Weekend Walk: A Messy Unraveling and a Thanksgiving Verse

We had made a mess.

So far, my daughter’s work at sewing class had impressed me.  She was getting into the groove of things: set the needle, angle the cloth, put down the foot, press the pedal, sew forward, backward and forward again, always guiding the material with her hands without getting her fingers sewn.

That’s a lot for me to remember, much less my six-year-old!

She was proud of her work and I was proud of her concentration and focus.  We’re learning, though, mostly together.  I’m probably not much more expert than she is.  So mistakes are inevitable.

During one of our rows of stitching, she slammed her foot down on the pedal like she was racing in Nascar without setting the needle and without clamping down the material.

We didn’t realize the extent of the disaster at first.  I just stopped her and we started the row over, correctly this time.  But when we lifted the finished row of material off the machine and flipped it over we saw a tangled, unraveling mess of string and knots where a row of straight and even stitches could be.

Sometimes mistakes and mess are like that, hidden underneath the surface.  We look like we have it all together and are happy and whole.

But we’re really unraveling.

And we can only hold it together so long before it all comes apart.

This Thanksgiving week, I’m thankful for mentors and teachers who can teach you how to get it right and what to do when you get it wrong.

But I’m also thankful for grace and fresh starts, for the fact that sometimes God lets us rip out the stitches, reset the material and start again.

I’m thankful that He never leaves us in an unraveling mess.  He’s always stitching us back together, with care and attention.

Our God is full of faithfulness, abundant in mercy and worthy of our praise, and our verse to meditate on all this Thanksgiving week is a reminder of that.

Psalm 100: A Psalm of Thanksgiving

 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

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

Weekend Walk: Cracking Eggs, Learning Faith

It began with the sugar cookies we made a few weeks ago.

Fall is prime baking season at our house, time to pull out our favorite recipes, now dotted with batter and splattered with sugar and flour, vanilla, and spice.

Of course, baking at our house always involves one Master Baker and three assistants, who all want to crack the eggs.

For years, I’ve declined, confining my helpers to stirring and pouring in the already measured flour.  Finally, though, I relented when we crowded around the table to make sugar cookies.  Thus I began the risky job of teaching children how to crack eggs into a bowl of ingredients without also dumping in egg shells.

One daughter daintily tapped the egg on the table, barely making the tiniest crack in the shell.  Another practically slammed her egg down on the side of the bowl.  My preschooler tried to mimic the other girls, tapping and then slamming.

Eventually, I exhaled.  I had survived the initial egg cracking and only had to dip my hand in to snatch a few shells from the batter.

Since then, we’ve baked another batch of sugar cookies, some cinnamon bread, ginger spice cookies, and a pumpkin pie and every time there is improvement and growing confidence.

I may never crack another egg open again.

As a mom, it’s so difficult at times to teach and let go, instruct and then take my hands off and let my daughters try, maybe fail, maybe succeed, but always try and try again.

But if I’m always the one cracking the eggs into the bowl, how will they ever learn?

Spiritual growth happens the same way.  God may teach us truths from His Word, but eventually we have to live them out and apply them in the dailyness of life.

“Trust Him” we read and so we must eventually trust.  “Rest in Him” we learn and so eventually we must ease our white-knuckled grip off the steering wheel and relax under His guidance.

Anything else isn’t spiritual growth at all; it’s stunted dependence and shallow faith, quickly dried up into cracked and dusty death at the slightest drought.

So, this week I’m thinking about the many ways I need to teach and let go and I’ll be meditating on a verse that reminds me how I myself am growing, little by little, sometimes via mistakes and occasionally in triumph.  But always God is patient when He has to pull out the eggshells when I’ve made a mess of things.  And gently He allows me to try again.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

You can check out some of my recipes here!  Or, you can visit the links below for some of my favorite fall baking:

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 © 2012 Heather King

A Message for Monday

My resolution for today:

To breathe in and breathe out, deep taking in of peace and pushing out of contentment.  No catching my breath in anxiety, hyperventilating stress, and rushing to the point of breathless exhaustion.

Just breathe.  Move through the day without giving into the push, push, push of “faster, more, do, accomplish, check off the list, get it done.”  Walk as I vacuum, walk as I put away the clothes.  Make that phone call without simultaneously folding underwear and t-shirts.

And spend time with Jesus for relationship not for task-completion.

The temptation is there, of course.  It’s the curse of Monday.  All of the spillover from last week, the messages to read through and answer after taking a Sabbath from all of that “connection” over the weekend, and the new tasks ahead clamor at me for attention.

What was that email I needed to send?
Wasn’t there someone I needed to call?
What did my kids need for school today?
Was I behind on my reading, my commitments?
Didn’t I need to print this for the week and pack that for tonight and fill out that form and mail back that letter?

It’s a million tiny things nipping at the heels of my Jesus-focused life, yipping and yapping until I turn my attention from Him.matt11

And then when I do sit down to rest at His feet, dear Father, oh my Father, I am so thankful to be in Your presence ….

Still I fail.  Still I pop up every few minutes for the ding of the laundry and the starting of the meal in the Crock-Pot (must give it 6 to 8 hours to cook!), and the reminder of something else needing to be done.

My time with Him becomes stilted, becomes stale, becomes necessary without being the fresh oxygen in my soul I need for very survival and beyond that, the abundant life He promises.  Necessary only because it’s an assignment, like homework for school.

It’s more like: Read the assigned Bible reading.  Check.  Read the passage in the study for this week’s group discussion.  Check.  Complete the other Bible study . . . while interrupted and racing against the clock:

Must…..finish…..so…..I…..can….check….this….off…..my…..list….and……do…..other…..things.

I wonder if He’d prefer if I just skipped it all rather than flop down at this kitchen table half-hearted and thinking about 50 things clearly more important than He is to me in that moment.

This isn’t relationship.  This is business.


In his book, Prayer, Richard J. Foster wrote:

“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love.  He aches over our distance and preoccupation.  He mourns that we do not draw near to him.  He grieves that we have forgotten him.  He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness.  He longs for our presence…

We do not need to be shy.  He invites us into the living room of his heart, where we can put on old slippers and share freely.  he invites us into the kitchen of his friendship, where chatter and batter mix in good fun.  He invites us into the dining room of his strength, where we can feast to our heart’s delight….” (p. 1)

Maybe that’s my problem.  I’ve been barely acknowledging His presence at times at my kitchen table.  Perhaps I should take up His invitation to hang out in His kitchen.  To eat in His presence and share in good company and the intimacy of friendship, not on my terms, but at His offering.

In a similar way, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:

 “God always uses such intimate language when He relates to us.  He paints warm images of sheltering us under His wings, holding us in the palm of His hand, or drawing us close to His breast.  He’s so personal with us, why shouldn’t we be with Him?” (Diamonds in the Dust, p. 288).

At the Last Supper, the apostle John leaned against Jesus, drew in close and rested against the Savior, even while realizing that Jesus was about to be betrayed (John 13:25).

Why be more like Peter, who in shame and frustration, perhaps even anger at the destruction of his plans and agenda, certainly in fear…”followed him (Jesus) at a distance” (Matthew 26:58) after Christ’s arrest.

Sure, I’m always following, I’m a faithful kind of girl, trailing after God always.  But sometimes I’m just stepping into the imprint of His footsteps rather than walking by His side, following out of obedience only, mostly out of distracted busyness and duty.

Today I resolve to breathe in and breathe out, to linger here at the table with Jesus and lean into His presence.  No rushing up from the meal to pursue my own agenda.  No skimming through the page of Scripture to get to the end of the assigned reading.

Leaning into Jesus.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Then walking side by side with Him into my day, not tripping along behind: holding His hand and chatting along the journey.

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, was released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

When the Wax Melts

Betty Ramsey won the first prize for her tulips year after frustrating year.

Lucy Ricardo decided this was the year to change that tradition.  She tended her garden carefully and begged her husband to mow the lawn before the judges came by to evaluate her flower-bed.

He promised to do it, but quit halfway through, playing hookie so he could go to a baseball game instead.

Inevitably, Lucy cranked the lawnmower up with her friend Ethel’s help.  Then she hopped on and zoomed across the yard, totally unable to stop, and ultimately mowing most of the state of Connecticut (it seemed).  The worst part is that she also mowed over Betty Ramsey’s prize flowers.

Of course Lucy wanted to win that blue ribbon for her garden, but not by knocking off the heads of Betty’s tulips. What would Betty Ramsey think?

So, in a classic “Lucy” brainstorm, she planted wax flowers in Betty’s garden, hoping to fool Betty and the judges.

Then when her husband Ricky sauntered in after the baseball game, Lucy sent him outside to finish mowing the lawn.  Since it was so dark, though, he couldn’t see well enough to avoid Lucy’s own precious flower bed.

His solution?  Plant wax tulips to replace Lucy’s ruined flowers!

It’s one of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes and the ending is unsurprising.  The problem with wax flowers in the heat of the day is that they melt into a messy puddle of mush.  That’s what the judges found in Betty and Lucy’s gardens, earning them both a disqualification instead of a blue ribbon.

Wax fruit has the same weakness as wax flowers.  It may be deceptively shiny, catching the light and gleaming in an appetizing way.  The apples may be deeply red and the oranges the color of the sun.  They may be shaped to perfection, each grape a perfect juicy-looking sphere.

But in the end, it’s still fake. It can’t hold together in heat and one mouthful would send you spitting and gagging to the nearest glass of water.

Fake flowers for Lucy, fake fruit for us—it’s the appeal of the moment and the sacrificing of what’s genuine for what’s currently convenient.

Paul tells us exactly what real fruit looks like, the kind that grows when we’re abiding in the One True Vine:

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23b).

Everywhere I turn, I learn about this fruit.  I started a new Bible study–on the fruit of the Spirit.  I picked up a book from the church library on this same fruit. It’s in the devotionals I read and the lessons that I hear.

It’s tempting then, since this fruit matters so much, to skip to growth and maturity without the process.  How can I have the fruit without the tending and pruning and remaining in the vine?

Can I discipline myself into patience?  Can I watch my tongue closely enough to constitute gentleness?

Is this fruit that I can fake with my own personal strength and resources or because I’m generally a nice person?

In her devotional, Diamonds in the Dust, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:

It’s impossible to manufacture the fruit of the Spirit …you can paint a veneer of joy and put up a facade of self-control, but invariably you will be found out.  You can only deceive yourself and others for so long with false love and plastic peace (p. 257).

Yes, eventually the heat of life melts the fake fruit you’ve tried to attach to the Vine with super-glue and wire.

The problem, as the devotional notes, is that when we try to fake our own life fruit, we do it by skipping to the end result.  God, however, “grows genuine fruit in the opposite order” (Joni Eareckson Tada 257).  His emphasis is on planting His Word in us and growing our relationship with Him.

This fruit of the Spirit must be supernatural makeup in order to be genuine.  No amount of “nice girl” qualities can fake the love, kindness, goodness and gentleness of God’s Spirit within us.

And we might try to mosey along on our own good manners and general likeability for a while, passing off our own character traits as holy fruit.  But we’ll ultimately melt into a puddle of wax mush.

Scripture tells us, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).  So, don’t pursue blue-ribbon fruit; focus on abiding in Him.

It’s not patience we seek, it’s Jesus.  It’s not faithfulness we ask for; it’s the Holy Spirit alive and real in our lives.  As we feed on the Vine and refuse to disconnect regardless of life, busyness, circumstances and other temptations, God will grow the fruit in us, genuine Spirit fruit, lasting and beautiful, a testimony not to us, but to the Vine itself.

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.  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 © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk: The Competitive Edge

Several of my college professors sauntered into class on the first day of the semester, dropped their oversized literature textbooks onto their desks and announced, “If you expect to get an ‘A’ in this class, you can forget it.  I don’t give ‘A’s.’  At best, most of you will get a ‘C’ out of me.”

I took that as a personal challenge.

In fact, my irrationally competitive spirit can sometimes be a good thing.  Sometimes we accomplish more because of the adrenaline of the challenge, the race, and the competition.  That usually works for me.

And yet sometimes it’s a terrible addiction.  Like when you’re compelled to do the best, be the best, be the fastest, the first, the most impressive, and the most accomplished—even when it really doesn’t matter.

Or maybe one day you “fail” or come in second or make a mistake.

Or when you’re so focused on lifting yourself up, that you fail to come alongside others and give them a boost when they need it.

Or like when you’re a mom and you’re telling your child all the time, “You don’t have to be the first, the smartest or the best.  You just need to try your hardest and use the gifts God gave you to be who He called you to be. And I love you always.”

But deep down you want them to totally leave other kids in the dust.  Then your children start suspecting that when you tell them you love them and you’re proud of them, really there are some conditions attached.  Maybe they know that the deep-down hidden message in all this is to “Achieve.”

Or like when it’s time to throw a birthday party or be the classroom mom and an ordinary cupcake isn’t good enough.  You have to personally bake and decorate the kind of product that could land you on Cupcake Wars.  Your personal life goal is for all the other kids to say, “I wish my mom were as cool, fun, creative, and wonderful as you are.” (Throw in “beautiful” for good measure.)

Yes, that competition trap is a doozy.

All week long, I’ve been praying about killing the competition between my kids, encouraging them to be each others greatest cheerleaders instead of ultimate rivals.

Then I started thinking maybe my own drive for competition could use some killing.

In fact, maybe we all need the reminder in the body of Christ to unite for one purpose—the glory of God and the truth of the Gospel—rather than competing for attention, success, praise, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and number of people in the seats.

Here’s a verse I’m meditating on all this week, to remind me that ultimately all this striving matters very little and while it might spur you on to earn good grades or throw the best birthday parties, Christ would rather see us cheerleading than competing.

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4 HCSB).

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.  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 © 2012 Heather King