Stepping off the ark

My fifth grader has begun quizzing me about “backpack rules” in  middle school.  Will  she need to use her regular backpack? Will the teachers require a string bag instead?  Will she have binders for her classes and, if so, could they possibly fit into a string bag or  will she need a brand new extra-large string bag, perhaps?

She entertains new thoughts daily about whether to choose band or chorus.  Yesterday, it was definitely band but maybe chorus.  How could she decide and how will this decision impact future high school and career decisions?

A season of new.   That  is where we are.  This school year,  my oldest started high school  and  my baby started kindergarten.   Next year, I  have another daughter heading to high school for the first time and this girl starting middle school.

From a year of new to another year of new.

Fresh starts and new beginnings are exhilarating and terrifying.  But there’s a whole added layer of making decisions in the midst of that .  I’ve been coaching my kids  to pray personally because I can’t choose for them and I don’t know the perfect  answer or how to chart their course for every decision in the future.

I can pray for them, but I can’t pray instead of them.  They have to begin to  “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

We all tremble a bit on the edges of these new things,  and I wonder how it is that Noah walked off of that ark into an absolutely brand new, completely fresh start of a world.

I’ve always imagined Noah and his family sprinting out of the ark  like they were five-year-olds coming downstairs on Christmas morning.

Hurray!  No more feeding and cleaning animals.   No more  confinement.   No more lack of fresh air and limited sunlight.   No more stench and no more noise and no more confined space without anywhere to breathe and to be alone.

Who wouldn’t want off the ark?

This year, for the first time ever, I’ve wondered if it was perhaps hard to leave.

Noah took decades to build the ark, and then he and his family lived on the ark for about another year.

That’s maybe around 80 years of his life fully invested in the ark—the preparation of the ark, the moving onto the ark and all  of the day-to-day grind of living on the ark.

The ark wasn’t just confining, it was also salvation.  The ark was refuge, protection, assurance of God’s promises and His mighty hand.  The ark was safe and it was an ever-present reminder of God’s holinesss and His mercy.

Everything they knew about the pre-flood world would be different when they stepped off that ship.  All the people  they knew,  all the cities they had seen, all the geography and landscape and weather gone or changed.

They had to leave the ark they knew to step into a world they no longer knew.

How exactly did Noah do it?  How did he keep sending out the raven and the doves in hopes they’d find dry land,  knowing that that ark was a temporary stopping place?

Me—I’m not a  fan of temporary.  And I’m not one to eagerly anticipate a revolutionary life change.

But Noah kept moving forward, obedient to the call to build, obedient to the call to move in, obedient to the call to move out.

God said to Noah:

“Come out of the ark…” (Genesis 8:15-16 NIV).

This is what Noah did:

So Noah came out…Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it” (Genesis 8:18&20 NIV).

Noah obeyed and Noah worshiped.  He didn’t know what this new life in this new world would be like.  He simply exited the old ark and immediately built the altar of praise.

Maybe Noah’s willingness to keep moving forward with the Lord came from his long testimony of  God being faithful.  What God said, He did.  What God promised, came to be.

Noah could recall the Word of the Lord, the moment those firsts animals showed up in pairs to enter the ark, how God shut the door with His own mighty hand, how the rains came just as God said, and how the flood waters rose—and how God saved them.

God was faithful.  God would always be faithful.

Isn’t this true for me?  Isn’t this true for us?  We have the testimony of God’s faithfulness to help us be brave, to help us obey with courage, to help us take one more step forward and then another.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15 ESV

Not the same anymore

When my son was a baby, I  gave away his infant swing because he hated it.  He was the fourth baby in our line of babies to swing in that very same swing.  Others had loved it, just not him.  So I  gave the swing away and saved space in our living room.  It was a win-win.

Now here  we are five years later and this same kid spent at least 30 minutes swinging non-stop at the playground today.  He shooed me away when I tried  to push him because, “I know how to pump my legs all  by myself now, mom.

So, I sat on the nearby bench in the shade and watched as he lifted himself higher and higher.

This is the same boy.

Sometimes you don’t really catch all the signs that your kids are growing up .  Then there’s a moment when you’re sitting on a wooden bench alongside a playground and it hits you all at once: How big he really is.  How he’s about to start kindergarten.  How he’s changed so much.

And that’s the thing that I’ve been  weighing this afternoon, the changing.  A former baby-swing-hater now loves to swing.

I’ve had changes all  around me in the past year or two, and I have changes before me in this next year once again.

A “baby” starting kindergarten.  My oldest starting high school.   A brand new season where, for  the first time in 15 years, I don’t have a little one at home with me.

I do not love change.  I do not seek it out and I do not enjoy it. I push against change all the time, clinging tight-fisted to whatever reality I know in fear of whatever is unknown.

But here I am in a season of  change, a long  season of frequent and significant changes at that.

So I wonder as I  watch my son swinging away today whether God wants to  do more than just transition and transform the environment around me.  Could it be that He wants to do the same work of transition and transformation inside me?

What can He change within me that maybe I’ve thought could never change?   A habit?  A weakness?  A stubbornness?  A sinful attitude?  A prejudice or judgment?  A fear?

When the Old Testament prophet, Samuel, poured anointing oil over a man named Saul and announced he would be the first king  of Israel, it wasn’t because Saul was already equipped for the job.  Scripture says:

Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day (1 Samuel 10:9 NASB). 

God changed Saul’s heart in that very moment.

Not that Saul was perfect, mind you.  Far from it.  We know his failures as a king and spiritual leader of Israel.

Still, in that moment, God changed Saul’s heart because God had a plan for Saul.

What if I offered up my heart for the Spirit’s work, invited the Lord to do the renovation that needs to  be done?

Joy where there is not joy.  Peace where there is fear. Love for others who are hard to love.  Humility in the places pride has dug down deep.  Compassion in hard ground.   Repentance when my heart hasn’t been soft enough to see the sin.

Change my heart, Lord.  Change my mind and thought processes and attitudes so that I reflect your heart and your mind.

My struggle sometimes is that I don’t want change.   Other times my struggle is that I long for something to  give way and change, but  change feels impossible.  Stuck.  Hopeless.

What then?

Warren Wiersbe reminds us that:

God is not limited by the past.  No matter how many disappointments and failures we may have had in the past, when Jesus Christ comes on the scene, everything has to change….Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change.  We need to remind ourselves that God can change things!  God can forgive sin and put new power into lives that seem to be utter failures.  God can send revival to a church that everybody thinks is dead.   God can move into a difficult situation and turn seeming failure into victory.  God makes the difference!” (The Bumps are What You Climb On).

Christ’s presence means everything has to  change.

So I settle my heart, I yield, I invite Him in and I invite Him to  make Himself at home.  May He change what needs to be changed in my life, in my circumstances, in my relationships, and in my heart and mind.

Bible Verses about Putting the Past Behind You

  • Genesis 41:51 ESV
    Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.”
  • Psalm 25:7 ESV
    Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
        according to your steadfast love remember me,
        for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
  • Psalm 51:10 ESV
    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and renew a right spirit within me.
  • Isaiah 40:1 ESV
    Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
    Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
        and cry to her
    that her warfare is ended,
        that her iniquity is pardoned,
    that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
        double for all her sins.
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV
    “Remember not the former things,
        nor consider the things of old.
    19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
        now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
    I will make a way in the wilderness
        and rivers in the desert.
  • Isaiah 43:25 ESV
    “I, I am he
        who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
        and I will not remember your sins.
  • Isaiah 65:16 ESV
    So that he who blesses himself in the land
        shall bless himself by the God of truth,
    and he who takes an oath in the land
        shall swear by the God of truth;
    because the former troubles are forgotten
        and are hidden from my eyes.
  • Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
        his mercies never come to an end;
    23 they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
  • Luke 9:62 ESV
     Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
  • Romans 6:4 ESV
    We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
  • Romans 8:1 ESV
    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
  • Galatians 2:20-22 ESV
     I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
  • Ephesians 4:22-23 ESV
     to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds
  • 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 3:13-14 ESV
    Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 2:13-14 ESV
    And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
  • Hebrews 8:12 ESV
    For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
        and I will remember their sins no more.”
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • 1 John 1:9 ESV
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • 1 John 3:2 ESV
    Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Bible Verses and a Prayer about the Resurrection Life

  • Job 19:25 ESV
    For I know that my Redeemer lives,
        and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
  • Isaiah 25:8 ESV
    He will swallow up death forever;
    and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
        and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
        for the Lord has spoken.
  • Luke 24:46-47 ESV
    and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
  • John 11:25-26 ESV
    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
  • Romans 6:4 ESV
    We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
  • Romans 6:5 ESV
    For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
  • Romans 8:11 ESV
    If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
  • Romans 8:34 ESV
    Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
  • Romans 10:9 ESV
    because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:14 ESV
    And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV
    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:17 ESV
    And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV
    For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
  • Philippians 3:10 ESV
    that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death
  • 2 Timothy 2:11 ESV
    The saying is trustworthy, for:

    If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

  • 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • 1 Peter 1:21 ESV
    who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

When you can’t just have the same day

“I just want the same day.”

That’s what my son has been saying to me recently.  He’s struggling with the whole ‘being the baby of the family” thing.

There are perks, of course, like lots of attention and helpers and getting to do fun activities younger than everyone else did.

But the trade-off is hard.  He’s always the one being dragged along to fun for the big sisters that he can’t participate in and he’s the one patiently watching concerts, award ceremonies, and competitions that aren’t for him either.

And many times he gets left home with mom or dad while the older kids head out the door.  Even if they aren’t going anywhere fun or wonderful, they are going and he’s not and there’s sorrow over missing out.

So, he’s been telling me how he just wants “the same day,” the day when he got to come wherever we were going and he got to play with some friends while we rehearsed for a play.

Nevermind that we’re not always going to rehearsal.  Or maybe we are, but there won’t be any one for him to play with that night.

He doesn’t understand that you can’t just replicate good days from the past.  They happen and you enjoy them and then you move on maybe to other good days, different good days.

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes is:

‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’

There’s something joy-filling about celebrating that good day that you loved so much and remembering all that goodness, but not mourning the loss of it.

And that’s the choice for us.

How can we engage today?  Right now, in this place where God has brought us, how can we celebrate and rejoice and worship?  How can enjoy this moment and let God be at work in us here?

Good or bad, the past sure can ensnare us. Maybe pain and hurt hold us hostage. Or perhaps memories trip us up and those “good old days” we long for stir up discontentment with NOW because yesterday still holds our hearts hostage.

That’s where the nation of Israel was as they lingered outside the Promised Land, hoping their journey would finally be over.  They wailed:

“If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6 NIV). 

Fish and a salad.  They were willing to forego the Promised Land for the sake of fish and a salad bar they had in Egypt.  They even forgot that the Egyptian food wasn’t free; it came at the high price of slavery.

Let’s not fall into this same backwards trap.

Instead, we look forward.  We look forward to  all that God has in store for us.  We look forward to all His plans for our future.  We look forward to  heaven with Jesus and eternity in His presence.

Maybe it’s not “the same day” we had before, but it’s a new day with Him.  Maybe it’s not salmon and cucumbers, but God gives miraculous manna.

New can be frightening sometimes.  It can be uncertain.  But as long as God leads us forward, we need not fear.

We learn from David, who used the past to propel him to courage, not mire him in discontentment or complacency.

David knew why he could face down a giant with confidence and not fear.  He told Saul:

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God (1 Samuel 17:34-36 NIV). 

In his book Glory Days, Max Lucado says:

“Before he fought Goliaht the giant, he remembered how God had helped him kill a lion and a bear…He faced his future by revisiting his past.  Face your future by recalling God’s past victories” (Glory Days).

Our past doesn’t have to be a pit and it doesn’t have to be a monument.

Our past is a testimony of how God brought us through and it’s a reminder that He will bring us through again.

He has provided and He will provide.

He has redeemed and He will redeem.

He has directed and He will direct.

He has forgiven and He will forgive.

Bible Verses about How God Changes and Transforms Us

  • Psalm 51:10 ESV
    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and renew a right spirit within me.
  • Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
    Search me, O God, and know my heart!
        Try me and know my thoughts!
    24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
        and lead me in the way everlasting!
  • Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
    And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
  • Romans 12:2 ESV
     Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • 1 Corinthians  6:11 ESV
    And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
    And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
    to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
  • 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.
  • Colossians 1:10 ESV
    So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
  • Colossians 3:10 ESV
    and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
  • 1 John 3:2-3 ESV
    Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Feeling like you need to do enough or be enough to attain perfection, to be holy, to earn God’s love?  Here’s the truth:

God’s love covers us …and cleanses us. Then, in His compassion, He transforms us.  He’s big enough and gracious enough to tackle our mess until the day He decides that construction is complete and He takes us home. So often, where God is taking us is less about our destination and more about our journey of becoming like Jesus.  God is more interested in our character than our accomplishments anyway
Anywhere Faith)

Change is in the air (and I’m not always happy about it)


Sometimes you come right up to a line and you have to choose:  Choose to change? Or cling to the old, the worn, the ill-fitting but the known and comfortable?

Me?  I usually fight change, ignoring it as long as I can until I’m finally forced into it.

Change is relentless, though, like the arrival of new seasons.

Funny how I can dislike change so much, but still love fall with its consistent reminder that change is necessary and change can be beautiful.

In a way, this has been the topic of much discussion at my house.

For one thing, there’s this unstoppable force at work–this act of growing up–that we can’t pause, hinder,  or slow down.

I took my girls shoe shopping before the new school year began and the sales lady made the grand announcement: My daughter’s feet are bigger than mine.

Not the same size.  Bigger.

She’s been nudging close to me in height for the last year, but I still have maybe 1/8 of an inch on her there.

I never expected, though, to break through some kind of barrier while standing in the middle of the shoe store. That one snuck up on me.

Changing and growing and transforming: That’s what my kids are doing every single day. It’s hard to see up close.  Each morning, they look the same as they did the day before.

But then there’s last year’s school pictures.

Or the snapshots from a few years ago.

That’s where you see the truth of just how much has changed over time.

And yet, even my kids, as proud as they are of new growth chart markings and new shoe sizes, seem to push hard against changes to situation or even changes within.

They begin to “own” their quirks, foibles, and, yes, even sin.  I hear them say, “I’m picky about food.”

And it’s not a confession. It’s not a request to do better or to grow in an area of weakness.

It’s said with pride, like “this is who I am and that’s who I’ll be forever.”

“I can’t help it,” they say, “I’m loud….I like to be in charge….I like to spend all my money”

The message lies just underneath the surface: “This is who I am and I can’t change.”

So one day, I lean in close to my daughter as she makes another declaration about who she is and I say:

There’s only One who cannot change.  That is God and you are not Him.  Not only can we as humans change, but sometimes we should.

I was preaching to myself a little there, too.

It’s true.  God is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.  We can fully rely on His character and faithfulness because Scripture tells us He always has been and always will be faithful.

God does not change.

But He wants to change us.

He loves us as we are; He loves who we are; but He wants to move in our areas of weakness, in our hang-ups, in our sin-tendencies.

Paul tells us:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a]the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

The Message paraphrases this passage beautifully:

And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Maybe all these ways I’m trying to hold back change, are really ways I’m trying to keep God from doing the beautiful work of changing me.

Maybe the circumstances I don’t want to accept, the relationship I don’t want altered, the “new” that I feel pushed upon me are God’s ways of molding me and making me more like Jesus.

And, that’s what I want.  I want to be more like Jesus every single day until eternity makes the process complete.

That means change. I cannot stay the same way and still become more like Christ.

It means cleaning out the closet of old, worn-out, too-small shoes (even if they are my favorite) and stepping into what’s roomier and gives me space to grow.

It means not holding onto sin, the weaknesses I consider “just who I am” or “just how I was made.”

Instead, we can yield to the Holy Spirit and say:

Have thine own way, Lord.  Have thine own way.  Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still (Adelaide Pollard).

Finding the courage for change

joshua 1-9

My daughter wove through the line of families walking into the middle school building.  She left me behind so she could hurry ahead to join her friends.

By the time I made it through the front doors, she’d already flitted along into the auditorium and found a seat way in the front for the Middle School Orientation.

I sat in the back.

Several people asked me that night whether I was okay.  I think everyone is waiting for me to have an emotional breakdown about my oldest daughter leaving the elementary years behind.

I just try not to think about it, that’s all.

Yup, I’m totally fine!

But of course, when you’re sitting in the middle school auditorium, listening to the middle school principal and teachers, and looking at slides about the middle school schedule, curriculum and after school activities, you do actually have to face facts.

Middle school is coming my way.

Obviously, my child isn’t too concerned.  She wasn’t frightened or lost, nervous, insecure, out of place or afraid.

And I was all of those things in middle school.  Those were nightmare years for me of insecurity and feeling lost.

I’ve taught middle schoolers before and they seemed like a whole lot of drama tossed in with a little bit of narcissism and a heaping dose of silly (topped off with lots of smelliness).

But here we are at middle school and my daughter seems excited, happy to be with her friends, and ready for the new.

So, maybe it’s my daughter that’s different…or maybe middle school has grown a lot friendlier and gentler over the years….either way, as I watch her that night, I feel reassured about her.

I’m still a bit worried about me, though.

The truth is this whole middle school thing reeks of change, and I’m tempted to grab the nearest clothespin and run for the door.

My kids have been at a school we love and had teachers we know and adore for five years.

When I walk into the office, I  know them and they know me.

I know the behavior systems and the reading logs.  I know the homework procedures and the cafeteria lines.

I know the books in the library and the special programs and the general schedule for the school year.

I know the bus route and the bell schedule.

And, I’m comfortable here and quite happy in that comfort.

Who wants a new office with new people, new teachers, new kids, new after school programs, a new schedule (that is WAY too early in the morning)?

She has to have gym clothes and lockers.  She has to take electives.  She has to function on an entirely different schedule in an entirely different place than her sisters who are still at the old school doing the old things.

I feel the change pulling at my muscles, stretching them.  They are taut, tight, stiff and reluctant.

I am afraid.

I am resistant.

I don’t want to change.

In Girl Meets Change, Kristen Strong writes:

We all have the opportunity to turn our tight places into prayer spaces. When change shoves us to our knees in dark places, we are in the perfect posture for lifting up our souls to heaven.

Instead of shutting my eyes tight and hoping change just leaves me alone, I’m invited to transform this into a prayer space.

I’m invited to bring the unknown to Jesus, all that uncertainty, all that fear.  I’m invited to trust that He already knows, He’s already there, and He’s with us all the way.

That’s what He promised Joshua, Moses’ protege, who spent years tagging along after Moses and now stepped into those massive shoes of leadership.

Moses was the only leader the people had ever known.

Now Joshua was in charge.

And Joshua wasn’t going to continue in the same tried-and-true way.  He stood on the threshold of the Promised Land, where he’d teach a wandering people how to establish a nation.

God told Joshua

“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 1:9).

So, I begin here with this prayer space.  I print out the middle school teacher roster and pray through the names.

I pray for my daughter.

I pray for the change.

I pray for the change in me, for the courage and strength I need.

Because even though I’ve never been there and don’t know what it’ll be like, God has and God does, and He will help us with what’s ahead.



Bible Verses and a Prayer for the New Year


  • versesnewyear
    Psalm 33:3 NIV

    Sing to him a new song;
        play skillfully, and shout for joy.
  • Psalm 40:3 NIV
    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 65:11 NIV
    You crown the year with your bounty,
        and your carts overflow with abundance.
  • Psalm 96:1 NIV
    Sing to the Lord a new song;
        sing to the Lord, all the earth.
  • Psalm 98:1 NIV
    Sing to the Lord a new song,
        for he has done marvelous things;
    his right hand and his holy arm
        have worked salvation for him.
  • Psalm 144:9 NIV
    I will sing a new song to you, my God;
        on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
  • Psalm 149:1 NIV
    Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
    There is a time for everything,
        and a season for every activity under the heavens:
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
     He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
  • Isaiah 42:9 NIV
    See, the former things have taken place,
        and new things I declare;
    before they spring into being
        I announce them to you.”
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
    “Forget the former things;
        do not dwell on the past.
    19 See, I am doing a new thing!
        Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
    I am making a way in the wilderness
        and streams in the wasteland.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
        for his compassions never fail.
    23 They are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
  • Ezekiel 11:19 NIV
    I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
  • Zephaniah 3:5 NIV
    The Lord within her is righteous;
        he does no wrong.
    Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
        and every new day he does not fail,
        yet the unrighteous know no shame.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV
    You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
    Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:9-10 NIV
    Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 NIV
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • Revelation 21:5 NIV
    He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”


When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Deuteronomy 1

Playdate protocol.

That’s what I review with my daughters in the last 5 minutes before we exit our minivan and enter their friend’s home.

Do not fight with each other.

Say please and thank you.

Clean up your messes.

Do not fight with each other.

Do show respect to her mom and call her Mrs. _____ and obey what she tells you.

Do make sure you know where the bathroom is.

Do not fight with each other (I’m sensing a theme, here……)

And, when it is time to go, thank them for having you over and go.  Do not delay.  Do not whine about leaving.  Do not take 40 minutes putting on your shoes. Do not ignore my presence.  Do not invite yourself over to their house tomorrow or beg me for a sleepover.  Do not ask me when the next playdate will occur as we are actually, technically still having a playdate at this very moment.  Do not run and hide, hoping I won’t find you and take you home.  Do not pull out more toys.  Do not whisper to your friend to climb into our minivan thinking that I won’t ask her to come out.

Saying goodbye.  That’s the hardest part of playing with a friend.

Oh, I’ll tell the truth, saying goodbye is one of the hardest life-skills—period—for children and adults.

I have my own issues with leaving.  After all, I dislike change.

Dislike?  Not quite the word, exactly.

More like:  Hate, detest, abhor….change.  Yes, that’s it.

I settle right into my comfortable routine, doing what I’ve always done, ministering how I’ve always ministered.  I take God’s call and keep on trekking, day after day after day in the same direction.

Then, He tells me it’s time for something new.

Time to say goodbye, pack my tent, and head off in a new direction.  Maybe even an unknown direction or at least an unfamiliar direction.

I’m tempted to hide or beg to stay or pretend I didn’t hear God’s call.  Anything, anything at all, other than actually embrace change.

Sometimes we refuse God’s invitation to step out of the old and step into the new.

We just keep right along, working as hard as ever doing the thing we love to do.

But He has moved on.  His favor has moved on.  His blessing, His direction, His guidance, His anointing has moved on.

And, what are we doing anyway?  Trying to work in our own strength and hold things together because we just don’t want to let go?  Because it hurts too much to relinquish that control and trust God with the future?

Maybe God has asked someone else to step up into that ministry, and we’re robbing them of the blessing of obedience because we won’t step down already and get out of the way.


God gives us permission to say it at times.  We say goodbye to ministries we love and relationships we adore, to jobs we’ve enjoyed and to seasons of our life that have grown cozy and comforting.

We say goodbye not because our ministry is ending, but because it is changing.  We say goodbye because God has called us to follow Him anew.

In Acts 20, we see how Paul calls his dear friends from Ephesian church together and tells them he’s moving on to Jerusalem, and he doesn’t expect to see them again.

Of course, they’d want him to stay.  He wasn’t just moving on in ministry; He was moving away from dear friends without the advantage of Facebook and email.

Yet, God called and Paul obeyed:

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship (Acts 20:36-38 ESV).

I’ve been praying over my own goodbyes….the places where God is telling me to move on, to let it go and strike out into the new.

That’s when I read this command God gave to Israel:

‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.  It is time to break camp and move on.’ (Deuteronomy 1:6-7 NLT).

Have you lingered at this mountain long enough, content to rest here and set up camp?

If God has called you to break camp and move on….pack up your tent, say your goodbyes, and go.

Don’t fret or worry over what’s behind.  Leave that in God’s hands.  He’s got it.

Just go when He calls you to go, because you want to be with Jesus, always with Jesus, never lagging behind Him, always right by His side.

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