2 x 4 and told him “Thou shalt marry this girl.”

I met him two weeks after that.

And a week after that, I was the new pianist on his praise team (and he’s still my worship leader even now).

I fell in love with the way he used his gifts and talents for God’s glory.

There was his calmness, too.  I loved my dad, but life with him wasn’t calm; it was loud much of the time and sometimes downright volatile.  This man, though, measured his words with wisdom and careful thoughtfulness.

Add to that his quick and witty humor that kept me giggling endlessly in the corner of the praise team section, and I realized that he was smarter than me and that was okay.

We’ve never been an opposites-attract kind of couple.  We’re probably two of the most alike people who God matched together.

Except for the fact that he only cares about doing what’s right and not whether it pleases anyone else while I’m a people-pleaser.

And the fact that he can rest and take time (perhaps . . . dare I say it . . .procrastinate) and I’m neurotically pushed to do and do and do relentlessly, first, fastest, and rest when you die.

I can’t say when it happened, but at some point I fell in love.jeremiah 31b

I can’t speak for him and say exactly why he fell in love with me.

Nor can I say exactly why God loves any of us either, surely not my awkward, nervous, uptight, worrying self.

Amazingly, though, this isn’t a “fall in love” kind of love at all.  God doesn’t grow to love any of us over time or awaken one morning and realize how much He cares.

He loves us.

It really is the beginning and the end of our story.

Like the first time I saw my daughters, I loved them in an instant.  I didn’t slowly grow to appreciate their character or develop feelings for them over time.

In Jeremiah, God declares:

“before I formed you in the womb I knew you”  and David similarly prayed, “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13).

God loved you before you squinted your eyes at the first burst of light, screamed out and got cleaned off, bundled up and handed to your mom.

He loves you when you feel loved and when you feel overlooked, when you received a blessing and when you endured a trial.  This love of his doesn’t wax or wane, change or alter or depend on us and what we do or say or feel or think.

We’ve never been good enough, pure enough, beautiful enough, or wise enough to earn it.

But even though we’re unworthy, even when we’ve strayed, even when we’ve felt that seemingly incurable distance from Him or poured out in painful honesty what’s troubling us…

Still He loves.

He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

And what can we do with this everlasting and unfailing love, so amazing and confusing because it’s far more than we deserve?

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Originally published September 24, 2012

 

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

Will You Still Love Me After Four Kids, a Minivan and a Mortgage?

I made the list when I was about 14-years-old or so.

With cramped cursive letters, I wrote in my journal:

Things I Want My Husband to Be Like

Then I divided the list into “Non-negotiables” and “Negotiables.”  Or”Requirements” versus “Desires.”  Or some other dual-heading system like that.

Because even then I was neurotic about list-making.

I was spiritual about it, of course.  I prayed before making the list and then again afterward.1 corinthians 13

Even though I can’t find the list anymore in my pile of teenage journals, I still remember most of the items on there.

Non-negotiables:

  1. Not just a nominal Christian, but someone who is passionate about God and His Word and is actively using his spiritual gifts to praise God and minister to others.
  2. Someone I can respect intellectually.
  3. No substance abuse issues.
  4. Faithful.
  5. Hard working.
  6. Unselfish.
  7. Calm without problems controlling his anger.

Negotiables:

  1. Please, God, can he play the guitar since I play the piano?
  2. I kind of like blue eyes.

Amen.

Fourteen years ago, I married this blue-eyed, guitar-playing man who was everything on my list and so much more.

He’s the only guy I ever dated.  The only man I’ve ever kissed or held hands with or told, “I love you.”  After all, not many men would live up to “The List.”

And I’ll confess it.

I still get all weepy every….single….time he weaves his fingers through mine and prays with me.

I’m still his biggest fan whether he’s on the stage acting in a play or grabbing his guitar and stepping up to the mic to lead worship at our church.

And when he reaches out and places his hand on mine when we’re driving around town in our minivan with four kids (possibly screaming, singing, fighting, or laughing) in the back seats, my heart totally stops for a second or two.

I pretty much still have a teenage crush on this guy.

Back when I was making my ‘husband list,’ I was thinking things like:

What kind of guy would I want to spend the rest of my life with?

Who do I want to date forever?

Whose eyes do I want to gaze into when sitting at a candlelit table?

But I wasn’t thinking this.

Who will give me grace when I’m grumpy?

Who will see the ugliest parts of my heart and dare to love me anyway?

Who will watch me push a baby out of my body or see the surgical scar from a C-section…or see me on days when I’m covered in baby spit-up, child-vomit, or other bodily fluids from my kids and still make me feel beautiful?

One day you just wake up and you’re the one with the minivan, the mortgage, a few extra pounds, gray hair, and four kids.

So, I’m so thankful I didn’t marry someone I could only do romance with, but someone I could do life with, as well.

After all, you can do beautiful with most anybody; it takes someone special to plow through the sludge for you when the plumbing breaks down or to team up with you against the hard days.

In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas writes:

Marriage can be that holy place, the site of a relationship that proclaims God’s love to the world.

Paul said it this way:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV).

So, maybe this is what should have been on my list all along: At the end of the day, people should see my marriage and say, “Wow, look at the faithful, unselfish, sacrificial, gracious way that God loves the church!”

And as I approach my 15th wedding anniversary I’m remembering this: marriage isn’t just a secondary something I do while I minister to God elsewhere.  Marriage is my ministry, my sacred calling, the workshop God uses to make me more like Christ, and the way He can use me to show God’s love to my husband, my children, and to the world.

If you knew a young woman who was making “a list” of qualities to look for in a husband, what would you suggest she put on that list?

Originally posted on JANUARY 22, 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.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

What’s This Gonna Cost?

I tell my daughters about the email.

Their teacher at church sent us information about an upcoming missions project.  They’ll be collecting money as a class for a ministry in our area, but she doesn’t want the parents to just give kids money to contribute.

Sure, I could stuff a few dollars and some coins into that empty container and send it in with my  kids.  And sure, they could hand it in and feel like they participated and did the good Christian thing that good Christians are supposed to do.

But giving should cost something.

In fact, giving should be costly.

It should require some effort or sacrifice.   We shouldn’t just give when we have more than enough.

True generosity and true love require giving out of need and giving out of not-enough.

My girls protest the fact that they have empty piggy banks, no allowance and no source of renewable income since birthdays only come once a year.

So we return to our tried-and-true method:  Extra chores allow them to earn money to give to missions or charities or ministries.1peter2

The King girls will be sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets to earn those coins to give away.

On Sunday morning, I hold the cup and bread in my hand and pray before Communion, thinking this is a lesson for me, too.

I think about the cost of giving, the cost of generosity.

Surely God has given generously to us.

Maybe it’s complacency from long-term faith, from hearing those same lessons taught in the same ways.  Maybe it’s selfishness.  Maybe it’s forgetfulness.

Whatever the cause, sometimes I cling selfishly to what I have and forget the abundant generosity of God’s gift to me.

Could anything be more generous than grace?

Yes, I mean the cross, but even before that.

Adam and Eve stood in the aftermath of forbidden fruit and witnessed the ugly truth for the first time:  Grace demands sacrifice.

They sinned.  They felt shame in their nakedness and they tried to fix things on their own, fitting leaves together to form a makeshift outfit.

Genesis 3:21 says it wasn’t enough:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Genesis 3:21 NIV).

I’ve read that verse so often and just ran over the words without thought, but here’s the truth of it.

They sinned.  So God slayed an animal at their feet.  He couldn’t just pick a few animal skins off of a store shelf or drop by the tailor’s so they could be custom-fitted with a faux-leather outfit.

God handcrafted the clothes for His wayward children.

Adam and Eve stood in the garden and watched another creature die for their own offense.  They witnessed the blood running red for the first time ever.

Max Lucado writes:

 “God slays an animal.  For the first time in the history of the earth, dirt is stained with blood.  Innocent blood.  The beast committed no sin.  The creature did not deserve to die……….” (A Love Worth Living).

Then they had to wear the result and remember the high cost of their God-designed outfit.

As Max Lucado puts it: “As a father would zip up the jacket of a preschooler.  God covers them.”  

It’s the act of a dad, helping a little one fit arms into arm-holes and socks onto feet.  It’s tenderness and gentleness and love when they deserved wrath.

And God did this for us, too:

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10 NIV).

Right there in the garden it began: Outrageous, undeserved, generous, complete sacrifice of one life for another.isaiah1

I read Leviticus and wonder what it must have been like to watch the whole gory mess of atonement with its blood and guts and death.

It became routine to the Israelites.  How could that be routine?  How could the stench and the bleating of the lambs become routine?

Yet, has the cross become routine to us?

Sin should be shocking.

Grace should shock us all the more.

Maybe if I had to stand and watch God pay the price for my mess with my own two eyes, I’d be less complacent and more overcome.

Maybe if I had to let God silently drape my shoulders with a covering of His own making to hide my nakedness, maybe my heart would break with sorrow at my sin.

Maybe if I watched someone die in my place, knowing how little I deserved it, I’d learn what true generosity is: giving abundantly and without complaint even when it’s undeserved and even when it costs me dearly.

The truth is that Jesus did just that:  He died for us and then He dressed us in His righteousness.

May we be overcome by grace anew.

 

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

Christmas devotions: Consider the Hockey Puck

I’ve been hit in the face with a hockey puck.

A basketball bounced off my head a few times in elementary school and broke my glasses at least once.

A softball came hurtling at me when I was about 13 or so and slammed into my side.

Most people, you know, see balls zooming through the air straight toward their face and do smart things like step aside or jump out of the way or duck.

Not me.christmas3

Given the choice between fright or flight, I just choose freeze.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that if forced to make a decision in a moment of pressure, I’ll choose the most stupid thing you can possibly do.

Now you know not to pick me for your kickball team.

I need time, lots of time, to ponder and consider a response to any situation, question, or problem.  I can’t just hit that reply on the email message and I generally avoid the phone which requires instant feedback.  A comfortable phone conversation for me would look like this:

“Heather, what do you think about _______?”

“I don’t know.  Let me think about it and I’ll email you back later.”

That, of course, defeats the whole purpose of the initial phone call, which was to handle the problem quickly.

But I don’t do quickly.  Quickly for me results in broken glasses, a hockey puck in the face and a sore back where the softball slammed into me.

Quickly results in foolish decisions, words I wish I hadn’t said, poor judgment, and costly mistakes.

The world pushes and pressures with this relentless rush and my heart bruises easily from all the battering.

Yet, I read this Christmas story and see God choosing a carpenter—not a CEO, not a king, not a go-getter or an up-and-comer—to participate in this miracle of God-in-human-flesh.

This simple man named Joseph, surely he knew so well not to rush the measuring, the cutting, or the smoothing of the splintered surfaces on his workbench table.

Choose your wood wisely.  Go with the grain.  Etch out the plan before carving.

Long-learned lessons of the carpenter seeped into Joseph’s soul.

In Scripture, he doesn’t talk, not once.

He doesn’t whine to God and lament the news that His fiance was mysteriously and scandalously pregnant.

He doesn’t bully Mary into confessions and repentance and demand an explanation.

He takes his time, this Joseph, and doesn’t spew words out thoughtlessly and apologize for them later.

When he hears the news of Mary’s pregnancy,

he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:19-20 NIV).

In The Women of Christmas, Liz Curtis Higgs writes:

“Joseph did not act in haste.  He thought things through.  Prayed things through.  He ‘contemplated’ (NET); he ‘pondered’ (MOUNCE).  When at last Joseph decided to sleep on it, ‘God graciously directed him what to do'” (The Women of Christmas, p. 105).

Joseph considered, contemplated, pondered.Wreath of Snow_cvr.indd

He gave God time to do the work.  He didn’t let circumstances bully him into a corner.

He didn’t react.  He responded.

I’m the reluctant student learning this same lesson at the feet of my own Carpenter.

For this is what God, is:

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4).

Our Father is building and He’s working slow and never rushing.

He’s asking me to ponder, consider contemplate:  ….choose the wood wisely, go with the grain, measure and plan before cutting and shaping.

We try to rush the process.  We toss out solutions as fast as the projects pile up at our feet.

And we make a right awful mess.

Yet, He teaches us the rhythm of His grace.  The rhythm of His will.  The rhythm of His strong hands working slowly, masterfully, carefully…stroke after stroke on the raw wood that is us.

This season, let us slow the rhythm of our breathing to match His.

Refuse to be rushed.

Protect the process.

Take the time.

And consider this…..consider Christmas…..consider the wonder of a Savior come and a God at work and a perfect plan and the God who is the builder of everything.

Originally published 12/13/2013

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 © 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

25 Bible Verses About Trust

  • 2 Samuel 7:28 NIV
     Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.
  • Psalm 9:10 ESV
    And those who know your name put their trust in you,
        for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
  • Psalm 13:5 ESV
    But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
        my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
  • Psalm 20:7 ESVversestrust
    Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
        but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
  • Psalm 22:4-5 NLT
    Our ancestors trusted in you,
        and you rescued them.
    They cried out to you and were saved.
        They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
  • Psalm 31:14 ESV
    But I trust in you, O Lord;
        I say, “You are my God.”
  • Psalm 33:21 NLT
    In him our hearts rejoice,
        for we trust in his holy name.
  • Psalm 37:3 NLT
    Trust in the Lord and do good.
        Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
  • Psalm 37:5 NLT
    Commit everything you do to the Lord.
        Trust him, and he will help you.
  • Psalm 40:3 NLT
    He has given me a new song to sing,
        a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
        They will put their trust in the Lord.
  • Psalm 40:4 NLT
    Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,
        who have no confidence in the proud
        or in those who worship idols.
  • Psalm 56:3 ESV
    When I am afraid,psalm56-3
        I put my trust in you.
  • Psalm 84:12 ESV
    O Lord of hosts,
        blessed is the one who trusts in you!
  • Psalm 91:1-2 NLT
    Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
        will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
    This I declare about the Lord:
    He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
        he is my God, and I trust him.
  • Psalm 112:7 NLT
    They do not fear bad news;
        they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
  • Proverbs 11:28 ESV
    Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
        but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
  • Proverbs 28:25 NLT
    Greed causes fighting;
        trusting the Lord leads to prosperity
  • Proverbs 28:26 ESV
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
        but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
  • Isaiah 12:2 NLT
    See, God has come to save me.
        I will trust in him and not be afraid.
    The Lord God is my strength and my song;
        he has given me victory.”
  • Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT
    You will keep in perfect peace
        all who trust in you,
        all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
    Trust in the Lord always,
        for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
  • Daniel 6:23 ESV
    Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
  • John 14:1 NLT
    Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
  • Romans 15:13 NLT
    I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Revelation 21:5 NLT
     And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

The Pumpkin Rule

We have this long-standing family rule. My husband tells my daughters every year at the pumpkin patch before we scramble onto the tractor for the hayride out to the fields:

“You have to pick a pumpkin you can carry….yourself.…as in Mom and Dad aren’t carrying your pumpkin for you.”

They nod their little blond heads in understanding, but when my daughters hop off the back of that hay-covered wagon, their eyes scan the fields for the site of the perfect pumpkin.

And perfect typically means more than just deep orange (not green) and no rot (if they could find one without dirt on it, that’s a bonus).

Perfect usually means “big,” too.

Sometimes, like this year, one unique child will search for half an hour in that field only to pick the tiniest of all miniature orange pumpkins.

Inevitably, though, another child combines rolling, scooting, dragging, and bent-knee carrying complete with huffing, puffing, grunting and groaning to transfer her chosen pumpkin onto the tractor.

Or they’ll blink large, beautiful blue eyes in my direction and ask, “Mommy, can you help me carry this?,” hoping that somehow Mom missed hearing Dad’s speech this year.

Bigger is better.  That’s what they think sometimes.

I need more, more than I can truly carry, more than enough, more than can fit, more than is comfortable…..

As our daughters grow, so do their chosen pumpkins.lamentations3-24

Perhaps it’s time to amend the rule because “what you can carry” seems like a dare to choose the largest pumpkin they can maneuver out of the field and onto the tractor.

I take this dare at times, too.

Because I feel needy at times, that’s why.

In need of energy, of supply, of vision, of joy, of inspiration, of affection, of deliverance, of encouragement, of peace….and yes, of even more and more than that.

Scripture promises us this—The Lord is our Chelqi—-our Portion.  It’s one of His names, part of His character, the implicit promise dependent not on what He does or has done, but on who He is at the very core of His being.

That’s what it says in Lamentations 3:24:

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him”  (NASB)

and Psalm 73:26:

My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (NASB)

and again in Psalm 16:5:

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot (NASB).

He is our Portion.  He is Enough.  He is exactly what we need, how much we need, at the exact moment we need Him.

We needn’t try to fill our arms with more than we can carry, fearful that He’ll give us what we need today, but not tomorrow.

In the wilderness outside of Egypt, God rained down supernatural manna for the Israelites six days a week, enough for each day with extra to set aside for the Sabbath once a week.  And He told them this: Gather enough for today.

Just for today.  Trust me for tomorrow.  I’ll provide again.

Some of them tried to stockpile and store, thinking their own personal planning and feelings of security trumped God’s instruction.

But He meant it…daily bread.  This much, and no more, is perfect.  Trying to live off yesterday’s harvest leaves us with rotten manna, worm-filled bread, starvation for sure.

So, tomorrow and every single day we return for fresh filling and fresh provision, a perpetual looking to the Lord our Portion for all that we need.

And He is ALL we need.  We trust that He isn’t stingy or absent or moody and inclined to provide one day, but not the next.

We don’t gorge ourselves in the fields of life, choosing other methods of filling our void and our emptiness, lumbering back to the tractor with our arms filled with everything that looks so perfect, but never fully satisfies.

He is enough.  His provision is perfect in our seasons of fatigue and sorrow and desperate need .

Charles Spurgeon said it this way:

It is not “The Lord is partly my portion,”nor “The Lord is in my portion”; but he himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance.  Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire.  The Lord is my portion.  Not his grace merely, nor his love, nor his covenant, but Jehovah himself.”

Oh yes, sometimes I think what I need is rest.  I need peace, Lord bring me peace.  God, give me joy.  Father, provide for this need.

But it’s not that He gives me a portion; He is my portion.

It is God Himself that I need, all that I need, everything that I need, and He is enough for me.

Originally posted September 27, 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.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King