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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s genius.

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

Maybe this:

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

And this one, too:

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

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

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

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

It’s a lesson for the church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Jesus takes it personally when we hurt His people.

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

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

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

And that’s just noise to Him.

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

Why are you persecuting ME?

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

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

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Going Back to a Broken Heart: Inspired by Obedience

She told us she didn’t think she could go back.

But there she stood on our church’s stage, holding the microphone in one hand and lifting up letters, prayer cards and gifts in the other to show us what happened when she returned.

The year before, she had traveled to Honduras with a group focused on blessing orphans and she’d shared her testimony then with questions:

How could these little children be so in need?  Was there any hope for them at all?  Where was God in this?  She knew He was there, but it was hard to see.

That’s what she asked then and her heart had been so broken by what she saw there….could she endure the breaking again and return a year later?

Perhaps she shouldn’t go.  Perhaps it was too hard, just too heavy, too much, too sad, too overwhelming.

I understand the compelling lure of self-preservation, the way we can choose distance and the safety of objectivity, of statistics, of pictures someone else displays and the testimony that someone else gives without wading into mess ourselves.

I’m willing to engage this far….but no farther.

I am willing to give or serve or care until it hurts, until my heart cracks open and I’m clinging hard to faith when the world beats so hard with evil on the innocent.

I can sit in the balcony of a church sanctuary and tearfully listen as she describes the orphanage facilities, the care (or lack of) for the children, the danger and the hurt.16954296_s

But she stands there with the microphone and I see the beauty of one who was called and equipped and one who went not once, but went again.

She holds up a tiny pink fuzzy toy, an elephant I think.  A little girl with one leg from cancer in an orphanage had given that to her as a memento, “so you won’t ever forget me.”  That’s what motivated the gift of her only toy.

And there are other gifts.  Trinkets to keep at home on her dresser.  Beaded bracelets dangling from both her arms.  Notes and cards from children and teens.

They say it over and over in their messages, “Don’t forget me…..Always remember me….”

Children unloved, unnoticed, rejected, abandoned, betrayed, tossed out, sold, used and abused, and what they most want is for someone on this planet to remember they exist.

My own unborn baby kicks and rumbles and I lay my hand on my pregnant belly as I listen to her talk about the unwanted ones while responding to my own very wanted child.

She says the teen girls have one outfit of clothes that they wear every day and I think of the closet bulging already from gifts of baby blue sleepers and hats, blankets and bibs, outfits we oohed and aahed over together as we pulled them out of the bags sent home with us from church.

The beauty of her testimony, though, is that she put her heart on the altar and willingly went back to that place of brokenness, and this time she can say where God is at work, where there was hope and grace despite the pain.

Foster moms tell me it cuts deep wounds in them to love a child and then release him to biological family, but they choose to love anyway.

And I see a picture on my Twitter feed, a young boy about eight years old standing in a store posing for a picture while his adoptive mom clicks the camera.  He’s showing off his new clothes and she’s thrilled.  Orphaned at one years old, growing up on the streets of Africa and now he is home….chosen….loved, but it’s been a journey.

It’s not that God calls all of us to this same ministry, but He calls some to have hearts willing to be broken.

He told His prophet Hosea not just to marry a prostitute, but after she left him to pursue her lovers,  to “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress”  (Hosea 3:1 NASB).

God told Ezekiel not to mourn his wife’s death: “but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead…”  (Ezekiel 24:15-17 NASB).

Their hearts broke in obedience.

If that’s God’s calling, then we can trust Him with our own hearts, trust Him enough to obey even when it’s hard and our instinct is to snatch our hands back from the hot stove and cradle our hearts to protect them from pain.  We can trust Him enough to go and to go again and enough to sing,Break my heart for what breaks yours” and mean it (Hillsong United).

OBSBlogHop

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Would you do this for me?

I didn’t expect it to happen.

But then, when can you really and truly expect what God can do?  He’s the master of surprising us with joy and working behind the scenes until the moment of the big reveal.prayinghandsraised

And the beautiful thing about the way God does this is that He gets the glory and we just humbly lift our hands to receive and to worship, one movement of the hands to heaven for both the giving and the getting.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about ministry to single women, military wives and other women whose husbands’ travel.   Just one week with my husband out of town reminded me that:

we minister to others out of our own experiences (2 Corinthians 1:4).  Just as others have served me during my short-term single mom moments, so I should take the time to serve another.

It’s a ministry to divorced moms, widows, military wives with husbands on deployment and other wives with husbands away.  They may not have the safety net of a call from dad to threaten unruly children.  Their single mom reality might not end with a plane trip home after a week away.

Last Friday afternoon, I opened up the email from a Christian magazine asking me to work up an article on this and submit it to them for consideration of publication.

And this is God—do you see it?

The way He spoke truth to my heart and opened my tightly shut eyes to consider the needs of women around me could never be anything other than His Holy Spirit at work, convicting and giving counsel when I needed it.

The way He took one simple post on one ordinary day and one simple act of obedience as I sat at the laptop clicking the keys and confessing how I’ve messed this up and neglected these women too often shows off His power and grace.

But now I need you.

Yes, you.

And I’m hoping, very much hoping, that you would graciously share your input with me.

Before I send an article in to the magazine and wait to see if they agree to publish it or not, may I ask this of you?

Would you take just a moment and share here on the blog or on Facebook or maybe even send a private email message to me (heatherking@cox.net) your thoughts on this topic?

I’ve included some questions below.  I’m looking for input from single moms, military wives and other women whose husband’s are frequently away.  Not just if this is you now.  If you’ve ever been in that season before, I’d like to hear from you.

That’s not all, though.

Even if you’re married with kids, if you’ve ever ministered to women who are in that place, maybe through a church ministry, maybe just reaching out to a friend, I would love to hear from you, as well.

If you share something with me that you wouldn’t want included in my article, please let me know that, as well.  I want to honor your privacy if you wish it.

And then may I ask this also?  Just one more thing.

Would you pray for me? 

Oh, how I would rejoice in those prayers!

The summer is here and I’m like most moms, balancing commitments and summer fun with the kids.  For me this means  meeting deadlines, sending out articles, turning things in to the editor, and finishing up one large writing project before we have a new baby in October and I don’t sleep for three months (at least) and my brain scrambles any ability I have to write intelligibly.

But I also have these three precious girls who are eager for mornings at the beach and trips to the library, making s’mores, playing board games, visiting museums, and being shuttled to summer camps.

Paul asked it of the churches often.  Just a simple request: “pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25-28 HCSB).  This is what I ask of you.  Would you pray for my time and productivity, for God’s wisdom and grace, for the words to share, and for God’s favor?

I am so thankful for those of you who have been praying on my behalf.  How humbled I am to know that you would pray for me.

~heather~

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Questions for single moms and women with husbands who travel (now or in the past).

  1. Have you ever felt neglected, ostracized, overlooked or just out of place in church ministries because you are a single mom or perhaps have a husband who travels?
  2. Tell about one time the church or any friend has ministered to you in a practical way or encouraged you.
  3. What was/is your greatest need from the Christian community or friends?  A night out without children, a listening ear, someone to do “Dad” stuff with your kids?
  4. What do you wish other Christian women knew about life as a mom on her own (even if it’s part-time)?

Questions for Christian women ministering to others:

  1. How does your church actively, consciously and practically meet the needs of military wives, widows, single moms, and other women whose husbands travel?
  2. Do you think to include these women in church women’s ministries, get-togethers or even nights out with friends?

Please take that moment sometime this week to send me your thoughts by answering the questions or just writing what’s on your heart and mind.  You can reply to this post on the blog, share with me on Facebook, or write me an email: heatherking@cox.net.   I very much long to hear from you and learn from you!!!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Summer Plans: Packing a Bag for the Homeless

Memorial Day is past.  This is the last week of school for my kids.  It’s official: Summer is upon us. 

Since that means traveling and visiting cities and playing tourist for many of us, I thought it was a great time to re-post this and remind us all to start stocking up on supplies for homeless care packages.  I shopped the dollar store last week for toiletries and I need just a few more items to finish up.  Please share your ideas of what you’re putting in your bags this year!!

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He shuffled over to the line of women waiting to enter the arena for the first night of Women of Faith in Washington, DC.homelessbag

He asked us for food.  I rifled through my bag because I had fully intended to pack snacks for just such an occasion.

I had nothing.

He asked for money.  I had none to give.

He walked away.

I was angry at myself, frustrated that I had failed to prepare for compassion and service.  I had good intentions and no follow-through.

Hadn’t I just read a book I had discovered on the shelves of our church library called Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America?

A young college student chronicled the six months he and a friend lived as homeless men on the streets of America’s cities.  They played their guitars to earn money for food and went days without a single meal and weeks without a shower.  They had no access to running water or even a bathroom at night.  People avoided them and glared at them and they felt shame and knew they were unwanted.

Hadn’t I just finished Kelly Minter’s study, Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break and been reminded continually that:

“the Lord always has the poor on His mind, often paired with the widow, alien, and fatherless in Scripture’s pages”?  She wrote that “tangibly involving ourselves for the sake of justice is a biblical command” (p. 69).

After all, Isaiah 1:17 says:

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

It can’t get much clearer than that.

And before I studied Nehemiah, hadn’t I completed Beth Moore’s study: James: Mercy Triumphs? If ever there was a Biblical writer who echoed Christ’s heart for the poor and oppressed it was his half-brother James.

James asked:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16).

James summed our faith up this way:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

God cares passionately about the poor, the homeless, the oppressed, the overlooked, the widow, the orphan, the lost and the lonely.

He expects us to do the same.

I knew it.  I had read about it in book after book, study after study all year long.  I meant to bring food for the homeless to the streets of Washington, DC .

I forgot.

So the homeless man in faded clothes and a dusty face shuffled past me to another woman in line and another.

The day after I arrived home, I took my oldest daughter to the dollar store and we tossed soap and wash cloths into the cart.  We grabbed a box of small bottled waters, two packs of peanut butter bagforthehomelesscrackers, and some canned peaches.

We packed our bags for a family vacation.  Then I packed some bags for the homeless.  I didn’t know if anyone else would shuffle over to me and ask for food, but I wanted to be ready.

I carried those Ziplock bags in a backpack all through our family vacation and it seemed like unnecessary weight.  We didn’t hand out a single one.

…Until we were driving home.  We stopped at a traffic light and I was busy thinking about the end of our vacation and the drive home and what happens next.  My husband saw the man with the sign:  “Homeless.  Please help.”

He grabbed one of our bags, motioned the man over and handed it out through the window.

The best part is that I now have a tangible reminder to pray for one particular man in need.

I have a lot to learn still.  My prayer is that God will open my eyes (clearly I need His vision) and prod my heart to prepare for ministry to “the least of these.”

Do you have ideas on how to minister to the poor and needy?

What I Want to Do Differently Next Time:

I had this brainstorm for the bags for the homeless and put it together based on ideas we picked up at the dollar store.  Then, I read a book that week called Cleaning House about a mom who lives in Dallas and encounters the homeless regularly while driving her kids around town.  She makes up bags of care items for the homeless, too!  I felt so excited that we had the same idea.

I loved some of the other items she adds, though.  Based on her thoughts and some of the ideas in the book Under the Overpass, my new care packages would look like this:

  • Wash cloth
  • Bar of Soap
  • Comb
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Peanut Butter Crackers
  • Bottled Water
  • Other nonperishable food item
  • $5 gift card to a place like Subway, Wendy’s, McDonald’s or even an area grocery store
  • Pocket Bible or maybe a personal note with a Scripture verse
  • Information on a local homeless ministry

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

And the Answer Is . . .

Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me . . .But I call to God,
    and the Lord will save me.
(Psalm 55:5, 16)

I failed my driver’s test at least twice.  I say “at least” because I might have blanked out and actually failed it three . . . possibly four times.  It’s hard to say.  It’s enough to tell you that I still refuse to parallel park 16 years later.

So, when a friend of mine in college said that sometimes he just needed to drive, I didn’t get it.  Driving was stressful for me, parking even more so.  For him, though, it was like therapy.  Overwhelmed and overcome, he’d just cruise down the highway with an unimportant and undefined destination.

Today, for the first time, I understood.  Kissing my older girls goodbye and waving to them as they left on the school bus, I walked my toddler to the minivan and helped her into her seat. Then we drove.

As a mom, I’ve generally lost all control over the music in the car, so I let my two-year-old sing for a while about numbers, pirates, monkeys and queens.

Then I announced, “Mommy’s turn” and flicked a switch, only to hear:

Send me a sign: a hint, a whisper
Throw me a line ’cause I am listening
Come break the quiet; Breathe your awakening
Bring me to life ’cause I am fading . . .

Shine Your light so I can see You
Pull me up, I need to be near You
Hold me, I need to feel love
Can You overcome this heart that’s overcome?
{David Crowder *Band singing SMS (Shine}

That’s when I knew why I was driving.  Just like my friend, I was overwhelmed and overcome.

It’s been one of those seasons of ministry and of life when you’re surrounded by death, cancer, divorce, adultery, abuse, child custody battles, the loss of babies, alcoholism, financial crisis, and unemployment.  I’ve been praying for many miracles these days.

In her book, Knowing God by Name, Mary Kassian wrote about El Oseh Phela or The God Who Works Wonders, focusing on the fact that “The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders” (Deut. 26:8). 

She notes the phrase “outstretched arm . . . implies a work not yet fully completed–a work in progress.  The image of a mighty hand and an outstretched arm illustrates that God is intentionally involved in history on an ongoing basis” (p. 66 emphasis mine).

It’s part of God’s character, His name, a promise based on who He is that He sometimes chooses to deliver us with all of the glory of signs and wonders.  And it’s now, not just thousands of years ago for Moses or Joshua, for Elijah and Daniel.  It’s for us, too, which gives me hope when I’m praying for “impossible” requests.

Yet, at times we’re looking for the fireworks, lightning bolts, and parting seas of miraculous intervention, only to overlook the answer He’s already given to our prayers of desperation—through the ministry of others.

That’s why God fed Elijah once miraculously with food carried in the claws of ravens and then fed Elijah miraculously through the generosity of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17).  It was God’s way of meeting Elijah’s needs and blessing the widow at the same time by allowing her to be part of God’s activity.

Sometimes we are the miracle God is sending to another.  We are the blessing He has offered; we are the provision; we are His answer to the tearful prayers in the night.

Not that it’s because of our own ability or volition.  It’s God’s generous way of allowing us to be used in service and His gracious method of linking people together, knowing that we need the connection and relationship that it brings.

At the start of this year, I read Billy Graham’s book Nearing Home and I wrote this in a devotional:

We tend to give when it’s convenient.  We often make decisions based on what’s practical.  We give what we can afford.  We get together when we’re “free.”

But Jesus served others when it was inconvenient and impractical.  He skipped meals, changed plans, took the long way around, gave up time away for those who needed Him and died to save them.  He didn’t stay up on the cross for the sake of a theology or a plan.  He did it for love of people.

My husband said, “often what is important isn’t what’s practical” in our relationships with others.

So, this year I want to major on the important, even if it’s impractical, hard, or downright crazy.”

Starting in my own home and moving out from there, I’m challenged again to follow Christ’s example and make people my priority and passion.

The Message says it this way:

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out” (Romans 15:1-4 MSG)

Maybe we’re praying for God’s intervention in situations and it really is going to take His mighty hand and outstretched arm to deliver.  But maybe we’re praying for the miracles and God’s already given the answer . . . and the answer is us.

So, I’m ending today with the words to another of my favorite songs, a prayer of sorts for God’s people to love people.

Where there is pain, let us bring grace
Where there is suffering bring serenity
For those afraid, let us be brave
Where there is misery, let us bring them relief
And surely we can change . . . Something
(David Crowder *Band, Surely We Can Change)

You can watch the video for SMS (Shine) by clicking here or by clicking on the image from the blog.  Please take the time to watch and listen today!!!

And here’s the link to Surely We Can Change.

You can read other devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King