50 Bible Verses for the Hard Days

On the hard days, I collect Bible verses on a paper I’ve ripped out of my journal.  I fold that paper up and tote it around everywhere I go.

When anxiety hits, I pull my verses right out and finger the edge of the paper nervously as I whisper the God-Words aloud.  The aloud part is important; it helps drown out the noisy voice of worry, fear and disbelief in my head.versesforharddays

I have shut myself in the bathroom before, shoved my hands over my ears and read those verses aloud over and over until I really didn’t need the paper anymore.  They were etched so deep on my heart and mind.

I collect more verses everywhere I go, and I scribble them down on that same page like any other greedy collector bidding for treasures at an auction or sifting through junk in a thrift store to find a true prize.

Seasons of life change.  Sometimes I have a paper in my pocket.  Sometimes I don’t.

Years ago, I toted that paper around and then I was done.  The hard days were past for a while.  God had answered my prayer and provided and come through.

But then a friend shared her heart.  She was struggling and I had just been there myself.  So, I copied the verses on my paper and sent them to her so she could carry them around in her own pocket.

God comforts us so we can comfort others.

Here are just some of my favorite verses for the hard days, pieces of my collection that I share with you because the truth is, we all have hard days and we all need the reminder of His faithfulness and His love.

  • Exodus 14:14 NIV
    The Lord your God will fight for you, you need only be still.
  • Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
     Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
    The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
  • Joshua 1:9 ESV
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Joshua 3:5 ESV
    Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
  • Psalm 3:4 NIV
    I call out to the Lord,
        and he answers me from his holy mountain.
  • Psalm 5:11 ESV
    But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
        let them ever sing for joy,
    and spread your protection over them,
        that those who love your name may exult in you.
  • Psalm 9:9 NLT
    The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
        a refuge in times of trouble.
  • Psalm 16:8-9 NIV
    I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
    Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
        my body also will rest secure
  • Psalm 18:2 NIV
    The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
        my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
        my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 20:1 NLT
    In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
        May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
  • Psalm 23:1-4 NKJV
    The Lord is my shepherd;
    I shall not want.
    He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
    He leads me beside the still waters.
    He restores my soul;
    He leads me in the paths of righteousness
    For His name’s sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil;
    For You are with me;
    Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
  • Psalm 31:1-3
    In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
  • Psalm 33:20-22 ESV
    Our soul waits for the Lord;
        he is our help and our shield.
    21 For our heart is glad in him,
        because we trust in his holy name.
    22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
        even as we hope in you.
  • Psalm 34:18 NIV
    The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
        and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 40:1-3 NIV
    I waited patiently for the Lord;
        he turned to me and heard my cry.
    He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
        out of the mud and mire;
    he set my feet on a rock
        and gave me a firm place to stand.
    He put a new song in my mouth,
        a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear the Lord
        and put their trust in him.
  • Psalm 46:1 NIV
    God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
  • Psalm 46:10 NLT
    “Be still, and know that I am God!
        I will be honored by every nation.
        I will be honored throughout the world.”
  • Psalm 50:15 ESV
    and call upon me in the day of trouble;
        I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
  • Psalm 55:22
    Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
  • Psalm 56:3 ESVpsalm56
    When I am afraid,
        I put my trust in you.
  • Psalm 57:1-3
    Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me,  rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
  • Psalm 62:1-2 ESV
    For God alone my soul waits in silence;
        from him comes my salvation.
    He alone is my rock and my salvation,
        my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
  • Psalm 62:8
    Trust in him at all times, O people;
        pour out your heart before him;
        God is a refuge for us. Selah
  • Psalm 62:11-12 NIV
    One thing God has spoken,
        two things I have heard:
    “Power belongs to you, God,
    12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
    and, “You reward everyone
        according to what they have done.”
  • Psalm 73:26 NIV
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart
        and my portion forever.
  • Psalm 86:7 ESV
    In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
        for you answer me.
  • Psalm 91:4 NIV
    He will cover you with his feathers,

        and under his wings you will find refuge;
        his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
  • Psalm 116: 1-9
    I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;   he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.Then I called on the name of the LORD:“LORD, save me!” The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has bepsalm147en good to you. For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
  • Psalm 121: 1-8 ESV

    I lift up my eyes to the hills.
        From where does my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
        who made heaven and earth.

    He will not let your foot be moved;
        he who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, he who keeps Israel
        will neither slumber nor sleep.

    The Lord is your keeper;
        the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
    The sun shall not strike you by day,
        nor the moon by night.

    The Lord will keep you from all evil;
        he will keep your life.
    The Lord will keep
        your going out and your coming in
        from this time forth and forevermore.

  • Psalm 145:14 NLT
    The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. (Psalm 145:14)
  • Psalm 147:3
    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
  • Isaiah 40:31 NIV
    but those who hope in the Lord
        will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
        they will run and not grow weary,
        they will walk and not be faint.
  • Isaiah 41:10 NIV
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
    But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
        he who formed you, O Israel:
    “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
        I have called you by name, you are mine.
    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
        and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
    when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
        and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT
    The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
        for the Lord has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
        and to proclaim that captives will be released
        and prisoners will be freed.
    He has sent me to tell those who mourn
        that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
        and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
    To all who mourn in Israel,
        he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
    a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
        festive praise instead of despair.
    In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
        that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV
    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
  • Ezekiel 34:26 NIV
     I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
  • Nahum 1:7 NIV
    The Lord is good,
        a refuge in times of trouble.
    He cares for those who trust in him,
  • Mark 5:36 NIV
     Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
  • Mark 10:27
    Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
  • John 14:27 NIV
    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:10 NLT
     And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
    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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
  • Philippians 1:6 ESV
     And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 4:19 NLT
    And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
  • James 1:12 NLT
    God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7
    Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
  • 1 Peter 5:10 NIV
    And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Would You Like Some Peas With Your Worcestershire Sauce (And Other Quirky Eating Habits)

Peas were my dad’s favorite vegetable.  This is funny to me because when he ate them, he drowned them in Worcestershire sauce.

So, I wonder.


Photo by Wacharaphong Sakoolwongveroj; 123rf.com

Did he really like peas?

Or did he like Worcestershire sauce?

We have our own familial mealtime quirks.

I eat a little of everything, some of this and some of that until it’s all gone.

My husband eats every last bite of vegetable first.  Because he hates vegetables.  And if you eat them first, you can cover over the taste with other, more palatable foods.  Like meat.

When I set the table for dinner, I routinely place a bottle of steak sauce next to my oldest daughter’s place.  She pours it on any food containing cheese.

I like cheese.

She doesn’t.

So, we compromise.  I cook dinners with cheese.  She creates a steak sauce puddle on her plate and eats without complaining.

My middle daughter is what scientific experts would call “a picky eater.”  She refuses to eat most foods, especially potatoes.  When I get all brave and try out a new recipe, I’m sure to hear from the complaints department, namely her.

“I don’t like this.”

“How do you know if you’ve never tasted it before?”

“I have tasted it” (she licks a speck of sauce off of her fork) “and I don’t like it.”

Alrighty then.

Then there is my baby girl.  I serve up a new recipe and say, “Taste this, babe, you’re going to like it.”

So, she tastes and most of the time, she swings her ponytail around and grins at me: “You’re right!  This is the best day ever.  This is too much deliciousness.”

Sigh.  I’m so thankful for her.

And I learn from her.

The Psalmist said,

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Ps. 34:8).

I think of my girl, willing to taste, and when she discovers goodness, she devours it and maybe even asks for more.

Because what good is goodness if we’re satisfied with just a taste?

How often are we unwilling to even take the taste-test challenge?  Too busy, too frantic, too frazzled, too scheduled, too independent, too hardhearted, too hardheaded…maybe it’s one of those or maybe it’s all of them, but we don’t even try.

Or maybe we taste, but after we experience God’s sweet goodness, we walk away?  We think, “That’s great and that’s enough.  It sure was good.  Maybe I’ll order that some day.”

Sometimes we’re too easily satisfied by things that don’t satisfy.

In Psalm 119, David tells us:

My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word (Psalm 119:81 NIV).

This is the holy hunger.

The more you eat of God’s Word, the hungrier you are for God’s Word.

When we come absolutely famished and starving into His Presence, He fills us up with Good.  All the junk we’ve been tossing down our throats in order to satisfy our souls now tastes like cardboard.

In my year of Pursuing the Presence of Christ, I learned how to say, ‘no’ last month.  This month, I’m Learning When To Say, “Yes.”

I’ve found that after saying, ‘no,’ I’ve gained a more discerning palate.

People keep asking me now that the school year has started, “What are you going to do with yourself?”

I wonder if they think I’m lounging around my house watching soap operas…..but after a week, I still haven’t found a spare moment for lounging.

Last year was frantic.  I held on tight to the reins of our home and our schedule.  I survived.

Somehow I practiced the spiritual disciplines in the midst of that.  I read the Bible through in a year, finished my Bible studies, and read my devotionals in the minivan, outside the ballet studio and in between play rehearsals and church activities.

Now, in this first week of quiet after all that noise, I found I’m starving for the Word of God, hungry for more than checking off my Bible reading plan, turning the pages of the devotional, or filling in blanks in the Bible study.

What is my first “yes” this month?  It’s not a program or an activity or a project.

It’s feeding my undernourished Spirit with my first chance to sit quiet and unrushed at His feet in far too long.

I have tasted the goodness of God.  Now I intend to clean my plate and maybe even lick off all the crumbs and drips of sauce when I’m done and ask for seconds.

I’m the sheep who has traveled through the wilderness and finally been placed in those green pastures.

Are you weary?  Rushed?  Downtrodden?  Hopeless?  Worn?  Discouraged?  Apathetic?

Come hungry to the Word of God.  Taste….feast…..and find the goodness of the Lord.

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 Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’

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

Am I Asking Jesus to Leave?

She said he was afraid.

A small team from our church took VBS on the go this year, sharing the lessons, songs and games with kids in the community.prayerpresence

One of the ladies shared with us this past Sunday what that mission to area children was like.

She tells how on the last day, those little ones gathered around the teacher for the Bible story about Paul.

He was such a Bad Guy, she told them.

She told all about his past, all those mean things he did to Christians.

But then she told how he met Jesus and she read from the start of his letters to the churches, how he said the same thing over and over and over again:

“I, Paul, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ…..”

This little boy, cuddled next to another leader, winced and sucked in his breath every single time she said it.

The Lord Jesus Christ

He’d only ever heard those words as cursing in anger and bursts of outrage in his home.

My husband puts the hurt into words, how this little boy has a “Pavlovian fear response to the name of the only One who could ever save him.”

Peter shared the truth:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 NIV).

We sit in that comfy sanctuary in the middle of a tiny town in rural Virginia and our hearts break because missions starts right here.

There are children who don’t even know what a Bible is or who God is or that the name of Jesus isn’t a cuss word…and they live right here.

But there’s something else….

I read in the Gospels:

 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left (Luke 8:37 NIV).

The people were afraid of Jesus at work.

They weren’t embracing the healing he offered and not the salvation either.  They sent Him away and with it they refused all hope of rescue.

All because they were afraid.

Maybe they didn’t wince at the sound of His name, but they feared Jesus’ presence.

Were they afraid of His power?

Were they afraid of shaking things up?  Afraid of what salvation might cost?  Fearful of what they might lose if they followed Him?

I remember the Israelites crowded around the base of Mt. Sinai, watching the pyrotechnical display of God’s glory, the thunder and lighting, the cloud of smoke, the trumpet blast:

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance  and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”…The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:18-19, 21 NIV).

They trembled there at the mountain, slinking back in fear, remaining at a distance even when God invited them to come close.

This holy fear of God has its place, the reminder of His greatness and mighty power and how small we are indeed.

He is God.  I am not.

He is holy.  I am not.

We need the reawakening of awe.

But I wonder if we ever push God away in fear, or hide away in the shadows, remaining at a distance even when He whispers to us, ”Come…..closer….nearer….”

Are we too afraid that He’ll disrupt our lives? Or that drawing close will cost us and it will just be too much to pay?

Do we stand right there at the base of His presence and choose the safety of distance instead?

And maybe we don’t say it as bluntly as the crowd that sent Jesus away, maybe we don’t tell Him, “Can you just go off in your boat and do your work somewhere else?”

Maybe we know just enough…certainly more than a scared little boy listening to a lesson at Vacation at Bible School: yes, God loves us….yes, Jesus is our Savior. Maybe it’s just ‘blah, blah, blah’…just so many words.

Yet, maybe we shut Him out. Maybe we avoid the conviction of Scripture or the passion of all-in of worship. Maybe we want to sing “safe” songs on Sunday morning, hear “safe” messages, leave the Bible reading up to someone else, avoid the accountability of church or the nudge of the Holy Spirit to lay it all down in surrender.

Because we’re afraid.

Lord, help me stop being afraid and start drawing close to You. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than in Your presence.

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 ‘Learn to Say, ‘No?’

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

Keep Praying, Keep Hoping, Keep Looking

Lunches packed for the last time. Desks cleared, backpacks cleaned out and stowed away. Field day over.  Class parties celebrated.  Awards ceremony concluded and certificates photographed.  End-of-the-year pictures taken of each daughter and compared to the photos from the first day of the school year.

And now we collapse.  We did it.  Somehow it feels like a joint accomplishment, not just theirs.  Sure, my kids worked hard. So did I.  And somehow, by God’s grace, we made it here to summer vacation.lasdayofschool

It’s only taken 15 months of prayer.  I started praying for this school year last March, praying for this teacher, this classroom, these friends, this school, these character issues, and these lessons.

And here as the school year ends, I give thanks:

Thank You, Lord, for answering my pleas for my children.  Thank You for helping them learn, being with them in all of the struggles that have sent this loving (and worried) mama to her knees.  Thank You for helping them with difficult concepts and friendship drama, bullies and mistakes on tests, report cards and forgetfulness. Thank You for these teachers You chose specially for my kids.

And I began again, just that quickly, one sentence to another, thank God for this year and then praying for next year: for classroom placements and teacher assignments, for the responsibilities of a new grade and for the friendships they’d make.

So it continues.

“Pray without ceasing….” that’s what Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

He meant that living prayer, that breathing in and breathing out of living life alongside God, taking in crises and handing them right on over to the Lord, receiving blessing and offering up spontaneous praise.prayer

It means no more arbitrary separations between the sacred and the secular, between the holy parts of my life where God is welcome and invited and the dusty living rooms of our hearts where we try to hide away the clutter in corners.

Having kids, though, reminds me of this, too:

Prayer is perpetual; it’s insistent and consistent.

And sometimes I’m not.  I’m driven to the throne by need and I’m pouring out pleas of desperation until the need eases a bit.  Or perhaps I just grow weary or fall back into the coziness of complacency and apathy.

I’m not praying so fervently any more. It’s more like unemotional have-to prayers, perhaps performed out of duty, perhaps totally forgotten and not prayed at all.

We pray for that intervention, that salvation, that redemption, that rescue…for us or for another….and then slowly we cease the praying.   We need the reminder to keep on keeping on, to not give up asking God for that healing and to refuse to stop praying for a loved one’s salvation.

With kids, you can’t really forget, not for long.  Time just pushes you right through from prayer need to prayer need.  I’m not even done praying over one school year before I’m on my knees for the next.

I read the Psalms and here is the reminder anew:

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor.  In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation” (Psalm 69:13 NLT).

“But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more” (Psalm 71:14 NLT).

“We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal” (Psalm 123:2 NLT).

Keep praying….keep hoping….keep looking.

Keep at it and when He answers, press on in more prayer.

With this fresh resolve, I flip through the pages of the neglected prayer journal.  What did I pray then….and what do I still need to pray now?

What have you neglected in prayer?  What have you given up on and long since stopped asking God for?  Who used to be on your prayer list but somehow slipped off?

It’s discipline to begin again.  And when we cease praying, which feels like the inevitable failing of us forgetful ones, we return again and resolve again to be insistent and consistent in seeking God and hoping in His deliverance.

What have you stopped praying about that you need to pray for again?  What prayers are you already praying for your children’s next school year?

Originally posted June 7, 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

14 Days of Prayer for Your Marriage with 1 Corinthians 13 (plus a Free Printable!)

When I was a girl earning my badges in the kids’ program in my home church, I had to memorize the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 in the King James Version.

It’s stuck.  I can still rattle off bunches of it.marriageprayer

But I hope it really stuck…you know?  Not the rote memorization, but the revelation of what love is.  God loves us this way.  And He says even if we’re performing the most outrageous acts of self-sacrifice and service and we’re not doing it out of love, then it’s just meaningless drivel.

So, I’m praying for the next two weeks through this “Love Chapter” for my marriage because I want it to be meaning-full and I want it to reflect God’s love to the world around us.  Perhaps you will be praying for your own marriage, too?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NIV).

Day One, Love is Patient: 

Lord, today let us respond with patience and show each other grace.  We know that no one changes over night and none of us is perfect.  We make mistakes.  We forget, we grow careless, and we become distracted by life and stress.  Please let us be patient with each other, with our marriage, with our circumstances, just as you are so patient with us.  Help us not to push, nudge, or give up on each other, but instead may we give each other room and grace to grow more like You.  

Day Two, Love is Kind:

God, it’s too easy to forget the simple beauty of kindness.  We can neglect courtesy and consideration.  Help us to be thoughtful and kind to one another, showing each other respect and attention in our words and deeds.   Stir our hearts to remember the small things like holding doors, making phone calls, performing acts of service, putting the other’s needs above our own.  As it says in Ephesians 4:32, may we “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave You.”

Day Three, Love Does Not Envy:

Lord, As it says in The Message, “Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.”  Let this be true of us.  Help us appreciate the gift you’ve given us in this marriage and in each other and cultivate contentment and gratitude in our hearts. We don’t need to compare our spouse or our marriage to anyone else’s.  Instead, thank You for the marriage You’ve given us.  Please remind us throughout the day of all the reasons we fell in love in the first place.

Day Four, It does not Boast, it is not Proud:

Jesus, at that Last Supper with Your disciples, You bent so low and You poured that water over their grimy feet.  You, Our Savior, came “not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).  May we never be too proud to serve one another in the humblest of ways.  We might think, “That’s his responsibility; that’s her job.”  In our selfishness, we might feel like we’ve given so much already and how could we give any more?  But we bend low today.  We lay down our rights and our pride and choose to serve our spouse just as You served us.

Day Five, It does not dishonor others:

God, may we show each other honor in all we do and say.  Guard our mouths.  May our words be used to encourage, praise, and build one another up, not tear each other down, find fault, or trample all over each other’s feelings.  When we’re with others, don’t let us fall into those traps of complaining about marriage or our spouses, but instead let the way we talk about one another help others to know the beauty of marriage the way You designed it.

Day Six,  It is Not Self-Seeking:

Father, we live in a “me first” world.  We’re told to “look out for number one” and to take care of ourselves above all.  But that is not Your way.  Jesus “made himself nothing” and humbled himself, choosing “even death on a cross” for us—for me (Philippians 2:6-8).  Today, let us choose Your way over the world’s way:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Day Seven, It is Not Easily Angered:

God, forgive me for the times I’ve reacted in anger instead of responding with grace.  And so often, too often really, we can make the smallest issues into the biggest deals.  Help me not to be easily angered.  Today, may we overlook petty offenses and minor bothers.  Redirect our vision to focus on what is good rather than what we think is wrong.  Remind us of what is important and learn to let the inessentials pass by unnoticed.

Day Eight, It Keeps No Record of Wrongs:

Lord, if You kept a record of all my sins, I couldn’t stand up under the weight of them all.  I’d be buried in accusations and proof of my failures.  But You show grace.   May we likewise extend grace to each other, as it says in 1 Peter: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love coves a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  If we excel at anything in this marriage, may it be at forgiveness.  When Satan tries to drag all that trash up from the past, we ask that You help us choose forgiveness instead, choose to let it go, choose to move toward one another instead of apart, choose to rebuild trust, choose moving on.

Day Nine, Love Does Not Delight In Evil, but Rejoices With the Truth:

God, help us rejoice with our spouse when they rejoice and mourn when they mourn.  Let us be a place of refuge and safety for them when they share their struggles, fears, emotions, hopes and dreams.  Help us to “have each other’s back” all the time and to be such a team that we delight and take pleasure in what is good and true and battle together against what is evil and wrong.

Day Ten, Love Bears All Things (ESV, NKJV):

Lord, we are so thankful that when there are burdens to bear, You’ve called us to bear them together.  As it says in Your Word,  “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NLT).  May we bear all things together.  May we carry each other to the cross and help each other each day.  If one of us is weak, may the other be strong in You.

Day Eleven, Always trusts:

God, build trust in our marriage.  Create that environment of honesty and truth.  But more than that, may we always trust You to care for us and to guide us.  We know that start to finish, this marriage, our lives, our family is in Your hands.  We know You are trustworthy, so faithful and full of merciful, loyal love for us.  We pray that our home and our marriage reflect that to those around us.

Day Twelve, Always hopes:

Lord, we don’t want to ever lose hope.  We know that You have a plan and a future for us as individuals and as a couple, and we thank You for that.  Thank You that You never give up on us and we pray that we never give up on each other.  Each morning, let us wake with hope for a new day, for fresh starts, and for the work that You want to do in us.

Day Thirteen, Always Perseveres 

God, remind us during the hard days, when we’re hurt or angry, tired, frustrated, or broken, that You are with us.  Help us to persevere through every season of difficulty.  Draw us together during those times instead of letting circumstances drive us apart.  Where there is distance, bring intimacy.  Where there is bitterness, bring reconciliation.  Where there is coldness, bring passion.  Where there is pain, bring healing.

Day Fourteen, Love Never Fails

Father, Your love for us doesn’t fail.  You just never give up on us.  Thank You for that unfathomable and astonishing love when we are so unworthy.  We pray that our marriage will grow ever more beautiful each day, not fading, not failing.  In every single season, we pray that You will help our relationship thrive.  Teach us how to avoid the pitfalls in communication, in intimacy, in finances, in conflict, in friendship, in parenting and in every way so that we will always be putting on love, which binds every other virtue together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14). 

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.Photo by Cora Miller

Will you join me in praying for your marriage for 14 days?  If you would like a printout of these prayers to place in Your Bible or journal or maybe on your fridge or bathroom mirror, you can click here for the free printable!

If you’d like to see the 12 Verses I pray for my husband, you can click here!

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 to do (and what not to do) when staring at a STOP sign for more than 5 minutes

I complained about the road work.

Typically, I zip around this tiny town of mine, back and forth all day every day, transporting children.  Pick this child up.  Drop her off.  Go back and get the other child.  Drive her somewhere else.  Return to the first location to pick up one child and deposit another.

This schedule has been meticulously planned out.  I have charted the routes I travel, timed stoplights, and considered traffic flow.22859325_s

We have exactly 12 minutes to drive from one place to another and it takes exactly 12 minutes to make that drive.  No second to spare.

Then they decide to repave my main thoroughfare.

I sit for over five minutes staring at a man in an neon orange jacket holding a STOP sign.  I start out cheerful. It’s a beautiful day.  I enjoy the sun.  I even feel spiritual and pray, “Thanks, God, for this lovely morning.”

I am proud of how well I’m handling the delay.

Then I start rifling through the papers on the seat next to me.  I collect some of the trash that accumulates everywhere in a minivan when you have four kids.

Then I grow impatient.  I start sighing and tapping my fingers on the steering wheel.

When that fails, I grit my teeth and talk to the hapless man still standing there with that sign that is halting all my progress for the day, “Come on!”

Eventually, he spins that sign around from STOP to SLOW and I am finally released to normal driving, which at this point means being stuck at a stoplight behind a long line of other cars with equally frustrated drivers for another 5 minutes.

I left my house 10 minutes early because of the construction and I’m still 5 minutes late.  I’m flustered and bothered, annoyed, stressed.

So I whine to this woman, and she says to me, “That’s when I know it’s time to stop and BREATHE.  God gives me these moments so I just listen to what He has to say for a bit.”

This month, in my 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ, I’m taking breaks for beauty.  I’m seeking out the beauty of the Lord by marveling at the beauty He creates.

And still I got it wrong.  He gave me moments to rest in His presence, to enjoy the beauty of a spring day (from inside my minivan) and I fretted and fought instead.

In an hour, I will walk my four-year-old daughter, my baby girl, into a brick school filled with cheerful classrooms and hand over the papers to register her for kindergarten.

She is excited.  Every 30 minutes this morning, she asks me if it’s time to go.

I am sad.  I decide maybe we can just wait another 10 minutes.  Could she just be my baby girl 10 minutes more?  And then another 10?

Tomorrow I will place my 6-month-old son on a doctor’s scale and marvel at how he’s grown.  I’ll probably come home all proud and tell my husband how big this baby boy is, how strong, how healthy.

But really my momma heart will mourn a little because six months never went by so fast.

So when God gives me 10 extra minutes in that minivan to stop, to rest, to breathe, to listen to His voice…surely I should relax into His presence.exodus33-14

This lesson chafes hard against my driven soul.   God brings me here again and again and again.


And I wrestle instead.

Funny how 10 minutes of inactivity can be more stressful to me than a whole day of rushing from task to task.

If I want to feel God’s presence in the going and the doing, I must willingly remain in His presence during the resting and the being.

God gave Moses this great task, leading a nation from slavery to promise, but He also gave this assurance:

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest”  (Exodus 33:14 NIV)

The rest is in His presence whether that’s driving from place to place or idling in front of a STOP sign for 10 minutes.

The rest is there because His presence is there.

Today, let us enjoy the gift of time He gives, the gift of quiet moments and unexpected pauses, the blessing of His presence in the rushing and in the stillness, the beauty of His voice in the whisper and in the storm, the time with those we love because that time just rushes right along.

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 ‘Enjoy Beauty’?

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


Heart Wide Open, Book Review

Heart Wide Open: Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus
by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

With a little Southern charm, a little friendly honesty, and a lot of genuine passion for God and His Word, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson’s book, Heart Wide Open, encourages women to trade in formulaic devotions and rigid expectations of ‘quiet time’ for a real and relevant adventure of living every moment with God.  After struggling herself with routine faith, she finally got honest enough to say, “God, I don’t love you like I should, but I want to love you.  Help me!”  That heartfelt prayer stirred up a passion for His Word that spills over into the pages of this book.Heart-Wide-Open_HighRes

The book reads easily and naturally, like sharing a conversation with a passionate Jesus-girl over a cup of coffee.  Each chapter is subtitled with an honest prayer such as, “Lord, I want to abandon everything to follow you, but I’m scared of what that might look like!”  With these prayers, Shellie covers issues such as building faith, obedience, what to do when you don’t like reading the Bible, and loving others even when it’s difficult.

Each chapter ends with a short prayer to start you on a journey of inviting God to help you in the weak areas and in the midst of your faith struggles.  In the back of the book, Tomlinson includes a Bible study and discussion guide that would help individuals and small groups go deeper.

Sometimes we feel like we need to already love God’s Word, know God’s Word, feel close to God, be full of faith, and have it all together before we come to Him.  But this is a book that helps you pursue Christ even when it’s hard, you don’t feel like it, don’t know how to do it, or maybe even don’t have a passion for it and yet you truly you want something more in your relationship with God.  You bring all that to Him, all that weakness, all those shortcomings, and ask for His help.

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.”

How to dominate the smartphone before it dominates me

Apparently it’s a modern psychological condition, Nomophobia:  The fear of being without your smartphone.

I have the opposite.cellphone

I’m no Luddite, no hater of all things technological or modern, but I have an overwhelming fear of owning a smart phone.

I just don’t want to be connected all the time. Sometimes I want to leave my house and not be available.

I don’t want to fall prey to those stereotypical smartphone pitfalls and gain convenience but lose the beauty of real relationships.

So for years, I’ve ignored a steady stream of phone upgrade offers from my cell phone company and cheerfully toted around my non-fabulous, plain-old dinosaur of a cell phone.

Most of the time, I forgot to have it charged anyway.  Or I couldn’t find it in my bag.  Or I left it at home.  Or I had turned it on silent and forgot to turn it back up.

I didn’t know how to check the voicemail on the thing and didn’t text back when someone texted me.

The truth is, my introverted soul dislikes phones in general.  Something about talking on the phone is an overwhelming social experience for me.

What do you say on the phone?  How do you know when the other person wants to talk so that you don’t also start talking and end up interrupting them?  What about awkward pauses?

And my least favorite….you call someone and they answer, “Hello…” and that’s it.  So you wonder: Am I talking to the right person?  Or did I dial the wrong number?  Will I launch into a conversation and find that I’m spilling my guts to a stranger?

Then, when you’ve completed the phone conversation, how do you say goodbye without getting on that farewell carousel that just goes round and round until someone finally hangs up?

Okay, see you later.



Have a good day.

Okay, see ya.

Yeah, bye.

I will do just about anything to avoid talking on the phone.  I will write endless e-mail messages back and forth with someone, send notes via Facebook, or wait to chat face-to-face.

I will even put on a stamp, walk to the mailbox and mail a letter first.20932501_s

Clearly a smartphone and I don’t seem look a good match for each other, this ostentatious, life-controlling, telephoning device and me, the hater of all things descended from Alexander Graham Bell’s initial great invention.

But last week, the cell phone company made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So I stopped hyperventilating long enough to call them up and say, this free iPhone yada yada yada (I don’t even know what smartphones are called)..is that for real?

The guy says, “Let’s figure out how much data you might use in a month…..what do you want to do with your new smartphone?”

I think of all the things I DON’T want to do with this potential technology tyrant, but I just tell him what I do want.

I get lost.  Like, a lot.  Pretty much every time I drive in my car, I get lost.  I need to be able to look up directions and find out how to get un-lost.

Oh, and, I’d like to be able to look up phone numbers for places while I’m out and about.

Yup, that’s what I want.

I find it strangely funny…or perhaps absolutely perfect….that during the month of March when I’m choosing to Unplug, a new smartphone is on its way to my front door.

After all, there are choices I need to make now to dominate this device before it dominates me.

Maybe you do, too?

  1. I will not fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent.  Phone calls can be returned.  Text messages can wait for answers.  Facebook and Twitter and that endless stream of Internet information doesn’t need to be accessed all the time.
  2. I will not ignore the people I’m with to interact with the people who aren’t with me.
  3. I will remember social graces—make eye contact with my cashiers, thank the person at the desk, chat in a friendly way with the folks waiting in lines, listen to those I’m with.
  4. I will know when to turn it off and set it aside.  I don’t want to be distracted and I don’t want to distract the people teaching me, talking to me, or performing on a stage.
  5. I will use the tool (the maps!!  the GPS!!  the Bible apps!) and not be dominated by the toy (Candy Crush, I have your number).  

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out (Proverbs 18:15 NIV).

 So, tell me all about it….What do you love about your smart phone?  What are your favorite apps?  How do you keep nomophobia at bay and stay in control of the smartphone?  Fill this novice in on all of the details.

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 ‘Unplug’?

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

Why Choosing New Glasses is Hard When You’re a People-Pleaser (Like Me)

She tells me, “Those look cute on you.”

I wrinkle up my nose and squint my eyes at the mirror.

She’s the sweetest, kindest lady ever, handing me pairs of glasses at the eye doctor’s office.

But I’m a pushover.  One slight hint of someone else’s opinion and I tend to fold up like a pup-tent in a windstorm.

I explain to her that I really like my glasses, the ones I’ve worn for 4-1/2 years that are now cracked, scratched, bent, and about to disintegrate in the palm of my hand.  Can’t I just have something pretty much the same?

She says, ‘They are kind of small’ and points to a few pairs she likes on the shelf.

The pair she hands me aren’t really ‘me.’  They are cool and trendy, big dark frames in that funky retro style that looks great on everyone, but just don’t suit me or who I am.

In that moment, though, I question myself.

She says they look cute.  She says she likes them.

So maybe she’s right?  Maybe all those things I think and feel about myself are wrong?  Maybe I just need to try something different….get wild and crazy for a second.  Maybe I should be more stylish?  Maybe I could grow to like them?

I feel slightly trapped.

Thankfully, I’m rescued from my decision-making paralysis by a friend who works at the office.  She shakes her head, ‘no’ and I feel truly, truly saved as I slip those frames right back onto the display shelf.

I needed someone to back me up.  Given just one more nudge by the sweet and gentle lady trying to help me pick out glasses, I’d have walked right out of there having purchased frames I hated.

And I would have worn them for years.

And I would have hated them every time I put them on my face.

And I would have hated myself for buying them in the first place, for just taking someone else’s opinion as truth without weighing it against the truth I know about myself.

That’s me.  People-pleasing me.  Indecisive me.  Swayed by the slightest push from others and then growing all resentful at the pressure.

The trouble is that this is an opinion-sharing world.  Random people in Wal-Mart like to comment on the groceries you buy and the amount of kids you have crowded around your shopping cart.

God does use people to speak truth to us at times.  They can be a confirmation sent by the Holy Spirit or a loving word of encouragement or challenge just when we need it.

Sometimes, though, they are just people—friends, loved ones, random shoppers with opinions.galatians1

In Scripture, Job endured and ignored the counsel of his friends and his overwhelmed wife’s advice to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9 NIV).

For all their professed spirituality and theological ‘expertise,’ Job’s friends were wrong.

His wife was wrong.

But me, if I had sat there in the sackloth and ashes, would I have discerned the truth?  Would I have held on stubbornly to that challenged faith like Job did or would I have begrudgingly given in?

I’m learning that I must:

  1. Consider the source:  Is this someone whose input has value?
  2. Consider the message: Does what they are saying match up with Scripture?  Does it match up with what the Holy Spirit has been telling me or is this noticeably out of place?
  3. Consider the intent: Are they sharing something prayerfully and in love?  Or are they condemning and hurtful?
  4. Consider the authority: Is this simply an opinion or a way that God is speaking to me?  (Remember that sometimes people even say things are ‘words from the Lord,’ yet they don’t mesh with Scripture or what God has been doing in your life).

In the end, I can’t be both—an obedient servant of Christ or a people-pleaser.  Paul lays it down as an either/or choice:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

“People-pleaser,” after all, is just a polite way of excusing the truth about me:  I’m an idolater,  worshiping the approval of others just as much as any man-carved image of stone or wood.

It takes discernment and courage to decide that “God’s judgment is the only one that counts” (Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living, Todd Wilson) .

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